Letters to the Editor 10-6-2016


I’m writing to urge Ward 1 voters to vote for Emily Semple. Endorsed by George Brown, Betty Taylor and Pete Sorenson, Emily Semple is the obvious choice.

As a mother of two and the owner of a graphic arts business, Semple understands hard work and the needs of working people and struggling families. She also sees that Eugene has a shortage of affordable housing. Her concerns extend to the most vulnerable in our community, those who have fallen through society’s safety nets and now live without shelter.

I met Emily five years ago when she was working on a project to slow down foreclosures on local homes. As we spoke, I found her easy to talk to and engaging. She listens intently, hears what people say and thinks about issues with a great deal of creativity. Since we first met, I have worked with her on several projects, and have found her to be focused and tireless.

If you have been unhappy with the way the city has dealt with issues such as Kesey Square, MUPTE, transportation and zoning, vote for Emily Semple for Ward 1. She will work to make city government fairer and more transparent.

Vickie Nelson, Eugene


The Lane Community College Board of Education unanimously endorsed Ballot Measure 97 at its September meeting. We strongly encourage all Lane County voters to vote yes on this important measure. Below is our statement:

Whereas the state of Oregon faces an historic revenue shortfall in the 2017-18 biennium which may require massive spending cuts to education and social services in order to balance the state budget, the Lane Community College Board of Directors resolves to formally endorse and urge community support of Measure 97.

In doing so, the Lane Community College Board joins the “A Better Oregon” coalition effort to raise the corporate minimum tax on the largest corporations doing business in Oregon — corporations with more than $25 million in Oregon sales — to fund education and social services in Oregon.

We know Oregonians value education. That’s why we hope you will join us in voting yes for Ballot Measure 97.

Sharon Stiles, Chair, LCC Board of Education, Eugene


It has started. The lies and misinformation about Measure 97 have hit the airways. Any time there is a piece of legislation or initiative that attempts to cut into record profits or make the wealthiest pay more for schools, roads, health care, etc., the same tired arguments pop up.

Raise the minimum wage? Oh no, it will kill jobs. Give sick leave to workers? Businesses will leave the state. Make the largest corporations pay their fair share in taxes? It will hurt poor people because businesses will pass it on to consumers.

The time has come for people to see through these lies and predictions of economic catastrophe. When Oregonians passed Measures 66 and 67 in 2010 that raised taxes on the wealthiest Oregonians, they said: “hidden sales tax,” it hurts citizens the most, especially the poorest citizens. Sound familiar? Both measures passed, and they helped our state dig out from one of the deepest recessions in our history.

Trying to figure out which way to vote on Measure 97? Just follow the money. Wells Fargo, one of the largest contributors against Measure 97, made $86 billion in revenue and $23 billion in profits last year. They were recently caught ripping off millions from their customers. But pay their fair share in taxes? No way. Comcast has given $315,000 to No on 97 but owes the state $120 million in unpaid property taxes.

Ask yourself: Whom do I believe, teachers, nurses, firemen, etc., or Bank of America, Monsanto, Comcast and Wells Fargo? Then vote yes on 97.

Pete Mandrapa, Eugene


District Attorney Patty Perlow’s statements regarding the shooting [Sept. 10] of Edgar Rodriguez are a classic example of blaming the victim.

It “doesn’t make sense” to her that Rodriguez would “come outside armed to ‘greet’ police officers,” but I can think of a very good reason why he would not want to leave a loaded weapon in his apartment when two drunk people were engaged in a fight.

When people call 911, they have an expectation that police will drive to their residences with lights flashing when they respond. Not only did both officers come in the dark and park their cruisers out of sight, but one of them actually approached Rodriguez from behind the apartment. He walked around the apartment listening for a dispute.

Although the officers didn’t know Rodriguez was an Iraq war vet, sneaking up on someone who is armed (according to his 911 call) can be a dangerous thing to do.

If Rodriguez had been aware that the police were there, he probably would have put his weapon down.

More relevant than Rodriguez’s five shots of liquor is the history of Officer Timothy Hunt’s questionable actions, which have been given nods and winks by the police investigator and the DA’s office.

Steve Hiatt, Eugene


I just want to thank the hippies and other colorful folk who ride tricked-out bikes past my house on River Road and on the bike path. Their freak flags and happy music always make me smile. There are some who ride by at night with their bikes all lit up with neon. It’s wonderful! In a world that seems so dark, these people lift my heart.

Toni Hanner, Eugene


I was homeless in Eugene and ready for suicide attempt number three when my spiritual helper from above caused it to rain that morning, sending me from the wet alley where I was sleeping into the Eugene Mission, only to seek shelter, warmth and food. Definitely not for help; I was done asking for help.

Once there, a flyer on their bulletin board gave me the number to a crisis line that referred me to Willamette Family for drug evaluation. I enrolled in treatment, stayed clean and became a nationally recognized published author of more than 10 recovery articles. I have written about my experiences up to this point. In a five-month period, three of those articles are due out in print in a respected literary journal in April and May. This story is full of miracle after miracle, all in the infancy of sobriety!

I was just interviewed by a nationally recognized recovery podcast that wanted to be the first to share my story on the national level. This is just a brief synopsis of my story. It is truly a miracle.

My story gives reference to three social service agencies in Eugene for their part in saving my life, and nobody in Eugene really knows about it yet, as I am new here and all this attention has been throughout the country and into Canada — just starting to see it venturing into the U.K. this week.

I think it would be a wonderful thing for Eugene Weekly to report on and a much-needed vote of confidence to the city that all its efforts to combat homelessness and addiction in the community are not in vain.

P.S. My writing has got so popular that my original blog in its third month is over the 12,000-view mark, and if it keeps the pace set so far this month, it could hit 20,000 views for September. Here is the link to that podcast: goo.gl/UatxFF.

Marc McMahon, Eugene


On the day the young Our Children’s Trust plaintiffs appeared in their court case against the U.S. government and Big Oil, The Register-Guard noted that the University of Oregon Foundation had decided to divest of fossil fuels. A Register-Guard editorial later called that action largely symbolic. How disappointing.

Yet I remembered how symbols point to something larger, and how an action can become a symbol that inspires further action. Young men burning their draft cards during the ’60s became symbolic of the anger many felt about our involvement in Vietnam. Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat to an able-bodied white man became a symbol of racial inequity in our country.

And today, a pro football player kneeling during the national anthem points to the way people of color are treated in our justice system.

Not everyone is comfortable being reminded of the situations that spark these actions. But change is often the result — because they become symbols inspiring others. We ended our involvement in Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. Colin Kaepernick exposes a flawed justice system.

Divesting won’t bankrupt the University of Oregon — and it might spark other institutions to do the same. So, thank you, UO Foundation, and thank you, Register-Guard.

And thank you especially to the 21 young people standing on the courthouse steps — a powerful symbol of little guys taking on the corporatocracy. May you inspire further action for the public good.

Donna Haines, Eugene


Oregonians love animals and we have a long, proud history of passing laws to protect them. That’s why among all 50 states, Oregon is ranked second in strength of its animal welfare laws.

Now we have a chance to continue that tradition by passing Measure 100 to ban the commercial trade in the parts and products of our most cherished and iconic wildlife species.

Federal rules and laws can only go so far in closing down illegal wildlife trafficking. Measure 100 closes an important loophole in existing law by imposing serious penalties on anyone caught trying to traffic in endangered animal parts within our state, thereby augmenting and bolstering federal enforcement efforts.

With California and Washington having already passed similar laws, passing Measure 100 will mean the entire West Coast will become far less hospitable to the poachers, smugglers and profiteers in search of local markets and driving our world’s animals to extinction.

The measure also includes common-sense exemptions for bona fide antiques, musical instruments and use of these products by native tribes.

Oregonians rank the global poaching crisis among their top animal welfare concerns, yet often feel powerless to stop it. Now, with Measure 100, we have a chance to do our part and take a leadership role in protecting elephants, rhinos, big cats, whales and other imperiled animals. Please vote yes on Measure 100.

Scott Beckstead, Oregon Senior State Director Human Society of the United States, Sutherlin


Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke consistently about fairness, need and corporate greed. Oregon voters will have a chance in November to make a statement about those matters with Ballot Measure 97. Voting yes will result in schools, low-income health needs and senior citizen services getting around $2 billion more a year. It will raise school budgets by an estimated 25 percent.

As early childhood professionals, we support Measure 97. We have mourned the burdens of unacceptable public school class sizes and cuts in vital school programs. Our teachers are doing an amazing job despite many handicaps. Our state has failed its constitutional obligation to ensure a great public education. Both political parties have failed to find long-term financial solutions to correct our lack of strong educational funding.

Some corporations have failed to pay their fair share of taxes, compounding the problem. They as well as their supporters threaten us by saying that, if voted in, they will pass the Measure 97 corporate tax on to customers. As citizens, we can choose where we spend our money by not supporting irresponsible corporate behavior.

Supporting our state public school system is both patriotic and a family value. As President Barack Obama stated in a 2013 speech, “If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century.”

Christopher and Deb Michaels, Eugene


Regarding the Ward 1 City Councilor election, Eugene, 2016:

Folks, we’ve got two very good people running in the Nov. 8 election for the City Council position. I know and like both Emily Semple and Josh Skov. Emily was encouraged to run, and has been well-supported by both George Brown (owner of Kiva and two-term Ward 1 councilor) and Bonny Bettman (retired RN and two-term councilor for Ward 1 previous to George). Josh has been an active member of various committees within the city, including budget and transportation. Both are suma cum laude grads with various degrees.

I have decided to back Emily Semple for the position. For one, she has been a resident of Ward 1 for 31 years and wants the job out of a sense of dutiful responsibility to all her friends, associates and neighbors here in Eugene. It is a pleasure to come to learn that her quiet demeanor masks a lightning quick analytical mind.

Even more so, I am impressed that her desire to truly represent her constituency is her agenda. I think she will popularize the position of councilor in such a way that a lot of people will want to step up and give it a try. And if this indeed is a non-partisan election in a democracy, more candidates are needed.

Friendly sidebars for me include:

She is at the young end of the Boomers, which is the Socratic moment for community service.

When she ran for SLUG queen 25 years ago (which was the absolute height of the Eugene Celebration, and a lot bigger than the Whiteaker Block Party), she was the unanimous choice amongst a field of 10 contestants.

She has a couple of lovely, small tattoos on her arms, which in a perfect world would not affect my decision, but most certainly does in this world.

Scott Landfield, Eugene


Rep. Pete DeFazio sadly co-sponsored the worst piece of mental health legislation I have seen in 42 years of human rights activism. HR 2646 is more than 100 pages long, so mainly lobbyists seem to know the details. The worst part is that this bill extends federal financial support for involuntary outpatient psychiatric treatment.

In other words, Americans living peacefully in their own homes could be court-ordered to take psychiatric drugs against their will. I call this approach the “Bill Cosby School of Mental Health.”

I have supported Pete for decades and interacted with Pete personally several times. He’s always been kind of grouchy. That is OK; everyone has a different style. But if Pete legislates for involuntary psychiatry despite many constituents trying to explain why this is horrifying, then we have the right to ask, “Has Pete ever had a mental health check-up himself?” If not, will he?

Those of us with psychiatric labels appear to be one of the last groups that get thrown under the bus, by both Democrats and Republicans. I hope the Senate stops the bill.

Following the revolutionary Micah White’s strategy, I have decided to place my name as a write-in candidate for Congress.

David Oaks, Eugene


I hate West 11th. As I was driving home in the rain from work, all the vehicles were criss-crossing in front of each other. The old markings were still visible as they filled with rain, and the new markings were impossible to follow. It’s amazing accidents didn’t happen.

Isn’t it curious that as I drive past the workers (going to work in the morning), they are standing around or looking at their cell phones or observing the other workers standing around?

What palms need to be greased by LTD to get this nightmare completed? Will a change in the weather (more rain) encourage the workers to move faster to completion? It’s been months! But it will be worth it for the four bus riders that use this route.

Linda Wagner, Noti


Our Children’s Trust is making the case for climate justice in Eugene’s U.S. District Court. Seeing clearly the existential threat posed by climate change, children are pleading for the survival of our planet. Adults in the room — the fossil fuel industry and Obama administration — argue that climate change just isn’t so, the government has things under control, the case should be dismissed and the problem left to politics.

Shakespeare wrote: “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Politics: Macbeth without the bloodshed.

Presiding Judge Ann Aiken asks if — since the federal government has known about climate danger for more than 50 years — now might be the time for climate change to be addressed “with all deliberate speed?”

Wordsworth describes children as Nature’s priests. May adults hear their pure voices, embrace their clear vision and follow them posthaste to the altar.

God bless the child.

Benton Elliott, Eugene


My name is Stefan Strek and I invented “Make Eugene Great Again” (#MEGA) for my campaign as mayor in the primary 2016 election, proof at votestrek.com. Recently, Eugene Weekly has been promoting my slogan. Make Eugene Great Again is a simple concept that starts with good people. We have a new school year, and already I see too much garbage and human indecency returning to town. There’s too many dirty rapey hobos and too many rapey frat bros. Eugene is losing its core value of promoting a safe place for hippie flower girls to be their creative selves in a safe environment. If you want to Make Eugene Great Again, then speak out against rape and other garbage in our town. People helping people is what “Make Eugene Great Again” is all about.

Stefan Strek, Eugene

Editor’s Note: EW’s “Make Eugene Great Again” slogan for Best of Eugene is a spoof of Donald Trump and not affiliated with Strek.


Kudos to the Weekly for printing a group of letters from high school students about Indigenous Peoples’ Day [Letters, 9/29]. This is the way democracy works, with people expressing their opinions as a way to make things better. This is how recently, the president pledged to continue America’s robust support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. This came about because citizens asked their representatives to write the president to make this pledge. The results will include the saving of eight million lives and averting millions of new infections from these diseases, keeping the world on track for the AIDS free generation. Helping students make this connection to using their voices to create change keeps our democracy strong.

Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Washington


The Lane County commissioners are in the midst of deciding if initiative measures, which they deem “without county concern,” can be flat-out eliminated by them before voters can have any say in the matter. Initiatives some commissioners don’t profit from would be in danger. Pete Sorenson is the exception to these corporcratic rulers. Threatened is Oregon’s unique initiative process started in 1902.

The environment’s destroyers have three aims. First is ridding this state’s “pesky” initiative process. The language was drafted by Dennis Morgan who heads the PAC “Community Action Network.” They work together with many local forestry exploiting enterprises and had its draft approved immediately after being submitted to the commissioners. CAN has received tens of thousands of dollars from the timber industry and donated to Jay Bozievich’s and Faye Stewart’s campaigns.

The other aims are stopping two initiatives for which signatures are already being collected. Stopping aerial herbicide spraying and the growth of genetically modified organisms are their goal. Until now, helicopters and other equipment have carried out this “toxic trespass” on clearcuts and on organic farmers’ crops. These pollute human communities, natural habitats as well as our bodies. This model of spraying poison upon our habitat enriches only chemical companies and other like-intentioned profiteers.

A recall of “bad” county commissioners might be the only recourse for people’s sustainability in the Willamette Valley. We’ve always known water, soil and air purity are indispensable for our living and survival in Lane County.

David Ivan Piccioni, Eugene


The recent announcement that daily national security briefings are now being forwarded to our presidential candidates should give due cause for alarm. This is truly a matter of national and international concern.

In all probability, these briefings will no doubt contain access and procedures concerning measures to safeguard or deploy our nuclear codes, sensitive military operations and protocol, not to mention strategies affecting delicate internationals issues such as trade, immigration and weapons control.

With all due respect, one candidate might be at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to deciphering the onslaught of all this classified information. Perhaps all the data could be condensed (for the sake of simplicity) into short daily tweets, provocative sound bites or, better yet, rendered in the universal language of emoticons.

Perhaps all the associated paperwork, audio tapes and digitally coded messages could be carried around by secret service agents in cheerful bright yellow, Fisher-Price type top security briefcase thus complementing the sophisticated array of classified information. It would also afford the candidate in question at least a tiny bit of presidential cache to an otherwise naïve and one-dimensional political apprentice.

W.C. Crutchfield, Eugene


The American news media must have attention deficit disorder or dementia. They can’t focus and they can’t remember. See how national news outlets are clutching their pearls at Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment. What nonsense!

Have they forgotten how Trump’s followers applauded as he denigrated women, blacks, Hispanics and Muslims? Did they forget how Trump’s followers assault people at his rallies?

Trump whines that Clinton is “looking down” on his followers. Well, we should look down on them. A significant number of Trump supporters are white supremacists, misogynists and alt-right dirtbags.

We are right to deplore racism, misogyny and violence. Those who embrace these things are not worthy of respect and neither is a news media who can’t tell the difference between right and wrong.

Brook Adams, Eugene


It’s probably true that no one presidential election really means that much in the grand scheme of the things. But once in a while, the decisions we make as a society have been known to echo down through the ages, for better or worse. Such an election took place in 1860, where a new political party lead by an unknown candidate won and ushered the U.S. into a civil war that continues to plague us to this very day with its unresolved conflicts.

The election of John F. Kennedy was also one of those squeaker wins that elevated the young son of a rich family to high office, just in time for him to avoid the juggernaut of nuclear war. JFK came to power promising a peace where “a rising tide lifts all boats.” His legacy to us is something that didn’t happen.

And now we are faced with another impending choice that, in its binary imperative, drives many of us to distraction. The never-ending, never-resolving decision: Should I stay, should I go? Who should I vote for, Trump, Hillary or some third party, because surely I won’t abandon history by not participating, throwing my franchise into the wind and letting it land where it may. I will take my singular stand by casting my vote. Hopefully, it will be right for the country.

Gerry Merritt, Eugene


Oregon Senator Ron Wyden makes an interesting cameo appearance in Oliver Stone’s new movie, Snowden. In one scene, we see a video clip of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, during which Wyden asks him bluntly, “Does the NSA collect any kind of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper answers, “No.” Then, when pressed by Wyden, adds the qualifier, “Not wittingly.” As documents later released by Edward Snowden proved, Clapper was perjuring himself. And even with his weasel-y qualifier, he was still a perjurer.

On my bus ride home from seeing the movie, several questions began crowding into my mind.

1. Why is Clapper, whose salary is paid by taxpayers whom he regards as cattle, still director of national intelligence, while Snowden lives in exile?

2. Wouldn’t Americans be better off with Snowden as DNI and Clapper being forced to hide his sorry ass in Moscow?

3. Why does Congress lack the nerve to punish high-ranking perjurers?

4. Snowden has said he would come home to face trial if it were an open trial with him being accorded full due process rights. (A rule I would add specifically: the prosecution doesn’t get to invoke the state secrets doctrine.) What’s unreasonable about that?

5. Why do we have a political system in which lawbreaking becomes necessary to protect the Constitution, our fundamental law?

6. Is it possible to construct a political system in which martyrs aren’t required to countervail its eventual abandonment of original principles and descent into corruption?

Zack Replica, Eugene