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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 7.24.08




TRUSTING POLICE

Is there no end to the reasons citizens of Eugene cannot trust the Eugene Police Department? From the use of extreme force to subdue protesters, the shooting of Ryan Salisbury, the two officers, Magaña and Lara, who sexually abused so many women while on duty, their attempts to oust the police auditor to their most recent show of lack of professionalism, the public insults at Councilor Bonny Bettman, there seems to be a long, ugly laundry list of things our police go out of their way to do to demonstrate that they still cannot be trusted. In fact, they seem to have no interest at all in straightening up and behaving themselves.

One cannot even call to file a police report on an accident involving an uninsured driver with a suspended license, even if the person whose car was hit was in fact injured. I was greeted by callous, insensitive dispatchers who told me that it was up to my insurance company to deal with it since I wasn’t taken to the hospital by ambulance. 

Of course, she made the famous claim of “understaffing” — a problem that afflicts all police departments, large and small — and during the conversation, I felt I was being toyed with. I continued to raise the issues of the suspension, lack of insurance and the injury as she continued to refuse to help in any way and then she told me that my demeanor was a problem for her. Well, officer, your demeanor is no doubt a severe problem for a lot of people.

I suspect many citizens of Eugene have not gotten the sensitivity and assistance they needed in their time of crisis, when they needed the police to be their protectors, not the people specially assigned to antagonize them. The EPD has steadfastly maintained its reputation for uselessness and engendering fear and hopelessness in law-abiding citizens.

Kimberly Hill, Eugene



WHERE’S THE DOG?

On July 7, while delivering mail on 8th Avenue, I was bitten on the leg by a dog that was not being controlled well by the girl who was walking it, and who was with two other dogs and four other girls. I received three lacerations and two puncture wounds on my left calf.  

I had to make the girls who were walking the dogs stop and wait for me to call my supervisor to come out and take a report. With any dog bite that draws blood, like mine, the post office gets involved and has to file a work-related injury report. The wait for my supervisor and the report took just over half an hour of standing in the hot sun, and the requirement from the post office, that I see a doctor, meant that I did not get home until 9:45 pm that night after a long wait at the after-hours clinic. 

Animal Control was notified and I was told that the dog would be quarantined for 30 days because of the bite. Well, today, July 17, I get a letter from Animal Control that stated they “could not locate the dog.” So what amazes me is the blatant dishonesty of the people who were caring for the dogs. Where’s the dog, girls, hmmm?

Don Robertson, Eugene letter carrier, Rt. 218

 

CYCLE OF UGLINESS

The recent Tasering incident has once again revived the stale, flawed argument that police “in harm’s way” must use potentially lethal force so as to protect themselves. This may sound reasonable on the surface, but why did police put themselves in harm’s way?

Too often police find themselves needing to hurt somebody. An officer who enters a harmless situation and puts himself and others in danger is not serving the people. A peace officer wisely avoids the traps of fear and anger. 

A police officer’s job is to look for trouble. Unfortunately the problems we seek tend to materialize. It is a difficult situation for police. The energy they bring largely determines the outcome. If they are expecting something ugly, it turns ugly. The result is anger, distrust, disrespect and reinforced expectations of more ugliness.

The cycle of ugliness is difficult to break, especially when orders from their superiors force our police to imbue trouble into a situation where trouble was not necessary. Fascism requires the repression of those who challenge business and industry, yet business and industry must be challenged.

Ugliness seems to be growing at an exponential rate, if it is not put in check it will consume the entire world. To end the cycles of ugliness we must end the paradigm of fascism, and we must treat each other with compassion and respect.

Question: What do reckless cops and drunk drivers have in common? Answer: They all needlessly endanger themselves and others.

Fabian Lawrence, Cottage Grove



KNEE-JERK PAPER

Wow. The contrasting images of the recent issues covering the Olympic Trials (6/26) and the Country Fair (7/10) taken together present a sharply pointed editorial opinion, to be kind about it. It seems your paper represents a knee-jerk alternative viewpoint in regards to just about every topic you choose to present. While not being a jock or a UO apologist, I do not see the need or usefulness for such a mean-spirited take on the Trials. I imagine Alan “Pit-bull” Pittman fancies he is building up quite a résumé to pitch to the Village Voice someday. 

Pardon the cynicism on my part and accept my fondest hopes that you can be a balanced community voice and not leftist infotainment. And this from an old Buddhist beatnik! Please!

Kyoho Tom Agterberg, Eugene



CONNECT THE PATHS

With gas prices soaring, Eugene should make immediate improvements to its bicycle infrastructure. The city relies almost entirely on bike lanes that put cyclists directly alongside traffic. While there are several off-road, safe bike paths (Amazon, Fern Ridge, the River Trail), surprisingly, they are not connected! The Amazon Trail, for example, dead ends at South Eugene High School, a few blocks from the UO to the east and the River Trail to the north. This is a waste of public investment.

The city has designated certain streets as bike-friendly by limiting auto access and lowering speed limits. Conditions on these streets may be reasonably safe for adults, but not for families commuting their kids in pull-along Burleys. One accidental swipe of a car can end in tragedy for a family. Many parents don’t want to take that risk.

The city should create more paths that are completely separate from traffic. In the interim, the city could connect the existing paths by temporarily closing a traffic lane on a quiet street and creating a physical barrier between the auto and bike traffic. As car traffic decreases and bike traffic increases, this improvement reflects a realistic adjustment in citizens’ transportation infrastructure needs. New York City is closing a five-mile thoroughfare from [lower] Manhattan to Central Park as a pilot project that may lead to regular street closings.

While Eugene is in the process of formulating a long-term bicycle strategy, making interim connections between the existing paths is necessary now.

Mary Wood, Eugene



JAIL TIME

Back when I was a big-city bus driver, I had a street-level view of police officers performing their duties, which included helping me deal with armed and threatening passengers. I have much respect for those officers who make every effort to do a good job to protect and serve — that is, most every officer. So, when I read in the July 5 Register-Guard that those arrested here for violent crimes are often released from jail much, much sooner than they should ever be, due to overcrowding resulting from voters’ unwillingness to adequately fund law enforcement, I understand why morale at Eugene’s Police Department is low. These are real criminals being let go, back onto Eugene streets, into Eugene’s neighborhoods to commit more criminal acts — criminals our police officers will again risk it all to apprehend again and jail again. 

Some of those released probably move on to another town or state. They are not being followed or tracked so who knows where they go? Real criminals, not imaginary boogeymen, are being released way too soon from our county jail into downtown Eugene. Hello? Do you care?

Looking at our City Hall and cramped central police station, one sees another reason for low morale. That very energy-inefficient, unattractive building needs to be replaced with an environmentally sound structure worthy of citizens’ and city employees’ pride.

I think concerned citizens need to press for immediate, emergency funds for our county jail, so those arrested for violent offenses are not soon released back out into our community. If we taxpayers can ever so happily fund a part of the UO’s new stadium’s construction costs, then surely we can find the money to at least increase jail capacity.

Charles F. Thielman, Eugene



FAIR TAXES

Some taxes are fair and some are regressive, hurting low and middle-income families. I guess there are still Bobby Green supporters writing letters and crying that he was brave to stand up and be counted for a flat and regressive tax. The majority of our citizens were wise enough to vote against a flat tax. Considerations of basic needs must be part of any tax structure. What we need is fair tax reform to support the county, but we will never get it from Green.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene



KEEPING IT FREE

Regarding all the objections to the advertising in Eugene Weekly: I’m sure those with objections to the less-than-pious advertisers in EW are intelligent people, but they seem to be missing the basic premise behind newspaper publishing: It’s not cheap.

EW is a wonderful local weekly with many talented people on staff, and it’s a wonder they’ve been able to keep it a free newspaper all this time. So if we, the readers, are not paying for it to be produced, who is? The advertisers fill that role, and I for one cannot blame the management of EW for chasing the money they need to print every week. When we pull that free newspaper out of that red box, we are supporting the writers, editors, graphic designers, photographers, printers and (bicycle!) delivery people for their hard work. But they don’t work for free — would you? 

And in the digital age, newspaper advertising is fading. To be an advertising account rep at a printed newspaper has got to be the hardest job ever — your colleagues depend on your skills to pay their rent every month. So, if you object to some business you think is immoral advertising in your free weekly newspaper, you’ve got three options as I see it: Donate the cash to keep the paper alive without advertising, ask businesses you agree with to advertise in EW to drive out the immoral Satan-spawn (if they do already, ask them to make it bigger — that back page is prime real estate!), or suck it up and enjoy your FREE newspaper.

Jonathan Smith, Eugene



FEED THE HOMELESS

Wow! Hard to believe! Our baby has become an adult! Eighteen years ago, Lois Prisinger, Barbara Boyer and I, a new arrival from California, became concerned about Florence’s growing numbers of Florence homeless. We approached the Florence City Council for help feeding the hungry. “Heck no!” was their answer. “We’ll be attracting every bum in the country!”

Willing to spend our own meager money to buy the food, I asked municipal, county and state officials for a place to serve the food. Again, “no” was the answer.

I was dismayed and discouraged when an old Oregonian said, “Why don’t you call the governor?”

Not knowing much about Oregon politics, I thought the old Oregonian was being facetious and cynical, so I said, “Why don’t you call Walt Disney?”

“No,” said the old Oregonian, “the governor was listed.” I called and reached the governor’s right-hand man.

“We can help you,” he said. “Be by your phone in the morning.”

The next morning the phone started ringing with offers. We started at Laurelwood Community Center, 1137 Maple Street, which had a kitchen, dining room and refrigeration.

With hat in hand, we again approached the managers of Florence’s three major markets. Only Safeway was positive. Safeway loaded our pickup every week for two years and continues to provide food.

Blessed by three outstanding managers (Lois Prisinger, Delight Fisher and now Carol Lyn), Florence Food Share now provides more than 40,000 pounds of food to more than 525 households per month, or more than 6 percent of Florence’s burgeoning population.

Located at 2122 Spruce St. and open 9 to 11 am weekdays, Florence Food Share is now facing a growing threat to its existence due to rising food prices and the economic turndown.

Please, good citizens, help us. Your financial and food donations can be made at Food Share, and food can be left at every Florence market with a Food Share basket at the market exit.

My wife, Mary Ellen, and I donate at least two cans per visit. After all, 89-cent cans of burritos and 69-cent cans of chili can fill a painfully hungry belly. And giving makes you feel good.

Jerry Copeland, Florence



NO SIR, YES SIR

In response to Peter Gregory’s letter to the editor July 3 (“Yes, Sir”) I have to reply to you, sir, that your rationale is an apology for neo-fascism. Yes, fascism, that form of government where the corporate state dictates what and how the laws of the land are practiced and how justice is levied on the citizenry of that country. Here in America we call it Republicanism, but in effect it is just a small departure from Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia or Communist China. So you, sir, are in effect rationalizing the “common sense” of laying down our hard-fought First Amendment rights to gather together and speak freely without the threat of goon squads in riot gear stopping free speech and free association. 

Does it not worry you that the interests of the chemical industry, the timber industry and corporate agribusiness weigh heavier on the Eugene Police Department than the interests and health of the citizens of the Willamette Valley? To be a citizen, an active member of the democratic process, means standing up and being counted. What you are advocating is to simply lie down as sheep in the wolf’s den. 

Waging a public protest on a sidewalk in a public square is not a criminal act in a dark alley. It is the single most patriotic thing we as citizens of this country can do. Doesn’t it give you some pause to know that agents of Homeland Security were the ones to call in the cops because of the threat to the concerns of the chemical and timber industries? Is the Pitchfork Rebellion or OSPIRG really so great a threat to business as usual in this new fashioned fascism, or are they the harbingers of greater threats to the corporate state, so much so that they are deemed dangerous enough to stop by any means necessary by the hands of local thugs dressed in police uniform? Any rational person should be greatly disturbed when a young man is thrown to the ground, dragged by his hair and then Tasered multiple times. He was no more responsible than you or I who write our thoughts here for the public to read. Any rational human being who still has an ounce of humanity or conscience should be appalled by your duplistic rationale.

Jonathan Seraphim, Eugene



TAXPAYER EXPENSE

I just read Free Lunch by David Cay Johnston, who has visited Eugene to give revealing speeches on how the wealthiest Americans enrich themselves at taxpayer expense. It is all in his book and I only wish everyone in Eugene could read how hidden subsidies are always there for posh golf courses, elaborate police equipment such as rolling jails and SWAT accessories, and magnificent developer projects. Every time I drive the unnecessary and elaborate new 6th Avenue by Hogan’s Palace I can’t help but think of how many potholes it would have filled.

Johnson concludes that a free lunch always becomes very expensive to the taxpayer, and if our elected representatives were well paid and they revealed all their expenses, it would soon end. He has given up on campaign finance reform and this is where I strongly disagree. 

Arizona has made real progress with their public financing of elections with laws that appear to avoid the federal loopholes allowing outside groups to raise huge funds for elections. It is past time for changes in our election process and this book has many reasons why but not how.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene



BICYCLIST BLUES

It is with great interest that I follow the on-going bicyclists vs. motorists debate. For 10 years I have commuted around Eugene almost exclusively on bike, a little by bus, and even less in cars. Having spent the majority of my childhood and adolescence on Southern California freeways, I feel very fortunate to live in a town that’s extremely accessible using alternative transportation. 

Shuttling the kids to school or hauling materials to a work site is one thing; yet, every day I watch people drive to the corner store for a six-pack, for example. I’ve watched my neighbors get DUIs because evidently, the $6 cab ride from downtown was too expensive. You’d think the absurd increase in gas prices would make a difference, but they don’t. 

I know and obey traffic laws, yet I’m constantly subjected to harassment by both motorists and worse of all, cops. If I ride in the street, which I try to avoid (I’ve been hit many times), cars pose a great danger. Cops pull me over when I ride on the sidewalk. I can’t win.

When will we realize that bicyclists aren’t the problem? I ride for my health, out of convenience, and out of disgust for the oil war. Sorry, I thought that made me part of the solution. Wrong again!

Sabrina McNamara, Eugene