Eugene Weekly : Letters : 7.30.09


On the face of it, your criticisms (news, 7/30) of the (now confirmed) decision by the City Council to relocate the Eugene Police Department north of the Willamette seem self-evident and compelling. However, if this is so, why did the mayor and others who have spoken out so often against sprawl, downtown decay, etc., mount this bandwagon with such enthusiasm? 

It would be interesting to know what Jim Torrey and other ostensibly “conservative” opinion leaders say on the subject — or if there are irrefutable environmental, social, economic or even political considerations that justify this apparent rush to put yet another nail in the “Central” Eugene coffin. 

Sadly, Eugene, like so many other places, seems to lack effective “solution makers” who are able to craft and implement really constructive, inclusionary visions for the community.

Peter Wengert, Taos, New Mexico (formerly Eugene)


In early June, Oregon Toxics Alliance published a short report on the health burden of the proposed Seneca Sawmill biomass co-generation facility (see We presented these concerns to staff members of the U.S. Environmental Justice Agency, the Oregon Department of Energy, Mayor Piercy and Councilor Andrea Ortiz, Lane Regional Air Pollution Agency (LRAPA), consultants, the manager for the Seneca power plant and members of impacted neighborhoods in West Eugene.

The federal EPA has expressed a firm interest in helping residents of west Eugene convene a stakeholder process to address the negative health threats from the air pollution caused by the plant. The facilitated discussion will allow for open dialogue about making a better plan to mitigate and address air quality issues in Lane County. This type of community stakeholder dialogue is not possible under the Air Pollution Discharge Permit process that LRAPA is currently undertaking. Our community needs a way to bring up issues such as air pollution monitoring, low-income home weatherization, public health surveys and reducing air pollution.

The application submitted by Seneca states that the plant will emit nearly 500 tons of air pollutants and toxins per year. Many of these pollutants are known to cause cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness. The neighborhoods downwind of the plant, including Bethel, River Road and Trainsong, will bear a disproportional impact to their health and wellbeing. 

OTA urges the community, particularly people living in west Eugene, to write a letter or email to your city and county representatives and LRAPA. Tell them that it is important to protect public health and be a willing participant in discussions about environmental health facilitated by the EPA. The deadline is Aug. 14.

Lisa Arkin, Executive Director Oregon Toxics Alliance, Eugene


Regarding Eve Cienfuegos’ letter (7/16) on the Oregon Country Fair: I went to three fairs in the 1980s. I stopped when a friend found a pubic hair on his black bean tostada. A bit traumatic.

The fair is the same crap every year: hippies, hippie wannabes, bad music, overpriced crafts, doubtful hygiene and lots of dust.

Like the pretentious Springfield Boiler Festival (now extinct), the Bohemia Mining Days, the Eugene Celebration, it’s phony crap. 

I was teened and weened on the ’60s and ’70s, It was shit then and still is.

Greg Hume, Creswell


Roy Keene is wrong when he states: “It is still illegal for private citizens to own gold bullion or coin, excepting for modest amounts held as collectibles” (cover story, 7/23). He should have checked Wikipedia:

“The limitation on gold ownership in the U.S. was repealed after President Gerald Ford signed a bill legalizing private ownership of gold coins, bars and certificates by an act of Congress codified in Pub.L. 93-373 which went into effect December 31, 1974.” 

Charlene Marion, Eugene


Is that “Off the Waffle Guy” off his rocker?! Appearing in “brown” face as Michael Jackson in his ad July 16?! Lemme check my calendar … yep, it’s the 21st century. You wouldn’t know it by looking at that ad.

Boo, Off the Waffle! Boo, EW! Boo!!!

The delicious irony is that he would’ve looked more like Michael if he kept his Caucasian cartoon character … and just donned the glove.

Glenn Leonard, Eugene


The climate change impacts of the proposed Seneca power plant have been overlooked. Seneca will emit a combination of direct and indirect greenhouse gases. Direct greenhouse gases absorb directly heat radiation, while indirect greenhouse gases contribute to the formation of direct greenhouse gases and lengthen their atmospheric lifetimes.

The direct greenhouse gases emitted by Seneca are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Many tout biomass power plants’ contributions of carbon dioxide as neutral, but this does not hold true if fresh timber is used and the Seneca biomass plant has not guaranteed they will not burn fresh timber. Additionally, all the forestry operations and transportation that are required prior to the incineration of fresh timber and woody debris use fossil fuels, adding more CO2 to the atmosphere. The other direct greenhouse gases emitted by Seneca are even more potent than carbon dioxide: Nitrous oxide is 296 times more powerful, and methane is 20 times stronger. 

Seneca will also release carbon monoxide, non-methane volatile organic compounds and NOx, all of which are indirect greenhouse gases in addition to being serious health threats. NMVOCs and NOx combine in the presence of sunlight to form ground-level ozone, a direct greenhouse gas. Carbon monoxide contributes to global warming by lengthening the lifetime of methane and ground-level ozone, and by its eventual transformation into carbon dioxide. 

Together these direct and indirect greenhouse gases work to increase global climate change. The Seneca power plant is taking us in the wrong direction in the quest for truly “green” and renewable energy. 

Hannah Satein, Eugene


I just noticed the item in Slant (7/30) about Network Charter’s quest to move to 858 Pearl. Thanks a heap for the vote of confidence! The city staff members who manage proposals are already on the case. Emmy Jenson, the property manager, showed me the property 10 minutes after I called from the sidewalk in front of it to ask. Even while she was on vacation, her colleagues replied helpfully to my emails. Steve McGuire and all his colleagues in planning and development have devoted hours to helping us evaluate this and the few other commercial options, with a clear interest in helping us make this transition effectively while assuring safety, as defined by relevant codes. The larger political and economic issues have to be addressed, of course, and that may be complicated. 

It sure would be swell if we could get this to work, because we really want to be part of downtown renewal, and our students benefit enormously from the resources downtown. NCS is a free public school chartered by Eugene School District 4J. It enrolls students in grades 7-12 from all over Eugene and the surrounding areas. The program is offered by a consortium of five local nonprofits and leads to a regular high school diploma.

I’m very grateful to the person who included the words of encouragement in last week’s EW.

Mary Leighton, executive director Network Charter School


Eugene-Springfield has a golden opportunity. The 1,100-acre parcel of land adjacent to LCC that is owned by Arlie & Company would make an excellent location for a national laboratory focused on the “green” development of energy generating technologies using the many energy producing natural resources found in Oregon. 

The selling points are these: two nearby public research universities; adjacent LCC (technician training); the Pacific Ocean; five nearby mountain rivers; more than 30 hot springs throughout Oregon; the Columbia River and Bonneville Dam; four nearby reservoirs; five potentially active volcanoes in the Cascades;  frequently cloudy skies on the coast and in the Willamette Valley; frequently sunny skies east of Bend; coastal and central Oregon winds; and located on I-5 near Hwys. 58, 99, and 126 in a community with both a train station and an airport. 

Nearby energy producing natural resources include: ocean waves and currents, river currents, dams, geothermal, volcanic, solar and wind. Where else but in Eugene can all of the above be found within 150 miles of a central location? 

Only one national laboratory comes close to what I propose: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory located near Golden, Colo. — a place with no ocean, no rivers and no volcanoes, but with a lot of wind and sunshine. It was founded in 1977 as the Solar Research Institute, and was renamed in September 1991 when it was designated a national laboratory. NREL currently has approximately 1,000 full-time employees, of whom 47 percent are scientists and 42 percent are engineers. NREL had funding totaling $378.4 million in 2007. Its overall campus covers 327 acres, of which 136 acres are developed and 191 acres remain open space.

Steven Sylwester, Eugene


 In her letter (7/23), Sherry Franzen sings the praises of Rod Coronado, second hand, through the commercial pimping of LA Times editor Dean Kuipers, who is implying that Coronado is the savior of the wilderness, for the purpose of selling books. Those books are printed on paper. Does anyone know where paper comes from?

Having followed Coronado’s “career,” I think the reason only a few people showed up to Kuipers’ presentation is that most recognize jive-talk when they see it. The most telling fact about Rod Coronado and too many others in the radical ecology movement is the disconnect between their brain and their mouth. Recall the 60 Minutes piece on Coronado where he is talking about how SUVs are swallowing the earth, then the camera pans to his car, which is a Jeep Cherokee. 

Then we learn that Coronado burned a number of things, for which he wanted to be famous, then thought nothing of teaching arson technique in public. I don’t think he was intellectually capable of understanding that young hotheads in the audience would immediately go out and start burning stuff. That is not “brave activism;” it’s psychopathology. Does anyone remember Jeff Luers?

Franzen and many others want to embrace the groovin’ anarchy of all that, without any notion of the background or the fake double-speak of the faux freedom industry. Can someone please direct me to the appropriate recycle bin for vomit?

Den Ramsey, Eugene


I have been a hospital volunteer for two years and a hospice volunteer for six years. This work has included some of the most inspiring activities I have ever accomplished. Over these years, I have seen the medical profession do a wonderful job, but also there are times when even the best medicine cannot heal the pain and distress of dying patients.

Many people in Oregon as well as the rest of America do not know there are alternatives to unending pain and distress when one is beyond even the best medical and pain-easing care. And, unfortunately, many doctors do not counsel their patients about the alternatives, such as Compassion & Choices of Oregon, which helps dying Oregonians achieve final control over their lives.

We need a health care system now that pays doctors to talk with patients about all available treatment options at the end of life, not one that pushes these conversations aside because doctors can’t bill for them.

Compassion & Choices of Oregon, a state-approved law that has been in effect for the past 11 years, has proven itself to be the answer to many Oregonians who are beyond the help of even the best medical care and pain suppression. Our neighboring state of Washington has also passed the same legislation. 

Today, members of Congress are proposing reform legislation requiring Medicare to cover patient consultation with their doctors about all end-of-life choices; section 1233 of House Bill 3200. At last, everyone will be able to know there are alternatives to unending pain and distress when we reach our own end of life.

Please contact your congressmen and women to support this very important bill. 

Richard Ernie Reed, Springfield