Letters to the Editor: 10-1-2015


The media generally goes for the sensational on any topic, but there was a good balance in the EW articles on mental health in Lane County as far as the articles went. However, mental health is much more than schizophrenia and commitment in psychiatric hospitals, and mental health is not just an adult issue.

Despite the quote in the article, “Our system … is pretty broken,” the fact is that our mental health system in Lane County is exemplary and one of the best in the nation. We are very fortunate in Lane County to have a mental health infrastructure of 17 private organizations helping children and adults with national model programs addressing all levels of mental health needs around the clock and every day of the year.

Perhaps the next mental health article can focus on the many ways we keep people, particularly children, out of hospitals and out of the criminal justice system. Our local mental health system is a community treasure and does its job very well and with little fanfare.

Dave Ziegler, Ph.D., Jasper Mountain


This is in regards to the two articles addressing “mental illness” in the Sept. 24 issue.

I have learned several things in my life, and one is that no article of any length that doesn’t discuss trauma when looking at emotional distress is going to be misleading, and trauma wasn’t mentioned in either article. Another thing is that when people use the term “mental illness” and toss around dubious labels, they are invariably going to sound as if they were coached by Big Nurse herself.

Truth is, while there are many thousands of emotionally disabled people in Lane County, few if any have an illness that can be defined by a medical test. None have an imbalance that requires some powerful mind-control drug, and one huge truth is that there are thousands of us “psychiatric survivors” out here who remember our treatment at the hands of psychiatry and fear for those still lost and vulnerable.

I challenge a Lane County psychiatrist to say that there is a medical test for this thing “mental illness.” You will notice that they don’t. Instead, they rely on family and others to do that. So how can they say that a quarter of us have it? I suggest wandering over to madinamerica.com and look at all the recent studies that show the dangers of the wonder drugs and criminalizing emotionally distressed people. 

That “future crimes” criminalization really is frightening. If we had enough housing and decent mental health care, as well as counseling in schools and prisons, we wouldn’t have so many out-of-control fellow humans. Lane County has no public shelter system, so where are the lost to go? We live in an insane culture, so of course many of us are messed up. But if there is no definition of “mental illness,” stop using those two words.

Hugh Massengill, Eugene


As a teacher with 40 years of experience, I administered my share of standardized tests not only because I had to, but also because I figured that they were useful. I discovered the results of those tests did not help me at all to improve my instruction — because they aren’t designed to do that.

Geoff Barrett’s Sept. 24 Viewpoint “Judging the Quality of Instruction” lays out the three reasons typically given to support the use of standardized tests, and then he expertly debunks them.

A far better way to measure student progress is classroom-based performance assessment where the teacher, in concert with colleagues, designs a task in reading, writing, math, etc. that connects to the unit of study and allows each student to reveal what she or he knows and can do. This informs the student, the teacher and the parent what needs to be done next.

A great opportunity for learning about authentic, appropriate assessment is this week when a teacher from Seattle and a vice principal from Beaverton will be speaking at the Community Alliance for Public Education’s event on “Appropriate Assessment: There Is Life After High Stakes Standardized Tests” at 7 pm Thursday, Oct. 1, at Eugene Friends Church, 3495 W. 18th Ave. Free with childcare provided.

Larry Lewin, Eugene


It’s tragically obvious that public input is nothing but a token bone thrown to the people to create some illusion that they have a voice. As one can see by looking at the monstrosity that now resides across from the library, by viewing the EmX killing field of 6th and 7th avenues, or by visiting the meadow where the next fiasco is intended by the Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing entitled yuppies who wouldn’t know green if they drowned in it, the wishes of the majority are not remotely considered, and after the public meetings occur, the controllers do what they intended all along. For this reason I’d like to suggest that, should it become necessary, no less than 30,000 of us reverently set up camp amidst the trees that the “Friends” of Buford Park propose to log.

Imagine massive numbers of people taking this action, refusing to leave until all decisions to murder trees, along with any contracts with lumber companies have been rescinded. Prepare to be inconvenienced, dirty and arrested. Some of us who don’t have young children might be prepared to die. The jails can only hold so many people, so please show up if you agree. 

Regarding the lame-ass reasons the “Friends” of Buford Park will give as to why they are so keen to log (again!) — one is forced to consider that they may be capable of less than altruistic agendas. The invasive and/or dying species issue is their trump card. Let’s stop and take a breath on this one because it’s gone overboard. Nature will work things out on its own. 

Genelle McDaniel, Eugene


I currently reside in Portland, where my neighborhood has been severely impacted by thoughtless infill due to non-resident developers in cooperation with the city. Gentrification quickly makes traditional neighborhoods unaffordable. Smarter infill uses cohousing where committed residents become member-developers themselves. Thus, I have become a member-developer in Eugene’s multi-generation Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing (OMC), similar to 200 others around the country.

Cohousing ingeniously clusters modest homes around a community building, providing its intentional residents proximal spaces for common meals and meetings. This offers an ecological advantage of sharing resources, lessening local footprint impacts.

As a non-practicing lawyer and author, I work at home next to gardens. I use a recumbent cycle from most local travel, supplemented by public transport. I look forward to cycling on Eugene’s 300-mile bicycling network. Willamette bike trail runs next to OMC.

It is unfortunate that OMC’s already approved plan has been severely stalled due to an egregious error committed by the Eugene city government, which failed to properly notify a protesting resident in the permitting process. It would be a shame if this property is developed by profit-driven motives rather than by committed, sensitive residents themselves.

S. Brian Willson, Portland


Here’s a suggestion for the members/developers of the embattled Oakleigh Meadows project. It might seem sarcastic, but I’m serious.

It should be abundantly clear at this point that the neighbors around this meadow do not want this development. Rather than building your cohousing project in a pristine meadow along a riverbank, why not look into purchasing several distressed properties in the Whiteaker neighborhood and building there? You will still have ready access to the bike path, you’ll be close to the funky eateries along Blair Avenue and you’ll help preserve Eugene’s open spaces at the same time.

Jim Johnson, Eugene


The problem of the riffraff in the downtown core is about nothing so much as some BMW owner on Spring Boulevard who can’t come downtown to sip his pinot gris under an umbrella on the sidewalk after having spent $175 for two tickets to Yo-Yo Ma at the Hult without having to come within 20 feet of some disgusting black-clad specimens who drink Rolling Rock and probably don’t even own any investment accounts! 

I’m sorry, but that person’s vision for Eugene is not mine.

Tim Baxter, Eugene


 Regarding your "Slant” on horrifying R-G typos Sept. 17, I can assure you, as a professional proofreader, that if “Wheeler plans to fun for mayor” turns out to be their most embarrassing faux pas, they can thank their lucky stars. Far worse, for example, was Simon and Schuster’s rendering of the first sentence in Beverly Sills’ autobiography, which reads, “I gave my first pubic performance at age eight.” 

Even more deplorable, or maybe not, is Humphrey Burton’s authorized biography of Leonard Bernstein, in which the maestro has just suffered his fatal seizure in the company of his longtime friend Michael Wager. The text reads, “He died in Wagner’s arms.” I’m guessing he might have preferred Beethoven’s. 

But on a more positive note, I’m pleased to state that EW can threw as many stones as it likes — your nondedicated proofreader is doing fine. You should show your appreciation by releasing his or her name to the pubic.

Mike Kopf, Eugene


Whenever I walk, bike or drive past the once smoldering, now rusting remains of Civic Stadium, lemons come to mind, as in “When life gives you lemons …” Here’s my suggestion to the owners of the remains of Civic, which is one of the saddest sights in town, and how they might squeeze a bit of lemonade from all of this and raise what I’m sure are much-needed funds. How about offering pieces of Civic for sale? Take a torch to that sad pile, commission a local metal sculptor to cut it up (forgive my ignorance of blowtorch-speak) and sell the pieces. Many of us, both near and far, have cherished memories of the old place and would welcome the opportunity to purchase a small hunk of history. Maybe I’m just a junk-ist who can’t bear the thought of this situation being a total waste, and I understand there could be some safety hurdles to clear, but what are the alternatives? A landfill?

Jill Giddens, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: It is our understanding that the pile of twisted metal at Civic is being saved for future art projects rather than being hauled off to metal recyclers. See our news brief this week for more info.


OMG — OMC — your Kool-Aid is sour!

The opposition to Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing (OMC) has never been about the cohousing model!

It’s about disregarding the Willamette Greenway Act and Eugene’s own codes about street design and safety. It’s about fitting into an existing neighborhood, not invading it and treating the people who live and thrive here like we don’t matter or exist.

There is no guarantee that your “cohousing model” will be permanent. There is already dissention amongst your ranks. Shocker there. May the truth prevail.

It’s about telling the truth! Which apparently is a foreign word and/or understanding to OMC. The meaning, in case you do not know, is: truth: “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”

OMC is nothing more than a high-end retirement compound with a 300-feet long concrete wall on the river. That, to me, does not say, “Welcome neighbors.” More like, stay out!

Daneen Justice, Eugene

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