Eugene Weekly : Letters : 9.6.07


I would like to thank Alan Pittman for last week’s article (“Downtown Decision”, 8/30). Anyone who plans to vote on the $40 million question this November owes it to Eugene to read his single-page outline of the present West Broadway redevelopment predicament. Combined with the articles appearing almost daily in The Register-Guard, it becomes clear that the advisory committee will either have to put some teeth into their proposal, or it will be back to the drawing board for the city in its redevelopment plans beginning the day after the election.

From all directions, I am hearing that we can fill the two holes downtown ASAP and renovate any number of big buildings without any more public funding than is already in the kitty. Further, urban renewal funding is not something that dries up if we don’t spend it. The fact that one big developer after another keeps showing up tells us we’re a popular place. No need to give our money away. If indeed we have $40 million at our voting fingertips, it’ll pay many times over to take our time about spending it to the best advantage of this fine, unique city of Eugene.

Scott Landfield, Eugene



I was mildly annoyed to read Jim Earl’s comments in the Aug. 16 issue of the Weekly. His comments about the “high-brow” tastes of intellectuals and the “repressed” nature of this group represent a surprisingly stereotyped and narrow view of people with “intellectual” careers. As a professor at the UO, I have plenty of colleagues who can appreciate both the beauty of a well-formulated theoretical model and the thrill of watching Aaron Brooks pull up and swish a basketball through a hoop from some ridiculously long distance.

Tom Robbins put it beautifully when he wrote, “There are two kinds of people in this world; those who think there are two kinds of people and those who are smart enough to know better.” Which kind of person are you?

Ed Awh, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology



Regarding proposals for use of the “space” across from the downtown library:

On the north side of downtown Colorado Springs is a large one-block park which used to be a major hangout for drug dealers. A few years ago, a private citizen paid to build the “Uncle Wilbur Fountain” in a corner of the park, with a comic figure at its center and variety of sprays and sprinklers with ever-changing flow patterns. It immediately became a place for children to play in the water and for adults to gather to enjoy the fun and open space.

With parents protecting the children and eager to report apparent drug dealing, the dealers and users faded away, and all the local businesses — bookstores, restaurants, gift shops, etc. — prospered.

Eugene would do well to do something similar with the space across from the library, and it would do more to improve downtown with a park than the usual feed-the-developers schemes that city manager governments always seem to generate.

Bill Christopher and Melinda King, Eugene



I’ve been seeing shows at the Cuthbert for years. Last Friday (8/24), I was with a group of 10 people who enthusiastically attended the Evening with Gordon Lightfoot show. Gordon was a true song stylist and put on a great show. However, all of my crowd was dismayed at the extreme low-level volume coming from the stage.

As if that weren’t bad enough, we were “shushed” numerous times by patrons seated in the lawn area. A) I’m a grown-ass man, don’t shush me, and B) how about you snobs buy the “good” reserved seats up front and leave the lawn to us more festive people? To cap it all, one of my cohorts was “shushed” by a security guard in the beer tent! Is nothing sacred?

At the Johnny Lang show, I had to nearly scream at the beer server to get my order across. How about some consistency? Christ, it’s Gordon Lightfoot at the Cuthbert on a warm summer evening, not some snooty tux-mandatory Hult Center opera. For 30 bucks per ticket, I should be able to discuss the evening with my compadres, not get shushed by some bitter, back row, crusty old faux-hippie who wants absolute silence.

Here’s my thought for those types: Stay home and put on your vinyl copy of Gord’s Gold, wear your vintage Koss headphones, keep hitting that box of cheap Chablis and let the rest of us enjoy the evening and the LIVE music. Shush THIS!

Pete Zugelder, Eugene



I thought your readers would like to be in the know on more corporate grabs. Most of you have seen Burt’s Bees products in local stores; they make lotions, balms, salves and other skin care products. Well, an equity company owned by the Mellons, Rockefellers and another wealthy U.S. family bought them. They gave the owner a 15 percent share and a seat on the board of directors. So that folksy looking trademark of the bearded guy smiling is paying for Muffy and Reginald’s yacht.

But wait, there is more. Morning Star Farms, which makes those meatless products, was bought by Kellogg. I’ve noticed a decline in quality, more weird ingredients and higher prices — you? If our local Toby’s sells out to ADM or ConAgra or Pilllsbury or some other conglomerate, then I give up.

Greg Hume, Creswell

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can find out more about corporate organics on the Organic Consumers website (



My friends and I had a spirited debate this past Friday evening, with the subject being this November’s initiative for the redevelopment of Eugene’s downtown. We came to the conclusion that this initiative doesn’t go far enough, and we need at least three initiatives on the ballot for March 2008.

The first would require that the City Council get voter approval for any publicly financed private development or redevelopment projects that would cost over $1 million. The amount could be higher or lower. The second initiative would require any tax cuts to be approved by the voters, and the double majority rule will apply; fair is fair. Tax hikes need a double majority voter approval; so should tax cuts. This would have to go on the statewide ballot for approval. Third, and our most debated, that all City of Eugene department heads and deputies be subject to voter approval before being hired.

Our message: We, the citizens of Eugene don’t trust our governmental leaders, either elected or appointed, with our tax money. These three initiatives, we feel, will finally tell our government officials to stop giving corporations handouts and to spend our money wisely. It’s time small businesses get more attention — they are the ones who actually drive the economy. How about it, people?

Dean Carter, Eugene



When will we realize that what will usually attract people is a sense of joy, safety, creativity, music and art filling the atmosphere? This is essential when you want to support restaurants, businesses, entertainment venues and, ultimately, the economy.

In order to do this, of course, there must be a feeling of inclusiveness within certain boundaries with responsible regulation. We would need to have a space in which individuals, families and visitors would feel welcome and comfortable. An initial investment of strong mall rules and strong security would pay off in the long run, and it would become less necessary after awhile. We would also need some TLC and positive energy from business people, artists and crafts people, who could help by taking an active role in maintaining an inviting environment.

We really need some imaginative, creative thinkers who are flexible and open-minded and who could help bring about an area that goes beyond being just an attractive place. Also, it would be effective to have an intelligent and well-thought-out public relations campaign having to do with the pride we take in ourselves and our verdant community. Maybe that would bring back the heart of our beautiful city.

Often, even on rainy days, I have seen little pockets of pedestrians mixed in with some of the youth and even a few street folks, especially in the evenings, all yearning for something to do. We cannot exclude people from downtown unless they are doing something disruptive.

Did you ever stop to wonder why it is that a big slice of Eugene’s community comes out only on certain nights to play, i.e., the once a month ARTWalk, the once a year Celebration and certain other occasions? Why does it feel safe then? Why couldn’t we just have music and a celebration of Eugene’s “downtown living room” on some weekends and a meeting place for all of our citizens and their guests? A “Jardin” if you will, where many of the wonderful people in Eugene can congregate and help to bring about a feeling of good will. The downtown area has to be about all of us to work. It does take a village. There are several of us who would be more than willing to volunteer our time towards an effective entertainment committee.

Eugene Otis, Eugene



Not surprisingly, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) administrator Ron Anglin continues with the fear-based rhetoric of encouraging the public to report any cougar sighting to “ensure the safety of the community” (“ODFW Responds,” letters, 8/9).

Here are some facts to consider: The ODFW’s mission is to regulate killing. Its main constituent is the hunting lobby. ODFW uses the number of reported sightings to instill public fear of potential encounters with cougars. Cougar biologists agree that solicitation of cougar sightings is an inappropriate and unreliable method of determining cougar numbers, as sightings have proven to be extremely rare.

Under the guise of public safety, ODFW’s decisions to control cougar populations are driven by the desire to artificially increase deer and elk numbers rather than maintaining biodiversity. During the 1994 Measure 18 campaign (banning the use of dogs to hunt cougars), ODFW began aggressively soliciting cougar sightings and complaints from the public. Predator Defense took legal action to get copies of supposed sightings and damage complaints. Our review of reports filed between May 1994 through 1996 found that 96.7 percent of sightings and 91.7 percent of damage complaints were unconfirmed. No government agent investigated these sightings or incidents. More than a decade later, not much has changed. ODFW still does not investigate the majority of complaints and often gives permission to kill cougars without any verification of a problem.

Wildlife science does not support the contention that killing cougars is necessary to control their populations. Left unchallenged, the ODFW will continue to use myth and fear to justify the slaughter of Oregon’s cougars.

Brooks Fahy, Executive Director, Predator Defense, Eugene



Although Phil Knight certainly has a right to spend his millions as he pleases, one important footnote has been overlooked in the press regarding his recent $100 million donation to UO athletics: It’s dirty money. Knight’s Nike has a long-standing history of reaping its profits on the backs of slave laborers in overseas sweatshops. Although Nike downplays this with spins and shameless excuses, the sobering facts are readily available on many websites.

When I learned of this many years ago, I stopped buying Nike products. Nevertheless, it is probably ridiculous to expect this to matter to the good ol’ boys at UO. Who bites the hand that feeds them, right? In light of this and other recent events too numerous to mention here, the Ducks are looking more and more like dogs rolling over for a smelly bone.

Dave Ryan, Eugene



I have just read that our grass seed farmers will not do any burning during the Olympic trials so that the athletes can have clean air to breathe. So gracious of them. Imagine the bad press throughout the nation if the air quality was as usual filled with their noxious smoke.

As far as stopping their burning for the rest of the time (for the rest of us), as most farmers have done already, it’s back to business as usual. Now they are saying that if the smoke is harmful to us, then we need to prove it to them. One method may be to ask one of them to camp out downwind of their own field someday, while it is burning, and then at the end of the day see if they can sing “The Star Spangled Banner” in G minor, in order to prove that it is not harmful.

I come from a family of farmers from Minnesota and the Dakotas. They had a hard life and worked for every damned dime they made. They were very independent, took care of their own and cared deeply for their community. They would never cause harm to their family or community because they recognized the contribution that the surrounding community gave to them and their family, through public schools, libraries, hospitals, roads, bridges, police and fire — and it is all funded by the community, not individual long term farmers.

“PROVE IT!” I’m sorry, but these grass seed farmers sound like a bunch of conniving lawyers who should be running for Congress rather than farming. Field burning is wrong for the individual and wrong for the community. This stubborn attitude — against change for the betterment of all — helps no one, least of all our gracious grass seed farmers.

Gene Okins, Eugene



Jim Earl’s article (8/16) regarding football was somewhat intriguing. Academics often suffer from diverted funds to athletic programs, mostly because universities are big business under the guise of education. Athletics bring huge amounts of money to the university, due mostly to the huge demand that fills living rooms, bars and 60,000 people at Autzen Stadium in the fall. If there were the same demand for music, theater and art, I would assure you money would be poured into those programs, but the demand is not there.

Maybe football and sports are not lessons in life, but you could argue that being in theater, being a sculptor, painter, musician or a dance artist are not lessons in life either. Maybe we should cut those fundings as well because it is possible they are not lessons in life.

Jim is quoted as saying, “In class they learn that violence and force are wrong, that life is not a contest, that beating the other guy isn’t the goal.” I’m not a corporate person, but in order to succeed in business, get a job as a professor or obtain a job in the corporate world, you must compete in a contest by beating the other guy in the interview process and then remain competitive in your field after you have achieved success.

I have a landscaping business here in Eugene, and sports have been a huge part of my life. There are times when I feel unsure of myself, whether I’m up to the task, and I think back to my athletic career when the pressure was on. I think back to those times and draw strength from the fact that I delivered then, so I’m well prepared to deliver in the present. Football has taught me that when life delivers a devastating hit, knocks the wind out of you, that you get up, catch your breath and continue in the game of life.

Jon DiPalma, Eugene



Killer hurricanes, deadly heat waves, floods of near-biblical proportions. Aren’t we lucky to live in a state whose extremes of nature are, by comparison, quaint? These mostly temperate, nonthreatening climes are just one of many factors contributing to Oregon’s rapid population growth. Working families chasing the American dream and baby boomers seeking retirement nirvana are following the Oregon Trail. Will this migration destroy those very qualities that draw them here? What’s a tranquility seeking soul to do?

Permanent access to quiet, natural sanctuaries is becoming a critical need, and yet the opportunity to enjoy the solitude of primeval open spaces is diminishing. The Register-Guard‘s excellent feature article on the proposed Badlands Wilderness east of Bend (Outdoors, 8/7) describes just such an oasis, an essential wildlife habitat and home to a wealth of cultural and geological wonders. This high desert refuge is uniquely positioned to be Oregon’s next congressionally designated desert wilderness, one whose proximity to fast-growing Bend makes it a priority for protection. Volunteers from Eugene-Springfield and from around the Pacific Northwest have been working for more than a decade to restore and protect the Badlands.

I strongly urge Congressman Peter DeFazio to support this goal, to take the lead in protecting the Badlands for his constituents and for all Oregonians. Our High Desert is much too special a place to leave exposed to “progress,” and Wilderness Designation for the Badlands will ensure that this legacy is there for future generations to enjoy.

Brian McCall. Eugene



Responsible hunting is a safe and healthy tradition that millions of Americans enjoy with their families each year. Hunting generates huge sums of money that benefits wildlife on many levels. Revenues generated from hunting contribute to habitat protection, biological research, refuge management, winter feeding programs, trap and transplant and more. Millions of Americans harvest their own food, which should be viewed as a totally acceptable way of life. As sad as it sounds, some people today cannot make the simple connection that death must occur in order for them to enjoy the hamburgers and hot dogs they love to guzzle.

If it was up to the Humane Society of the U.S. and PETA, we would be eating grass and wearing plastic shoes. These groups are not your local animal shelter helping puppies. These people are against hunting, fishing, trapping, farming, medical research, etc.

Modern conservation practices through hunting are the reason we have healthy wildlife populations in the U.S. Hunters and conservation groups such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever and many more are the ones contributing the money, time and resources that benefit wildlife and habitat. Some people choose the outdoor way of life while some people choose otherwise. In America, this should always be a personal choice and it should not be decided for them through legislation and ballot initiatives. Oregon’s wildlife needs everyone, hunters and non-hunters alike, to stand up and support conservation and sound wildlife management practices. It is only through these efforts that we will be able to guarantee healthy wildlife populations for future generations to enjoy. It is time to say NO to these extremists and do what is right for Oregon.

Chad Gooch, Lafayette



At this very moment, relocalization efforts and relocalized economies are occurring all over the globe simultaneously.

We who are interested in regaining control over our local economy are connected in spirit and vision with those in other localities who striving to regain control over their local economies.

Separation is an illusion. We need to find a way to relocalize without diminishing the effectiveness of each other’s local economies — without negating beneficial (fair) trade. At the same time, we need to find a way to globalize without destroying local economies because we are, in fact, a global species and there is a global economy.

When we operate out of a narrow frame of reference by identifying with our own separate, small, individual lives and families and communities, we only perpetuate the current fear-and-greed-based economic system that leads to the oppression of so many for the benefit of so few. And the solutions we grasp at remain stuck in the polarized realm of “moving against” things (for example opposing globalization with localization) versus learning to “move with” the flow in a coordinated and intelligent manner.

As more and more of us continue to awaken to a global consciousness — to an awareness of the interconnectedness and interdependency of all of humanity, of all of life, as a unified global community — then the economic and social structures that flow forth from our collective wisdom will increasingly be based on a natural sense of generosity, cooperation, compassion and ecological sensibility.

As this spreading of expanded consciousness occurs, both our local and global economies, integrated and coordinated in a well-functioning holistic manner, will attain greater sustainability in that they will be truly adaptive and responsive to the ever-changing requirements of our evolving culture, our evolving global civilization and our evolving species.

Don Schneider, Pleasant Hill



We, the Whiteaker Cocktail Society (WCS), would like to extend many thanks to all the contributors to the Whiteaker Block Party. From those who attended, to all those who had a hand in making it happen we thank you. We humbly declare this event to have been a new kind of Eugene celebration with its roots and heart a little closer to the community.

The block party was an event focused on showcasing the Whiteaker neighborhood, local musicians, artists and businesses. The event was held on Saturday, Aug. 18. The entire block of 3rd Avenue was closed to vehicle traffic between Jackson and Van Buren.

Three stages of music provided the brunt of the entertainment. The WCS would like to thank the musicians who contributed their time and energy to rock the day away. These folks include:

DJ Charles Thump, Ovulators, Los Mex Pistols Del Norte, DJ Shawn Kahl, UltraTerrestrial, DJ Matt Belway, Dan Jones & The Squids, Conjugal Visitors, Samba Ja, Emerald City Roller Girls, Rhythm Pimps, Baitball, Mood Area 52, Ninth Moon Black, Badminton, Eno Pancakes, Jesse Meade, Sam Hahn, DJ Dimon and The Unoriginal Satans. We want to give a huge applause to Bruce and Nate. You two truly brought the noise. Last but not least, let’s not forget Kinneys’ Rig.

The kidzone was available to those with young ones and offered face painting, art projects, film presentations, puppets and magicians. Popcorn, lemonade and water were available. This was truly a show for all ages and people. Kitty Piercy was seen at the main stage enjoying herself. We thank you for coming, Kitty.

Throughout the afternoon, near the 2nd stage, a raffle was held. Many contributed to the raffle. We would like to offer special thanks to Ninkasi Brewing, Sam Bonds Garage, The Laughing Planet,,The World Cafe, Territorial Vineyard, The Whiteaker Station, Pabst Blue Ribbon, The Wandering Goat, Epic Designs, The Glass Menagerie, Revolution Cycles, Red Barn and the Red Apple. Also, we’d like to thank The Emerald City Roller Girls, Azure Ocean, Ali’s Kabob and Brendan and Anne Marie for making the carnitas.

The block party was a glittering success. This was made possible by the concerted efforts of many. All those who showed up with their smiling faces and warm energies marked the day with a special air. It is but one example of how great it is when we come together as a community.

We have seen the Whiteaker neighborhood come together in many ways over the last several years. Whether we are having block parties or rallies for peace and justice, it takes the community standing together to make it work. This is a forward progression that we must help continue.

We in Eugene have an embarrassment of riches. Let us take the Whiteaker Neighborhood, for example. Within a four block radius of the block party’s epicenter is everything one needs: natural food stores, restaurants, pubs, a biodiesel fueling facility, convenience stores, community gardens and more. These are positive forces that must be supported.

We, the Whiteaker Cocktail Society, look forward to being more involved with the community in the future. As a group of like-minded individuals, our goals are oriented toward the betterment of our community and ourselves. Please keep your ear to the ground, for the revolution will not be televised.

Michael Board for the WCS

Check out pics on Flickr