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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 2.18.10




EMPTY SEATS

A sexual assault is committed every two minutes. Sexual assault and lethal violence are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men. What can be done? Men in leadership positions can have a huge positive impact in changing cultural norms and constructs of masculinity that lead to the horrendous rates of male violence that we see in the news on a daily basis.

This is the message that Jackson Katz, Ph.D., brought to the EMU ballroom on the UO campus Feb. 3 in his presentation “More Than A Few Good Men: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help.” Katz is the co-founder of the Mentors In Violence Prevention (MVP) program, the leading gender violence prevention initiative in professional and college athletics. There was a whole row of seats at this event reserved for the coaches of various UO athletic programs, including Athletics Director Mike Bellotti. Every single seat was empty.

What did The Register-Guard report the next morning? There were three stories about the UO football team, including a story about a player who was charged with misdemeanor assault. Not one word about Katz’s presentation.

Is reducing the obscene rates of sexual assault and violence a priority for our community? More than 700 people, including UO Greeks, answered in the affirmative last Wednesday night by showing up to hear Katz. What is the R-G’s answer? What is the UO Athletics Department’s answer? What is your answer?

Andrew Skinner Lopata, Eugene



CONFUSING CONTRADICTIONS

Dear Alan Pittman: In your last news story “Downtown Shakedown” (2/4) you state that: “The city (of Eugene) ranks as one of the safest in the nation, according to the FBI.”

I heard Police Chief Kerns address the Cal Young Neighborhood Association a few days before his address to the City Club of Eugene. What I heard was that Oregon rates as the highest state in the nation in property crime, and Eugene rates as the highest city in Oregon in property crime. 

I believe Chief Kerns simply because he is a professional in his field. If you believe he is wrong, it is incumbent on you as an investigative reporter to prove it. The issue is so simple and the contrast so stark that the truth should be easily obtained and published. You should invite the chief to comment in EW.

I could go on at some length raising questions about your report, which seems rather hastily written, but let me clarify one point of confusion that you create.

Property crime is increasing rapidly while violent crime is decreasing, according to the chief. The police force is organized to combat property crime by distributing officers throughout the community, creating a rapid-response task force. In this they are serving us well.

But for me, I have an impression there is an unwritten agreement between the gangs and the police force, such that the police will look the other way if the gangs will limit their avarice to petty theft. How fragile is this agreement, and when will the thin blue line be overrun? A gun in every household may be prudent.

John C. Helmer, Eugene

 

WATCHING OUT FOR YOU

Regarding “Bike Crashes Injure Hun-dreds” (News Briefs, 2/12), including injury to the psyches of those who hit them.

First of all, thanks to all you bikers with a death-wish for taking the next street over from the one I’m on. Thanks to the rest of you for wearing light colored clothing and head gear, and for the reflective tape on your clothes and bikes. Thanks, too, for the big bright lights on your bikes (instead of those puny ones I can’t see in the fog or darkness). Thank you so much for not using the streets with those bike lanes that migrate somewhere, where I’m looking over my shoulder to be sure we don’t collide. Thank you for at least slowing down at less-busy intersections downtown. And, thank you so much for not biking in the street with your dog on a leash. I really appreciate that.

Rather than consider me just a driver in a metal behemoth on wheels, think of me as a neighbor who would have nightmares the rest of my life if I hurt or killed you.

Thank you for helping me not hurt or kill you.

 Suzi Johnson, Eugene



NOT OUT OF THE WOODS

Regarding your short article “Elliott, Clearcuts, and Carbon” (2/4), I would like to share some important information with your readers. Sustainable Forestry Network (SFN), a nonprofit environmental group in Eugene, is sponsoring a statewide ballot initiative to stop clearcutting on state and private forestlands in Oregon, where currently 90 percent of the logging in Oregon occurs.

The citizen initiative will require timber companies to use ecologically sustainable methods like selective logging and nontoxic weed and pest management, which are clearly defined in the initiative. It will help preserve forests like the Elliott State Forest, where the state of Oregon continues rampant clearcutting that threatens to drive the marbled murrelet, Coho salmon and northern spotted owl into extinction.

Right now, timber companies can (under the Oregon Forest Practices Act) legally clearcut 120 acres without even a permit! They are allowed to spray virtually unlimited amounts of toxic herbicides and pesticides on our forests. Oregon’s Elliott State Forest Habitat Conservation Plan has already resulted in the death of almost half of the northern spotted owls in that forest. Scientists are now predicting that at the current rate of decline the northern spotted owl will be extinct in as little as 10 years.

We cannot allow unrestricted clearcut logging to continue. You can help save our beautiful forests by calling SFN at 684-4850 and, if you are a registered Oregon voter, by signing the 2010 Oregon Forest Restoration Initiative, printable from our website (www.sustainableforesty.net). By using ecoforestry methods we can have plenty of jobs in the woods, income for the Oregon Common School Fund and sustainably harvested forest products — without destroying our forests and wildlife. Your children and grandchildren will thank you for helping save our precious natural world.

Gary Kutcher, Eugene



PEOPLE ARE STRANGE

Responses to a survey regarding perceptions of public safety downtown referred to “strange people” in the area. I may be the guilty party.

A few months ago, I was standing on the sidewalk in front of a business storefront that I had recently opened, trying to ascertain the best visual placement for some signage. I was approached by a city employee driving a putt-putt cart who courteously inquired whether I was homeless. Then he offered me a bag of nickel deposit cans he had in the cart. Maybe it was because I was wearing a jacket I had fished out of the John Henry’s lost-and-found 15 years ago, or the fact that I hadn’t shaved that morning. At any rate, I told the man, “No thanks, I’ve got a job. There’s probably someone else who can use them more.”

So I apologize if I’ve scared or offended anyone — unless they had it coming. And I suppose I could help matters by going around on all fours, but whenever I do, the county Animal Regulation Authority tends to give chase.

Tom Tracey, Eugene



EARNED TIME RELEASE

I urge public support for earned time release, an issue that is again before the Legislature.

The 2009 Safety and Savings Bill raised the earned release time option by 10 percent. This increases inmate motivation for good behavior and use of rehabilitation programs. This does reduce recidivism, especially when combined with preventive rehabilitation and post-release programs that can be expanded because of reduced prison costs.

There have been glitches in the earned release section of the bill that must be rectified. There could be a more careful procedure for the notification of survivors. Some inmates were deemed eligible to apply for earned time when they should not have been. However, the law provides that judges do have the authority to reject eared time release of individuals. In this new year, most of the potentially eligible cases will be determined through the initial court process.

This 2009 bill saved the state $50 million, which was used for public safety and preventive measures, such as the retention and expansion of the Oregon State Police. The “tough on crime” folks, such as Kevin Mannix, are behind rescinding the bill. The Legislature worked hard to craft it and save the state from even more drastic cuts. Perhaps it needs some revision, but we need to be strongly supportive of its goals.

Peg Morton, Eugene



PIANO BAR DAYS

How could anyone dislike karaoke? Seems like good, clean fun — a wholesome alternative to other saloon-based activities. One drawback: It violates a ground rule of vocal performance, that the accompanist must follow the singer, not the other way around. But that’s OK, no one enters the bar looking for a Julliard seminar in classical bel canto. My beef with karaoke, alas, is that it killed the piano bar, at one time the joy of my life. Citizens of all ages, perhaps little else in common, sat around a piano enjoying a few drinks in a warmly lit, friendly ambience, calling out an entire gamut of song titles to an incredibly gifted pianist, who could play all of them or, if not, could fake it with remarkable accuracy. 

I’ll never forget the time a guy came in and asked for soprano-bass duet “La ci darem la mano” from the Mozart opera Don Giovanni. The piano player asked him to la-la a few bars, and then faked along with our semi-inebriate as he sang both the male and female (in falsetto) parts … in Italian. 

I accept you, karaoke, but mourn my dearly departed piano bar!

Jim Wood, Eugene



TURD WITH CHERRY

Kendall Toyota is putting considerable effort into letting us know that their new building is LEED platinum.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a system for rating buildings that are considered to be environmentally innovative. The LEED rating system was developed to apply to buildings being built under our insane economic system that externalizes countless environmental and social costs and then insists on letting the “wise hand of the free market” decide everything. It is therefore not surprising that, from the standpoint of genuine, meaningful sustainability, even a LEED platinum building is just slightly better than awful.

For an automobile dealership to try to greenwash their image by having a LEED platinum building, while doing a gross disservice to future generations through climate change resulting from use of their products, is kind of like trying to make a hot, moist turd appetizing by putting a cherry on top.

If the owners of Kendall Toyota are really concerned with the environment, they should close their doors, walk away and devote their energies and business talent to building the just, sustainable and non-automobile dominated world that we desperately need.

Robert Bolman, Eugene



ON THE WATERFRONT

Burton Johnson’s referring to Alan Pittman as a “pitbull” (letters, 2/4) is probably the greatest compliment any reporter can receive.

To put any government facility next to any waterfront is outrageous — to put a parking lot next to waterfront is obscene. Most cities would kill to have the waterfront Eugene has — and they would never put any government facility even close to this valuable public asset. 

Chase Grazian’s comment about the courts (2/4) is sadly accurate. But the only long-term permanent solution is to amend the Constitution and abolish the judicial branch of government. Only then will we be governed by our elected representatives and not by lawyers in black robes.

Frank Skipton, Springfield



MISSING THE MISSION

Regarding “Downtown Shakedown” (news, 2/4): How dare Police Chief Kerns demand $1.3 million to put more cops downtown? It’s not like the whole two officers he has downtown, like Officer Kurry, do anything more than harass pot-smoking teenagers. Meanwhile a great percentage of child sex offenders in Eugene never see the inside of a jail cell, and the ones who are found guilty are court-ordered to live at the Mission. 

How can Kerns believe the EPD deserves more money? What’s he going to with it, lock up more potheads? All the while meth-heads and sex offenders continue to find protection and a place to stay at the Mission? I think Kerns needs to take a real good look at the oath to protect and serve the public, which the EPD has constantly refused to do. 

Matthew Porter Smith, Eugene



CUTS TO LTD SERVICE

To LTD Board members: Before you took over the managing of LTD, a woman had the budget in the black and was not threatening the passengers with the loss of their routes every year.

You have made cuts to services and threatened cuts to services, as well as hiking bus fees and cutting out tokens, with more threats of raising fees and cutting things. When will you start giving the public the services that they are suppose to be getting? 

Ever since the EmX became a twinkle in your eyes, I’ve had the feeling that you intend on putting in the EmX main arteries and expecting everyone to walk to them while you eliminate all of the other bus service. 

The only people who are being truly served by LTD are you and your egos! If you had focused as much attention and out-of-the-box thinking into the present bus service as you have given to the EmX projects, then you would not be crying that you are short every year! 

Try using some of that energy on enlisting support rather than screwing up the confidence and support of the public in your abilities to manage. 

Employers are not interested in support-ing a bus system because you don’t get their employees to work on time. Every time you cut routes, people lose jobs, mobility and shopping access. 

The handicapped and elderly lose their mobility for shopping and medical access. Your Ride Source buses are expensive and limited.

Start acting like a public service, and stop expecting your increased patronage to suffer more cutbacks! 

Christine J. Gherardi, Springfield



EQUAL OUTRAGE

So much angst over the right-leaning speakers at Pacifica forum. Would the same protesters show up if Louis Farrakhan or the Rev. Wright came to the UO spewing their particular brand of vitriol? I think most of us know the answer.

 Jerry Ritter, Springfield



FILL THE PITS FIRST

Despite all the hype about creating new jobs, when the UO constructed the first building in the Riverfront Research Park with the help of taxpayer money back in 1993, they had a difficult time finding a tenant that actually did any research. Finally they lured Dynamix, a maker of video games such as “A-10 Tank Killer” and “Desert Fighters,” away from its downtown location. Seventeen years later downtown still struggles to find tenants for unused buildings, and city council is now looking to ask taxpayers to help pay to fill the vacancies. 

Within a few blocks of the proposed Oregon Research Institute building, urban renewal funds were used to pay for infrastructure around the U.S. Courthouse with the promise of spurring development. More than three years later, we have a pit next to the courthouse.

With all the pits, vacant buildings and other sites available, it’s outrageous to use taxpayer money and precious public land along the Willamette River to subsidize ORI’s new building.

Tom Happy, Eugene



DUMBASS NEWSPAPER

First, were you kidding with that lying police article (cover story, 1/21)? I mean, really? You should’ve saved that for the April Fool issue (which, by the way, will be on a Thursday this year). What kind of moron blindly goes to the bus depot and asks a stranger for weed?! One that deserves to get busted, I suppose. What kind of bigger moron expects an undercover cop to expose himself if he’s asked if he’s a cop?! This is news? At least the article gets into some substance after a few paragraphs.

Second, what’s up with the unintentional irony of the stupid “Bob Almost Bitchin” cartoon (1/28)? It attempts to take a swipe at ignorant racism yet it is ignorant and racist in itself. The panel depicts someone in Scottish garb defending his Nazi salute as Lord of the Dance. Lord of the Dance is based on Irish culture, not Scottish.

I truly hope EW doesn’t have plans to keep this cartoon running. Dumbass.

Glenn Leonard, Eugene



STRATEGIC HATE

Freedom is an absolute. One can not be partially free any more than a one can be partially alive. There are many self-centered hateful groups, nationally and in Eugene, that are desperately trying to take our absolute freedoms away. Many of these groups are using fear as their tactic. Many of these groups are using hate speech to take our absolute freedoms away. 

Many would assume that I am referring to the Pacifica Forum. I am, but they are not the only group. I am also referring to all the groups that are using hate speech as a reason to alienate other groups. 

The term hate speech is a categorizing term. To categorize is to separate, to define, to segregate with prejudice. The idea that any speech, including hate speech, can be suppressed is appalling and un-American. Groups are using people’s fear of hate speech to suppress a portion of our population’s right to speak their opinions.

You show up to someone’s gathering as a witch-hunting mob to deliberately suppress their opinions and then feel offended when they are forced underground and start using vandalism as a way of expressing themselves. What would you do? 

I freely hate most people and their opinions as I find the species overly impressionable and extremely stupid. I would never stop them from speaking their minds, absolute freedoms or not.

If it had been more intelligent people who had been involved in Eugene’s recent “conflict of interests,” this would not be an issue, for everything would have been civilly and properly resolved.

Keith Richardson, Eugene