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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 7.17.08




Easy Pit Choice

By far, the best of the five old Sears site proposals the City Council will discuss at their work session on July 16 is the one by WG: local developers Wally Graff and Nathan Philips.

They hired the nationally recognized design firm RTKL to design the 200,000 sq. ft. half-block site across from the Eugene Public Library in collaboration with John Lawless of TBG Architects here locally. And the overall layout of the site makes very good sense. It’s a five-story, mixed-use building, arranged in a south-facing U-shape toward the sunlight, the south hills and the library. The interior of the U is open space on two levels, a ground floor Event Plaza and a mezzanine they describe as semi-public. The upper three floors consist of a mix of one- and three-bedroom apartments, which should ensure a fairly wide range of potential tenants. A substantial amount of their office space would be occupied by Pacific University.

Architecturally, it’s a contemporary building that would easily complement our new library, unlike the Opus proposal for six stories of student housing, which looks like a cheap housing project out of the 1950s. Our own Eugene Hotel is a better-detailed, more refined version of this older-style hotel and apartment construction. The Opus building schedule is also so tight that they only have two months for further design development in order to fit their targeted school calendar. So, what you see is unfortunately probably what you’ll get: a six-story student “project” across from the library.

The WG proposal could still be improved, I think, by moving its Event Plaza east so that it is more directly across from the entry to the library. It might also be better to relocate the police kiosk, the inclusion of which is a very smart move, and the café at the corner of 10th and Olive, over to the plaza. 

All the proposals require public partici-pation in order to “pencil out.” Only the WG proposal appears willing in return to enter into a dialog about the public space contribution this site could make to city design. And isn’t this, after all, an important part of what we want and what we’re paying for?

Jerry Diethelm, Eugene



DEFENDING INEQUALITY

I have been reading the letters in EW surrounding the Taser “incident” with amusement. I have noticed that the outraged liberal is present, as is the proto-fascist, who is always ready to excuse any police action because their “tough” job or, my personal favorite, the “they’re only doing their job” line (the Nuremburg defense).

I wish I could say I was surprised by this brutal attack by the government against free speech, but it was no aberration, no isolated incident. Any group to the left of Attila the Hun has faced similar attacks. The root cause of these attacks can be found in the reason police exist, namely, the preservation of order. In a society like ours, where inequality reigns, it becomes the job of the police to preserve that state of inequality. So when the existing order is threatened, even a little as it was in Kesey Square, they crack down. But it is nonsense to talk of police brutality; police are brutal — that is their function.

The ruling class was not threatened by the politics of the group because they are largely moderate (OSPIRG types); what they were threatened by was the shift from lobbying and petitions to demonstrations and direct action. We need many more people to make that shift, as groups and as individuals, so that our political power does not rise and fall with that of a certain political party.

Johannes Pedersen, Eugene

 

BEST OPTION?

I would like to point out some errors in the July 10 Slant: First of all, Opus, one of the developers responding to the 10th & Charnelton RFP, is based in Minneapolis, not Portland. “Opus Northwest” is simply the regional office, which happens to be in Portland. WG, however, is an honest-to-goodness local firm.

Instead of claiming that “downtown businesses” would benefit by the seasonal residence of 500 undergraduates, it would be more accurate to substitute “downtown bars.” Do you really think those kids will be shopping at Scan Design? 

Whatever other “downtown businesses” (and “street life”) you think would benefit from more student presence would thrive at least as much with the WG project, since Pacific University will have classrooms there, which will obviously bring students into the downtown core.

Finally, it doesn’t take a market analysis to know that UO desperately needs student housing. The question should be, Is a prime location in downtown Eugene really the right place for it?

Elizabeth Henning, Eugene



HOPE HE STAYS

In regards to your “Imposter” cover story (7/3) about Michael Cipollina [Kenny Roberts], the guy who has been masquerading as someone else for the last 20 years, I’d like to offer my experience with him.

I am a part of the Cottage Grove music community and am a supporter of KSOW radio. I met Michael a year or so ago and have had several interactions with him. I never heard the story about his supposed dad from him, and I do not know who John Cipollina was as I am not well versed in the San Fran 1960s music scene. 

I would like to say that my interactions with Michael have always been positive. I believe he is an asset to this community, and I hope he can find the courage to stay in Cottage Grove. He is a great supporter of local music and art and has worked tirelessly in this regard. He is an impressive man in his own right, and I know that he has left a trail of good deeds and accomplishments here. I believe that if he chose to stay he would see an outpouring of support from the community, and his life would be enriched by this experience.

Keith Schneider, Cottage Grove



TIME FOR COPWATCH

Can someone please explain to me why — in a city that obviously suffers from a corrupt and abusive police force — no one has started a Copwatch program? Pleas to elected officials obviously do little good because the police serve as an arm of the government — and both police and local government ultimately answer to economic power and influence, which is often times directly at odds with the public welfare.

Both police and the government have an interest in stifling unpermitted forms of dissent and resistance — which was the real threat posed by the demonstrator recently Tased by the Eugene Police, evidently with the oversight of the Homeland Security Department.

The people of this community need to take it upon themselves to document police abuses and hold the police accountable for their actions. Just the very presence of cameras is often enough to deter the police from engaging in abusive practices in the first place, and when they do occur, it renders them unable to justify their actions with lies and distortion.

Anyone interested in starting a Copwatch program whereby we actively patrol the community and monitor police behavior, please contact me at CopWatchEugene@yahoo.com

Robin Banks, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Eugene has had a Copwatch group off and on for many years, but it is currently dormant. Individuals from Copwatch such as Tim Lewis continue to videotape police actions (see Picture Eugene on YouTube).

 

BLAME THE VICTIM?

One of the most disturbing outcomes of the most recent cyclist fatality in Eugene is the blame-the-victim sentiment expressed by The Register Guard and reflected by much of the public. I have heard no evidence of any recklessness on the part of the cyclist. Yes, it is possible that a helmet may have saved his life, but if it had, what kind of life might it have been? A great many survivors of our car culture are living in chronic pain, some of us missing limbs and/or suffering from serious head injuries, resulting from our encounters with automobiles, despite the use of helmets. 

Perhaps instead of requiring our citizens to armor themselves when venturing out into the community, we should increase our mindfulness around the speed and attention with which we move through town. We tend to forget that the huge polluting hunks of metal we choose to move around in are extremely dangerous to all life forms. The least we can do is to operate them with care.

From the biography published in the Weekly, and from the memorial set up at the site of the accident, I am filled with a sense of the great loss this community has experienced with the death of David Minor, yet I also feel a great kinship with the spirit with which he lived his life, and the energy and inspiration he has left in his wake. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to visit his memorial at 13th and Willamette. Take some flowers, read the poetry and take in the beauty and biography that marks his many contributions to our community. 

Rest in peace, David. My love to you and yours.

Taylor Pierson, Eugene



PRECIOUS REMAINS

We appreciate Camilla Mortensen’s thoughtful reporting (7/3 news story) on our Oregon White Oak Enhancement Demonstration that Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah is implementing along the park’s summit trail. The project will restore “globally endangered” Willamette Valley oak savanna, woodland and prairie habitats. According to The Nature Conservancy, 189 Willamette Valley species (birds, mammals, rodents, invertebrates, reptiles and plants, etc.) depend on these declining habitats. We should endeavor to conserve the ecologic function of these precious remnants of our natural heritage.

One clarification: Friends of Buford Park (FBP) does not “oversee the 2,300-acre Buford Park.” Rather, we work in partnership with the landowner, Lane County, which manages the park. FBP’s mission is to “protect and enhance native ecosystems and compatible recreation in the Mount Pisgah area.” Our area of concern includes the Coast Fork-Middle Fork Willamette confluence area outside the park, and we also are working to add the 1,200-acre Wildish lands to the park.

Many people do not realize that two non-profit organizations help care for this Buford Park: Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah and the Mt. Pisgah Arboretum, which is a separate organization that manages a 209-acre leased area within the 2,300-acre Buford Park. Though separate nonprofits, together we help care for Buford Park’s natural and recreational values in partnership with Lane County.

In an era of declining county funding, community-supported efforts to maintain and enhance Buford Park are essential to conserving what we love about Mount Pisgah. We appreciate all who support these efforts.

Chris Orsinger, Executive Director, Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah



SCARED GOVERNMENT

I have neither the energy nor patience to go in depth into the government’s violation of constitutional ethics in this or in any of their many political acts during my tenure in Eugene. I will not bemoan the bloated federal budget for hunting down “terrorists.” I will not go on and on about how Eugene cops may be the most violent, reactionary cops in the entire country. 

I would like to talk a bit about human nature. I want to talk about the fact that the government is scared of kids. I want to talk about how they are willing to ruin what will most likely be fruitful and totally law-abiding lives because of the actions of people who are not even believed by our government to be mature enough to decide when to drink. 

This ties into the whole Jake Ferguson fiasco. The other defendants in that case had moved on with their lives. They had jobs. They had families. They were probably really avid recyclers, but let’s face it, as we get older and more settled, we get more complacent. Jake was the only one who was still reliving the “glory days” because he was too busy being a junkie to move on. Now they are threatening another kid with felony jaywalking? Ian [Van Ornum] probably would have faired a bit better had he been more obsequious, but it is appalling to think that going to a protest is going to affect him for the rest of his life. Pesticides can be really gnarly. I’ve seen chemical burns on the people who apply them and have to say I am not too keen on being exposed to them. I am even less keen on the idea of not knowing I am being exposed to them. Sounds like a good reason to have a protest. 

The R-G said that the federal agent was there because they were “worried that the demonstrators might march the five blocks to the federal courthouse.” March to the courthouse. Not blow up the courthouse. Not vandalize the courthouse. Just walk over there, wave some signs and go home with a small sense of accomplishment. I am not sure how to get it through the government’s thick skull that these are not the kids that kill people. These are the kids who grow up to be avid recyclers. 

Gen Schaack, Eugene



DIRTY LAUNDRY

I could not believe how tacky and selfish your “unofficial guide to the real Eugene” was (6/26). I am embarrassed and ashamed to live in a city that publishes a newspaper with such negativity such as yours. I used to think that I was one of your targeted audiences: someone who leans to the left of center, who appreciates the arts, music and activities that abound in our area, and also is staring down the second half of a century. No more.

You had an opportunity to help the community, to invite the thousands that came to Eugene for the Olympic Trials to enjoy our many venues for entertainment, our fine restaurants, art galleries and beautiful outdoors. Instead you hung out the dirty laundry — for what purpose? Eugene has issues, as does every city. Is the time to work those out when the community pulls together with civic pride to have the world’s spotlight shining on us? Did this article do anything to help right all of those wrongs? I think other letter writers were spot on to include your faux pas as number 33 on your own list.

When I visit another city, I am excited when I find a paper dedicated to the events, music and art that exist in the city. It gives me a place to start to get to know the city from an insider’s viewpoint. I have fortunately been places that provided wonderful reviews of local restaurants, addresses and maps of gallery walks, etc. in many cities. This benefits so many small, local businesses, as well as giving a cosmopolitan impression of the city. You had an opportunity to showcase the wonderful things Eugene has to offer.

Eugene has been seriously blemished by your publishing of this article. 

Brenda Monroe, Eugene



DIGGING FOR DIRT

What a pleasure it was to read the July 3 edition of EW! Every article was positive and well written and there were few if any references to our elitist alternative schools, malicious police and nefarious multinational corporations. 

This edition was a very pleasant change from your usual endless and repetitive diatribes against these entities. Your pre-Olympic Trials issue (6/26) hit a new low with Alan Pittman’s article detailing all of the perceived injustices that have taken place in Eugene since the founding of the city, so it was particularly refreshing to read the latest issue. Realizing that he had an even larger crowd to whine to, Pittman dug deep to find all of the dirt that he could possibly find. He behaved like an undisciplined child who waits until the relatives are visiting so that he can tell everybody all of the family problems.

It wasn’t until I finished the July 3 edition that I realized why the issue was so positive. There were no articles written by Pittman. Keep up the good work, EW, and let’s keep EW Pittman-free.

Dave Taube, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: The July 3 issue was not entirely Pittman-free. He wrote the informative news story on five proposals for the Sears pit. We like to think of Alan Pittman as the conscience of Eugene, constantly reminding us of the work we still need to do in order to create a better city and county. And last time we counted, his investigative reporting has earned 50 state and regional awards for journalism excellence.

 

 




END ARENA CONSPIRACY

Just bond it. Just build it. No open bidding allowed and do it before the deadline in the letter. Hurry up or you won’t get the extra $50 million. These are the marching orders given to the infamous UOP Foundation and Phit LLC as they attempt to acquire more land and bypass common sense land use regulations.

This haphazard and chaotic Nike development and UO acquisitions surge must appear to be “sustainable” to Phil Knight. That would explain why there is a little reported $50 million “gift” on the table. In reality, though, there are ways to uphold and defend some of our land use laws and this case is sure to set precedence on how UO Nike growth is allowed to proceed in the future. Alan Zelenka, who was chairman of the arena committee, should resign as city councilor for undermining Fairmount neighborhood livability and property rights during his attempts to streamline this project.

The real reason Phil Knight has insisted that only public dollars be used in building his architectural monument is so eminent domain can continue to be utilized for unilateral expansion of the sprawling UO Nike footprint. Private projects may not rely on UO eminent domain powers. 

Big donors and their handlers are so over zealous that recently it has been suggested that the arena proposal include an indoor track facility or even baseball. Two important and possibly pivotal hearings related to the UO Nike arena district plans are on July 21 at 7:30 pm at the Eugene Council Chambers. The hearings relate to the city handing over alleys to UO Nike for demolition. Planning goals and requirements of public involvement, neighborhood livability, historic preservation and maintaining connectivity have been severely undermined by UO officials and their colluding city of Eugene “partners.” The Olympic Trials have helped act as a catalyst to augment secretive corporate partnerships that undermine the basic rights of Eugene citizens.

The economic pressure and risk generated by the Nike Arena — if ever built — will ensure ongoing Fairmount Neighborhood demapping and long-term speculative demolition of all blocks in the vicinity of the Moss Street area. For more information on the Nike Fairmount demolition crisis, email mossstreetconspiracy@yahoo.com

Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene 



INVEST IN THE FUTURE

I am a senior at Sheldon High School. I am writing to you about education and its importance in the American society.

I feel that underprivileged people need more help when it comes to college. They are losing their chances of doing better in the future because they can’t afford to get into school. The government should help support poor people more than they have in the past. A certain amount of money should be given to people who are unable to afford college and want to further their education. Once they graduate they will be making more money than they would have been before they went to college and can help improve our society.

Intelligence is not based on money or class, so education should not be available only to those who an afford it. Make education available to everyone!

Lindsay Spencer, Eugene



FASTEST OF THE FAST  

This is no ordinary roadside distraction/ This sweaty, adrenaline pumping running action/ There is a reason that in every season, this driven devotion/ Day after day, mile upon mile, this two-legged human transportation/ It is no oversimplification/ This drive to run, ‘tis never done, I intend no pun

A young runner’s lifetime devotion/ In seemingly constant motion/  Settles in the blocks, the focus, the anticipation/ The crack of the official’s gun, a split-second reaction/ A precisely timed explosion, no time for apprehension

Must avoid the double-fault infraction and certain elimination/ Simplifying each distinct motion/ A hundredth of a second’s time can create an ocean of emotion

The stretch, the lean, the tape breaks/ The crowd is on its feet in celebration, exaltation/ You are the fastest of the fast, a world record sensation

Ah, to run, a lifetime’s temptation 

Tim Boyden, Eugene



LEGALIZE OCCUPATION

Some have called the “liberation of Iraq” illegal; others have accused us of violating human rights and international law. But once again we’ll show our critics we are a nation guided by the rule of law. As we speak, our government is negotiating a treaty with our friends in Baghdad that will legalize Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

All we want is an agreement that will allow us to “legally” stay in Iraq, one of the largest producers of oil in the world, into the foreseeable future. We are not asking for a lot. All we want the Iraqis to do is grant us a few favors for getting rid of Saddam. We just want 50-plus bases to house our soldiers, and we want immunity for our troops and private contractors from Iraqi law, unlimited access to Iraqi airspace, ability to launch military operations against “terrorists,” etc. 

So why is there opposition to this from the Iraqis? We’ll “protect” their oil for years to come. It must be just the few malcontents, Saddamists, Iranian lackeys and terrorists. Who else would question this? Here at home John McCain is on board. Even the Democrats are not making a big deal out of it. Barack Obama’s campaign issued a no comment after being asked where Obama is on this issue. Not even the anti-war movement is moving.

More than 80 countries in the world have similar agreements with us. What’s the big deal? It’s a small price to pay for freedom. 

Pete Mandrapa, Eugene



BETTER COMPETITION

Competition remains paramount in the minds of decision makers the world over. So if that’s the case, let’s compete as nations to see who can feed the hungry, house the homeless, and finance the recovery of AIDS orphans in Africa faster! 

Let us compete to see who can clean up the environment more efficiently. Let’s compete to see who can produce the most thoughtful civil and human rights record faster! Let’s compete to see who can provide more affordable health care for our senior citizens and the disabled! Let’s compete to see who can halt homicides and suicides, death and destruction faster! 

Above all, let’s compete to see who has the will and the courage to produce a better world, where hate gives way to love, ignorance gives way to knowledge, prejudice gives way to tolerance, and war gives way to peace. Competition is an integral part of human nature, so let’s invent a new human nature and put aside our existing competitive values of military and economic struggles, and move to a more realistic and practical resolve.

There is only one intelligent course. Let’s find it together. If we do, the radiance of our accomplishments will illuminate our world more than a jealous sun could ever dream of.

Tom Bush, Eugene



SAVE THE FOREST

The pursuit of deforestation is the action of converting forested land into non-forest land. Some businesses do this for the natural resources the forest has provided. Others do it in order to inflate their empire. About one-third of mature forests in the world have been felled. This means that more than 750 million of the original worldwide forests have been cleared for human consumption. If the clear-cutting of forests continues at this rate, by 2030, almost 80 percent of all natural forestlands will be demolished.

There is a cornucopia of benefits to saving the forests of the world. For centuries, countries all over the world make a huge profit off of harvesting and exporting products such as sugarcane, coffee, bananas and chocolate. There are also many ways we can help save the forests.

The endeavor to clear-cut natural forests in order to revive them is, plainly a poorly conducted and feasibly perilous form of administration. We must adapt to the ways of our natural environment and enable expansive forests to do what was intended, including infestation of insects and natural burning.

It is important to take responsibility in caring for the planet and preserving its natural qualities. One can do this by adopting an acre or switching to wood alternatives, such as, salvaged lumber, and engineered or composite wood products. One might also consider buying recycled plastic lumber, or actively supporting the legalization of hemp. However, the quickest route to rescuing the forests of the world is to become educated about our situation.

Justina Coleman, Eugene



POVERTY AND HOPE

We are an impoverished society. We have possessions kings couldn’t dream of. We’re helpless and hopeless, however, because we lack the skills to provide ourselves with shelter, food, and everything else we need.

We’re ideologically bankrupt. We need, and expect, the government to solve our problems. Sheepishly we follow movements — the sustainability movement, the elect so-and-so movement, etc. But movements “are insincere; they propose that the trouble is caused by other people; they would like to change policy but not behavior” (Wendell Berry).

Real adults live responsibly, not by insisting other people live responsibly.

Hear the true message of hope: We do not need better [politicians, fuel, computers, schools, corporations, experts, cars, science or technology. “Our country is not being destroyed by bad politics, it is being destroyed by a bad way of life” (Berry).

The only viable solution to the destruction is for each of us to change our own lifestyle.

William Hortmann, Corvallis



NUCLEAR PROMISES

The new account about a presidential candidate’s plan to build or remodel 100 new atomic energy plants states it is a “clean, safe alternative to traditional sources of energy.”

That is not true because the federal government does not keep its promises to establish a permanent nuclear waste storage site.

The federal government has promised over and over to provide a safe, permanent, contained storage site. In the 1970s, before the “Three Mile Island disaster and the Chernobyl plant explosion, I was the Chair of the Oregon Senate Energy and Environment Committee. The Federals promised to have such a permanent waste storage site by the year 1982. They also have promised that permanent storage would be available by other dates before the 1982 date and other dates later than 1982. No promise has been kept.

But the nuclear waste generated by a nuclear electric plant has a “half life” of 10,000 years, that is, the waste fuel will be emitting deadly and dangerous radiation for 10,000 years. And then its radioactive life is a second 10,000 years of deadly or dangerous atomic emissions.

The Bible proclaims that the sins of the fathers shall be visited on the children “even unto the seventh generation.” Taking 50 years as a generation and 20,000 years of the radioactive life of nuclear waste, the danger will be visited on our offspring even unto the 400th generation.

And 26 years after the government failed to keep its 1982 promise, a permanent waste site is not even under active consideration by the government. Yet, a candidate can promise 45 new plants without even discussing where to put the deadly and dangerous waste.

Eugene’s voters rejected a proposal to finance and build one nuclear generating plant for EWEB along the Willamette River near the Dexter reservoir, upstream from Eugene and Springfield.

The opposition to the plant was led by notable Eugeneans, including Alton (Bunky) Baker Jr., of the Eugene Register-Guard. 

What of the new proposal to build 45 new nuclear electric plants? The new proposal does not even mention the need for safe storage or money-saving reprocessing. It does not even acknowledge that the 20,000-year waste is still resting beside the Columbia River at PGE’s defunct Trojan Plant.

How many Trojan horses will be ignorantly let to invade our living space?

Edward N. Fadeley, Creswell



TRUE LEARNING

As a retired teacher of many years, I can remember when, more than once, I was pressured to “teach to the test” so that my students would pass the test required for passing to the next grade or graduating from high school. Teaching “to the test” left little time for teaching the subject. Many of us teachers resented our students being shortchanged in learning about the subject. No teacher, as I remember, resisted as student failure of the mandated test was used to evaluate your teaching skills as well as your future employment. We agreed that we were “dumbing down” our students. The policy of George Bush has continued the dumbing down of students by requiring schools to have higher numbers, show scholastic improvement or lose federal funding. Thus “teaching to the test” became more prevalent, especially in states most dependent on federal funding.

Today I’ve learned the answer to student “dumbing down” and failure — let students take the SAT, the passage of which is required for a college education, as many times as the student wishes. Then the student can choose which test scores to hide and which test scores to submit for college admission.

Shame on American politicians, American educators and parents for the dumbing down of American students — that has been the easy way out for many less responsible parents. America, once admired and envied for its educational system, is now an also ran. Other students from other countries are now often considered more employable. Employers seek foreign employees and move to other countries. Will we ever again attain the needed level of responsible politicians, educators and parents who truly cherish and nurture the education of American children?

I hope so.

Jerry Copeland, Florence



EASIEST ALTERNATIVES 

Let’s face the fact that we are going to run out of oil and it will probably be sooner than what most people would want to believe. In 2007 it was put out that we would hit peak oil in 2010. That’s two years away! With our growing addiction for oil, who knows, it could be sooner. Even if we do have two years it would take that time and perhaps even longer to invent, test out, and introduce an alternative to oil. With gas and oil prices skyrocketing, we need to take a stand and do something about this.

It is bad enough that we, the U.S., use roughly 25 percent of the world’s oil when we only produce a measly 1.7 percent of that oil! What is worse is what using oil has done to our environment. So what needs to happen is that we need to find a cheaper and eco-friendly alternative to oil. For now here are some options that you have, you can walk or ride your bike to work or other places. Carpooling is also a smart option if you live far from work. Another great option that is paid for by your taxes is the public bus system. If everyone in the U.S. did this, we could dramatically cut back on our dependency on foreign oil, giving our unwilling and procrastinating government more time to come up with an alternative solution to oil.

I am behind this 120 percent. I don’t even own my own car, though I do have my license; I bike or walk most everywhere I go. I do drive, but only when I am going somewhere far or the weather is terrible. As a high school student at Sheldon High School, I think that it is sad when I see high school students who live in walking distance from school, drive to school or drive to a place that is 5 minutes away. 

It is really not that hard to walk or ride places, just leave yourself as much time as possible or time it. After a while you will notice that it will take you less and less time. Once you buy your bike, keep it in good shape, treat it like your car, bring it in for tune-ups and check your ties, brakes, and gears monthly. If you’re walking, spend time looking for good walking shoes or else your feet and knees will be in pain. 

Sean Sellars, Eugene