Letters to the Editor: 3-13-2014


Though unintentional, Jerry Diethelm’s history of city governance’s relationship with its constituents is misleading [“Design Matters,” 3/6]. Twice, in May 1994 and then in November 1994, voters rejected the new library measure. Did City Hall give voters a chance for final approval? Similarly, Eugeneans twice voted and twice voted down a new police facility. Again, was it funded with voter approval?

Also, Eugeneans have shown their great support (in two votes) for external police monitoring. How has this played out in practice?

Now, we have a situation in which civic leaders will not approach voters with a City Hall measure for one crystal clear reason: It would fail. I’d argue that Eugene has, for a long time, had a dysfunctional relationship between its city leaders and its constituents. How else to view it?

Finally, I’m at a loss as to how anyone in the architectural profession could support the destruction of the present City Hall. It is beautiful and unique; a perfect example of period architecture (it won many prestigious awards upon completion); human in scale; and perfectly situated across from its sister, the county facility. 

Eugeneans commonly bewail the wholesale leveling of the many beautiful buildings that old downtown postcards so well depict — yet here we are again, some of us positively salivating at the prospect of destroying the wonderful work of our fathers.

Jayme Vasconcellos, Eugene


I am delighted that our secretary of defense is proposing to vastly reduce our military spending. That money is urgently needed to house our poor, educate our young people, renovate our dying infrastructure and much more.

However, I strongly disagree with the specifics of his proposal. It would reduce our military forces by thousands. I am glad that those men and women may no longer die in warfare or be trained to kill, and it would be vastly better if they could serve their country in civilian, living-wage jobs. For these reasons, it is a good proposal. However, it doesn’t seem to me that it would actually do much to reduce the federal budget. Instead, an obvious result would be that thousands of veterans would return to civilian life seeking jobs that are not available or education that is not paid for. Unless our government is willing to provide living-wage public service jobs and pay for re-training these troops, our streets will be filled with even more homeless men and women.

On the other hand, I have read that the U.S. Navy plans to build 12 new ballistic missile submarines costing $100 billion. Do we really want to modernize our nuclear weapons that are a threat to humanity and the entire planet? Finally, will real security for life on this planet come from drones, missiles and threats?

When will we ever learn?

Peg Morton, Eugene


There are two redwood trees at 1550 High St. in Eugene that the city is proposing to cut down by March 18. I urge everyone to phone the Urban Forestry Office at 682-4800 to voice your concerns. 

Planet Glassberg, Eugene 


I received an odd piece of mail recently, a sales brochure trying to get me to buy a chunk of our publicly owned state forests! Turns out Gov. John Kitzhaber and Secretary of State Kate Brown are facilitating the auction and privatization of 2,700 acres of the Elliott State Forest, presumably to avoid protecting the threatened marbled murrelet as well as threatened salmon runs.

Ancient forest ecosystems like the Elliott Forest just east of Reedsport and Coos Bay store more than 300 tons of carbon per acre, and if left standing for another 50 years could store more than 500 tons of carbon per acre. This is not to mention the mature forest’s ability to provide the highest quality habitat for endangered species like the marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl and Coho salmon.

Add the benefits of increases in water catchment from fog and drizzle, as well as filtration, storage and erosion control as the forest ages, and you’ll come to realize that no technology created by man can remotely compare to what our ancient forests do for free.

Kitzhaber, Brown or any politician should not be allowed to auction off and privatize the publicly owned Elliott State Forest to fatten the bank accounts of the wealthiest families in Oregon.

Jim Flynn, Springfield


In one unusual ice storm, the minds of a lot of people raised the perception on trees from graceful beings shading our town to likely dangerous entities to be removed before doing more damage.

One main problem happening after such an event is the classic human desire to make things “safer” by reducing the size of a tree by one-third or sometimes more. This is called topping and it is wrong for a few reasons, one of which I want to mention because it relates to what just happened. 

The majority of the damaged trees I inspected after the ice storm had large broken branches that grew after the tree was topped in the past. Topping only reduces risks for a few years, but it creates a more hazardous tree in the future — always! Ironically, a lot of trees that didn’t lose a twig during the Columbus Day storm in 1962 ended up being topped after, “just to make sure!” I urge those of you still shaken by the storm to reconsider and look at your trees objectively without jumping to conclusions following the advice of someone untrained in the field of arboriculture. 

Yes, storms happen and trees break or fall, but my experience since the storm has shown that properly maintained trees did far better than neglected ones. Please check online the adverse effects of tree topping; you’ll save trees and money. Who wants a tree that looks like a toilet brush anyway?

Alby Thoumsin, Springfield


Our bees and butterflies need us. Time is running out for them. One third of our food is pollinated by honeybees. Neonicotinoid pesticides are a large part of the problem. These “neonics” are in 50 percent of the plants sold at big-box stores. Bayer and Ortho are two major brand names that contain these killers. When in doubt, buy organic plants, potting soil and seeds. Use alternative methods for pest control. Down To Earth has excellent staff and products to ensure a safe pollinator yard and garden. Ask your landscaper/gardening supply store, etc., to not use or sell these products. 

From 1 to 5 pm Saturday, March 15, at Cozmic will be an event titled “Save the Bees!” to help educate and activate people. Please help our bees keep buzzing and our butterflies keep fluttering.

Pamela Driscoll, Dexter


Oregon Democrats Sen. Ron Wyden and Gov. John Kitzhaber are on a mission to prop up the largest unsustainable tree-fiber operations throughout Oregon regardless of the ecological damage they incur. Wyden has introduced two separate bills that could impact more than 10 million acres of Oregon’s last ancient forests on federal public lands. 

The O&C Land Grant Act (SB 1784) seeks to double the logging of ancient forests on 2.1 million acres of O&C lands. The Oregon Eastside Restoration and Jobs Act (SB 1301) seeks to increase logging on 10 million acres in Eastern Oregon’s National Forests (minus wilderness, national recreation areas and other specially protected areas). This bill would allow trees up to 200 years old be sacrificed to pay for alleged restoration logging. 

Kitzhaber has embarked on privatizing Common School Fund lands to avoid complying with environmental laws. In the Elliott State Forest, Kitzhaber, Kate Brown and Ted Wheeler are attempting to avoid protecting marbled murrelet nesting habitat by embarking on privatizing about 2,700 acres. In addition, Kitzhaber has also publicly announced that he is seeking to “modernize” environmental laws as they are applied to all public lands, state or federal.

 Joseph Varilone, Eugene


Looking at EWEB’s annual phone surveys of 2011, 2012 and 2013 regarding wireless smart meters, customers reported that they are now more familiar with smart meters — up from 36 to 59 percent. Those who had a favorable opinion went down — from 55 to 45 percent.

In just three years, the number of those with a previously unfavorable opinion increased even further, from 17 to 41 percent, even without a single pro-and-con debate offered by EWEB, ignoring repeated citizen requests.

Interestingly, despite their own documentation of increasingly negative opinions about smart meters, at the Oct. 1, 2013, EWEB meeting the commissioners voted unanimously to continue with the program, graciously allowing customers the opportunity to “opt-in” to the smart-meter rollout. One commissioner stated he voted that way because he received more positive calls and emails than negative ones. I watched him say this while it was clear that the meeting room was overflowing with people against the whole thing. Not one of his pro people seemed to be in attendance.

In just three years of ordinary citizens clamoring in local papers and showing videos about the numerous inherent dangers, the unfavorable opinions are growing like crazy!

Protect yourself and those you care about. Become familiar with the terminology and the facts. Judging by their unwillingness to support public debate, EWEB is hoping that you don’t. Yet your privacy, health, safety and cyber-security are at stake here. Check out these websites with informative links: TakeBackYourPower.net, ThePeoplesInitiative.org, StopSmartMeters.org and SmartGridAwareness.org.

Robin Bloomgarden, Eugene