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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 7.10.08




FILLING THE PIT

Downtown is literally the pits, but it doesn’t have to be. 

On July 14 the City Council will be considering, and possibly choosing, one of several development projects for the pit across the street from the Eugene Public Library. Do we need more buildings downtown? Do we need one right next to the library? Have you noticed we already have a lot of buildings downtown? Buildings that already provide us with numerous vacant storefronts that no one wants to rent? Yet the city proposes yet another building project, giving downtown developers yet another tax break while only giving us, the people, just another building.

What we need in the pit is not a building, but a people’s park! Did anyone suggest this to the city? Well, of course. Did the city pay attention to this suggestion? Well, of course not! 

A park next to the library would give library patrons a place to sit and read their books. Kind of obvious, eh? It would also provide a place for seniors at nearby Olive Plaza to spend time just sitting in the sun. It would even provide a place for all those kids who now have nowhere to go but the sidewalk by the library or the LTD bus station.

Would there be any “problems” if we had a park there? Oh, gosh, yes. We might even need to have, brace yourself for a startling and shocking concept, a police officer stationed at the park to maintain order. There’s already a police substation at 11th and Olive, so at least it would be a short commute.

Nothing that the city does downtown will be without problems. Should anyone doubt that, they have forgotten that “downtown mall” project that drove so many folks out of business. Or that “Whole Foods” project. Or (insert your favorite here).

The two previous pit proposals adopted by the city plummeted right into, you guessed it, the pit. We must stop the City Councilors before they plan again! Putting a park next to the library makes good sense, which is all the more reason we have to worry that the city won’t do it. Downtown Eugene doesn’t have to be the pits, but it will be if we let this chance to put a people’s park in place pass by!

Randy Stenersen, Eugene



Ads not Progressive

I can’t believe that I’m the only one who noticed something wholly incongruous about your special “State of Suds” advertising insert for the June 26th issue of the Weekly. Presumably dedicated to promoting and celebrating uniquely Oregon beers (microbrews, by implication), the two most prominent ads promote non-micro, non-Oregon brews: a full back page advertisement for Beck’s and another full page ad right inside the front cover for Rolling Rock. I should cease to be surprised at anything EW’s advertising department produces. For an alternatively positioned publication, many of your ads and some of your features often strike me as a conflict of progressive/regressive interests. This time, it’s just wryly amusing. The Weekly ads for American Apparel and so-called escort services and your cheesy, edgy penchant for the salacious are something else. Oh yes, and in the same supplement, you didn’t pass on a chance to sell a third full page advertisement for American Spirit (a cigarette is still a cigarette, however “natural” you spin it). It’s not progressive; it’s simply a shame.

Jennifer Rowan, Eugene 



JUST DON’T DO IT

I’d like to know why Zachary Vishanoff, whose letters to the editor frequently grace these pages, feels the need to plaster the windows of campus-area Eugene Weekly newspaper boxes with his “Class War, Just Do It” flyers. While I am sure we could debate whether this message is either clever or effective, I think we can all agree the flyers obscure the contents of the boxes. This is especially the case when we have out-of-town guests who might be interested to know that Eugene has an alternative weekly and might be educated by its contents but don’t have a clue what’s inside those red boxes.

Keep up the good fight, Zach, and keep expressing yourself freely, but for gosh sake, don’t go out of your way to make it hard for others to make their voices heard as well.

David Cecil, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re not certain if Zach is the one doing this since we haven’t been able to locate him. If anyone spots Zach (hooded sweatshirt, straw hat and sunglasses), tell him he’s a “person of interest” in this case.



DIRTY LAUNDRY

In Alan Pittman’s article “Off-Track Town,” he says in his intro that he hopes “airing some dirty laundry … will spark embarrassment that induces change.” As an employee of a downtown business, I would suggest that Pittman himself is helping to obstruct some of the change that we in the downtown are working for.

There are many, many wonderful things that happen downtown on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Those of us who work downtown know each other, and there is a really community vibe to our days. We work for the city, for shops, in restaurants, as lawyers, stock brokers and massage technicians. We enjoy the Saturday and Farmers’ Markets and we love the shopping, the restaurants, the library, the Shedd, the Hult Center and the McDonald Theatre. We hang out in the galleries, the coffee houses, the restaurants and the true center of locally owned shops. I am proud that both the Kesey and the Free Speech plaza commemorate two great iconoclasts in Eugene history. There are tons of places to lock your bike, every bus ends up downtown and the first hour in any city garage is free.

These are the things that anyone who has spent time downtown already knows. For those who don’t already know about these things, Alan Pittman’s coverage of downtown will surely discourage them from coming out and discovering their favorite part of downtown for themselves. I am weary of reading the same article rehashed time and again about all that is broken in downtown, and in the rest of the city. I would encourage Pittman and others to challenge themselves and try writing an article about the many good things that happen all over Eugene every day. That’s an article I will look forward to reading.

Reisa Maddex, Footwise, Inc.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please read our 9/7/2006 cover story, “Celebrate Eugene,” available in our online archives. This was “our positive issue where we celebrate and list the many good things about Eugene’s high quality of life.”

 

GARDENING SECRET

I’m certain that you have been flooded with emails and letters in response to the recent news about OSU Extension Services of Lane County. I felt like I needed to chime in. 

I’ll start by saying that over the years, I have fed myself and countless others from my extensive West Jefferson neighborhood garden. I tell everybody about my secrets for a long season of raspberries, my constant lettuce supply, my all-year celery and, of course, the reason I don’t let bugs pester me or my plants. 

The secret is this: Every time I ran into a problem, I just picked up the phone and talked to a master gardener or attended an educational seminar at Extension Services. It’s how I learned and how I learned the importance of teaching others. 

Over the years, Extension Services has supported local schools, FOOD for Lane County, and countless other good causes. Now they need our help. In the long run, community involvement and local funding could be a positive development for everybody involved. 

Losing funding can be an extremely difficult transition, but I know I speak for a large portion of the community when I say that we’re in this together, and we won’t let Extension Services down. 

Brien McMullen, Eugene



AIPAC Anti-Peace

Eugeneans should be aware of what their progressive leadership has been up to lately. In Portland on May 21, a number of Democratic leaders attended the annual AIPAC gala dinner. AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) is the powerful lobby supporting the views of the right-wing, militaristic wing of Israeli politics, including bellicose attitudes towards Lebanon and Syria, a no-negotiation approach towards the Palestinians and strongly advocating for attacking Iran. Present that evening were Oregon State Senator House Speaker Jeff Merkley (D-Portland), who is running against Senator Gordon Smith next fall, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and Sen. Vicki Walker (D-Eugene).

The Weekly, in its endorsement of Walker’s run for Secretary of State, called her a “an outspoken and meticulous crusader for justice.” Yet she appears to be more concerned about justice at home than abroad, as showing support for AIPAC is one significant way to show support for more military “solutions” in the Middle East.

AIPAC has a policy of courting city, state and federal representatives, with a long-term objective to continue a very pro-Israel hold on Congress. For long, AIPAC has worked behind the scenes, undercutting the efforts of the peace movement. We need to ask our politicians to continue to represent us and bring a balanced approach to questions impacting the Arab and Muslim world.

An article describing the gala dinner and the talks given will be posted on the web-site for AUPHR (Portland-based Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, www.auphr.com).

Nancy Hedrick, former Eugenean and Peter Miller, president, AUPHR, Portland 



LGas Whiners

Hey you! Yeah you — the one bitching about gasoline prices. Have you tried changing your lifestyle to combat the high prices? Tried riding your bike? Taking the city bus? Carpooling? Downsizing to a smaller, more efficient vehicle? No? Hadn’t crossed your mind? Then you need to shut the fuck up about the prices. You, the consumer, are part of the reason prices are so high. Every time you put gasoline in your car, you are essentially bending over and giving big oil free range. 

As long as you continue to pay these prices, these oil companies aren’t going to drop prices. Why charge $2 when they can easily get you to pay $4? Complaining quite obviously isn’t going to do anything, so get off your butts and do something!

Melissa DeCook, Eugene



Clothed Hypocrites

Greg Craigers’ letter of June 5 (“Crude Red, White and Blues”) has me confused. As he says in his letter, all consumer products are linked to oil. So the bicycle he rides and the computer he used to generate his letter to the editor are OK for liberals to have and use?

But liberal women don’t wear synthetic panties? I’d always wondered about this. I just hope they put on some kind of underwear. Liberals don’t have mothers in the Midwest? Do they have mothers at all? All of the food we eat? I never realized that liberals didn’t eat food that is transported by motor vehicle from place to place. Do all the farmers at the Farmers’ Market walk their inventory to market?

Yes, my red, white and blue lifestyle is going to need some adjustment now that gas prices are catching up to the rest of the world. I’m considering adding solar power to my home, riding my bike more and driving my SUV less. Wages will eventually catch up to the oil increase, and the country will be in balance again. For now I’m going to have to start shopping more at Costco to try to stretch my dollars as far as I can.

What personal hypocrisies of mine would he like me to fundamentally and intently break down? Hypocrite is defined in the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary as “someone who pretends to have admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings but behaves otherwise.” Until you quit eating, start running around naked, walk everywhere and live out in the open in a grass hut, you’re the only hypocrite I can see coming out in your letter. Pass the bong, dude. 

Michael Friese, Eugene



VIEW FROM THE AIR

I was a bush pilot in Alaska, and since bush pilots are a dying breed, I thought I might share some insights I gained into global warming from the air in Alaska that the politicians and bureaucrats in the lower 48 will never know.

I watched as every year the planes in Alaska switched from tundra tires to skis later and later in the year as the ice took longer and longer to be safe enough to land on. In 1997 there would be three feet of ice on the Talkeetna River to land a plane on by Christmas. In 2006 I made my final trip down-river in mid-January walking on tiptoes in my snowshoes and tied off to my son with 25 feet of rope. The rushing water was audible under the ice, and I kept my knife in my hand to cut myself loose if I fell through first.

Clearly there was something going on down-river that the state of Alaska was ignoring, and it did not require a climatologist to see it was related to pipeline running through the middle of the state. 

I learned to fly from a Korean War F-86 pilot named Horace “Mitch” Mitchell. In Vietnam, Mitch flew from Hanoi to Da Nang without a canopy on his F-100 after it was blown off by ground fire. He was the kind of guy who was so brave he made you braver just standing next to him. 

As Mitch had Korea and Vietnam, I saw myself as being chosen by the age I was born in to confront the problem of global warming. I left Alaska and moved to Oregon to do what I could to address the problem. I was expecting such a challenge to have created greater single-minded unity among environmental groups than the Second World War. What petty political nonsense, I thought, could outweigh the continued existence of human life on Earth? 

From the cockpit of a Supercub over the Mat-Su Valley, I have since come to see the regulatory nightmare that has paralyzed the entire country and the internal schism among environmental scientists and activists that keeps it locked, lemming-like, on a course over the precipice. At times I wish Mitch was around to ask what to do, but most times I’m thankful he’s not here to see it. 

Warren Weisman, Eugene



JUST NOD AND DRINK

Some summer tips:

• You gotta get a little picnic and head out to the Cuthbert to see a show. You don’t have to go in — just have your picnic outside the gates and enjoy the show and your friends.

• Take a date to the Sweet Life --— enjoy.

• Hike or bike Forrest Park up in Ptown.

• Whitewater raft the Deschutes. Get a guide. You’ll have a great time, and you won’t die.

 • Best people watching places: 19th Street pub, Steelhead — must be others, but I’m forgetting.

• Even though it’s sort of gross, go out on a boat on Fern Ridge. Watch birds, watch boats, watch the water. It’s no Lake Washington, but it’s only 20 minutes away.

• Eat at Mo’s in Newport, and then go check out the sea lions down the street. Follow the loud barking and the foul smell. They are really fascinating. Really.

• Hang out with a friend while they brew their own beer. Drink last month’s batch as they tell you everything you never wanted to know about the difference between Willamette and Cascade hops. Just nod and drink.

Kevin O’Brien, Eugene



NATIONAL HEALTH CARE

I am a senior at Sheldon High School, and I would like to address a major issue in America today: national health care. The definition of national health care on dictionary.com is “a system for the delivery of health care in which the expense of care is borne by a governmental agency supported by taxation rather than being paid directly by the client on a fee-for-service or contract basis.”

The U.S.’ health care is failing. It is too expensive and denies medications to many in need. If we had national health care, everyone would be getting the care they need without having to worry about paperwork, or which doctor they can see. It would also save lives by allowing everyone to get health care, instead of only letting people who are already healthy to receive it. Right now people receive less care, face greater restrictions and spend at least

$1,500 more per person than Canadians or Western Europeans on health care.

National health care does have some cons, like increases in taxes; however, most countries with national health care tax fairly instead of having a high income tax. Therefore you wouldn’t suffer much from it. I think all Americans should be granted the access to get health care. With nationalized health care, people could receive the medications they need.

Colby Quillan, Eugene



EW Needs Laxative

What a sad waste of your space and my time! Both the Olympics themselves and the Track & Field Trials in Eugene offer so much grist for serious discussion of important issues. Political. Social. Environmental. Economic. Cultural. Perhaps EW felt these topics were already being explored sufficiently in the mainline media and on the Internet.

And just imagine what any of our local comedic wits might have observed and commented on. The unique persona of track fans; the clash of geographic and demographic cultures while sharing a common obsession with track and field; the demonstrators, special interest groups and Nike competitors living life on the fringes. Perhaps EW didn’t feel its staff measured up to the comedic qualifying standard.

And so, EW assigned the Trials to Chuck Adams, who obviously didn’t want to be there, didn’t understand what was happening (or why) and was suffering from apathy, journalistic laziness, chronic constipation and, worst of all, a lack of a funny bone. His daily log was petty, ignorant, snide and painful to peruse.

If EW plans to do a post mortem on the Trials, I suggest you find a reporter with a better concept of what occurred, how it affected the community, etc. As part of the alternative media, EW has a responsibility to look at things with a jaundiced eye, but is under no obligation to be hateful, illogical, uninformed or just plain stupid. Get Adams a prescription for a strong laxative and see if you can’t lift the bar a bit.

Marshall Kandell, Eugene



TYCOON POLICIES

George W. Bush, our President, like his father, is desperately rushing to solve America’s shortage of oil by encouraging oil drilling in not one but two of America’s ecologically sensitive areas, the home of the polar bear, though the polar bear can be lost to us forever, and America’s coastline, which threatens America’s fisheries and the health of our oceans.

George W. Bush managed to push through oil drilling in Alaska’s pristine wilderness, which threatens to destroy Alaska’s ecology, while denying the threat and overcoming resistance by stating Alaskan oil would not only free us of worry about oil shortages but oil prices would be good for our pocketbooks.

When I was in Valdez, Alaska, nine ships were taking on oil. Eight ships were leaving for Japan, where corporate prices and profits were higher, and only one ship was leaving for the American mainland. Drilling for oil doesn’t mean more oil for America but more profits for corporations. America needs to remember — both Bushes are very rich oil tycoons.

Jerry Copeland, Florence



Can’t Condemn 

Michael/Kenny is a colleague of mine at KSOW-LP-FM in Cottage Grove. I like Michael. He has never treated me with anything but kindness and respect.

While I can’t condone deception, I cannot, as a nonjudgmental person, condemn him for his fabrication of the story of being rock guitarist John Cipollina’s son (EW 7/3). We all know the verse about those being without sin casting the first stone, yadda yadda yadda.

Who among us has not wanted to re-create or reinvent our own lives? Over 75 percent of American families are grossly dysfunctional. Agreed, Michael’s deception has hurt some people. We can only run from the harsh realities of the past for so long before it catches up with us, and it sounds like Michael is ready for some much-needed healing.

I am also a colleague of Paul Biondi’s. He is obviously an ethical businessman and does a lot of good for many people in the community, and I only have positive things to say about him as well.

A note to Michael/Kenny: I wish you the best on your journey in life. And I will miss your music wafting to my door from across the street.

And, to anyone reading this: If you quote or comment on this letter, please do not take any of my words out of context. As a former  “mainstream” media worker, I know how words can be twisted and misused and have been misquoted before.

Deb McManman/aka Deborah Mack, Cottage Grove