To all people of conscience: It is time, now! to withdraw from paying the U.S. federal government the war taxes which it demands.
Taxation can and does serve useful, necessary purposes when it is taxation for life. But to pay war taxes to our current government is an immoral act. Our federal government is now more than $9 trillion in debt. Our country has become bankrupt as it pours money into devastating wars that kill and maim, that displace millions and leave entire countries destroyed; as it pours even more money into building nuclear and other weapons that can easily destroy the world in a few moments.
There can be no security that grows out of hatred and poverty, whether in some far country or right here at home. Our own security can only grow out of security around the world — the security of communities that care, of people who are able to live with dignity, the security of a renewed, living planet.
When policies and actions of a government become immoral, it becomes immoral to support them. Some among us live below a taxable income and find other ways within the law to withhold payments for war and devastation. But when taxes are "owed," we must turn within ourselves and evaluate our responses.
There are laws that are higher than those created by a government, laws of conscience and morality that we are called to obey. We are all complicit in the creating of the corrupt, immoral policies that presently rule our government and create suffering and destruction around the world. It is urgent that we seek courage to respond from a place of love. It is urgent that we seek courage to act according to our higher values. It is urgent that we seek within ourselves for a combined heart, opening to individual and national repentance and to a new kind of energy, new life on this planet.
Peg Morton, Eugene
I pay my bills. Sometimes a little late. As a result of this, I pay late fees, over-limit fees and interest. When it comes to my power bill, it gets paid. It is always late because it is due upon receipt.
Unfortunately, the bill comes between pay periods. Yes, I know, plan ahead. But with three children and a house, things come up. Try on an $800 dental bill for your 8-year-old son. Price of dental insurance prohibits my purchase of said insurance; we all know that one. Anyway, EWEB says that if you do not pay your bill on time for a set period of time, they throw a $600 deposit on your account. That makes my bill next month about $1,000. Come on. I find my $300 bill hard to swallow. One thousand dollars?! That's crazy.
Furthermore, I was told that if I don't pay the full amount, as they add it to the bill amount, they will shut me off.
So what do I do? I haven't signed a contract. I didn't sign an agreement to have a deposit attached to me as a result of late payment. Don't get me wrong or misunderstand: I do pay my bill to this corporation. It's just late, not even 30 days late. So, if I pay this deposit, they will take my bill amount out of my deposit. After two months, my deposit will be gone and I will have paid my bill four times for two months. I don't feel like a customer anymore. I guess policy requires me to pay, question, but pay no matter what. I'm not asking for my bill to go away or to not have to pay.
Of course, bending the rules for one person would mean that a policy might change for everyone, but is that such a bad thing? I'm sure that I'm not the only person with a family who has this problem. Maybe the answer is for all the undesirable people who work hard and don't pay this bill on time to leave the city and patronize some other utility.
Andrew Mendoza, Eugene
It is a sad day when an arts organization closes in Eugene. And it is particularly sad when it is a theater company that has produced many quality productions, providing employment to artists and exceptional entertainment to audiences. We offer our condolences and best wishes to the founders and supporters of the Willamette Repertory Theatre.
Craig Willis, artistic director, Donald, van Houten, board president, Lord Leebrick Theatre Company
I hear many voicing concerns about the health of our environment these days. That is a first step, acknowledging that we have a serious problem! Considering the signs in front of us — fishery depletion, habitat destruction, species extinction, melting glaciers and global warming — it seems to me that there should be more alarms going off. The question I have is, what are we willing to give up in our life? Maybe a better way to put this is, what changes in our lives are we ready to make? I ask this for the sake of the Earth, our grandkids and not just for humankind's sake, but for all the Earth's creatures and plants.
I understand the scale of these problems is quite daunting and seems overwhelming. But I also believe that every bit we do does help. It empowers us and also sets a joyful example of change for those around us. I think change from the ground up is our only hope. The corporate and governmental powers are stuck in old paradigms of endless economic growth, which they call progress, and base their decisions upon our so-called economic interests. I believe this has proven itself to be quite destructive, violent and surely unsustainable.
Again, I truly wonder, are we seriously willing to make changes to lighten our footprint upon our precious Earth? As difficult as change is, I fear the other choices are continuing natural disasters and collapse. And to those awaiting a technological reprieve, I quote Albert Einstein: "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the level of thinking that created the problems."
Tim Boyden, Eugene
Recently I attended a candidates' forum at a Democratic Party of Lane County meeting. The candidates running for Lane County commissioner from north Eugene were part of the forum. Although there are four candidates, this election will primarily be about two men who have a totally different perspective on what public service entails and to whom one should be responsive.
Running against an incumbent has its inherent problems. Current Commissioner Bobby Green touts his years of experience. My question is how that experience has been and is being put to use. Look to his contributors and look to his voting record. The voters in west Lane County got rid of former Commissioner Anna Morrison with many of the same contributors and much the same voting record. As with any new job, there is a learning curve. However, Rob Handy is well versed on the issues and the nuts and bolts of the job will soon be the tools of his trade.
Anyone can be responsive to his or her constituency. The other night a woman in the audience addressed her frustration with Commissioner Green's unresponsiveness. I, too, have appeared before the County Commissioners to make public comment and have found him to be very inattentive. I know the public is not nearly as exciting as the junkets he takes, but, gee, give the public a chance. Handy listens and will act on behalf of all of us.
Mona Linstromberg, Veneta
I've decided I'm going to vote for Kitty Piercy in the upcoming mayoral election because her yard signs are a really nice shade of blue.
Steve Downey, Eugene
Ever notice how much politics can resemble an abusive relationship?
Take, for instance, ex-Mayor Jim Torrey's pathetic attempt to "get back together" with the city of Eugene — after dumping her years ago for a chance at "something better" in the field of politics.
Does Torrey really believe Eugene smokes so much pot that she's forgotten the years of abuse suffered under his rough handling, including:
• Reckless gambling: in the form of tens of millions of dollars of Eugene's hard-earned money, thrown away as tax breaks to polluting corporations like Hynix/Hyundai.
• Physical violence: Torrey oversaw (literally, sitting in his car!) the police assault of peaceful protestors protecting some of Eugene's last big trees, an act Amnesty International condemned as "torture."
• Sexual abuse: By fighting police accountability measures, Torrey chose to look the other way while EPD cops raped and sexually assaulted over a dozen women.
After being rejected for the Senate seat he'd been lusting after, it seems to have finally dawned on Torrey that Eugene is "as good as he's gonna get." Now let's watch him spend ungodly amounts of money (from anti-environment and Republican donors) to try to seduce Eugene all over again — as if she were some desperate trollop!
Torrey's also talking smack about his rival Mayor Piercy by attacking, of all things, such worthwhile endeavors as the current attempts to protect Amazon Headwaters forest.
Please, Eugene, if only for your own sense of self-worth, keep two-timing Torrey from crawling back into your life. Break the cycle of abuse!
Josh Schlossberg, Eugene
ADVICE FOR TORREY
I have some advice for Jim Torrey. If there is one service that the League of Women Voters knows how to perform better than any other organization, it is running a candidate forum or debate. They have been spreading democracy by informing citizens in this country for many years on how to think before they vote, pro and con, and why it is important to vote. I can't imagine suggesting to them how to change this non-partisan service to our community.
What amazes me about the League is their decision-making process and how studies are performed before they give support to issues, never to candidates. Women of very different backgrounds and different political parties from all over the country study and then reach consensus on local, state and national issues.
Instead of opposing the League and the City Club process I would like to suggest that Torrey and all those running for office participate in at least one LWV study and also join the City Club. Who knows, he might be a changed man, and I might vote for him 10 years in the future.
Ruth Duemler, Eugene
A TAXING DAY
April 15 is Tax Day. For taxpayers it is a push to file and write checks for amounts due. It is the mother of deadlines for the IRS and signals the arrival of scads of envelopes and dollars.
For those troubled by the Iraq occupation and our nation's spending binges for so-called defense, Tax Day might involve neither rushing nor expectation, only anxiety. How can I wish or work for peace and pay for war? Sure, the war is being funded by deficits, and certainly the IRS, a consummate collection agency, will eventually levy or garnish any unpaid taxes.
April 15 is a moment when taxpayers can draw a line in the sand: I am withholding all or part of my taxes due because I cannot stomach this war, its tortures, civilian casualties, fraud and the loss and maiming of our military personnel. To pay willingly, thoughtlessly, would make me sick.
Tax awareness events can help us rethink taxes during a time of war and militarism. At 11 am April 12, WAND sponsors a march to better use tax dollars, followed by a rally at the Morse Free Speech Plaza. On April 15, other peace groups, including Taxes for Peace Not War, will table at the Willamette Street Post Office, 11 am to 5 pm, to poll about better uses of tax monies, to celebrate more than $4,000 in taxes redirected to local service groups and to explain how to resist war taxation.
I hope to talk to you at these events!
Erik Muller, Eugene
Try to imagine speedboats racing up and down the Willamette at 110 mph during the Memorial Day weekend. Picture the banks of the river washing into the water, filling it with silt. Picture birds and small mammals which depend on the river as their habitat, whose nests and resting places line the river from its source to its meeting with the Columbia. How do they cope with this outrageous intrusion into their lives?
Our river was never meant for this. It is the most extensive ecosystem in Oregon. We, its resident neighbors, are responsible for maintaining its integrity. Take up your phones and pens, meet with neighbors and local politicians. Look at the list of sponsors, call them. Tell them what you think.
Organizers claim "a portion of the proceeds are "for students of search and rescue." Truly a transparent subterfuge for an environmentally destructive event. For a shock visit this site: www.rivergonewild.org
Jerry Rooney, Corvallis
I am about one inch away from quitting the Democratic Party. Here's why:
• For being punitive and stupid in nullifying the primary results of two states. For being elite bullies that are trying to force out the only woman in the history of our country who has been strong enough to get this close to becoming president. This is the 44th American presidential election in our history. So far, it is 43 men to 0 women presidents. Zero women! The party's elite and rough tactics to push out Hillary Clinton are shameful. She should have a fair chance to win or to lose. Nothing else is democratic.
• It isn't the race itself that is turning people off as much as it is the Dem elite that keep trying to make her quit and just hand over her half of the party to Obama. Why should she do that? She has a right to run, and is carrying millions and millions of us with her! She won all the big states, the states with the big electoral numbers! Remember those things?
• Finally, if Obama wins the nomination but fails to win the general election, the elite Dems are already building the case that it will be Clinton's fault. Oh really?
Don't worry — if Hillary Clinton is not in the general election, I do not have to vote for the old worn-out soldier. But I don't have to be a Democrat either.
Deb Huntley, Eugene
I lived on the Carquinez Strait in California where powerboat races were an annual event, louder than you can imagine and VERY exciting.
To have a bunch of 40-ft., 400-HP boats racing on the Willamette River makes no sense. Compared to the huge open water channel of the Carquinez Strait, the Willamette is narrow and shallow. Forget it.
Dennis Galloway, Eugene
OBAMA AND PIERCY
What an amazing and groundbreaking speech Barack Obama gave in Philadelphia last month. It's so wonderful, after these barren Bush years, to be spoken to as an intelligent partner by a political leader, and people have responded positively here in Oregon. Obama, an educated, experienced and emotionally mature man, understands America far beyond the ridiculous media sound bites we are force-fed; he understands us as relational beings who require connection, understanding and the call to become engaged. His vision of America is of all of us working together, sharing our nuanced gifts and viewpoints to truly perfect the union, which is a never-ending process.
I see a powerful connection from Obama to the work of our Mayor Kitty Piercy. They are very much alike in their views of how one leads, how one engages the political process and how one audaciously hopes and works for positive and progressive outcomes. Piercy is a warmly inclusive and encouraging leader who is continuously optimistic and upbeat about Eugene and all its people, and her many accomplishments reflect these qualities. In fact, I'd say that Piercy is creating in Eugene in microcosm what Obama would like to create within the U.S.
So, since Jim Torrey has supposedly endorsed Obama and apparently wants to be him, as Torrey's abject copying of Obama's slogan indicates, Torrey should join the mayoral campaign that is already realizing his dream — Kitty Piercy's.
Dianne Lobes, Eugene
An open letter to Larry Giustina, president of Giustina Land & Timber Co.:
I am writing on behalf of the Oregon Toxics Alliance, a statewide organization with many members who live in the vicinity of Fox Hollow Road, Le Bleu Road and Hamm Road. There is great community concern about Giustina's plan to spray over 300 areas with Atrazine 4L, an EPA Restricted Pesticide. We ask you to reverse your decision to use (especially to aerially apply) Atrazine 4L on the forestlands just south of the Eugene city limits and in a rural residential setting. In light of the extreme environmental risks posed by this pesticide, there is no justification for spraying Atrazine 4L over this acreage.
The use of Atrazine 4L poses significant risks of groundwater contamination and related harm to human beings and wildlife. As you must be aware, Atrazine 4L is a Restricted Use Pesticide "due to ground and surface water concerns." Since Atrazine is a highly mobile and highly persistent pesticide, its use poses particular risks in the proposed area at this time of year for numerous reasons.
• The acreage where the aerial and ground applications are proposed is near residential areas, where adults, children and pets live and recreate.
• This area of Lane County has slopes of up to 35 percent and seasonal streams, where rain and runoff can travel to community waterways and groundwater sources.
• In these final months of spring, rain continues to fall on saturated soils, and runoff can be expected to continue.
• EPA has classified Atrazine as a Class C carcinogen (possibly human carcinogen).
• Aerial spray applications are at risk of off-target drift movement.
It is foreseeable that, under these conditions, contamination of neighboring properties and/or groundwater could result from your application of Atrazine 4L in this vicinity.
The fears and concerns of your neighbors and the community at large are justified. In regards to human health hazards, research about Atrazine's powerful effects on the hormone system reveals disturbing discoveries. Research published by independent teams of scientists shows that Atrazine causes frogs to develop both male and female genitalia in a single animal.
We question why a Restricted Use Pesticide like Atrazine 4L is being usedfor this particular application in Lane County, just south of the Eugene city limits. The potential for harm is too great. For reasons stated above, we strongly urge you not to use Atrazine, not to spray aerially and to use manual labor to clear your timber of unwanted grasses.
Lisa Arkin, Executive Director, Oregon Toxics Alliance
EDITOR'S NOTE: As of April 4, OTA has not received a response from Giustina.
I always thought race relations in this country would have become normal when you could criticize a person of any race without race motivating either the criticism or the defense. On those criteria, we have a long way to go. We seemed to have reached a place where it was OK to criticize people irrespective of race, but the firestorm of accusations of racism from the pro-Obama forces has put a stop to that. If we aren't supporting Obama, we aren't allowed to criticize him, or any of his supporters, or his supporters' policies.
Steve Novick says that Jeff Merkley is a racist because Merkley criticized Novick's health care proposal. Novick claims his proposal is "just like Obama's" so therefore Merkley is a racist for criticizing it. Next we will hear that we are racists if we criticize ex-mayor, new-mayor candidate Torrey because he's an Obama supporter, so that makes him God. I mean, it makes him immune to criticism.
Pastors are preaching about race according to Obama, but Obama is pushing a bunch of lies. To wit: 1) Old people are angry but young people are not. That's why young people and Obama are blaming old people for everything. 2) When you are angry, it is proper to damn people to hell. Martin Luther King Jr. never damned anybody, Malcolm X never damned anybody, as far as I know, neither Huey Newton nor Eldridge Cleaver ever damned anybody, but now we are supposed to damn all the people we think are bad. Boy, that sure improves race relations, doesn't it?
All these little punks who don't even remember when the Iraq War started are now going around pointing fingers at the tens of thousands of people who tried to stop it. Children who think Sept. 11 is a rock band are pointing fingers at people who have been excluded from flying in airplanes because the government has accused them of terrorism after they tried to speak out. Now the self-righteous infants are blaming the accused for screwing up the country. They are accusing Hillary Clinton of causing all the problems that were caused by George Bush and the Republicans and saying it's time to elect someone who isn't at fault, the Teflon savior, Obama. Obama doesn't do anything, therefore he remains holy and perfect.
Yes, I'm angry and I haven't even started on health care or veterans' benefits. I'm going to go right out and tell Jim Torrey to go to hell. And then, for good measure, I'll boot him clear off the edge of the Earth, or at least into the trench out past Florence. Because if we geezers over 50 don't back up our words with actions, we will never get anywhere.
Ann Tattersall, Eugene
DON'T PASS THEM BY
When you see stray or injured cats or dogs on the street, please don't pass them by — they need your help! Be prepared for animal emergencies by keeping a road-rescue kit in your car.
The kit should include dog biscuits and pull-tab cans of cat and dog food (to coax the animal to you); a long rope or leash that can be looped into a collar to capture dogs and cats; a bandage for a muzzle (injured animals may try to bite out of fright or pain); a collapsible cardboard cat carrier (for cats, squirrels, turtles, and other small animals); a blanket or towel, and a list of emergency phone numbers of veterinarians, humane societies, animal shelters, and wildlife rehabilitators.
If you are unable to capture the animal, take down the exact location (including the street and cross street and any nearby landmarks) and a description of the animal ,and call animal control as soon as possible.
Prepare your kit today. You may need it tomorrow. For more information, visit www.HelpingAnimals.com.
Christine Martin, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Norfolk, Va.
A huge thank you to the hundreds of people who came to the First Friday Art Walk April 4 at the WOW Hall to see "Unheard Voices/Unseen Lives: A Path to Empowerment," a premiere showing of artwork by street youth in Eugene/Springfield. You were part of an amazing and monumental event in the lives of these young, marginalized artists. I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped support this event in so many ways.
For those of you who missed the opening, the show is up in the WOW Hall Lobby Gallery through the month of April. Open hours are Monday through Friday noon to 6.
Karen Olch, Youth Arts Advocate, New Roads/ Hosea Youth Services