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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 5.7.09




SMOKE SIGNALS

Rick Levin was misled by Jerry Wade when he was told that SB 388 would have no effect on patients (cover story, 4/30). He didn't mention that patients, caregivers and growers would have to waive their 4th Amendment Rights between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm. He didn't mention that police wanted to be able to get names, addresses and birthdates for patients with a call to DHS, and no HIPPA release from the patient or even notification that information was released. He didn't tell Levin that thousands of patients would lose their grower or caregiver. The bill once again singles out medical marijuana patients by treating them differently than prescription drug patients, leaving the state open to thousands of ADA lawsuits. 

I don't appreciate Jerry Wade and Stormy Ray trading away my civil rights or the Legislature attempting to erode my civil rights just because they have passionate feelings about a plant that keeps me from going to the ER 10 times a year. Between this bill and the workplace bills, they have dragged me up off my deathbed.

I-28 has been brought as a bill in the Legislature known as SB 812. It would generate more than $37 million for Oregon health-care programs next year. Some of those funds are allocated to research and data collection to bring transparency to the OMMP program. Part is allocated to the Oregon Pain Management Commission's Pain Survey. This data is needed to bring an end to claims of abuse and to determine patient outcomes.

The OPMC has announced that there will soon be a shortage of pain management drugs due to the closure of two production facilities. Jim Greig has reported that shortages are already being felt in the Eugene nursing home where he lives. I expect to see a surge in OMMP applications as a result of the shortages.

 I-28/SB 812 would create a solution that is self-funding and creates an integrated system where the public sector regulates and the private sector produces and distributes. Consumers, producers and distributors are licensed, and provision is made for the indigent.

Jenifer Valley, Willamette Valley NORML



CANNABIS UNITED

While there are many voices in our movement, the cannabis community has demonstrated the organizational skills

and motivation to truly unite when pat-

ients are at risk.  Save for the Stormy Ray Cardholders' Foundation, an organization with just a handful of members, the entire medical cannabis community united to defeat Senate Bill 388, a bill that would have harmed patients and our state.  Even though the powerful law enforcement lobby worked tirelessly to foster an atmosphere of fear and mislead the Oregon Legislature, concerned activists and patients were not deterred.

The cannabis community also united to defeat a bill that would have allowed employers to discriminate against patients even though the bill was backed by Associated Oregon Industries, a powerful business lobby with more paid lobbyists than any other Oregon special interest.  Defeating the law enforcement lobby and Big Business demonstrates the power of the cannabis reform movement and should help end certain stereotypes and show that we are not as divided as we may seem at times.

Unfortunately, Oregon's representative democracy doesn't reflect the will of the people, and the cannabis community must utilize the initiative process to improve our cannabis laws.  Initiative 28 is favored by 59 percent of voters and has collected more than 34,000 signatures.  The initiative will ensure a supply of medicine for patients and generate millions of dollars for the state. Of course, such a common-sense proposal cannot even get a hearing at the Legislature. However, on Nov. 2, 2010, the people will have their say. 

Anthony Johnson, Voter Power, Portland



SHAME ON SENECA

Missing from the discussion about Seneca's proposal to build a cogeneration biomass plant in northwest Eugene is the company's forest practices on its private lands, which may well rival the slash and burn policies of lawless Third World countries. Clearcut the forest, burn the slash, spray with chemicals, repeat. Seneca and other giants in the timber industry have transformed the storybook rainforests of Oregon Coast Range into homogenous tree farms, which has greatly contributed to the compromise of the region's renowned biological diversity.

Seneca also buys the rights to log older forests nearby on our public land, like the highly controversial Trapper timber sale above our treasured McKenzie River on the Willamette National Forest and the towering rainforests of the little-known Elliott State Forest near Reedsport.

Creating locally produced energy with a waste product is arguably a good concept, but the cheerleaders for the project haven't told you the whole story. If this project is going to be billed as "sustainable," drastic reform of the company's forest practices must be a priority.

Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Eugene



BUILDING BLOCKS

Characterizing 300 Country Club Road as "suburban" (Slant, 4/23) and "a departure from ... city policy against sprawl" is off the mark. It is a shorter walk from that building's location to much of downtown than the stroll from the EW offices. As a taxpayer opposed to building a new police building, particularly wedging one up against the new U.S. Courthouse, the idea holds at least a little merit. In terms of capital expenditures, I personally have the most affection for the other half of the Amazon headwaters, but if the city is going to expand municipal office-space, already existing (and actually quite nearby) infrastructure is really a decent compromise. 

 $16 million is way too much for the building, though. Ruiz can prove himself a responsible steward and advocate on behalf of the city by getting a more reasonable deal.

 Gordon Kenyon, Eugene



SKEWED PERSPECTIVE

Lincoln Perry meant no harm, as far as anyone knows, but he was the first African-American actor to become a millionaire, and this was back in the 1930s.

His screen name was Stepin Fetchit, a racist caricature advertised at the time as, "the laziest man in the world." When his films are shown today, his portions are usually edited out.

EW columnist Sally Sheklow may be just as innocent, but she legitimizes an equally harmful stereotype.

Of course, the stereotype is not about being a lesbian. A lesbian is a woman who loves women romantically. Why do they do this? Contemporary science and psychology are undecided, but it doesn’t really matter. People should be free to do anything they want so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. And as John Lennon once said, there’s little enough love in the world.

Someday, hopefully, this level of tolerance will be universal. Someday, the love in Sheklow’s perspective will be quietly appreciated.

Meanwhile, the hate in her perspective is hurting lesbians most of all because it feeds an unfortunately widespread stereotype: that being a lesbian necessarily involves hating men.

The lesbians of this town deserve a better role model.

Steve Downey, Eugene



BURNING YEARNINGS

Seneca biomass burner should not be permitted.

Oregon gets 62 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric dams. Do we even need the other 38 percent? Consider how much of the electricity used is unnecessary waste. The wealthier citizens among us tend to use a lot more electricity, heating oversized homes to 80 degrees, washing clothes after a single wearing, etc. This drives up the cost of electricity for the average citizen and leads to the use of polluting power sources, such as Seneca’s proposed biomass burner. 

If the proposed burner were built, it would burn forest materials to subsidize the wasteful habits of a small percentage of Eugene’s citizens. Not only would this pollute Eugene’s already polluted and stagnant air with toxins and particulates, but it would also disrupt forest habitat and rob our forests of nutrients they need. 

The timber barons like to try to scare us with claims about needs for “forest thinning” to prevent wildfires, but there is no evidence supporting this claim, and thinning may actually increase fire danger by increasing wind speed. If we increase the total amount of electricity available to Eugene, we would simply be continuing to encourage wasteful and destructive economic arrangements, geared toward vast over-consumption by the wealthy. 

It’s high time we organize ballot initiatives to cap both commercial and household electricity consumption in Eugene, so we don’t have a small percentage of citizens consuming ridiculous amounts of electricity. Our hydroelectric capacity is more than enough to provide for our electricity “needs.”

Clay Grantham, Eugene



THREATENING COP

While riding my bicycle northbound on Olive Street about a half block from 5th Avenue I was dangerously passed on the left by a PT Cruiser which then proceeded to turn right into the Post Office loading dock area. I thought this to be strange because postal workers don't drive so dangerously.

The man got out to unload plastic mail crates, and I proceeded to inform him that passing me on the left was illegal because I am considered a vehicle when there is no bicycle lane with cars parked to my right.

He proceeded to yell at me, saying that it was not the law. I then said, "Ask a cop, and he will tell you it is against the law."

He then loudly stated, "I am a cop," and, "I should get your name and address so I could come to your house." I took him seriously. Perhaps he was just a security guard or perhaps a police officer from outside Eugene?

I nevertheless was shocked to hear him threaten me by stating he would appear at my home.

Should I fear that any police officer can show up at my doorstep at any hour of the day or night to be judge, jury and executioner?

After I personally witnessed what happened to Ian Van Ornum on May 30, 2008, I know now that a police officer can get away with being the judge, jury and executioner even in broad daylight. 

Shannon Wilson, Eugene



NUCLEAR POTENTIAL

Four out of the past five recessions followed oil shocks, and the International Energy Agency now warns of $200-per-barrel oil; a global depression may follow. The U.S. needs a radically different energy policy to address volatile oil and gas prices, global warming and a shrinking economy — and fast.

Most purported solutions are either too small to matter or have a fatal flaw. Hydroelectric power is low-cost but cannot be expanded. Geothermal power is only available in a few spots and likewise cannot be expanded. Biomass as currently practiced (ethanol or soybean diesel) produces such small gains in net-energy that no amount of farmland could contribute significantly to reducing fossil fuel consumption.

The average capacity factor for photovoltaic solar in the U.S. is 14 percent; wind, 27 percent. The fatal flaw is that battery technology is not sufficient to store sporadic and unreliable power coming in off the grid for when it isn't sunny or windy. And finally, while the world still has a lot of coal, we have yet to demonstrate large-scale, long-term storage of carbon dioxide.

As argued in Tom Blees's book Prescription for the Planet, one solution exists: nuclear fission. Integral Fast Reactors are 100 to 300 times as fuel efficient and can even use existing energy in nuclear waste as fuel. The world desperately needs a massive source of reliable, long-lasting, low-pollution energy. And nuclear power may be all that stands between civilization and its alternatives.

Zachary Moitoza, Eugene



STOP FACTORY FARMING

I wasn't surprised to hear a report on FOX News Channel that the recent swine flu outbreak may be tied to factory farming. On factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy sheds, which are a breeding ground for new strains of bacteria and viruses. Hans-Gerhard Wagner, a senior officer with the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, called the intensive industrial farming of livestock an "opportunity for emerging disease."

While going vegetarian is the best action that any individual can take to prevent animal-borne diseases, there is much more that our representatives can do to fight potential pandemics.

Please help fight the spread of swine flu and the emergence of new animal-borne diseases by calling on Congress to end to factory farming in the U.S.

Curtis Taylor, Eugene



WEAPON WORRIES

“All they that live by the sword shall perish with the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) Too bad our Christian dominated society doesn’t live by its own scriptures. Every weapon ever made eventually gets used. Often with disastrous results.

In Texas, students are pushing for concealed carry rights at school. There’s a similar push for armed citizens in our national parks.

Why is it such a big deal when people are spotted with handguns in public places — as happened with some UO athletes at Alton Baker Park? Why do our public schools immediately lock down if someone is seen approaching with a weapon?

 Could it be because intentions, rational or otherwise, are simply not visible? Does it have anything to do with so many unthinkable tragedies that have already happened and with increasing frequency? Or with the huge percent of our population taking prescribed brain-tweaking drugs? In most gun tragedies, the victims are related to — and often dearly loved by — the shooters. How does this fact equate to "protection?"

Do you feel ever safer as the weapons count rises?

And why does the NRA limit its own logic? If handguns and even assault rifles are valid means of personal protection, why stop there? Perhaps each (responsible!) citizen should carry a very small nuke — you know, in case of riot or invasion?

It will get really interesting when Tasers go viral.

Vip Short, Eugene



GLASS-STEGALL ACT

I would like to quote directly from Congressman Peter DeFazio's newsletter dated April 2009. "I opposed the repeal of the Roosevelt era Glass-Steagall Act, which kept Wall Street investment companies from intermingling with banking institutions."

As a retired economics instructor, I have been waiting for someone to address this issue ever since the Wall Street house of cards fell. This bill was repealed in 1999 largely through the efforts of former Sen. Phil Gramm, an economist, who believed that reducing regulation of Wall Street would regulate itself. The results of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act have been very apparent in terms of the economic problems facing us today. This is the same Phil Gramm who was Sen. John McCain's chief economic advisor during his campaign for the office of president.

However, as important as it was for DeFazio to point out the significance of the repeal of this law, I did not see in his newsletter any mention that he or anyone

else in Congress plans to introduce legislation designed to reintroduce the "firewall" that existed under the Glass-Steagall Act. I think this needs to be done and I am hopeful Congress will do so.  

G. Dennis Shine, Springfield



PLUMB CRAZY

I've noticed a couple of local plumbing businesses and was intrigued by the graphics on their trucks. E. E. Plumbing has very nice lettering, but shouldn't it be in all lower case? The La-Z-Drain truck shows a mischievous youngster dropping a rubber duck down a toilet. Is that the owner's way of telling us he's from Corvallis? I wonder what Plumbing companies are DOWN in THE town of DRAIN?

Glenn Leonard, Eugene

 

 

TARGETING THE LEFT

I must have missed the "Disgruntled" letter by John Tyler that The Register-Guard devoted a full page to May 5, but I am well aware of the Department of Homeland Security memo that inspired it. 

I wonder how many people who are interested in this know of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006? The law completely redefines the legal definition of terrorism: casting such a wide net that acts such as minor property damage and harassment are now considered acts of terrorism. The law goes far beyond the implications of the memo that has caused such a firestorm of controversy, yet few people have even heard of it. 

The possible scenarios that many on the right side of the aisle have envisioned because of this memo are a reality for those on the left who advocate for animal and environmental issues. If you are interested in reading an academic paper about this issue please visit my blog at thepoliticalspear@blogspot.com

I am not a leftist, rightist, or a vegetarian, but rather a scholar who seeks to inform the public about counterterrorism measures that stand to infringe on constitutionally protected free speech. 

Rachel Snyder, Eugene



PREVENT SWINE FLU

The World Health Organization has just ratcheted up the threat alert for the swine flu epidemic to Phase 4 (out of 6). Along with the avian flu of a decade ago, the Hong Kong flu of 1968, and the Asian flu of 1957, swine flu has been traced to animal waste in a factory farm. Its H1N1 type virus is nearly identical to that of the Spanish flu, which killed more than 50 million people in 1918-19.

Today’s factory farms constantly expose sick, crowded, and highly stressed animals to contaminated feces, urine and other secretions. They provide ideal breeding grounds for the replication and mutation of viruses and bacteria into more lethal forms.

In fact, Wikipedia lists more than 70 human diseases that are developed and transmitted by animals, frequently through confinement and crowding. Among these are such infamous killers as AIDS, bubonic plague, cholera, diphtheria, Ebola and dengue fever, measles, SARS, smallpox, West Nile virus, and yellow fever (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoonotic_diseases).

Every one of us can help prevent the development and spread of these killer diseases by replacing animal products in our diet with healthful vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains. These foods don’t carry deadly microbes (unless contaminated by animal waste), are touted by every major health advocacy organization and were the recommended fare in the Garden of Eden. 

Edward Newland, Eugene



PROTECT THE STAIRCASE

The Coast Range in Oregon had, at one point in its history, some of the most wild and rugged wilderness in the country. However, there is precious little left as it once was. The biggest remaining area is the Devil’s Staircase, north of the Umpqua River near Elkton.

Recently, I had the amazing experience of bushwhacking my way through 10 miles of rough terrain to get to the Devil’s Staircase waterfall, through some of the most rough and beautiful forest that I have ever seen. My group made its way through the forest, without the benefit of a trail, by using elk trails that wander the ridges and valleys in the area.

This area needs permanent protection as Wilderness and Rep. Peter DeFazio has become its champion. With his help we can permanently save the Devil’s Staircase and keep at least a piece of Oregon as it used to be.

Bryan Warf, Eugene



NO PLACE FOR TORTURE 

After receiving news of efforts to legalize torture by the former Bush administration, I am disgusted and appalled at such an attempt. A truly just and moral nation has absolutely no reason to resort to such cruel and ineffective means of getting information. If it is allowed to be a government policy, it will no doubt be abused and even used on innocent people. 

Torture furthers the inhumanity and horrors of war and will only hold us back from progress towards being a caring and just society. Furthermore, the people have the right to know the truth about the actions of our leaders during wartime, because it is up to the people to keep our leaders in check when they step out of line. No more excuses for torture!

Cruelty has no place in U.S. policy, or in a humane society.

Sara Urzua, Eugene



MEMO FOR ACCOUNTABILITY

I think that the subtext of this entire sad story about the torture memos is that the Republicans, and specifically, Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney, both have major potential criminal exposure in regards to what they did, in respect to authorizing and managing the extraordinary interrogation techniques employed by officers and contractors of the CIA. It seems to me that Dick Cheney’s entire offensive campaign of the last several weeks has been to use his favorite tactic, that is distraction, to remove himself from the center of the question about who in the Bush administration authorized the torture of detainees in U.S. custody or sent detainees to prisons outside of U.S. control for the purposes of torturing the suspects. 

The Republicans know that if the truth of the matter before us is that Cheney and Rice authorized torture in contravention to U.S. and International law and treaty, the Republicans will have a permanent and sustainable mark against them in ever convincing the American public that they should ever be trusted with the power of the U.S. government to make or conduct war.

Gerry Merritt, Eugene



VIVA CUBA

It’s a relief that we’re improving our relations with Cuba. I’ve never understood the acrimony after Cold War/Angola stuff. 

Cuba can teach us a lot about medicine, agriculture, hurricane survival and keeping old American cars running.

Let’s not forget the old leadership has one foot on a plantain peel and the other on El Muerte. Also, they gave us Desi Arnaz (Bobaloo), a great sandwich and a cheap lease for Guantanamo Naval Base. If they cash those checks we’re screwed. I wear my calypso shirt and smoke a Cuban cigar every day.

I doubt any Cuban government will allow Batista corruption and debauchery to return, but Cuba is a beautiful island where Yanqui touristos can blow a lot of cash.

I believe most of the world’s woes could be solved if everyone had food, clothing and shelter. Cuba is a good place to start.

Greg Hume, Creswell



DISGRACEFUL

Torturers are an insane bunch of killers, molesters and more. Torture is an insane attitude and belongs put away somewhere for a long time.

Don't believe in torture in anyway shape or form; it is a disgrace to everybody. It is time to wipe it out of all our minds and doings forever.

Jackie O’Neil, Eugene



MONEY TREE

Government sees the citizen as a money tree and why should the tree object to giving up some of its fruits. It treats this tree as one that grows larger, stronger, and more fruitful with each passing year. Many argue that all the growing harvest is best used to spread the goodness of the tree to those who are without.

As middlemen, the government armies need a portion to sustain themselves in this crusade and to maintain the manner they are growing accustom to.

But history demonstrates that it is government that grows. The tree ultimately produces less fruit, its leaves turn yellow for lack of nutrients, and whole branches die off. To this we now must add the latest economic calamity brought about by mismanagement.

As the tree needs to keep more of its life juices to survive the latest drought, agencies demand that they and only they be kept healthy. They say this is for the good of the tree (children, elderly, etc.) as though more fruit will magically solve mismanagement. Agencies cut the tree where it is most visible and painful while careful not to hurt their upper management.

Government is quick to show how they “propose” to spend the increased harvest while insisting we take their word of how the last was consumed. They need to prove their managerial competence by placing their “raw” accounting data on the Internet; not their summarized, massaged, manipulated, smoke-n-mirrored reports. This tree is not without experience and wisdom.

Keith Stanton, Florence