Eugene Weekly : Letters : 2.5.09


Alan Pittman didn’t report in “Bridge Impacts” (1/22) that the city of Eugene will receive wetland acreage from ODOT — formerly allocated to the West Eugene Parkway — to mitigate disruption of parkland flanking the I-5/Willamette bridge. The number of acres is under negotiation.

The Federal Highway Administration mandates this compensation whenever a public park has construction impacts for six months or more. The Whilamut Natural Area of Alton Baker Park will be affected from this April through December 2012.

Pittman is right: The new bridges are too wide. But the same FHWA that tells ODOT it cannot design these spans any narrower also applies Rule 6(f) of its code to mitigate for impacts.

Eugene’s Parks and Open Space division would maintain the additional west Eugene acreage in its natural state. (Compensatory property needn’t be contiguous to an area about to be affected.)

ODOT is also working with the CPC, Eugene and Willamalane Parks to redesign a pedestrian/bike detour path with safer sightlines and a more natural canoe canal under the freeway, a quarter-mile north of the river. It will be needed when the main north bank route is closed for construction.

David Sonnichsen, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: A longer Viewpoint on this topic by David Sonnichsen can be found at here



This letter is in response to “Nothing Worth Reading,” a letter you published on Jan. 29. Apparently the author felt that the endless coverage of the inauguration on every news channel, on every news web page and in every last national newspaper was insufficient! What we really needed was for our local newspaper to completely ignore local news and events, to talk about the same stuff everyone else in the bloody world was talking about that week. Because nothing important happens in Eugene, right?

Well, I am also a 20-something student, and I care deeply about “boring city growth problems” and other local issues that will have a more direct impact on my life than the president. I’m sorry that some of my peers are too easily distracted by the glamorous happenings in Washington to care about their own backyards. I assure you that I, and other faithful readers, do care about our backyards and count on the Weekly to give us local news that we can’t hope for from more mainstream sources! Thank you!

Steven A. McAllister, Springfield


I would like to thank the Weekly and former council member Bonny Bettman for a very informative article (cover story, 1/29) on how this city really functions.

It would appear the real reason that the city and county release child molesters, rapists, drug addicts, car thieves, burglars, etc. to prey on our citizens is so a few special interests can enrich themselves. In the last couple of weeks the papers have been full of terrifying incidents directly linked to our broken justice system.

If the citizens of Eugene and Lane County don’t get off their rear ends and stop this kind of thing then we deserve what we get. It is not that hard. People like this are like cockroaches: Shine a light on them and they run for cover.

And just a note to the people who are diverting the money to enrich themselves: Just because you pass a law to make it legal does not mean you are not a thief.

Bob Springenberg, Eugene



We were shocked and outraged by the heinous crime committed on Jan. 9 near the UO campus by Billy Brosowske and others as reported in the Weekly’s News Briefs (1/15). We have also been astonished by the lack of response from the Eugene community.

According to the Weekly article, Joshua Fred, a dark skinned Puerto Rican, was walking in the vicinity of Pegasus Pizza with two friends on the evening of Jan 9. Another man approached him asking for a cigarette. When Fred said he didn’t have one, the man, Billy Brosowske, identified himself as a white supremacist and said “I’m going to fucking kill you.” He then proceeded to bite off Fred’s ear. Brosowske was later arrested and will stand trial on March 3. I was unable to find out what he has been charged with.

Sadly, there have been too many similar acts of violence in our community in the not so distant past. Just as many men support women and children by standing up and telling their brothers who commit acts of sexual and domestic violence that those acts are unacceptable; and straight people support their lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual sisters and brothers by speaking out against acts of violence towards individuals based on gender identity, white folks need to make it clear that acts of violence towards people who are not white cannot and will not be tolerated. It is way past time for such ignorant and abhorrent behavior to become nonexistent. All forms of violence towards others, regardless of age, gender, sexual identity, and ethnicity must end if we are to evolve and remain on this planet. We need to acknowledge our oneness and honor our diversity.

We once saw a poster in a small northern Idaho town, and we would like to see that poster all over Eugene. It would say, “EUGENE IS TOO GREAT TO HATE.” Let’s come together and find ways to end all violence in our community so that we may all walk our streets free of fear.

Micki Scott, Lola Broomberg, Jessica Gilbertson, Jenny Lor, Dana Gorman, Noor Rajabzadeh, Jenny Root, Eugene


My husband has myotonic dystrophy 2, a recently discovered genetic type of muscular dystrophy which makes walking hard. It is an official ADA recognized disability; however, if one is in a decent physical condition, it might not be debilitating to the point of needing a wheelchair. My husband is fighting this option. On short walks, he uses a cane with a seat and rests every block or so, and for longer distances, he uses a small electric scooter with an added seat, a maximum speed of 6.5 mph and 9-inch diameter wheels. He has a handicapped flag for his car.

On Saturday (1/24) we went to the Home, Garden & Living Show at the Fairgrounds and my husband took his scooter, as the amount of walking required to tour the show is beyond his capabilities. When he entered the building a security guard stopped him and begrudgingly let him go when my husband explained that the scooter was in lieu of a wheelchair. However, within seconds, the guard called Eugene police officer Bobby McDermed. 

McDermed argued that “the Home Show folks were upset by the presence of a bike.” This scooter, with its tiny wheels, bears no resemblance to a bike; it closely resembles electric wheelchairs with handlebars, which were allowed. Even after my husband pleaded his case, the officer denied him access.

We pride ourselves on being progressive and disabled-friendly. It was a sad day for all parties involved, a trampling of the general principles of ethics and human compassion and possibly a violation of the ADA.

Bojana Stefanovska, Eugene



Here’s a glimpse of the 90 percent of the story you missed in your 1/22 article that discussed impacts to the park from the I-5 Willamette Bridge project:

The Environmental Assessment (EA) document was the result of hundreds of hours of collaboration between representatives of ODOT, Willamalane Park and Recreation District, Eugene Parks and Open Space, and — probably most important to your article — the Citizen Planning Committee for the Whilamut Natural Area of Alton Baker Park (CPC). The CPC is well-known for its staunch, relentless advocacy for the park, especially regarding environmental issues.

The CPC is satisfied with the agreements ODOT has made to meet ODOT’s goal of leaving the park a better place after their construction. The current partnership between ODOT and the CPC should be celebrated as an example of how two public entities can successfully work through differences to create mutual respect and win-win solutions.

In his inaugural address, President Obama asked us to make a commitment to establishing unity of purpose over conflict and discord; to set aside worn-out dogmas and strangling, stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long that they no longer apply. I was sorry to see that your article — even if well-intended — pulls our community in the opposite direction.

Charlotte Behm, CPC member, Springfield



In regards to the letter from Kurt Kamin (1/29) on lead and toxic risks in toys — please, Mr. Kamin and everyone else, do your research. The CPSIA as it is currently written is a terrible law and has far-reaching, unintended consequences. The strict testing requirements that the CPSIA puts into place are not just for mass-produced Chinese toys but also for natural wood and cloth toys made here in America, as well as European imports and all secondhand items. The penalties for not following this law are up to $100,000 fine and five years (felony) prison per item.

This law encompasses everything and anything children 12 and under use or come into contact with. It’s not just about toys. No more used children’s books, no more handmade baby blankets, no more kids’ items at Saturday Market. is already demanding certificates for used kids’ books (which can’t be done). Toys R Us is already pulling stuff from the shelves. If you happen to pick up something they missed, I guess their computer picks it up because the cashiers are instructed to tell people they can’t sell it to them (after they’re already in line at the register). It’s all-encompassing.

This law is not about safety. It’s about assuming everything that’s out there is dangerous, when it’s not — and punishing anyone who’s in business. Things will be no safer on Feb. 11 than they were on Feb. 9. The law will eventually be changed. The question is, how many small businesses will shut their doors before it does?

Katie Aaberg, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: The U.S. Product Safety Commission issued a clarification statement Jan. 8 saying the act will not affect used items. Visit for more information, including updates on enforcement delays.



The Franklin Boulevard overpasses between Eugene and Glenwood are very dangerous for the increasing numbers of bicycle commuters who travel to and from Eugene and Springfield.

Since Sept. I have conveyed this to ODOT, Mayor Piercy and city staff. This is after I was involved in a head-on bicycle collision on the river path which sent me to the ER. 

They recently told me that I should submit my concerns to the Transportation Planning process. Yeah, right. Maybe, just maybe, in 10 years Eugene, Springfield and ODOT might consider addressing this public safety concern.

I have been waiting for the city of Eugene and ODOT to create a safe bicycle commuters’ route to Eugene for at least 15 years. 

Bicycle commuting is not a recreational endeavor. It can be as viable as any other transportation in any city if it is afforded safe and viable routes that protect bicyclists from collisions with cars, other bicyclists and pedestrians.

How many bicyclists have to die before they act?

ODOT and Eugene now have the resources and equipment to finally create a safe bicycle overpass passage, but it seems ODOT will be adding two more lanes to the Willamette I-5 bridge instead. 

Shannon Wilson, Eugene



I have a Target credit card, and this morning I had a phone call, and caller ID said it was Target Stores. I answered and it was a lady employed by Target, who I think, wanted to tell me about some kind of benefit that I could use with my card. Her English was so bad I could not understand but about every other word. I did not have a clue what she wanted to tell me, and after about 10 minutes had to hang up as I was at a total loss of what it was she want to convey to me.

I started wondering why I would want to support a business that has exported jobs overseas like this call center

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Target; I love their prices, products and service. But with high unemployment and jobs being sent overseas, does it really make sense for me to continue doing business with a company that takes bread of the mouths of my friends and neighbors? No, it really doesn’t. I cut up my Target card and vowed not to shop at Target again, and to research other companies that may have sent their work overseas, with the same results for them.

Now I am not asking you to do the same as we all have different feelings, budgets and needs. This is just something I felt that I needed to do, and though I am sure that Target gives a rip about what Dick Walker has done, I have to tell you that it makes me feel like I have made a point in some small way. If you should feel inclined to check these things out, maybe together we can make a small difference.

Dick Walker, Eugene



President Bush’s Jan. 19 commutations of former Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compeon should be commended as an act of mercy. The border agents received mandatory minimum sentences that the judge could not tailor to fit them or their crime. However, the border agents are not alone.

Thousands of first-time, low-level, and nonviolent drug offenders are serving sentences just as long or longer. Many of them seek clemency each year, but Bush granted less than a dozen commutations in his eight years in office. President Obama should grant many more. In his inaugural address, Obama promised us government that works.

Mandatory minimums don’t work. They create injustice, fill our prisons, cost taxpayers a fortune and don’t reduce crime. My children have lost their father to mandatory minimums. I believe that if you do wrong you need to be reprimanded, but 20-plus years for first time offenders and people who are so young is inhuman. This law is turning families into statistics and is going past the point of rehabilitation to destruction.

Granting clemency to some deserving prisoners won’t fix everything, but Obama should use commutations to begin a dialogue with Congress about how to get rid of mandatory minimums.

Shalina Mays, Springfield



I’ve read opinion articles in EW, the R-G, The Daily Emerald from the UO, and a number of online periodicals which, while they mostly lambaste former President Bush for his errors, sometimes seek to remind us of the good deeds he has done during his presidency. Yet does anything he has done in his eight-year reign redeem himself of the atrocities he has committed? Can the brightest light shed upon him by his supporters (ore even his objective viewers) ever cast the faintest glimmer of redemption in the overwhelming dark despair of his presidency?

He tells us that history will judge him. He aided the prevention of AIDS in Africa, he protected a vast expanse of ocean from predation, and America was never attacked by terrorists under his watch. Of course, AIDS in Africa is still a plague, our oceans are still ravaged by excess of commercial fishing and toxic waste, and while we have not suffered attacks on our own soil, our allied nations most certainly have. I would love to vent my rage at all his other incompetencies in this letter, but you haven’t the space in your letters section.

There’s no need to defend Bush and his reign now or in the future. What he did for the good of mankind is so pale compared to what he did ill that the former is not even worthy of consideration (“I killed a thousand puppies, but I saved a kitten!”) that I feel bitter every time I read an article praising him for what he did well in his time when what he did so cruelly stares us in the face to this very day. 

Good luck, President Obama. You’ve got a mess to clean up. I hope you get all eight years to do it.

James McDonald, Eugene



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