Letters to the Editor: 12-31-2014


There are more than 2,000 homeless persons living in Lane County, and I’m one of them.

Our sleeping shelters include the Eugene Mission, women and family shelters and Egan Warming Centers when it’s cold. Due to the magnanimous decisions of city and county governments, a few outdoor refugee camps have been approved for tent and car camping. A constantly moving, unauthorized Whoville — rightfully flying an upside-down American flag — is also an alternative place to sleep.

But all of these require rules and/or invitations to reside within their boundaries. The number of homeless persons taking advantage of these offerings represents about 10 to 15 percent of the homeless population. The rest of us are forced to create our own accommodations.

A major problem not receiving the attention it deserves is the dominance of church-affiliated organizations purporting to assist the homeless and make life better for us. This may be the result of George W. Bush’s federally funded faith-based programs. In fact, religious salespeople are incapable of helping homeless individuals without somehow promoting their own brand of religion.

The Christians’ primary goal is to save our poor wretched souls. And in order to be saved, we must accept Jesus into our hearts — or we’re screwed and going to Hell.

The Eugene Mission is the best example of this, demanding one listen to a ridiculous sermon before dinner and sleep become available to anyone. For many years, the only indoor shelter for homeless men has been the Eugene Mission. Why are there no other options?

How can god-fearing, guilt-ridden sinners help the homeless achieve self-reliance, self-esteem and respect for our natural world? How can developmentally disabled adults teach real-life survival skills when the most meaningful activity in their lives is submission to a jealous god?

Religious faith is merely a lazy person’s excuse for not having to think. If the sons and daughters of Abraham were not afraid to conduct objective research into the origins and history of their beliefs, at least a few of them would realize the truth: Throughout human history, organized religions were invented and established by the wealthy and powerful elite to dumb down and control the masses. It’s that simple.

In this New Year, we must all consider the harm being done to vulnerable residents of Lane County by religious groups allowed to “manage” the homeless.

Robert Simms



I have read the Sept. 18 EW cover story “Dark Angel” about Tracy Sydor many times. Each time I cry. I am a survivor of abuse myself, 23 years in an abusive marriage, remarried now for eight years to my best friend. 

I applaud Sydor for sharing her work, and her tenacity. You go girl! An awakening is taking place. For all of you who have a problem with it, too fucking bad. Try walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, being dealt life-impacting circumstances that follow you.

Sydor has found a way to rise above and heal from the atrocities she has endured, and helping other survivors to do the same. Lois would be proud. I cannot thank you enough!

Lanell Baker, Tide

EDITOR’S NOTE: The story and multiple photos by Tracy Sydor can be found in our web archives at http://wkly.ws/1vb.


It was gratifying to see the EW devote its cover story Dec. 24 to the many Eugene nonprofits worthy of our donations. But I was disappointed that the story didn’t include two of the most impactful organizations in town: Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon and the local chapter of the ACLU.

Both organizations provide an amazing amount of benefits to the community. Planned Parenthood offers health care to those who need it and sex education to many school children. The ACLU fights for our civic rights and free speech in courts and in the public square. They should get the plaudits they deserve.

 Arnold Ismach, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Despite the large size of our Give Guide there are always worthy organizations that don’t make it in, and so we always encourage readers to write in and let folks know what groups are deserving of their support.


The letter Dec. 24 “Giving is the Best Gift” by George Beres expresses wonderful sentiments. Children should be taught that giving is the best gift. But I do believe that Beres’ charitable recommendation, Heifer International, is ill advised. 

Sending live animals to third-world countries to be raised to minimize hunger can be counterproductive. The animals require feeding, bedding, shelter and veterinary care, which underdeveloped areas often cannot provide. Plus, many die in transit over bad roads and from lack of food and water. 

Drought-resistant crops should be the focus to help the communities feed themselves.

Heifer International encourages zero grazing, which means the animals must be kept confined, the basis of factory farming. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization believes that “the introduction of confinement animal husbandry to Asia has coincided with the depletion of grain reserves, rising food prices and resurgence of hunger” (Animal People’s “Watchdog Report,” 2012). Adding farm animals to certain regions contributes to problems of drought and desertification.

Yes, let us stress to children the joy of giving, but let us investigate the organizations we wish to support, including executive compensation and allocation of funds. Heifer International has a budget of more than $125 million and pays its executives hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I suggest the local FOOD for Lane County or World Hunger Relief. Better to donate to those who teach people sustainable agricultural practices so they can feed themselves without causing negative results.

Deanna Kuhn, Eugene


I somehow got to be 57 years old and never learned the difference between an ER and urgent care. So recently, with an infected cat bite, I naively walked into the ER at the old Sacred Heart Hospital at 13th & Hilyard.

After checking in with the receptionist (who made no effort to direct me to urgent care one block away), a nurse practitioner looked at my hand and wrote me a prescription for antibiotics, which fixed the problem. No X-rays were taken, no blood drawn, no tests performed. The examination lasted five or 10 minutes.

Some time later I was shocked to receive a bill from PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center for $624 and a bill from Eugene Emergency Physicians for $194. The total for my brush with the U.S. health care industry was $818.

Perhaps implicit in this amount is that I’m being made to subsidize the large numbers of low-income people whose only recourse in many health matters is to go to an ER where they receive treatment, but it’s understood that they’ll never be able to pay. If this is the case, then the ER should bill the federal government, for they are the ones lacking the good sense to do what all other civilized countries have done: create a government-run, single-payer national health care system. 

Canada, Japan and all the European counties pay 40 to 50 percent less for their health care than we do in the U.S., and everyone is covered. One role of government management of health care would be the elimination of ridiculous pricing like that found at the ironically named PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Robert Bolman, Eugene


I have to agree with LCC political science instructor Steve Candee when he says: “I expect a lot of moderation actually. Democrats haven’t shown a lot of guts when they’ve had the upper hand before. I don’t see them going out on a limb and making a lot of bold moves” [R-G, Dec. 28]. Don’t expect boldness, and frankly, don’t expect much.

Modern Republicans have become so incredibly horrible that Democrats don’t have to be particularly good to be better. We still have chronically under-funded schools, underpaid teachers, crowded classrooms, short school years etc., but the Democrats show nothing remotely resembling the fierce urgency of now that ordinary Oregonians are looking for.

I’ve emailed the governor, Sen. Floyd Prozanski, Rep. Paul Holvey and Rep. Val Hoyle on numerous occasions, asking simple questions like these: Do you support making Oregon’s minimum wage an actual living wage and if so, will you work to make that happen? Will you work to give localities the power to control their own minimum wage? Do you have a plan to fund a first-class education in Oregon? 

Other than an aid of Prozanski telling me that Floyd is in favor of raising the minimum wage, I’ve received no responses whatsoever. Maybe if I was a Nike executive looking for a tax break instead of an ordinary citizen asking for some basic answers to important questions, I could actually get some responses. 

This is part of why I switched to the Working Families Party. While the Oregon Democratic Party is undoubtedly much better than the Oregon Republican Party, the ODP remains rather pathetic. 

Joshua Welch, Eugene


Another proposed flat fee! One would think we lived in Alabama, to have the poor paying the flat taxes and then have the rich given tax breaks so the poor pay for all government services. The proposed registration flat fee for vehicles is another downer for the poor, and how many just won’t be able to pay? A third of our county is in poverty and, for some, their car is their home as well as their work. 

Anyone for a fairer, progressive tax on vehicles? Maybe we could also lower vehicle weight to equal what is allowed in California and forget about studded tires to tear up the roads so our roads might not break down so fast. 

Please, no more flat taxes suggested!

 Ruth Duemler, Eugene


I would like to suggest that Dick Cheney spend a few days or weeks under enhanced interrogation to see if he would like to revise his definition of torture. If, perchance, he agreed to answer questions, he might be able to shed light on the events of 9/11 that he used so well to initiate illegal invasions and imprison and mistreat hundreds of “suspects.” I am of the opinion that the CIA contractors were interrogating the wrong suspects.

Patricia Spicer, Eugene

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