NOTHING TO CELEBRATE
Why all the celebration for the passing of the Oregon civil unions bill? My partner of 22 years has worked for FedEx for 23 years, and when we get our civil union, I will not be covered by my partner's medical insurance because her employer only provides it to married couples. Neither will I be able to collect her Social Security benefits should she die, nor qualify for hundreds of federal regulations that cover married folks but not civil union folks.
Equality? Equal rights? Who do you think you're kidding?
Julia Wooten, Eugene
I will admit I had mixed feelings about the proposal to have Beam and KWG both chosen to breathe new life into our dead downtown core. Then I read that David Monk, Paul Nicholson and Mary O'Brien are all opposed to the union. That settled it for me. I am now fully behind the Beam/KWG partnership.
As for the silly threat of an initiative, I say go for it. Such a vote would put to rest the ridiculous notion that these three represent the majority of opinion in Eugene. The people of Eugene want the downtown to be transformed into a vital mix of stores and places to live. We are tired of no-growth groups killing opportunities by processing them to death. Your tactics are transparent to us now. We know that "public process" really means talk, talk, talk until the developers go away.
And finally, let's drop the myopic view that anything from outside of Eugene is no good. There is a reason why some national stores are so successful. People like to shop at them. I know — it's a mindblower.
And is anyone else noticing that Springfield has become the vital southern Willamette Valley community? First our hospital, then Symantec and other businesses and now they have the major Cinco de Mayo celebration with thousands of participants. They are even kicking our butts on diversity! Wait till they transform Glenwood. If our downtown isn't fixed by then, it will be too late.
I have worked downtown for 25 years. It has been going downhill the entire time. Our core city center is an eyesore and an embarrassment. It's time to stop talking. Hanging flower baskets, pretty sculptures and a hodge-podge of nonprofits aren't enough. We need viable businesses that people will actually shop at — and we need them soon.
Randy Kolb, Eugene
TAX ON HEADS
For your information, Faye Stewart's initial public safety tax proposal of "$150 per person in the county" is not a flat tax, as Alan Pittman mischaracterizes it (cover story, 5/10). It is a head tax, also known as a poll tax. In a head tax, the percentage paid is inversely proportional to income because it is a fixed sum of money. That means that the less income you have, the higher percentage of it you pay in tax.
With a flat tax, as was actually on the ballot, the percentage is irrespective of income. With a progressive tax, like the federal or Oregon income tax, the less income you have, the lower percentage you pay. Faye Stewart's instinctive proposal of a head tax, which he peculiarly considered "more fair," is the worst of these possibilities in its impact on the folks who can least afford to pay taxes. It could only be worse by requiring people with lower incomes to pay a larger absolute amount than the wealthy, for instance, $150 for me and $50 for the blissfully ignorant Mr. Stewart.
It is unfortunate that Faye Stewart is in a position to create public policy, given his bent. One might also wish for greater precision in reporting public policy issues.
Larry Koenigsberg, Eugene
MENSTRUATE FOR PEACE!
There is no denying the power of that celestial body that orbits nearest our planet. The moon controls the seas that cover three-quarters of our planet's surface and is a delicate but very real influence on the water that makes up over three-quarters of our bodies. As women, or more appropriately we-moon, we enjoy a deep bond with the moon. At no time is this bond stronger than during our own celestial cycle. It is at this time, then, that we as we-moon should pray, hope and dream for peace, so that the power of that beautiful celestial body may influence the hearts and minds of those responsible for this pointless and inhuman war.
Janet Torres, Eugene
Well, EWEB is back in the news again, unveiling its plan to spend $150,000 of ratepayers' money to come up with a new slogan. In a time when Lane County is struggling to get the funding to keep its basic services running, does it sound right to you, Eugeneans? I'm sure that EWEB would say such money is peanuts compared to the $600 million overall budget. But $150,000 here and $150,000 there can add up really quickly. This is ratepayer money! Is such a thing really vital to the operation? Apparently the "Rely On Us" logo was developed by just one department, and that does not set well with the other departments. It took approximately one year with seven EWEB employees meeting on a regular basis to develop "Rely On Us." But that just won't do. I wonder how much the development of the current slogan cost us?
Last year's strike could have been avoided if EWEB would have spent very little more than $150,000 to give its employees a better benefit health plan. The final cost to the ratepayer of EWEB for lost production and security guards and who knows what totaled $200,000. It seems that EWEB has lost sight of its main purpose, which is to provide EWEB customers good service at the lowest possible rate.
When EWEB headquarters were still at Willamette Street, its rates were lower than anyone else in the area. Now its electric rates are almost double compared to the Springfield Utility Board, just across the river. If we take a closer look, I think the people of Eugene would be surprised. EWEB needs to refocus on doing what they are paid to do and forget about publicity-seeking programs. Please, just provide us with good service and good rates!
Sang Huynh, Eugene
A MODEST PROPOSAL
Two weeks ago the UO student government rejected a modest proposal to address looming ecological collapse brought on by global warming.
In their great wisdom the student government decided with excess student funds that it is more important to expend $100,000 on a game center, $300,000 on a new affluent "multicultural" meeting room, $100,000 on installing plusher seats in the Miller Theatre and $100,000 on the newest video projectors rather than saving the biosphere and cultures all over the world from ecological catastrophe.
Where were the university's many so-called sustainability groups on lobbying these bright minds of the ASUO Senate? Were they unaware of this modest proposal to expend between $100,000 and $850,000 dollars of surplus student funds towards an array of solar panels or 10,000 compact fluorescent lights or to install solar water heating systems?
The UO could have been seen as a university on the forefront of the global warming emergency, perhaps like no other in the U.S. Now, the UO and Eugene will be seen as just another typical community stuck in the old paradigm.
We need to realize that most of the world's peoples who are slaves to our consumer gluttony will be the ones who suffer the most from our lack of enacting real solutions to global warming. It's time to act as if global heating is an emergency for us all and to lobby elected officials great and small to do what is right for our biosphere.
Shannon Wilson, Eugene
INVITATION TO ABUSE
I take issue with the outdoor article "The Seven Natural Wonders of Lane County" (5/3). The author's list of some remote natural (think fragile) areas in the forests of Lane County appears to be enlisting the public to trample freely into these unique areas without a whisper of concern for the damages that will inevitably occur. I implore the natural resources staff of our national forests to restrict access to such areas by closing and ripping out roads that lead to such areas.
Little does the author realize that many of these unique habitats are home to some rare and endangered flora and fauna that are literally clinging to life's edge due to human encroachment, fire suppression, road building and the associated logging practices. Your rock-climbing and cliff-hanging trash sensitive areas and leave behind scars. A good-hearted novice with all the right intentions will not realize the impact on the flora and especially fauna that they so eagerly desire to have a meaningful experience with. We will simply love it to death!
I speak from experience due to the many years that I conducted various wildlife and botanical surveys for several national forests. I am sworn to secrecy about the many rare sights.
Some research into the subject of off-trail blazing would reveal that the many seasoned biologists who work on the national forests are protective of the knowledge they have of such places, such as the so-called "Hell Hole." Please, next time visit your USFS office and inquire about such endeavors from our public employees (especially biologists), who work very hard to maintain that fragile connection of public trust.
Thomas William Baxter, Dexter
TREAT YOUTH BETTER
Recently, during what was supposed to be a relaxing lunch at the Hilyard Allann Brothers Beanery, I overheard a local man complaining loudly and extensively about middle school kids who come into the establishment for lunch or a drink.
To the casual observer, one could see that the students who come in are generally well-behaved and are valid customers to the coffeeshop.
The problem lies in the adult who devalues children so much that they are not seen as a vital part of our community and the future of our society. I believe that the intolerance of the adult to welcome the youth into the marketplace is a sign of poor judgment and an inability to recognize children as a critical part of the whole kaleidoscope of people that make up our community.
As adult citizens and human beings, I believe it's our duty to set a positive example for our youth. Let's take responsibility for ourselves and for them. Let's give kids a chance to interact, grow and contribute to our economy and our community. It will make our city richer beyond measure.
Erika McGuire, Eugene
HARD ON KITTIES
In your April 26 issue, you claim that Eugene Weekly is "animal cruelty free." That's not true. When I use it to line my cats' litter box (the only purpose it really serves), it often chafes their a-holes.
EDITOR'S NOTE: In this case we recommend using the back page sex column or our music section. We've heard that Savage music soothes the beast.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
The commentary in the April 12 issue titled "She Sails the Willamette" touches on the economic issues surrounding the structure, while slanting the article towards the author's, an architect's, viewpoint. I find this troubling that an architect is attempting to influence public opinion on a civil structure.
The ideas presented in the article have implications beyond the cost of the structure which are not addressed as well as leaving out the river and park improvements which could be addressed using the "leftover" budget, which will have lasting effects for the people who actually live in Eugene and are not simply traveling through at 65 mph, which accounts for approximately 9 seconds of travel time to cross the Willamette.
Another consideration which isn't presented to the general public: Who would build such an elaborate structure? Is the citizen advisory group aware of the local industry of bridge builders? Has any architect pointed out that none of the Oregon-based companies are capable of constructing the cable-stayed bridge?
As a project manager for a bridge contractor whose office is in Clackamas, I would assert a need to have local contractors compete for the project along with the slew of out-of-state as well as out-of-country contractors lured to such a large contract. This competition can only be achieved by offering designs which are consistent with local contractors' capabilities or by offering the project delivery as a design build contract. The design build method allows contractors and designers to work together to accomplish a design which is constructible. This option would allow outside contractors and designers to compete with local contractors and designers to deliver several options on design and price.
Tim Hutton, Eugene
TAX THE NEW
No matter how much time passes, apathetic voters continue to elect paternalistic bubbas to make our decisions for us instead of representing the majority of us. Think Gordon Smith and the three Lane County commissioners — who vote their personal choices instead of listening to the majority of their constituents. Since Lane County continues to spend without funding (new buildings, raises for 200 managers, providing pensions instead of 401Ks, etc.), we the voters have to be the creative problem solvers. I suggest an exempting sales tax. The exemptions would include all food, nonalcoholic beverages, medicines, medical services and supplies, home and auto fuel, used goods from retail stores and used autos, trucks and farm equipment. The people with the least money will pay the least taxes. The taxes will allow the county to fund its extravagances and safety from people (including government pensioners) who have money to buy "new" instead of recycling.
Diana Brown, Cottage Grove
CHANGE IN THINKING
Bravo to Camilla Mortensen for an excellent, well written, coherent cover story, "The Road to No Kill" (4/26). However, what she didn't mention is one very important piece of the puzzle: The paradigm change that's needed to make No Kill work. We can have the biggest, best organized animal control in the world, but unless the people that are running it are willing to change the way they think about animals, it won't work.
Mike Wellington said "We wouldn't be in this profession if our goal was just to kill animals," but if you kill animals long enough you become inured to the insanity and suffering of killing. In fact you have to, to continue the killing. Just like soldiers who must kill the next person coming over the hill, animal control workers must believe that they are doing what is right and necessary in order to continue killing the animals. So when someone comes along and tells them they don't have to kill anymore, it doesn't compute. They can't let it be true. Because if it is true that they don't have to kill the animals, then they are doing something wrong and horrible. So to keep their sanity, they cannot believe that there is a solution to killing animals.
It is a very sad and uncomfortable issue to face, but it is true. Hopefully our shelter workers can come to grips with the facts. Before now they have had to kill animals, but someone has come up with a solution to that, and now they don't have to kill animals anymore.
Molly Sargent, Pleasant Hill
I must respond to falsehoods in letters by Nunn (5/3) and Robertson (4/19) about the volunteers fighting the imposition of an income tax in Lane County without a vote by the people. Charges that the leaders are partisan are untrue. These people have no experience in politics and are not active within the Republican Party. I know for a fact that when their campaign started that the Republican Party offered them assistance. However, Ben Pooler refused any help as he did not want a partisan campaign.
The tiny $2,000 that the non-partisan Taxpayers Association of Oregon has contributed to the anti-tax effort is nothing compared to the huge corporate and government funds that have been spent the past year to brainwash the public into supporting the tax. The current pro tax committee has so far raised over triple the amount of money that the We Said No group has, with most being large corporate donations.
Last year, DA Doug Harcleroad raised over $100,000 to promote the $20 million income tax that was defeated. Lane County also spent $250,000 last year advertising county services to promote the tax, in blatant violation of the law. And they are spending another $40,000 on this again for the current more expensive $32 million income tax Measure 20-129.
Should corporations and career politicians rule our xcounty, or the people themselves? We need to thank We Said No for allowing us to be able to vote this month on this tax.
Lance Jacobs, Springfield
I believe it is fair to say that tens of thousands of residents in the Willamette Valley are outraged and disgusted by House Agricultural Committee chair Rep. Arnie Roblan's sabotage of Rep. Paul Holvey's bill to ban field burning by not releasing it from committee.
His actions are an insult and abuse of the democratic process. In essence, the entire Willamette Valley's airshed is turned into a dumping ground for 150 grass seed farmers, and the multitude is just supposed to accept decade after decade choking in their smoke. Aside from the diminished quality of life for two months of every year, the health effects are often severe and, in the case of some individuals, life threatening.
Several major health organizations have weighed in supporting the ban, including the Oregon Medical Association. Also of note, Idaho and Washington state's grass seed industries are thriving after initiating field burning bans in the 1990s.
There is no excuse for Roblan. Does he think he is serving his rural constituents' needs when for every grass seed farmer, there are 1,000 rural neighbors hacking away in smoke plumes? At a time when other Democrats are straightening their backs after taking the majority in the house, Roblan has taken the coward's path of appeasing a powerful elite because he fears their retribution in the next election cycle. If he doesn't have the guts to stand up for profound health concerns of thousands of Oregonians, he should get the hell out of the way and let someone take his place who will.
Hopefully a field-burning state initiative will soon be presented to Oregon voters. In the meantime we need to remind Roblan, phone (503) 986-1409, whose interests he is supposed to serve.
Gerry Rempel, Eugene
The comparison between radical environmental/animal rights activists and the KKK and white supremacist extremists made by prosecutors in the "Operation Backfire" case is appalling and stupid (Slant, 5/17). The fact that ELF/ALF are considered the nation's top domestic terrorist threats when they have never injured a single person is just one more example of how the government has its priorities wrong. Resources have been diverted away from investigating right-wing terrorists, al-Qaeda and corporate criminals — all who have the blood of innocents on their hands — and instead used to go after misguided idealists who destroy the property of companies that are poisoning and destroying the natural environment we all depend on for our survival.
When Jeff "Free" Luers was sentenced to 22+ years in prison for burning three SUVs, the message I got was that local authorities are more concerned with activists destroying property than criminals harming people. Why else would they give somebody a prison sentence longer than most rapists, child molesters and other violent offenders? Similarly, by pursuing ELF/ALF instead of real terrorists, the government demonstrates it's more concerned about protecting corporate property than human lives. This is hypocrisy and insanity. How long will we allow this nonsense to continue?
Ronnie Lee, Eugene
In the wake of another American tragedy (Virginia Tech) born of the confluent national crises in mental health care, violence in the media and a fast-food gun supply system (among others), I noticed something. As this vast wake rippled over us, I noticed how hard it is for someone doing a simple, decent, kind-hearted kind of thing to get the same amount of press.
How unfair that the world is too big to take note of kindness instead of violence, I thought. It seems there are too many of us and we are too busy going about our lives working, shopping, driving, blogging.
But then, on the other hand, I realized, it's good there are so many of us busy doing the same kinds of things: reading the paper, planting our gardens, cooking food, wiping tears, going to work and to sleep (perchance to dream, eh?). Nobody reads about us in our simple, busy lives, and right now that seems just fine. Press like Blacksburg gives anonymity a good name.
That's us: the great, anonymous, American public numbering in the millions. We go about our busy lives and are presented daily with the chance to do another decent, kind-hearted sort of thing that never ends up in the paper. Let's find the time to do it. It won't end up on the front page but might end up touching someone's heart. I bet that's a ripple we'd all like to be a part of, with or without the press.
Kara Steffensen, Eugene
"Cut your nose just to spite your face." Eugene is so good at this coined phrase due to its behind closed doors voting tactics. Taverns and bars are closing their doors due to the constant harassment by NON-smoking people who think that these losses will only be a drop in the bucket as far as much needed funds for programs. Sadly, while tuition for colleges is rising, so is the cost of living and gas. Maybe the City Council should have considered what funds they would lose before they decide to ban smoking in taverns.
I say, if you want to find compromise in this debate about where to regain funds lost, you should probably get the funds from the NONsmoking taxpayers. In all fairness, when a city or town separates people with imposed bans, those who decided to make Eugene an almost tavern-free town should pay for those funds lost due to its decisions.
Smokers have been paying for their addiction to nicotine by being charged a sin tax, not to mention the decks that taverns and bars had to build which raised the food and drink prices. It's only fair that the people who helped Eugene cut off its nose to spite its face should be the ones to pay. Nonsmokers do not realize how hard it is to be a bartender or an owner of these establishments in Eugene when most of your patrons smoke, but if you did you would realize that being fit, healthy and good looking doesn't pay the bills.
So, to all who are against smoking in taverns and bars and like to kick smokers to the curb, I say put your money where your mouth is and restore funds lost. It was your enthusiasm that got these businesses and employees into financial debt, so how about putting up some money for what revenue has been lost. After all, if the town favors you nonsmokers over smokers, than you should pay out of gratitude, or you should have at the very least had a backup plan, don't you think?
And just so you know, I'd quit smoking if a pack of patches were the same price as a pack of smokes, but they aren't and will probably never be. I may not be fit and healthy, but hot damn I'm happy to be alive because above all else I am loved. This is how to truly live, don't you think?
Tracy L. Mahoney, Eugene
DOGS VS. DEER
About two weeks ago, my dog got out of the house after someone left the front door open. When I realized what had happened, I immediately went looking for my dog, but she was nowhere to be found. I live in an area with a lot of deer. Apparently, my dog saw a deer and went after it. Animal patrol picked up my dog in the midst of chasing a deer. When I went to the pound, I was overjoyed to find my dog there safe and sound. The people who worked at the pound told me that the next time they catch her chasing a deer, she would have to be killed.
I value all life, and I am not writing this to say a dog's life is more valuable than a deer's. Yet personally, I have never known an instance where the dog is able to catch a deer and actually kill it, although I'm not denying that this is a possibility. I was very shocked to hear that if a dog is caught chasing a deer twice, the dog is executed. Eugene has an abundance of deer, and accidents, such as a dog getting out of an open door, do happen.
I do have plans to get specific training on this issue in the hopes that it will not ever happen again. (God forbid!) Despite the obvious dangers to both the dog and the deer, if a chase does occur, I feel this policy puts a deer's life first and is terribly unfair to the dog and owner. Mistakes do happen, but taking the life of someone's best friend is an overreaction to an instinctual response on the part of animal who, despite being a domestic pet, still has a wild side.
I write this letter in protest of this inhumane policy as well as a warning to all dog owners that this could happen to anyone.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Any deer vs. dog stories out there?
I refuse to own a car. I ride a bike and public transportation, having the same vision as Planet Glassberg "Ecological Eugene" (5/10). I am serious about ending war and slowing global warming. I want to help put the petroleum industry out of business, not only through my lifestyle, but also by advocating biofuels, alternative transportation and energy (minus liquid coal and carbon-free nuclear energy). The Montgomery bus boycott worked; why not extend the gas station boycott way beyond May 15 and blockade them?
I have seen the pain from parents of children who are incarcerated for unjust lengths of time due to property damage, and I disagree that property damage is an effective tactic that inspires activists to join in. My friends are getting out the right information and exposing misleading information concerning sustainable energy. If anyone finds that property damage produces the same old recurring results, call me and we'll talk.
Ceila (Starshine) Levine, Eugene