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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 4.19.07

HOPE AND SKEPTICISM

I am ever hopeful for the sake of all the life and places I hold sacred that our society will soon embark on a new "green" paradigm shift. However, I hold on to much skepticism that big business and the good ol' boy networks will never let go of the current "use it all for our immediate gratification" paradigm. You may have noticed that all the extractive industries, corporate America and even government agencies are trying to "greenwash" themselves to try to convince the average citizen that they now care so much for the health of the biosphere and planet.

Now, it is up to you to look at these public relations campaigns and the "technological fixes" critically and choose the products, companies and politicians that are bringing about real change and real solutions.

Just because a corporation, a not-for-profit or government agency uses images of whales or forests in ads and commercials or states its products are organic doesn't make the group "green" or remotely sustainable.

If it's just playing a public relations game, call the group on it publicly and remove your support from such an entity.

So, again it's up to you. When a critical mass of people anywhere set their minds to real change, embrace and support real solutions, then we will start to realize a paradigm shift that truly heals the biosphere.

Shannon Wilson, Eugene

 

SHORT-SIGHTED POLICIES

Today I drove 26 miles from Marcola to downtown Eugene to spend my birthday money. I wanted to buy some beads and visit the library. I try hard to support local, independent businesses. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify trips to downtown Eugene. There isn't much there to begin with, and to have to pay for parking so that I can spend my money seems ridiculous. But today I put money in the meter, which had a limit of 30 minutes, and went shopping. Seems pretty ridiculous, too, limiting people to 30 minutes when there is so much talk about getting people to visit this area. Yeah, I know about the parking garage, but I choose not to go there. After all, the streets were opened for us shoppers, weren't they? Well, my shopping trip took 32 minutes, and I had a ticket on my window. Welcome to Eugene!

I realize it was my responsibility to get back to my car in 30 minutes. But sometimes you have to wait a little longer than you anticipate when paying. Sometimes the service in a restaurant is slower than it should be. Sometimes you have to wait for a traffic light. On I went to the Eugene Public Library, for which I gladly pay a fee of $80 per year because I am an out of towner. Again I fed the meter my quarters, and it seemed ridiculous, again, to have to pay for parking to go to a library and to put a limit on the time you can visit there.

I surely would like to see downtown Eugene thrive with local businesses, but I believe that the city's short-sighted policies are killing it. I, for one, will limit my visits to this area to those only absolutely necessary. I will go where the parking is free and I am not punished for staying two minutes past my time because I am actually buying something.

Ellen Furstner, Marcola

 

THE MAN ON HIGH

Before President Bush gave the order to attack Iraq he professed that he had prayed after 9/11 and that "There is a higher father that I appeal to." It is apparent that this "higher father" must have been Ares, the Greek god of savage war. After the Amish community had five of their young daughters abducted, bound and shot in the head while at school, they set up a charitable fund for the family of the murderer and told the world "We must not think evil of this man." This is the "higher father" that we must urge our president to listen to before he launches a preemptive strike against Iran.

From Feb. 17 to 25, a 13-member delegation of American Christian leaders traveled to Iran and for the first time in 28 years had dialogue with Iranian leaders. Upon returning they urged the U.S. and Iranian governments immediately to engage in direct , face-to-face talks; cease using language that defines the other using "enemy" images; and promote more people-to-people exchanges, including religious leaders, members of Parliament/Congress and civil society.

As people around the world celebrate this Easter, let us remember the Lord's Prayer that teaches us to "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us."

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain

 

RECALLS A WASTE

Efforts to cripple Lane County government by launching multiple recall campaigns are needlessly divisive and a huge waste of hard-earned taxpayer dollars!

The recent county income-tax repeal referendum effort was legitimate and achieved the immediate result of the county commissioners deciding to place the tax proposal on the May ballot for us all to decide. For these same referendum folks to now personalize this complex issue, demonize our hard working county commissioners and initiate partisan recall witch hunts is disappointing, highly destructive and vindictive!

I have seen no mention by the media that the three repeal effort petitioners, all partisan Republican employees of Morse Brothers concrete and construction company, have been bankrolled, according to official state reports, by radical forces outside of Lane County, including strident antigovernment crusader Don McIntyre and his Tigard-based "Taxpayers Association of Oregon" ($2,000) and by Salem based attorney Nathan Reitman ($500). Two of the three petitioners are listed as Morse Brothers executives working in Harrisburg (Linn County) — General Manager Loren Later and Trucking Manager Bob Hooker (www.morsebrosprestress.com).Campaign activities at Morse Brothers Harrisburg facilities have been locally televised yet unreported as corporate "in-kind" donations.

Each recall campaign could cost taxpayers $40,000-$50,000 — a combined total of nearly $150,000 — with an additional $150,000 for campaigns to fill the vacancies; that's $300,000 of county funds that could go to arresting criminals, treating kids' drug addictions and Veterans' services.

Enough's enough!

Diana Robertson, Eugene

 

RECALLS NECESSARY

The Lane County Commissioners and other tax supporters are painting a false picture of the financial condition of Lane County. These beneficiaries of county money are crying around over $47 million. They are threatening to let violent prisoners out of our jails and close our parks.

Sure, $47 million is a big chunk of money, but when you compare it to the 2006-2007 Lane County budget of $492.8 million, it's less than 10 percent of the total. I encourage everyone to read the budget and see how these doomsayers are trying to unjustifiably scare us into supporting another tax.

If you look at page E-10 of the budget, you will see that the county has currently set aside reserves of $102.5 million and typically passes an additional $15 to $20 million into this slush fund each year. The county is not bankrupt.

We need county commissioners who are not entrenched in the county system. We need to start by clearing the board of Bobby Green, Faye Stewart and Bill Dwyer. These commissioners are unwilling to make the tough decisions necessary. Please support all recall efforts.

Paul Cauthorn, Eugene

 

REUSE BEFORE RECYCLE

Woo-wee. That was a mighty nice article about our nonprofit's fantastic volunteers and staff! I appreciate Sarah Mazze's work to explore the impact of obsolete electronics on our environment and how NextStep Recycling has worked to educate our community about the importance of passing electronics on to those who do not have access to technology.

There is a bill in the Oregon House that could impact refurbishing programs such as ours. HB 2626, introduced on Feb. 8, requires all manufacturers of computers, computer monitors and televisions to register annually with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The manufacturer must indicate their intent to participate in a "manufacturer program" or the "contractor program" to provide the collection, transportation and recycling of the three items. The manufacturer program is provided by a single manufacturer or group of manufacturers. The contractor program is overseen by DEQ and may be administered by a third party. Both programs provide a statewide system for the recycling of electronic devices. The bill prohibits charging a fee for collection of the three items.

What has happened to other nonprofit refurbishers nationally where these laws have been created is that they cannot capture the material for reuse prior to recycling. I know of refurbishers in California who are paying to ship monitors into the state so they have monitors to give away with the computers they refurbish. Yikes!

Here are some facts: U.S. schools currently need 9 million additional PCs. U.S. charities need an additional 4.2 million PCs. Students of color are 30 percent less likely to have a PC in the home. Ten thousand PCs per week are disposed of by the federal government. One hundred thousand PCs per day are disposed of by corporations and individuals.

If you like what NextStep does to bridge the digital divide in Oregon (we have refurbished 10,000 computers so far), please contact your legislators and let them know you support the importance of reuse before recycling. Rep. Jackie Dingfelder (D-HD45), is Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee. Another member of the committee is Springfield Rep. Terry Beyer. Beyer toured our facility so she could have a better understanding of the impact of NextStep on her constituents. Call, email, send snail mail and let your legislator know you support reuse before recycling!

Lorraine Kerwood, Founder & executive director, NextStep Recycling

 

SAVE THE PLANET

Capitalism doesn't work if you don't include all of the costs in the price of goods, and we all know our vital resources are being gobbled up by corporate interests at low prices only to keep prices low. The burden of the cost's missing elements is placed on the future, and for our own future benefit, it is time to feed the future. If we as a body of laws have chosen to allow corporations to partake of our resources at unrecoverable rates, we must end up making laws taxing ourselves to recover those resources. Taxes on environmentally damaging practices seem to be an obvious answer, or how will we replenish our resources? I say it is time to tax one of the major polluters on the planet, the animal products industries. Take away an animal products based diet, and you will accomplish more for the environment than taking away oil, gas and coal combined (someone wake up Al Gore!). People can live much easier and healthier without animal products in their foods than they can live without transportation and electricity. No doubt health insurance would be cheaper too. Starting locally is one excellent way to go as the money tends to stay local, and I hear we have a majority of county commissioners who are willing to make the tax move to save us from future failure.

Greg Daugherty , Eugene

 

TWO FUTURES

In January of 2009, the ex-president will return to Texas with a generous retirement package financed by American taxpayers. He and his family will have the most complete health plan available. A permanent security detail assigned to his ranch will provide a variety of incidental services. There will be funds for an office and administrative costs of the future presidential library. He will live financially worry free the rest of his life.

In January of 2009, physically and mentally wounded veterans of the tragic Iraq war will still be faced with an uncertain future for themselves and their loved ones. Medical and mental services from the Veterans' Administration will be inadequate. Those unable to work will have difficulty providing medical coverage for their families. Veterans' benefits and disability pensions will not provide a decent standard of living for their children nor provide for college educations. Many will live with pain and uncertainty the rest of their lives.

Shame on Bush! Shame on us!

R.C. Cross, Eugene

 

MATH OF DESTRUCTION

Are you smarter than a fifth grader? Math is often messy. Especially for us grownups! For instance, in the war on Iraq, the U.K. medical journal The Lancet says there may be as many as a million Iraqis now dead due to this war.

The Department of Defense says that almost 25,000 Americans have been wounded in the war on Iraq. But this number only reflects physical wounds. I don't think anyone will be able to count the number of Americans who return home with mental wounds.

Here is a number we grownups can understand: three. This is the current average number of Americans killed every day in the war.

I've devised a very simple equation to determine when we should end this war on Iraq and bring our troops home. Think you can solve it? Grab a piece of paper, a #2 pencil and write your name on the top line. Are you ready?

First, write down today's date. Then, choose a date you would like to bring our troops home and write that down. Next, write down the total number of days between now and then. Finally, take this number and multiply it by three. You now have your answer. This is the total number of Americans you are willing to get killed before we bring our troops home. If you don't like this number, change the date you want our troops back home and solve the equation again. Repeat until you have a final answer you can accept.

George W. Bush's answer is 1,968 dead Americans. What is yours?

Rees Maxwell, Eugene

 

BEN LINDER, ­PRESENTE!

I wish to give tribute to celebrate the life of Benjamin Linder, who gave his knowledge, energy, humor and love to the people of Nicaragua.

Ben was a mechanical engineer from Portland who went to Nicaragua in August of 1983. There, in the remote mountain region of El Cuá-Bocay, he worked on hydroelectric projects that today provide energy to the community, schools, clinics and poor farmers.

Ben was also a very talented clown, juggler and unicyclist and traveled around Nicaragua with the national circus bringing joy to many while working in children's health campaigns.

Twenty years ago, on April 28, 1987, while beginning construction on a small dam, Ben and two Nicaraguan coworkers were murdered by Contras, armed and paid by the U.S. government.

Ben is buried in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, and his tomb reads, "La luz que encendió brillará para siempre" – "The light that he lit will shine forever."

Please join us with the Linder family Thursday, April 26, at 4 pm in the Ben Linder Room, EMU, UO, to honor this noble man and learn how his work continues.

Bryan Moore, Eugene

 

DON'T RECALL GREEN

I don't usually agree with Commissioner Bobby Green's votes on legislation, but the recall is unfair and wrong. Green voted for a tax to preserve the jobs and county services he realizes are important to everyone living in Lane County. I might not like this flat tax proposal, but it is no reason to recall Green. What we need is fair tax reform, not recalls. So let's work for positive change, and I think Green will join us.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

NOTHING GUARANTEED

The Eugene City Council has the power, but apparently not the imagination, to bring our downtown back to life. They have tried and failed before with the redevelopment of Broadway west of Charnelton. Many of the retail spaces created as an adjunct to Symantec, which has since abandoned Eugene for Springfield, are still vacant, as are a number of the pricey apartments above. The street below is usually empty except at night when it often becomes a popular hangout for street people.

While the city council is again looking at big time developers for Broadway with ready subsidies and other incentives, they should understand that more new buildings alone will not guarantee the creation of a lively downtown. If the council had wanted a bustling commercial Broadway, they should have done something before Oakway Center gobbled up the city's retail slack.

But the city council still has an opportunity to do something. The Tango Center has proposed that the city exercise its option and purchase the center and several smaller adjacent buildings as a nucleus of city-supported development. Given the right support by the city, the spacious Tango Center could serve Eugene with even more events, entertainment and education, and it could spin off a gradual revival of West Broadway without demolishing the perfectly usable adjacent structures. The council could use similar incentives offered to developers to attract locally owned businesses into these retail spaces.

A pro-active campaign to revive West Broadway would cost less than the developer-subsidy option and give the city more control.

Russ DesAulnier, Eugene

 

REAL ESTATE SCAMS

The April 12 EW did a public service exposing some of the city's never-ending real estate scams.

The article about the city's alleged attorney (who also serves big developers — a severe conflict of interest) hints at the solution. The job title of "City Manager" appears to be — on the surface — a person tasked with carrying out the policies decided by democratically elected officials. However, in Eugene, the manager often wields more power than those selected by the voters. Changing the city manager to be an implementer of policy instead of the creator of policy would help reduce the nondemocratic aspect of city of Eugene planning decisions.

Jerry Diethelm's article about the new I-5 Willamette River bridge missed four points. First, the existing (old) bridge was dangerously cracked due to excessive truck weights (Oregon trucks are allowed to be heavier than those in California). Second, the replacement bridge for the damaged structure should have been built once, not twice. The "temporary" I-5 bridges in the Eugene area cost tens of millions and required enormous inputs of concrete and steel. Third, planning for major highway upgrades (the new bridge would be much wider than the older one) needs to admit the world is at peak oil and further traffic increases are unlikely on the downslope of the oil peak. Finally, expanding I-5 is part of a NAFTA superhighway program being pushed by the states of Oregon, Washington and California — see www.road-scholar.orgfor details.

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene

 

CLOUDED VISION

Eugene seems to be a city with a fragmented heart, a passionless soul and a clouded vision. It is a city that has been forced to grow under the pressure of demographics and an expanding economy. But, like so many other cities, it is a city that has grown without guidance from a vision. It is a city that has simply stumbled into the future after having made many well-intentioned but uninformed decisions about how to grow.

While the mayor, the city council and city planners collectively have the ultimate authority to make decisions that determine Eugene's future, before exercising that authority they — and we all — have the inescapable obligation to inform ourselves of what it is that makes a city vibrant, sophisticated, resonant, dynamic, playful and, most importantly, a place that everyone cherishes because it serves and promotes these qualities.

If the city council and City Manager Dennis Taylor intend to render a decision of this magnitude about KWG's proposal by April 25 before having fulfilled this obligation, then on April 26, the residents of Eugene need to begin actions to recall him and all council members.

What's important and at stake is not meeting a deadline to choose KWG's shopping mall or "local diversity" as the best way to fulfill the wish to "save downtown." What's at stake and most important at this moment is recognizing that those with the authority to make such decisions may in fact not be qualified to do so. They may not even have to live with them. But the rest of us will.

Matthew Lubic, Eugene