Eugene Weekly : Letters : 9.10.09


The continued exodus away from downtown is a modern day horror story Stephen King himself could not have cooked up. For most of the City Council to blatantly disregard the ongoing will of the people can only be described as treason. All the taxpaying property owners are now locked down in a mandatory form of eminent domain where some of their tax monies are being seized and used against their will. They are being forced to fund the upward mobility of the EPD. 

My proposal to you is this: Property owners in Eugene should stop paying property taxes immediately. Perhaps this might be a way to further reinforce the people’s unhappiness with the refusal of the city government to implement the expressed desire of the voters. The situation appears to be that you are expected to use your resourcefulness to meet your property tax obligations, yet you can’t be trusted with the decisions that pertain to the future of downtown Eugene.

Martin E. Williams, Eugene


Regarding your Slant (8/27) on transparency, the public’s right to know and secrecy of the courts: Dictatorships are fond of secrecy. We are not a dictatorship. The public’s right to know supersedes all courts — there are no exceptions. If the courts do not bow to the will of the people, then we need to amend the state Constitution and abolish the judicial branch of government — we have the votes. 

The state Legislature needs to address this problem before it gets any worse — or someone needs to take the issue to the U.S. District Court for denial of due process — the people cannot participate in due process if the public is not fully informed.

Frank Skipton, Springfield


Please don’t sign! Petitioners are circulating “Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes,” and of course this petition will do the very opposite of what it says. 

We need fairer taxes in Oregon. The Legislature passed a tax measure that would bring us a fairer system with a graduated raise in taxes for those who can most afford it, corporations and couples making more than $250,000. Only the upper 2.5 percent of taxpayers will have to pay a little more for our needed health services, public safety and education; and 97.5 percent of taxpayers will not pay one cent more. Our economy will only drift downwards if we continue to cut education.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene


This is a response to Eve Cienfuegos second letter to EW regarding the Oregon Country Fair (“Expel the Perverts,” 8/20). I would first like to say that no one I read called you an ignorant jerk; we simply are writing counter letters to your attack on an event that we love and cherish in our lives. As for your alleged facts, many people do not partake in the Fair’s more dangerous illegal substances, and very few people ever litter. The Fair is one of the cleanest public places around, and yes, I do gawk at the 16-year-old girls (hey, I’m 17, male and straight: it’s what I’m supposed to be doing). 

 Also the Fair is not just an “event;” it is a community gathering that thousands of people put their hard work and time into to make happen. It’s not about the peace, quiet and tranquility of a garden or other personal space like a private library or a seat by the fire during the winter months. The Fair is about connecting with thousands of other people in a place with its own life energy and heartbeat; it is a collection of dreams and ideas painted over reality in beautiful hues of music, color, taste and touch that sets itself apart from any regular event. You don’t have to see the attraction; all that we ask is that you don’t bash it.

 What you are writing makes us angry not because of a guilty conscience but because you are belittling and ridiculing something that thousands of people put their time and effort into, and tens of thousands more enjoy each year. With that said, peace out, be good and don’t troll.

 Stewart Boyatt, Eugene


Val Hoyle is the perfect fit to fill the House District 14 seat vacated by Democrat Chris Edwards. I had the pleasure of serving as treasurer of the Democratic Party of Lane County (DPLC) when she was our party chairperson. I watched her come in with a passionate plan and implement it with that tough, no-nonsense Bostonian charm that all who know her quickly grow to love and appreciate.

With her at the helm of the DPLC, participation swelled and objectives were realized. She’s a tough, passionate leader who will serve the Bethel/River Road area well. I respect Val Hoyle a lot. When she is referred to the Lane County Commissioners for consideration, I will be contacting Faye Stewart asking him to vote to appoint her.

C. Michael Arnold,, Creswell


Regarding EWEB Commissioner Joann Ernst: 

• Being charged with a crime is not the same as being convicted of one. Anyone who confuses that issue is an opponent of our justice system and democracy as a whole.

• The use of marijuana is in no way an impediment to being a functional human being. There is no indication that Ernst has been “high” when working on EWEB matters. Marijuana is one of the least harmful substances on the planet.

• Growing marijuana is more responsible than purchasing marijuana on the streets and contributing to a black market economy.

• I would bet at least 50 percent of EWEB customers use marijuana.

• You know as well as I do that people only contact elected officials to complain, not to praise. The complaints against Ernst are in no way indicative of the will of the Eugene public as a whole. 

• This is cultural prejudice, and opposition from individuals such as Commissioner Cunningham is largely political.

I would suggest EWEB focus on dealing with the impacts of peak oil, climate change, resource depletion and pesticides in our drinking water rather than worrying about who is using what harmless substance.

I wonder who on the EWEB board has ever drunk alcohol to excess. That, in my opinion, would be as good, if not better, a reason to ask someone to resign.

Josh Schlossberg, Eugene


The southern Willamette Valley is prone to thermal inversion, which puts it at high risk of having airborne particulates linger in the air. Burning wood carries with it the risk of incomplete combustion, which is the source of particulate matter in the air. Remember, however, that what Seneca wants to burn will already be burned in slash piles around the valley, creating the same amount of particulate matter. Why I don’t like Seneca’s current plan is not that they going to release more particulate matter (they already release that particulate matter), but that they are bringing that particulate matter to the most densely populated area of the southern Willamette Valley. 

What they are doing right, though, is decreasing the amount of wasted, but still useful detritus produced from their activities. Cellulose (a polymer of C6H12O5), the main compound in wood, will burn to form CO2 and H2O, both of which are greenhouse gases. But if left to rot, they will produce CO2 and CH4 (methane, a more potent greenhouse gas). CH4, however, is very flammable, and will also produce CO2 and H2O when burned. 

So what about letting the wood first decompose in an anaerobic digester and harvesting the CH4 produced? The upshot of burning CH4 is that it burns very efficiently and will not put particulate or toxic kinetic intermediate pollutants in our atmosphere. It will put two greenhouse gases, namely carbon dioxide and water, into our atmosphere, but these have only a small fraction of the infrared absorbing power of CH4. If you don’t believe me, I invite you to look at the infrared spectra of these molecules. Methane produces approximately 890 (KJ/mol) of energy, a cellulose polymer subunit produces approximately (2,803 KJ/mol) of energy, but the subunit in an anaerobic digester breaks down to about 3.5 moles of methane and 2.5 moles of carbon dioxide. 

While it will cost more to build a digester, it will save the need for scrubbers and it will also protect the citizens of our area from the pernicious toxins that burning wood would carry.

Sean McKenzie, Eugene 


A reader says lavender oil, an ingredient in a sunscreen Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommended, is “known” to be estrogenic (6/18 and 8/20). A study published in New England Journal of Medicine reported that prepubertal gynecomastia (swelling of the breast tissue) in three boys stopped when they stopped topical application of products containing lavender oil and tea tree oil. Several letters in the June 14, 2007 NEJM critiqued the study.  

Here’s my take: Lavender is not “known,” but is suspected, to be estrogenic; the findings are very preliminary. The study did not use any “control” subject or control for factors such as environment, where there are many sources of hormones and hormone mimickers, including plastics and meat. EWG says its database includes the NEJM study in its hazard score for lavender. But I would not want to say lavender is without risk, perhaps especially to young boys or to women at risk of or recovering from hormone-driven breast cancer. Lacking a government that would protect people over profits, you should really make your own assessment. People seeking sunscreens should review my article (6/18) and the EWG findings and read the label before you buy. You can use the advanced search feature at to find products without lavender. 

Meanwhile, we swim in a sea of some 80,000 chemicals, most untested but thousands known to be harmful. Chemical-by-chemical regulation no longer works, and the Precautionary Principle (banning use of chemicals until proven safe) should be law here, as it is in Europe. See Colborn, Dumanoski and Myers, Our Stolen Future; Steingraber, Living Downstream; and Davis, The Secret History of the War on Cancer

Robert Roth, Eugene


Dr. DeFazio’s prescription of a public option for health care reform (Defazicare 8/27) is bad medicine and far worse than the Republican’s plan of keeping the dysfunctional status quo. Single payer is the only way to insure “health care not wealth care.”

 Obama’s and the Democrats’ plan will further erode the middle class, give more power to large corporations at the expense of small business and create a two-tiered system,

 How I summarize Obama’s plan is: “We will have mandatory health insurance for everyone, which means mandatory profiteering by the health insurers.” The CEOs will still get the obscene salaries and bonuses like the ones enjoyed by the bailed-out banking industry. The IRS can come after you if you don’t pay.

 The middle class and small business owners will pay for the poor while corporations and the rich will skate as they always do through tax loopholes.

 With Obama’s plan, the insurers will pick healthy patients and out-price those deemed “risks.” As in Massachusetts, the public plan will be underfunded and overloaded.

The health insurance companies, who profit from suffering, need to go the way of the slave owners of the 19th century.

Scott Fife, Eugene


We work in a Level 3 adult foster home. We do long term care and hospice at $10 an hour. We’ve seen countless horror stories of how people don’t get their needs met in nursing homes. We have no insurance coverage. We have to turn away Medicaid clients often. Medicaid does not cover the expenses we need. The owner, a nurse, often does not make enough to pay herself. She sees the need in the community and keeps going from her conscience. 

The Center for Responsive Politics states that in the second quarter of 2009, the pharmaceutical and health insurance industry spent $39.7 million on lobbying, and an additional $25.5 million was spent by hospitals and nursing homes. 

There are several ways to cut medical costs, including single payer and government option HR 676 for preventive health care instead of skyrocketing emergency room costs. The lack of universal health care has caused the facilities to make up the costs by charging everyone else more, an estimated $14,000 yearly cost per health insurance policy. 

Another way is to give foster homes at least three quarters of what nursing homes are making off Medicaid. These options would save the federal government money and provide better care to the citizens. See “Physicians for National Health Care” at

Ceila Levine, Anand Keathley, Eugene


While agree with much of Taralynn Carter’s letter (8/13) in response to “No Dogs Allowed,” I feel that I must be a voice for those of us who have selflessly adopted abused and neglected dogs from the humane society and other shelters. My family adopted our dog, Tiger, from Greenhill a couple years ago. Although we were told that Tiger had been terribly neglected by his previous owner and very possibly abused by the one before, we felt strongly that somebody needed to love this dog. 

I take Tiger on walks despite his whines and barking at other dogs and nearly pulling my arm off when he sees a cat or squirrel. We took Tiger to training classes for a couple of months until we simply could no longer afford it. We do our best at continuing training on our own, but we are unfortunately still in a position where we can barely pay rent, let alone pay for professional training. So, please be careful not to generalize and put all of us owners of “bad-mannered” dogs in the same category. 

I’m horrified when my dog makes his blood-curdling noises when he sees another dog on our walks because I’m sure some of the other dog-owners with their well-mannered dogs wonder what on Earth I’m doing to him to make him scream like that. All I can do is continue to work with him, give him lots of love and take him on the walks he loves, regardless of what others might think. 

Sheree Walters, Eugene


Don’t be disheartened by the voters in Seattle who rejected the 20-cent fee on bags. You can vote daily by using a reusable Chico Bag sold by the Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs) for $5, available at 2705 Willamette St. You’ll not only be voting for the environment, but you’ll be supporting bicycle education in the local schools.

Richard Hughes, GEARs Treasurer, Eugene


Focusing on which civil disobedience will result in police counter-action is beside the point. The real measure of a healthy civil liberties system is: What acts of protest can a group demonstrate without the police intervening. Strong, disruptive civil action needs to not only be tolerated but encouraged. Anodyne protests that occur safely behind boundaries in a sanctioned zone well-removed from the mainstream agenda do more harm than having no critical voice at all, for they give the appearance and sound-bite of lively debate without fostering any meaningful course correction for the ship of state. 

Protests are not supposed to be tolerable; they are supposed to slow down the mainstream routine so that the underlying assumptions are brought to light. Police need to recognize that civil disobedience has a long and distinguished history of leading this country toward greater righteousness. It is incumbent on them to leave open a path of dissent.

Gavain U’Prichard, Eugene


What do Monsanto, Cargill, Bayer crop science, Hillary Clinton and biofuel have in common? Try an Internet search, and you will pull up countless articles relating to rainforest destruction in Latin America for the production of genetically modified biofuel crops and fast-food animal feed. Try a keyword search for Hillary Clinton and Monsanto, and you will discover that our secretary of state was formerly employed by the same law firm which protects Monsanto from lawsuits and that Mrs. Clinton has been supporting the big agribusiness push for GM ethanol production in the Amazon rainforest. 

Try an Internet keyword search with Bayer crop science and Monsanto, and you will find that the two multinational corporations have been working together to create genetically modified biofuel products to be grown in Brazil. (The Bayer corporation was previously on trial for testing their pharmaceuticals on Holocaust prisoners in Nazi Germany.) All the information is available; the articles are there; we know who the criminals are. The owners of agribusiness and biotechnology are making deals with foreign agricultural ministers such as Reinhold Stephanes of Brazil, who is working closely with Monsanto to grow GM sweet potatoes, rice, beans and pumpkins with the promise of fighting malnutrition. Ethanol fuel is becoming a popular alternative at the expense of the Amazonian rainforest, and Hillary Clinton is representing our nation’s interests in pushing for ethanol production in Latin America. 

I truly hope that we can take a stand as consumers and demand that our local businesses boycott products made and sold by Monsanto, Cargill, Bayer and their subsidiaries.

Naomi Cotler, Cottage Grove


I very much agree with David Pirie’s views on demonstrations/protestors in Eugene (letters, 7/2). I have also worked in private security, as well as five years in the DIA. During that time, I have had car battery acid thrown on me. Also, I saw a coworker get hit with a “Carolina Pancake” whose principal ingredient was lye. He was burned severely before we could get his coat and shirt off. I might add that 85 percent of the individuals in the demonstrations/protests were quiet and orderly, making their views known without violence. It was the “unruly 15 percent” that caused the majority of problems.

Ian Van Ornum should consider himself lucky. If he had confronted me and made the “spray with poison” remark, he would have gotten the crap beat out of him then and there, regardless of witnesses or charges filed! I think the EPD officers were very restrained!

Jon Miller, Drain


The gentleman who yelled at his congressperson, “Get the government out of my Medicare” illustrates a vital part of the how this American society of ours works. It’s called the “social contract.” The social contract is “an implicit agreement among people that results in the organization of society; individual surrender liberty in return for protection.” We chose in 1965 under the presidency of Lyndon Johnson to organize ourselves to protect the older and disabled members of our society from loss due to lack of medical care. We chose to surrender a piece of our liberty by allowed the government to tax business and individuals to pay for Medicare. Medicare is a government run, government paid and government supervised heath care system. 

What President Obama wants us to now agree to is another social contract. We will organize our society so that all persons who want heath insurance will be able to buy it, either from a corporation or from a government organization. We will agree to surrender some of our liberty by allowing the government to tax the wealthier members of our society and some business transactions regarding health insurance. What could be better for all of us, rich and poor, white, black, yellow and red; straight or gay? The time has come for us to reorganize again for the common good. 

 Gerry Merritt, Eugene


Dennis Ramsey (8/13) resorts to the most tiresome and weak arguments used to discredit the animal and earth liberation movements. “These activists claim to care about nature but they read books and some of them even drive cars! What hypocrites!” Living in this society requires compromising one’s values and ethics on a daily basis, even for the most principled and devoted individuals, and even for Dennis Ramsey. 

Countless individuals in Eugene and elsewhere have demonstrated their support and solidarity with radical activists such as Rod Coronado, Jeff Luers and others because, even if they don’t agree with their tactics, they understand what motivates them. It’s no secret there’s a social and ecological crisis that worsens daily, and that methods used thus far to remedy it have been woefully inadequate.

Ramsey believes having a sense of urgency about the sad state of human affairs is a form of “psychopathology.” I think it’s a form of sanity. The Brazilian revolutionary Carlos Marighella once wrote, “It’s better to err acting than to do nothing for fear of erring.” Apparently, Ramsey thinks it’s better to do nothing than to risk having consequences. Another name for that is cowardice.

Eric Blair, Eugene




I am 58 years old and have a (physician diagnosed) chronic disabling condition that interferes with normal life, but I work more than half time teaching college classes. I have been teaching 18 years.  I have taught on eight campuses at three different community colleges and OSU, commuting up to 110 miles each way. After 18 years of teaching, I am earning $17 an hour as a public college teacher  with two master’s degrees.  For the past eight years, I have had no health insurance.   

The right wing says I should “respect our elders,” but I see elders who have done nothing to earn my respect. What is it about 60-plus-year-old, able-bodied white men who don’t work, but spend their days listening to talk radio and watching TV, that I should respect? Why should they be yelling at our elder Congressman DeFazio when he came here to have a discussion  with us, while I couldn’t even get in the door?  

My students are interested in their world, work hard and care about their community and their environment. They deserve a teacher who has the energy to teach them because her health needs are met. They also deserve health care, but most of them have little or no access to health care.  

I do not appreciate being lectured about how I should shut up and sit down so that a bunch of ill-mannered old white men who don’t read, can’t learn and don’t respect anyone can shout down our Congressman.  

Ann Tattersall, Eugene


The “cap and trade” system for reducing carbon burning and CO2 emissions is just another shell game with many ways for the rich to “game the system.” Carbon tax supporters propose a “revenue neutral” tax system that would decrease income and other taxes in “equitable” ways while raising carbon taxes (hopefully on all carbon intentionally burned). Therefore it seems those who oppose it are not simply concerned about maintaining the status quo; but about what is meant by “equitable”?

Such a tax proposal might risk taking a serious look at economics where the system manipulators have incomes hundreds to thousands of times that of workers and producers, and where money is always able to buy political power. By what measurement is this valid?

Dan Robinson, Eugene


If I got this right, polluters who pollute more than me have to pay me. The corporations have been given a choice; either replant the rain forest burned by the big McDonald’s or give the money to their own industry for being less productive. For me as a bike rider I think that we could facilitate the program further. If the car driving polluters just gave me cash upfront when we are beside ourselves at a stop light the world would be a better place.

Vince Loving, Eugene


How long will it take before Americans wake up and get real? Our media, conservative or liberal, constantly inform us as, for example, in John Anderson’s excellent description in the Aug. 29 Register-Guard of problems providing health insurance for his employees. That echoes my experience providing comprehensive insurance for a smaller business for which my costs escalated from about 1 percent of its overall operating costs in 1977 to about 20 percent when it closed in 2005. What did we get in return? Poorer coverage and more wealth into the CEOs’ pockets.

The handwriting is on the wall for all to read and understand, yet we apparently don’t. As a former church friend pointed out recently, “If you’d just listen to Rush Limbaugh, you’d finally begin to understand.” Krauthammer and Goldberg may not be Limbaugh, but their story is the same. The so-called “American values” purpose of our government is to protect the oligarchy that gets our legislators elected — as we see so well with Oregon’s Sen. Wyden’s actions on health care. If legislators are going to retain their cushy jobs, they better follow orders from headquarters.

Obama’s honeymoon is over. With no further support from any Teddy Kennedys, universal health care for all Americans is beyond wishful thinking. Go back and remember America’s real purpose is supporting its oligarchy attain their goal of conquering the world as Reagan and Bush made so clear, else Reagan’s “Morning in America” dream will end and we’ll go down the same drain as Rome.

John Brombaugh, Eugene





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