Eugene Weekly : Letters : 5.21.09


Enough is enough! I, along with millions of Americans, voted for change last November, but instead we are getting more of the same neo-liberal economics, class warfare on the working people and a militarist foreign policy with a smile.

The media has begun its positive spin on the economy with stories of Wall Street recovery (stock market up 30 percent), large banks passing “stress tests” with flying colors while at the same time millions of working Americans are continuing to lose jobs at an unprecedented rate. Billions of our tax dollars are flowing to banking industry, Wall Street and the Detroit car industry while average Americans are losing their homes, jobs, health care benefits and hope.

The health care reform is heading away from the single-payer system into the direction of a subsidized private insurance system that will further enrich insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry. And instead of financing this reform by taxing the wealthy, the Obama administration is proposing freezing Social Security benefits for the next two years, taxing health care benefits of workers and requiring higher out-of-pocket Medicare payments by the elderly.

Those who voted to end the war in Iraq are instead getting an escalation of the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, continued occupation of Iraq with fewer troops and not one military base closing in more than 120 countries.

Now is the time for average Americans to organize and demand real change that will benefit the majority and not the wealthy and the privileged.

Pete Mandrapa, Eugene


I read Steve Downey’s letter (5/7) accusing Sally Sheklow of harboring hate and perpetuating a stereotype “that being a lesbian necessarily involves hating men.” I frankly have no idea what Downey is talking about. I consider Sally a personal friend, and she has never been anything but warm and friendly toward me, and the last time I checked in the mirror, I was still a man.

While I do not always agree with her views, I believe she is a wonderful humorist. She uses humor to highlight the absurdities and hypocrisies that are abundant in political and social life. Frequently, this involves the use of devices such as irony, sarcasm, satire and mock displays of emotions to get the point across. Perhaps her obvious frustration at these prolific idiocies comes across as anger and hate, especially to someone who himself might harbor feelings of anger and hate.

I can think of few better role models for any human being, not just lesbians, than someone who dares to hold up a mirror to society with such humor and compassion. I say to Sally, “You go, girl … uh, excuse me … woman!”

Daniel Borson, Eugene


I think Ian Van Ornum got a raw deal and is a hero. Here is a young man exercising his freedom of speech on a very important issue, trying to educate the public about the dangers of spraying poisons in our air and water. He took time out of his busy life as a UO student near midterms to be a responsible citizen. He gets Tasered, arrested and thrown to the ground with head injuries because he didn’t cower to the police. Then we have three UO athletes who are shooting BB guns at perfectly innocent ducks in a park pond to get kicks, being stupid and potentially killing wildlife. They get a slap on the wrist while Van Ornum’s life is turned upside down. 

Where is the justice? The police have no right to hurt a citizen. They weren’t threatened by Van Ornum. Give me a break! Their job is to enforce the law, not give punishment. I am hoping justice is found when the actions of the police are reviewed, but based on past incidences, like the violence done to the tree cutting protesters by Eugene police years ago at Broadway and Charnelton, I doubt true justice will be served. It seems the Eugene police are bullies, and the “good ol’ boy” system continues on. 

Thanks, Ian, for speaking out against poisons in our environment.

Pamela Driscoll, Dexter


The title for David Wagner’s article “It’s About Time” (5/7) is so apropos. As I start in reading, I settle in for the duration, prepared for a leisurely woodland tour. The part about the headless elk carcass was like a disrupt in an idyllic dream that suddenly turns bad. And yet that is life, too, isn’t it?

When I lived in Arkansas awhile back, the wiser back-hills folk would consume bits of whatever they were allergic to in the early spring. Some even took tinctures of venoms. My sister collected dandelion blossoms and made remedy-wine for the allergy season. One year, one of the family’s heavy imbibers found the season’s wine and polished it off in one sitting. And she didn’t even have allergies in the first place!

 Thanks for the lovely springtime treat.

 Shadra Lewis, Eugene


A response to Robert Walker’s letter (4/30) criticizing the release of public information: In a free society all power comes from the people, and the public’s right to know trumps all constitutions, all statutory and court-made law, all the politicians, all the bureaucrats and all the lawyers. The statutes pale into insignificance when compared with the public’s rights. 

Nothing is more powerful or more important than the people’s right to timely and complete information. If the laws — or anything else — conflict with this, then the laws must stand aside. This is a principle I think we all should stand up for — and not hide behind a statute.

Frank Skipton, Springfield


I can appreciate that I’m too dumb to warrant a response from Gov. Kulongoski, Sen. Wyden, Rep. DeFazio, State Rep. Walker, the Lane County Board of Commissioners, Eugene City Council and mayor, Sustainability Commission or the UO. After all, I don’t have a Ph.D. behind my name, I suffer from a disorder that predisposes me to logic and reason and, worst of all, common sense, and each of them has profit-motivated bioenergy experts leading them up an endless series of blind alleys while the planet runs out of time. 

For the past two years I’ve attempted to tell anyone who would listen about a much simpler carbon-neutral energy and vehicle fuel called biogas, which is methane gas made from organic waste that is being used by millions of people in other countries around the world. Biogas makes two to five times more fuel per acre than ethanol or biodiesel. 

Converting the LTD transit bus fleet to biogas would create hundred of jobs and make the county $20-30 million in fertilizer sales that is now being destroyed and discharged into the Willamette. Biogas makes hundreds of times more power than solar panels and, unlike solar panels, provides the fertilizer needed to grow plants to make the gas the following year. 

The UO is better at building sports arenas than preparing students for the future. There’s not a single Ph.D. on the entire campus that knows how to make a gas that people in China and India with no education make every day.

Warren Weisman, Eugene


Choosing the most pristine summer days to send toxic plumes of smoke into the skies above the Willamette valley — who’s in charge here? The air belongs to everyone, not just the grass seed industry.

Field burning is a serious health threat to Oregonians. This is an outdated practice done by just a handful of stubborn farmers whose arguments to justify this practice defy the truth. Growing grass seed requires much more pesticides than alternative crops, and the last thing you want to do is burn that residue in a valley where a lot of people happen to live and breathe every day. 

The debate is over; agriculture is vital to the state’s economy, but the people of Oregon are being hurt more by field burning smoke than they gain from grass seed industry jobs and tax revenues.

Our governor reflects this basic fact by supporting an end to field burning. But the lobbyists for the Oregon Seed Council don’t care about us. This is another typical case of the people versus the powerful, and it’s about time we took a stand for the right to breathe every day. Contact your legislators, join the campaign to end field burning! This summer let’s enjoy all those late August afternoons in good health. Willamette Valley citizens should not be poisoned for profit any longer. Senators, ban field burning, and breathe deep while you sleep, breathe deep.

David H. Gerber, Eugene


Sally Sheklow hates men? This is the first I’ve heard of it. Steve Downey has obviously never met her and is just making assumptions. Stereotypes are usually in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps some Visine would get not only the red out but his stereotypical views as well. 

As a man who has actually known Sally for 20 years, it has been my experience that she’s fun to hang around with, work on projects with and very intelligent. As to whether she makes a good role model for women, be they lesbians or not, as a man Mr. Downey doesn’t get to make that decision. Sally has a heart the size of Nevada and really cares about the community we live in. She works hard on social justice so that Eugene is a better place to live. She’s MY role model!

Alan Brown, Eugene 





The federal government is giving a “stress test” to the 19 financial firms that hold half of the loans in the American banking system to determine which needs government help. As of now, the federal government has committed more than a trillion dollars in the form of loans and investments in these 19 banks, which they claim are too big to fail.

In addition to loans to some of these banks that fail their “stress tests,” the rescue may include a government-forced merger, similar to what the government regulators did in forcing Bank of America to buy a failing Merrill Lynch and in helping JP Morgan Chase to buy the failing Bear Stearns.

The trouble that may result from this consolidation in the banking area is known as an oligopoly, which is similar in effect to a monopoly in that it reduces competition and is, therefore, disadvantageous to consumer. The difference between a monopoly and an oligopoly is that in the case of a monopoly, you only have one producer or seller, and the U.S. has laws that prevent or regulate them, while in an oligopoly, you have a small number of large producers or sellers that are not covered in laws such as the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

The danger, as I see it, of the U.S. policy of creating mergers such as I have described and possible mergers among the 19 large banks that already have one-half of all outstanding loans is to lessen the competition in the banking field. This would hurt not just consumers but smaller banks such as Liberty Bank in Eugene. I would suggest you think about this potential problem and, if you agree with me, contact the office of your elected members of Congress and share your concern.

G. Dennis Shine, Springfield



I often see motorists rolling through stop signs or failing to stop behind the white line; I think that many people view these as trivial violations of the law, not worth a police officer’s time. From the point of view of a pedestrian or bicycle rider, we are not sure if the car is going to stop for us as we cross the street or ride through an intersection. For us, these seemingly unimportant violations of the law are matters of life and death.

Some people complain about bicycles failing to stop at stop signs or going through red lights. The fact is that an automobile can be a dangerous weapon, but a bicyclist is unlikely to hit a pedestrian who is trying to cross the street. Bicycles and cars are not the same, and the law need not treat them in the same way.

I don’t know what makes some motorists so impatient, but they need to realize that they could end up killing somebody. Aggressive drivers can discourage people from walking or riding bicycles to fight global warming.

 Milton Takei, Eugene



Sally Sheklow’s warmth, compassion, community activism and gifts as a humorist in print and in performance have never been mean-spirited. The only targets in her life and work are those of injustice and shortsightedness. Our city is all the better for such citizens; let us honor Ms. Sheklow.

Fred Gorelick, Eugene



Steve Downey’s letter saying that Sally Sheklow’s perspective is hurting all lesbians is way off the mark. He does not know Sally very well, and I do! Sally has been a community leader and supporter of not only lesbians, but people of color, anyone who needs a helping hand, the religious community and gay men. Sally has written many articles that praise the lesbian community. She has never insinuated that being a lesbian necessarily involves hating men. 

I have known Sally for more than four years and never once heard her say one bad comment about gay men. I am a gay man and count her as a good friend of the GLBT community and certainly not a man hater. If anyone has a skewed perspective, it is Steve.

Bruce Carlson, Eugene



I like Sally Sheklow and she likes me. She is a dear and trusted friend. Please list me as a Sally supporter.

Norman Riddle, Eugene



You would be hard pressed to find a warmer, more loving person in this world than Sally Sheklow. I’ve known her for years, been to her house, worked with her on committees, laughed at her performances, read her articles and hugged her often.

I don’t know what makes you think that she “feeds an unfortunately widespread stereotype: that being a lesbian necessarily involves hating men,” but that certainly is not the Sally that I know.

It is too bad that you felt the need to fire off a harmful, poorly aimed jab at such a wonderful woman. My guess is that if you had the good fortune to meet Sally one day, you might just end up joining the long list of us men who treasure her friendship.

Tom Barkin, Eugene



Sally Sheklow does not hate men. I have known Sally since childhood. We grew up together, and we remain very close. She has always been a dedicated, sincere political progressive. She accepts and loves people for content of their character. Period. I’m shocked that anyone would characterize Sally Sheklow as a hatemonger of any sort. This just isn’t the Sally I know and love.

Ron Sheklow (Sally’s first cousin), Santa Barbara



I don’t know where Steve Downey picked up his perverted perspective on Sally Sheklow. If he got it from her “Living Out” column of April 23, he completely missed the point. She may have “never enjoyed” Faulkner, and she may be flummoxed by some of Portland Mayor Sam Adams’s actions, but she doesn’t hate men.

I’ve known Sally for more than 30 years. I consider her a close friend, and I don’t believe I have any close friends who hate men. I’ve been a frequent recipient of Sally and her wife’s hospitality. She presided at the ceremony my partner and I had to celebrate our commitment to each other; we wouldn’t have asked her to officiate if we thought she hated us.

I don’t know why Mr. Downey thinks he can speak for the “lesbians of this town.” He certainly can’t speak for the men who know Ms. Sheklow.

Bob Wanetick, Eugene



I would like to expand on an earlier letter about the Glass-Stegal Act (5/7). It was brought to you by your friendly Democratic Party when they took control of the Congress and Senate in 2007. It was the Sarbanes Bill requiring firms to record their market securities at Mark-To-Market accounting procedures since discontinued about two months ago. Mark-to-Market (MTMV) requires firms to daily reflect the current market value of their securities (does not work very well with mortgage securities). Combined with the Glass-Stegal Act, you have opportunities for massive fraud and abuse. 

Here is how it works: Suppose you have a farmer who has five milk cows each worth $10. His MTMV is $50 ($10 X 5). Suppose he has to sell one of his cows today for $8. His MTMV is now $32 ($8 X 4), a loss of $18.

Mr. farmer is pretty savvy. He sells his cow for $8 and immediately digs into his pocket for an extra $7 and buys a replacement for $15. His MTMV is now $75. He made a gain of $25 instead of a loss of $18. His balance sheet is much better if he needs to borrow money from the bank. 

Now take a commercial bank with $100 in securities. It realizes it has to take a $10 million loss, so its MTMV is now $90 million since there is no Glass-Stegal law in place to separate the commercial bank from its own investment banking division. The commercial bank calls the investment bank and says we are going to take a loss of $10 million on this particular security. See if you can bid up the value of that security to say $110 million. Anything above $100 million is a gain. So the MTMV goes to $110 million instead of $90 million. You have a gain of $10 million instead of a loss of $10 million. Why would a bank do this? If it has a $10 million loss, the government requires that they post X amount of dollars in reserves to cover that loss. If it has a $10 million gain, its balance sheet looks good, it attracts more investors to that particular security, and its managers get massive bonuses. 

Pretty slick! The Mark-To-Market accounting has made this credit crisis much worse than it needed to be.

Gordon Ames, Eugene



I just want to make it clear that Steve Downey apparently does not know Sally Sheklow very well. In his letter he suggests that Sally hates men. I have known Sally for many years, and I can attest that nothing is further from the truth. I can’t begin to count the number of warm smiling hugs I’ve gotten from Sally when I see her. I’ve spent many hours with her in mixed company and have never witnessed her displaying any sort of hurtful behavior or expression toward men. She’s a loving, funny, deep and genuine individual. I’m very glad to count her as one of my friends.

Randy Bernstein, Eugene



As a long time reader of EW I must say that although I can see a distaste for certain political views, I have not detected “hating men” in the columns by Sally Sheklow, which are in general a delight to read. Perhaps it is Steve Downey’s “stereotype” that is getting in the way.

Harriet Rubin, Eugene



For the life of me I cannot see the “hatred” in Sally Sheklow’s columns (Steve Downey, 5/07 letter). As a lesbian, I do not feel “hurt” as I read her humorous, insightful and often pointed commentary on our predominately heterosexual society. As a matter of fact, it is one of the few places I can find such a perspective in print. 

If it’s not too much trouble, I would like to enjoy a few laughs at the expense of your apparently tender feelings. In the words of another Steve WITH a sense of humor, “Well, excuuuuuuuse me!”

Debby Martin, Eugene


I’ve known Sally Sheklow for 20-plus years and have only known her to be kind and loving to the men in her life.

Chuck Bader, Eugene



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