EDITOR’S NOTE: Some of the letters running this week were actually submitted earlier in January and got sidetracked in our email system due to a technical glitch. We’ll be playing catch-up this week and next, and running some letters on our website only. Our apologies.
DON’T TALK TO COPS
Kudos to EW for speaking out (“License to Lie” cover story, 1/21) against this tragic dichotomy of our justice system wherein we’re supposed to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” while the cops are permitted (and even encouraged) to blatantly lie.
My uncle is an attorney and he has repeatedly drilled into my head the fact that while cops can do good things, they are not our friends and they’re not our protectors. Their job is to gather evidence against us. It’s nothing personal — it’s their job. He has always told me to never, under any circumstances, speak to a police officer without a lawyer present other than to give my name, date of birth, etc.
I highly encourage your readers to check out the video on YouTube entitled Don’t Talk To Cops (parts I & II) put together by a law school professor that addresses many of the issues raised in your article. Among the “tricks” discussed in the video is a police interrogator pushing the stop button on his tape recorder and telling the suspect: “This is off the record, just between you and me.” Of course what the officer fails to disclose is that the interrogation room is wired with microphones and that there is no such thing as “off the record” when speaking to the police.
If we want and expect our citizens to be truthful then we must demand that the police do the same and stop their deceitful trickery under the guise of justice.
Loren Brower, Springfield
The most serious lying by Eugene’s cops is during their internal investigations of complaints filed against them. Anyone filing a complaint about abuse by Eugene’s cops will be sent a letter from the police chief that appears like something he might have written in a creative writing class. The denials and versions of what he says happened, supposedly based upon interviews with the cops involved, contain so many blatant lies that it becomes laughable. The police chief and his investigators, who are usually the cops’ supervisors, do not bother to call you in and try to discover the truth, but appear like cats in a litter box.
This system prevails and makes cops arrogant — because our mayor, City Council, city manager and police chief refuse to address the problems. In the recent past, I met with Mayor Piercy about a complaint I was filing. I wrote to her and the council about my complaint but did not receive an acknowledgement. Our previous police auditor became involved but did not bother to speak with me. Instead, she wrote and told me exactly the same fictional story I had received from the police chief.
Until the mayor, members of the council, city manager, police chief and the police officers of Eugene develop character and accept their responsibility to the citizens of Eugene, nothing is going to change. Until this happens, Eugene’s cops will continue their arrogant and abusive ways.
Wayne Pierce, Eugene
FAULTY PROCESS FOR ORI
Proponents of Oregon Research Institute’s building and parking lot along the Willamette River are using the economy and prospective grant money to make it appear as if Connecting Eugene is standing in the way of economic development. On the contrary, if federal money is in jeopardy of being lost and jobs are at stake, it is because the UO has failed to uphold its agreements with students and faculty, failed to comply with the conditional use permit and failed to construct the building before their permit expired.
The UO has a standing agreement with the University Senate to involve students and faculty in its planning and design process. This agreement, however, was sidestepped for the proposed Research Park.
The UO also entered into a contractual agreement to “maximize the use of alternate modes of transportation” and promote transportation modes “other than the single-occupancy automobile” within the Research Park. The nearest bus stop to the proposed building is nearly a half mile away. A pedestrian or wheelchair user would have to cross a total of 16 lanes of traffic and a busy railroad track (without gates for protection) to get to the front doors. This is hardly sustainable development.
Finally, the UO knew that its 20-year CUP would expire last October, but they didn’t complete their request for an extension until after the permit lapsed. Even then, the UO failed to complete a survey of wetlands as required by the city and federal law, despite the fact that part of the site is in the National Wetlands Inventory.
The UO’s negligence may threaten ORI’s ability to get federal money. Fortunately, according to ORI, they received four other “very good proposals” when they were looking to house all their employees under one roof. By choosing one of these options, or one of many other locations, ORI could have a new home without tarnishing their positive reputation in the community.
Allen Hancock, Eugene
IRONIC EWEB AD
I thought it was ironic enough that EWEB has a sign posted at the Walterville Pond, “No trapping or discharging of weapons on EWEB property,” a sign at the gate warning of lethal traps, but then I saw their ad on the back page of the Jan. 7 EW. It states “We are finding better ways to live together,” and then states, “We give homeowners and businesses the tips they need to live in harmony with the environment.” This is in the same issue where there is an article on EWEB using lethal traps, euthanization and bows and arrows to eliminate nutria. Is this their idea of living in harmony and living together with the environment? I think I’ll skip their tips.
Lyllian Breitenstein, Springfield
There was little pacific about Billy Rojas’s defense (Viewpoint, 1/14) of Pacifica Forum, and what is “obvious” to one person reads like ignorant dogma to others. Rojas’s claim to have done “scholarly research” to conclude that homosexuality is pathological reflects the unscientific views of fringe elements speaking with emotional mind.
Not only has the American Psychiatric Association reached a longstanding conclusion that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, but according to a resolution adopted by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Council of Representatives on Aug. 5, 2009, during the Association’s annual convention, mental health professionals should avoid telling clients they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments. The resolution followed the recommendation of the APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, which reviewed decades of research and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to justify such treatment. Instead, the resolution advises therapists to help their clients find ways to become more comfortable with their sexual orientation and recommends that parents and guardians avoid treatments that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder.
Leonard Epstein, Ph.D., Eugene
JUSTICE AND CLOSURE
I very much enjoyed Camilla Mortensen’s article (1/21) on Sister Helen Prejean and restorative justice. I had the honor of spending some time with her several years ago and she is a remarkable woman, a hero in every sense of the word.
With regard to restorative justice, Community Mediation Services, a local nonprofit, has been running a restorative justice program within juvenile corrections for many years and more recently has been discussing way of integrating restorative justice concepts into the adult system. As Prejean so eloquently points out, however, that system is based on vindictive justice and in the end provides justice and closure to neither the victim nor the community. In my opinion, if more offenders and victims were able to hear each others’ stories, the healing process would be more complete for all concerned and the potential for recidivism less.
And speaking of recidivism, the recidivism figures quoted (“70 percent in other places, 29.3 percent in Oregon”) require some explanation. National recidivism figures represent the number of people who return to prison within three years. The vast majority of those returns are for parole and probation violations, many of which are classified as technical, meaning a missed appointment or a positive drug test, but not necessarily and most often not a new felony conviction.
In Oregon, technical violations are served in county jails, thus no return to prison. To place that statement in context, prior to a law change in the mid ’90s, 80-plus percent of those entering prison were parole and probation violators. Now, virtually none are — they are sanctioned in county jails. My sense is that Oregon does no better or worse than anywhere else with regard to the success of those on parole or probation.
Ron Chase, executive director Sponsors, Inc., Eugene
Some folks just plain love development. Cynthia Guinn and her fans (or employees?) Dawn Branham and Josh Burt long for a new building between the train tracks and the bike path along the riverfront. Using similar language, they describe the area as “an eyesore,” “pretty ugly” and “an awful section of bike path.” Well, not everyone thinks a big fancy building (“green” though it be) is the solution to a spurious “problem.” If the developers can convince everyone that it’s a major problem, they might get their way.
I’ve been biking that stretch of path for 24 years. When Guinn claims that “the entire experience, whether you’re a pedestrian or a bicyclist, will be enormously enhanced,” I want to laugh — and then scream. Many really like the openness of that area. And I’ve never had trouble there with the “transient population” these folks vilify.
More trees along the south perimeter, along the tracks, would be nice and wouldn’t require another Phil Knight hand-out. But beyond that, it’s fine. All the developers’ talk about “improving” the area is like the Europeans claiming they’ve come to “improve” the “New World” — a cynical ruse to get what they want.
Jeff Harrison, Eugene
SHOUTING DOWN DEBATE
Otherwise respected figures give unfair credibility to criticisms of Pacifica Forum with misleading information. So it is with writer Joe Leiberman, whose articles on Pacifica have appeared in EW.
He is an able journalist, usually with credibility. But he and a local rabbi quoted in his writing have lost touch with reality when it comes to Pacifica Forum. Neither recognizes campus demonstrators who disrupted Pacifica meetings for what they actually are — creations of local Zionists who go to great lengths to recruit those who would help them silence critics of Israel.
The rabbi, known as a peacemaker, acknowledged to me at a previous anti-Pacifica demonstration: “I am a Zionist!” That is his choice. It casts doubts on how peaceful he is when it comes to Israel’s invasion of Palestine as well as to the majority of Pacifica programs on that subject.
He and other demonstrators shouted down a scholarly — not neo-Nazi — Pacifica debate Jan. 15. They tolerated obscene behavior of their leader who threw his hands into the air with middle fingers extended to taunt speakers.
The writer and the cleric are entitled to express their views. So is Pacifica Forum, which they try to silence.
George Beres, Eugene
LOCAL FOOD WEBSITE
Thank you so much for the column from Lynne Fessenden (Viewpoint 1/21) regarding purchasing locally grown food. I believe that our current larger food system is at the heart of the problems surrounding us today, from health care to our environment to energy.
I would also like to suggest that those interested in local foods check out eugenelocalfoods.com. Every week this website allows its patrons to place orders by Monday choosing from a very extensive list of goods (meat, veggies, cheese, dairy, etc.) from Eugene’s amazing array of local farms and purveyors which are then compiled and available for pick-up at Hideaway Bakery on Tuesday afternoon. I personally have had many great experiences and highly recommend them to anyone looking for quality local food at affordable prices!
Andrew Harmon, Eugene
STICK WITH FURRIES
Having released pitbull reporter Alan Pitman to bash anything related to the UO Athletic Department in 2009, EW demonstrates an instant makeover by putting the Ducks on the cover of their New Year’s issue. The article by Rick Levin was the worst sports story I read all year. Go back to reporting on furry fetishes. At least on that topic you may have a shred of credibility left.
Burton Johnson, Eugene
NO COPS AROUND
At approximately 6 pm on Jan. 20, my girlfriend’s car was broken into at Bounce Gymnastics next to REI and Surata on West 3rd. Her backpack, containing a computer, wallet and textbooks, was stolen from her car. She called the police immediately, who informed her that because she was not in any danger, she would have to call the EPD directly, not 911. And that was all. Feeling a need for proactive behavior, I set out on my bike to try and find the culprit.
Miraculously, after 40 minutes of searching, I found the man (mid-50s) behind a pillar at Washington-Jefferson park with the backpack dangling from his handlebars. I grabbed the bag, rode back to my girlfriend’s car, gave her the bag and went back to try and arraign said individual. Naturally, he had already vanished.
I was told by the EPD that no officer, at 6 pm on a Wednesday, was in the vicinity of the Washington-Jefferson Park, and it would be at least 15 minutes before someone could show up. Eventually, someone did show up but refused to enter the park until her back-up arrived. By the time her back-up had arrived, it had been over 30 minutes.
The officers were unhelpful in the initial phase of the crime and unhelpful once I had recovered the bag and described the culprit. If I had not decided to actively seek out the stolen property, it would have been long missing before the EPD responded. I can’t help but feel that the police response was flat-out sub-par.
Aaron Maltz, Eugene
PACIFICA NOT BENIGN
“Silence Will Not Save You” reads a sign in the EMU. In this sign, there is a swastika carved into a tree, with a slash through it. If only stopping hate and hate crime were so easy. Meeting weekly on campus, Pacifica Forum has been carving hate speech indelibly into UO since 2003. Their presence alone should bring shame upon the administration, where ex-president Frohnmayer’s strongest action was to write a letter condemning them.
Pacifica Forum has brought in Holocaust deniers and bigoted speakers of many types of hate groups. In practice, they seem to hate everyone who is not a white, heterosexual, Christian male. Their presence and language is not benign; their presentations have called for “death to Jews” and insinuated that rape is both acceptable and humorous. Their presence is dangerous in Eugene’s racially charged recent history. In 2009, a Puerto Rican man outside Pegasus Pizza got his ear bitten off by a group saying, “We’re white supremacists and we’re going to fucking kill you.” This attack is one of many, both on and off campus.
Continuing to tolerate PF tacitly says we are going to pretend these incidents aren’t happening. Allowing overt racism encourages subtle racism, for people to say “I am not as bad as that group!” I suggest we take the Student Handbook’s stance: “Reject bigotry, discrimination, violence or intimidation of any kind.” Take this opportunity to protest PF and encourage the Student Senate and administration to actively seek the removal of Pacifica Forum from campus.
Cimmeron Gillespie, Eugene
FIVE POSSIBLE SITES
Why we can’t find another suitable site for Oregon Research Institute’s new facilities that isn’t so controversial? When they first announced their plans to build along the Willamette River, ORI’s Executive Director Cynthia Guinn announced, “We had five very good proposals in front of us. It was not an easy decision.” They considered two proposals to build downtown, one north of the river and an offer to renovate their current building.
If those were such good proposals, why not reconsider one of those sites? And if these sites aren’t available, what about the empty lot where the Coca-Cola bottling plant used to be? It’s right across the street from the Research Park. One of these proposals has to be easier than dealing with the university and all those objecting to building on the river.
We need to move beyond this controversy and find a solution that doesn’t divide our community.
Michael Shubert, Eugene
I am a student living in the dorms and was shocked to learn about Pacifica Forum. Protesting is not an issue of the First Amendment because that only applies to governments silencing people; this is an issue of community responsibility and bystander intervention. As human beings, we have a responsibility to confront racism, sexism, faith-ism and homophobia in our community and demonstrate to the Forum the seriousness of their rape threats. Violence against women is not a joke. We cannot allow violence, ignorance and intolerance to be normalized.
This is an issue of safety. Students have been harassed. Devon Schlotterbeck has had blogs posted with her full name on Pacifica’s website. The ASUO president has had creepy emails sent to her. A white supremacist walked up to a female protester and threatened her, saying, “You women better watch out because you’re all weak. You better not go out at night anymore.” A man was beaten behind the UO Law Library after leaving a PF meeting. The PF isn’t disagreeing with the protesters’ perspectives or arguing against our protesting; they are targeting individuals.
Recent articles about PF have made it sound like we’ve won the fight to remove them from the EMU. But they haven’t actually been permanently moved! The administration chose to move them from the EMU to accommodate the large number of protesters — but without the protesters, they could end up right back in the EMU. We need to support the people being harassed, threatened and attacked by fighting for the safety of everyone.
Stephanie Chow, Eugene
New York-based MADRE is one of the organizations I trust to make the best use of scarce resources for emergency and development assistance. In response to the earthquake in Haiti, Madre has activated an emergency response through its partner organization, Zamni Lasante Clinic. Doctors, nurses and community health workers there are working to get bring medical assistance and supplies to areas that have been hardest hit.
The most urgent needs right now are bandages, broad-spectrum antibiotics and other medical supplies, as well as water tablets to prevent cholera outbreaks. The need for food, shelter and other types of relief are growing by the hour.
MADRE has worked in Haiti for many years, supporting community-based organizations in times of disaster. The situation is catastrophic and immediate action is key to saving lives. You can donate online by going to www.madre.org and at the home page (scroll down to emergency in Haiti) or, send a check to Madre, 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001, (212) 627-0444.
Robert Roth, Eugene
DANGERS OF ISLAM?
Before Billy Rojas (Viewpoint, 1/14) gets too much ground work done on his libel lawsuit against Michael Williams, I would urge that he wait a bit for more names. There will be many.
A lot of the difficulty our community is experiencing here hangs on the concepts of free speech and hate speech and how to tell one from the other. I’ve always felt that part of the goal of free speech was to bring differing viewpoints into interaction as a way of divining the truth. We will of course encounter ideas that we will think of as crackpot, silly notions. But to begin a discussion by saying that someone else “cannot understand the obvious” strikes me as a poor way to exchange ideas.
Hate speech on the other hand refuses to recognize individuals and speaks instead of groups. If, as Rojas says “homosexuality is pathological in nature,” then individuals are condemned by “nature” and their speech, ideas and freedom are no longer valid. How is this compatible with free speech?
Where is the distinction between free speech and hate speech? I would suggest that Marr’s “Sieg Heil” salute provides a clear example. “Hail Victory” — whose victory? A Nazi salute and the language reference suggest it would be the same victory sought by the people who executed Jews and Gypsies by the millions and those who have since waged a battle of white supremacy in this country.
Rojas invokes “nature” again with the “criminal nature of Islam.” Again, individuals are condemned by their membership in a group. Looks like hate speech, walks like hate speech.
William (Chico) Schwall, Eugene
I read the Viewpoint “Stifling Repulsion” by Barry Sommer (1/28). I have to agree on what he has to say. I don’t agree with hate speech, but I do agree that people do have the right to say what they want and to voice their opinions. This is our right. I would like to say that, whatever side you’re on, you should be respectful of others. Why say mean and offensive words to other people? It does hurt.
I remember being on the Human Rights Commission. A person who would have been a great commissioner tried to get on. His only drawback was he was very religious Christian. They had all kinds of reasons why they denied him the position, and they wouldn’t do it because of his religious convictions. They would pick other people who they thought were more qualified and fit in with their own agendas. They didn’t want any opposing views.
There are people on the left who are just as bigoted as people on the right. We need to understand that we are all different, and we just need to respect others’ beliefs. I know I have said words that may not be correct, and I have apologized for them; we all make mistakes because we are all human. Our backgrounds are all different, our lifestyles are different and so the way we see life in general is different.
Counter an offensive remark in a nonconfrontational way. Get your point across. Their belief is right but the way they talk is wrong.
Sheila Coates, Eugene
In an article published in The Register-Guard Jan. 16 Matt Cooper wrote about Lane County Department of Youth Services supervisors Lisa Smith and John Aarons who were fined $100 and $200 respectively by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.
What I don't understand is why the fines were so small as to be laughable. Clearly anyone should know that work done on the employer's time for personal gain violates an agreement as to why you are being paid. So how could the violation be "inadvertent," as they claim? They signed a contract for a $10,000 advance plus royalties on a book they produced while supposedly working for the troubled youth of the county, right?
Perhaps they should be obligated to repay the county for their working hours and other resources used in their book, the written resources that were developed and paid for with public funds. Doesn't anybody care about such abuses of our tax money? The small fines smack of insider agreements and cronyism.
Barbara Shaw, Eugene
The electorate in Oregon made a wise choice in passing Measures 66 and 67. The people were smart enough to understand that additional funding reductions to public schools and public safety are not acceptable to the majority of the public, the business community included. The voters in Oregon considered the issues and made the choice to protect our kids and our welfare despite the barrage of negative advertising by the state Republican Party.
Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bob Tiernan and spokesman for the “no” campaign Pat McCormick both are wrong in fostering the ideas that those effected by the tax increases will leave the state or that Oregon voters are “stupid” for approving the tax increases. No one who loves Oregon is going to leave just because of a small tax boost, business will be more likely to stay or come here because the state’s public schools and public safety are properly funded, and we the voters are actually pretty darn smart for making a good choice over listening to the whining of the right wing of the GOP.
Gerry Merritt, Eugene
NUTRIA ON A STICK
Many years ago in Oregon I observed people raising nutria deliberately as a crop for their meat and their fur. Nutria are large rodents with big orange buck teeth; however, it is extremely unfair of EWEB to treat them like cockroaches, and kill them in such a horrible manner. I thought Eugene and Oregon were supposed to be in favor of no mistreatment of animals, and yet every group here is just sitting on their hands, letting these poor nutria be skewered by arrows! They were brought here by humans to be raised for fur; how did they get loose and then lose their value completely? Is there no PETA group or prevention of cruelty to animals group here? No, they are not large rats! And yes, they are not even native to Oregon.
I am completely disgusted by how decadent and "Ancient Rome Falling Down" Oregon has become, and Eugene and Lane County, also. Not only do we have more feral cats than anywhere I’ve ever lived, but Oregonians bring nutria here and somehow turn them loose and then act as if they had nothing to do with it.
People caused nutria and people need to take responsibility for them. And jabbing them painfully with arrows is not the cure.
D.H. Bucher, Eugene
FASCISTS ALREADY HERE
I don't know if anyone else found the accompanying photo to the Pacifica Forum commentary (1/14) funny, but I found it hilarious. The photo with the placard that read, "No Platform For Fascists." Does the person carrying this sign realize we live in a nation where the great majority of our congress persons are bought off by big business, and the federal government is pretty much run by Goldman Sachs? In other words, PF is not creating a platform for fascists; our political system is.
Why aren't these people, who want to shut down the PF, protesting in front of the Federal Building? That's where the really dangerous fascists are. The First Amendment guarantees free speech; if you don't want to hear it, don't attend. Free speech does not mean letting people talk that you agree with, it means just the opposite. Some famous old dead guy said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Voltaire, I think.
Jim Showker, Eugene
FIX THE SYSTEM
I wish to thank Jonathan Seraphim (1/14) for concisely and accurately explaining how U.S. capitalism really works. Obama cannot fix our grossly stressed economic system until he fires the most gross of the economic advisers he has hired and replaces them with servants of the people instead of servants of the selfish rich who created war, disaster and barbarism instead of decency in the economy. If Obama does not make these needed changes then he will not be reelected and the U.S. will totally collapse into bullshit worthlessness.
Bob Saxton, Eugene
AMERICA THE OPPRESSED
These past weeks our Supreme Court has been making decisions that are affecting our constitutional rights and the way our government works. There are no lobbying rules any more. Big Business can tell our senators and congressman “vote for us or I will spend $1 million in advertisement against you.” The power of our government is no longer in the hands of voters but in Super Elites who control the media.
The Supreme Court claims its decision is in support of free speech. I do not believe that, however. Supreme Court Justice Bates has just ruled in a case against a woman for dancing (quietly, with headphones) at the Jefferson Memorial. Why is our Supreme Court granting freedom of expression to Big Business but not to the American people? To me this is a case of hypocrisy highlighting the fascism and tyranny that has taken over our judicial system, granting immunity to an elite ruling class and taking away personal freedom from the people.
I hope I am not the only one disgusted by this and I urge everyone here in Eugene who is disgusted by this blatant abuse of power to call and let Judge Bates know that you are disgusted by the hypocrisy and abuse of power being enacted by the Supreme Court. Judge Bate’s office number is (202) 354 3430 and I believe it is the responsibility of every American to stand up for what is right and speak out against oppression.
Chase Grazian, Eugene
NOT SO INERT
I’m writing in regards to your story concerning the manufacture of Raid, and various pesticides contain inert ingredients.
At a time when our society is so concerned about what a product contains we need to be more aware of the ingredients we use. Some of my concerns are about health and how these chemicals affect the planet we live on. Oregon’s attorney general and the FDA need to be more on task in order to full fill the responsibilities that society expects from them.
These inert ingredients are used in daily life and all the risk factors should be known.
We, the general public need to know and have a right to know what we are using in our own homes. When they say inert ingredients does that give them an easy way out? Or do they use the phrase inert ingredient as a smoke screen to hide behind because they are afraid that it may contain some secret formula. Are the manufacturers afraid that if people knew what they were using they might stop using the products?
We need the complete truth about inert ingredients. If they really are not dangerous at all to us, and our environment, then why is it so hard for them to disclose all information? Now is when our elected officials need to be the advocates. They need to force the manufacturer to publish this information to the general public and let us decide for ourselves.
Betty Riley, Springfield
We've all heard about peak oil. Here are a few more peaks which are as inevitable, and, if we are smart, have already passed:
Peak consumption. Peak pollution of the land, air, and water. Peak waste of precious resources. Peak deforestation. Peak use of toxic chemicals in everything, from building materials to food and baby toys. Peak mass-production of cheap, worthless junk, designed to break and be thrown out. Peak weapons production. Peak failure to resolve world conflicts peacefully. Peak denial of our collective impact on the Earth's ability to sustain life. Peak materialistic short-sightedness. Peak inequity and inequality. Peak manipulation of peaceful and uplifting religions in narrow-minded and hateful ways. Peak lack of respect for the deep wisdom in the natural world. Peak disassociation from our physical and spiritual connection with all life on Earth.
May it be so!
Rick Moser , Eugene