Eugene Weekly : Letters : 12.24.08


I was a student-athlete at a Division I school that finished well ahead of Oregon in the U.S. Sports Directors Cup last year. While my alma mater, subsequent to academics, made a commitment to national success in all sports a few years ago, it was solely the mission of the athletic department. It would appear that a similar athletic mission is being attempted at Oregon, but privately championed by Phil Knight.

With his connections and the power of his “gifts,” Knight has successfully crippled the integrity of the school. In this day and age, collegiate athletics is a business, but why is it so blatant at UO? It reminds me of the outgoing administration and its relationship with Big Oil, which seems like an oxymoron given UO’s liberal undertones. It is the responsibility of the administrators to make decisions with the school and its students first, but obviously the athletic department has become Phil’s minion. From the re-instatement of the baseball program (after OSU’s success), the hiring of Lananna (congrats!), the gaudy football jerseys and marketing campaign (black?) to the new basketball arena, it all reeks of Phil. I am beginning to wonder if UO’s acquisition of the White Stag building in Portland wasn’t a brainchild of Phil’s.

While I support alums giving back to their alma mater, I am disgusted with the addiction he has caused UO for his dollars. He clearly has a vested interest and personal agenda and shame on the school for compromising its standards.

Ethan McCoy, Eugene


Having purchased steel-studded snow tires for my Fisher mountain bike in 1992 — that have never had a single puncture, not one, in 16 years! — I have always been comfortable biking around Eugene in adverse weather, albeit a bit slower than usual. The motorists’ behavior during these recent storms has me surprised and delighted: Everybody has been so courteous, attentive and thoughtful when interfacing with this ol’ biking fool! 

I was riding up 29th Avenue this evening (12/16) in the right tire track of the lane as the bike lane was pretty mucked up with ice, snow, sand and leaves. I was followed the whole way up the hill by a motorist at a safe distance. When he passed me (slowly and leaving me a wide berth) he smiled and waved! My heart was warmed by this behavior. It’s not how things usually are on the roads for this die-hard cyclist. 

I hope it snows more! It’s nice to feel considered by my fellow travelers!

Ken Silverman, Eugene


Mary O’Brien’s column, “Natural Resistance,” has always been one of the best features of EW, and her most recent piece, “Songs of Childhood,” reporting on her grandson Linus in the Dec. 11 issue, was a treasure. 

Like Linus, her report was “more than a little bit wonderful.” No gushing, no perseverating, as might be expected from a doting grandmother, but rather a portrait that conveyed Linus in all his wondrous and amusing glory. 

Thank you, Mary O’Brien. And thanks, editors, for including the photo of Linus with banjo — a surefire lure for the browsing reader. 

Tim and Judy Volem, Eugene


Here is an idea for a compromise in the gun regulation debate. Legislate the Barney Fife Law: You can own as many guns as you want, but you only get one bullet.

Vince Loving, Eugene


Online bloggers report that the Cleveland Indians baseball team has dispatched agents to Baghdad with the intent to sign the young man who threw his shoes at President Bush.

Indians scouts were impressed by both pitches. The first — a tight curve — tailed down and sharply away from Bush’s right ear. Only the president’s quick reflexes prevented a called strike. The gallant lame-duck was then dusted with a rising fastball that just missed his head.

The scouts say the kid has the chops to pitch in the majors.

“He’s already shown the cool to take on the highest,” said one. “And his pitch selection was simply awesome.” 

The scout spoke on conditions of anonymity, citing threats against the Indians by Homeland Security. “They think our interest in this young phenom is detrimental to the war effort,” he whispered. “I don’t know what their problem is — we haven’t won a Series since ’48, and America hasn’t won a war since ’45. We can help each other. If enough of these kids are out there, we could sign all of ’em and end this war by spring training. It’s a win-win situation.”

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich offered to sponsor a congressional “ball-out” for the Tribe, saying “the Yankees were seen in the Green Zone wearing ‘Mission Accomplished’ lapel buttons. So we need more funding!” He added: “A ball-out beats a bail-out any time! Balls, not bombs! It’s time for America’s ­ and the Indians’ ­ long nightmare to come to an end.”

Tom Erwin , Springfield


On Dec. 1, Gov. Kulongoski released his budget for 2009-2011 in which he proposed some large cuts in services for those citizens of Oregon who are seniors, disabled or both. 

One of those proposed cuts would eliminate services to people receiving less than 80 hours per month of in-home care. While this type of care is recognized as the most cost-effective means of meeting the needs of the estimated 2500 citizens presently using such care, their needs will remain and will have to be met by means that will be more expensive in terms of Oregon’s budget.

A second cut proposed by Kulongoski is to change the income level to be eligible for Oregon’s Medicaid program to 150 percent of the federal poverty level of $1,300 per month. People with incomes above $1,300 would no longer be eligible for Medicaid, and this would be true even if these Oregon citizens have spent their entire life savings and are in need of significant care. 

The most important of these three cuts would reduce funding for the Oregon Project Independence (OPI) by 40 percent. The purpose of OPI is to allow people to stay in their homes rather than to be forced to seek higher cost care elsewhere. This cut would force some people from the safety and security of living in their home and increase the cost to the taxpayers of Oregon of providing such needed care.

Dennis Shine, Springfield



What exactly is it, which touches so many about President-elect Barack Obama? He is appealing to our spiritual aspiration to work for the common good and the general welfare. We need to return these concepts to their rightful place in our society and the world. We must safeguard their dignity from the constant effort on the part of some to label even the slightest effort to aid or foster the common good or the general welfare as communism or socialism.

Working for the common good is a formula for demonstrating the principle of love. Love is the creative power of the human family. The common good never causes or brings harm to anyone or anything. It is basically the physical and psychic health of the planet.

We can work together to preserve this vision. We know in our hearts that this goal is realistic and practical. This cooperative effort is the compassionate choice. We can bring this vision to the planet through the power of our united will and loving service. Yes we can.

Christopher Michaels, Eugene



I have been reading a lot of letters full of anger and complaints lately from bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians. Some have even written about being attacked on their bike after a brief altercation. It is so sad to see so much animosity in our community over sharing our roads. There seems to be so much road rage these days which has now spread to bikes pitting potential neighbors against neighbors. 

I am a frequent pedestrian, LTD rider and bicyclist. I have encountered a few negative experiences and close calls, but all in all I would like to give props to all the very conscious drivers. You look both ways on one way streets and wait at a signal for the bike approaching from behind to proceed through the intersection first. You yield for the bus and wait for the slower pedestrian to finish crossing before you turn.

There are way more careful people on the road than are given credit. I also noticed there are equally as many careless bicyclists and pedestrians as rude drivers. Please let us all to take that extra second to be safe, especially through the pressed, hectic holiday season.

 When my son was 3, he and I were struck as pedestrians by a car that lost control and drove off the road, hitting us while were coming out a restaurant door. Every day is a blessing to us both to be alive. So I speak from experience when I say how fast a day can go bad.

This holiday, give a wave and smile to the driver next to you instead of the finger. Wait for that pedestrian, yield for a bus and smile at the bicyclist next to your car at a light. May all your holidays be fruitful, exciting, safe and full of family, friends and neighbors! Peace and love. 

Shannon Fillhart, Glenwood


In regard to the Nov. 6 EW interview with Congressman DeFazio, I agree with the subsequent letters of response pointing out the Congressman’s imperfect lack of fidelity to a broader-based mass transit system. I’m particularly distressed by DeFazio’s re-championing of the LTD EmX system as an answer to Lane County’s transportation needs.

Without a strengthening of the whole reach of LTD to needful points in Eugene and our county, the EmX is little more than LTD/construction-interest pork, a high profile publicity stunt designed to enhance the status of LTD as a wannabe transit pioneer.

Here we are with LTD on the eve (for the coming year) of draconian cuts to bus runs, elimination of routes, including the popular Breeze minibus serving the UO, downtown and Country Club Road medical centers — and all DeFazio can talk about is EmX and lots and lots of someday streetcars. 

Streetcars would be nice, but for now we need to ensure that people can get to their jobs easily from every neighborhood and that stores selling food and other necessities are easily accessible by bus. Local taxes can’t meet LTD’s needs at present. Therefore federal help is necessary to maintain services if the state can’t offer relief, and in spite of Gov. Kulongoski’s intent to seek some transit relief we probably can’t count on it. 

So, DeFazio, how about some real help for the 10,000-plus mostly low-income riders who depend upon the managers of a largely indifferent LTD autocracy which seems resigned to massive cuts in service?

John Hickam, Eugene