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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 7.3.08




LAME-DUCK FLUNKY

Shame on Gov. Kulongoski for passing the buck to the Legislature on field burning! As our chief executive, he has the legal authority to permanently ban field burning right now by executive order. So why won’t he do it and spare all the citizens of the Willamette Valley needless suffering? 

Fewer than 1,000 people benefit financially from field burning, yet more than 400,000 suffer — is that fair? He even said he supports a ban. So what’s stopping him? Who’s paying him anyway? Is he going to be a term-limited lame duck corporate flunky, or does he have the courage of his convictions to prevent a public health emergency? Does he only answer to agribusiness or does he care about the people of Oregon? Or does he only care about the athletes and tourists at the Olympic Trials? As soon as they leave, our hospital ERs will be filled with victims of smoke and particle inhalation. If he does nothing about this, he deserves to be impeached.

Ellen Singer, Eugene



ITCHY FINGERS

Great moments in Eugene Police Department history over the past decade-plus: 

• A tree sitter, engaged in the opposite of harm to any being or even thing, is tortured with a dozen cans of pepper spray shot into his groin as the onlooking and overwhelmingly peaceable and law-abiding crowd (myself included) is tear-gassed; the mayor looks on from the safety of his car a block away. 

• A tank rolls into the Whiteaker Neighborhood early one morning, and a paramilitary goon squad with attack dogs rousts a naked woman from bed, hooding her as they conduct a search that uncovers no evidence of any illegal activity. 

• An uncounted number of women are forced to perform sex acts on uniformed police officers.

• Several completely unarmed young people are shot dead either by officers or vigilante citizens, with not a single prosecution. 

• Now, a young man engaged in legal protest theater is dragged by his hair across a street and, already “subdued,” is shot not once but three times with an excruciating, potentially heart-stopping electrical charge — the latest piece of arsenal to grace an itchy EPD trigger finger.

We know that our president and his top echelon believe that torture is just fine. But the advent of this new American culture of torture seems to have arisen in Eugene. As our Bill of Rights is trampled on by the weapons-wielders, many of us feel anything but safe — more like, unprotected and dis-served.

I hope that Ian Van Ornum and his supporters will sue the hell out of the city of Eugene, with the intention of donating the settlement (should justice actually be served) to founding a re-education program for at least some portion of Eugene’s finest. Our former (and hopefully not-again) mayor may wish to attend as well.

Vip Short, Eugene



LOST TAXES

Thank you so much for taking on the issue of illegal “contractors.” By definition anyone without a contractor’s license is not a contractor, and calling themselves one is kind of like me calling myself doctor — it doesn’t make me one, and it is fraud. I appreciated the balance in the article, which correctly points out that in our present system a license does not guarantee competency — but does protect consumers by requiring insurance and supplying a manner of redress if there are problems.

I was intrigued that there was not more written about the underground economy aspect. Someone’s son putting up their fence for a few dollars this summer is not the issue. The issue is the millions of dollars of taxes and child support that don’t get paid when someone regularly does illegal work. Remember that if the work is not legitimate, the worker is probably not reporting the income. That worker and their family are still using the services — parks, police, lights, fire protection, defense, disaster aid (remember the Coburg floods?), Oregon Health Plan, etc. — and the rest of us are paying their share. It may seem to the individual homeowner that s/he is getting a “good deal” when using the under-the-table worker, but the rest of us pay for it in the long run in higher taxes, fewer services and caring for the children whose parents aren’t paying child support because they don’t show income.

Again thanks for shining a bit of light under this rock.

Janice M. Carraher, GM, Huckleberry Fence & Deck, Eugene



YES, SIR!

I have been reading the letters about the “Taser arrest” with some interest. Any rational analysis of the situation can place some blame on the EPD, but most of the blame should be placed on the shoulders of the protesters. I’m sorry if this isn’t going to be a popular opinion in your letters page.

When a police officer gives you a verbal command, the correct answer is “Yes, sir” in almost all situations. Go back to the sidewalk, or follow whatever other simple command they give you. Maybe they are pushing you around. Bummer; they are doing their job. Follow the laws and common sense, and they will never speak to you. Eye contact and a smile works too, just like the police are real people.

When you make a verbal threat against an officer’s well being, you are going to be arrested. If that threat is proven, I hope they send your little backside to jail. If you think about this, the police must place people who make verbal threats under arrest. Once you start to fight, struggle, flail around or anything else the police consider a physical threat, they must use overwhelming force to end that threat. It seems like every rational person agrees that throwing the arrested person to the ground and cuffing them was the right thing for the police to do.

If you want to place blame for the Tasering after giving a fair share to the person who was arrested, we can assess a large portion of the blame to the people who ran toward the arrest. When a couple of police officers are struggling to arrest an uncooperative person, people running toward the arrest amplify the threat to the police officer’s health and safety. The nightmare is some idiot running up and attacking them from behind. If it is a dark alley, running up on busy police officers is a good way to be shot. Once there is outside interference, the police aren’t going to mess around anymore. They need to stop struggling with the first clown and start bracing for other idiots potentially attacking them. The way they stopped this struggle was hitting their arrested guy with a Taser shot (or three). Without the Taser, the police would have hit him with a nightstick! The Taser is a better option, a little pain being better than broken bones.

Peter Gregory, Corvallis



COMMUNITY OWNED

Eugene needs a hospital, a community- owned hospital. Great Britain now finds itself in economic reverse with private companies taking over public hospitals and the public paying up to twice as much as necessary. The British are considering a U.K. government’s private finance initiative (PFI) that would have private investors build and control 700 schools and hospitals. A [Scotland] Sunday Herald article calls it the “great PFI swindle. The internal financial projections for six PFI schemes show investors are expecting to recoup 12 times more than they invested. In some cases shareholders are predicted to make truly astronomical gains.” The Herald states that economists who completed analysis of six private developments found that the Scottish hospitals and one college could have been built for half the cost. Billions of British pounds profits are expected for the 700 developments.

We are fortunate to have excellent public schools in Eugene with well-trained teachers. We have a well-educated citizenry that discusses long and hard on every important issue. Isn’t it time we forget about hospitals that exist for profit and build a community hospital that truly serves the public?

Ruth Duemler, Eugene



IT’S IN THE WATER

What’s up with John Musumeci these days? He moves here from California — and to put it mildly — does not fit into the community very well, e.g. the notorious Gang of 9 cartoons — just one example.

But now — he’s into cluster eco-development (OK, at least semi-eco) in north Eugene; he donates land to the city for the Ridgeline Trail; he’s thinking about helping acquire the Joe Green property in south Eugene to make a connector into the Ridgeline Trail.

What gives? Has he become an Oregonian?

Ralph Wombat, Eugene



CARLIN’S LIGHT

George Carlin died just a couple of days after the summer solstice, when the sun starts slipping back into darkness. His own irreverent light shone for nearly half a century, illuminating the world in a manner which resonated with so many of us, and infuriated the preaching moralists and power-hungry as well. But the movers and shakers weren’t his only targets; his talent was also to slice away at all of humanity’s numerous faults and oddities with a brilliant, unyielding laser, and yet still manage to remain a beloved success — at least among those of us who don’t take ourselves too seriously.

But not any more. So today’s forecast: dark. And we can only hope there’s another rising light tomorrow.

Bill Smee, Springfield



CHUCKLE FODDER

Wow, your weekly magazine (I use the word magazine because of your total one-sided views on any issue, which precludes you from being a real source of news with any creditably [sic]), it really fascinates me as you slam, twist words and even personalities so it matches what you wish people to think or feel on any issue. 

Your report on the mayors (6/12) is a very good example and much of the information is twisted so that Mayor Kitty, bless her, has not made one single mistake in the entire three years she has been in office; every problem she has had was someone else’s making, and she is just  the kind of simple person of the world doing little things to make Eugene better. But Mr. Torrey, oh my God, what a terrible person, who lives on the dark side and calls down fire and darkness, death and destruction. 

Kind of strange, is it not, that almost half of Eugene disagrees with you — could it be you are wrong?

But to give you credit, unlike The Register-Guard who states, they are “impartial and endeavor to be candid but fair and helpful,” then goes on just as you do, generally putting that person or issue in a bad light to suit their view. As I said, to your credit you make no statement nor pretense about being fair or impartial, which you are not. So knowing that when picking up your magazine I find that is exactly what I get. So I have no hard feelings, but it does bring a smile and many “You have to be kidding” comments with a huge laugh. Thanks many times over for bringing laughter to my day.

Dick Walker, Eugene



PAIN FOR THE DRIVER

I read with strong interest of the June 2 car-bicycle accident in The Register-Guard in which David Minor died. Then in the June 12 edition of the EW I read what a remarkable young person David was.

On May 1, 1990, I was in a similar accident where I was in the car and the cyclist died. The PTSD I once scoffed at is real.

The man I killed, James Michaels, died a horrible but quick death. His brother called me and said, “I feel bad about my brother, but I feel worse for you.”

He was right. When I see a dead animal in the road, or a bicyclist, I squeeze the water out of my steering wheel. A cop car or ambulance lights up, I panic. I have nightmares that I can’t tell anyone about. Someone taps on my shoulder and they will be looking at the ceiling. I live reclusively, avoiding risk.

It is sad that a young man with such a slate of positives and goodness has died. I feel bad for his family and friends. 

Bad also for the driver of that car. Her mortality will be something you wouldn’t want.

Guy Hume, Creswell



BROADWAY GHETTO

A two block radius along Eugene’s downtown Broadway reveals neglect, abandonment and graffiti on seven buildings that are for sale by the Urban Renewal Agency (URA). The sale of seven properties was listed in EW under legal notices last week. After reading this article I decided to go down and sit in the area described above.

While sitting on a bench in front of a friend’s former art shop, The Alder Street Gallery, I’m reminded of how thriving this block use to be. Today it’s quiet with trash in the corners of desolate doorways. This building in front of me has huge wooden doors that are bolted shut with a lock on the handles. Windows located on the alley side of the building once in glass with art displayed are now boarded up with graffiti all over.

The only time I’ve walked down these two blocks in the past few years would be when the Eugene Celebration was happening for a weekend in September. These buildings would have music, food and craft booths in front of them so it was easy to walk on by without really seeing how boarded up our block party had become.

The smell of cigarette smoke that I’m forced to breathe as I sit on this bench in front of the former art gallery reminds me that I’m not alone. Homeless-looking youth preferring to wear black to pastels hang around the empty building in no particular hurry to leave while enjoying their tobacco.

The process for purchasing all seven properties in these two blocks is by sealed bids. The purchase options will be sold to the offer best meeting the URA’s needs. The price range of these properties is $68,000 to $3 million.

Only a few blocks away are our library, the Hult Center and the Downtown Athletic Club. What happened to this area to have it become a ghetto of neglect? Hopefully the sale of these seven properties will bring renewed energy and interest into this area that has for far too long been abandoned.

Marlene Gayle Varady, Eugene



ROSES FOR DAD

Joni Mitchell’s album For the Roses was originally subtitled, “What the Racehorses Really Run For.” 

Sons know that sports trophies and war medals are the way to a father’s heart. Dads want brag rights with their friends. Embarrass Dad and he’ll drop you flat.

During the height of the Vietnam medley, a young vet, Barry Sadler, was a media darling for his “Ballad of the Green Beret.”

His song was exploited ad nauseum on the radio and on the then four-channel, pre-cable TV. Put silver wings on my son’s chest. Make him one of America’s best. He’ll be a man they’ll test one day. Have him win the Green Beret.

Years later, I read incidentally in the paper that he’d committed suicide. He’d embarrassed the fraternal media, and they responded by abandoning him at his graveside.

There was no mention of what happened to his son.

Lori Kasprzak, Eugene



HEALING THE RIFT

The June 3 press conference at City Hall on police/community relations and the police auditor program/external police review was well attended and inspiring. Community members stepped up to speak from their hearts, not their fears; Exhorting all community members to work together to heal the rift between the police union and much of our community. Wounds (physical and otherwise), slights, misunderstandings have been borne by all “sides,”  underscoring how riven things have become. But trust is a two-way street. Admittedly, in my circle of family/friends, lack of trust for the police comes up. And I’m just as certain the police lack trust in many of us, too. Our shared community has big hurdles to overcome.

I left the press conference convinced that this challenge is not bigger than the collective “us,” if we all tackle this with good faith and integrity. Thoughtful speakers such as Charles Dalton, president emeritus of NAACP; Lauren Regan, director of Civil Liberties Defense Center; Latina activist Guadalupe Quinn; Dave Fidanque, executive director of ACLU; County Commissioner Peter Sorenson; and young Carly, impassioned and articulate UO student; spoke eloquently, prompting many cheers. Citizen attendees shared thoughtful questions, clearly troubled that the dialogue surrounding the police union/police auditor has deteriorated. Let’s get to the higher ground — soon!

Call the mayor, your city councilor, our police Chief Robert Lehner. Voice your support or opposition to external police review. As the three local TV stations did not cover the press conference, we’ll have it on the Internet soon — ask around, watch for notices. 

Carol Berg-Caldwell, Eugene



SNIDE & SNARKY

After reading the June 26 issue of EW’s cover story “Off-Track Town,” I found myself frustrated and disappointed with EW’s negative slant. Highlight the off-beat, countercultural or strange? No problem. There’s plenty of that in Eugene. But what really is the purpose of writing what I feel is an undeserved and frankly not entirely accurate attack piece when there are an estimated 15,000 tourists in town? It’s almost as if EW wants us to fail. Are there things in Eugene that need to be improved? Of course. But I wonder what stating the fact “Prefontaine lived in a trailer park near the railroad tracks” has to do with any of that.

Perhaps airing some dirty laundry in front of guests will spark embarrassment that induces change. I have a proposed addition to the list:

#33. Eugene Weekly.

Once just a weekly events calendar called What’s Happening, the Weekly has turned into a snide, snarky rag with delusions of grandeur that can only complain about what’s wrong and hurt people’s feelings rather than celebrate what’s right and help to build community, improving those things that need fixing. Negativity is not journalism.

If you’re a visitor to Eugene this summer, have a good time and come back soon.

William Kennedy, Eugene



HOT TIME AT THE ‘BERT

A gorgeous night at the Cuthbert (6/26). A smokin’ hot concert — Taj and Keb Mo. A fine crowd, ready to build the electric energy that makes for that magical concert experience. 

Uh oh, a major glitch! A poorly conceived reserved seating set up with a large, woefully undersold “VIP seating” area. It not only put the crowd at a distance from the performers, it took over the stage front dance area — and the empty, reserved seating and adjacent aisles were strictly verboten. You had to feel sorry for the young Kesey Productions staff with the unhappy task of explaining to an increasingly frustrated crowd why this swath of empty seats and aisle space was off limits. 

We all want Cuthbert to be successful. There has to be a better way to ensure adequate ticket revenue and provide an audience the kind of experience they deserve for $30. This is an outdoor venue, not the Hult — dancing is part of the fun. How about just two very, very expensive rows up front with a dance area behind them? Put the “V” in VIP! What about a smaller, centered section of VIP seating with room for dancers on either side? What about (gasp) one slightly lower price and a larger crowd? The venue can accommodate it. 

If you have constructive ideas for Kesey Enterprises phone them at 345-4442 or shoot an e-mail to contact@thecuthbert.com As Keb sang in one of his final numbers, “She just wants to dance.” Let them know that.

Julie Daniel, Eugene



GLASS IS HALF EMPTY

After reading yet another dispiriting, negative and predictable article by Alan Pittman, The “Unofficial Olympic Guide to the Real Eugene” (6/26), I am moved to write my first letter to the Weekly.  Alan, you included 32 stops along the tour, everything from Nike making billions through the exploitation of sweatshop labor to a 1924 march by the KKK to the 1927 decision to shut down the trolley system and its somehow being connected to global warming to the “monopolistic” PeaceHealth to supposed “ethnic cleansing” on 13th and Alder. Please!

I guess that during this Olympic Trials week, for which thousands of Eugeneans have volunteered their time and expertise and passion to help create a vibrant, exciting, national-caliber event, you couldn’t resist being the guy who tries to suck the joy out of the room, bring people down, try to cause some of the supposed “embarrassment that induces change.” I’ve read enough of your stuff to understand the world according to Pittman. Cops equals bad, corporations equals evil, government equals corrupt, school district equals racist and so on. But hey, now that we have thousands of visitors to our excellent city, you can share your particular joie de bummer with a new crop of the uninitiated.  Congratulations. 

Me, I’d like to offer stop 33 on the “Real Eugene” tour. That would be the predictable, glass-is-half-empty joylessness of the anti-everything crowd, admirably personified by the Weekly’s intrepid reporter, Alan Pittman.

Rich Glauber, Eugene