COUNCIL DELAYING ACTION
Jerry Ritter [Letters, 8/16] kindly asked me why housing for the homeless is a human right. The right derives from common decency, apparently a foreign concept to right-wingers.
Unfortunately the City Council is dragging its feet on Opportunity Village Eugene (OVE), and has not carried out any of the recommendations of the mayor’s Opportunity Eugene Task Force on Homelessness. The OVE nonprofit, which is organizing the village, presented the council with a 20-page proposal. On July 18, the council directed the city manager to come back in September with a list of possible city properties that might be used to house the homeless and a process to consider them. Councilors Brown, Ortiz and Taylor pushed for faster action but were outvoted. So far the issue does not appear on any of the September work session agendas on the council’s website.
The word we’re hearing is that the city is unlikely to take any action in time for OVE to get homeless people out of the rain and cold by next winter, and there is no plan B. The Egan Warming Centers, First Place’s housing of homeless families in churches at night, and the expansion of the Eugene Mission are all good things, but they will not meet the need. The last homeless count in January 2011 recorded over 2,000 people homeless in Lane County. Most of them are in the Eugene-Springfield area, because this is where the population is. See http://wkly.ws/1cc
What we’re seeing is a massive failure of leadership, which is what we’ve come to expect from all levels of government. It’s going to take public pressure to get the homeless indoors. I’m hoping for some public disruption in the fall.
HOUSING IS A LEGAL RIGHT
In reference to Jerry Ritter’s letter Aug. 16, he asks where in legal documents there is a legal right to housing.
If he will consult the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which the Eugene Human Rights Commission ought to be able to provide to him, or visit wkly.ws/1cd) he will find that Article 25, Section 1 states that: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
The first paragraph of this document reads: “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
This declaration is an international treaty signed by the U.S. in 1948, and therefore the law of the land. Everyone should acquaint themselves with it and work towards its fulfillment.
PROTECT THE HEADWATERS
Another treasure could disappear. Eugene’s Amazon headwaters is a special area that must stay special for everyone in Eugene! I’m sad to hear the owners are trying for a fourth time to turn it into a housing project. We can’t create another beautiful area with a flowing creek for all of us to enjoy. It can’t happen. Do visit this area and realize what we could lose if developers get their way.
When I worked with the Eugene Stream Team making our film Speaking for Wetlands, I learned how important it is to keep the natural watershed. There are vacant lots throughout the city including five on my block. Let’s keep the Amazon headwaters as it is today.
EUGENE IS NEXT
Every year, Oregonians throw out 1.7 billion plastic bags. The city of Eugene estimates Eugeneans use 67 million bags a year. I have seen these bags make it into our communities and environment, floating around in the air or being snared in a tree or bush before they make their way out to sea.
Like so many people in Eugene, I enjoy the hiking, fishing and camping opportunities that Oregon provides and have enjoyed them my entire life. The damage that these bags cause is well known, as Portland and now even Corvallis have banned them; it’s now Eugene’s turn. It’s a no-brainer to stop plastic bag waste. As Oregonians, we all have a stake in protecting our ocean and our coast, but it is the residents of Eugene, living in the second-largest city in Oregon, that can set the stage for the rest of the state. The citizens of Eugene must call their city councilors to let them know that they don’t want another bag to disrupt the beauty of Oregon and all that it means to us.
WAR AND CLIMATE
Global warming is a reality to be taken very seriously. Longtime climate change skeptics sound the alarm. Most of us are more careful in our energy use. Rising energy prices are getting the attention of those not inclined to conserve.
But nowhere, it seems, is the connection between waging war and global warming wondered about or discussed.
While many of us seriously struggle to use energy resources wisely, the beat of the military-industrial complex goes on. It’s time to think about one of the really big elephants stomping on planet Earth.
Consider the amount of energy required — and therefore heat generated — to produce weapons of war; house and train military personnel; transport weapons and personnel by air, sea and land; operate military equipment; detonate explosives of all kinds; and provide short- and long-term medical services for personnel.
What are we as a nation prepared to do about this? How do we decide if a war is worth the cost in blood and treasure? How can we collectively make better choices to ensure a healthy and sufficient world for those yet to be born?
STANDARD OF LIVING
In response to Jerry Ritter’s question (“A Right to Housing?” 8/26), Lynn Porter was likely referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 25, Part 1, states that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.”
This is not a legally binding document, but rather one that lays out the moral obligations of participating governments. The U.S. (and 47 other countries) ratified the UDHR on Dec. 10, 1948. The full text is available on the United Nations website at http://wkly.ws/1ch
Elizabeth Figueroa, Eugene
Regarding the “Dangerous Bums” letter Aug. 9: There are only two kinds of homeless people — the dangerous kind and all others.
I agree with Jeff when it comes to the first group, but please don’t paint all homeless people with the same brush.
We desperately need some cheap, reasonable way to distinguish between the two groups so we could tell the first group to go to hell and spend our time and effort dealing with the second group. This is critical, so time, effort and resources could be put to the best use.
Perhaps Vickie Nelson’s group [Letters, 8/9] and/or Opportunity Village [News Briefs. 8/9] could set up a brainstorming session to come with some possibilities? What would the people in the second group be willing to “put up with” to accomplish this? I suggest we ask them.
Of course this type of approach will create a “class society” of the homeless. So what — those willing to help should have some assistance and a choice. And the people in the second group would always have the option of not being identified as belonging to the second group.
The bad minority of homeless people should not be allowed to keep people willing to help away.
This procedure would not indicate the individual is honest and law abiding, but is willing to go through any procedure requested.
Frank Skipton, Springfield
I believe the action being taken by Occupy Eugene at the abandoned house at 12th and Lawrence is the most positive development in the local Occupy Movement saga so far. By establishing a presence at that abandoned house they are taking an action that will improve the quality of life in that neighborhood.
This positive action gives them both the credibility and the focus that, to me, they had been lacking up to now. It gives them credibility because they are taking a positive action instead of just protesting. And it focuses their message on the mortgage crisis that this country is facing because of the actions of Wall Street.
I hope they succeed in establishing such a project in every neighborhood in town. If they can then convince the banks that own the mortgages on such abandoned homes to give them access to the home and write that access off as a charitable donation, they will do more to help with the homelessness problem in town than any “homeless camp” will accomplish.
Lonnie McCulloch , Eugene
PLACES I’VE NEVER BEEN
Thanks again to all of the volunteers, staff, performers, vendors and participants in the Oregon Country Fair 2012. This year’s Fair was my favorite of all. Everything just seemed to gel in a way I’ve never seen before. Due to a number of people who have passed recently, I think the fair had a little more of a subdued feel to it, for me.
Our booth, Wileyware, was back for our fourth visit to OCF and it was such a pleasure seeing old and new friends who visited our home at the Fair. We loved the parades, the body painted children (young and old), all of the costuming and the spirit of family that makes the fair our favorite event all year.
I wish Fair happened more often — I spend the rest of the year missing the Ritz, my friends and the wonderful feeling of being surrounded by positive, evolving, healthy people who are working to strengthen community and get closer all while having the time of our lives.
Thank you, Eugene. Once again you took me to places I’ve never been and reminded me of why I make the trek to Veneta every year. I hope you all get to feel the goodness we all experienced all year long and I’ll see you back in 2013!
Albert Kaufman, Portland
I wanted to write to thank you for your blog post on “Cruel Rabbit Roundup” July 16 [see follow-up story, 7/12]. I’ve never heard of such a stupid “event.” I fail to understand why parents think allowing their children to deliberately frighten and torture (intentionally or unintentionally) animals for the “fun” of it teaches them anything worthwhile. I do know the emotional suffering children can endure when they inadvertently harm an animal or see an animal hurt. It can have devastating effects.
Some of the comments that were posted speak volumes to the lack of education the writers have obtained. Although I don’t condone raising animals for food, I do know it can be done humanely and compassionately. The crude, hurtful and petty comments posted by some individuals is appalling.
There is no need to have such events for the sake of “entertainment” and I hope the riding club will not do it again.
Debra Doefler, San Marcos, Calif.
An Army recruiter goes to a local high school, flirting with the girls while there, and the sentence is two year’s probation and a $250 fine for having sex in the recruiting office at Gateway Mall with one of those girls. I feel outraged that this could happen and that the consequences for the recruiter are so minimal. The sentence did include that Sgt. Miller be listed as a sex offender, which seems appropriate because of his flirting while in a high school, and he had the girl come back to the recruiting office after hours. Her detail of what happened to the investigating police officer, not contradicted by Sgt. Miller, is chilling and makes the sex offender label appropriate.
As coordinator of Truth in Recruiting, the CALC program which aims to provide accurate, complete information to youth about enlisting in the military, I am appalled. We recommend that youth only speak with recruiters with an adult present to monitor what is said. Now we will add monitoring what is done.
Clearly the military needs to take action to change the climate that results in so many cases of sexual assault on women in the military. There are at least 52 sexual assaults a day within the military, and it is estimated that only about 15 percent of assaults are reported. It is far past time for the military to take action, not just talk about solutions to this alarming, unsafe culture.
Carol Van Houten, Eugene
Regarding Mia Nelson’s letter [8/9]: Everyone please continue your education regarding the EmX issue. We are being sold a “bill of goods,” however, most don’t care because there’s earmarked federal funds. I was totally in that camp until I educated myself.
Bus rapid transit is not light rail. It is another larger, more road-damaging, gasoline-using, axles-overweight bus. It is not my idea of mass transit for the next 50 years. It shouldn’t be yours.
The over-hyped benefits of BRT are lost when there is not a dedicated lane. The exclusive lane is the key element for success. We are buying into an expensive, flawed second-rate plan.
Other keys are: population for support, and a destination that screams “everyone come here.” Is that Walget and Tarmart? Do we really need “densification” of housing and businesses along West 11th?
How will EmX “mitigate brewing traffic overload problems”? Please visit and count the cars at the Seneca Park and Ride. Enlightening yet sadly under-utilized. Imagine one less auto lane on 6th and 7th.
Is Envision Eugene a “do-nothing, head-in-the-sand approach to growth management planning”?
Are you adequately addressing the concerns of the affected business community? Employee payroll taxes fund the operations of our transit system. If businesses reduce employee hours due to construction, thereare less LTD operating funds.
We love Betty. Politicians change their minds. You can also. Keep learning.
Robert Rubin, Waldport
Jeff Zekas of Veneta tells us all we need to know about him in his letter (“Dangerous Bums,” 8/10). He says he used to work for state highway department, so he’s one of the “new rich public employees.” He’s probably counting his PERS money and laughing manically right now. He used to be a social worker, aka “couldn’t get a real job.” And he hangs out with guys named Greg whose only chance for a date is picking up homeless women. Talk about slummin’. Oh wait, I’m not over-generalizing about someone I know nothing about, but choosing instead to cherry pick anecdotal evidence that confirms my already established opinions, am I?
Kevin O’Brien, Eugene
VOTER FRAUD IN OREGON
It’s one thing to hear of disenfranchised voters across the country in Florida, Ohio, or Wisconsin; what is that but abstract hearsay? But now we have proof and ample witnesses of just that here in the Pacific Northwest.
Most voters don’t realize the representative process for the citizen is the precinct representative, or PCP. The PCPs from across the state for the Republican Party held their convention last June 23. There were five conventions across the state with approximately 900 PCPs in attendance. We drove from all over the state to five separate locations and spent at least 12 hours voting for the Oregon State Republican delegates, state electors, and their alternates, some of whom will go to Tampa, Florida at the end of August to represent the Oregon voters’ choice of Republican presidential nominee.
Then, Allen Alley, the Oregon Republican state chair, summarily voided the five conventions’ votes, nullifying the PCP’s choices for the alternates and installed 24 Alternates of Alley’s own choosing, thus breaking Republican National Convention rules.
Republican or not, are you going to stand for this, Oregon? You can contact Alley here if you wish at the Oregon Republican Party (503) 595-8881 or firstname.lastname@example.org
And this guy’s actually thinking of running for governor?
Steven Godó Kiss, Eugene
The Romney campaign has presented itself and the American public with the Ryan Ultimatum. If you value your social safety net, you are going to have to fight for it. Otherwise, the Ryan Ultimatum will reduce your Medicare to a voucher program which will require senior citizens to find an insurance company to take on their risk at the most risk-prone time of their lives.
The Ryan Ultimatum will take away your home mortgage, property tax and charitable contribution federal tax adjustment. The exchange will be a reduced federal tax rate on your income which will last until the next Republican Congress convenes and replaces the former tax rates. The Ryan Ultimatum will take your student loan program that is now federally subsidized and present it as a money-making gift to the bankers and loan bundlers. The Ryan Ultimatum will reduce the middle class to an empty and unattainable dream. The Ryan Ultimatum will enrich the billionaires by further reducing their taxes while increasing yours.
There is one person on the national stage that will bring us a fair shot at success with a fair playing field. I support President Barack Obama for reelection as president of the U.S.
Gerry Merritt, Eugene
FEAR NOT THE PROBLEM
In Response to Lynn Porter’s letter “Fear of the Homeless” on Aug. 2: Fear isn’t really the problem. Its people who think they are better than others because they either don’t look like them, or smell like them. They (homeless) are lazy and up to no good, and there could be no other reason, as the thinking goes. These good people (with jobs and homes) think they could never end up this way! Anyone can become homeless given the right circumstances!
These are people (those with jobs and homes, most of them) who go to church, pray at night with their kids and tell them it’s right to donate to charities! They tell their kids to respect adults yet these same parents or people are the ones who will never do what it is we as human beings must do for those who are less fortunate. To extend a hand. They act as though they care but they really don’t because they don’t want to get their hands dirty! It’s not my problem.
Those of you who think you are better, smarter, cleaner, richer, etc., than other folks: You are in for a rude awakening!
Because even if you aren’t ever homeless you will (as we all will) answer for your conduct and your behavior concerning those who are truly in need here on Earth, one day!
And on that day, it will be YOU who will need help! Of course it will be too late then.
Scott McDougal, Eugene
LINKS TO WALL STREET
Environmentalist, peace activist and Oregon researcher Mark Gaffney spoke July 19 at Tsunami Books. Gaffney’s book Black 9/11: Money, Motive & Technology (dedicated to whistleblower Gary Webb, author of Dark Alliance, the CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion) warns: “One of the most successful frauds ever perpetrated upon the American people is the notion that the CIA exists to provide intelligence to the president. In fact, the CIA’s intimate links to Wall Street suggest that the CIA was created to serve the perceived interests of investment bankers. The well-documented links to Wall Street can be traced to the founding of the agency.” Seven CIA deputy directors had worked in Wall Street’s financial aristocracy.
Gaffney posits with substantial background material that a major portion of the CIA’s “black budget” came from gold and other valuables hidden in the Philippines in underground caverns by the Japanese looting it from Asian nations over a 50-year period. “The story of “Yamashita’s gold” or the “Black Eagle Trust” is an extremely important piece of history that the U.S. government had kept from us for over a half century.” Discussing remote control technology, the afterword, “Plausibility of 9/11 Aircraft Attacks Generated by GPS-Guided Aircraft Autopilot Systems,” hypothesizes remote control of 9/11 planes.
Mark Gaffney connects the dots between our government, the CIA, banks, SEC, gold, oil, drugs — and rise of the police state. Since 2002, publisher Trine Day near Eugene has put out 40 books by reputable authors mainstream presses were reluctant to publish. See TrineDay.com or call (800) 556-2012.
Kathy Ging , Eugene
The U.S. Senate has now twice refused to allow full debate on the DISCLOSE Act of 2012, which would require complete disclosure of spending on big-money advertising in candidate elections. We are proud that Oregon’s Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley supported the bill and stood up for the voters against the special interests pouring huge sums of secret money into the elections.
Huge sums of secret money are flooding into our elections and without full disclosure the voters won’t know who is trying to buy influence. The DISCLOSE Act is an important step towards eliminating secret money.
The League of Women Voters supports this legislation because we believe that Americans deserve all the information they can get before they vote. We will continue to push nationwide for passage of DISCLOSE because secret campaign money has no place in America’s democracy. It undermines the role of the voter and corrupts the election process.
Voters have a right to know whether it is a corporation, union, trade association or nonprofit advocacy group making unlimited campaign expenditures and influencing elections. Tell us where the money is coming from and let the voters decide.
Sue Boyd & Susan Tavakolian, co-presidents, League of Women Voters of Lane County
For all you libs who are vocally begging government to raise your taxes, it’s very simple for you to put your money where your pie-hole is. Cash donations are accepted by the U.S. Treasury at wkly.ws/1br, the state of Oregon, Lane County, the city of Eugene and every school district in the country. And since western Oregon is saturated with libs crying to pay more tax, we should have no funding problems for anything, right? Two short years ago, Oregon Ballot Measures 66 (tax the rich) and 67 (tax the corporations) were sold as the cure-all for state funding. Bald-faced lie. There’s never enough money to fund liberalism.
Don Richey, Eugene
DID YOU FIND HAPPINESS?
This older gentleman usually rides his bike by my coffee kiosk and orders a cup of coffee then ask me “Did you find happiness?” I will sarcastically look under the shelf and over my shoulder and give him a smart answer: “No, Mr. Happiness did not make it to work today!” I mean, Happiness is not a person or a set of car keys that we lose, and search for it. But his question about “happiness” always stays in back of my mind as I am making coffee or just going through life in general.
Recently, I have been noticing a lot of people wearing the phrase “Just Do It.” Therefore, I started to do things like, getting to know someone more than just a “hi and hello,” giving away few sandwiches from my store on Sunday gathering at Skinner Butte Park, and give a way few dollars from my tip jar to total strangers. Once again this elder gentleman came by my kiosk to purchase a cup of coffee and asks me the same question “Did I find happiness?” I gave him the coffee for free and said, “Yes, I found happiness!”
Mahi Chowdhury, Eugene