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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 6.12.08




COP Free Speech

With 27 years as a union representative (AFSCME and Teamsters) and as an acquaintance of City Councilor Bonny Bettman who usually agrees with her, I have to object strongly to Slant’s call (5/29) for “reining in” the Eugene Police Employees Association for posting a “disturbing caricature” of her, and its call to illegally “fire the responsible officers and discipline anyone in the chain of command who knew about it and said nothing.” 

I would expect an alternative newspaper to strongly defend the First Amendment right to free speech — even if you find it offensive. But you didn’t. 

A union certainly has the right to express its views, no matter how misguided and offensive they may be. If the represented employees disagree (as may likely be the case), they have the democratic right to replace their leaders at the next union election. 

State labor law rightly protects union activists from retaliation for union activities, including exercising their right to free speech in criticizing public officials. If city officials disciplined union leaders for what they posted on their website, they would violate the law. 

While I don’t agree with the ideas and attitudes expressed on the EPEA website with respect to Councilor Bettman, I have to defend their right to take their positions. 

By the way, if the Weekly found the caricature of Councilor Bettman so “disturbing,” why did you reprint it in your paper? 

Stefan Ostrach, Eugene



TASERING TRUTH

I was an eyewitness to the unjustified multiple Tasering by the EPD at a peaceful rally on May 30 organized by a UO student group to support an end to toxic pesticide spraying along roadsides in Lane County.

The EPD never for a minute thought the water-filled spray bottle with the cartoon skull drawn on it was poison — something these students obviously oppose — otherwise why would EPD have left the bottle on the sidewalk for several minutes after the Tasering or done nothing when I picked it up in front of them and walked around with it for hours?

If the bottle was a threat to the EPD — rather than spin to make it seem like the Tasering was in direct response to the bottle itself, which it wasn’t! — why didn’t they take it as evidence?

The real story is what happened after the bottle was out of the picture: Two officers grabbed 140 lb. Ian Van Ornum from the sidewalk at the Kesey “Free Speech” Plaza, dragged him across the street (where another two officers arrived) and Tasered him once to knock him to the ground. Then, with a knee in Van Ornum’s back, an officer grabbed Van Ornum’s hair to bang his forehead on the pavement; then with Van Ornum still pinned to the ground — hands behind his back, handcuffed — the officer Tasered him another two times.

The outcome of this brutal incident will determine whether the Eugene police auditor is anything more than window dressing.

For video of the incident go to PictureEugene/Tasered on Youtube.com

Josh Schlossberg, Eugene



Building Vision

With interest I read Suzi Steffen’s cover story featuring Frances Bronet, dean of the UO’s School of Architecture and the Allied Arts.

First let me extend to Dean Bronet a belated welcome to Eugene. Her expertise and vision is sorely needed here. Eugene’s urban rehabilitation has been long delayed by a narrow understanding of the awesome potential for creating an urban landscape worthy of the natural beauty that surrounds us.

The outside does matter and needs once again to matter in our civic design and planning. Our buildings must engage not only human eyes and hearts but also their natural environment. They must make sense in the context of our rivers, our buttes, our valley, our nearby mountains and our unique and special region of the country. At present, by and large they do not.

I remember my first visit to Eugene. Upon my airport arrival, I knew right away that I was in the Pacific Northwest. What a beautiful building inside — at least from the perspective of this lay person. Perhaps with the exception of the Hult Center, I’ve not again in 12 years living here come across another building that evoked a similar sense of place.

It is within our power to create places that are worthy of our affection. We must with our buildings within the public realm pay homage to not only our past and future, our heritage and our traditions but also to our surroundings and to the reasons why we love living where we do.

Welcome to Eugene and to the Pacific Northwest, Dean Bronet. In your days and work here, always remember where you are.

Todd Huffman, Eugene



Homeless DECENCY

It was strange reading the May 29 letter (“Street Kids”) from Fred J. Huttinger. Our society is really fucked when a homeless person has more decency and common sense than some parents and some presidents and some CEOs and some cops. When Obama becomes president, he will have his hands full trying to straighten out the huge mess that the Bushies and many of the previous administrations have created. Unfettered greed and numerous war crimes have sucked most of the decency out of America.

Bob Saxton, Eugene

 

Band Slander

I don’t know how many people have gotten a chance to see what Eugene Weekly had to say about our CD, and it’s not that we really care. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but fuck, at least get your facts straight. What I am doing here is just defending the claims made against us by some prick who took more time looking up how much the gross profit of Terminator 2 was than listening to the CD.

Trying to say that we have bad grammar, when the review is nothing more than run-on PARAGRAPHS, not even sentences. Trying to say that the guitar is digitally distorted, how can you digitally distort a guitar tone with analog equipment? The overzealous drums and vocals … our music is built around the vocals, our message. The fact that it said we were going on first at our own CD release show was a goddamn fucking lie; nowhere anywhere anyplace did it say that. On top of everything else, the icing on the whole goddamn cake is the fact that we promoted our show with flyers made of toxic ink. It just so happens that I gave them this toxic flyer with the CD that has the lineup on it, which makes me wonder how you could fuck up by saying we are going on first? Do you really think EW uses totally non-toxic ink? I just felt a need to defend ourselves, because all you 400 people at the show last night is proof enough that together we can create our own fucking music scene. Without the help of some hypocritical local magazine that wants to slanderize the very bands that support every bar/venue/club that puts an ad in their magazine every week.

Aaron Tunnell, The Athiarchists (guitar/vocals), Eugene



Editor’s Note: Both the editor and writer interpreted the WOW Hall’s press info as implying the Athiarchists would play first. No negative judgment was intended.

Strippers & Students

A strip club doesn’t belong next to a high school no matter what city you live in. Oregon has the most lax laws regarding strip clubs of any state in the union and as a result has the most. Allow it, and they will come.

Yet, on the other hand Oregon has the strictest sex offender laws on the books. Does that make sense? Stripping is protected by the constitution as a form of freedom of expression. Crazy! The only message stripping expresses is: I’m a woman who is desperate, and this is the best I can do. 

Under that same protection, I’m free to say that my daughter should be able to get a good education free from the influences and the sleaze factors that come with a strip club. Springfield has the second most strip clubs in the nation. That is something they are struggling to change with the revitalization of the downtown that residents voted for and are paying for. 

The Academy of Arts and Academics High School is a vital part of that redevelopment. Shakers strip club is a step in the wrong direction. Please write to both the OLCC at 927 Country Club Rd. Eugene 97405 and the City of Springfield Planning Department/Dave Puent 225 5th St. Springfield 97477. Tell them both you are opposed to granting the liquor license to Shakers at the proposed location next to the high school. Express yourself now, and attend the Chamber hearing on June 16!

Lori Eichelberger, Eugene



CUBA & OBAMA

I listened with sadness to part of a recent speech of Obama about our policies towards Cuba. I had hoped that a Democratic administration would bring a fresh approach to Cuba. Now I wonder.

In that speech he proclaimed vigorously that he would maintain our embargo as long as people there are imprisoned for their political views. I would like to ask him: What about all the people of Muslim faith and heritage whom we have gathered secretly into prisons and/or sent to countries that torture, depriving them of the rights that we say we hold so dear, for a lawyer, for a trial?

How would we respond if we were a small island country, positioned next to a large economically and militarily powerful country with a government, including the CIA, pouring money, media and other strategies in its attempts to destabilize our country, overthrow our government and assassinate our leader?

Does he really wish to continue to create poverty and deprivation of the ordinary people of Cuba because of some of the actions of its government?

Does he really want to continue to prevent people from their country and from ours from visiting each other and knowing each other better?

I traveled to Cuba in the late ’90s and have known others who have traveled there more recently. Its government certainly does have many faults, for example, one leader for 40 years. And it is unfortunate that tourism, a response to the embargo, has compromised many of the values and goals that Cuba has been trying to promote. But it has inspiring strengths. It has: a vigorous, friendly people; a medical system where every person receives care in neighborhood clinics; a country that trains and sends thousands of doctors around the world to help countries that need them; free education from early childhood through professional training; a creativity that has responded to the embargo by turning to organic farming, the use of oxen to plough and urban gardens and that uses rationing so that no one will go hungry; concerts and other arts open to all, free of charge; no homelessness. It’s the beginning of a new era in Cuba. I would urge Obama to end the embargo and be open to listen to and dialogue with the new Cuban leaders.

Peg Morton, Eugene



NOT APOCALYPTIC

Thanks to Eva Sylwester and EW for the story “Climate Apocalypse” (5/29) about Euglena Academy’s position on climate change.

A few comments. First, the story contained a minor but very significant typo: “James Lovelock … has predicted that Earth’s human population will drop to less than one billion by 2010.” Lovelock’s prediction is 2100, not 2010. Even though climate can undergo incomprehensibly large transitions in less than a decade, a shift that catastrophic in only two years is the stuff of science fiction.

Second, I regret EW’s use of the word “apocalypse,” which I do not use due to its fatalistic, religious overtones. Climate change will not be “the end of the world,” just the end of the world as we’ve known it. It will only be apocalyptic to those addicted to contemporary Western lifestyles, unwilling to consider new modes of living and unprepared for adaptation.

Euglena Academy is unique in our region in addressing climate change using systems sciences, including geophysiology, which are required for understanding why the term “global warming” is a fuzzy and misleading term and why our focus should be on “chaotic, extreme and violent climate change” that is probably unstoppable.

Within that context, Lovelock’s sobering prognosis is plausible. Thus, in addition to attempting to slow climate change, communities must begin preparations for adaptation. My presentations, workshops and courses are designed to facilitate that process by offering realistic assessments of the climate crisis, grounded in systems sciences, necessary to develop successful adaptation strategies.

I will offer my presentation “Beyond the Tipping Point” at Euglena every Friday in June from 6:30 to 9 pm as a prelude to two climate change workshops: one on the sciences, one on solutions. For more information and reservations, please visit Euglena-Academy.net

Alder Fuller, Eugene 



Olympic Smoke

To pave the way for the Olympic Trials, officials of Eugene asked the Oregon Seed Council to refrain from burning during the trials. They received, by unanimous vote, the assurance that the 10 percent of seed farmers who still rely upon field burning will not burn during the Olympic track and field trials held in Eugene, the last week in June and the first part of July (of course, they hardly ever burn that time of year).

But I must say, what a missed opportunity this was. If they would have timed the trials better to correspond with the burning, not only would the rest of the world see what obnoxious neighbors these farmers are, but America’s team would have had a great opportunity to get used to competing while breathing polluted air. Except for the Chinese, the American team would blow the rest of the competition world wide out of contention in the also polluted air of Beijing, China.

This could also lead to possible better relationship later with China. We have all heard of sister cities; we could have sister polluters. They could meet once a year to compare notes on overall profit and costs involved in lobbying their governments to provide an environment void of restriction.

Gene Okins, Eugene