Eugene Weekly : Letters : 12.30.10


As we look back at the past year and reflect upon what was, what is and what might have been, let us not forget to remember that each day we are given the opportunity to open our hearts and demonstrate simple kindness to all we come in contact with in our lives. 

Even in the midst of turbulent change and seemingly endless social and global problems, when rigid belief systems and institutions are shaken, at these very times change is possible. This change is not automatic and certainly not easy, but it is possible. 

Let us celebrate those who bring light and hope to the world, and let each of us strive to open our hearts more and to make a positive difference in the lives of others. No problem is so big that goodwill and kindness cannot overcome. In these challenging times, this is the leap of faith which is needed.

Christopher Michaels, Eugene


I would like to thank Pete Sorenson for his timely and informative comments (12/16) regarding his position on the topic of meeting to help constituents. Having done volunteer work at the Lane Board of County Commissioners office, I remember how people count on the county commissioners for answers from the simple to the complex. As a former Lane County employee, I value Pete’s advocacy for Joe and Jane Public as well as for his fellow employees, and his determination to keeping business in proper order. 

Thank you, Pete Sorenson, for all you continue to do for Lane County.

Dan Dubach, Eugene


If the Lane County Court could add a charge of “malice aforethought” to a suit filed primarily out of spite, this charge might have been applied to the recent indictment of county commissioners Bill Fleenor, Rob Handy and Pete Sorenson. 

The plaintiffs were the ones who had to prove any wrongdoing by the commissioners. They had to do more than merely continue the malicious speculations and innuendo that they had circulated so broadly beforehand. The plaintiffs’ attorneys did wheel volumes of paperwork into the courtroom, but these reams turned out to be more of an exercise in deforestation than evidence-gathering. 

From the start, the judge asked for clarification of the line that has to exist between casual conversation among three commissioners and a violation of open meetings law. He had not received it by the end of the trial. No matter what verdict is reached, the reputations of three elected officials have been affected. Their credibility, ethics and honesty have been challenged in public, and this public includes the voters who elected the progressive commissioners in the first place. 

An advantage is now handed to any conservative candidates favored by the special interest parties who are considered to be aligned with the plaintiffs. Whatever the judge decides, the conspirators who created this malicious miasma can walk away unscathed, while Fleenor, Handy and Sorenson have already been sentenced to the notoriety that was engineered by the real conspirators.

Ethel Bassett, Walton


Mr. Grossman’s letter (“Christmas in My Face”) in the Dec. 16 EW is right on target. I, too, would prefer to see none of it. However, my issue is with the hypocrisy of the holiday. 

Christmas is not a Christian holiday, or rather it shouldn’t be, for several reasons which come from the very book the Christians claim to follow. Firstly, Christmas is 100 percent pagan in origin. It is our accepted version of the sun-worship festival called Saturnalia. Thank Constantine for that, not our universe’s Creator. Go online and see what those red and white berries on the wreath really represent. Google “origin of Christmas” and see what you find. The truth may make many people in this town very excited.

Secondly, no translation of the Bible ever mentions Christmas. Neither does it tell people to celebrate the Messiah’s or anyone’s birth. It in fact paints birthday celebrations very negatively and even describes that eternal symbol of the season, the Christmas tree, as evil. Why do Christians, who want to follow His word, continue to fall in to this pagan trap? They simply accept it is OK because their pastor said so. Hmmm … the Book repeatedly says no, the man says yes. Who is being worshipped again?

Thirdly, the church wants people to believe that putting a “holy” spin on the celebration makes it OK. The Bible says this is not the case many times. Putting frosting on mud does not make cake, no matter what man claims that it does. I notice that Halloween is not celebrated to its fullest by the Church, yet the origins of both holidays bear a remarkable resemblance to one another. The hypocrisy kills me. 

Rich Peters, Lowell


It was with great weariness that I read Allan Grossman’s rant in EW (12/16) titled “Christmas In My Face.” While Grossman starts out with a correct assessment of the maddening commercialization of Christmas, he incorrectly concludes that all of this is somehow the fault of Christians and Jesus Christ.

 In reality, we probably have such “nonbelievers” as Messrs. Gimble, Filene, Marcus, et. al., for that. We also must hold another nonbeliever named Irving Berlin at least partially responsible, since it was Berlin who penned the timeworn “White Christmas.”

Yes, Christmas is too commercial, no doubt. But to blame Christ and Christians for that is absurd, especially since the Catholic Church adopted what was already an established pagan holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ.

The real problem with Grossman’s “in your face” letter is the M.O., wrapped in the bankrupt idea that the way to promote tolerance is to stamp it out with angry intolerance. “I simply cannot tolerate intolerance (real or imagined)” he screams.

While ranting about the commercial-ization of Christmas, it’s astounding that Grossman would focus on Nativity scenes and mangers — the things that most remind us that Christmas is not about shopping and buying presents for “just about everybody [one] knows.”

Whether one is a “believer” or not, how, pray tell, is Christ’s message threatening? Almost alone among the leading figures of the world’s large religions, He reached out to nonbelievers with kindness rather than punishment. Even the Yaweh of the Old Testament regularly and gleefully smote those not chosen by Him. One need not “believe in” Christ to appreciate the message.

The real message of Christmas is “Peace on Earth, good will to men” (“men” meaning humankind inclusive, of course), and I think that perhaps Grossman could stand a good dose of it.

Merry Christmas, Brother Grossman!

George R. Stoffer, Springfield


If Mark Robinowitz’s Dec. 23 letter is basically correct, and I think it is, then the Bush administration’s prime shock actors should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for manipulating the mass murder of many Americans on 9/11.

Bob Saxton, Eugene


This is the exact text of what I stated at the education funding forum hosted by Mayor Kitty Piercy, Dec. 14 (in response to news story 12/23):

My name is Mark Callahan. I am a father of two daughters, Heather, age 8, and Sarah, age 6, who attend Bertha Holt Elementary in Eugene. My daughters and I are stakeholders in the 4J School District. To begin, I would like to preface my statements by stating that the intent of my comments tonight are not to be negative. I also have the highest respect and admiration for teachers and believe that they are the key to our children’s future. 

My question is how many more times, specifically and exactly, are we going to go through this “bleeding heart dog and pony show” in terms of funding our schools? Didn’t we already do this when Measures 66/67 were passed earlier this year? The worn-out excuse that “it is for the kids” didn’t seem to pan out in terms of the Measures 66/67 tax increases. So how can we trust our current elected representatives at the city and state levels to live within their means, stop the entitlement mindset and effectively “manage” a new proposed income and/or sales tax in terms of “actually” funding the schools? 

Our elected representatives, both at the city and state levels, need to stop being just “managers” and start being “representative leaders.” An economist by the name of Peter Drucker once said that: “Management is about doing things right, Leadership is about doing the right thing.” 

Currently 4J predicts, based upon Superintendent George Russell’s revised recommendations, an optimistic $22 million to $32 million budget shortfall. As you may be aware also, LTD is planning to ask and use state lottery funds in the amount of $30 million to build a West Eugene EmX system that doesn’t need to be built. Granted the Oregon Legislature designated this $30 million for “economic development and transportation projects” but it is also within the power of the Legislature to change this lottery dollars allocation back to funding the schools. Isn’t funding the schools what lottery dollars were originally meant for anyway? 

Mark Callahan, Eugene


I was taken aback by the generalizations of Richard Foley in his letter (12/16) regarding women who stay in abusive relationships. I find the term “abused-woman syndrome” to be ignorant and offensive. It is not a “syndrome,” but rather a complicated set of fears and circumstances that keep people in abusive relationships.

Women who leave abusive relationships are 75 percent more likely to be murdered by their abuser than those who stay. This frightening statistic alone should be enough, but that’s not all. Many abusers make certain that their victims (and the children, if there are any) are 100 percent financially dependent on them. 

The abuser may threaten any number of things, other than stalking and/or murder, if the victim leaves, such as committing suicide, taking the children away, harming the victim’s family or reporting the victim to welfare. In some cases, friends and family of the victim, sadly, do not support the victim’s decision to leave. The victim may live in an area where there are no shelters or resources for victims of domestic violence, so they have nowhere to go. 

Anyone who is familiar with the “cycle of abuse” knows that there are often periods between the abuse during which the relationship is affectionate. So the victim may stay out of sheer love for their partner, hoping that the abuse will stop, as many abusers promise again and again. I hope this sheds a little light on the plight of domestic violence victims. If the fear of stalking, death, homelessness, isolation or having one’s children taken away isn’t enough, then you live in a strange reality. (Facts from The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.)

Darlene Seltzer, Corvallis


Walking downtown, I saw another business had closed its doors and had a thought. While your recent Best of Eugene edition (11/4) was certainly thorough, there a couple of categories I think would be good addition. May I suggest:

Best imitation of C. Montgomery Burns (evil rich guy who runs the town on The Simpsons): Phil Knight, Randy Papé (from the grave), Steve Jones of Seneca-Jones.

Best song describing downtown Eugene: ”Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen, “Ghost Town” by The Specials, “My City was Gone” by The Pretenders.

Best and most often heard comment on why downtown Eugene is the way it is: “Did you see that (fill in the blank-business) closed? I always meant to go there.”

There is a link between the death of downtown and certain businessmen’s profits. Any talk of development along the river or expanding the urban growth boundary is insane, period, and more so considering all the empty buildings downtown. How many of these buildings were built or remodeled at taxpayer expense?

To promote the revitalization of downtown what Eugene really needs is commercial rent control or even rent subsidies; and the sooner, the better.

Scott Fife, Eugene


LETTERS POLICY: We welcome letters on all topics and will print as many as space allows, with priority given to timely local issues. Please limit length to 200 words, keep submissions to once a month, and include your address and phone number for our files. E-mail to fax to 484-4044, or mail to 1251 Lincoln, Eugene 97401.