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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 8.7.08




R.I.P. DAMIEN

We want to give a shout-out to our friend and former Eugene resident, Damien L. Winters, who died July 18 at age 35. Damien lived in Eugene for years and touched many people’s lives; he was an adventurous free spirit who met people everywhere he went, and we know there are many in our community who will mourn his passing. Some may have met him when he was selling his glass art at Saturday or Holiday Markets, or when he worked at The French Horn Bakery, or at Onsen Spas renting out hot tubs at night. He enjoyed biking all over town, all of the little cafes and natural food stores, hiking either of the buttes — big or small, and all the wonderful weirdness that is Eugene. It seems that there isn’t a corner of this city that he didn’t touch before he moved to Hood River a few years ago to be closer to its windsurfing and snowboarding opportunities. 

Damien died doing what he loved to do: complex acrobatics on a sailboard in high winds on the Columbia River in the Gorge near The Dalles. He was a good friend to many, and he is very much missed.

Josh & Nikki Bonazza, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: More on Damien Winters’ death can be found at forums.windsurfingmag.com



MAKE THE CASE

Well, folks, it has come to this: If you want to improve Eugene you’re going to have to demand it. You’re going to have to make your voices heard. You want a park across from the Public Library? Let the city know. Write a letter, make a phone call, raise a little hell.

Allow me to be a little politically incorrect for a moment.

Eugene, “The World’s Greatest City for The Arts and Outdoors”? You must be kidding. You’ve got to earn it. This is a slogan by the clueless for the clueless. Eugene, at this moment, is on the threshold of indelibly stamping itself as possibly the most hick city in Oregon, led by arguably the most obtuse and dysfunctional City Council in the state, and the laughing stock of Portland, Salem, Corvallis and just about any other town or burg. 

For one thing, the City Council ignores the wishes of the people, who have expressed considerable wisdom in how they would like to see the city shaped. For another, they have adhered to an insider’s coveted agenda, letting the rest of us in on their private deals only after the fact. Invariably, the deals they make are good for the developers, not so good for the public.

We are at a crossroads. You can either have what you want; a city you can enjoy and take pride in, or a tired compromise that finally stills the voices of reason and hope. It’s up to you Eugene. You want a park across from the Library? Fight for it.

Thomas Lincoln, Springfield



REINVESTED PROFITS

Your article, “Locals will struggle to pay big bills for hospital” (7/24) did your readers a disservice by confusing the need for a new hospital locally with the much larger problems in our health care system nationally.

The need for a new hospital is widely known and undisputed. With one exception, Sacred Heart has a higher occupancy rate than any other hospital in the state.

Sacred Heart has been saving for this new hospital for years and has raised $40 million in charitable donations to pay for it. Now we are seeing the profits the hospital has accrued over the years — the ones EW is so quick to criticize — being reinvested in the community to build a facility that is long overdue. One difference between a nonprofit like Sacred Heart and a for-profit company is that Sacred Heart has no shareholders to pay and instead directs any excess revenues back into the community.

Sacred Heart’s biggest payers are Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurers, none of which will suddenly pay more because a hospital has a bigger mortgage. That’s why the cost of RiverBend has been built into Sacred Heart’s long-range financial plan. The public pays for facilities whether they are new or old. The money can be spent to renovate older space or create new ones. As a percentage of health care expenses, hospital buildings comprise less than 8 percent of the cost of care; PeaceHealth is below this national average.

Mamie Arnold, Eugene



HELMETS OVERDUE

I strongly support Sen. Floyd Prozanski’s proposal for a mandatory bike helmet law. It is long overdue. I see bicyclists riding without helmets in Eugene and in Portland, and I cringe. In Portland especially, the traffic is bad, and there are bicycle accidents here daily. For a “bicycle friendly city,” this is still a hazardous place to ride. 

Two weeks ago, I was in a bike accident in Portland and smacked my head hard on the pavement. If I hadn’t had on my helmet, I would have been in serious trouble.



Many states, including Oregon, have passed motorcycle helmet laws, which have greatly reduced deaths and serious head injuries. We now need bicycle helmet laws for the same reason. Like motorcycles, we share the roads with cars and trucks, and thus share the same hazards.

As reported in The Oregonian, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that in 2006, 730 of the 767 bicyclists killed were not wearing helmets. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that between 1996 and 2006 the fatality rate for bicyclists age 5 to 15, decreased 8 percentage points after mandatory helmet laws were put in effect for young riders. We now need to have these protections and laws put in place for adults.

I hope that Oregon bicyclists will get behind this bill and support this as a sane public health measure.



Karen Kennedy, Eugene



FLATTENED DUCKS

I am writing to register my extreme disapproval and distaste for the city of Eugene using the Amazon Channel alternative for the West Eugene EmX line. I am a bicycle commuter who uses the bike path every workday to get from my home in west Eugene to my job in south Eugene.

The bike path serves dozens, if not several hundred, commuters like myself. I also daily see joggers, dog-walkers, people out on strolls and pleasure cyclists. Where are these people to go if the EmX line takes their path? And alternatively, if the city uses eminent domain to take over the properties adjacent to the path (between Garfield and City View), having the EmX right next to the bike path will endanger them, not to mention reduce the quality of experience. Who wants to go for an evening stroll with the kids only to have to worry about them getting in the way of a huge bus going 30 MPH?

Another potential hazard comes from nature. I’ve used the bike path at many times of the day, the earliest being 6:30 am and the latest being 10 pm. I’ve had near collisions with nutria, ducks and even deer, and have had great blue herons soar into the air from the creek right in front of me. Amazon Creek supports a lot of wildlife. I foresee a lot of flatter ducks in west Eugene if the Amazon Channel Alternative is used.

It seems to me that the West 13th and West 6th/7th options would affect the traffic (maybe even reduce it) on those streets. The Amazon Channel option would reduce the quality of life for many, many more Eugeneans. In this time of skyrocketing fuel prices, we should be encouraging bicycle use by maintaining and even expanding our current bike path system, not scrapping them for an ill-conceived attempt at rapid transit.

Alpha M. Wilson, Eugene



BEAR NECESSITIES

In late June, my neighbors and I shared some disturbing visits by a yearling bear. When I first saw him, he looked to me like a big dog. I emailed my friends that he was cuddly­looking. I have also shared my backyard with bears for many years in Juneau, Ala., and I’m fond of them, but when they decide to enter the local supermarket as one did there one summer, I’m all for public safety measures to discourage them. But what are these measures? Many communities have found alternatives to killing.

Our McKenzie Bridge bear was alarming because he would scratch his claws down the windows, climb the trees next to our houses in order to get on the roof and not be at all discouraged when my neighbor yelled and waved his arms. However, he scampered quickly back down the tree and disappeared when I banged pots and pans together and turned the radio up full volume. The other thing we did to discourage him was put out containers of ammonia, especially near compost and garbage containers. 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife brought a trap up and placed it in one of our driveways. I’m happy to report that as far as I can tell the bear never returned.

If you live near a wilderness area they will most certainly visit at some time or other. They’ve been coming to our property in McKenzie Bridge for more than 30 years. This is the first time one has tried to get inside. As noted, we have had a late spring (and this may continue to happen), but I do not believe this bear would have made such a serious effort to get inside our houses if someone hadn’t fed him from a house in the past. As our population continues to expand, the two species will grow closer in proximity. Let’s explore means other than killing in the ways that other communities have done. 

Lia Gladstone, McKenzie Bridge



PROUD TO FIDDLE

I was deeply offended by the most recent cover of EW (7/24). In stating “Kulongoski fiddles while fields burn,” the Weekly helps to perpetuate the negative stereotype, which has become all too prevalent in modern society, of fiddling and, by extrapolation, of fiddlers. Why is it that playing sometimes beautiful, sometimes raucous, but always uplifting music, has come to be equated with laziness, drunkenness and apathy? Even distinguished authors such as Aesop (The Ant and the Grasshopper) and Mark Twain (“Pa was drunk as a fiddler” —The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) find the practitioners of this wonderful art form to be an easy mark. 

In truth, the fiddle, far from being the devil’s instrument, as the Puritans claimed, can and does bring cheer to many a soul in these tried and troubled times. Have you ever seen a small child’s face light up, or a despondent person gain hope, from hearing joyous music issue forth from this noble instrument? I have. 

I am proud to be a fiddler, a distinction I share with Thomas Jefferson, Sen. Robert Byrd and Sherlock Holmes. If Gov. Kulongoski is indeed fiddling while fields burn, he should be applauded, not scorned. 

By the way, is any of the grass being burned ... bluegrass?

Chip “Dr. Horsehair” Cohen, Eugene



VOICE OF REASON

Thank you Kyoho Tom Agterberg (Letters, 7/24)! He spoke the words that needed to be said. Finally, the voice of reason I have been waiting for. He writes, “It seems your paper represents a knee-jerk alternative viewpoint in regards to just about every topic you choose to present.” Perfect description. I love it!

Pardon my “N.Y. attitude,” but The Village Voice, EW will never be. Sorry folks. So fuhgheddaboudit, OK?

Jono Jett, Eugene



DUMB DORM

Recently a fast moving and questionable “upper class” UO dormitory proposal has surfaced in the Emerald (7/17). The site being targeted for this 60,000 sq. ft. project is at the far east edge of the historic neighborhood UO officials refer to as their “land bank.” This site would unduly impact the surrounding Fairmount area and will ensure far greater legal challenges to the nearly adjacent arena site. 

The article fails to mention that the project was not actually announced by the UO. The proposal instead was detected by a citizen who then provided it to the media as news. This is important because it is the consistent pattern. The arena proposal is in trouble due to its unilateral and secretive nature. This interrelated dorm is following the arena proposal’s flawed methodology. 

Lastly, the article fails to explore reactions of homeowners adjacent to this who may unnecessarily end up with this incompatible project looming over their property. For more information, email mossstreetconspiracy@yahoo.com

Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene



DICK’S EMANATIONS

Contributor Josh Schlossberg (View-point, 7/24) seems perplexed by the tactics employed by Homeland Security.

No mystery. Homeland Security is a manifestation of emanations that issue from a nebula besetting the medulla oblongata of Vice President Cheney. Bear that in mind the next time some creep at an airport orders you to roll down the elastic waistband trimming your underwear. 

Tom Tracey, Eugene



COMPASSIONATE CARE

Alan Pittman’s predictable but un-fortunate article on the new Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend is so one-sided I’m surprised it could stay on the page.

Far from being “clueless” about the difficulty people have paying for health insurance, PeaceHealth is an active member of the 100% Access to Health Care Initiative and is a key funder of the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic. Its Bridge Assistance program helps people with their medical bills and has been widely lauded as a model of compassionate care. PeaceHealth provides 6,000 Lane County employees with good health insurance and pays an average wage of $58,000 per year to its non-physician staff.

A couple of small but irksome errors that need correction (I did my research, Mr. Pittman, did you?).

The hospital itself cost $367 million, not half a billion. (The cost rises to $567 million if one adds the new medical building, parking structure to support it and site improvements for future development.)

No PeaceHealth executive makes $1 million a year.

What you call chandeliers I call light fix-tures. Surely even EW would agree we need some illumination on dark Oregon days. 

It’s nice EW noticed the amenities that are designed to provide a welcoming atmosphere, relax patients and families, reduce the need for pain medication and speed recovery. What’s puzzling is EW’s criticism of such a progressive, holistic approach to healing. 

Sacred Heart involved the community in the design of RiverBend in an unprecedented way. The results speak for themselves.

Richard Keller, Eugene



BIKE LAWS

I am a bike-riding, car-driving, feet-walking, tax-paying Eugene citizen. With recent events, such as the Olympic Trials and the biker who was killed on 13th, I got to thinking about Eugene bike laws. Two of my bike-riding friends got $240 tickets for running stop signs, and one of my friends got a ticket for “riding too fast” on his skateboard in downtown Eugene. These are the first tickets for alternative transportation that I’ve witnessed in Eugene, and all three happened during the Trials. 

How are the bike riders and other people using alternative modes of transportation supposed to be held accountable when it is not standard practice to inform these people of the laws? If bikes are not considered dangerous enough to even get a sheet of paper with their laws on it, how is it fair that they get such ridiculously expensive tickets? 

If bike riders are really posing a threat to harm themselves or others, I think that when you buy a bike in Eugene, you should get a list of how biking on busy streets works, how you can do it safely, and what you can be held accountable for by law. Then maybe we wouldn’t have bike riders riding in the middle of streets that aren’t designated bike-friendly streets, and if they do get pulled over for something, at least they’ll understand beforehand that they’re breaking a law. 

Even if I had looked up skateboarding laws, I would have never assumed that they had a speed limit.

Leah Kleinberger, Eugene



IMPEACHMENT TIME

Impeachment: It’s a word on a lot of people’s minds. Many people want it, and bugger all if they’re pissed that they’re not getting it. There have been petitions, rallies, movements, protests and campaigns galore for a couple years now, and still no action.

Inspired by Congressman Kucinich’s July introduction of a single article of impeachment, I suggested to Congressman DeFazio to do things, the first being to stand up and introduce a single article of impeachment; the second being to encourage other Congressmen to do the same. I encourage everyone reading this to encourage DeFazio in the same manner. Who knows, if enough people speak directly to him, maybe something will start to happen.

Wayne Manselle, Eugene



MARTIAL LAW

How about this scenario: Obama wins and Bush immediately declares martial law, announcing that, as commander-in-chief, he is nullifying the election and suspending the Constitution, on seven separate national security grounds.

Far-fetched? I don’t think so. Earlier this year, in a presidential finding attached to some national security legislation, Bush, Cheney and their Justice Department declared that basic preconditions for a national security emergency (aka martial law) are present and that the commander-in-chief has the power to invoke wartime martial law powers. I don’t think they were just whistling Dixie — they put it there so they could use it if need be.

OK, let’s say they do it. Think about it. Would the joint chiefs roll over? Would the self-styled conservative Supreme Court take it sitting down? Would not we the people rise up in insurrectionary protest at this final violation?

We don’t know, but it’s just about 100 days to go until Election Day, and then we’ll find out.

Paul Prensky, Eugene



OUR SORRY BUTTS

As the hopes and dreams of young wrestlers to someday wrestle for the UO are dashed, we have news that Ernie Kent and gang will receive a nice pay increase with the big Ern pulling in more than a million dollars a year. Rumor has it that Kilkenny hates wrestlers because he was beat up by a freshman 98-pounder when he was a junior in high school. Phil and his cronies have proved that a successful athletic program can be bought. Go Beavers. 

Furthermore, we all know that unless the scientists can do the next to impossible and magically pull a few rabbits out of their hat and/or asses to fix our energy, water and environmental problems, shit is going to hit the fan. Our sorry butts may very well be spared, but our grandkids will likely be at ground zero when the caca starts flying. Grow some food, get on your bike, reduce, reuse. 

Also, let’s elect candidates that lie more opposite of George Bush on the compassionate/ enlightenment vs. greedy/ ignorant continuum. Think Piercy and Obama in November, Kucinich in 2012. 

Finally, most cops are OK. Peace.

John Wilson, Eugene 



DEBILITATING IGNORANCE

Just how dumb are we? Some polls show Obama with a slight lead over McCain and some polls actually show McCain ahead of Obama! “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Fool me three times and I’m a blithering idiot! I don’t know what to think! Do that many people in this country want a third term for the current White House gang? With every aspect of the “American Dream” literally disintegrating before our eyes and McCain promising to continue the policies that got us to this desperate point, he appears to have substantial support from the very people who will be totally screwed if he’s elected!

Obama should be cleaning McCain’s clock in the polls, not a mere few points ahead or worse a few points behind!

Author Rick Shenkman’s book Just How Stupid Are We? contends we haven’t reached the point of total debilitating ignorance yet. I’m not so sure.

John DeLeau, Springfield