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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 11.19.09




PUBLIC LEFT OUT

I applaud EWEB, the city of Eugene, and the architects for creating outstanding public participation opportunities for designing the redevelopment of EWEB’s riverfront property.

In sharp contrast, the UO’s Riverfront Research Park is quietly in the process of developing an office building and large surface parking lots immediately adjacent to the EWEB property with practically no public involvement. The development is based on an out-of-date plan that was recently modified to accommodate a new building. This building will seriously limit options for easy access from the university to the Research Park and EWEB redevelopment.

Since that Research Park master plan was approved in 1989, Agri-Pac was replaced by the new federal courthouse, Hilyard Street was extend north along the railroad tracks and the EWEB property is undergoing a major change of use. In the last 20 years there have also been enormous changes in our awareness and response to environment issues — from global warming to stormwater management and riparian restoration. The master plan does not reflect any of these changes.

Eugene residents are helping to pay for this development because the Research Park is located within the Riverfront Urban Renewal District. Look at your property tax bill to see how much you’ll be paying this year.

The Research Park has an enormous impact on whether or not we can successfully redevelop our precious waterfront into a vibrant public place. As citizens and taxpayers we deserve opportunities for involvement on how this property is developed.

Allen Hancock, Eugene



RESIDENTS NEEDED

As the planning stages of the EWEB riverfront project continue, one huge consideration should not be discounted.

For the completed project to maintain year-round activity and vibrancy, it is crucial that a good portion be designated for residential use. Residency is the element that will provide the necessary year-round economic support to sustain the retail side of the development.

 The residential portion of the project MUST be carefully planned so as not to repeat other failed mixed-use projects. 1) Future residents need to be stakeholders. 2) The homes must be affordable, at least some of them (not necessarily low-income, but also a consideration).

As stakeholders, future residents of the pre-sold homes will assist in the design of “their” neighborhood. This is a pivotal factor in creating a living neighborhood. It has worked in collaborative communities all over the U.S. The results are a sustainable, aesthetically pleasing community that appeals to the residents, community and future generations.

As for affordability, a successful example in Eugene is the Whiteaker neighborhood — affordable homes, good commercial choices and spirited resident involvement all make this neighborhood shine.

 This project could become a successful community and destination; a place that residents of Eugene will enjoy and be proud of, and visitors to Eugene will flock to. Eugene does not need more mixed-use pockets built with a speculative command and control mentality. Simply, if you include future residents in a meaningful way, a meaningful community will emerge.

 Diane Durrett, Eugene



RITUALS VS. FETISHES

I thought “Fetish Fun” (cover story, 10/8) by Camilla Mortensen was wonderful. In addition to the positive things I’ve heard/read about the issue, there has been plenty (if not more) negative to go along with it. Juana Garcia’s letter (11/5), for example, which claimed that “a fetish is an obsessive-compulsive disorder” and implied that such occurrences as Mayan and/or Aztec human sacrifices and atrocities such as those perpetrated by Adolf Hitler were fetishes. 

First and foremost let’s talk about that second part: Human sacrifice is not a fetish. Typically it is part of an elaborate religious ritual, albeit frightening. If rituals were fetishes, then weddings, birthdays and many Catholic masses would have to be included in that category. What Hitler did was not a fetish, either. It was an atrocity. Slaughtering and oppressing people is being a sociopath, not having a fetish.

Fetish isn’t equal to OCD, a mental illness in which “repetitive, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and ritualistic behaviors (compulsions) designed to fend off those thoughts interfere significantly with an individual’s functioning.” If you don’t believe me, check out the 2009 Psychology textbook by Schacter, Gilbert & Wegner, pages 506-7. A fetish is a preferred act or item employed in consensual sex and/or sex play to enhance the experience and gratification. Needless to say, making the statement that fetish = OCD is erroneous. It goes without saying that comparing the acts of fetishists to human sacrifice, slavery and mass genocide is absurd.

 Tahni Nikitins, Creswell 



UNDERWHELMED

Regarding Jean Tate’s new Republican-loaded public safety group: Color me underwhelmed.

Let’s face reality: Until we objectively study what the public really wants, these money measure concoctions will keep missing the mark. This committee is just a new bunch of insular people sitting around the same old table trying to guess how to persuade voters to pay higher taxes — while being fed a steady diet of “facts” by the sheriff and DA.

Tate and her fellow esteemed citizens have no more in common with the average person than do the mayors and councilors that comprised previous committees, or the county commissioners themselves, for that matter. In fact, the more prestigious and “special” the members are, the more likely they are to be out of touch with the typical voter.

Some people appear to put a lot of stock in “credibility” garnered from this group’s so-called independence, and the members’ status in the community. But it’s naïve to think that voters will say, gosh, if Dave Frohnmayer thinks this new tax is good for my family and me, then count me in.

That’s why it’ll probably fail just like the other 13 tax attempts. Meanwhile, we’ll lose more precious time as the county edges toward bankruptcy and those infamous 84 jail beds become the least of our problems.

I hope our county commissioners don’t just sit back and rely on this well-intentioned little group to save the day. We need a better plan. 

Mia Nelson, Eugene



SWINDLED SPIRITS

In light of recent events in Arizona whereby a New Age phony was selling and exploiting a Native American sweat lodge ceremony, of which three people died and 20 or so were hospitalized: People need to stop exploiting Native American culture and stop playing with the sacred because this is what happens: People get hurt. 

Anyone charging money is a fraud! Certainly Eugene has more than its share of New Age wannabe “shamans,” exploiters and charlatans. What happened in Arizona is again a warning to all New Age cultural exploiters. Please stop tinkering around with Native American spirituality and start respecting the sacred. The Arizona sweat lodge tragedy, while unfortunate on one hand, was poetic justice on the other! People cannot buy the Creator’s blessings, or its power, by buying ceremony or “shaman training courses,” they must be earned!

If people are promoting “shamanism” as “a beautiful way of life” and a cute little warm, fuzzy depiction of “shamanism,” they are seriously misguided and/or trying to scam you out of your money. No self-respecting “shaman” would sell ceremony or spiritual teachings. People who sell “shamanic training classes” won’t tell people the ugly side of “shamanism,” or as I say, “the darker side of the light,” because if they did they would lose business. 

So watch out for those “How to be a shaman” classes: They just might sell you enough rope to hang yourself!

Thomas Lightning Bolt, Eugene



BAN TOGETHER

After reading the open letter of apology to victims of allegedly unwarranted Tasering (10/29), the thought hit me that the citizens of Eugene could take the matter into their own hands: develop an initiative to ban the use of Tasers within city limits. Whether it passes or not, it would create a healthier dialogue than what is (not) going on right now and may lead to a more compassionate way to do law enforcement.

Crale Strampler, Corvallis



NOT SO SIMPLE

Peter Bours’ recent plea for the sympathy of EW readers (letters, 11/05) was an embarrassment to the medical profession. A local medical laboratory decided that it would no longer perform lab services for his abortion clinic. For most doctors, this would be the end of the matter, but not for Bours.

In his letter to EW, Bours claimed that the laboratory was “allowing religious institutions to control a significant portion of the health care market,” prioritizing “dogma over patient care.” He went on to pitch his website and pat himself on the back for “my 40 years of practice.”

Painting those who object to his business as “religious” is intellectually stunted. The laboratory made their choice according to their own mission statement. You may disagree, but at least you know where they stand. You’re free to get your test results elsewhere, just as NAVS and PETA suggest we do when companies are cruel to animals. 

Even a devout atheist can find the practice of dismembering, via suction or scalpel, a child within her mother’s womb inhumane. Calling the baby “pregnancy-tissue” as Bours does on his website, does not mute this reality, nor does it lessen the tragedy of two patients entering and only one leaving alive. I hold genuine empathy and compassion for distressed mothers and their babies, yet I resent Bours’ simplistic assertions.

Bours is not a victim; he is running a business. Where most doctors devote themselves strictly to healing, Bours has chosen to make a significant portion of his money aborting babies. I sincerely hope that he takes as much care informing distressed moms about all of their options as he does applauding his own actions.

Tom Teutsch, Springfield



SCARED WITLESS

I went to Paranormal Activity with high expectations … I have to say I was very disappointed. Every so often I get suckered into going to a new release and then feel completely ripped off by the experience. This was one of those cases. The first major, glaring problem with the film is the “found tapes” genre doesn’t really work anymore in my opinion. Blair Witch was ingeniously marketed and in its first week or so of being out, there was still the suspension of belief that maybe “it could be real?” This notion, of course, was soon dashed, and it just became a clever idea but not really very believable.

I don’t know about the rest of you but there is nothing in my rational mind that would have kept me in the house in Paranormal Activity “to see what happens.” That’s ridiculous! Anyone, everyone would have run screaming out of that place ASAP. And why is there always the predictable, cocky boyfriend who you just know is gonna get it in the end? Come on! I’m sorry, but this movie is garbage and wasn’t scary, and I highly disagree with Jason Blair’s assessment (movies, 11/05) that this is as scary as The Exorcist or “contender for scariest movie ever” — no way. To be honest, the last high quality scary movie I have seen that has any amount of artistic merit is The Shining.

Don’t bother with this movie! Please, can someone suggest a truly frightening movie that doesn’t have every possible cliché or stock bump in the night happen? Please? Once again, I got duped! I want my money back!

Patrick Kavaney, Eugene



IRRELEVANT VOTING

I’m writing in regard to “Contest Farce” (letters, 11/05). You say in your note that the judging criteria were spelled out in the contest rules. Well, if the judges were going to be you guys in the first place, what the fuck was the point of having people vote on the bands? Basin & Range are exactly right. Your contest was a farce. The bands with the most votes were ignored by your “judges.” I’m disappointed in your feeble attempt at a disclaimer. “It was in the fine print” is bullshit, and you know it. What are y’all? An insurance company?! 

You should just admit that you screwed the bands that got the most votes from your readers. Oh, and if you have another contest that you want your readers to vote on, make sure that they know that their vote is irrelevant.

Eric Susee, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: See our explanation of the contest on page 15 last week. In short, the top 40 vote-getting songs went to the judges, but the judges could evaluate any of the 150-plus songs submitted. 



ARROGANT DISMISSAL

Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Institute of Higher Education began co-publishing the acclaimed Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) in 2003. In 2009 the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy assumed the ARWU’s publication. The 2009 report ranked UO at 283 behind Harvard, Baylor College of Medicine, the Autonomous University of Madrid and not surprisingly OSU and Oregon Health and Science University. 

What of Richard Lariviere’s promising “academic and research strengths, leadership abilities, and his understanding of the institution’s mission will help further UO’s excellence in scholarship, research, and service to Oregon students and communities” [Oregon University System press release March 13 quoting coach Chip Kelly]? 

Specifically, when; how and why, did Lariviere’s Oct. 25 “community of students” expire at the feet of Chip Kelly’s Nov. 9 arrogant dismissal of public opinion’s role vis-à-vis Oregon’s football program? Although there may still be time for President Lariviere to start doing the job that he, as the only candidate under consideration was hired to do, the clock is ticking.

Jose Ortal, Blue River



REGURGITATED BEST OF

Is the EW ever going to look into expanding or redefining what exactly the EW is trying to accomplish with its Best of Eugene edition (10/29)?

Probably not the first to notice, but it seems like its issue mostly is an advertisement for the larger, well established and well recognized in Eugene. In a transient town such as ours I see value in regurgitating to the masses all that is swell, great and good about Eugene. I also know there isn’t a ton of choices for people. There isn’t a ton of turnover or recreating the wheel like one may see in Portland.

That being said, after working in almost every industry of note in Eugene (sans B&E or mass cultivation of “medicine”), I have a recommendation:

Give people more choices on which or what to pick. Everyone knows that the top three nonprofits in Eugene are FOOD For Lane County, Womenspace and White Bird Clinic. But I know for certain there are smaller nonprofits that no one knows about and aren’t being shed light on because the sheer number of votes that give the nod to the FFLCs of the world. Two categories for nonprofits like big ones and small ones would stimulate more interest and attention for those who kill themselves for their nonprofits.

Spread this notion to several other categories, because I swear the Best of Eugene issue is a freaking broken record. Go deeper and see what you find. We all know that Ninkasi rules this town. What about Joe Schmo’s IPA Light homebrew down on 4th and Washington? Pretty hardy freaking brew but you would never know it from this “alternative rag” known as the Best of Eugene from EW.

Jeff Sutton, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each year, we try to mix up some of the Best of Eugene categories and we usually include an open category for readers to fill in. We also welcome suggestions. Email molly@eugeneweekly.com with your feedback and thoughts about Best of Eugene.



TURN OVER A NEW LEAF

Please don’t put leaves in the bike lane.

If you’re not a biker you may wonder why you should care about bike lanes. You may think they don’t affect you and wonder why there has been so much news lately about Eugene’s new policy forbidding the placing of leaves in any bike lane.

However, this is an issue that should matter to you. Bicyclists can legally ride on any road in Oregon other than the interstate. Bicyclists can also leave any bike lane and ride in the “car” lane “when reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions” (ORS 814.430). A wet layer of leaves is like riding on ice, and often hides potholes and other debris. Large piles of leaves make the lane completely impassible.

Bike lanes are put on busy Eugene streets partially for the safety of the bicyclists but also by the city to move bicyclists out of the way of cars. If the bicyclist is unable to ride in the bike lane they have no choice than to ride in the “car” lane on these roads — which is not only dangerous to the bicyclist but also may impede car traffic.

This is why you should care about the new rules. Remember, every bicyclist you see is one fewer car in front of you at a red light and one fewer parking spot taken up at the store. Keeping bike lanes clear helps bicyclists stay safe and out of your way.

Go to www.eugene-or.gov/leaf for more information.

Mike Seager, Eugene



 

 

GIVE EWEB TO WISTEC

Leave it to Eugene, what to do while their assets on their assets. Give EWEB to WISTEC. Develop an eco-learning-river-park-&-ride. Children could cruise on a paddle wheeler and take samples from the river and examine it themselves; and then give them the opportunity to take samples down river to see if there is any leaching from the old landfill under Alton Bake Park. 

Invest in our children. 

Vince Loving, Eugene



URBAN RUNNING

I have lived in Eugene 21 of my 30 years and am an avid runner, running nearly every day. Honestly, I wish I could drive over and run on the Rexius path more often, but as a mother of two, running out my front door and clocking my hour from that moment proves to be the most realistic option for me getting in a run. I am writing this letter to share my least favorite ways of nearly being killed by drivers while running.

• Flying through a “Yield for Pedestrians” sign such as the one on Crest and Willamette. Sometimes people drive so fast they don’t even have time to notice the person crossing before it’s time to yield.

• Waving at me to cross the street while waiting to take a right turn into traffic onto a main thoroughfare and then merging anyway because you are on your cell phone and forgot you just waved for me to go. Luckily, my belly just pancaked the passenger side window and I still have full usage of my feet.

• Mindless right turns on a red light while I am obeying the pedestrian light and stepping down to cross the street.

• Speeding up when a pedestrian is crossing the street with plenty of time to do so safely in some sort of effort to either scare them or run them over.

• Flying through a yellow light that turned yellow 100 yards before you arrived to it, and has now turned red.

I love this community and part of its charm is its large running fellowship. I do my best to predict driver behavior, but it would be helpful if drivers could be more present and watchful for pedestrians. Sometimes just clear hand signals, slowing down, or acknowledgement per eye contact makes all the difference in preventing tragedy. 

Also, yelling, hooting, howling (yes, there has been howling), and ogling at female runners really isn’t a turn-on. It, in fact, can feel threatening, reinforces the need to carry pepper spray, and quickly convinces us to run in the opposite direction. 

Nicole Nelson, Eugene



ATTACKS ON THE POPULACE

I was hoping that Peter DeFazio would show more leadership on the vote by the House early this month on the regrettable resolution condemning the U.N. Goldstone report on the recent Israel-Gaza hostilities as “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” He unfortunately voted the non-committal “present,” instead of joining such congressmen as Blumenauer, Baird (Vancouver), or McDermott (Seattle) in voting no.

As readers may well know, the Goldstone report, while it did describe human rights violations by the Palestinians, devoted the bulk of its lengthy report to describing the massive and systematic attacks against the Gazan populace, its agriculture, housing, and government infrastructure. The House voted in such a way to continue the system of injustice, heavily subsidized by our tax dollars, the same week that the U.N. General Assembly voted 114-18 to endorse the findings of jurist Richard Goldstone and his team.

It’s about time we really started trying to prove that there isn’t a war against Islam and the Arab world. It’s time for DeFazio to stick up for justice in the Middle East, and I know that he has the wherewithal to do this if support is forthcoming from his progressive constituents.

Nancy Hedrick, Former Eugenean now in Portland