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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 5.3.07

ANTI-TAX ZEALOTS

The recent "Slant" column condemnation of the negative recall effort against Commissioner Bobby Green resonates loudly with Diana Robertson's powerful expose ("Recalls a Waste," letters, 4/19) of just who's behind this vindictive push.

Bravo! Recalls are for removing elected officials guilty of criminality like embezzlement or sexual predation — not a noose for some political lynch mob.

Diana Robertson's letter properly exposes radical forces behind the original repeal effort — namely three antigovernment, anti-tax zealots with heavy out of county funding from "strident antigovernment crusader Don McIntyre and his Tigard-based Taxpayers Association of Oregon ($2,000)." All three of the tax vote repeal petitioners are partisan Republican employees of Linn County-based Morse Brothers concrete products company, including two corporate executives.

Revealingly, the repeal group's website lists Ben Pooler and fellow petitioner Loren Later as recent 2004 arrivals in Lane County, with Pooler arriving fresh from Nevada. Not all of Nevada's illustrious traditions are welcome here. Lane County's tradition where honorable people disagree agreeably trumps nasty imported single-issue extremism.

As a home-owning, taxpaying Lane County resident of many years, I oppose abusing the recall process; while I don't always agree with Commissioner Green, he doesn't deserve this shabby treatment. Nor have Commissioners Bill Dwyer and Faye Stewart — next on this right-wing group's arrogant hit-list — earned this pettiness.

Sally Nunn, Eugene

 

DESPERATE TIMES

Unless you've been living on Mars, you know about the pending budget cuts that LCC is facing. Last week, the LCC paper, The Torch, ran an article that rather officially stated that LCC will be making cuts to contracted faculty and staff, seven administrators and an undetermined number of part-time faculty. It appears that we have officially entered desperate times.

So here's my question: Why don't they cut all athletic programs? I love sports as much as the next person, but wouldn't cutting the sports programs from a community college make more sense than depleting the academic program to the breaking point? And for that matter, why not cut the music and drama departments, too? Yes, we highly value all of these departments, but when put in this impossible situation, are sports and music and drama more important than cutting teachers and staff?

In the end everyone loses; yes, I realize that. But I am personally not willing to sacrifice the quality of my education just so that LCC can have a couple more trophies in the athletic department showcase.

Let's cut all that which is not essential to academics and show that education is what LCC cares about most. I know that there will be plenty of people irritated by my suggestion, but if you have to choose between your son playing basketball on a community college team and getting adequate foundational education at that same school, what will you choose?

The time has come for LCC to stop whining and look at things with a realistic perspective. And while I'm at it, stop insisting on buying the school new computers every other year. That is just irresponsible money management.

Education is the most important thing for a community college. Not sports. Not music. Not drama. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Linda Cathey, Eugene

 

CRUEL IRONY

Most people in Lane County are not aware that there is a county-funded Veteran Services office that serves by assisting veterans in filing claims for assistance with the Veterans Administration. Additionally, there are currently some 39,000 veterans in Lane County receiving roughly $7 million a month in veterans benefits from the VA. These benefits are paid for a wide variety of debilitating injuries that veterans suffered while serving our country. Many would be living on the streets or worse without these benefits.

It seems obvious that this need will only increase as more veterans return from Iraq with disabilities that may last a lifetime. Here is where cruel irony lies. The funding for this crucial service is due to be cut if the county doesn't get more money. While the office is federally mandated, the level of services is not. Therefore what may remain may be an administrative office incapable of offering services to the flood of returning veterans. The county will lose a highly skilled professional staff that guides the vets through the monumental maze that is the VA. I know from personal experience that without their assistance I would not have been able to get the help I needed.

Whatever the outcome of the tax measures the Veterans Services of Lane County or its staff shouldn't be on the block. We owe our veterans at least that much. Please let your county officials know that "supporting the troops" requires more than wearing colored ribbons or waving the flag.

Jack Bates, Eugene

 

RECKLESS PROPOSAL

I read with great interest James Johnston's Outdoors column (4/19) about the Wild and Scenic Rogue River. We are blessed by this ecological gem that still supports wild Chinook salmon, an unparalleled backcountry experience and a thriving recreation-based economy.

Unbeknownst to many, the Medford Bureau of Land Management (a federal agency in charge of managing our federal public lands) has for years been planning the Kelsey-Whisky timber sale, which would log the heart out of the Zane Grey roadless area, a 46,464-acre unroaded block above the wild and scenic stretch of the river and adjacent to the Wild Rogue Wilderness. Zane Grey, the famed author the area is named after, must be rolling in his grave. A series of lawsuits has delayed this reckless proposal, but the BLM, with the approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is moving full steam ahead to log this treasured place with your tax dollars.

Aside from utilizing the courtroom, a coalition of conservation groups, local businesses and outfitters are moving forward with a proposal that would designate additional Wilderness and Wild and Scenic river corridors in this unprotected place.

Contact Rep. DeFazio to let him know you want the Rogue River protected so future generations can relish in the place without the eyesore of clearcuts and stumps. Tell him to de-fund the Medford BLM too, which remains the old-growth logging workhorse in the region. Peter DeFazio, 405 East 8th Ave. #2030, Eugene 97401; 465-6732. For more info, visit www.savethewildrogue.org

Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Eugene

 

CHAINSAW MASSACRE

There seems to be an increase in the destruction of one of Eugene's major resources, the city trees. The culprit is none other than our own EWEB. On Friday, April 20, on the eve of Earth Day, the EWEB crew arrived on Knoop Lane off River Road and proceeded to cut down the two remaining pine trees next door to our property. They had cut one of the three trees a few weeks earlier and had promised me they would only cut down one of the three trees. They showed up on Friday and cut down the two remaining perfectly healthy trees because they were getting tangled in their lines. I don't know if they had or even if they needed the owner's permission. It seems a moot point anyway since the owner is a developer in Santa Barbara, Calif., and has little but money invested in this piece of land which is an integral part of our neighborhood.

Our neighborhood has been altered forever. The little run-down house shielded by the grove of trees is now an outright eyesore with all its structural and cosmetic flaws glaring in the bright light. The crows are gone. These were large, established trees. They were enjoyed by all of us who lived here on Knoop Lane as well as those who drove by.

It wasn't long ago that EWEB also decided to forever alter the intersection on River Road near the Beltline, cutting down two rows of trees which graced the Lube-It-USA on the corner. Why? Too much to manage?

Now for the irony in all this. After the trees were cut Friday, I mustered up the courage to go across the street to my mailbox. As I looked at the ravaged front yard next door, I noticed in my hand a mailing from EWEB. It read: "FRESH AIR; Explore the Spirit of Earth Day. EWEB Greenpower: Clean energy."

Then there was a long list of EWEB Windpower/Greenpower Partners — Working Together for a Cleaner Environment. I'd love to see some of those EWEB supporters come forward and share their views on EWEB's war against annoying trees that require endless care and maintenance. People! Get involved; protect your trees; call EWEB; write letters; stop the unnecessary cutting of our living neighbors.

N.L. Bell, Eugene

 

SOME PROGRESS

Owing to hard-working activists as well as the brilliance and realism of presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, there is more talk than ever these days about the need for a Department of Peace. Scoffers heap ridicule on this notion while ignoring the folksy definition of insanity (keep repeating your strategy while expecting different results).

A sign in front of the UO ROTC Building identifies it as housing "Military Science." Pardon me if I appear obstreperous (a word I must have learned in linguistics science), but I find myself wondering whether there's been any progress within this branch of science over the last, oh, 10,000 years?

Author Sam Harris provides a decent definition in his little book Letter to a Christian Nation: "In the broadest sense, 'science' (from the Latin scire, to know) represents our best efforts to know what is true about our world." Harris goes on to say, "The core of science is not controlled experiment or mathematical modeling; it is intellectual honesty."

If military institutions were fully and intellectually honest, they might perform some self-evaluations. "Let's see, have we figured out yet how to resolve conflicts without killing and blowing everybody and everything up?" Military "science" has evolved its tools, since Paleolithic days, from rocks and clubs to stockpiles of doomsday weapons for E-Z genocide. And this science has identified two inviolable constants: 1. Every weapon conceived has eventually been built; and 2. Every weapon built has eventually been used.

Some progress. Some science.

Vip Short, Eugene

 

OVER THE TOP

I believe we have the incentive to recycle. Education has been very effective and innovation made it economically feasible. Much of America is still struggling with the process. Imposing a San Francisco type ordinance discussed by reporter Camilla Mortensen April 12 ("Eugene Lags in Bagging Plastic Bags") may get our attention but is way over the top. Purchasing plastic bags at point of purchase will set up an adversarial situation. It is better to offer bags ONLY when the customer asks for them and does not bring their own. There are a lot of models in Europe I dislike, but this one is standard there. We don't need more governmental regulation, just more information and education. How can we recycle and reuse these plastic buggers?

Donna Carter, Eugene

 

PLANT PARADOX

I appreciated Rachel Foster's piece about the Native Plants and Permaculture gathering May 11-13 at Lost Valley ("Natives vs. Non-Natives," 4/12). Because of what I believe must have been a copy-editing error, readers may have been left confused by a passage in the third paragraph. To clarify: It is the School Garden Project (not permaculture, as stated in the article) that encourages gardeners to avoid planting "invasive, non-native plants." The School Garden Project also advocates the use of permaculture. Yet, as SGP executive director Sharon Blick recognized, some permaculturalists promote the planting of non-native plants that the Native Plant Society warns against. The idea for this conference was born from that paradox and apparent conflict.

Behind both permaculture and the native plant movement lies a sincere desire to undo some of the ecological damage our civilization has done and to restore health to the ecosystems we inhabit. I believe people in each movement can both teach and learn from one another. Permaculturalists have developed innovative, relatively ecologically benign methods of feeding ourselves and meeting other basic needs, while native ecologists and restorationists have studied the dynamics of natural ecosystems extensively and are perhaps better positioned to help us distinguish true ecological threats from those non-native plants that may actually benefit a native ecosystem by contributing to a less damaging human presence. The Native Plants and Permaculture conference exists to bring together these groups for mutual education and hopefully to find a "third way" in which our pooled wisdom, knowledge and experience lead to new understandings and approaches. More articles and information about these topics can be found at www.lostvalley.org/nature2007may.

We hope to see many Eugeneans there!

Chris Roth, Dexter

 

DISSENT IS A DUTY

I would like to reply to Mr. Marty Wilde's letter, "Dissent is Dangerous," in the April 5 letters section. I would like to ask him if he would have said the same thing to the Germans who served in the military during WWII. I know for a fact that many Americans during the aftermath of that war were asking that very question, "Why didn't German soldiers question their superiors or orders that they were given?" The simple fact is that Americans were undisposed to making allowances for the same arguements that Mr. Wilde uses as logic for why soldiers must always obey orders.

I was a Marine during Vietnam, and I am also directly related to soldiers who served Germany during WWII. I know the difference between obeying wrongful and unconscionable governments that wage war for reasons that are nothing but sheer aggression. I love this country, and by that I mean the land and the ideals that we were all taught meant something. Many of those ideals seem to have been given short shrift by this country's leadership. It disappoints me to realize that I fought not for those ideals but for the ambitions of a small group of wealthy elitists. I doubt that the average German soldier could have defied his government any more than I could have and for all the same reasons, mostly fear of retribution. Had we made the decision to refuse an order, we could very well have wound up dead or gone to prison at the very least. Some of my forebears did in fact end up in concentration camps.

I admire Lt. Watada for having a mind of his own, something that was once considered an important asset to have as an American. I can only ask, "What happened to the rest of us?"

Fred Mannheim, Springfield

 

COMPETITION NEEDED

To all those who would like EW to drop "Savage Love": I'm not going to call you prudes or suggest you pull your heads out of certain places; my suggestion is a little more proactive. Look, what you need is a paper that doesn't run "Savage Love" but is edgier than The Register-Guard. Think about it: This area is large enough for two alternative papers, isn't it? Every place needs a paper doing risky investigative journalism, and there are other syndicated columns out there you could include besides "Savage Love."

Judging from the letters, there would be a readership for it. I would read it after reading Eugene (Savage Love) Weekly.

Wayne Wilson, Eugene

 

DIVESTING FROM WAR

It may not be common knowledge that with Senate Bill 1089, codified as the Oregon Human Rights and Anti-Genocide Act of 2005, our state divested its public funds from Sudan in acknowledgement of the genocide and humanitarian crisis taking place there, created and sustained by the government of Omar al Bashir, voted Parade magazine's "world's worst dictator." In a January 2007 annual report to the legislative assembly, it was reported that $38 million had been reduced to identified companies in the region since the act was instituted. Although I am proud that Oregon was one of the first of fewer than 10 states to divest, and the impact meaningful, it is not enough!

There is a current movement called Fidelity Out of Sudan. Fidelity Investments currently holds $1.2 billion in Petrochina, a Chinese oil company in the region. Given the fact that 70 to 80 percent of Sudan's oil revenues are used to purchase weapons of war, Americans with investments in Fidelity are inadvertently funding the war. Please check with your financial planners to see if your money is invested in Fidelity and consider moving it unless the investment company changes its poilcy. Call or email them to let them know of your concern. Divestment from Sudan is critical for applying sufficient economic pressure on the government to change their policies. The acceptance of United Nations Peacekeepers to protect civilians, access that al Bashir continues to deny, is crucial. Economic consequences may be our only hope in a country where 400,000 have already died and 2.5 million have been displaced.

The situation only worsens. Will you do what you can?

Marti Berger, Member, Lane County Darfur Coalition