Letters to the Editor – 2017-07-20


Applause for Will Kennedy’s “Bach for the 21st Century” (July 13). I especially appreciated Kennedy’s “outsider” probes about the festival’s relevance, audience and programming.

As a living (!) composer, I’ll add some insight: Matthew Halls comes to Eugene on a European wave of authentic performance and research that has produced some amazing work and challenges our sense of history. What we hear in these cases, as Kennedy testifies, is pretty rock ’n’ roll. Authentic performances remind us where rock came from, and confuse the source of (current) classical performance.

But I’m not sure bringing “real” rockers to the OBF stage will alleviate concerns or doubts about the future of ticket sales or keep the festival “relevant.” Anyone remember Bang On A Can’s live interpretation of Brian Eno’s tape-loop, Music for Airports? Theirs is a universally deplored realization of Eno’s genre-defining work.

If that only raises an inquisitive eyebrow, you’ll groan at the idea of Aphex Twin as performed by the BBC Orchestra. Yes, that happened.

On the other hand, there is a strong list of contemporary composers OBF could employ who would illuminate the “ba-rock” spirit of Bach as it flourishes today.

Drawing on the energy of Authentic Early Music Practice, the “new” OBF has potential to change the game for Eugene music culture across the boards. Imagine a new generation of folk and pop artists influenced by Early Music exploration and bringing Eugene to a … Harry Partch-esque era. (I can dream, can’t I?)

Nicholas Chase, Composer, Eugene


Recently I was handed a flyer suggesting Eugene needed an “independent” auditor. The auditor would be responsible for providing unbiased verification of public spending, strengthening internal controls and increasing trust of government. Sounds like a good idea.

Yes, transparency in government is necessary. That’s why a majority of Eugene residents voted for Mayor Vinis, who ran on a platform of transparency in government.

Looking over the flyer I was given, I noticed one serious flaw. The “City Accountability” group advocating for an internal auditor calls for a ballot measure to make this an elected position. This would be a big mistake.

A politically elected independent auditor, by definition, cannot remain independent. This could provide opportunities for serious government mismanagement with behind the scene deals. An elected independent auditor is not a wise way to go.

Another possibility is to appoint an internal auditor. Also not a good idea, because we all know the temptation would be to appoint a “connected” friend of city administration. Not the way to insure transparency and trust.

For a true “independent” auditor, the city should carefully search for, interview and hire a capable, well-respected national or regional CPA firm to act as Eugene’s internal auditor.

An internal auditor for Eugene is a good idea. The right choice would deliver major benefits providing increased transparency and accountability. A respected, non-political, truly independent accounting firm can deliver the trust that must accompany the transparency and accountability that no politician or connected appointee can.

Michael DeLuise, Eugene


When Jerry Ritter talks about the problems of population explosion (a planet-wide problem) and then conflates it with immigration issues (Letters, June 29), I have so many reactions; I hardly know where to begin.

One of the first things that comes up is, when we start talking about immigration problems, how far back in history should we go? If we go back 400 or 500 years, we could suggest that one of the solutions might be for all the white people to go back “where they are from.”

As for Latino/as, they would get to stay, because at least they would still be on the same continent as their continent of origin.

To imply that stronger immigration control would help “America” (and by this I assume Mr. Ritter means the United States) address climate change issues strikes me as so simplistic as to be inaccurate. We have one planet: Habitat destruction, deforestation and shrinking water supply are worldwide issues that are byproducts of the industrial revolution, not immigration.

Further, the desire for money and power that has fueled the rapacious greed with which our planet has been treated is inextricably connected with racism. One of the privileges of white people is that they can choose to be insulated by the fact that the environment is in serious trouble (for instance, 100 percent of the toxic waste dumps are in communities where brown or black people live); the intersectionality of racism and environmentalism is not hard to discern if you scratch the surface.

The only real hope does not lie in firmer border control; the only real hope we have is to realize we are all in this together. We need to apply serious and concerted efforts to heal the divisions that racism has instituted and to find creative and energetic ways to collaborate toward treating the earth respectfully and loving one another.

When we come to the table respectfully addressing the issues that face all of us, we can discuss population explosion as well.

Kaseja Wilder, Eugene


Re: Rick Levin’s Ashland/Medford rant (“Taming of the Shrewd,” June 19): You call this journalism? Bitter bile is hard to chew, impossible to swallow. It has no substance.

Why would anyone want to read Levin’s highly opinionated and poorly researched assumptions that attempt to sweep two entire towns with the same broad strokes commonly used by narrow minds and bigots. He sounds like an angry, mean tourist on a disappointing weekend pass, still upset about being forced to eat at Denny’s.

Loosen up, man, you don’t have to live there, so why be such a bully? EW, why publish much ado about nothing?

A former reader,

Nancy Green, Springfield


Mr. Levin’s recent article contains some thought-provoking observations about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (“Taming of the Shrewd,” June 29), as well as the state’s progressive sanctuary cities. Some are even valid. However, his self-indulgent commentary remains remarkably free of ideas on how to remedy the situation.

Perhaps he would have the left-leaning, latte-drinking, NPR-listening elites boycott the OSF until it agrees to section off some seats for homeless people of color, with a nice Chardonnay waiting for them at intermission. Money thus saved could be used to fund more locally appropriate entertainments such as monster truck rallies and country music concerts for the indigent.

Better yet, we neoliberals in Ashland, Eugene and Corvallis could vote against our own interests, as so many of those living in Rumpistan have already done. We should certainly not tolerate progressive enclaves to persist in “Walden’s Wonderland.”

Unfortunately, Levin himself is silent on solutions for the unfolding tragedy at OSF. He infers that the wealthy white glitterati should feel ashamed for even visiting a place like Ashland. What would he propose for us po’ folk who cannot afford $108 seats at the Elizabethan Theatre? I suggest that rather than eating at Denny’s, he could cleanse his (and all of our) sins by attending a screening of “Fate of the Furious” at Gateway Mall.

Until then, I decline to accept any guilt for supporting quality theatre at OSF.

Jeff Freeman, Corvallis


In the Slant section of Eugene Weekly’s pre-Oregon Country Fair issue (July 6), you wrote that “as the dust settles, we hope we will hear about efforts OCF makes to work with the native community to restore trust and build new bridges.”

In response to your request, here is an example:

During the Saturday Standing Rock Indigenous Unity Panel, the owner of the Ritz Sauna and Showers was invited to speak at the end of the panel, which he did. Panel members were also invited to visit the Ritz and many accepted the invitation.

Creating awareness and a deeper level of understanding requires the willingness of all involved to actively listen to all voices.

Throughout the Fair the Ritz provided a public space for anyone to come and either write down her comments, concerns and ideas for the future or the opportunity to share her thoughts with a Ritz crew member directly.

Speaking for myself as a 30-plus year Ritz crew member, I do not think of the Story Pole as a “debacle.” It is a piece of art that evokes different reactions from each person. One of the functions of art is to be a catalyst for conversations, and the Story Pole has succeeded in doing just that.

Alice C. Wheeler, Eugene


Since at least 2002, Eugene government has been under attack by Bonny Bettman and associates in an effort to replace Eugene’s council-manager form of government with an alternative that circumvents the city manager.

In recorded council meetings, George Brown, one of the most intelligent and conscientious of councilors, complained bitterly that he could not control the city manager. Yet in the public record he joined the rest of the council in giving a unanimous favorable evaluation of the city manager in his employment review.

I have reviewed information on cityaccountability.org and it seems to me the evidence of fault is pretty thin. There is no smoking gun. I discovered the city of Portland has no city manager. It has a city council that manages the city, and city auditor replaces the function of city manager.

Thus comparison between Eugene and Portland is apples and oranges. It is a bit too clever for the proponents of change to omit this fact.

The city of Eugene has an outstanding city management. It is better to improve what you know than to replace it with what you don’t know. Please be careful of what you ask for.

John C Helmer, Eugene


There are only three ways to provide health care: socialized healthcare, a free-market insurance-based system or a highly regulated hybrid of the two.

No one has ever had a successful free market system because the insurance industry doesn’t make money by providing healthcare. They make money by withholding healthcare. They are motivated by profits and if people can’t pay or have a medical condition that will cost them money, they will drop them and simply let them die.

Most societies have compassion for their poor and sick and provide universal coverage. They will either have a single-payer system or they will force the insurance companies to care for them with subsidies and regulation.

In an insurance-based system, the young and healthy must be coerced in some way to pay for those who are sick and old. Socialized medicine is always cheaper because it eliminates the profit motive and the care is often better because the caregivers are generally motivated by compassion rather than greed.

About 90 percent of the people in Medicare and other government run health systems like their care, and only about 3 percent is spent on administration. The rest of the cost goes for care.

In an unregulated insurance system, profits and administration eat up 30 to 40 percent of costs. Any good regulated system would look a lot like the ACA, which has mandates, limits profits and administration to 20 percent, and prohibits dropping people with pre-existing conditions.

Jesus recommends compassion over greed.

Jerry Brule, Eugene

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