Eugene Weekly : Letters : 9.17.09


Imagine, if you will, a classic outdoor rock concert with no dancing. Let me say that again, a rock concert with no dancing. And not only with no dancing, but with suppressed dancing. It sounds like a circle of hell that Dante forgot to describe. Well, that circle of hell was Cuthbert Amphitheater Friday night (9/11) when Crosby, Stills and Nash did their best to rock a dull and aging crowd. But alas, security would not allow it. The energetic dancers rallied more than once to get the party going, but it always ended in a slap-down. 

Sad times indeed. How old are we?

To be fair to those who wanted to just sit and rock in their chairs, Cuthbert is a terrible place for a rock show. Let me say that again. Cuthbert is a terrible place for a rock show. There ain’t no mosh-pit. Not that CS&N’rs need a mosh-pit, but how about dance area up front, so we can get our groove on and not forget what it’s like to be lively and happy and dancing under the stars on a beautiful summer’s eve?

So, Cuthbert, my first request is to revamp the whole amphitheater. The seating in that place sucks. It’s crowded. It’s hard to get to your seat. And I’ll say it one more time, there’s no place to dance. Now, while we wait for that beautiful renovation that I can feel is coming, my request for the next rock show is to pull up the seats in front and let the party happen. 

 Tom Mohler, Eugene


Regarding Sean McKenzie’s letter “Digesters are Better” (9/10): While I applaud any and all efforts to bring anaerobic digestion and biogas to public attention —  waste-to-energy will be the primary energy in the post-carbon future — a digester is not a practical solution for Seneca. Wood yields relatively small amounts of methane, and many parts of wood are not digestible, in addition to producing acids that can be lethal to the anaerobic digestion process. 

What is being done in Sweden, which is a practical alternative at Seneca, is to gasify wood waste in what is called a gasifier and then convert the resulting processor gas, or wood gas, to methane using a process called pressure swing absorption. This yields hundreds of times more energy than anaerobic digestion from low water content feedstocks, such as wood. This processor gas could be used to directly fire boilers and generators, and since the gas itself is the exhaust, there would be no airborne pollution issue. Particulates would be trapped in the filters before the gas was combusted. There are many such gasifiers in Europe much larger than the one planned at Seneca. 

Warren Weisman, Eugene


I first met Cindy Wooten (cover story, 9/3) one rainy night in 1971 when people from the commune my wife and I co-founded did a light show at the Odyssey Coffee House. I was immediately impressed by her creativity, energy, perseverance, knowledge and vision — and further impressed over the years by her multiple accomplishments. Cindy, Jerry Rust, Jim Weaver and many others were way ahead of their time.

I was a member, I guess, of the “beatnik elite” that she describes — those attracted by the strength of the counterculture blooming in those days in the Eugene area. Having previously taught at and having been an administrator at a community college back East, I taught writing, literature and political science at LCC for 27 years. 

Our commune, like the coffee house, was accused of being funded by the Communist Party. The FBI even did aerial surveillance of our organic farm, apprehensive perhaps because we city slickers had unwittingly over-planted alarming amounts of terrifyingly large zucchini. Such harassment seems amusing now, but at the time it was pretty intimidating.

Ted Taylor’s article brought back a flood of memories. Those were the days, my friend. I hope that Cindy Wooten’s knees heal nicely and that she can find a way to bring some of her wonderful energy back to Oregon.

Jerome Garger, Yachats


The Eugene Chamber of Commerce could learn something from my barber: If you’re in business, avoid politics and religion.

In spite of that excellent advice, the Chamber publicly opposes the modest and necessary tax increases on businesses, which paid as little as $10 per year in income tax, and the wealthiest Oregonians. The money raised will go to schools, public safety and public health, all of which are hard hit by the current recession. 

The Chamber’s support of the current petition to rescind the tax means that they will use their money and influence to pull out the rug from under our already underfunded schools. I find this puzzling because business is the biggest beneficiary of good schools and a strong public safety and public health system. Considering Eugene’s long history of strong support for its schools, their opposition is even more puzzling. I’m personally far less likely to shop at a business that doesn’t support our public schools.

The Chamber had a choice; actually, they had three: They could have supported the tax, opposed it or taken no position. I would have preferred their support, but I think taking no position is a more politically realistic and wiser choice. I hope they will change their position.

If this modest and much-needed tax gets rescinded and you can’t find an educated employee; or get a cop to quickly pick up the high school dropout shoplifter you just caught; or find someone to deal with the drunk passed out in front your building, call the Eugene Chamber of Commerce for help.

Leslie Weinstein, Eugene


I would like to apologize to the conservative African- American community on behalf of the content of Diane Deviller’s letter (8/27). Evidently, she either must not believe this “mythical” entity exists or that they share the same racial hatred for our “bi-racial” president as the others portrayed in the article. I spent 20 years being raised in South County San Diego where we were only 10 minutes away from Mexico, and we experienced true ethnic and cultural diversity every day with both conservative and liberal ideals infused in all races. Why is Deviller accusing the protests of being racially fueled? Does she have a lot of experience with racial tension in Eugene?

If you would like an example of blatant racism, look no further than our own local government who wanted to train its citizenry on “racial sensitivity” by teaching us where all the soul food restaurants and Baptist churches were located for the Olympic trials. Then we could inform the African-American athletes where to frequent these local businesses, but what were we supposed to tell the Hispanic and Asian athletes, or are those mythical entities too? I found this to be questionable as my black friends and I would eat Mexican food 10 times more than any other cuisine, and many of them were Catholic. Fortunately, I guess we were just products of our environment. Unfortunately, I guess Deviller and our locally elected officials are too. 

Jake Bliven, Eugene


Health insurance is more analogous to utilities than it is to other forms of insurance. Just as I would prefer a public utility to Enron, I would rather entrust my health care to a public plan than to a private one.

PJ Sargeant, Springfield


As cities all over Oregon struggle to continue to provide the citizens with excellent governance I would like to suggest a cost saving measure. The municipal court system has provided the cities with a steady stream of revenue throughout the formerly relatively prosperous times. Unhampered by the citizen-friendly safeguards of the higher courts, right to a hearing before paying a fine or a court reporter producing a transcript, the municipal court has been able to sidestep the concept of habeas corpus and wreak havoc upon the peace and prosperity of the citizens, while creating a livelihood for an elect group of enforcement professionals. 

The citizen must only violate a statute, parking infraction, improper use of a public facility, illegal storage on a public street, etc., to find him or herself exposed to court with none of the aforementioned safeguards of the higher courts. I suggest that the citizens advocate for the total elimination of the municipal court system in Oregon. The cost savings would be in the elimination of the municipal court and all its related expenses. New cases at the circuit court would only be heard if persons were injured or property was damaged in the related incident. Along with health care, Americans can no longer afford the statutory legal system.

Martin E. Williams, Eugene


In reference to the letter (8/27) “Total Socialism,” I’m astounded that the author was not horrified by the eradication of his rights by the “expanded government” under the PATRIOT Act in which people of all countries can disappear and be tortured without trial. His concerns instead seem to stem from being “forced to have health care” and not being free to drive the biggest vehicle possible.

Freedom does not mean doing whatever the hell you want. Certain responsibilities come with freedom. There are also too many people to do whatever you want and a limited amount of resources as well.

In order for us all to live together in society, we agree to live by certain rules like stopping at red lights and wearing clothes. We employ government, hopefully, to create a greater structure within which we can operate without hurting each other and in which we could possibly take care of the earth for future generations, maybe even two.

Instead of driving the biggest vehicle you can, naked with a gun, try having freedom of thought instead and opening your mind to other ways of thinking. That’s where true freedom lies.

Nikky Calvert, Eugene


I was walking with my leashed dog and my 8-month-old son in a front pack in Springfield when two dogs charged from the street towards me. They were barking, growling and clearly aggressive. I was about 100 yards away, and I started to run with my son and dog. They would have caught me had a man not seen. He said to get behind him and warded off the dogs long enough that I could get away.

Without his help, we would have been attacked. My son cried the whole way home, traumatized. I drove back, intending to get the man’s name and number as a witness so I could file a complaint. The man said those dogs are always loose and aggressive, and they tried to come into the house he was working on.

Animal Control said that they couldn’t do anything unless I had been bitten. I told them that if the dogs had attacked me, I wouldn’t be here now, and neither would my son. Still, they couldn’t help. The police would not help either. They said they could not help me, but that if I went back there and “baited” the dogs I could be found criminally liable for defending myself with pepper spray or a bat!

I won’t use pepper spray around my baby, and I don’t want to be arrested for defending myself if I walk in my neighborhood again. Apparently I am only allowed to defend myself if the dogs bite me first!

Stephanie Ruiz, Springfield


Concerning the folks who are shouting down speakers and shutting down public discourse at health care forums nationwide, just what are you advocating for?

Are you fighting for the 230,000 people who lost their health insurance last month? Is that torch being waved for the 900,000 working Americans who will go bankrupt this year due to catastrophic medical costs? How about the tens of millions who can no longer afford the backbreaking costs of ever-rising insurance premiums? Is that pitchfork being thrust in the air for the people who are denied coverage at the last minute because of a technical glitch in an insurance form filled out 10 years ago? In a process called rescission, insurance executives currently receive bonuses for refusing coverage on expensive claims, such as leukemia, based on small technicalities.

It would appear that in an Orwellian irony, you are unwittingly fighting for multi-billionaire insurance CEOs making obscene profits at your expense. But good for you, you are fighting “socialism” and “government involvement.” High quality veterans’ care is socialized medicine. Single-payer systems such as Medicare involve the government as a single insurer while the medical delivery still consists of private doctors and hospitals.

So, rabble-rousers, you are on a pseudo-populism roll. Barricade your neighborhoods from the socialist fire and police departments. Return your Medicare and Social Security payments. Disconnect from the socialized water utilities. Stop using public roads, and for the love of God, get your children out of those socialized libraries.

Gerry Rempel, Eugene


I’m not disappointed in the Obama-Biden administration.

They promised to oppose single-payer health care, and they are against it now. They promised to expand the wars on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and those conflicts are now getting worse.

No one should be surprised that the new administration supports Bush-era policies on rendition, warrantless wiretapping, increased military spending, corporate welfare for Wall Street, highway expansion and official silence about peak oil.

It is encouraging that some Obama voters wonder why their team is “regime rotation” instead of regime change. The explanation takes more than a letter to the editor. In summary, our political system has been on autopilot for decades, especially since Nov. 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was removed from office for wanting to stop the Cold War. The failure of our political system to address that crime is why the Democrats will not change imperial policies.

The Democrats and the Republicans are like two sides of a Mobius strip: It looks like two sides, but they are on the same side. The “elections” resemble televised wrestling: It looks like a bruising contest, but they are fake, rigged in advance. Good cop, bad cop.

Sarah Palin was put on McCain’s ticket to ensure that he would lose since Wall Street wanted the Democrats this time.

I voted for Cynthia McKinney for president. While in Congress, she stood up to Bush on the deepest issues, and both parties joined forces to defeat her.

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene


On a very recent road trip to southern Oregon we pulled into Eugene to have breakfast at one of the key restaurants in town. We finished up breakfast, and pulled the bicycles off the van and rode down to the much talked about Farmers’ Market to take in the colors, flavors and sounds. We were impressed in every way and dropped a benji into various vendors’ pockets and headed back to our locked-up bicycles. Much to our surprise the rear wheel was gone off my partner’s Univega. She was quite shocked, as was I. It was the act of a local crumb bum who desperately needed a fix of aluminum and steel. This really put a sour taste in our mouths and gave Eugene’s reputation as a bicycle friendly town a whole new twist.

On our future travels to southern Oregon, we will take our money and bicycles elsewhere.

Peter DeGray, Tacoma


 As August ended, two more Oregon National Guardsmen were killed in Iraq while Americans twiddled their thumbs over our government choosing to fight an imperialist war. Why do we allow ourselves to be complicit over mounting war casualties in the Middle East when there is no reason for the war Bush and Cheney started?

 Sorrow over the deaths of Guardsmen is natural but futile when many buy the lie our soldiers deserve respect fighting for our country’s “ideals.” What we owe them is an ashamed apology for sending them into meaningless combat as victims of the Cheney-Bush war.

Our soldiers are deluded by leaders willing to spill their blood for neo-cons who thirst for oil and those who serve the military agenda of Israel. They are sacrificed for companies and a nation that profit from war in the Middle East.

 Ideals have nothing to do with it. American citizens share guilt for warring murder and suicide. We need to face the truth and demand our forces leave Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, without delay.

 George Beres, Eugene


Are we actually going to let this foul legion of corrupt senators and Rush Limbaugh-dittoheads effectively set the very premise of the health care discussion itself, wherein the private insurance sector is portrayed as the poor oppressed party here?

Somewhere Orwell shakes his head, and somewhere Jesus weeps.

Scott Michael Perey, Eugene


Stop being so selfish and self-centered. Make sure all have basic health coverage. Make the immoral companies compete with a low overhead cost public option!

Kenneth Viegas, Springfield


Most social animals get along by cooperation within the tribe, pack or herd. Wolves, for instance, are quite competitive; herbivores are more cooperative.

In American politics, the Republicans favor competition (and so serve the rich), and Democrats lean more toward cooperation, sometimes, like Obama, to the point of absurdity.

In the use of language, telling the truth is cooperative and lying is competitive — its purpose is always to gain some advantage.

Now, when you lie and repeat the lie, you create another “self” in your own mind, a personality built on the lie. And if you do it long enough (and loud enough) it becomes increasingly hard to tell which “self” is real. Hence, schizophrenia.

Have you been wondering why the Republicans seem crazy these days? 

Bill Christopher, Eugene


Everyone agrees that our country needs to pass health care reform. Everyone, regardless of health status and pre-existing conditions, should be able to obtain affordable health insurance. No one should have to go without needed medication because they can’t afford it. I understand that I, along with my doctor, am responsible for my health. I do not want an insurance company, public or private, dictating my treatment. 

I think most of us agree on these points. However, our country cannot financially continue with the status quo, and thousands are still unable to obtain insurance. It’s time the scare tactics stop and we start caring more for people that profits. We need to get this done!

J. Anderson, Cottage Grove


In response to Dane Smith’s “Total Socialism” letter (8/27), I have to express my deep concern over his understanding of history and political science. If you look at the political climate of the U.S. since Reagan came to power, you can see how the corporate state has taken over in the name of free market economics. Yet, under Reagan and every president since, the federal government has been subsidizing the oil, nuclear, weapons, tobacco, banking, insurance, timber and mining industries. Services for the less able, unemployed, mentally ill, elderly, young, handicapped and other “social” causes have been gutted.

Meanwhile our highways and bridges have not been maintained, our public safety sector is continually underfunded, our water and air are spoiled and soldiers’ families live on food stamps. Only in a fascist state are all decisions made in the best interest of business before people.

Remember your history, Dane Smith: We fought a war against Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito. This was a war against fascism. If you [lived in their countries and] didn’t agree with their regimes, you’d be shot. In the U.S. we still have a semblance of freedom of speech and thought. But under a fascist state that would disappear. 

 In the U.S. we have given our right of citizenry away, through the courts and laws, to the corporations who finance lobbyists to insure this all continues. In those countries that embrace “socialism,” decisions are made on behalf of the citizenry first, business interests second. We choose to throw our tax dollars into bombs to export abroad and kill those we disagree with instead of investing in our own our future. 

They may pay higher taxes in “socialist” states like Sweden, but they actually receive something in return — free college, free health care and some retirement security.

 Jonathan Seraphim, Eugene




Carol Horne Dennis has my unqualified support to fill the House District 14 vacancy.

From the moment I first heard Carol Horne Dennis speak in a meeting about six years ago, I was moved by the quality of her thinking, the values she espoused, and the power of her words. She is an articulate voice for justice for the needs of others and for the common good.

She arrives on time at meetings and is prepared to speak out clearly and constructively to move a discussion to a better conclusion. She has good writing skills to formulate ideas for collaborative efforts. She treats others with respect and is open to a wide range of people and views. She is a joy to work with.

Carol will be a diligent worker and someone I would be proud to say represents Lane County.

Carleen Reilly, Eugene


Carol Horne Dennis, who currently serves on the board of directors for Lane Educational Service District in the at-large Position 7, would be an excellent choice to fill the currently vacant seat of Representative in the Oregon Legislature for House District 14. 

She works tirelessly for the causes she believes in. She has been actively involved in the Democratic Party locally and statewide for some years and has a clear and articulate communication style that lends itself to consensus making teamwork Her sensitivity for those students who do not fit the “usual” mold makes her an excellent advocate for that part of the student population that is too often overlooked.

In addition, Ms. Horne Dennis is strongly committed to supporting the rights and needs of our elder community members. She has stated that these most vulnerable demographics, the young and the elderly, are the filter that she would use in weighing any legislative matters that would come before her. 

In her words: “Whether it’s the economy, the environment, public safety, education, attracting industry and creating jobs — if we ask ourselves how each bill will affect our children and our elders, we will have a strong basis for determining if the legislation is good or bad for Oregon.”

It is this type of compassionate and thoughtful approach as well as uncompromising integrity, that make her an outstanding choice to fill the District 14 seat.

Sharon Sless, Eugene


Lane County residents are fortunate that Carol Horne Dennis has consented to be considered for appointment to the vacant District 14 state representative seat. Carol is a person with deep personal convictions regarding fairness and justice. Best of all, she walks her talk — only one example is her election to the Lane ESD board where she advocates for students who might otherwise fall through the cracks. 

But to succeed in public office, one needs more than convictions — your ideas must find common ground in a political setting. Finding common ground requires active listening, respect, and understanding. Carol’s accomplishments exhibit these qualities in abundance. The Lane County commissioners could not find a more qualified person to represent us in the state Legislature.

Beverly Barr, Eugene


Most Americans will agree that, in a great democracy, the voices of the people are heard. We have such a system. But in reality our democracy has been weakened, indeed it has been perverted, by the line that says “lobbying is merely the expression of free speech.” 

We need to first recognize that interest groups backed by large funds are more heard in Washington, D.C., than are the voices of the people. With that done, we can address the proposition that improving our health care system is a tripartite endeavor. 

As many medical practitioners want to see changes that we, members of the public, wish to see, we can work with health care providers. However, there is a real need for our elected representatives to confront the profit-driven healthcare insurance industry, and confront those components of the pharmaceutical industry that lobby for regulations the main aim of which is to sustain enormous profits. 

Christopher Bayne, Corvallis