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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 02.16.06

BLOWN AWAY

We are completely blown away that developers Conner & Woolley would refuse to develop the nearly three blocks of property they already own if they cannot acquire the dozen small pieces of property they do not own.

This puts an unbelievably unfair amount of pressure on those small business owners who have managed to keep their businesses afloat in a less-than-bustling downtown Eugene. For what Conner and Woolley are essentially saying is that if they do not sell to them it is the business owners' fault that downtown redevelopment is at a standstill.

Frankly, it seems to me that Conner & Woolley are the hindrance to downtown redevelopment. In the 10 years that we have lived here (four of them in downtown) it is their property that has sat vacant, surrounded by established independent businesses that are thriving. Perhaps the city should use its eminent domain power to condemn Conner & Woolley's vacant property and find buyers who are willing to redevelop the last three blocks of prime real estate in downtown without any successful businesses.

Kimberly Harper & William Kennedy, Eugene

 

WHAT IF IT FAILS?

Those who want a vibrant downtown should consider the likelihood that the proposed subsidized Whole Foods store may not prosper. If it does not prosper, Whole Foods will close the store and leave Eugene. What a financial mess and eyesore that would create. A failed, subsidized Whole Foods could be the worst thing to happen to downtown Eugene.

Here's three points that make me think Whole Foods will fail. 1) Eugene natural food buyers have shown resistance to chains — look what happened to Wild Oats. 2) Eugene residents have shown resistance to shopping downtown — look at all the vacancies. 3) The Market of Choice new stores, especially their upcoming new south store, are strong competitors, with better locations and more customer loyalty.

Subsidizing a large national chain, Whole Foods, is too risky, and the cost of failure too high. Let's tell the city "no" to subsidizing Whole Foods.

Steve M. Brown, Eugene

 

SMELL THE NAPALM

Memo to city council people who think "stealing" private property or running Kiva out of business for the likes of Whole-Wal-Mart-Foods is a good idea: Please quit your day jobs and go join the Carlyle Group in Iraq. Why mess around with small potatoes when the gravy train is rolling big time in the Middle East? Get the hell out of puny Eugene, go soak yourself in some real oil, and get to smell the napalm in the morning. Fulfill your dreams.

And about that WEP thing that won't die, let me tell you that you already have road maintenance issues in Eugene that you can't afford. Go out and look at the streets. Are you kidding me? You need another roadway that you can't afford to resurface in timely manner? Our Massachusetts roads are all dying because of the Big Dig, which infused billions into the one project, but sucked the life out of every other roadway project. The overruns are killing us financially, and potholes are the major feature of every other road in the state. The feds stuck us with the overruns, and they will stick you with them too.

The real bottlenecks in west Eugene are the intersections anyway. It doesn't matter how many people from Veneta can get into west Eugene. What are they going to do when they get there? Will there be shorter or longer lines of cars at those intersections on 7th? It's a pipe dream dreamt up by the same fox guarding the Iraqi Hen House and Big Dig Hen House in Massachusetts. Federal money for local projects is not a boon — it's a curse. It creates thieves and liars and a wedge of control that they will use against you later.

Paul LeBlanc, Beverly, Mass.

 

BLUES BABY

I don't generally read the Letters to the Editor section of EW, but for some reason I happened to look through it in the 1/26 edition. I came across the note from J'nene Wade concerning her and her husband's meeting at a Back Porch Blues concert at the WOW Hall in October 1991.

I was the bass player at that time for BPB and believe it or not, I remember the show we did that night. The vibe in the hall was especially good — the crowd was mellow, but very into it. Particularly memorable was "Stormy Monday," which, for whatever reason, was so deep in the pocket that it was in our shoes.

We had a lot of really meaningful moments as a band. J'nene's mention of us in relation to herself, her husband, children and grandchildren is truly, truly an honor. It is the deepest kind of reward, and I want to extend on behalf of Whit, Sheila, Jeffrey and myself our heartfelt thanks for allowing us to play a role, however small, in your lives. Ain't nothin' but the blues, baby. Feel it in your soul.

Jonathan Wei, Eugene

 

WAR AT HOME

Let us, as Americans, improve our democracy. Freedom is a blessing, however absolute freedom can be like absolute power: It can corrupt absolutely. On one hand we have limitless opportunity; the downside is less order, and more crime. The criminal element in this country has had a field day. They rampage through our nation's streets preying on innocents like vultures. This must stop for real progress to succeed. We need a new social contract, and a new united conscience.

At least some crime is based on poverty, despair, and lack of opportunity, but most is the result of criminals thinking they can get away with it. Let's unite and declare war on both crime and human misery.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last four years have produced less deaths on both sides than in just six months on our own nation's streets. Our own homegrown rapists, child molesters, inner-city gangs, racist groups, murderers and robbers represent more of a threat to us than al Qaeda terrorists could ever dream of. Let's demand action, and not let govern-mental bureaucrats use the excuse of budget concerns to prematurely release repeat violent offenders from jail. Most average citizens cannot afford electric fences and elaborate security systems for protection. Yet we pay the bulk of the taxes and we have more votes as well.

Let's create a better nation for ourselves before we attempt to revolutionize the world.

Tom Bush, Eugene

AN INSPIRATION

Last week, thousands of mourners waited for hours in freezing rain at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church and the state capitol rotunda to pay their respects to the "first lady of the civil rights movement," Coretta Scott King, who died Jan. 30. President Bush and former President Clinton led the list of dignitaries at memorial services.

Coretta Scott King was much more than a devoted wife and partner of a celebrated civil rights leader. She traveled throughout the globe on behalf of peace and nonviolence, racial and economic justice, minority rights, religious freedom, the poor and homeless, educational opportunities, nuclear disarmament and ecological sanity. She helped found dozens of organizations advocating social justice, received honorary doctorates from over 60 colleges and universities, and authored three books and a nationally syndicated column.

Coretta Scott King was also a vegan, who eschewed all products of animal suffering, including meat, dairy, eggs, leather, and cosmetics containing animal ingredients or that were tested on animals. Her strong belief in peace and nonviolence extended to the violence perpetrated against billions of innocent, sentient animals in America's factory farms and slaughterhouses. Her passion for justice extended to the most downtrodden living beings on the planet — the animals bred, abused, and killed for food, fur, research and entertainment.

Coretta Scott King truly practiced what she preached. And for that, I salute her.

Edward Newland, Eugene

 

PREDATOR NATION

Back in 2001, Bush should have taken a look at the idea that nobody wins a war, and therefore those who put the most into it are likely, in the end, the biggest losers. "The end of tyranny in our world," as well as terror, can be expedited by bringing the troops home and cutting nuclear and other defense domination and empire industries back, at least until they're comparable to other countries. Become a leader in peace, harmony and sustainability industries instead.

Bush's problems didn't originate with him or his cronies, but with capitalism. They just took the bait too boldly. By capitalism I don't mean free enterprise, and it's much too simplistic to talk about replacing it with socialism. Both individual freedom and government control of major economic forces are factors in any viable culture. Capitalism is about the means by which the rich get richer, which is now far beyond any resemblance of wealth proportionate to contributions. Capitalism typically measures "productivity" by the GDP, which is actually a measure of money exchanges, the welfare of the rich and wastefulness. Wealth can always buy political power, so there's some question if we've ever had true democracy.

When the lion lies down with the lamb, what does the lion eat?

When a nation comes to depend on predation, how can it afford peaceful times?

Dan Robinson , Eugene

 

MORE SAPS?

A person is helped by being raised by a decent family, by attending a decent school, by working at a decent job, by being a decent parent and by participating in decent recreation or volunteering for a decent public activity. Hardly anyone is ever helped by being in a Standard American Prison (SAP). Building more SAPS has not been cost effective and it especially has not helped make ex-cons be more decent and productive. The way to solve this problem is to put every inmate to work studying for and/or doing the job he/she chooses to do.

That's right, turn all jails into schools/work places that teach and have residents do the kind of job every inmate would like to do or employ already highly-schooled inmates in their type of job or something related right there inside the jail. This idea would require enormous tweeking but it is doable. Make jails help not just imprison and suck taxpayer money with no good result. All of this could be paid for by early release of nonviolent inmates and by no more SAP building.

The Bushies will appreciate this approach if they get justice from the people and are thrown in jail.

Bob Saxton, Eugene

 

INDECENT PROPOSAL

I find the plan to hand over the most culturally interesting, pedestrian friendly part of Eugene (downtown no less!), at taxpayer expense, to a corporate special interest, shocking and most definitely obscene. There is no need to condemn thriving businesses because they refuse to sell. That's dishonest. Besides, one corporate interest does not need to own downtown anyway. Where is the diversity in that?

The planned parking lot/shopping monstrosity seems to have the intended purpose of luring 743 more cars into Eugene's downtown. And the benefit is? Ah, I mean apart from the hefty profit the developers and real estate broker will make on the deal. What about the rest of us? Increasing smog and the added obstacle course of cars to dodge? Brilliant!

And aren't the two shopping centers that are already car-accessible (Gateway and Valley River) having enough trouble luring shoppers to their stores/filling parking spaces as it is?

Do city planners really believe they'll lure new people into Eugene with this mostly chain-store mall? National chain stores you can find in any city or suburb in the U.S.?

Instead of revitalizing downtown, CWO's plan looks more like a sure-fire way to kill downtown, its unique culture and diversity and most likely its economy as well. And what becomes of the Saturday and the Farmers markets? And how about the livelihoods of all those vendors and craftspeople if those markets are driven away by the smog and cars?

I'm amazed the mayor or City Council would even consider such a boondoggle as this. I'm a professional and a fairly new resident of Eugene and for me it was the interesting, friendly and diverse culture that led me to want to live here.

Please! Let's spend wisely with an eye on the future livability of Eugene.

Deanna Rennings, Eugene

 

COMMANDEER CONGRESS

No matter which party you lean toward, a serious attempt should be made to clean up and revamp Congress. Sixty-five percent of us are disgusted with this broken-down system of establishing law and policies that earmark obscene protections for big oil, drug manufacturers, insurance conglomerates, war profiteers and deregulation to keep the super wealthy in power.

At every election we are presented with candidates who appear to be their own person but already have some special interest claim on them either cloaked in secrecy or blatantly out front.

What the computer blog sites should do, partisan politics aside, is to start comparing upcoming election candidates by showing their resumes side-by-side on a split screen for television. You would find that the incumbent credentials are filled with lawyers sucking up unneeded money from lobbyists who have the journalist gift for spinning topics to death to avoid change. The resumes should show who contributes to their campaign and why they want to stay in power. The opponent need only to display a real track record of honesty to beat these idle fools.

Scientists and engineers should supplant the lawyer mentality for future national planning. We have so many wonderful people to choose from with good community service histories who have benefited the majority. Congress should be filled with common folk that know our working family values and who examine every facet of deceit and corruption in government to save a buck and help the masses. One by one the incumbents who are bilking us must go down. Otherwise, our apathy will continue to go up.

Daniel Joseph, Eugene

 

 

MISINFORMED

I am a retired economics instructor and I am very concerned about a statement by Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey that Lane County does not need the $50 million it gets every year from the federal government.

I served as a member of the Lane County Service Stabilization Task Force which was asked to report to the Lane County Board of Commissioners on the financial situation facing Lane County. Our report stated that Lane County was facing a major structural deficit in its General Fund out of which all its public safety operations are funded. I believe that Mr. Rey is misinformed as to the economic status of Lane County and that his statement that the county's economy is healthy and, therefore, his decision to cut the $50 million the county presently receives, is based on a lack of correct data.

I agree with Commissioner Anna Morrison that only parts of Lane County are prospering and I disagree with her fellow Republican, Jim Feldkamp, a candidate for Congress, who is quoted as saying such payments are welfare and should be discontinued. I think Feldcamp's statement shows a lack of economic knowledge as to the present state of our area of Oregon.

Morrison pointed out that without that federal money, it would be difficult to maintain our system of roads and to create a positive economic environment in the rural parts of Lane County which she represents. She further pointed out that this payment is far from being welfare and is part of a century-old trade-off agreement between timber-producing areas of Oregon and the federal government. I agree with Morrison that to discontinue this payment would only hurt the economics of places such as Grants Pass and Roseburg.

Therefore, I hope you will support Morrison's efforts to prevent this happening. I also hope that you disagree with Jim Feldkamp on this issue. He will not have my support or my vote and I don't think he deserves your support or vote either.

G. Dennis Shine , Springfield

 

 

DOLTS & DOLLARS

So, been arguing lately with any right wing Kool-Aid drinkers about the administration's illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens? Bet you have. And I bet you've been getting back the same pre-digested ditto-headisms, too: "Let 'em tap me; I ain't doin' nuttin' wrong."

What do you say to mindless drivel like that? Nuanced stuff about the Constitution and recognized steps towards totalitarianism won't cut it with these blinkered sofa-spuds. No, you gotta hit 'em where it really means something to 'em.

Now this is what you do: Next time a "Faux" News fan gives you the old spastic echo, you engage 'em in a little "thought experiment" (you'll have to do most of the thinking, of course).

Suppose you say, "you have a business that, oh, I don't know, makes banjo strings, and you come up with a revolutionary way of making them more twangy. You want to keep that a secret from your competitors, but the dad-blamed gummint is spying on you. And one of their campaign contributors is one of your competitors. So, one hand washing the other, the gummint gives your competition your secret process. How 'bout that, huh?"

The only surefire way to get the average American dolt to move on an issue is to put a dollar sign on it.

Bill Smee, Springfield