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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 10.26.06

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NOT FOR ROOKIES

I just read the EW election issue (10/19) endorsement of Jack Roberts for Supreme Court. After reading the reasons given for the endorsement, I checked the cover to see if this was this years' April Fools issue.

EW writes "Roberts is a problem solver in the public realm, best demonstrated by his lead in negotiating a settlement in the Lane Transit district dispute. ... The Oregon Supreme Court needs the diversity Roberts will bring to it."

Roberts is an able political negotiator. But that is not what a Supreme Court justice does. That job, one not suitable for rookies, is to know the law and to apply the law. Roberts has not practiced law since 1989. He was not authorized to do so for 10 years before this spring. If he would be applying for a law clerk position with that court, he would not make the interview cut due to his inexperience.

How Roberts' election would bring diversity to the court is curious. I'll bet the EW editorial board has not argued a case before that court. In fact, I'll bet Roberts hasn't. I have, and it's not under-represented as to Caucasian middle-aged men.

I urge your readers to compare the credentials of Judge Virginia Linder, accessible at www.judgevirginialinder.comDavid Jensen, Eugene attorney

EDITOR'S NOTE: We see Roberts as bringing a diversity of experience and background to the court.

 

NO ON 40

Oregon has an outstanding court system which is admired throughout the country for its fairness and efficiency. The approval of Measure 40 would seriously harm our court system. I strongly urge you to vote against this measure.

Our current court system works and shouldn't be tampered with by out-of-state special interest money. Constitutional Amendment 40 doesn't affect our local trial judges; it impacts only the judges on the statewide Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court. For nearly a century, Oregonians have been electing appellate judges in nonpartisan, statewide elections. The job of these appellate judges is to apply the laws of Oregon in a neutral and consistent way. Regional politics and special interest influence should play no part in the decisions of our appellate judges.

Today, we select our judges based on their qualifications, not their addresses. We expect our judges to be the most qualified people we can find, not just someone who lives in a specific area. Constitutional Amendment 40 changes all of that.

With regional districts, the election of judges becomes more political, not less. It's much easier for a special interest group or two to fund a campaign against a judge who rules against them, especially if they don't have to run a statewide campaign.

Our initiative system is an important part of Oregon's political system. But Oregonians should not be asked the same thing over and over again. Four years ago, we said no to these same special interests that want to politicize our judicial elections. We should tell them no again.

Oregonians will lose out when we stop looking at the merits of a judicial candidate and start paying attention only to where they happen to live.

Join me in voting no on Constitutional Amendment 40.

Robert Rocklin, Eugene

 

THE BIG FIX

Thanks for the great column by Spruce Houser (10/12) explaining why campaign finance reform Measures 46 and 47 are so urgently needed in Oregon. Our state and local governments are literally being run by special interests.

In Lane County, 42 percent of all political contributions greater than $50 came from the land development industry from 1998 to 2003. Another 22 percent came from the timber industry. That's 64 percent of all identifiable donations from two business interests with a clear agenda! Is it any wonder why local government seems so unresponsive to citizens' concerns about growth, land use and environmental protection? Or why "sprawl-friendly" candidates always seem so well funded?

Measures 46 and 47 are the Big Fix that Oregon needs to help restore a democratic system that verges on being completely dysfunctional. Amazingly, some progressive groups are opposing these measures, creating confusion. Oregon League of Conservation Voters has labeled them "deeply flawed" and "counterproductive." While I have supported OLCV in the past, I find it hard to understand how they can be on the same side as Associated Oregon Industries (the "pollution lobby") on this issue.

As Mr. Houser pointed out, if we wish to eliminate special interests, we must do so in an even-handed manner. OLCV is, after all, a special interest group too. So let's take advantage of this historic opportunity to promote government in the public interest. Measures 46 and 47 will provide a comprehensive set of reforms that will help put Oregon voters back in charge. Find out more at www.fairelections.net.

Eben Fodor, Eugene

 

DISTASTEFUL

I agree with Denise Lunn (10/19) in that I find your "Savage Love" column more distasteful than the escort ads. Of course, sex is a driving force in most people's lives, but to give space to its most seamy side is not something I think the majority of your readers want. This sort of thing belongs in a porn publication (if it belongs anywhere), not in EW. Please reconsider the tenor of this column.

Jane Dods, Springfield

 

WACKY SEX QUESTIONS

How fitting that Dan Savage's sex advice column replaced the display ads with photos for escort services. Many feminists love Savage, according to his profile in Ms. Magazine.

I've enjoyed reading Savage's column for years online and I look forward to reading it in EW. Newspapers are still more convenient than a laptop to read at a coffee shop.

Fans of Savage know he is not your mother's Ann Landers. Savage's unique perspective perhaps comes from him being a gay man who is raising a kid with another man he wants to legally marry.

Savage's advice is always entertaining even when I have no interest in the wacky sex questions. I am also intrigued by Savage's liberal views that often paradoxically overlap with the conservative philosophy of Time magazine columnist Andrew Sullivan.

Thomas Kraemer, Corvallis

 

NO SAFETY IN 43

Measure 43 seems at first glance like a simple and reasonable request. Most parents' reactions to notification are similar: They want to know if their teenage daughter is seeking an abortion. But it is not safe to tell every parent. The goal here is to get parents to look beyond their own daughters and see the community at large.

In this measure there is no exception for rape or for incest. Sending notification to an abusive home is putting gas on the fire. Girls who are trying to get help from medical professionals are frightened away by threat of parental notification. They are at great risk of taking things into their own hands and seeking an illegal and unsafe abortion from unlicensed physicians. This measure pushes vulnerable teens away from support systems that are safe.

Doctors are also at risk. If Measure 43 passed, they would be required to send a 48-hour notice via registered mail to parents of any girl 15-17 trying to obtain an abortion. These doctors are open to lawsuits if this letter does not make it to the girl's home for any reason. There is no exception for a mix-up at the post office. This is huge. Safe trained professionals could have their licenses taken away as a consequence of a postal service mistake. When this happens, the only safe resources a girl has for this procedure is taken out of her community. This measure is not safe. No on 43!

Marissa Gaulton, Dexter

 

AUDITOR APPRECIATION

Thanks you for the information about the new "internal auditor" the county has hired. I would hope that this is a position that can be described as a "performance auditor." I assume it is.

Auditing the books is one object of importance. A performance auditor audits the system of service delivery to the citizens. They not only could "save millions of dollars, increase accountability and efficiency and even make the administrators' job easier," but primarily they act as a consultant to the administrator and heads of the departments to help them fulfill their individual missions statements. Then they follow up with an audit later to see if the departments have succeeded in their plan. The need for this type of auditor is not to be "hard nosed," but rather helpful.

Until we can get that message across, the city staff or the city manager is not likely to be receptive to the idea. It's true: No one likes anybody looking over their shoulder. Most people appreciate helpful suggestions.

Bob Cassidy, Eugene

 

ENVIRONMENTAL ETHIC

Regarding the "Subdividing the Wetlands" story (9/28), whether or not the West Eugene Wetlands Education Center site is federally listed as critical habitat for the Fender's blue butterfly, the planning of the center will be sensitive to habitat issues and concerns for this and other sensitive species.

It is about having an integrity to our core values of an environmental ethic that goes beyond being educators; it is about setting an example.

Pat Johnston, West Eugene Wetlands BLM Project Manager

 

MAKING IT WORSE

Protect Our Voice is a coalition of non-profit and labor organizations that represent hundreds of thousands of members of organizations who oppose both Measures 46 and 47. Member groups including Stand for Children, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters are concerned about the fact that these measures take aim squarely at them.

Not even the usual campaign finance advocates such as the League of Women Voters support these measures. In fact, the proponents have failed to gain the support of 29 of the 31 groups who supported the publicly financed elections measure when it was on the ballot in 2000.

National and local legal experts agree that these measures will actually make the system of campaign finance even more imbalanced than it is now. Once the court cases are over and the dust settles, small donors and the politically active non-profits that provide the voice for most of us will be muzzled, and wealthy candidates and initiative funders such as Howard Rich and Loren Parks will be free to pursue their own agenda, unfettered.

Additionally, 47 places a complex set of limits on small individual donors combined with mandatory penalties. This combination will result in driving small donors away from participating in the political process.

We support real campaign finance reform. But 46 and 47 go way too far, making the system WORSE. I urge readers to take a look at protectourvoice.org and learn the facts for yourself.

Jesse Cornett , Campaign Manager Protect Our Voice

 

FREE SPEECH FOLLY

Measures 46 and 47 opponents have used false and misleading statements to gather organizational and community opposition, such as "attempts to override all existing Constitutional free speech protections." Measure 46 does not affect free speech under the First Amendment; it does the very opposite by giving every Oregonian a voice in Salem. Today the only voices heard are from the moneyed lobbyists. The results have been a reduction in support for schools, health care and human services.

Another false statement, "No political non-profit can accept more than $500 per year from any person," misinterprets Measure 47 as limits on contributions pertaining to expenditures to support or oppose candidates. Measure 47 limits have nothing to do with 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 organizations.

Another false statement is that one man, "Harry Lonsdale, wants to change Oregon law to suit his interests." Measure author Dan Meek has given more dollars and time than Lonsdale, and there are more than 2,000 donors to the campaign. Meek just won the Oregon Supreme Court case that ordered PGE to refund ratepayers $10 million because of overcharges.

If you want more honesty in local and state governments and our tax dollars to go to Oregonians' basic needs, do support Measures 46 and 47.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

COME AGAIN, JIM?

I just got this pre-recorded message on the phone from Jim Torrey: "Vicki Walker is trying to polarize us on the issue of abortion. We are at our best when we come together."

Your assignment: Find the funny portion.

Glenn Leonard, Eugene

 

STOP THE MADNESS

Please join your fellow citizens who care about our schools by voting NO on Ballot Measures 41 and 48. If 41 passes, the Oregon School Boards Association reports that the economic impact to Mapleton schools is estimated at a potential loss of $541,000 out of a $2,990,000 general fund budget for the current 2005-2007 biennium. Add the poorly crafted Measure 48 and Mapleton loses another $271,000. For Siuslaw schools, Measure 41 takes $2,475,000 and Measure 48 removes another $1,237,000 from a general fund budget of $12,773,000.

The state of Colorado recently repealed their version of 41 due to its devastating effects on their schools. Let's stop the madness before it occurs. Vote NO on 41 and 48.

Michelle Holman, Deadwood

 

DOWN THE DRAIN

Hope any of us had that the city's daily newspaper might struggle mightily to be balanced in politics went mightily down the drain with its endorsement of Jim Torrey for the Senate (R-G, 10/14).

Were Torrey a valid servant of the people, it still would have been unconscionable to urge he replace a proven honest and outstanding senator, Vicki Walker. There is little valid about Torrey other than his seeming genuine interest in kids.

Interest in kids? Admirable. But ridiculous justification for his election, given by a daily and some citizens who understandably can find no other reason for voting for a man who has chosen to serve big money instead of the citizens.

Voters can help turn the tide against political corruption in this nation by voting for Walker. To make the mistake of supporting her opponent perpetuates the cancer that infects Republican-dominated American politics from top to bottom.

George Beres, Eugene

 

A RARE OFFICIAL

I am writing about the coming election for the state Senate position presently held by Vicki Walker. I am a retired businessman from Portland where I was the CEO of an international shipping company, and I am a former president of the Port of Portland Commission. I also served on the Dean's Advisory Committee at the UO School of Law.

I think Vicki Walker is the very rare elected official who combines honesty, courage, intelligence and a strong work ethic, and because of these qualities she is being targeted by the special corporate interests that she has opposed.

As we all know Vicki has been on the opposite side of the most powerful and influential person in Oregon (a former Democratic governor), the most powerful industry in Oregon (private utilities) and one of the most powerful agencies in state government (SAIF). In each instance the public interest was served by what she did.

I was personally involved in Vicki's initiation of the law that now prevents utilities from charging Oregon ratepayers for taxes which the utilities in fact do not pay.

I think the words "courageous" and "fearless" accurately describe Vicki Walker.

She is opposed by a conservative running as a moderate even though he is anti-choice and a supporter of Bush. He does not even identify himself in his advertising as a Republican, but he is running as a Republican.

If Vicki were to lose, the intimidation of other legislators by the out-of-state-owned private utilities would be enhanced and the power of these utilities increased. This would not be good for Oregon. As an Oregonian interested in the public welfare, I only wish there were other legislators with the courage of Vicki Walker to do what is the best interests of Oregonians and not for the benefit of the big money special interests.

Kenneth Lewis, Portland

 

MONEY TALKS

I greatly enjoyed Lance Sparks' conflicted "Dark Days" (10/5) article. The story of Maher Arar is indeed despicable; for more information, I recommend readers visit www.maherarar.ca to get the full story. Closer to home, let's not forget about Brandon Mayfield, the Portland attorney who was erroneously held by the FBI for more than two weeks after the Madrid bombings in May 2004. These incidents, and the many to follow, shall continue to erode the American reputation throughout the world. On Sept. 12, 2001, people all over the world stood with us in sympathy and solidarity. That might not occur again within our lifetime.

In response to Lance's question, I think it behooves everyone to put their money where their heart is. BuyBlue.org helps us to support businesses with progressive values and ideals. They call it "the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit." Two other useful sites are OpenSecrets.org and FollowTheMoney.org. These online databases allow you to learn all about campaign donors, searching by candidate, industry and individual. OS is geared toward the national level, while FTM focuses upon the state level. FTM is particularly useful for local races. For example, it shows that the timber industry represents 23 percent of "moderate" Jim Torrey's campaign contributions, more than triple the next closest industry donor.

Learn more about the businesses that you patronize (or consider patronizing). If they have not learned to adopt a progressive viewpoint, then they do not deserve your money, no matter how delicious their wine may taste.

Greg Lief, Corvallis

 

GOOD GRAVEL NEIGHBORS

My husband has been employed for 1-1/2 years now by Delta Sand and Gravel, and he hopes to retire from here in about 20 years. This company is good to our community and also offers its employees health benefits, which are hard to find in this trying time.

If the zoning change is turned down, many families will be adversely affected by this, just so a few people won't be annoyed. I totally support the zone change as Delta has their neighbors in mind by planting trees to shield them from the operations, and by planning to turn it into a park when done. Where do you find better neighbors?   

We really must consider the needs of the many in this case over the needs of a very few.

Meg Fringer, Dorena

 

NOT ONE GOOD THING

Polls are showing close elections in some key races nationwide. In Oregon, we have a chance to regain the Legislature so that we can again move forward on education, health care, and providing funding for items that directly benefit all of us.

When you vote for any office, at federal and state levels, think about this: Name one thing that Republicans have done to benefit the general population. Republican leadership has resulted in living wage job losses (outsourcing), lives lost due to war for profit, wage increases lost, health care reductions or less benefits, education funding cuts, homes lost with no chance for recovery (Katrina and increased foreclosures), student loan program cuts, pensions lost, basic rights lost (due process and habeas corpus, litigation rights), environmental degradation and a loss of respect for our country by the world. Corporations are now making record profits on our tax dollars due to the current Republican majority legislature and administration.

Think about what our country was like under Democratic leadership: strong economy, living wage job gains, surplus treasury, healthy foreign relations, peacemaking attempts worldwide, increases in basic rights, focus on children's well-being and education, environmental protections, attention to rising health care costs, worker safety enforcement and assistance programs for mentally and physically compromised citizens.

We must have a Democratic majority in our Congress and Senate if we EVER want to get out of Iraq and to stop the hemorrhaging of our tax dollars to corporations. Americans who truly support our troops will vote Democratic.

Rita Babauta Kiley, Junction City

 

TREES AND AIR

"Half of the manmade carbon emissions released into the atmosphere come from deforestation," according to Dr. Nigel Sizer of the World Resources Institute.

Any serious attempt to limit the severity of the climate crisis involves not only restricting CO2 emissions (essential!) but also protecting and preserving the forests that store and absorb carbon — effectively cleaning up our mess free of charge.

In the United States, our first major step towards combating climate change should be placing our 643 million acres of public lands OFF LIMITS to the destructive and dishonest corporate extraction industries, corrupt government agencies and bought-and-sold politicians colluding to ravage our living life-support system: our forests.

Josh Schlossberg, Eugene

 

DRUDGE SUCKS

For the news geeks and whores who still retain any traces of respect for truth and justice, visiting Drudge (drudgereport.com) should be an ephemeral diversion rather than an exclusive staple for one's approximation of reality. The degree of tabloid coverage on Drudge is predictable and in direct proportion to the degree of diversion his political allies need during especially dismal news cycles.

As for now, the media axis of evil, (Drudge, FOX, and Sean Hannity-like creatures of radio) are king. When the axis is no longer king of the ratings, we can return to delusions of hope for positive change. Though it may not taste the same and may tax the atrophied regions of your cerebrum, try rosereports.com as an alternative to Drudge.

Gavin Rose, Eugene

 

BOOTSTRAP IT

Republicans should control Congress after the elections because they seem to have a better understanding of basic economic principles. Democrats seem to have a wage-mentality, while Republicans are much more entrepreneurial. Also, Democrats continue to look to the government as the answer for most of their individual challenges, while Republicans hope to be much more independent and self-reliant. Unfortunately, corruption exists on both sides of the aisle because that is a human trait and not a political trait.

As a society, we can't continue incentivizing people to do the wrong thing. Expecting those who create the jobs and contribute the most to advancements in science, medicine and necessities to continue to pay more for those who watch TV and play video games is a certain path to self-destruction.

Oh, and pull your pants up, too.

Tim Wefler, Eugene

 





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