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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 1.18.07

RIGHTS FOR EVERYONE

I wish to express my support and admiration to Hugh Massengill of the Eugene Human Rights Commission and Eugene City Councilor Bonnie Bettman for their unpopular and courageous stance in opposition to the appearance of the Rev. Walter Fauntroy as keynote speaker for this city's celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Their willingness to object to this near-unanimous choice speaks volumes to their character and commitment to upholding the civil rights of all human beings.

I find myself confused when I read statements published in The Register-Guard attributed to Betty Snowden and Greg Evans of the MLK Jr. Celebration Committee, and Carmen Urbina of the Eugene Human Rights Commission, in which they praise Fauntroy for his "extensive résumé, background and history in the civil rights movement"; state that "We brought him here because his résumé in civil rights is so remarkable"; and "it is in the best interest of all involved" to invite and support him.

How can these statements not be in conflict with the spirit and dream that King shared with us during his short and powerful lifetime? Are not gay rights civil rights?

Are individuals who seek the right to marry whomever they choose not also human beings, and shall they not be afforded the same rights as all human beings? The word "civil" applies to all civilians, just as the word "human" applies to all human beings, no matter the color of skin or sexual preference.

During King's historic speech at the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963, he stated "When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

To say that "We didn't bring Rev. Fauntroy here to talk about gay marriage" avoids the issue that he champions laws which would forbid a certain population of human beings their constitutional rights. By bringing him here we are silently condoning his stance, and silence is the voice of complicity.

Michael Connelly , Eugene

 

BACKSTAGE WORK

This letter is in response to Carol Horne's letter to the editor (1/11) about the stage hands union, IATSE. Thank you so much, Carol and EW, for running that article. I am a local stage manager and props designer/stage hand and have worked with IATSE several times in the past few years. It's really rewarding when an audience member tells you the show was great and they are glad to see people supporting the shows backstage. I have worked in several theaters in Eugene and Portland. Give props to those who work hard backstage and onstage. They work as a team to provide excellent entertainment wherever you go.

Brian M. Peterson, Eugene

 

NOT SO WACKO

In response to (letters 1/4) "Wacko Enviros" (written by a pro-timber delegate from the Lane Republicans Organization), Cascadia Forest Defenders and the UO's Forest Action stand behind their decision to hold a reading of the eco-conscious Essene Gospels of Peace outside the gated mansion of Seneca Jones Lumber CEO Aaron Jones. So long as Jones continues to log native forests in the McKenzie River watershed — Eugene's source of drinking water — CFD and allies will be making this event a holiday tradition.

Greedy timber barons like Jones have for too long hidden behind their fortresses of corporate power. It is past time that those who plunder natural ecosystems to fatten their own wallets be publicly condemned. As Utah Phillips said: "The Earth is not dying — she is being killed. And those who are killing her have names and addresses."

CFD was also practicing the age-old tradition of caroling, singing our own version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with new verses, such as: "On the first day of Christmas Aaron Jones gave to me / a clearcut in the old trees."

Surprisingly, the author does make one accurate statement when she accuses CFD of having "nothing better to do" during the holidays. True: Instead of participating in a mindless orgy of consumption, CFD chose to bring concerned community members together to voice their opinions about issues that affect us all.

CFD believes that a fundamental part of any religion should be honoring Creation and acknowledging that humanity cannot exist without a planetary life-support system.

Janet Wrege , Cascadia Forest Defenders

 

TRANSIT ACCOUNTABILITY

Sen. Bill Morrisette asks for an elected LTD Board and I agree! I don't believe the public is receiving the public transportation it needs now and for the future when oil is in short supply. An elected board would have to provide services for its constituents.

When I see the latest bus stop shelters, I have to ask what they were designed for — surely not bus riders standing in the cold and rainy weather. When I look on the schedule and see no night service and few buses on weekends, I realize this would end my weekend trips to movies and the Hult. When I view the $25 million EmX with its infrequent stops as a model project, I know we need an elected LTD Board.

They also messed up Franklin Boulevard.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

BOMB 'EM WITH GREASE

The new Bush strategy: If bombs don't work, how about trans-fats? A friend's daughter sent her this Burger King mug from where she is stationed in Iraq. Franchises spreading around the whole world are nothing new, but is making sure our troops have their Whoppers really a priority? Can't we be a little more creative when it comes to helping our troops? Perhaps by bringing them home. It makes me proud that we are spreading the American way: freedom, democracy and heart disease.

Allison Cardwell, Corvallis

 

BIKING HAZARDS

Warning to all bicyclists: I had a bike accident in November that wrenched my back enough to send me to the chiropractor. In front of 671 E. 16th there is a slab that has sunk enough to make a long mini-cliff parallel to the direction of travel, much of which is more than an inch and a half deep. I was traveling in the dark after a rehearsal at Beall Hall and didn't see the defect till it was too late, and it sent my bike and me flying sideways.

I reported my accident to the city and made a claim through Risk Services. It was denied because no one had made a complaint about that spot before me and because it is not an official bike lane. They say "inspection and maintenance of streets is limited due to lack of available funding, and is discretionary in nature," and "the City must be proven to have been negligent in some way in order to assume financial responsibility." I was also told on the phone that the city is only required to keep the streets up to the safety requirements of cars, not of bicycles. In other words, if I had seen it and reported it I might have a claim. But of course if I had seen it, I would have known to avoid it; I only found the defect through my direct experience of it. A real catch-22.

So bicyclists, beware. Don't have an accident on any city street defects that you haven't reported. Crazy, eh? I'm just glad I wasn't hurt worse than I was, or that it wasn't someone more fragile than me who found the spot.

Karen Stingle, Eugene

 

ABILITY IS NOT INTENT

To others we appear a certain way. Most often we deal with them, we try to see them as we deal with them right or wrong. Case in point: When we frequent our favorite tavern, we try to be good customers and patronize that special time and place. Under normal circumstances they provide product and service, and they should be compensated for their efforts on your behalf. The result here is that you are treated with contempt if you are not able to tip. In addition when you are close to these waitstaff, it hurts that it comes down to the money. Customer service should come freely without any strings attached, without either party assuming the posture that their needs supersede the needs of the one.

I think the way we treat each other should be foremost to us all. Regardless of any preconceived notion, we are here to take care of each other. I also ask to have us to see each other as people who treat as family. Our time is finite and should not be wasted on who's right or wrong, good or bad. I think I was treated unfairly and I've moved on. The respect you show to others shows the respect you have for yourself. The object of business is to bring buyers and sellers together, not drive each other away. I firmly believe that we all can do better.

George G. Brooks, Eugene

 

UNFAIR FEES

An article in last Sunday's Register-Guard regarding a Washington State man challenging union fees reminded me of my recent experience as a part-time worker for Lane County Public Works. In 2005 I was hired as a "520 extra help" worker — 520 being the amount of hours a part-timer can work in a year. At my orientation, I was clearly told the position had no benefits attached to it, which was confusing because at that same meeting it was mandatory I sign papers allowing union dues to be removed from my paychecks.

When I eventually was able to obtain a copy of the Lane County Public Works Local 626 Contract, it stated that the "extra help" were "not eligible and qualified for any rights or benefits under the agreement." While the Local has collected thousands of dollars in union dues from us hapless part-timers through the years, the carrot/stick that has kept us in line has been the mantra that, yes, there are no rights or benefits, but the union negotiates on behalf of the part-timer's wages each contract period. My discussions with union reps, Lane County Human Resources and Public Works have resulted in no documentation supporting this.

But even if there was some truth to that small crumb at the table, an extra help worker, averaging 10 hours a week, pays the same dues as a 40-hour a week worker; that full-time worker has a union behind it negotiating for wages, vacation, health coverage, sick leave, retirement, grievance rights, etc. The inequity of what these two workers actually receive in benefits should be offset by a pro-rated amount of union dues for the part-timer. Of course, the fairest thing would be for Lane County to immediately extricate itself from this pact they have with Local 626 to deprive their most vulnerable workers of a fairer share to their measly gross wages.

Robert Berman, Elmira

 

SAFE CLIMATE ACT

The Bush administration's proposal to list polar bears as a threatened species as a result of global warming is a welcome, though late, indication that at least some in the Bush administration are awakening to the threat posed by global warming.

But polar bears are not the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, the early warning signs alerting us to danger. The early warning signs arrived long ago. We've now reached the point at which we must take urgent action if we are to prevent the worst effects of global warming.

The good news is that champions in Congress have already started to show the way. Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.) has introduced the Safe Climate Act, science-based legislation that would reduce global warming pollution to levels that would prevent the worst effects of global warming.

With their habitat literally melting beneath their feet, polar bears are the latest but surely not the last to pay the price, unless we get serious about cutting global warming pollution now. I urge Rep. Peter DeFazio to cosponsor the Safe Climate Act, to make sure the climate is safe not just for polar bears, but for people too.

Tia Wooldridge, Eugene

STATE OF THE UNION

The President is asking for more troops to be deployed in Iraq at a time when a large portion of Americans are getting very uneasy about our people being killed there and no real end in sight. Many of us still remember Vietnam and what those heroes went through, there and then when they came home. That won't happen this time.

All of the steps that the President is taking now should have been done right after the Iraqi government fell and Saddam was in custody, with the focus being on supporting the Iraqi people's elected government to govern, providing the security for ALL those who are supporting the rebuilding efforts, but most important, supporting the Iraqis to get employment and businesses open.

More troops are so that when insurgency is run out of a a town, the town will have security so that the insurgents won't return, but where was the strategy when they first moved against insurgents? The new Democratic Republic promises to make things right, but where were they all of these years? It doesn't take a majority to make national news, just a representative voice.

Do you write to your representatives in local, state, and federal government? Do they respond to your questions and feelings about what they could do for the PEOPLE? If not, then you are allowing the opinions of others to write laws for you. And when I feel that those reps are not representing me, I do what I have the right to do: I vote for someone else.

Stop bitching about what "they" do and take responsibility for the vote you cast. All Americans need to get off of their obese, trans fatty, high fructose corn syrupy butts and start doing something about it before we are nothing but a nation of service employees, working for foreign manufacturing and production.

Fred Marsico, Corvallis

 

PSYCHOSIS CONFIRMED

The Bush administration continues down its bloody road to Perdition, and it is a road littered with every sort of vile debris. Now our commander-in-chief chides himself a bit about personal responsibility for killing more Americans than bin Laden, plus a few hundred thousand Iraqis, while escalating his personal psycho-drama with more Americans thrown into the bloody maw.

Not that he cares.

If he did, he might actually take the advice of his military commanders, who argued in 2003 that the Rumsfeld plan of war was undermanned. Now that it's too late, he takes the cautionary 2003 advice over the vehement 2007 advice, a sure sign of the megalomania of an Adolf Hitler and other delusional commanders-in-chief who lost wars they shouldn't have started. For those types, receiving authoritative advice is simply a preliminary for adolescent disobedience, the one thing Bush has always done well.

But for those of us who have always suspected psychosis, Bush's speech on Wednesday served as sad confirmation. His last-ditch attempt at redemption will require more sacrifice, more maiming, more killing and more killed. From his viewpoint, his historical legacy is worth more lives. Of course. Psychotics do think that way. Now we face two more years of this sad little man taking matters into his own little hands. If Pelosi and Reid and other Democrats do not see that as intolerable, we are, indeed, a defeated nation. Not militarily, as that's already happened. But ethically, perhaps there are a few scraps left. We could start by impeaching him. The Founding Fathers would approve.

Tom Erwin, Eugene

 

SIX-MINUTE WONDER

Zamma Zamma Zoom, the new advertising ditty from LTD, apparently is the sound our tax money makes while being squandered by our lovely transit district. Those special buses weren't cheap, nor were the revisions to Franklin Boulevard, and now it appears they also have an overly large advertising budget. I know a lot of business owners who would love to be able to run TV ads on such an epic scale but the cost is proportionate, read that prohibitive.

All this to save a whopping six minutes on a 22-minute run from station to station (which they still are unable to accomplish). For what? Are we trying to cut ride time or increase capacity? Wouldn't additional regular buses on express routes have cured either ill? Does anyone actually believe bus riders will arrive at their destinations early because of this and somehow make an extra contribution to society? More likely they'll sleep in a bonus snooze cycle, then ride the new buses/route for free — or should I say courtesy of all the businesses LTD collects tax monies from as their buses pass by on peculiarly laid out routes.

I say we should've taken all that money and bought every bus rider a car. My bet is they'd appreciate that a lot more than six minutes to nowhere. That being said, since this is Eugene, we'd give them the choice of a shiny new bicycle if they preferred. Calling it as I see it.

Steve Hatz, Springfield

 

NOT SUSTAINABLE

Please don't take this too personally, but our biosphere is quickly approaching near collapse via a biological holocaust and the alteration of the climate by our bloody unsustainable lifestyles supported by science and technology.

Just a few nights ago, I learned from a Jean-Michel Cousteau mini documentary that about 200 million sharks are slaughtered each year for, among other things, shark fin soup. (So please don't eat any form of shark and for you animal rights folks, here is a cause for you. Save the shark!) It boggles my mind that we as a species can be so ruthless and reckless with our life support systems. Yet this type of scientific discovery and analysis is crucial to saving the shark and the human species.

Yet we pour billions upon billions of dollars into science for a better video game or faster computer or a smaller cell phone or better bomb or faster rocket or to send a man to Mars or some other form of what I call "scientific masturbation." Projects that only a few scientists get benefits and pleasure from with zero or negative value to society or to the biosphere.

Science that has no real benefit to saving the biosphere or conserving species or cleaning the toxics from our environment or lessening our impact on natural resources should not be funded by foundations or governments considering the seemingly insurmountable catastrophe we are beginning to see right before our very eyes.

Shannon Wilson, Eugene

 

CRY HAVOC

Talk about unleashing the dogs of war — according to the president's new plan, the problem in Iraq was not enough U.S. troops and too many restrictions on those that are there. The November elections were a watershed event, and current polling confirms that a large majority of the American people want us out of Iraq (Bush's war performance is approved by a mere 17 percent).

So up he pops, with a totally wrong response — expand the war — at the cost of more lives lost and a few hundred million dollars more each week. The military death rate will go from three to four or five each day.

We can't count on the newly elected Democratic majority in Congress to stop this escalation or this war. We're at a point similar to early 1968 with Vietnam. That was when opposition to the war, ineffective in stopping Lyndon Johnson's repeated escalations, turned to resistance. We're facing just such a choice. Bush wants until November to try out his disastrous new policy; by then another thousand troops will be dead.

The president says he won't let a popularity contest control his strategy. Excuse me, but a basic tenet of democracy is for the popular will to decide national policies. If this popular will is totally ignored, the right, even the necessity, of resistance reverts to the people. I just hope this resistance is based on better judgement than was the case with some of us in the '60s.

Paul Prensky, Eugene