TRY NOT TO BREATHE
Thank you to Camilla Mortensen and Kelly Kenoyer for delivering news that matters in the Dec. 28 edition of Eugene Weekly!
What do your two articles, “Weed Wages Water War” and “Air Quality in Oakridge,” have in common? Both articles shed light on shady backdoor deals that privatize clean air and water.
How does LRAPA fit into all this corporate swindling? Well, In April 2017, EPA staff interviewed LRAPA permit writers and discussed the small town of Oakridge which is a “non-attainment area” (i.e. does not meet air quality standards for particulate matter) and therefore unable to support new industrial growth.
But now EPA head Scott Pruitt has dismantled the new source review process (which for years has served to protect air quality from industrial pollution) and is giving LRAPA the green light to change the permitting program.
Under Pruitt’s new EPA, LRAPA will change Oakridge’s designation from a “non-attainment” area to a “re-attainment” area, thereby allowing new industry to “buy” it’s way out of air-quality regulations by purchasing “offsets” (in the form of woodstoves for a few Oakridge residents).
Are other federal non-attainment areas becoming the new focus for offset banking under Pruitt’s new EPA?
As an Oakridge resident and a registered nurse, I demand that we stop compromising public health for higher profit. We must fight against the privatization of our air and water.
Betsy Johnson, Oakridge
LET US VOTE!
I signed a petition to get a spray ban initiative on the May ballot in Lane County. Now I hear that even though the county clerk assured the chief petitioners that the initiative had qualified by first, satisfying the single subject and full text rules and second, by turning in enough certified signatures, a new obstacle has reared its ugly face in the form of the “separate vote” rule.
Now my right to vote on this “people-proposed” law is being threatened, again. How is this possible? When enough people get it together to satisfy all the steps of the process, how can county officials invent barricades that deny the people access to the ballot box? Could they be in the pocket of the opposition special interests, perchance?
I was born and raised in California before moving to Eugene in 2014. In California, the proposed aerial spraying campaign to allegedly combat the Light Brown Apple Moth was shot down by fierce citizen opposition. Why the widespread spraying of forestland with herbicides is tolerated in Oregon is beyond belief.
John Thielking, Eugene
COUNTY MUST ANSWER
On Dec. 19, more than 50 Lane County voters turned out at the Board of Commissioners meeting to demand accountability and transparency in the initiative process in Lane County.
Voters demanded an explanation from the county government about why the Freedom from Aerial Spraying of Herbicides Bill of Rights charter amendment was being kept from the ballot based on the County Election Clerk’s decision that the initiative did not comply with the separate-vote rule.
Despite repeated requests, no explanation has been forthcoming.
Alarmingly, rather than answering to the voters for the county’s actions, Lane County — through its county counsel Stephen Dingle — is leaving it to the timber industry to provide that explanation.
On Dec. 21, in the legal action filed by the initiative’s chief petitioners challenging the clerk’s determination, the county blew off the deadline to explain its position and instead relies on the filing of Stanton Long — advocating the timber industry’s interests — to answer for our local government’s own actions to stop this initiative.
Lane County Commissioners must be held accountable for this gross failing of our local government’s stewardship of the people’s initiative process.
Richard Gross, Deadwood
LAME COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
So sad, another beautiful mountainscape scraped clean by the awful practice of clear cutting. The twin curses of clear cutting and aerial spraying carry on in full force, despite the growing toll on ecosystems, public health, recreation — the list goes on and on.
How, I ask, can this go on in an area as progressive and ecologically oriented as Lane County? Well, one needs to look no further than our Lane County Commission.
In the midst of the initiative process, four out of five of our county commissioners decided to enact an arbitrary, non-mandatory rule that discredits the signatures of more than 15,000 Lane County residents. Never mind the hubris of four individuals de-legitimizing the signatures of thousands of people, but this is not what democracy looks like. Not to mention that the number of stories relating to sickness from communities being sprayed continues to stack up.
It is not okay that these stories are falling on deaf ears.
Nothing less than a groundswell of speaking out and people’s voices is needed at this point to keep this initiative alive. This has been tried before; the commissioners attempted to change the initiative process itself so that petitions that were deemed “unnecessary and taking up too much time” could be arbitrarily thrown out.
No wonder Lane County is called the Texas of Oregon. Let’s change that. Get on the phone, and get with others to reverse this trend poisoning our environment from the inside out.
Kerstin Britz, Cottage Grove
FEATHERING THE NEST
How about “Loons” for the new South Eugene High School mascot? It’s gender-neutral, and is appropriate for the area. Plus, they’re very pretty birds, although they cry a lot.
Jerry Ritter, Springfield
Hello Eugene! Did you notice the posters all over town for the laser light show at Science Factory Museum through the end of this month only? Well, in case you didn’t, there is a kick-butt laser light show being offered at the Science Factory Museum until the end of January on Friday and Saturday nights! Check out their website for details. We saw the Queen laser light show and it was awesome, there is also a Pink Floyd laser light show and a Beyonce one too…
So, come on, support your local planetarium and do something unique this weekend…it’s only offered until the end of the month and I promise this is worth the 10 bucks!
Pamela Corvid, Elmira
RISE UP AND RALLY
Weary and wary of the “Fire and Fury” inside the Trump White House? #MeToo! Then rise up and rally with friends and family outside the Eugene Federal Courthouse on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 1 pm to March for Action for women’s rights and progress against sexism, racism and other forms of injustice.
In 2016, Gretchen Carlson sued Roger Ailes, the Fox News network founder and former GOP strategist and informal advisor to Trump’s campaign, for sexual harassment and won a $22 million settlement (and an apology from her employer, 20th Century Fox).
“Courage is contagious,” Carlson affirmed recently in a NPR News Hour interview. “Men need to stop being bystanders and turn into allies,” she added.On Jan. 20, millions of men and women around the world will be practicing what Carlson preaches as they march for peaceful change, civility and decency.
And it doesn’t take a genius to realize that “Time’s Up” for “Fire and Fury,” the sordid and sorry Trump soap opera, that, I believe, won’t be renewed for a second season. Poor ratings. Bad actors. Sad.
Karen D. Myers Eugene
ELECTED AUDITOR = RED HERRING
Some City Council members worry that Eugene’s “elected independent auditor will be the highest-paid elected official” in Oregon. So what! Topnotch candidates need a competitive salary — otherwise you lose them — and that’s why Eugene pays department heads and managers more than any elected official. There are issues with that too, but we want the best-qualified candidates to apply, right? Most elected officials don’t need a high school diploma, but the elected auditor must meet tough professional qualifications in order to even be considered.
Eugene’s appointed city manager makes approximately $225,000 plus benefits, and the appointed city attorney receives $169,187 plus benefits. Elected state and circuit court judges average between $135,775 and $150,571 plus benefits, and elected district attorneys make up to $170,000. So, why is the Eugene City Council singling out the “elected” city auditor to complain about salaries?
I see no correlation with elected and non-elected salaries and the value we citizen’s receive, or don’t receive, for our money. Auditing what the city does is where the real value comes in! City Accountability’s Measure 20-283 includes regular, outside professional auditing of the auditor — which is more accountability than either city councilors or the city manager receives.
As to how we exercise citizen oversight, it is we, the electors, who have the ultimate oversight, using recall, or voting for someone else in four years!
Our councilors have the authority to make good decisions, but lack the clear information necessary to do it. The auditor is the missing tool.
Robin Bloomgarden, Eugene
In EW Letters Dec. 28, 2017, Ben Torres joins the well-connected defenders of the city status quo by mimicking their favorite talking point, which complains that the estimated (can go up or down) $153,000 salary of the proposed elected independent city auditor would be “the highest paid elected official in Oregon” — which is not true, and a matter of public record.
Many Oregon elected officials make more than the proposed elected independent Eugene city auditor’s compensation as prescribed in Ballot Measure 20-283, to be voted on in May. The Lane County district attorney, as well as the Clackamas County district attorney and Sheriff, make more, for example.
Opponents seek to confuse and weaponize the salary issue by using the “elected” distinction. The more relevant comparison is with city department heads and top administrators, over which the auditor will have oversight responsibilities, like the city manager ($220,313), EWEB general manager ($265,460), Eugene city attorney ($169,187), assistant city manager ($146,515), and executive directors of central services, fire/EMS services, library recreation and cultural services, planning and development, police services and public works, all of whose salaries are in the $147,000 range and who all have guaranteed raises and do not have to run for election every four years.
The residents of Eugene are at the very least baffled, and at worst disgusted, with how the Eugene government spends tax dollars. We need an elected independent city auditor who is a public representative and has the authority to follow the money.
Ronald Bevirt, Eugene
For generations people have noted that Eugene is a remarkably contentious and argumentative town. The debate about the public auditor is no exception.
However, Richard Guske’s letter (“Political Manipulation,” 1/4) has crossed the line beyond the usual rancor and ventured deep into Trump territory.
I had some difficulty parsing the logical chain of Guske’s argument, but apparently he took two 2015 quotes from Bonny Bettman McCornack and Emily Semple to insinuate that they don’t like libraries or the homeless and want to raise our taxes and take over the city government.
Guske has done everything except start chanting “lock them up!” (I can’t help noting that Betty Taylor and mayors Piercy and Vinis have also gotten their share of personal abuse from various critics. I cannot recall any male politicians so consistently vilified in this manner. Odd for a “progressive” community.)
It is, however, interesting that Guske broached the topics of the 2015 Library Levy. Passing the Library Levy was surprisingly difficult because of the lack of trust in the city government. Any possible measures to help the homeless will also face difficulties because of this lack of trust. The auditor initiative is designed to rebuild trust in the city government.
And Guske’s claim that the initiative will raise taxes is just “fake news,” to quote Guske’s rhetorical role model.
Art Bollmann, Eugene
LOVE FOR ANGER
In response to Lola Bravo’s letter (Letters, 9/21/17) responding to my letter (9/14/17): Every accusation you made is wrong and false. I challenge you to find examples of bigotry coming from my years of public output on YouTube and social media. My views are liberal (liberty and equality).
Although we are not victims, you are clearly using blame-the-victim tactics in your letter. Also, your response to my letter, in which I explain that we are both part Native American, was to say that we are not welcome here.
The feeling is not mutual, Lola. We return your anger with love. In fact, I welcome you to talk with me in real time.
Antifa can be seen in many videos physically attacking members of almost any marginalized group one can think of. Local Antifa are mad because we sent them links to these videos in attempt to reason with them. Their hostile reaction (doxing, threats and leaving racist stickers on our door) show they don’t actually care about marginalized groups. They want power. Those who want power should not be trusted.
Love, don’t hate.
Justin Antitheist, Eugene