Eugene Weekly : Letters : 4.23.09


Ignorance is bliss, and nowhere more so than in Eugene. Many people here, including our mayor, have been singing the praises of the solar industry and speaking ill of the late Hynix factory. They talk on their cell phones and use their computers to write in their blogs about the environmental evil unleashed by Hynix and relish in its passing. Don’t they see the absurdity of it, or do I have to spell it out? Memory chips. Maybe it’s more the case of “not in my backyard” — let’s ship it off to some other country with the rest of our industry where there are no laws to protect the planet. Good idea. Let’s dance while Rome burns.

While Hynix ran its factory, it abided by all laws and regulations, created more wetlands then it built on and supplied local people with a living wage. 

 Now here comes the best part: solar cell manufacturing in Eugene. Something we can really get behind; right? The perfect industry for green Eugene. If the Hynix facility becomes a solar cell manufacturer, it will be the of the “thin films” variety. Do you see the connection? It’s the same process, the same impact to the environment, just a different product out the back end. It’s true that solar power is an environmentally clean energy source once installed, but, as with many alternative energy sources, how you get to the generating stage is anything but. 

 Wake up, Eugene. Manufacturing is manufacturing no matter how you label it, and it is good for employees and the community, and because we actually have laws to protect the environment in this country, good for the planet. So unless you want to turn off the lights, toss out your phones and your computers and return to the land, I suggest you embrace it.

Dennis Town, Eugene


Slick, flashy biofuel start-ups trying to attract venture capital resemble tropical fish using a fancy PowerPoint and website to attract a mate. Politicians and universities jump on any biobandwagon promising jobs and research funding, leaving most Americans lost between hype and hope. Remember three rules of thumb: Alternative energies must run the plant where they are made. Period. The fossil carbon and pollution generated throughout the entire lifecycle of the fuel or energy must be factored into its environmental balance sheet, and the facility must produce a profit without government subsidies or carbon credits. 

Two popular culprits are hydrogen and cellulosic ethanol. Hydrogen’s stratospheric costs speak for themselves. Cellulosic ethanol is too energy intensive and requires huge volumes of water. The process uses only the cellulose of plants, extracted with high-pressure steam or toxic acids, leaving the rest of the plant for waste. By comparison, thermal gasification uses the entire plant, requires no water and makes tons more energy that can be converted into liquid fuels using a process called Fischer-Tropsch. FT was used in Germany during WWII to make diesel and aviation fuel. 

The two most important carbon-neutral energies that can run their own plants and don’t compete with food are gasification and biogas from anaerobic digestion. Both are flatly ignored in the U.S. precisely because they don’t need subsidies. Go figure. Waste-to-energy technologies also eliminate additional energy for disposal. Are there carbon-neutral alternatives that can fuel the 210 million cars in the U.S.? Not a chance.

Warren Weisman, Eugene


Regarding those complaining that this or that particular band didn’t make the EW list (“Launch Pad” cover story, 3/12): What’s all the fuss?

The band I co-founded 35 years ago (Movin’ On) didn’t make it either. So what? I believe we’re the longest-running band in the area. A couple of the original founders, including me, have retired,
and their children have taken over, which has been the coolest part of the whole
ride. Movin’ On continues to gig regularly and has always enjoyed a good

It’s all about the music. If you’re good enough, you end up having more fun than anyone deserves, which I can well attest!. Who gives a rip if you get — or don’t get — on some list?

Jerry Ritter, Rural Lane County


Alan Pittman has once again written a biased, one-sided and poorly researched article (“Do You Pay Taxes? Sucker.” 4/9). While his intention was to show that unfair tax breaks are given to the wealthy, by lumping all people with money into one big group of greedy money grabbers, he lost credibility.

While lamenting that Oregon homeowners wrote off $324 in property tax payments and $905 million in home mortgage interest every two years, a benefit that renters don’t get, Pittman fails to realize that if landlords did not receive the tax and interest deductions, they would have to charge more for rent. 

The Eugene City Council giving property tax breaks to apartment building developers is wrong, but calling them slumlords is derogatory and undeserved. According to a recent Register-Guard article (sorry to mention your archenemy, Alan), the developers are using state-of-the-art green technology in their construction. They could certainly build less energy efficient housing at a lower cost to them, but they have chosen to do the right thing. The developers are tearing down houses that are in disrepair and uninhabitable and building brand new, attractive, environmentally sustainable housing. 

Pittman finds fault with our system for providing “$10 million for rural doctors but not for the patients they bill.” According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average educational debt for the class of 2007 was $139,517. Poor, underserved rural areas must supplement physicians’ salaries or there would be no physicians to serve these areas.

Dave Taube, Eugene


To Jeff Albertson of Springfield (Letters, 3/26): You have obviously never seen The Ty Curtis Band. The foursome (average age of 20) is a phenomenal blues band. Not only did they win second place out of a thousand at an international blues competition in Memphis, they feature a Northwest harmonica champion. Regardless of where Hank Shreve comes from, his talent is undeniable.

Ashley Peterson, Eugene


Whoa, Rick Staggenborg, don’t kill the messenger (Letters, 4/2). I just call them as I see them.

Why are Peter DeFazio and the Republicans still playing politics as usual if there is an economic crisis? They should be working to find a solution such as new revenue sources. If the government can find new revenue sources then they can cut taxes or lower debt and thus boost the economy.

One source of new revenue is legalizing marijuana. Please see Friedman “Milton Friedman (Nobel laureate in economics), 500-plus economists call for marijuana regulation debate; new report projects $10-14 billion in annual saving and revenue.”

Don’t kill the messenger, Rick.

It wasn’t the last generation of slackers who caused this mess. It was the last generation of elected leaders who caused this mess.

Chris Pender, Eugene


Many in this community expect complete accountability from the police department. I am one of them. Our interim Police Chief Pete Kerns is off to a excellent start in solving problems regarding the perception of and practices of the department. If he is hired as the permanent chief, he can have the chance to build on that progress. Choosing a different candidate for police chief would be a huge setback because we have made some improvements on extremely complicated issues. Kerns works well with our current police auditor, whom I believe is also doing a outstanding job. 

If you value moving forward to correct any and all ongoing problems in the department, please let our mayor and city manager know as soon as possible that you support hiring Kerns as our permanent chief.  

Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene


In the name of common sense, bicycles should be given the license to treat stop signs as yield signs at the appropriate, designated intersections. It is a misconception that all traffic laws apply equally to trucks, cars and bicycles. If that were true, you would soon see people locking their cars at the racks in front of the library. Support House Bill 2690.

Vince Loving, Eugene


Burning of woody material from Oregon’s forests to provide electricity is stupid public policy. The politicians in Salem have jumped on the “forest biomass is free energy” idea as if it were going to save America from “the terrorists,” save the economy from the greedy Wall Street gamblers who are destroying it and save Oregon workers from unemployment. 

Erik Silverberg wrote an excellent commentary in the Register-Guard (2/2) explaining why the Seneca project in north Eugene is a bad idea. I would like to add my 2 cents to the discussion.

First of all, various government bodies have been trying for 30 years to get Willamette Valley residents to stop using wood stoves. Now, they are planning to subsidize a huge electrical generation project that is the equivalent of thousands of wood stoves.

Second, there is no free lunch, and there is no free energy, either. Stealing mulch off the forest floor means that in the short run, forest soils will dry out faster, and in the long run, they will run out of nutrients to grow the forests of the next 100 years and the next 1,000 years. Not having those future forests is going to create a desert for your kids and grandkids to enjoy, just like some of them are right now enjoying the deserts of Iraq. Iraq used to be forested, but ancient empires cleaned out all the forests and burned them up. That’s right, they used forest biomass for “free” energy, just like our creative Oregon Legislature is going to do. 

Ann Tattersall, Eugene


One of my main complaints about Eugene is that there are so few nice places to sit outside when the weather is nice and enjoy a drink or bite to eat. Most are on busy streets.

We have a wonderful set of paths along our river front that are enjoyed by many. What about creating some way that food carts could set up along the river, in the summer? Imagine how nice it would be to walk along the path and then stop for a drink, sandwich, falafel or whatever and watch the world go by without the sound and smell of a busy street.

It would draw more people out, give people an opportunity to enjoy the river, create income for some lucky food vendors and become a nice, quiet, car free area to enjoy a light bite with friends.

By letting food carts set up little stations with a few tables, there would be very little impact on the environment vs. building a restaurant or permanent structure. Winter comes, and the carts close up and go away.

Debi Strochlic, Eugene


Whoever is posting fake jobs on Craigslist,  please stop! You must be making money from the advertisers who get you to do this, but you are causing a great deal of frustration to job seekers. Because so many of the jobs posted are fake, job seekers are avoiding any job posting that does not have a company name, phone number or address. If you are a company posting a job on Craigslist, please include your company name or address so that job seekers know you are a valid posting. 

As a job seeker, I’m probably missing out on some valid job postings due to not replying to any that look like spam anymore. As a community, let’s flag all those spams and stop this outrageous practice.

Teresa Coppola, Eugene




What our government is doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan is completely insane. The war in Afghanistan never made any sense in the first place. Now we’re expanding it into Pakistan, destabilizing a country that has nuclear weapons.

Nothing seems to matter but keeping the U.S. on top. On top of what, a mountain of bones and rubble?

Since Congress and Obama are incapable of rational thought, we have to tell them that if they continue this war we will vote against them in 2010.

Lynn Porter, Eugene



The 4J School Board makes decisions that affect the quality of education our children receive. As a parent of a 4J student, I care about who is making these decisions. As members of our community, we all should. Luckily, someone I trust to fight for excellence in our schools and work to get us through these tough times is running for a seat on the 4J School Board — Jennifer Geller.

Geller has a proven track record as an effective advocate for schools, serving for the last two years as Lane County Chapter chair of Stand for Children and over the last year on a statewide Education Task Force where she worked hard on statewide solutions for adequate funding and cost effective programs. 

I believe that Geller has the experience and dedication to tackle the tough issues facing our school district, as well as the skills necessary to work collaboratively with others and listen to all sides. Community members throughout Eugene have endorsed Geller’s candidacy, including four state legislators and our mayor.

Geller believes that all children deserve an excellent education. So do I. Please join me in supporting Geller.

Mia Jackson, Eugene



“If there is somebody captured,” President George W. Bush told reporters on March 23, 2003, “I expect those people to be treated humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals.”

In April of 2008, President Bush acknowledged in an interview with ABC-TV that he knew about and approved the use of torture on detainees.

“As a matter of fact,” Bush added, “I told the country we did that. And I told them it was legal.”

As a matter of fact, a tortured prisoner has never given reliable information and al-qaeda uses our torture of prisoners as their number one recruiting tool.

President Obama wants us to not look back and prosecute those guilty of war crimes, but until the last body bag arrives at Dover AFB, we must not stop our pursuit of those who approved and ordered these war crimes of torture.

In order for America to regain it’s moral authority we must have a real T.E.A. B.A.G. movement: Tortured Enough America Begin Arresting Guilty.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain



While our economy struggles, our gasoline prices are quietly scurrying up again. Remember when prices first went crazy last summer to well over $4 a gallon? Well, they were sucking the life out of an economy that that was soon to start collapsing. Record profits never seen by any companies in history.

As far as I am concerned they can take that profit and start seriously investing in new forms of energy now! It is like they can’t wait until the economy starts to recover, as they are slyly raising the prices now.

I support the new Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in his efforts to rein in the runaway lust the oil companies have for destroying our precious few resources in the waning days of oil use.

It’s time to start getting paid the pitiful little amounts of money that we are already owed by big oil companies for leases we have already given them. By the way, if we just nationalized them all right now that would hurt the average working person, how? 

Tim Hutchings, Springfield