Eugene Weekly : Letters : 12.3.09


Where do we find homeless people in Lane County?

Katy Bloch of Lane County government is trying to locate homeless people for a required census. Those bureaucrats who require that a census be taken should use the government’s own statistics, gathered by the Food Stamp program that verifies participant’s incomes.

The number of households in Lane County who get Food Stamps and had no income in October was 11,338. The total of individuals with no income was 14,593.

With no income, there is no cash to pay mortgages, rent, $2 a night at the mission or $50-$150 a month for the cheapest rehabilitation programs.

It is against the law for homeless people to camp without paying, or to park a vehicle without paying. Those who “camp” or park illegally in public or private places must hide or be arrested. Without an illegal “camp” there is no place to store or cook food. Oregon no longer supports out of work and disabled persons. Food Stamps don’t keep them warm and dry.

There are many more of these officially criminalized homeless people hiding than the best census takers can find.

 The federal government should provide “stimulus funds” to provide housing assistance for those people who are known to have no money.

This could reduce the thousands of persons abandoned into “homelessness” and restore General Assistance welfare that was cut from disabled and out of work Oregonians by the state.

 Jerry Smith, MSW, retired, Eugene 


Two police smashing a young man’s head into the pavement and Tasering him twice while face down on the pavement in handcuffs, saying they felt threatened. Get a grip. An Asian exchange student getting Tasered and the officer saying it might have been because one of them swept his feet from under him, so he Tasered him. Welcome to America! 

An officer sicing his dog (exploitation of animals) on the homeowner instead of the suspect, saying when he saw the man was white, the suspect black, he called the dog off. Should he not have thought he had the wrong person when the other man jumped out the window and ran away? Duh. 

And then the SWAT team blowing out my windows, knocking down my door and terrorizing everyone in the house and neighborhood. They were driving their little tank up Seneca, cops hanging off the side, guns drawn. Is this Iraq? A key point of the cops being able to get the warrant to destroy the safety of my home was based on a lie to the judge. They implied to the judge that my son had shot someone when they knew this was untrue. The rest of the lies and distortions will come out during the lawsuit. I do not know if I will waste my time with the pro-police Civilian Review Board.

Until the City Council and citizens of Eugene get a handle on the police, we will not be safe from the police or criminals. 

Joann Ernst, Eugene


I like the idea (cover story, 11/5) of creating guerrilla gardens in the downtown pits and other neglected places. I also love that this concept, which I “invented” to label some of my actions years ago, is now an agreed-upon notion.

When I was in Budapest this summer, I ran across a couple of what they call ruin pubs, created in little godforsaken spots in the rubble, and turned into little artistic oases to sit in and have a beer. (Google “Budapest ruin pubs” for more on this.) It made me think that this is something that could happen here with Whiteaker-Last-Friday consciousness.

Go for it!

Karen Stingle, Eugene



Didn’t we vote for a Civilian Review Board (CRB) to investigate police hap-penings such as questionable Taser use? Tasers have killed more than 350 people in our country. They are a dangerous weapon. It should make everyone concerned when we read of cops Tasering non-English speaking, sleeping, unarmed college students in our community. We need the CRB to investigate this case now and not leave it up to the Police Commission, City Council or anyone else.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene


In the Sept. 19 EW was a letter to the editor from Mia Nelson expressing her feeling that she was “underwhelmed” by the new public safety study by Jean Tate and Dave Frohnmayer. I too have some reservations about the study, but I know and respect Jean Tate from our days on the Oregon ACLU Chapter Board. I think this group will spend a lot of time and effort on this study; however, my reservation is about what will happen to the completed study.

In 2004, I was one of nine citizens of Lane County appointed to the Service Stablization Task Force and was given a mandate to study the entire budget of the Lane County government. One of the first things we found out was that about 70 percent of the budget was for public safety including the Lane County Jail.

We met for more than three months, and David Piercy (yes, that David Piercy!) wrote a report that was submitted to the commissioners in November 2004. The members of the task force each received a nice certificate thanking us for our service, and I assume David’s report joined the other such reports in someone’s cabinet at the county.

I hope that before Tate’s and Frohnmayer’s report is finished that they will ask the county administration to locate all these prior reports and make them available to the committee to review prior to writing their own reports. I also hope that the present commissioners and administration will try to implements some of these ideas.

G. Dennis Shine, Springfield


Hooray for Amy Goodman (cover story, 11/19)! What we need right now are modern muckrakers to hold government accountable by telling the truth as it is. This really is not new; such journalists muckraked back in the 1940s etc. Keep muckraking alive!

Jane Grimaldi, Eugene


Your article “Town Hall to Examine Issues of Homelessness” (11/19) states that activist Paul Prensky “envisions a paid hotline coordinator, a network of volunteers to take one or more 7 pm to 3 am shifts on-call to offer transport to available shelter and a street patrol to assist people in connecting with unmet needs and in weeding out predators.”

While any efforts to reduce poverty and homelessness in the community should be applauded, it is worth noting that CAHOOTS largely performs the functions that Prensky envisions.

CAHOOTS stands for “Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets” and is a collaborative project between the White Bird Clinic and the Public Safety Department. CAHOOTS is a non-law enforcement entity, staffed by a mental health crisis worker and an emergency medical technician, to provide assistance around issues of substance abuse, mental illness and homelessness as well as non-emergency medical care and transportation to social services.

CAHOOTS can facilitate accessing emergency shelter, such as Buckley House Sobering and Detoxification Center for individuals who are intoxicated; Shelter Care’s Royal Avenue Program for those suffering an emotional crisis; the Eugene Mission homeless shelter, and more.

CAHOOTS is in service from 1 pm to 1 am every single day and can be dispatched anywhere in Eugene city limits through the Eugene Police Department non-emergency line, 682-5111. White Bird Clinic’s 24-hour crisis hotline can provide emotional support and information and referral by calling 342-8255.

Instead of Prensky’s proposal, which I believe would mostly be reinventing the wheel, I believe efforts should be made to strengthen existing social services, including making CAHOOTS a 24-hour service. As a classmate mentioned, CAHOOTS’ current hours “miss out on a lot of prime nutty time.”

St. Vincent de Paul’s efforts with the Egan Warming Center are also a positive development, since many homeless individuals may not be able to access above mentioned shelters for various reasons.

Brenton Gicker, Eugene


The Riverfront Research Park once again rears its ugly head. Why insist on developing along the riverfront when the downtown is in dire need of inhabitants? Downtown Eugene has many empty buildings and lots (it even has pits) crying out to be built on. The riverfront property is best left as is for the wildlife that live there, trees, bike paths and grassy areas. Paving over paradise is so “last millennium.” Just rename it The Downtown Research Park.

Pamela Driscoll, Dexter



The EWEB headquarters relocation to the West Eugene Wetlands is not a done deal; no money has been appropriated. If EWEB and the city thought the energy crisis needed immediate action, they would invest in energy efficiency and solar hot water panel manufacture and keep EWEB’s headquarters downtown. 

Our riverfront between EWEB and the UO could become community garden space, since the energy crisis is more about food production and distribution, not personal transportation. Lane County only grows a tiny part of what we eat, and riverfronts have the best soils. It’s dumb to build along a riverbank downstream of dams not built to withstand earthquakes.

The West Eugene Bus Rapid Transit (EmX) wouldn’t work on either the Amazon or the West 11th only routes. Section 4(f) of the 1966 Transportation Act bans federally funded transportation projects in parks (the reason the West Eugene Porkway wasn’t built). Paving Amazon Creek for a zig-zagging bus route would violate 4(f). There is no room on West 11th between Seneca and Garfield to widen the road for more lanes, and no one lives on West 11th west of Garfield. 

A practical west Eugene route would be 6th and 7th Avenues to Highway 99 and Bethel, where people live. Who is going to use the bus to buy plywood at Home Depot or Lowe’s? Some cities have banned more big box stores, since they are hard to service with transit and drain local economies. Rising gas prices and oil depletion will reduce traffic more than BRT.

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene


John Giovanni’s entry into the recent song contest certainly has a pleasant sound but they left out one BIG thing: a melody. Oh wait, this the 21st century. We have no need for those anymore.

Jeff Albertson, Springfield


Barack Obama used the Afghan war as a political gimmick to get elected, telling Americans that the Afghan occupation was somehow justified, but Bush endless occupation of Iraq was a mistake. The fact is both wars are a wasteful tragedy, fought out of blind anger without legitimate moral justification. Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11, not the Taliban. Al Qaeda exists all over the world and planned the 9/11 attack right here in the U.S., not in Afghanistan.

The longer we stay in Afghanistan, the more the Afghan people hate us, and the stronger the Taliban become. Most Americans find the Afghan way of life abhorrent, but America does not own the world and has no right to dictate to others how they must live. The Afghan people will never support the corrupt puppet government we have installed in Kabul, and the Taliban will defeat the U.S. military because their fight for independence is basically legitimate. 

Obama’s blood sport war in Afghan-istan is a war to save face. Obama does not want to admit that he has been wrong all along about Afghanistan, so he has doubled down on an impossible bet to win an unwinnable occupation of a foreign nation. Obama is collapsing the value of the U.S. dollar by financing an ever-expanding trillion dollar war with money borrowed from the Chinese, and he is doing this out of vanity and pride, not legitimate national security concerns.

Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Jeff Merkley oppose Obama’s unjust war. I suggest concerned citizens write and call pro-war Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and complain loudly. 

Christopher Calder, Eugene


I’d like to say I found this next to an empty Lipton’s box, but that isn’t true.

I’m a tea bag who is being used and abused, and I protest.

What are these people doing tying me on hats and pasting me on other body parts? And then going out in public?

For Earl Grey’s sake. If they are devoid of propriety, can they not exhibit a smidgeon of understanding and compassion? I’m being abducted willy-nilly from tea pot, cozy and tea cup and exposed to the elements with no regard for my integrity. Put on display like a common trollope. Or that Prejean person who I understand likes to get naked and be shown to people.

I protest vehemently. I am not that kind of product. I have an ancient and reputable history. (I hope these people are not so ignorant that they’re holding it against me because I was an immigrant to these shores. But realistically I can’t count on that, can I? Look how shamefully they treated the original inhabitants.)

This ongoing misuse of innocent teabags is either misguided or deliberately vicious. Dangling me from a poster and letting me drip in the rain or dry to dust in the sun is a crime against nature and family values. I am pledged by centuries of unbroken tradition to be joined in holy matrimony with boiling water. Stapling me to a vest is tantamount to bestiality.

My friends and I have started the protest group Teabags Against Mob Exploitation or TAME. Please join us.

Think of the children. Protect teabag morality.

Morgan Songi, Eugene


I wanted to share my recent experiences with some incidents that occurred in my neighborhood.

Mid-summer, afternoon, a dog rushes out of on open front door ears pinned back, its tail held rigid and level with the ground. My dog tries to hide behind me to retreat from its advances. She is an 11-year-old family pet. She had been increasingly skittish and elusive since being attacked and injured by a Rottweiler the previous summer. The stray finally freezes up with our submissive Labrador muzzle to muzzle. The dog snaps and I see teeth gnash at her face. I react. My foot connected just behind the jaw line of the assailant with enough conviction to encourage retreat.

Last night, my partner and I are walking on the river path, plenty of folks out, a Sunday evening; two dogs come galloping toward us. Our baby is asleep in the backpack on her mother. I have our dog. Same thing goes down. One of the dogs enters into a confrontational position and demeanor. I shout at the dog and stamp my foot down. It turns towards me and advances. I swing wildly. I connect with its right eye socket as it loaded back onto its hind legs to spring its advance.

I am no fighter. I am a family man, student, dog lover. After so many close calls and the recent assaults, I am declaring the dog situation a community threat. If you cannot control an animal, keep it out of public spaces. If your dog is mean and scary, do not let it run where there might be children!

Where is Animal Control? Giving citations to people playing fetch with no leash in the park?

Matt Dillender, Eugene


There is something all the people who say they are interested in reviving downtown Eugene could do right now to start downtown on that road to revival. They could actually go downtown in the month of December, have a cup of coffee, lunch and/or dinner and buy at least one holiday gift.

With at least 20 restaurants and cafes, three furniture and two carpet stores, two bike shops, two shoe stores, two bookstores, several art galleries, a music store, a clock shop, a lingerie store, a couple of jewelry stores, several gift stores, a novelty/import store, a toy store and more, shoppers should be able to find a gift or five. While downtown, they could also get a foot massage, a haircut and new tires for the car!

So, anyone who has expressed an interest in downtown, just get yourself down there now!

Ann Herrick, Eugene


Last week I was walking downtown when a homeless man told me to have a nice day! Can’t I walk down the street without being harassed? He then preceded to give me a high five. I was shocked and dismayed. Later, while I was approaching the downtown library, a teenage girl who was smoking told me she liked my haircut. I feared for my life! What is the world coming to? She should be sitting on the couch at home playing a violent video game where she belongs. 

Just a few steps further a beggar asked me for change! It took me one whole second to tell him “no,” and then I had to deal with the awkwardness and guilt of that encounter for the next half a minute. Can’t we lock transients up where I don’t have to see them? I hate being reminded that people less financially secure than I exist. 

Downtown is public property therefore use should be limited to the types of people I like and feel comfortable around. Until that happens my annual visits to downtown Eugene will have to come to a screeching halt.

Casie Clausen, Eugene