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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 7.31.08




HI FROM HYNIX

I had major trepidations when I heard that Jong Kap Kim, chairman of Hynix Corporation, was meeting with state and local leaders, including Mayor Piercy. A Hynix spokesman described Kim’s trip as a “meet and greet” session. Well, what wonderful greetings Kim delivered!

The reservations that City Councilor Bonny Bettman has long expressed in giving Hynix corporate welfare (a total $66.86 million reduction in property taxes) are now vindicated. A key reason why Hynix kept the Eugene facility open this long was that in 2003 the European Union found the company guilty of unfair competition regarding its Korean DRAM factories, due to improper government financial assistance. They thus levied a 33 percent tariff on the DRAM chips from their Korean factories. By having the Eugene facility, Hynix could skirt these sanctions. However, since the EU has now lifted these tariffs this year, there is no longer any reason to keep the Eugene factory. Indeed, Hynix has already announced plans to upgrade its DRAM factory in Wuxi, China, to the more competitive 300mm chip standard.

Hynix has had numerous problems in Eugene with violating environmental regulations. They also faced lawsuits regarding both racial and sex discrimination in the workplace. And 300 of the more than 1,100 total employees are contract workers, and thus get no benefits from Hynix.

Let us hope that Eugene’s elected officials have the courage to demand some of these unpaid taxes from Hynix. The public needs to insist that they do this.

 Lance Jacobs, Springfield

LIVE AND LET LIVER

It was recently suggested by Cali Bagby of EW (7/17 News Briefs) that the city impose a ban on foie gras. 

The avid bird-hunting ancient Egyptians noticed that waterfowl they killed during certain migrations had very large, rich livers. They began experimenting with domesticated geese and learned that force feeding the geese and limiting their movement took advantage of the animals natural fat storage mechanism, creating an incredibly large, fatty and rich liver. This process spread to Europe where the French farmers of Gascony became famous for their goose foie gras. It was not until recently that Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Sonoma Foie Gras began producing the liver in the U.S.

If Eugene were to impose a ban on foie gras based on the perceived inhumane conditions in which the animals are raised, then a ban must be placed on all commercially produced animal products. Equally disturbing and perhaps more cruel, but on a vastly larger scale, is the mass production of beef, chicken, pork and dairy products. Tyson, Con-Agra, Hormel and Kraft have completely commoditized animal products.

Ms. Bagby cites that Chicago recently banned foie gras but fails to mention the incredible backlash that followed and the prompt repeal of the ban. It is very questionable what benefit the ban had on the animal rights movement; it did, however, provide ample fodder for biased, right-wing radio and television show hosts.

Of even greater importance is the potential for a ban to dissuade small, family farms from producing foie gras. This is an old craft, cherished in many parts of the world, which could provide struggling independent farmers with a diversified product. In today’s economic climate, small farmers need a unique combination of products to find a niche and compete in the marketplace. 

Focusing on foie gras, with its miniscule production compared with chicken, pork and beef, diverts energy from where it is needed: a campaign against factory farming. Upton Sinclair made one hell of an impact with The Jungle, and he never advocated banning meat.

Matthew Calzia, Eugene

CRIME OR ILLNESS?

On July 16, 2008, PFC James Burmeister was sentenced to six months jail time and a bad conduct discharge. He is now ineligible for VA health care for his severe PTSD and traumatic brain injury as a result of a bomb exploding next to him. His only crime was refusing to kill innocent people and trying to speak the truth of what is happening in Iraq. This is in many ways a death sentence. Many veterans with free access to medical care for PTSD and brain injuries still end up on the street or hurting themselves to stop the pain. James Burmeister and thousands of veterans like him have had their lives ripped apart and have no way to even try and put them back together again.

Christopher Hughes, Eugene

POKES AT PITTMAN

The recent attacks on Alan Pitman by Brenda Monroe and Dave Taube — epistolary versions of hiding the ugly truth of the downtown pit from the delicate sensibilities of out-of-town visitors — were unjustified and mean-spirited (7/17 letters).

As a former high school, college and university writing teacher for 40 years, I have long admired Pittman’s straightforward style, his passionate sense of justice, his terse clarity and his fearless willingness to take on the sacred cows of the wealthy and powerful in the Eugene area.

His writing has consistently filled the gap left in community consciousness when Don Bishoff retired from The Register-Guard a few years ago and no longer skewered the deservingly skewerable in his admirable columns.

I send at least three cheers from the coast to Alan — and an exhortation to keep up the good work.

Jerome Garger, Yachats

WHO’S SCREWED?

Last weekend a group of seven of us from Eugene went to Washington to climb Mount Rainier. When we returned to our car, which happened to be a Suburban towing a trailer we needed to haul all of our climbing gear, we realized we had been “pegged.” For those of you that are not aware, pegging is when someone attempts to stick it to SUV drivers by inserting screws into the tires and therefore destroying them. Luckily we had noticed this before driving off.

I am curious if the perpetrator had thought of the following before attempting this act of environmental heroism:

• It would take four Priuses to transport seven climbers and their gear, which would use more gas and have a larger impact on the environment than the one Suburban that we used. In fact, most of us ride bikes for our normal transportation so it’s not like we are out wasting gas for fun.

• The tire was ruined and we now get to buy a new tire. This adds money to the rubber industry and also creates more waste since the old tire is now useless and will most likely end up in a landfill.

• What if we hadn’t noticed the screw before taking off? The tire would have shredded on the first corner, which could have led to all sorts of terrible situations. Your screw could have removed seven environmentally conscious people from this planet. Way to help your cause.

I commend you for caring, but I am sure there are better ways to go about this without actually causing harm to the planet and potential harm to people. Next time you want to make a change maybe you should do something constructive rather than screwing people you know nothing about.

Steve Kuhn, Eugene

HARD EVIDENCE

Interesting essay from Sally Sheklow that you published (7/17 “Off the Rag”). If I didn’t know better I would think that she is serving up hard evidence for the anti-gay, anti-sex education lobby to grab hold of and use to scare parents. 

For example Sheklow writes, “Thanks to the kindly dyke who taught my college health class … I learned lots of things about my body … that led me quite naturally into the world of woman-loving-woman.” 

This could too easily be interpreted as 1) This is why we should keep gays out of the classroom, and 2) This is why we should teach abstinence-only sex ed and stay away from all that modern touchy- feely stuff. I mean, we don’t want our kids led quite naturally into the world of woman-loving-woman! 

 Kevin O’Brien, Eugene

THINKING REQUIRED

Instead of raising taxes and cutting needed programs like the OSU Extension Service, let’s find ways to conserve energy and resources.

Rather than pit environmentalists against economists, let’s work together to help solve both problems. City, county, state and federal budgets are being cut all over the U.S. There are many ways to help save money, lower pollution and our dependence on foreign oil through conservation. 

I have a few ideas that I have been playing around with in my head for some time. School buses could consolidate the bus stops and save time and gas for the buses as well as all of us who are stuck behind them. I am frequently behind a school bus in the morning and there are about six stops in a one-mile stretch. This is for elementary age kids on up to high school students. It might help with the child obesity problem as well. Organized sports could offer “neighborhood only” games so travel is cut down. (Don’t get me started on the UO’s new sports arena.)

Think of all the energy saved if LED motion lights were installed for streetlights and elsewhere. Let’s lower the speed limit to 55 mph. Cash bonuses could be given to public employees who find ways to save money. This usually results in using less resources, which is good for our Earth. 

We need to expand the school garden project that teaches kids how to grow food and use fresh, organic food from the gardens in the cafeterias. What ideas do you have? What can you do to help? We are all in this Spaceship Earth together, and only together in love can we survive in good health.

Pam Driscoll, Dexter

POOR SPORTSMANSHIP

Chuck Adams’ coverage of the Olympic Trials (7/3 “Bulls on Parade” ) was whiny, insubstantial and borderline insulting to the athletes and their coaches. It’s unfortunate that the story ran during the final days of the Trials. He managed to tease out the most mundane and insignificant gleanings from an overwhelmingly positive and exciting event for Eugene. 

Though I wasn’t lucky enough to get tickets, the time I spent in the fan festival area (dubbed “the sideshow” by Adams) was filled with positive energy. Yes, it was crowded. It’s the Olympic Trials. Yes, it was hot. It’s July. Despite these obvious and unavoidable conditions, the Trials’ organizers deserve kudos for staging an event that received high praises from competitors and fans alike. 

The next time an event of this caliber rolls into town, consider dispatching a writer who can at least feign an interest in world-class athletics. Even better, send someone who is capable of slightly more sophisticated literal and metaphorical observations and can hold their own in the media tent.

Katie Lewis, Eugene

GREAT COVER

Just a large BRAVO for your wonderful cover design and execution on last week’s Weekly. “Wild Bills” is a masterpiece, the best yet in recent covers. Keep it up.

Doug Brinkman, Eugene

CRAZED CYCLISTS

To the two bicyclists who did not beat the yellow light and darted out from behind the parked car at Lincoln and 11th, and then, one deciding to turn back nearly colliding with the other one who sped on across the intersection as I drove into the crosswalk where all this risky behavior was taking place, I’m really glad I didn’t hit either one of you.

However, I was a nervous wreck all the way home.

Suzi Johnson, Eugene



OLFACTORY FATIGUE

After reading Brenda Monroe’s and Dave Taube’s sucky critiques of the Weekly’s “unofficial guide” (6/26 and 7/17) I am convinced that they are the type of persons who sit in a pile of conventional political shit and can’t even smell it.

Bob Saxton, Eugene



ATTACK ON DIVERSITY

For many of us it is hard not to consider the brutal attack on Michael C. last month in the Trainsong District as a crime motivated by prejudice. That incident was a crime both against a specific African-American male and against the wider community, which has come to regard itself as “diverse.” My friends of color remind me of how far short Eugene falls from this presumed identity. The discrepancy between so-called   diversity, and a mugging like this is painful and glaring.

Some would say the expression of violence with a bat or club bears a distinct signature. Roughly interpreted, “people of color, be on the alert.” It is hard to disagree with this position given the history of violence against blacks and people of color in America. A signature bears likeness to a symbol, e.g. KKK, and points in at least two directions; these may be reduced to two very basic emotional conditions: “beware of my anger” (the outward expression) and “I am of disturbed mind” (the inward reality).

It can become difficult to reach out with co-passion for youthful perpetrators acting in a fit of misplaced passion. We can, and perhaps must, embrace the youths on that night as “sons-gone-astray,” and hope that with proper help they will find their way back in the fold. God help us that while we deplore this brutal act of violence we may also come to understand, and perhaps even love, those who would choose violence over understanding.

Bruce M. Sedgwick, MA, Eugene

BACKYARD BURNING

I’ve gotten pretty angry at LRAPA’s and the state of Oregon’s approach to cleaning the air in the Willamette Valley. Their approach is actually a retreat. 

LRAPA, in last March’s board meeting, decided to go the way of the state of Oregon’s air pollution regulations. LRAPA has now let local governments decide whether recreational backyard burning, aka campfire, bonfire, patio heater, is allowed during the summer months. Those of you who don’t know what patio heaters are, they are campfires with a skirt. They are used by people who are too lazy to go camping to have a wienie roast, and LRAPA succumbed to pressure to allow campfires in urban areas. How insane! 

Instead of protecting and improving air quality in Lane County, LRAPA’s board members decided to pollute the air some more. This year, Springfield and Florence now allow campfires in backyards. Last year it was illegal and it should be still. Who appointed these jackoffs? Along with LTD, this board needs to be elected, not appointed. 

I agree grass field burning needs to be banned, and Gov. Kulongoski should issue an executive order, but what about locally? Please attend the LRAPA board meetings at 7 pm every second Monday of each month at 1010 Main St., Springfield, and also let your county commissioners know how you feel. Now is the time to pass a statewide burn ban via ballot initiative since the politicians have been bought off by the grass farmer lobbyists. What a pathetic state (of Oregon) we live in.

Dean Carter, Springfield 

HAPPY DAYS

Does anyone refer to our kick-ass congressman as Da Foz? No? Can we start now?!? I can’t wait for the episode where he walks into the Veep’s office and says “Yo, Mr. C — sit on it!” Then mugs to the camera with two thumbs up with “AAAYYYYY!” Look for the spin-off: Jenna Loves Hagie.

Glenn Leonard, Eugene



 

(web-only letters)

PROTEST IMPOSTERS

Most people in Eugene seem not to have been aware of the presence of Federal Protective Service (Homeland Security) agents at protest rallies here until the recent Eugene police Tasering incident at the anti-pesticide rally. I think Eugene citizens should know about an earlier FPS presence at a rally I went to last fall.

I attended a rally against global warming (with Mayor Piercy as one of the speakers), which started at the EMU courtyard and progressed to the perimeter of Autzen Stadium, where a football game was about to start. I saw two men wearing T-shirts saying “Federal Protective Service.” They had dogs with them. I went over to talk to them, asking if they were Homeland Security agents. They said yes, so I proceeded to question them further, inquiring where they were based (Eugene); why they were here monitoring this small peaceful rally (no answer); and if monitoring was necessary, why weren't the local Eugene police here instead. To which the agent replied that the Eugene police had requested their presence at a rally. Recently I asked Police Chief Lehner about this, and he replied that this was not true and that he knew nothing about it. He added that local police is definitely subordinate to Homeland Security (except in immigration arrests).

I've concluded that the Federal Protective Service probably attends all protest rallies. One more reason to conclude that the right to privacy is close to disappearing in this country.

Peggy Robinson, Eugene

CYCLE OF BLAME

Why do so many pedestrians and cyclists get hit by cars? I moved to Eugene in 1996 from Boise and it seems that Eugene/Springfield is a very dangerous place to live. There have been quit a few home invasions along with pedestrians and bicyclists getting hit by cars. And why so many strip joints? Are there that many perverts in this area? 

Now I know that every town has its problems, but I have never heard of so many people getting hit by cars. Why is this? What I have noticed is that the cyclist or pedestrian is more than likely at fault. 

For instance, on Oak Patch, there is a new crosswalk and yield sign, and the pedestrians and cyclists approach this crosswalk without slowing down and not even looking until the last minute because they expect the cars to stop. I work downtown and I see pedestrians and cyclists stepping out into traffic without even looking, lots are not even in a crosswalk, and if you are not in a crosswalk we do not have to stop. People around here stop even if someone is standing at the side of the road waiting to jaywalk. I have even seen the police do this, why? And if a cop stops for a jaywalker, you do not have to stop unless the jaywalker is in your lane! We don't have to stop; the law does not require us too. The law states that if a person steps foot into the crosswalk (not standing at the roadside) the cars are to stop. A cyclist is supposed to get off their bike and walk across the crosswalk. This almost never happens. I have seen this only once by a young girl.

The main point I'm trying to make is use common sense in everyday doings because you may be one of the unfortunate who gets hit.

Glen Johnson, Eugene

PRIVACY TAKES A HIT

Our right to privacy took another hit the day Congress voted eavesdropping a legal act by our federal government on our own citizens as well as others abroad. I see only an overzealous government eager to spy on anybody and everybody they wish whenever and wherever they wish. This is an outrage that our natural-born rights are becoming more of a privilege like driving a motor vehicle. We The People should make a stand and try to petition Bush’s impeachment before he exits the White House.

Justice has not been served when our rights are being revoked all due to the blanket of fear, which Bush and his administration have created. The only real thing that has been created is us having little or not confidence in our president who took an oath of which he promised to tell not a lie, protect our freedoms not take them away over some speculated beliefs that there will be a repeat of 9/11. There is nothing legal about our own government looking over our shoulder spying on our every move with cameras or federal agents reporting what they suspect rather than the facts.

I feel that the dumbo-crats that I mistakenly voted in to the House and Senate have done next to nothing to uphold the promises they made to get them where they are today. I have no confidence when they, too, are letting our right to privacy be taken away and allowing this president bully them into just going along with him because he just won’t bend their way unless they support his warmonger bill first. 

Tracy Mahoney, Eugene

SAVE THE STRAYS

My name is Katie and I am a senior at Sheldon High School. I am writing in regards to the Lane County Animal Regulation closure. I believe there should be a better plan in place for the animals that are now being abandoned.

With no animal control to pick up animals, you must rely on the police, and in the Eugene area, this is a big issue. With the budget cuts to the police, how could we depend on them to pick up stray or potentially dangerous animals when they are already swamped with their jobs?

At the very least, I feel there should be some kind of program, either funded or volunteer, that can be called on when an animal needs to be picked up. The animals could be dispersed between the Greenhill Humane Society and the animal regulation in Florence so neither place is overwhelmed.

Katie Elder, Eugene 

COMMUNITY CARES

The good people from Looking Glass New Roads came to our classroom to discuss homeless youth. I think that it’s really neat when people from the community come and visit the kids in the schools; it is really beneficial to know what is happening in the world.

I feel experiences like these better prepare young people for the real world. I would have loved to have had more of them in school growing up. This being my senior year in high school, I will not get the chance. My hope is that the teachers invite more people from the community to come and visit the schools in the future, to help kids better understand what is really happening around them.

Ash Bullert, Eugene