Letters to the Editor: 10-30-2014


In September 1988 the National Security Political Action Committee started running ads against the Democratic nominee for president, Gov. Mike Dukakis. They accused the governor of allowing Willie Horton, an African American and convicted felon, to be released from prison on a prison furlough program and then committing another horrible crime. In October 1988 the George H.W. Bush campaign piled on, with an attack ad of its own. The ads, taken together, are known to campaign professionals as the “Willie Horton treatment.” The ads and the connotation are despicable.

Fast forward to the 1994 general election right here in Lane County. The rural Lane County district was represented by Karsten Rasmussen. I remember what happened to then senator (now judge) Rasmussen when Bob Kintigh’s backers, Ramussen’s Republican opponent, ran a series of Willie Horton-type ads on him. This resulted in the seat switching from a moderate Democrat (and a state senator with a bright career in elective politics) to that of a conservative Republican. I remember having voted with Rasmussen on most issues in the Senate and then spending the entire 1995 grueling session having virtually all of my votes countered by Kintigh’s votes.

Now, State Rep. Phil Barnhart is the victim of Andy Petersen’s Willie Horton-type tactics. Campaigns run these ads because, although they are despicable, they work.

If you want to return a progressive legislator to Oregon’s House, please vote for Phil Barnhart. If you oppose the “Willie Horton” tactics, vote for Phil and send a message that this tactic, while it works elsewhere, isn’t welcome in our county.

Pete Sorenson, Lane County commissioner, South Eugene District


Surely we can do better than to leave our veterans out in the rain in holey tents with little food and no running water. The city set up this camp in my neighborhood some months ago, right next to the train tracks and Northwest Expressway. The city chose the 15 really nice people who live there and Mayor Kitty Piercy has called it a model camp. 

Please go and visit. It will break your heart, as it does mine every time I find a ride to deliver what little food I can collect from my neighbors. If you have anything to bring them, especially food, bedding or even cardboard for burning in their fire pit, they will be so grateful. 

Last time I was there they insisted on sharing some food with me! They don’t want to beg or complain but they do sometimes completely run out of food. And please, EW, run some photos of this sad place so everyone understands how we’re treating our vets.

Margareta Gannon, Eugene


As this election cycle winds down, those who go the extra mile to help get out the vote want our candidates to win and put forward the ideas and values we support. But above and beyond that, we hope our democratic due process will continue to thrive. We work today so future generations of Americans will receive the priceless gifts of our beloved democracy. 

As mature citizens, we know that we will not always agree with all the decisions of our elected officials. We continue to participate in the democratic process, however, because all other options are far less acceptable than the American Dream we have inherited. We know our system is not perfect. We know powerful undemocratic interests would like it to fail. It is up to us to see that they do not succeed. 

There is something we have that the undemocratic forces do not have and can never have: We have the ability to set aside our personal selfish interests and seek a common agreement. I am a registered Democrat, but I am an old-school, Kennedy-era Democrat. I have always been willing to work with moderate Republicans to seek that common path. 

 After this election, we must work together to save the underlying principles of our democratic republic. Those two words say it all. 

 Thank you very much for reading, and see you at the round table after the election. 

 Mary D. Stephens, Florence


Many voters don’t realize that though Faye Stewart won the primary in May, there is still an opportunity to write in a candidate for East Lane County commissioner on the November ballot. 

Stewart avoided a run-off with Kevin Matthews by only nine votes. For all the voters who want to see a change in our county government, there is still an opportunity to act. Matthews is running a write-in campaign to provide East Lane County voters with a choice.

Matthews received endorsements from the Lane County Labor Council, the AFL-CIO, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Mayor Kitty Piercy and former Lane County Commissioner Jerry Rust among many others [Eugene Weekly]. The majority of his campaign contributions came from private citizens rather than the timber and gravel industries. His campaign ran on the energy of local volunteers rather than robo-calls made from Texas and campaign ads paid for by right-wing PACs.

Kevin represents the interests of all the residents of Lane County. He has taken a strong stand on issues such as protecting our clean water and building long-term economic prosperity with a focus on recreational tourism and revitalizing our rural communities. When we have commissioners who continually side with industry at the expense of community residents, there is a vital need for an advocate who will speak for the people of Lane County.

There is still an opportunity to make a choice — write in Kevin Matthews for East Lane County commissioner.

Cristina Hubbard, Cottage Grove


EPUD customers from Veneta, you have an opportunity to put some dignity and respect back into the EPUD Board of Directors. It is way past time for Patti Chappel to move on. A vote for your local candidate Lee Kelley would be an opportunity to elect a responsible, respectful professional to the board.

I have been on the Rate Committee at EPUD for the past two years, and I have witnessed first hand the disrespectful, rude behavior Patti exhibits to other board members. I could not believe my eyes that she would be so blatantly rude in a public meeting. Hopefully Patti’s antics and terrible behavior are in the past and she will not be reelected. She has embarrassed the EPUD board far too long. I urge you to do the right thing and place your vote on Nov. 4 for Lee Kelley and send Patti packing.

Mary McNamara aka Grandmakookie, Lorane 


Patti Chappel is running for reelection to the EPUD Board of Directors. Patti is a passionate person who stands strong for what she believes is best for EPUD and her ratepayers. She goes above and beyond the duties of a director to stay informed of issues that may impact her ratepayers. She is active in her community and listens to the opinions of those she represents. 

It will be a sad day if Patti is not reelected, because she is such a knowledgeable fighter for public power. She fought hard to make sure every person who receives EPUD power has the right to vote in EPUD elections. Please use your vote to reelect Patti Chappel and keep EPUD’s passionate, informed warrior at the helm.

Penny Jordan, Springfield


Supporting Measure 92, the mandatory labeling of GMOs initiative, just makes common sense. The GMO biotech industry was able to escape any meaningful regulation of GMOs in the U.S. by claiming GMOs were substantially no different from non-genetically engineered crops. The USDA sided with the biotech industry. 

But how did Monsanto patent its GM corn? A patent cannot be granted unless something is uniquely different. It’s clear that Monsanto believes its seeds are different, and they are. Their GMO corn has a deadly insecticide grown right into every kernel. The insecticide kills insects that try to eat the crop by fatally damaging their digestive systems. 

A scientific study published last year was  led by researcher Dr. Judy Carman from the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Kensington Park, Australia, and published in the Journal of Organic Systems, a peer-reviewed science journal. The study concluded that “eating genetically modified corn (GM corn) and consuming trace levels of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide was linked with rats developing shockingly large tumors, widespread organ damage and premature death.” That same insecticide stays inside the corn and turns up in animal feed or corn products we eat. 

High fructose corn syrup is an ingredient in numerous products. The Illinois Farm Bureau reported that in 2009, the average American consumed about 35.7 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup. 

GMOs are not safe and Measure 92 is just common sense.

Christopher Michaels, Eugene


I’ve lived in Springfield and rural west Eugene my whole life. My dad, time and time again, sought to bring his entrepreneurial ideas to life. Those ideas often died, which thrust our family into confusion and poverty. We survived only because of the assistance offered by our church and, yes, from the leg-up government programs that leaders like Rep. Phil Barnhart fight to protect. 

The Oregon Health Plan saved my mom’s life. Head Start and Willamalane instilled in me a belief in myself and a love for our wildlands. These opportunities were provided by all of you who seek a decent society. You’re the village whose collective grit supported the programs that gave me what every American wants — a decent shot. A fair shake. 

Phil Barnhart is from a school of politics that says we ought to give hardworking Oregonians like my mom and dad a hand-up and ensure that kids like me aren’t left behind. This should be our legacy. The Barnharts of generations past believed this, and I am a direct beneficiary of their work. 

The assault on Phil’s public and private character frustrates me as an Oregonian who values honesty and decency in politics, and disgusts me as an ethical person who seeks to bolster opportunity in Oregon. 

Don’t let distortions and untruths distract you from recognizing who Phil Barnhart truly is: a strong leader who understands that we endure because of our commitment to one another. 

Rep. Barnhart, thank you!

Steve Coatsworth, Eugene


I do not care whether Andy Petersen is a Democrat, a Republican or anything in between. Like a growing number of Oregonians, I don’t vote party line; I don’t even belong to a party anymore.

Oregonians want good leaders, not party players. We want someone who has a proven record, not in the Legislature but in his home, his neighborhood and in serving the community where he lives.

Andy and I have known each other for more than 20 years. Our kids went to school together, and when we moved to rural Oregon Andy and his family accepted us as part of the community right away.

I’ve watched Andy in action: the way he served my elderly neighbors year after year; I watched the time he put in at Camp Creek Elementary where our children attended school.

My children learned from the Petersen family. Every year, thousands of Springfield students visited their ranch, learning a balanced approach to farming trees.

I vote for people, not parties. I vote for experience, not in the legislature but in life, in history and in serving. Andy Petersen best represents all of those things for me.

Join me in voting for Andy Petersen, a man of integrity, with experience, who knows how to get things done and, more importantly, knows how to serve. 

Isn’t that what Oregon needs? Isn’t it time for a change?

Rick Dancer, Springfield


Elections in California and Washington have conclusively shown that under the “top-two” system, third parties are effectively eliminated from the general election — the one that counts. 

Why would anyone want to restrict our vote to only two choices and stifle the voices of opposition to corporate control? Clearly not the citizen members of the Oregon Initiative Commission who overwhelming recommended a “no” vote on Measure 90, stating that it will limit the voice of minority voters, minor parties and grassroots campaigns.

A look at public records on who is funding M90 shows former top-level Enron energy trader John Arnold pouring $1.5 million into the campaign. M90 has also received money from the Koch brothers. Obviously, the opportunity to stifle opposition to corporate control has attracted big money from corporate barons.

The choice is clear. A “yes” vote is in the interests of corporations which already have far too much influence on elections. Vote “no” on M90 to insure that third parties and grassroots organizations continue to have the right to represent their views in the general election.

Pat Driscoll, Eugene


Dear Ms. Valkyrie [Viewpoint 10/23]. Really!? You have a problem with this? I don’t, and you wanna know why? Because I’m sick of going downtown and having to deal with and just seeing how many street people take over with their rude behavior, dogs, trash and theft. 

There is a difference between the homeless and street people. You think it’s unfair and feel sorry for those who can’t behave themselves, go somewhere else and not bother people? Well, some people are trying to run a business and create an inviting space for patronizing (paying) customers. 

If this bothers you so much, well, let them go hang out in front of your house, maybe camp in your backyard, recite poems on your front step. That should solve your worries about their rights. Let the homeless come to right where you live.

Lyn Mor, Eugene


Is Councilor Alan Zelenka [Viewpoint, 10/16] unaware of this tenet of fiscal stewardship: trust, but verify?

Turner Construction is an objective analyst, the only one to date; Rowell Brokaw was appointed by the city manager to build a new structure, not to weigh a remodel. Asking it (or its hires) to compare options is unfair to it — and to taxpayers.

Is it responsible or logical for the councilor to ignore the 50-year cost (currently, over $1 million/year) of renting space from downtown landlords? Whose interests does he represent?

Is it “accessible” to eliminate 125 protected parking spots (a $4 million value), forcing citizens (and the differently-abled) to confront Eugene’s eight months of rain as they cross the envisioned wind-swept, empty block to the City Chamber — or chase around to scattered city offices? How “sustainable” is it to demolish 80,000 square feet and “replace” it with 25,000 square feet — is that “more intensively” using the land? All objective evidence contradicts. See wkly.ws/1tz.

Zelenka’s energy comparison of the old City Hall to a new one is invalid and misleading: A remodeled City Hall could approximate a new-build and its far greater roof area could hold enough solar panels to make it more efficient. An IEU of 30 is laudable, but it’s a pipe dream until we’re shown recent builds of similar cost/efficiency.

You can let decay and then destroy a beautiful representation of our heritage and of our forefathers’ legacy, but please don’t further insult us by claiming we approved it or that you’re being fiscally prudent and green.

Jayme Vasconcellos, Eugene


As a prosecutor for the past 27 years and a state legislator for 18 years, I’ve reviewed thousands of proposed laws. Measure 91 will regulate, legalize and tax marijuana. This measure is well written: It’s thorough, detailed, contains the right restrictions and can be updated by the Legislature in the future. 

It puts in place a regulated system that takes marijuana off the streets and puts it behind a controlled counter in a store that prohibits minors. By passing Measure 91, Oregonians will help get rid of drug cartels, better protect kids, stop wasteful arrests and ruining lives, and generate new tax revenue for schools, drug treatment programs and public safety. 

Now is the time. It is the right proposal for Oregon. Please join me in voting “yes” on Measure 91.

Floyd Prozanski, State Senator for District 4


I hope people had the chance to hear biologist Tyrone Hayes last weekend speak about his research on the herbicide atrazine, commonly used in forestry and agricultural practice. He pointed out that atrazine doesn’t stay put after applied. It volatilizes, and gets absorbed in the atmosphere. It can even come down on us miles away from where it was originally applied. Many other studies show that pesticides move in the atmosphere. Atrazine is illegal in Europe, but we are routinely being exposed to it here.

And what can we do about this? We can change our laws so they reflect the needs of our communities, not those of the timber and pesticide corporations. The people of Josephine County are doing this right now, and they need our help. Josephine crafted an ordinance that will make toxic pesticides unlawful to use in their county and it is on the ballot for Nov. 4! They can use our help with phone banking, canvassing or financial support. If you want to join Lane County residents in helping out, contact Eron King at spiralmom@peak.org or Rob Dickinson at robd@pobox.com

As Hayes points out, herbicides like atrazine can travel over 1,000 kilometers in fog and rain, so Josephine County’s air is our air and their struggle for environmental justice is our struggle as well. Let’s help them out!

Katja Kohler-Gause, Cottage Grove


When I first met Andy Petersen canvassing in my neighborhood, I admired his willingness to go to the Democratic stronghold of south Eugene. His materials, carefully colored blue, touted his support of education and bipartisanship. Unfortunately, he is neither a centrist nor a supporter of education. His own website shows he does not support increased support for public schools, despite state underfunding of the education budget by $1 billion annually compared to the bipartisan Quality Education Model supported by members of both parties. 

He opposes tax reform, except to further benefit the wealthy through reductions in the capital gains rates. Oregon ranks 46th of the 50 states in taxation and in the bottom third in support to public schools. If Petersen would like to address low graduation rates, as he claims, perhaps he should look to adequately funding our public schools, rather than parroting Koch brothers-inspired talking points.

Conversely, Rep. Phil Barnhart has fought for years to improve school funding. As Revenue Committee chair, he sits in the perfect position to ensure that tax reform addresses the real needs of Oregon’s children, not long-discredited notions of trickle-down economics. He has struggled for years to close the gap in the education budget.

 Rather than merely spouting empty words about bipartisanship, he proposes to do this through a process that takes inputs from communities throughout the state. These inputs would be crafted into a bill that would refer tax reform to the voters. Unfortunately, a hard right caucus opposes even the most modest tax reforms. 

Don’t be fooled — Andy Petersen wants you to elect him to obstruct bipartisanship and progress on public education, not promote it. The false mailers he’s recently sent out just show how willing he is to try to deceive you. Please join me in voting for Phil Barnhart for House District 11.

Marshall Wilde, Eugene


One hundred and 10 years ago Oregonians forced the major political parties to nominate their candidates by election, not by secret deals made in smoke-filled rooms. Now the backers of Measure 90 want to take us back to those days, with political parties privately manipulating who runs for office. 

California and Washington passed this same measure several years ago, and now both Republicans and Democrats have admitted to engaging in these manipulations to limit how many party members run in the primary election.

Measure 90’s election math would punish a party with many candidates in the primary — voters of that party would be split among many candidates, and only candidates of the rival party would advance to the general election. This has already happened in California, where voters in a Democratic district were forced to choose between two Republicans. 

A few of M90’s backers concede the problem, but suggest we can rely on the Legislature to “fix” it. But the Legislature would have no mandate to meddle in a law just passed by the voters. And if the Legislature can be relied upon to fix problems, why ask voters to pass M90 instead of asking the Legislature?

Vote “no” on 90!

John Flanery, Eugene


Its time that we get ahead of Ebola; so far the disease is winning! The time is now, not next week or month for the world to take steps to prevent the further spread of this deadly disease.

The measures used thus far have proven inadequate. The U.S., other nations and the U.N. World Health Organization must immediately establish a non-African operated Ellis Island-type 21-day quarantine facility in Africa. To leave the country or continent, a person must stay in quarantine.

A quarantine will interfere with international travel. But, our fear is already interfering: last week’s R-G reported a recent poll reporting a third of Americans are curtailing or thinking of curtailing their travel. I travel frequently, but will not do so until we are safe. Our myriad of communications modes will absorb much of the need for business travel. For others, they will have to decide if their travel is worth three weeks spent in quarantine. 

 Passports clearly show where and when a person has traveled. An African quarantine center will be expensive, but not nearly as expensive as fighting this disease later on in many more locales with far, far greater numbers. Finally, while some may find a quarantine to be harsh, it is much less so than a total travel ban.

Susan M. Connolly, Eugene


On the 42nd anniversary of the Clean Water Act, a new report from Environment Oregon, “Waterways Restored,” highlights the success the law has brought to the Willamette River, taking it from a river overwhelmed by sewage, to one that Oregonians can once again enjoy for swimming.

All of Oregon’s rivers and streams deserve a success story, but right now, a loophole in the Clean Water Act has left over half of Oregon’s streams, including those that feed into our beloved rivers such as the Willamette, the Columbia, the Deschutes and the Rogue vulnerable to pollution.

Thankfully, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed closing this loophole to protect all of Oregon’s rivers and streams. The agency is taking public comments on its rule until Nov.14, but polluters like agribusiness’s and big developers are waging a bitter campaign against it.

The Clean Water Act has meant progress for Oregon’s rivers, but its promise isn’t yet fulfilled. That’s why it’s so important for EPA to stand up to the polluters and restore safeguards to all of the rivers and streams that crisscross our state.

Jordan Singh, Portland