Here at Eugene Weekly, we love our letter writers, but with COVID still hurting our advertisers — and thus our page count — we can’t fit all the letters fit to print in print. Here are this week’s online extra letters.
CLIMATE IS AN EMERGENCY
As the climate emergency grows and immediate actions are needed, the citizens of Lane County and Oregon should call and write their legislators and put their feet to the fire for significant and strong actions and legislation to mitigate and prepare for the increasing droughts, wildfires, water and food shortages we are sure to face.
These Climate Action Plans must include our forests. The logging industry is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon and our public forests are one of the best forests in the world for carbon sequestration in western Oregon. A carbon tax that would charge the logging industry for the pollution they create from logging and the trees they cut would be a great start. Then we subsidize woodlot owners to keep the trees in the ground. Tax what we don’t want, give subsidies for what we do want.
We can’t let the logging industry continue with the clearcut as usual practices when the entire planet and all the life it holds is at risk. We also need to restrict all post fire logging as this is the worst time to log for the health of forests. This is an all-hands-on-deck emergency.
GOP DOES ALL IT CAN TO AVOID DEMOCRACY
For decades Republicans have done their best to keep minorities, students — even women — from casting votes in any significant way.
I’m amazed Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek cut a deal with them to facilitate redistricting, a critical matter in all Oregonians’ future. Trusting Republicans to act like adults is like Charlie Brown expecting that he’d be able to kick the football.
Thirty years ago, Republicans seized control of Alaska’s governorship, crafting plans to exclude indigenous Natives from having a proportionate say in their government. I filed an open records act request to discover what it cost taxpayers to defend their indefensible gerrymandering plan, sharing the six-figure number with the press. The courts rejected the Republican scam, allowing the creation of fairer maps.
Today, Republican legislatures countrywide employ the selfsame exclusionary policies. Oleaginous Koch Industries-sponsored Heritage Foundation and ALEC stooges are determined to continue failed Trump/McConnell policies. Surrogates packing the supreme and lower federal courts will enthusiastically continue allowing them to have their way.
There’s a new twist in Oregon. By collectively supporting the avoidance of vaccinations and masking, Republicans stonewalled redistricting, one of their ilk bringing COVID-19 to our legislative chambers.
Republican “cancel culture” intends to void the will of Oregon’s voters; Democrats have 400,000 more voters than the Latter Day Know-Nothings. Tossing congressional redistricting to a five-judge panel might let zealots abscond with it.
We won’t get to vote against this partisan foolishness for another 14 months, but let’s all mark it on our calendars for deserving of close attention in November 2022.
A WAY OUT OF CONGRESSIONAL GRIDLOCK
Sen. Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republicans are going to filibuster the debt ceiling, voting rights bills, immigration reform, climate legislation and just about every other Democratic priority. The minority should not be allowed to block the will of the majority. Democrats want to help people, Republicans only want to help the rich and the corporations.
Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema don’t want to eliminate the filibuster because they fear what happens if Democrats lose the majority. So let’s give the minority even more power. Let’s keep the 60 vote limit, only instead of blocking the bill, use the best of three options.
Have three bills crafted, one from the Democrats, one from the Republicans and one from a panel of independents that will pick out the best of each plan and eliminate the worst. No poison pills, no pork. Then use ranked-choice voting to determine the best of the three. Two points for your favorite, one point for your second choice.
Most Republican and Democratic votes will cancel themselves out and some will vote for the independent plan, but the moderate plan will win because each side will vote for the independent plan as a second choice. This would force the Republicans to actually form some policies and start trying to govern instead of just obstruction of whatever Democrats want to do, even if those policies are supported by two-thirds of the country. If forced to cooperate and compromise, civility may return.
DUMBFOUNDED IN OHIO
I live in Columbus, Ohio. It has been 11 days since the Ohio State Buckeyes lost their home opener to the Oregon Ducks, and the Buckeye coaches are still dumbfounded. The defeat is commanding Page 1 coverage in the sports section of The Columbus Dispatch.
Pitiful! The Ducks rocked the Buckeyes’ world. They are still clearing the cobwebs. Can never take that away from them.
Miles C. Larrick
THAT DUST ISN’T ALL FROM WILDFIRES
At one time, Eugene had a rainy season and a sunny season. Since the late 2000s, however, we have had a new season in late summer: the filthy season when everything is covered with a layer of dust. We see it on our cars, our picnic tables, our solar panels and everywhere else. Of course, we get to breathe this stuff into our lungs, as well.
Although most Eugene residents, when queried, think the dust is pollen or maybe ash from distant forest fires, it’s not. It’s agricultural dust carried here on the wind from the grass-seed fields north of us.
It never used to be like this. But changing agricultural practices that began a decade or so ago — in response, in part, to the ban on field burning — now create enormous clouds of dust as farmers till and disk the parched summer soil in their fields. Anyone traveling the I-5 corridor north of Eugene can see clearly the source of all this dirt, as billowing clouds of it follow every tractor in nearby fields.
Toward the end of the field-burning era, the practice was in fact very well regulated and problems were rare. But now that burning is banned, farmers have had to resort to using pesticides to kill the pathogens once killed by burning the grass straw after harvest, and they’ve had to employ methods other than burning to get rid of the straw — both of which cause far more problems and on a more regular basis than well-regulated burning ever did.
HOUSING DENSITY = PROFIT
With regard to issues involved in urban planning and housing developments underway in Eugene, private investment agendas should not take precedence over real affordable housing, real neighborhoods with character, ambiance and livability. Nor should such investment strategies be accorded the generous financial incentives and benefits that the displaced former residents are not privy to. In this situation, density is just another disingenuous word for profit.
William C. Crutchfield
WHERE WERE THE TREE HUGGERS?
In August, EWEB clearcut our publicly owned forest at East 40th and Patterson, the first stage of construction of two 7.5 million gallon water tanks. Last year, EWEB said one tank holding 5 million would be enough.
EWEB destroyed the oldest unprotected forest left in Eugene, including century-old black oaks and Doug firs. The champion fir was 15 feet in circumference. I have before and after photos, forest and stumps, at EWEB.wtf.
Many citizens were upset by this, but Eugene’s fabled environmental groups stayed silent. The only group that objected to this unnecessary deforestation was Southwest Hills Neighborhood Association (SHiNA), which doesn’t have this site in its zone.
EWEB didn’t say why they supersized their plan. So I filed a public records request and received various reports, including discussion of worn-out tanks at College Hill and Hawkins. One report had photos of cracks in the wall. Downhill neighbors are at risk if an earthquake shatters a tank.
The Cascadia Subduction Zone was discovered in the mid-1980s. Despite this knowledge, EWEB did not make repairs to reduce vulnerability to seismic shocks. Now, the Oregon Health Authority warns these tanks are a danger to water quality.
Now that EWEB’s logging is complete, they are removing forest soil in a parade of dump trucks. After that, they will remove the ridgeline by blasting basalt in a residential neighborhood.
If our forest had been cut by Republicans, perhaps Eugene enviro groups might have objected.
AOC IS NOT AOCC
I appreciate EW’s recent profile of me, “A New Dawn” (8/19), and I’d like to clarify a common misunderstanding. The article conflated two very different groups: AOC is the non-controversial Association of Oregon Counties, where all 36 counties across the state work together and learn from each other.
However, Commissioner Jay Bozievich has dedicated hours of taxpayer-paid time over the past three years advocating unsuccessfully for Lane County to renew its $80,000 annual membership with a very different group: the AOCC, the Association of Oregon and California Counties, a pro-logging industry lobbying group. Withdrawing our membership in 2019, his board colleagues expressed concern about the lack of transparency in that organization, one commissioner specifically citing the AOCC’s refusal to share meeting agendas or let them know where and when meetings were held.
When I met with Bozievich in 2016, he indicated to me, “If I could find a job that paid as well and had PERS, I’d leave the board.” Five years later, he’s still sitting in his seat on the Board of Commissioners, still using that taxpayer-funded platform to trash public services and public employees (one offensive example, his relentless mocking criticism of “our overlords at the OHA”), and still pushing county membership in AOCC.
In protest he voted against the entire 2021-22 Lane County Budget, offering our community a childish tantrum instead of the sober, responsible leadership we deserve.
I offer a clear alternative. I look forward to sharing my vision with voters in 2022.
Candidate for District 1 Lane County Commissioner
HELP HOMELESS VETERANS, NOT IMMIGRANTS
There have been a number of letters in EW recently about the worsening homeless crisis. I would ask the letter writers, “Who did you vote for?”
President Joe Biden, upon his election, threw open our southern border, effectively issuing an invitation to the world to come to America. Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from more than 40 nations have taken him up on his offer with many being resettled around the country.
Biden has now opened the door to nearly 100,000 Afghans after his horribly bungled exit from that country, many of whom have reportedly not been thoroughly vetted. Biden has asked Congress to provide more than $6 billion to resettle these folks, including housing, medical treatment and other services.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has, during her administration, signed several bills that put out the red carpet for illegal immigration to Oregon. These bills, written by Democrats, included bogus emergency clauses to prevent referendums. The newcomers, who have no right to be here, also need housing. Brown recently declared that Oregon will welcome Afghan refugees for whom the state provides a variety of services.
Democrats have consistently shown that they care more about the welfare of immigrants, especially illegal immigrants (future “D” voters), than they care about American citizens. How about instead we put these billions in resources toward first resettling our unhoused citizens, especially veterans?
THE WISDOM OF HINDSIGHT
Roughly a year before Sept. 11, 2001, I was considering taking an airplane flight. The airline brochure read that some knives were allowed on flights. Under the Freedom of Information Act, I pulled a document from the FAA as to what those regulations, or regulation, were. It was astonishing to learn that the applicable regulation was concerned only with blade length. Box knife blades are only about an inch long. Yet these were the knives used on Sept. 11.
I telephoned the FAA to speak with one of its federal agents. The agent’s response was, “You let us worry about that.” I should have pursued the issue further. But I had a head full of my own worries; so I did not think to do so.
WE CAN FIX THE CLIMATE, AT A COST
The headline for Taliek Lopez-Duboff’s letter was “The Time to Fix the Climate is Now” (Letters 8/12). Actually, the time was 20 to 30 years ago. James Hansen first explained climate change to Congress in 1988, but until the COVID pandemic, we were burning more fossil fuels than ever.
This is not strictly because of nefarious petroleum companies. There’s another issue that is hardly talked about: fossil fuels are very good at doing myriad things in our modern world for which electricity is not as well suited. Next time you fly, listen to the roar of those jet engines drinking up aviation fuel. We would need a five-fold increase in the energy density of lithium batteries for electric airliners to carry people and their luggage across oceans and continents. And then at what speed?
Mining, refining and processing of metals takes vast amounts of fossil fuels. Many such processes can be converted to electricity, but at what efficiency and cost? Electric cars, wind turbines and solar panels require fossil fuels from extracting the resources to deliver the final product.
Meaningfully addressing climate change will require that we accept simpler lifestyles with fewer consumer products and reduced mobility. Not surprisingly, our “leaders” refuse to act.
EWEB, TIME TO CLEAN YOUR PROPERTY
Dear EWEB Management: As a long-term ratepayer, I’d like to celebrate the awesomeness of your property maintenance throughout the south region of Eugene. Your landscaping decisions are, if not classy, at least aesthetically aligned with the neighborhoods in which your properties operate. It must be hard to read all of those neighborhoods and make your properties match them.
I live on Third Avenue. My neighbors have done a lot of work this year to make their homes feel safe and the neighborhood community functional. People are mowing their neighbors’ lawns, planting flowers. There are kids running around. This has always been a nice street, but this spring and summer have been especially good.
Your property maintenance in the south region is better than passable, but your Third Avenue transfer station property is a mess. It has been a repository for garbage, feces and hypodermic needles for 20 years. It is especially bad right now. I have contacted the city on numerous occasions and they tell me that it is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain the front parking strip of their lot. I have contacted you repeatedly over the last 10 years and you have not addressed the problem.
Everyone in this neighborhood is waiting for you to step up, do the right thing and be part of the community that supports you.
Please clean up your mess.
A MICRO PROPOSAL
I heard an NPR report on discussions about supporting billions of dollars for electric transmission lines as part of green infrastructure development. The dispersed micro-grid approach is a way better strategy. I want to know if it costs less (I suspect so), but primarily I think the advantages are: resilience of a modularized system that’s less vulnerable to wildfire and other natural hazards; and economic democracy and community control of power assets.
A big industrialized solar panel and windmill farm operation is really no different than a single source pipeline. Those that own the infrastructure extract money into corporate wealth. Another option is for localized cooperative ownership. Please advocate to Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio for solutions along the lines discussed in Shalanda Baker’s Revolutionary Power: An Activist’s Guide to the Energy Transition.