Eugene Weekly : Letters : 6.19.08


A response to Mark Harris (5-29): If we Google the 9th Circuit Court case, Inouye v. Kemna, Sep. 7, 2007, the entire case pops up. Oregon is under the 9th Circuit. “[T]he AA/NA [Alcoholics Anonymous /Narcotics Anonymous] program involved here has such substantial religious components that governmentally compelled participation in it violated the Establishment Clause.” “That the state itself did not run the program is of no moment.”

Everyone must modify his or her religious or nonreligious viewpoint to make room for the steps because that spiritual perspective is unique. These are free exercise clause violations when government, that is, taxpayer monies are involved. That uniqueness is strong evidence that the steps are religion. These contain faith healing (step 2), surrender to God (3), confession (5), prayer (11), religious mysticism of all things in step 11 (originally hallucinogen-induced) and evangelizing in step 12 (“we tried to carry this message”). The AA/NA message is the steps. Proselytizing classifies the 12 steps as a religion by definition.

In the official AA book Pass It On, AA’s primary cofounder estimated AA’s success in terms of abstinence at 5 percent. It is lower nowadays. Fully five of AA’s official triennial surveys were graphed together. The graph shows a consistent plummet from the 100 percent starting point, down to 5 percent after one year, very slightly more than half the 5 percent sober. The real success rate is 1 percent; at best it is 3.75 percent. The graph is reproduced in volume 18, issue 4, 2000, page 18, Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, in the article
“How Well Does A.A. Work? An Analysis.”

Gov. Kulongoski agreed with me in person that 12-step addiction counseling is fraudulent. The first fraud is not informing clients that the AA/NA/GA method contains substantial religiousness. The groups deny the religiosity; therefore counselors are legally required to so inform clients. The second fraud is treating something other than the diagnosis, that is, counselors “treat” the religious definition of addiction as “spiritual disease,” rather than treating the disorder itself.

Step 2 is religious faith healing. It is illegal for government health insurance to pay for faith healing. From my long experience, the people do not want to use the 12-step method; and they simply will not use it. Jack and Lois Trimpey, president and vice president of Rational Recovery (RR), have, between only the two of them, heard of at least hundreds of suicides contributed to by AA/NA. Harming the client is often against the law.

I use the effortless RR method. It’s a one step method. Joy! I don’t drink or use now. And because it’s always now, I never drink or use. Recovery is an event, not a process.

Kevin Russell, Eugene


Once again, Eugene’s local law enforcement has acted out in violence. With the exception of New York, there have been few cities that I have lived in with such corrupt and violent practices within the police department.

What is most frightening is that it is not being corrected. As citizens of Eugene, we will not allow intimidation! We abhor violence. We will be watching and seeing how the city addresses this and we will not silently stand by as those who “protect and serve” (ha!) abuse us.

These unstable power-hungry personalities have covered the spectrum from sexual abuse to electric incapacitation. My trust in the EPD has been whittled down to nothing, if that was even possible.

Let’s stand together and STOP this violence. Tasers obviously can’t be trusted in the hands of the EPD.

J.R. Greene, Eugene


What the hell is going on in this country? Torture is becoming the norm, and the population seems to accept this as proper: Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Kesey Square right here in Eugene. The race to the bottom used to refer to global economics; it can now be equated to the level of civility in this country. This country needs to regain the high ground, and what better place to start than in this progressive town of ours — by banning the use of Tasers.

What happened to a skinny 19-year-old student in Kesey Square on May 30 was nothing short of torture. Anyone who was at the anti-pesticide rally or viewed the video on YouTube knows the Eugene police used unreasonable force on a kid who was already under their control. Even if you believe the official story printed in the R-G and reported on the evening news that Ian Van Ornum asked the police, “Do you want poison in your face?” he was no longer a threat to them when he was Tased. Van Ornum was lying face down on the sidewalk surrounded by officers when up to 50,000 volts of electricity was shot into his body three separate times.

What then was the purpose of Tasing someone who was already rendered helpless, except to punish him for his behavior, beliefs or the way he looked? 

Have seven years of Bush/Cheney desensitized us to the point where we will accept any act of violence by our soldiers or police? Let’s hope our new auditor and City Council do their job and hold those to blame accountable.

If the citizens of Eugene do not demand that these torture devices be taken out of the hands of the police who have proven they are emotionally unequipped to use them properly, then the blame ultimately lies with us.

Soon Eugene will be full of tourists here to watch the Olympic Trials and spend their money at our hotels, restaurants and shops. How will the police respond to protests and activists with all that money at stake? The world will be watching.

Rick Gorman, Eugene


It’s painful to see how the brouhaha over the police union’s caricature of City Councilor Bonny Bettman is playing out. There should be no doubt that it’s a hate campaign, given the original caricature posted on the union website. And mayoral candidate Jim Torrey took his sweet time huddling with his main men and persuading them to take it down because “it’s the right thing to do,” to show he has influence with them.

The union, with its $100,000 war chest, is practicing the Bush “push-back” strategy to undermine the Independent Review Board and the police auditor. The chief needs to provide leadership; he needs to show the union they’re not the boss of him. That role is prescribed; the manager should act to carry out the policies of the council and require the chief to act accordingly.

The only sense this all makes is if the “blue wall of silence” is protecting dangerous secrets, criminal misconduct by a small number of officers and complicity by a larger group to keep these crimes from seeing the light of day. The $5 million that Magaña and Lara cost the city may be just the tip of the iceberg. I see no wisdom in avoiding this and hoping it will go away. I see a need for those who have worked to put safeguards in place to get re-involved in defense of our constitutional rights.

Paul Prensky, Eugene


Bob Saxton’s letter (“Homeless Decency,” 6/12) voiced my exact reaction to the earlier letter by Fred J. Huttinger (“Street Kids”). It also resurfaced a long-standing puzzlement. Why does “fucked” mean things gone bad? Doesn’t the word refer to something that is supposed to be an ultimate pleasure? At least when used in the form “fuckin’,” it goes from negative to zero, as in, “I opened the fuckin’ door with the fuckin’ key.” Here it has no meaning at all, adds nothing, subtracts nothing, at best reveals a certain paucity of expression. 

In German a weed is an “unplant” (unkraut), a monster is an “unanimal” (untier). Do we really mean to say a situation gone bad is “unfucked”? Guess not; convention is a thousand fuckin’ times stronger than logic in language.

The foregoing is pure stream of consciousness, a rhetorical issue, not a criticism of Saxton, who aptly uses the one word to lend needed force to the idiocy of a society at large lacking the insight of a homeless person.

 Jim Wood, Eugene


I find myself extremely disturbed to hear about the events that happened in Kesey Square on May 30. Disturbed because I wonder what this means to our right of assembly and free speech to have one’s gathering broken up by armed men AND by force — still worse, by men acting under the color of law?

Disturbed because I wonder if Tasering a man who is already subdued is sadistic? Or is it torture?

The voters demanded better oversight for our police department for good reason. Now they have even more reason. Please honor the voters’ demands and support a proper and thorough investigation.

Gordon Sturrock, Founder, Veterans Against Torture, Eugene


To the nameless writer and editor who chose to publish a death announcement in the “What’s Happening” section: That section of EW is neither the proper place nor a decent way to publish any kind of death announcement. The picture accompanying the piece shows a bunch of adorable children, all on bicycles, wearing their helmets, smiling and waving. It reads, “Biking home from work on Monday, the route we usually follow through the intersection of 13th and Willamette was cordoned off with yellow tape and police cars.”

Then it listed the deceased’s name, in parentheses “(bicyclist David Minor was killed by an Oldsmobile)” followed by, “so, being the crafty (and idiotic) bike riders we are, we took to the sidewalks and back alleys to avoid all the hubbub, probably breaking a few laws and endangering out safety along the way. Maybe we should take a few lessons from the city of Eugene and the GEARS bicycling group when they offer free classes on how to bicycle effectively and safely as a vehicle.”

Who wrote this? What made you think that it is all right to include the word “idiot” in the same sentence as publishing the name of someone who has been killed in a horrific accident? Since when is it OK to write an unofficial death announcement and not include one shred of dignity for the person named in the article? It could have been something as simple as, “In the wake of Monday’s tragedy, in which a beloved bicyclist (and native Eugenean) was killed in a fatal collision with a vehicle at the intersection of 13th and Willamette, there is no better time than now for everyone (children and adults) to take part in the city of Eugene and GEARS bicycling group’s free classes on how to bicycle effectively and safely as a vehicle.” 

The next time this thoughtless, coldhearted writer decides to mix an obituary with “What’s Happening,” remember to check in with that thing most humans carry intrinsically: It’s called a moral compass.

Mary Lavin, Eugene


The recent use of Tasers by the Eugene Police on Ian Van Ornum during the course of a peaceful political demonstration has rightly raised community concern. The ACLU of Oregon shares that concern and we wish to dispel any misperception that ACLU endorsed the current EPD Taser policy. To the contrary, we offered strong criticism of those parts of the policy that permit the use of Tasers to gain compliance in the course of taking a person into custody.

Because the use of Tasers has been implicated in more than 250 unintended deaths nationwide, we believe their use should be strictly limited. Our recommendations to the chief and the Police Commission were that Tasers be used only in those situations that are most likely to otherwise lead to the use of deadly force. While we look forward to the results of the police auditor/Civilian Review Board investigation of this incident, it is already clear from the Police Department’s public statements that the situation in Kesey Plaza on May 30 did not meet that standard.

While the Police Commission and Chief Lehner adopted some of the ACLU’s recommendations last fall, the current policy allows the use of Tasers in situations where there is no threat to public safety and little threat to police officers — and we will continue to advocate putting tighter restrictions on the use of Tasers in Eugene.

David Fidanque, Claire Syrett, ACLU of Oregon



In addressing the many views of climate change that have been represented, it is provocative to also examine several crises that are occurring simultaneously all over the world. Australia’s drought has resulted in a 90 percent decrease of its rice exports as compared to only five years ago, which has serious consequences on certain countries that import the crop, like Senegal and Haiti, which recently had massive food riots. Problems are exacerbated in using arable land for vineyards in Australia, or corn for ethanol in the Midwest. Tornados have caused massive destruction from Myanmar to Oklahoma. At home, we are all painfully aware of the dramatic increase in gas prices, and the mortgage crisis has had huge effects that have rippled across the world.

This is all depressing stuff, but it is possibly no coincidence that this pattern of crises is a sign we are all interconnected. We are beginning to see possible stepping stones that will lead us (not without some challenges) to a more sustainable future, such as algae for biodiesel, biomass waste for energy and net-zero energy buildings. One person can adapt to a changing world, but millions doing so causes a transformation that can lead to a more equitable world order. A global movement is already afoot, and the decisions we make are choices that affect more than just ourselves, whether choosing the cars we buy, the amount of energy we use, the food we eat or even the wine we buy. Just look for the signs.

Ali Gartlan, Eugene



Take a look around this town at all the cars parked on the wrong side of the street. I sure noticed it during a head-on collision with a car parked the wrong direction pulling out blindly from behind a properly parked van. Now I see them everywhere, even on Jefferson, 18th or Willamette where cars commit a moving violation by boldly crossing a double yellow stripe for their own convenience. Parking Control will ticket offenders when notified at 682-5729. It’s only a $15 fine, but our city could use the revenue from these hundreds of lazy parkers — it could fix a pothole or two (maybe the EPD can have an “awareness day” about this issue and write a few tickets themselves).

Gary Trendler, Eugene



The federal government claims they will be sending taxpayers money. Don’t spend it. This is only a loan of your own tax dollars, to you, creating national debt that you are going to have to pay back later. 

The objective of corrupt politicians is to get you to spend your loan to give a very temporary illusionary boost in the economy for their political gain. 

Don’t do it. If you absolutely have to spend the money, wait until December — after the current election cycle. This temporary boost does not solve the long-term problems with our economy. It makes it worse.

If the politicians would substantially increase taxes on the rich, pollution and carbon, and refund money to the middle class and below, then this would be worthwhile.

What we have now is a political scam that hurts you and your pocketbook in the long run. Invest this money in something that generates interest and dividends. Because you will need the interest to pay off the interest of our national debt along with the principle (loan) you will be receiving from the government.

Gary W. Cook, Eugene



I am very concerned about the likelihood that John McCain suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after being held as a prisoner of war for five and a half years in Hanoi, Vietnam. I honor the heroic survival of John McCain’s spirit and subsequent public service. However, I question the effect of PTSD on a leader’s ability to make sound decisions in moments of crisis. I think this issue merits public debate.

Abigail Rose, Corvallis



I have lived here (Oregon) now for about two years and have noticed an enormous amount of talk of the environment. A consciousness of all things environmental. I have also noticed the “mysterious” death of trapped sea lions, “expanded” cougar hunts and the essential extermination of the icon of the Northwest, the salmon. Coho populations reduced an incredible 99 percent. Talk of the environment!

Joe Mogus, Philomath



So what that the Senate Intelligence Committee found President Bush and Vice President Cheney had made false statements with deliberate intent to deceive — a falsehood. Which in my dictionary is the number one definition of a lie. You can picture Cheney’s sneering face as he hears about the report and hear his snarling retort, “So?” So what that we allowed them to fool us into war. So what that our Senate and Congress tell us impeachment is off the table. So are we going to let Bush and Cheney get away with committing war crimes as our leaders? So you think it’s all water under our crumbling bridges and Bush has sacrificed enough by not swinging a golf club for a few months? Or are you mad as hell and demand that justice is served and the war crimes trial begin?

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain



More than 100,000 South Koreans demonstrated recently against newly elected president Lee Myung-bak, as his entire cabinet offered to resign. At the root of this massive protest was not a declaration of war against North Korea, a boycott of the Chinese Summer Olympics, or even escalating oil prices. It was a treaty allowing U.S. beef imports.

Beef production accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than automobiles. Its insatiable demand for feed grains has raised world food prices to levels beyond the reach of the world’s hungry and the relief agencies that support them. Creation of beef pastures is the key cause of worldwide deforestation, including the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. A beef-based diet requires more than 20 times as much land and water as a plant-based diet with equivalent amounts of calories and protein.

Nutritionally, beef offers protein, iron and some B vitamins, but no fiber, carbohydrates, nor most vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, it is replete with saturated fat, cholesterol, pesticides and pathogens, including occasionally the prions of “mad cow” disease. 

We should have 100,000 demonstrators marching on Washington to protest taxpayer subsidies to the U.S. beef industry. In the meantime, each one of us can demonstrate our own outrage with beef production on our next trip to the supermarket by selecting from the rich variety of soy-and-plant­based meat alternatives in the frozen foods and produce sections.

Edward Newland, Eugene