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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 2.23.07

AFFORDABLE EDUCATION

In a Dec. 29, 2006 editorial, The Oregonian urges Oregon legislators to listen to Kirby Dyess, vice chair of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education, as he explains how investment in higher education brought prosperity to Ireland ("The Celtic Tiger"). Entitled "A First Step for a Future 'Northwest Tiger,'" the editorial advocates increased investment in Oregon's colleges and universities. Wise advice — but it doesn't go far enough.

During the past six years, community college tuition has nearly doubled. In 1999-2001, the average cost to attend an Oregon community college was $1,700. By 2005-2007, that cost was up to $3,000. In practical terms, if a college student worked at a minimum wage job to pay for school, by 2002 he would have to work for 55 hours a week, leaving virtually no time to study. We need to bring tuition costs down so workers can afford education.

When I was a member of the Oregon State Senate Education Committee, we contemplated starting a commission to figure out what a quality education in Oregon would cost. Later, the legislature created the Oregon Quality Education Commission. The commission has concluded that we have a gap in excess of $1 billion between the cost of a quality education and the amount that Oregon currently provides.

In 2002, Commission Chair Kenneth Thrasher asked, "Have the reasonable goals of a quality education become a broken promise?" In 2007 it's time to restore that promise. I hope that this year the Oregon Legislature will significantly increase investment in public education at all levels.

Pete Sorenson, Lane County Commissioner

 

DUCK, INTERRUPTED

I appreciated Alan Pittman's Feb. 15 article about Councilor Zelenka and myself. Although there were a few things a conservative person like me might consider mischaracterizations and minor inaccuracies, on balance it was a fair treatment.

There was only one part that was inaccurate and that I thought needed correction. While it is true that I am proud of what I have earned in my life, one of the things I have NOT earned is a degree. I did attend the UO from 1983 to 1988, paying my own way, and did major in political science. But, eager to begin a career, I took a job with a few hours left to complete on my degree and to date have not yet done so.

I hope Alan will forgive me if I was unclear. I just don't want to take credit for things I have not yet earned.

Mike Clark, City Councilor, Ward 5

 

FIRE. GREEN. NOW.

Thanks to the Weekly for the insightful interview ("Andrea Ortiz Represents," 2/1) with City Councilor Andrea Ortiz, an exemplary public official.

While annexation-related issues infuse most discussions about good government in the River Road neighborhood, it is unfortunate that County Commissioner Bobby Green has essentially abandoned the fundamental right of his constituents to representative government that county — and city — residents deserve from an elected public official.

Green's once promising career has degenerated into one of heeding the well-endowed special interests that have benefited from his questionable voting pattern. Green's voting record rarely reflects the public's best interests.

Councilor Ortiz, holding down a day job in addition to her essentially volunteer position on the Eugene City Council, has risen far beyond her duty to advocate for the neighborhood interests of city AND county residents in the River Road neighborhood. Meanwhile, the well-paid Commissioner Green has apparently lost interest in responsible representation of many of his constituents. This seeming lack of interest has resulted in the disenfranchisement of many citizens.

Until meaningful campaign reform gets enacted, citizens can only hope that Commissioner Green will begin to advocate for the broader public interest on issues crucial to all of the neighborhoods in the county's North Eugene district.

Meanwhile, the commonwealth is lucky and blessed to have such scrupled and dedicated elected officials as Councilor Ortiz.

Rob Handy, Eugene

 

HOLD YOUR NOSE

As all 6.5 billion of us are reminded daily, Anna Nicole Smith is completely dead, her body finally following her mind. Of course our vigilant mass media sees this as a 24-karat opportunity not to celebrate Anna's life — as there is little there to toot about — but to celebrate itself. After all, the media created Anna, and when such creations finally morph into oblivion, the expired product is frequently re-morphed with a new expiration date determined only by the commercial potential. Think of Elvis. Or Ronald Reagan.

So we'll undoubtedly see more of Anna in the coming months than we saw while she breathlessly breathed. We'll watch her morph from larva to pupa to blonde-bewigged butterfly. She'll flutter clumsily across our retinas whenever a news bite is needed between another Gasex commercial and the latest mayhem in Iraq. We'll hear warm encomiums for her bad habits by the cynical folks who created her.

I wish I'd never heard of Anna Nicole Smith. Or Paris Hilton. Or Donald Trump. Or the other media creatures who bump and swarm about our psyches like a room full of buzzing … Annas. They are neither newsworthy nor noteworthy. They offer nothing yet receive much. Their existence belittles honest work and sincere endeavor. They are marketing products forced upon us because our amoral, capitalist juggernaut is the dominant paradigm of our endlessly cynical culture. And we're now fighting an endlessly marketed war because of it.

We need some big bug spray. Or — hold your nose — a revolution.

Tom Erwin, Eugene

 

FREE SPEECH, BUT …

My wife and I just finished reading the letters in the latest issue, which we do every week to see what sort of craziness transpires. All the hubbub about Dan Savage seems to fit part and parcel with the general attitude of a lot of Eugeneans I keep meeting. They like to start sentences off with "I believe in free speech, BUT ..." What they don't say is that they believe in free speech except for when whatever the expression is upsets them.

I'm an art teacher, and I have to work with this all the time. When little boys want to draw guns and people cutting off each other's heads, the pacifists pipe up. "This is just unhealthy and wrong." Last time I checked, art was a pretty good place for expressing stuff going on in your head. It's much better than wandering the streets and disrupting the lives of passersby or bottling it up and having a heart attack. Intolerance and protectionism are very strong here in Eugene amongst people of all political stripes. I can imagine vegetarians going bonkers over that big pulled-pork sandwich on the cover of the issue featuring Papa's.

You've got it with the green-anarchist people too, desperately trying to close Pandora's box to protect us and the world from ourselves. "Stop using language!" The whole sexual repression deal is really strong here too, whether it's from regular old prudes or radical Christian jihadists. I've got advice, of course: lighten up, live and let live, and instead of protecting your kids and yourself from reality, teach them to be strong and of sound character so that they can deal with the world on their own terms. Also, you might want to go get therapy if the sexual practices of other people freak you out so much.

Sean Aaberg , Eugene

 

SEX IN THE OPEN

I would like to follow up on last week's letters to the editor regarding the sensational journalism I've seen on KEZI-TV lately. First of all, bashing a column that brings sexual topics out in the open is just another example of yellow journalism. Besides, I think most of us agree that it's time to bring sex topics out into the open where they belong, rather than in the closet. I am so happy to see Eugene Weekly openly addressing issues like cross-dressing, adultery and sex toys. Secondly, I'm tired of self-righteous TV journalists trying to tell me how to live my life and then trying to sell me a car or a McDonald's hamburger.

KEZI is just the worst. I can't even watch them now. Their on-air product has been reduced to silly gimmicks, intended to strike fear into the viewer, with the intention of tricking them into watching more news. Heck, the other night they ran a story about a murder in Medford. Why would a Eugene viewer care about a murder in Medford anyway? It's all an act of desperation for the purpose of boosting ratings. Do these TV news people think we don't understand what they're doing? We're onto you, people! Thanks, EW, for bringing this community an alternative form of local journalism.

Hugo Ball, Eugene

 

ADULTS ONLY?

I appreciate EW's desire to fairly represent Eugene's diverse population. There is a tendency, though, I feel, to overdo it when it comes to sex and sexual orientation.

Sometimes I wonder: Is this a publication that represents the gay community? Or is this a publication geared towards adults only, who have some kind of preoccupation with sex?

This is just the way I often feel after reading the EW. I could be considered a liberal, eco-conscious person, but I have to say that the EW has gone overboard, especially by including "Savage Love."

I have two teenaged daughters, and I don't really want them to read the EW anymore because it contains subject matter meant for adults only, especially "Savage Love." They see the EW wherever they go, at their favorite cafés, at stores, and all they have to do is pick it up to read some pretty hardcore porn, which I don't think they can find so easily in any other way.

I don't think most teenagers are ready for that kind of stuff. But thanks to you guys, you've made it available all over the city. I think it's a good time for the EW to take a look at values: Who reads your paper, and how does it represent our "alternative" community? And what does "alternative" mean to you?

Keep in mind what kind of effect you can have on the young people in our community, not to mention readers who can be sensitive to sexually explicit articles and advertisements.

Julie Jeffrey, Eugene

 

PUBLIC RADIO NEEDED

Now more than ever we need a viable alternative to commercial (broadcast) media, who often muzzle critical voices and offer up stale infotainment instead of diverse cultural fare and balanced news perspectives — the kind of work that PBS, NPR, Free Speech Radio, Democracy Now, The Pacifica Radio Network and other public media do so well.

John Galloway, Eugene

 

GARBAGE OUT

To Larry Lippert, concerning your letter to the editor titled "Rim Each Other" (2/8): Sir, you obviously wrote this letter for the sole purpose of getting a reaction, so I'll bite.

You got exactly one thing correct in your writing. "This community deserves better than a piece of garbage," is what you wrote. I agree, and so I suggest you take your own advice and move yourself out of town.

Segments such as "Savage Love" are not to blame for any ills of this or any other community; instead, it is what you are exhibiting — intolerance — that is. Have you ever considered choosing your battles a bit more carefully? It is my hope and belief that the attorney general and prosecutor will laugh at you as hard as I did upon reading this hate-filled tripe.

You are nothing short of totally insulting in your letter, using phrases like, "Your paper at times has some good articles, written not well, but …," and "Maybe you and this Mr. Savage should rim each other," not to mention the name calling: "idiot" and "slime ball." Then you go on to say, "freedom of speech … never intended for you to abuse it in such a flagrant way." But that is precisely what you have done with this letter — pure vitriol hurling.

And if you honestly believe that getting rid of "Savage Love" will stop children's exposure to "questionable" subject matter, then you have much larger problems than Mr. Dan Savage.

So. Do us all a favor: Either remove the burnished pole from your kiester, or leave Eugene and take the rest of the sanctimonious, passive-aggressive, intolerant crybabies with you.

Rodney C. Cimburke Jr., Cottage Grove

 

KEEP THE VIEW

When I came to Oregon in the early 1970s as a child, there were no houses on the hills and ridgelines around Eugene. I was struck then by Oregon's rugged beauty. Today, in my neighborhood of Peaceful Valley alone, there are over five houses built on the hilltops and ridgetops in this small rural residential community. Now there is a proposed zoning change that would allow another house to be built on top of a hill. And this is not just any hill; it is the most prominent hilltop and ridgeline in all of the area.

Lane Code 16.252 Procedures for Zoning, Rezoning, and Amendments to Requirements Rural Comprehensive Plan states, "Zonings, rezonings … shall not be contrary to the public interest." I say that this zoning change is contrary to the public interest because:

1) It will lead to a further visual clutter of our cherished Oregon scenery.

2) The forest management plan does not preclude the use of chemicals, only saying they would be used with a "last resort philosophy."

3) Rezoning such a large property through clever resurveying of the 80 acres closest to rural residential zoned properties is also contrary to the public's interest.

4) Since the easement access was modified to allow for up to 10 residences in the future, one wonders if the applicants will pursue further rezoning at a later date to build more houses.

I clearly see how rezoning is in the personal interests of the rezoning applicants, Tom Lininger and Merle Weiner, I do not see how it is in the public interest. In fact rezoning is clearly contrary to the public's interest. I, along with 29 other people, have signed a petition against this proposed rezoning. These are the people who live in the communities of Peaceful Valley and Fox Hollow. We strongly urge the hearings official and the Board of County Commissioners to reject this proposed zoning change.

Hal Hermanson, Eugene

 

BRAIN DUMP

Sometimes I need to purge my collective opinion bank.

1. Mid-term elections. Thank Jefferson democracy is still alive.

2. Gratuitous misuse of the term "eco-terrorist." That is a word which should be reserved for politicians who continually sell out natural resources that we citizens hold as our birthright (or as the natives considered it, their backyard). Perhaps eco-rebellion would be more appropriate.

3. Education in Oregon. Always amusing to have conservative Republicans bang the drum of education when everyone in this state knows that it will be the first thing screwed by conservatives. Maybe it is time to examine the kicker refund or possibly some kind of tax reform so that education is not solely reliant on income tax.

4. Eugene Weekly. The EW letters are essentially a paper blog for the same dozen or so people (Hinojosa, Strain, Tattersall, etc.). I don't mind the input, but could we have a little more variety, or could you just hire these guys so they could provide as much editorial optimism as Alan Pittman?

5. New name for the federal building: How about the Klingon High Command? I dare someone to hang a big sardine tin key off the side of the building.

6. Iraq: I really, really, hate to say it but if you voted for the current dumb-ass for president in 2004, then the blood of the people who have died is on your hands. But you are forgiven for being duped. Now let's deal with it. We should get out of there ASAP.

7. We live in a city that is a beacon of sustainability. If you don't think so, then you've never been anywhere else. Get on your bike and ride. Supporting sustainability and biodiversity is our only chance.

Davy Ray, Eugene

 

SORRY, M OF C!

I am an employee at a local natural foods store, and I love my job. It is the best job I have ever had, morally, socially and economically.

I love it so much that I found myself today talking badly about another local natural foods store, Market of Choice. I said some very mean things while at work, and now I am somewhat ashamed of what I did. I forgot that Market of Choice, like so many other great stores in Eugene, is a local store. Its most distant location is less than two hours away. It sells local goods and adds a lot of money to the local economy, unlike stores merely paying minimum wages and sending the rest elsewhere.

In my studies I have read a lot about sustainability, and I take pride in my community's efforts towards a sustainable economy. I try to live as sustainably as possible, and I find it very difficult when we have already dug our hole so deep. But I see steps being taken, and I like what I see. And I think that if every store was as local as Market of Choice, we would be taking more steps towards our end goal: to live in harmony with our own environment.

Andrew Harmon, Eugene