TRAGEDY IN THE NUMBERS
The Lane County commissioners gave us all a Valentine. On Feb. 14 they unanimously passed a resolution urging our congressional delegation to "reduce the number of U.S. troops engaged in wars and to take action to provide federal financial support targeted for the welfare, safety and health of returning veterans affected by their participation in war, their families and communities."
This resolution came from the Mental Health Advisory Committee, a volunteer Lane County committee charged with advising the Board on community needs and priorities for mental health services.
In the course of our research into this issue, we discovered mental disorders are reported in more than one in four returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan; almost 1,700 service members returning from the war this year said they harbored thoughts of hurting themselves or that they would be better off dead; more than 250 said they had such thoughts "a lot"; nearly 20,000 reported nightmares or unwanted war recollections; more than 3,700 said they had concerns that they might "hurt or lose control" with someone else; and the Veterans Benefits Administration has a backlog of 400,000 pending claims.
I look with great disappointment at these figures and can see, as you can, the tragedy within. I hope both the city of Eugene and the state of Oregon take up this call for relief from the horrors of war and ask our federal government to step up and pay for the damage they are doing to our friends and our neighbors, and to end this nightmare today.
Tim Mueller, Lane County Mental Health Advisory Committee
Logging industry front group Oregon Forest Resources Institute recently staged the conference "Forests, Carbon and Climate Change" at OSU to promote their solution to global warming: more logging!
Has the logging industry finally turned over a new leaf, or is this just the latest pro-logging propaganda?
The U.N., NASA and the British government's Stern Review on climate change blame logging for one-third of the human-made carbon emissions released into the atmosphere. The idea that those who caused the devastation of one planetary ecosystem, our forests, will now lead the charge to protect other planetary ecosystems would be hilarious were it not such a dangerous — and brilliantly concocted — lie.
Fanning the flames of fire hysteria, logging interests insist our native forests are sick and in need of "thinning" (i.e. logging) on an unprecedented, landscape-wide basis. Conveniently enough, these proposed thinning projects would produce a large amount of woody debris. Industry's intention is to build biomass energy factories that must be fueled by a constant input of organic matter to remain economically viable, resulting in escalated logging.
Industry's spin in a nutshell: Not only are they "fixing" forests, they're turning "waste" into a clean, renewable energy source. This deceit undermines the efforts of those genuinely invested in tackling global warming.
The reality hiding behind the green curtain is that "forest biomass" extraction is the latest ploy to continue plundering our forests — this time stripping the fragile understory, a vital part of an intact forest ecosystem.
Josh Schlossberg, Native Forest Council
NEW HOPE FOR SANITY
It is wonderful news that environmental activist Jeff "Free" Luers will have his prison sentence reduced thanks to the Oregon Court of Appeals ruling that he was improperly sentenced to 22-plus years for an incident that resulted in minimal financial damage and no harm to life.
While the actions that landed Jeff Luers in prison were wrong, his harsh and excessive punishment has been a tragic embarrassment to the state of Oregon. That we punish misguided but well-intentioned activists for burning cars worse than sexual predators and seriously violent criminals is shameful and inexcusable. A sentence reduction for Jeff Luers would prove there's still hope for sanity and justice in these troubling times.
Mike Kessler, Eugene
Councilor Zelenka (cover story, 2/15) thinks the EPD owes the community an explanation for the Lara/Magaña fiasco.
Everyone knows the "explanation," but nobody has the backbone to speak up. Both officers were hired primarily for their ethnicity to bring more "diversity" to the department. This despite a questionable background in at least one of the cases.
The city's mindless quest for diversity trumped qualifications. Diversity turned into perversity, which was apparently regularly overlooked. The city paid a heavy price, financially and otherwise.
I have no doubt that EPD's diversity goals can be achieved with qualified candidates who are willing to be held to the same high standards as anyone else. In most businesses, heads would have rolled in the HR department.
Jerry Ritter, Rural Springfield
FROM A LUMBER BARONESS
Ralph Wombat (Letters, 2/8), do I have to teach you everything? At least get your facts right if you are going to crab.
Umpqua Bank is owned 4 percent by insiders, 5 percent owners, 52 percent by institutions and in mutual funds, and 44 percent directly by individuals like you and me. How did I get this information? This is public information; I accessed the data through Yahoo's finance portal. So what urban legend website are you getting your facts from?
When you write that the bank is owned by the clearcutting lumber baron, who are you referring to or what are you alluding to? A 4 percent ownership split among a group of individuals does not mean a controlling interest. Or does holding some Umpqua Bank stock make me a lumber baroness? Well, I own a couple of acres that I've been re-foresting. If that, plus owning Umpqua Bank stock, makes me a lumber baroness, I accept the title.
Joy Olgyay, Rural Crow
On Feb. 22, EW published a letter from Hal Hermanson opposing a rezoning proposal that my wife and I have submitted for 240 acres of land in Peaceful Valley.
This former Rosboro land was the subject of a huge protest by neighbors in 2004. Rosboro tried to spray chemicals in order to control weeds around the seedlings. My wife and I have committed to sustainable forestry using mulch mats instead of chemicals. We have installed more mulch mats than any private forestland owner in Lane County.
We have also put 160 acres of the land into conservation. We have signed and recorded declarations that preclude commercial forestry in these areas.
Sustainable forestry is hard work. We need to tend to the mulch mats and cut back invasive vegetation like Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberries. We would be in a better position to undertake this work if we lived on the property.
We have applied to build a single residence on the 240-acre property. Mr. Hermanson wants us to live on a portion of the property we have devoted to a state-certified Wildlife Habitat Conservation and Management Zone. That part of the property has taller trees and a seasoned creek.
We think it would make more sense to build our house in another area — a flat part of our property that Rosboro clearcut in 2004. Most of the neighbors who own adjacent land agree with us. In fact, 40 people in the neighborhood have indicated that they support our proposal.
Our residence on the property will facilitate our sustainable forestry. Living off-site is easy for foresters who use chemicals, but we have committed to the more labor-intensive sustainable approach, and we need to live on the property to do the work.
Tom Lininger, Eugene
PREOCCUPIED WITH SEX
If you are a family person and have children and you want to read EW, then I suggest that you get your copy from the stand, when the kids aren't watching. Then you hide it. When the kids are in bed, you take it out and read it.
If you are a parent or guardian, and you have reading-age children in the home, then you don't want EW lying around. It's just further reinforcement of sexuality as a material indulgence and pastime. You ever wonder why the TV, movies, magazines, etc. are so filled with sexuality? Why, it's a culture! It makes money, and it's a great distraction! What might people be interested in if they weren't so preoccupied with sex?
I, for one, want my child to learn about the sacredness of sexuality. That the highest expression of sexuality combined with love expresses tenderness, compassion and can be very pleasurable, as well as make beautiful babies. Teachers in the community take heed: Assigning children to read articles from EW is inappropriate and not conducive to their healthy well being!
I'm sad that EW can't make a stand against porn or be righteous leaders of influence in our community. The "Savage Love" column, the escort services (prostitution is illegal! hello!), the provocative ads and some of the personals are degrading to human beings as spiritual beings! Of course, it's happening everywhere in the media. We just thought "What's Happening" in the Weekly was different, that's all!
Janelle Kinsky, Eugene
IRONY OF IRONIES!
I love it! Cuba, our nemesis, the so-called "godless, communist enemy of the U.S." is now where the Bush administration can carry out its unconstitutional policies at Guantanamo prison. Since Cuba has sovereignty over the base, U.S. laws do not apply there. Too ironic!
The country, whose leader the U.S. has been trying to assassinate for almost 50 years and whose government the U.S. has been trying to overthrow, turns out to be Bush's best friend in providing a haven for his illegal maneuverings.
He and his conservative Cuban Americans ought to write Castro a letter of apology and thanks.
Lucia McKelvey, Eugene
OUR DEAD CENTER
Why do we live in a city without a living center after all these years? We are potentially such a bike and pedestrian friendly city, but we've already seen the Woolworth pit — it was muraled two, three years ago — and the Sears lake was drained last year. Where do we want to bike or walk to? This city contains a vibrant activist community. City offices overlook this mess. Wouldn't it be nice if we could get it together?
Michael Roberts, Eugene
On Thursday of last week I stopped at my favorite bread store, Great Harvest, in a small shopping center on Willamette. I pulled into a parking space in front of the store. There were four or five spaces available. I bought a loaf of bread, and when I left the store, I noticed a woman getting out of an expensive, large SUV parked right next to me. I thought that was typical of SUV owners. Because they ride up high, their view is not obstructed. It's not that they are inconsiderate, but they would be if they were aware of what they are doing. But they don't even realize that they are making it difficult for someone in a small car to back out if they park alongside of them. I can see parking next to someone but not when there are several spaces to choose from.
They don't realize what they are doing because they are so wrapped up in their materialistic life they give no thought to others.
Tony Gregory, Eugene
The people who are so incensed about the content of "Savage Love" are missing the point.
It is not meant to shock or harm anyone, especially not children, as seems to be one of the loudest and most ridiculous accusations. "Savage Love" is a forum in which people can seek straightforward, non-judgmental advice on topics that they may not even be able to bring up anywhere else.
If the people who are so outraged actually took the time to READ the entire column(s), they might see that Mr. Savage is consistently encouraging people to respect and protect themselves and their partners when it comes to sex — whatever kind of sex they choose to have.
Please keep "Savage Love" in the Weekly. Don't bow down to the rabid ranting of people who obviously read it only to get themselves worked up into a self-righteous fervor. Those will be the people you will never be able to please anyway.
Sabella Dziabczenko, Eugene
This has gone way too far. Two incredible musicians killed in a fatal accident because a drunk driver managed to get on the freeway in the wrong direction!
According to the Oregon State Police, there have been 87 such happenings in the last few years!
How about simply installing "Tiger Teeth," those one-way metal tire spikes, on every single exit ramp on I-5? That would stop anybody trying to get on the freeway in the wrong direction from doing it by instantly giving them flat tires.
Sure, it will cost some money. But it beats having innocent people killed by somebody getting on the freeway in the wrong direction!
Ken Silverman, Eugene
THE DREADED HILLARY
Without a doubt the Republican party is now on the ropes. Perhaps two years from now it won't exist. Not since Watergate has this country felt so broken, fragmented and confused. Only one person can save the Republicans — Hillary Clinton. Indeed, Hillary, the one the Republicans love to hate. Combating the dreaded Hillary, they will come back in droves, raise piles of money, bury their considerable hatchets and pull their broken party off the ash heap. Hillary, and only Hillary, can save them! She alone has this much power — this gift! Hillary Clinton is indeed the Republican bête noire!
Joe Mogus, Philomath
In his Jan. 25 letter, Jeffrey Luers states he is "an incarcerated radical environmentalist." He then takes offense that an earlier letter compared him to a "right wing pro-life arsonist," an apt comparison. Mr. Luers foolishly and romantically claims that so-called eco-saboteurs are acting to save us from both corporate greed and the destruction of our environment.
Luers' claims are nonsense. I drove by the Romania arson the next morning because I had lived in the neighborhood. What I saw made it clear that the arson did horrific harm to the environment in that it released into the air and the Willamette River tons of toxins. Not only did the arson foul our environment, it resulted in the manufacture of new cars and trucks which replaced the ones destroyed in the arson.
If Mr. Luers wants to help in saving our environment, he should volunteer with the Willamette Riverkeepers or another of the local organizations which promote clean rivers.
David Jensen, Eugene
EDITOR'S NOTE : As we recall, the three vehicles damaged in the Romania arson were repaired and sold.
WHAT IS OBSCENE?
There appears to exist within Eugene a vast population of people simply aching for something to complain about. Take for instance the fervor ignited by EW's inclusion of Dan Savage's "Savage Love" column. Most detractors want to assure us that they're "not prudes," as if that legitimizes their claims. And evoking your longstanding readership by referring to the paper by its original name does not make it your paper to the exclusion of those of us not at all bothered by Dan Savage or his opinions.
Me personally, I'm sick of hearing about the West Eugene Parkway or why I should have sympathy for a deluded arsonist or anything written by Sally Sheklow. My response is to not read those things that piss me off. But you others decide that threatening EW with the attorney general is appropriate. You idiots!
What I find obscene is your disgust with the details of real people's lives, people who might happen to need Dan Savage's advice since he speaks to a segment of our national community that you might prefer didn't exist at all.
Geoff Stiles, Eugene