Letters to the Editor: 3-10-2016


I am an older woman now, not the little girl who played in the fountain on the Broadway Street pedestrian mall, but I still feel just as safe and happy when I go downtown. I am a member of two knitting clubs that meet in the evenings less than a block from Kesey Square, and as I walk to my destination, I see interesting people. I like to pet their dogs and ask them about their lives. 

I have seen so many of the wonderful things that make Eugene the special place it is stolen from us in the name of progress, and I am just tired of it. Tear out the beautiful pedestrian mall so cars can drive and park. Get rid of the bars so business will come back. The Eugene Celebration — nope, bad for business. 

And what did all that get us, the citizens of Eugene? Barmuda and a sleazy backroom sellout to put higher-end apartments on top of Kesey Square. 

Mechelle Coburn Roeske, Eugene


The UO is caught in a conflict of interests between the students and faculty and the administration. The disagreement is on the issue of whether or not the university should divest, in other words, remove their investments in fossil fuel companies. 

The Climate Justice League, an environmental activist group on campus, is currently engaged in a sit-in in an attempt to urge newly inducted President Michael Schill to publicly support divestment. Although the UO Foundation, a separate corporate entity, manages donor money, a statement from President Schill would show that the university as a whole is in support of this.

The Divest UO campaign has been polling students and faculty for more than a year, and the results are in. The majority of students and faculty support divestment, with over 1,100 student signatures and the UO Senate voting unanimously in favor of a resolution suggesting full divestment within six months. This resolution was passed on Jan. 14, 2015, yet neither the UO Foundation nor President Schill have done anything.

With only half of a percent invested in fossil fuel companies totaling $4 million, it is surprising that a school so renowned for its sustainability programs is unwilling to divest. The administration, who state in the university mission statement that they “value our shared change to steward resources sustainably and responsibly” and that they “enhance the social, cultural, physical and economic wellbeing of our students, Oregon, the nation and the world,” are contradicting themselves by fighting divestment so vehemently.

Joel Benner, Eugene


I want to apologize to the readers for a typo in my urban renewal Viewpoint March 3. I drew attention to the fact that Eugene’s rent expenses more than doubled between 2011 and 2014, and stated that during City Manager Jon Ruiz’s first three years, rental expense increased more than $60,000 — a paltry sum compared to the real hit for the taxpayers. 

I intended to write “more than $600,000.” It’s easy to lose track of all those zeros when our public officials are subsidizing developers.

I have since looked up the numbers, and it appears that even a $600,000 annual increase is an understatement. In fact, between 2011 and 2014, Eugene’s annual rent expense increased from $665,631 to $1,431,442, an increase of more than $775,000.

No wonder we are paying extra for library services.

Paul Nicholson, Eugene


Globetrotting Noah Strycker [“The Sky’s the Limit” 3/3] might wonder about the education he is sending out to young people who love birds. 

Under the guise of nature appreciation he traipses, carbon-heavy, around the Earth, thoughtless of his own footprint. The facts are in: Species are in massive decline in no small part due to our own penchant to move about freely — however we can afford, with however much petroleum.

Strycker loves the sport, he loves the movement and he loves the math. I’m not sure he loves, respects, nor has compassion for the birds. Funds to education from heavy carbon taxes might in some way ameliorate his exploits.

Happily, there are different ways to bird. I appreciated John Cooney from KLCC’s The Natural World for often marveling about species and experiences right in front of us. 

There is a trending movement to carbon-free birding. I’d love to see an EW article extolling that: a birding method that embraces/supports not just the math, the game, the sport, but the species — and the biosphere that supports them.

Phil Henderson, Eugene


In the 1970s, some Oregon timber companies started spraying powerful herbicides from the air over their clearcuts. Rural downwinders led efforts to ban this abuse and stopped the sprays over federal forests in the 1980s, but were unsuccessful at ending this on corporate timberlands.

Now, Oregon’s environmental groups are split between the downwinders who want an end to the poisoning and urban groups who merely seek better regulation. In 2015, Beyond Toxics pushed a bill in Salem to ask the state to determine acceptable buffers even though helicopter sprays drift for miles and mass spraying of forests poisons wildlife. A better bill, not championed by the establishment environmentalists, would have banned aerial sprays. Neither bill became law.

Oregon Wild and Mountain Rose Herbs staff are chief petitioners for a statewide ballot initiative to limit some sprays of poison over corporate clearcuts. This effort is marketed as a ban but would have loopholes large enough to fly helicopters through. Their initiative would still permit sprays over streams where salmon have been wiped out, where cities do not get their drinking water and where the state determines schools and homes are a “safe” distance away.

It is not too late to rewrite this initiative to prohibit all aerial spraying to protect wildlife and downwinder communities.

A Lane County initiative sponsored by Freedom from Aerial Herbicides would ban aerial sprays, not regulate them. See FreedomFromAerialHerbicides.org. 

Downwinders do not consent to being sprayed. Allowing the state to designate supposedly acceptable buffers just perpetuates the abuse. 

Mark Robinowitz, sustaineugene.org, Eugene


Thanks and sincere appreciation to Lane County Reps. John Lively, Val Hoyle, Paul Holvey and Caddy McKeown for having the integrity and sense of civic responsibility to vote “no” on SB 1573 (see Slant March 3). This is in contrast to all the rest of the Lane County legislative delegation.

SB 1573, written by the Oregon Homebuilders Association and sponsored by Springfield Sen. Lee Beyer, revokes long-standing voting rights for nearly 600,000 Oregon citizens. It was the product of backroom deals and special interest influence since it first reared its slimy head in 2015.

Unfortunately, this bill, which EW accurately called “exceptionally flawed,” passed by narrow votes in both chambers of the Legislature.

Jerry Ritter, Springfield


No chocolate? There are many reasons to fear climate change, but this winter my love of chocolate has grown. Now I hear that there is a growing challenge to cacao trees that provide the flavor I love most! I just read the following report:

The danger to chocolate comes from an increase in evapotranspiration, especially since the higher temperatures projected for West Africa by 2050 are unlikely to be accompanied by an increase in rainfall, according to business-as-usual carbon dioxide emissions scenarios. In other words, as higher temperatures squeeze more water out of soil and plants, it’s unlikely that rainfall will increase enough to offset the moisture loss.

Some of the research highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2014 report includes a 2013 study headed by Peter Läderach, who authored a 2011 paper giving a pretty dire forecast for cacao cultivation.

Maybe we could make a difference if we all send chocolate to our legislators?

Ruth Duemler, Eugene


I experienced a very disturbing wake-up call at the Ani DiFranco concert at the McDonald Theatre March 2 and hope that people might put some thought into respecting opinions, even if they go against your own. This includes Ani and the staff at the theater, who kicked my partner and me out of the show about 40 minutes into it. 

In many concerts I’ve attended there is usually some discourse between the artist and audience, and I never saw anyone being punished for engaging in it. At Ani’s show, she chimed in early and made a remark about people needing to vote for either Hillary or Bernie in the election. My partner simply shouted out, “Don’t vote.” Ani replied, “What?” The response was, “When you vote, you’re voting for empire.” She responded, “Oh, so we just give in?” My one-word response was “revolution.” And she broke back into a song. 

In less than five minutes theater staff told us we had to leave, and their excuse was three people sitting next to me were upset. We stood up and were escorted out, being physically pushed. Is this really the kind of society we should accept? Less than one minute of civil discourse and you’re out?

Mindy Stone, Mapleton


It appears there are some confused signature gatherers out there. For the record, under current law, no one can look up who you voted for in any government election.

If someone seems confused about the petition they are asking you to sign, ask for clarification. According to Oregon law, “It is against the law for circulators to … make false statements to any person who signs the petition or requests information about it.” See sos.oregon.gov/elections.

You can also ask to read the text of the petition you are being asked to sign. You always have a right to know what you are signing. I encourage everyone to exercise that right.

Karen Moore, Eugene


Keaton Miller, Ph.D.’s explanation of a monopoly in the March 3 letters is interesting, but — Black’s Law Dictionary disagrees (“A privilege…vested in one or more persons”) as do all of the other dictionaries I looked at. You might also take a read of “Putting the legal profession’s monopoly on the practice of law in a global context” by Laurel S. Terry. 

And his comment that the NFL is a monopoly was explained a little differently in Wikipedia: “Professional sports organizations such as Major League Baseball are not legally protected from independent league baseball, but nonetheless are sometimes called legal monopolies on grounds that they are exempted from U.S. antitrust law.” 

And the cable companies would probably disagree with you because of the other choices available to the consumer. Their monopoly is only for the laying of the cable — and not the delivery of the product. In fact, federal regulations specifically prohibit monopolizing the delivery of the product.

Frank Skipton, Springfield


The Donald is often greeted with ridicule when he promises to “make this country grate again,” although no one doubts his ability to make this country grate. His mistake, as Hillary pointed out, is to say “again.” To paraphrase her response, this country has never stopped grating.

Tony Waters, Eugene


As this election year grinds on, it has become clear that our political and financial systems need a complete overhaul. Corporate media and corporate-sponsored politicians are the captives of special interest groups. Their interests often run contrary to the national and international well-being of the U.S. 

Consider two powerful lobbies and their influence on domestic and foreign affairs: The National Rifle Association (NRA) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Despite numerous gun-related deaths and injuries, including political and civil rights leaders, our public servants in Congress have been unwilling to pass meaningful legislation to stop the carnage, largely due to the role NRA money plays in influencing elections. 

Internationally, American supporters of Israel have been successful in stymying all efforts at realizing an independent and viable Palestinian state. AIPAC, with its generous support of American politicians, has jeopardized our national security. 

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Israeli oppression of Palestinians was one of the chief grievances of the 9/11 attackers, and the Palestine/Israel quagmire has served as a radicalizing recruitment tool for groups that target the U.S. and its allies.

We need comprehensive campaign finance reform to strengthen the democracy we cherish, as well as the moral imperative we aspire to.

Until then, we have no claim to the moral high ground and less to democracy.

M. Reza Behnam, Eugene


We must be the laughingstock of the world. Our so-called presidential campaign is little more than a school-yard shouting match. Except for the Democratic debates, there is nary a word about policy and substance. 

As a nation, and in particular those subscribing to the Republican banner, we have every reason to feel embarrassed. Will Donald Trump continue to build his campaign around attack and chest-beating?

But Trump’s emergence is no mystery. Brawn and bluster have arguably become the American way. How do we explain 30,000 gun deaths every year? Why only in America is there a multi-billion dollar industry built on a coliseum sport of hyper-violence, even as reports of terrible brain injuries grab headlines?

We have only to recall — history is such a bother — that as swords rattled for war post 9/11, many of us were like angered gorillas needing to kill something, anything. To ask people at that time to reflect was to find oneself accused of being unpatriotic or un-American. Indeed, the prevailing mood supported a mistaken war that opened a Pandora’s box in the Middle East, which we continue to pay for.

Walls along our borders? A more flush Pentagon? More torture? How about ramping up education?! Wouldn’t America be stronger and better with a populace reared and educated in history, debate and compromise? We are Trump.

Can we talk?

Russ DesAulnier, Eugene


Let’s stop all the hand-wringing over David Duke’s endorsement of Donald Trump. Everyone knows that Republicans need the bigot vote to win elections. 

Not all Republicans are bigots, but it is probably safe to say that most bigots are Republicans. Not all Republican politicians explicitly seek the racist vote, but Republican policies and rhetoric certainly attract the less tolerant and enlightened among us. 

Raise your hand if you can name a Democrat who was endorsed or supported by the Aryan Nations or the Ku Klux Klan.

Spud Smith, Oakridge


On March 5, Community Alliance for Lane County (CALC) and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) organized a “Stop Hate, Ditch Racism” protest against some half-dozen people celebrating National Confederate Flag Day. The demonstrators’ on-target signage read “The Confederate Flag = Racism and Fear,” “This Flag Promotes State Violence,” “Stop the Racist Flag” and “Indian Land.”

I agree wholeheartedly that the Confederate flag deserves no celebration, representing a despicable past of white nationalism, segregation, violence and oppression for people of color.

But what about the Israeli flag? Is it not an equivalent symbol: of Jewish nationalism, segregation, state violence and oppression of non-Jews, motivated by racism and hate, including massive property destruction and dispossession of indigenous Palestinian people and their lands?

I’m frankly confused about CALC’s double standard of justice advocacy. With long-standing U.S. financial, diplomatic and military support, Israel’s well-planned genocidal Cast Lead and Protective Edge operations using white phosphorous, missiles, tanks, artillery, bombs and sniper attacks wiped out thousands of lives, including hundreds of children from Gaza’s largely helpless refugee population, as well as destroying vast areas of vital housing and infrastructure after decades of ethnic cleansing, house demolitions, child detentions and torture. Yet for these atrocities, CALC has promoted “vigils,” “dialogue” and an event titled, “Ending Mid-East Conflict through Non-Violent Communication.” 

So which is it? Do we continue vigorously protesting a handful of confused people displaying an outdated racist symbol, who have probably never hurt anyone, yet encourage only polite dialogue to appease those still clinging to the racist political ideology of Zionism — ethnic privilege maintained through violence and oppression?

And what about the American flag representing direct and proxy violence throughout Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East? MLK identified the U.S. as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” — which has remained true ever since these words were spoken.

Mariah Leung, co-director, Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Eugene