Eugene Weekly : Letters : 9.29.11


I’m writing in response to the alleged hate-crime accusations about Emilio Nichols. Emilio is a very good friend of mine; I went to high school with Emilio and have spent time with him recently. Emilio is not a racist. Maybe he punched this kid in the face, and that’s not cool at all; but it was not a hate crime. I’ve watched Emilio give hugs and genuine smiles to friends of all skin types, and he’s been kind and generous to many people; he’s not a bad person. 

I think a lot of hearsay has contributed to the accusations, some about Emilio using “racist terms/phrases.” I’ve heard him use the term “nigg” while referring to a friend, and I have used the phrase myself, but that doesn’t mean we are racists; it means we were being insensitive assholes. There is a big difference. Emilio would never hurt a person, or think any lesser of them based on their skin color. I know this for a fact, but when I look on the news I see my friend being made out to be a monster, and it worries me. 

I don’t want my friend to spend time in prison for a hate crime that he didn’t commit. If he really did assault the kid, then charge him with assault, but don’t blow this out of proportion and ruin his life.

Stephen Batura, Eugene


As EW pointed out recently, one-third of the total values of all the buildings on the UO campus are sports-related. Moreover, during the 2010-11 fiscal year more than one-third of the gifts donated to the university ($43.6 million), a $1.1 million state subsidy and a $1.5 million student-fee subsidy went not to academic departments but to the athletic department.

Chip Kelly and his assistant coaches are paid astounding salaries, plus perks. Palaces are built only for athletes. Recent large raises for top-level administrators on campus are railroaded through. Those who do the teaching, their assistants and their staffs are asked to do more with less. And more for less. A troubling pattern is emerging here and nationwide: The well-fed athletic tail in schools is wagging the woefully underfed academic dog. 

Football teams in particular have become symbols of the American Empire and, inexplicably, of institutions of higher learning. Football — a gladiatorial sport based on brute force, speed, and deceit — creates in many of its followers a passionately unquestioning, competitive, bullying, at-times bloodthirsty attitude that is totally and essentially at odds with the inquiring, scientific, humanistic, rational and cooperative values at the heart of the mission of colleges and universities.

Money corrupts. Sports can, should, and sometimes do, of course, teach important lessons and impart decent values. The more big bucks are involved however, the less it seems that sports do so.

Jerome Garger, Yachats


Although the Cottage Grove Historical Society announced recently that they have halted their effort to purchase Dr. Pierce’s Barn, the Historic Preservation League of Oregon (HPLO) remains an active partner in seeking out alternatives to the building’s unnecessary demolition. Listed as one of Oregon’s “Most Endangered Places,” the barn is not just an artifact of days gone by, but a prime example of a significant resource ripe for innovative adaptive reuse. 

In an increasingly global marketplace, Oregon’s small towns must differentiate themselves from others in order to stay competitive. Dr. Pierce’s Barn is unique in western Oregon and sets Cottage Grove apart to attract its share of Oregon’s $7 billion annual tourism industry. This unique icon gets people off I-5 and into the community to stroll, shop and dine.

The HPLO and other public and private preservation organizations offer grants, tax incentives and technical assistance to property owners to help offset the regulations that some local governments place on historic properties because those places benefit the community.

The HPLO would like to see a civic-minded investor purchase and repurpose Dr. Pierce’s Barn as an income-generating property, thus providing extensive environmental, cultural and economic benefits to the community. Historic barns across the country have been adapted as farmer’s markets, retail spaces, youth educational facilities, event spaces and more. 

A few people have suggested that the advertising-painted section might be salvaged and hung up somewhere. But this is a case where the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. What makes Dr. Pierce’s Barn so beloved is the total package — the authenticity and integrity of the barn in its setting, telling its story. 

The possibilities for Dr. Pierce’s Barn have not been exhausted. But the community needs to get behind it in a demonstrable way or no “hero” has any reason to come forward to make the investment. We encourage anyone who thinks that Cottage Grove would be diminished by the loss of this resource to contact the “Friends of Dr. Pierce’s Barn” on Facebook or through the HPLO.

 Peggy Moretti, Executive director, Historic Preservation League of Oregon


It is sad to see the disappearance of a community icon. And it is particularly sad when the icon is a long-established community landmark.

Cottage Grove is in danger of losing one if its most visible landmarks. The barn with the Dr. Pierce’s Pleasant Pellets advertisement is visible from I-5. Photographs of the barn and sign have also been distributed near and far on postcards. But this may soon be no more because of the intended sale of the property.

Cottage Grove is a community that has very visibly embraced its past. From murals to covered bridges and a historic Main Street, this city has avoided the error of other Willamette Valley communities which chose to embrace “progress” and only in retrospect realized that progress should have been approached with more forethought!

Perhaps the best win-win solution for the community is the acquisition of the part of the barn wall with the advertisement through an agreed-upon fair price offer to the landowner. The wall could then be retained for eventual installation in the developing Bohemia Heritage Park. 

Historical landmarks are sorely missed after their demise. Sometimes a demise should, and can be, avoided.

Robert L. Hart, Executive director, Lane County  Historical Society and Museum


Don’t let PR consultants decide this election. The Willamette Week “Not Paying His Dues” article on Brad Avakian, spun by Bonamici consultant Mark Wiener and written by WW writer Nigel Jaquiss, misrepresents “Avakian’s money troubles.” Since the opposition cannot attack the great work Avakian has done for Oregonians they have manufactured scandal. The WW article is an October surprise delivered in mid-September. Journalists should not be ad men for or appendages of any political campaign. It is shameful. 

Brad is one of the most effective, progressive voices in our state government. He has been recognized by the OLCV, AFL-CIO and SEIU as a dedicated environmentalist and a strong voice for our working and middle class families. His record in the Legislature is impeccable. The Avakians’ late tax payment years ago makes them similar to many Oregonians who have been under financial duress, and makes them more in touch with struggling Oregon families. 

Steve Coatsworth, Eugene


So-called “smart meters” are being installed by the Consumers Power Inc. electric co-op in the areas they serve near Eugene. Unlike EWEB, CPI is using Obama stimulus dollars to pay for it.

The Sept. 15 EW article about smart meters did not mention the biggest issue. I worry that cyber terrorists could launch denial of service attacks and create havoc by turning off home electric services remotely, which could also destabilize the power grid and cause permanent damage to equipment.

The publicly available smart meter engineering specification for the smart meter on my house says two-way communication (e.g., to remotely shut off your electric service) is done over the same unlicensed radio frequencies used by wi-fi computer networks, but with a different and incompatible mesh network standard defined by the ZigBee Alliance.

CPI’s previous generation “Turtle” electric meter interfered with my home’s X-10 light controls, which forced me to abandon them. Wi-fi computer networks could be similarly disrupted.

Perhaps privacy is only a concern of marijuana growers trying to hide from police their plant lights’ abnormal usage of electricity. There is still too much secret about proprietary smart meters to know if privacy is a bigger issue.

Thomas Kraemer, Corvallis


 I am so happy that Pete Sorenson is once again on the campaign trail by announcing that he is running for re-election for south Eugene’s Lane County commissioner.

 Pete has been a driving force behind progressive values that represent the majority of citizens who live in Lane County. He is not afraid to speak his mind and stand up for the values that open-minded people everywhere hold dear. He is the voice of reason keeping our community moving forward. Vote on May 15 and reelect a true leader.

 Diane DeVillers, Eugene


For the courteous driver writing (“Insane Bikers,” 9/15) about insane bikers: Although being screamed at in traffic is dangerous and uncivilized, you were provoking the incident by driving incorrectly. There have been an increasing number of “courteous drivers” stopping at unexpected locations to give bikes the right of way. However you are not doing anybody a favor by impeding traffic. No skilled bicyclist is going to ride in front of a car that is driving erratically or failing to follow standard traffic patterns. 

Since you saw the cyclist approaching in your rear view mirror and your signal was on, then you were in front and expected to turn first. Bicyclists are required by law to obey the same traffic rules as automobiles. It’s great that you are “hyper-aware” of bikers, but it is possible to drive cautiously while still following standard traffic procedures.

 Patrick Roberts, Corvallis


I have a pertinent response to Kevin O’Brien’s offense (9/15) that his politeness as a driver was not well received: But for the obscenity and the city, I could have easily been Mr. O’Brien’s cycling hippie chick.

While I applaud Mr. O’Brien for signaling his intent to turn, too often cars have cut me off when what could have been a yield was simply a distracted driver spending more time than normal at rest. Of the 25 people who do this over the course of a year, maybe one is actually yielding. The safest action I can take is to stop and wait for this car to move, which does piss me off. Despite one’s good intentions, inappropriate and unpredictable politeness needlessly endangers those of us using the road. (Such was the point recently made in regard to cars that stop for crossing pedestrians at unmarked intersections on two-lane, one-direction roads.)

Safety for both cars and bikes relies on communication of intent. I fully expect a car signaling right in front of me to turn right in front of me. Until car makers include a signal that means “I want to turn right but will wait for you to pass safely,” I’ll continue to fully express myself with all situationally appropriate arm gestures, reserving my curses to those cars that speed ahead and cut me off, signal or not.

Ebba Peterson, Corvallis


The point of Tom Hayden’s disjointed 9/11 essay (9/8) eluded me till I saw it as a work of pre-election propaganda, intended to rally liberal supporters of Obama demoralized by the gulf separating Obama the candidate from Obama the president. As Hayden himself writes, “bridging the differences between the Democratic liberal establishment and the idealistic progressive networks will remain an ordeal through the 2012 elections.” This was an early start in that particular Long War.

Clearly the rhetoric of the campaign and reality of the administration do not square, leaving writers like Hayden casting about for some way to reconcile the irreconcilable. With its ambiguous leader head of the national security state, the “Peace Party” he proposes is more “Peace” Party, with “peace” being a shift from large scale ground wars to more economical drone strikes and special operations-driven occupations. Of course, Hayden predicts, there will be an argument “over the question of whether special operations and drone attacks are effective, moral and consistent with the standards of a constitutional democracy,” but is there any real doubt how that argument will end?

The notion of Obama declaring a “trillion dollar peace dividend” which he will then (why worry over constitutional authority mid-fantasy?) “transfer … to energy conservation and America’s state and local crises,” is nonsense rooted in the durability of “9/11 Blindness.” The myth of 9/11 has established the premises of the game, and as long as you play their game, you’re never going to win.

Tim Shaw, Eugene


In response to the president’s urging of citizens to share their ideas for improving our economy, I offer a modest proposal for addressing the high level of unemployment among young people and especially young people who are part of the minority community where the unemployment rate is double the 9 percent rate for the workforce as a whole. 

 As a recipient of a Fulbright, I taught economics during the 1983-84 academic year at a college in England. At that time the British government was trying to deal with a similar high unemployment rate facing young people here in the U.S.

 Briefly, the concept of their plan was to take such people off the dole by dealing with what we in economics call structural unemployment. This means that many young people lacked the needed marketable skills and job experience to be employed by businesses. The plan they used could be used here and was simply to have the government pay a percentage of their wages if business would agree to hire them for two years and give them a day off to attend the British Colleges of Higher Education such as the one at which I taught monetary economics to such banking students. The theory was that at the end of two years the students would have marketable skills and two years of work experience.

 I think that if it worked there, it should be considered here.

G. Dennis Shine, Springfield 


As a lifelong Democrat, I was surprised to read of Congressman Peter DeFazio’s belief that support for President Obama is waning in the 4th congressional district. Please allow me to share some good reasons for my strong support for Obama: 

1) Obamacare. Although some people don’t understand what will happen in the next few years, the result will be more, not less, medically insured Americans. This will be a very good event for all of us. 2) The wind down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both of these wars are now unnecessary and a drain on resources both human and financial that we need elsewhere. 3) Employment. I am a professor at a local private college and personally observe how much struggle my students engage in to find a job after graduation. Obama is the highest ranking federal politician who has publicly announced and supported a jobs program at the federal level that will bring a rising tide that will cause everyone’s boat to rise. For these and many other reasons, Obama deserves reelection.

Gerry Merritt, Eugene



Week after week the GOP presidential candidates debates are appearing more and more like a seltzer bottle spraying, nose honking, clown fight. It has become obvious that the Grand Old Party has degenerated into catering to its fringe ghouls on parade.

Ghouls, cheering over Rick Perry’s prisoner death count. Ghouls shouting “Let him die!” after a question about what to do with uninsured coma victims. Ghouls booing a soldier calling from the battlefield, because he said he was gay. The Republican Party that once aspired our nation to be a “shining city upon a hill” has become a party that would lead our nation back into the hate-filled Dark Ages. The divide is growing and a divided nation can not survive.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain