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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 3.4.10




STEWARDS OF THE STADIUM

It’s time for the 4J School Board to be a team player! 

On Feb. 17, the board made two decisions that jeopardize the future of Civic Stadium. Their first decision initiated the process for rezoning two adjoining properties to the north of Civic Stadium. These two properties are currently zoned R-1, which accommodates single-family dwellings. The rest of the Civic Stadium is zoned PL, which is the broadest designation a site can have. 

Rather than awaiting the outcome of its RFP process, designed to determine the optimum use of this property, the district board chose to pursue an R-2 zone used for medium density housing for either students or families. It is unclear why the board chose to pursue this path at this time. To many it seems premature or perhaps even irresponsible to pursue a zone change when the future of the Civic Stadium property is undecided, unless, of course, the board has already determined the ultimate use for the property. If this is true, then one has to question their sincerity in their plans to seek proposals during the RFP phase scheduled to begin in late June.

Next, the board voted against a proposal to help fund a $40,000 Cal Ripken market study recommended by Eugene’s local leadership. This study, if funded, would provide a thorough analysis of Civic Stadium’s economic potential. This information would clearly broaden the RFP pool to include applicants whose vision is to preserve the stadium. The vote was a clear rejection of the collaborative process that has recently developed with the city of Eugene, the Save Civic Stadium group, neighborhood associations and others who are working to determine a positive outcome for Civic Stadium. 

In viewing Civic Stadium as a surplus property the board has lost sight of its duty. Civic is not a school building that has ceased to function for its original purpose. It is not a structure that was built through school district funds. It is, instead, a structure that was built by the community for the common good of the community. In disregarding this history, the 4J board is treating the stadium as though it was intended to be a gift to the school district’s general fund. In doing so, the board has lost sight of the history associated with this gift and the responsibility it assumed at the time it was accepted. 

For a long time, the 4J School Board has neglected its role as the steward of Civic Stadium. It’s time for the board to show their willingness to work with the community to ensure that the RFP process is informed, fair and comprehensive. 

Barbara Cowan, Richard Larson, Eugene



WHAT, TESTICLES?

I had to wonder what K. Sowdon was talking about in the letter published Feb. 25 (“Tea Bags To Nuts”).

I admit that I didn’t really take a close look at the Liberty Bell on the cover, so when I came across a copy of the previous week’s issue, I had to take a look.

Those are tea bags. Some of us just see what we want to see, I guess.

Carl Best, Eugene



GET OFF THEIR CASE!

I am writing in response to the recent death of Janette Maples. As a social worker, I feel compelled to respond to the media coverage regarding this case. Although this tragedy highlights many of the systemic problems within the child welfare system, we should pause and reflect before we blame individuals, e.g. caseworkers.

I feel that blaming such individuals overlooks addressing some of the structural issues that played a major role in this young woman’s life. If we approach this from problem an alternative perspective, it is likely that we will provide a more inclusive view of the issue.

• Currently, caseworkers throughout the U.S. are overburdened with caseloads. Oregon more than doubles the recommended average caseload of 12-15.

• Currently, we do not have the number of foster parents necessary to meet the demand within our community. This affects the number of safe places that teens are able to go.

• Each year, we have witnessed an erosion in funding. This year alone, millions were cut from the DHS budget, which drastically impacts how child welfare functions.

• In the current economic climate, it is even more crucial that these limited funds are used and distributed appropriately.

We applaud voters for passing measures such as 66 and 67 — yet this is not enough.

Firing caseworkers and putting the blame on individual caseworkers is far from taking action to address the problem of child abuse.

 Billie Fisher, Dorena



WHITEAKER BLUES 

I live in the wonderful Whiteaker neighborhood. Just about everything you need is found here. Dining, shopping, entertainment and art are all within walking distance. It is not uncommon to see the streets peppered with pedestrians enjoying all of the wonderful amenities.

But you better watch out! Here comes a car — and fast. It is hard to believe that the corner of 4th and Blair that is home to Sam Bond’s Garage, Papa’s Soul Kitchen, Tiny Tavern, Red Barn Grocery and Scobert Park does not house a single crosswalk, not even a white line. I frequently find myself making a dash for it while drivers seemingly rev their engine faster.

Ideally, I would like to see the street renovated to include bike lanes, landscaping, street bike parking and a possible roundabout crosswalk, but in the meantime maybe someone should get out the white paint!

Greg Gregers, Eugene



GRIM CONSEQUENCES

My family lives in the neighborhood serviced by LTD bus route 36B. We have been living on unemployment for a year as of last month, have one older car and often depend upon the bus for transportation. Next year, when our daughter will change schools, we’ve been planning for her to take our neighborhood bus downtown so she can transfer to the EmX. Many of our neighbors also rely upon the bus. In one family, one of the parents is blind and uses the bus daily for commuting to work. They told me last night that if the bus service to our neighborhood is cut, they will have to move. 

The possibility of LTD completely cutting bus transportation to our neighborhood during this time of financial crisis for many families is shocking. Bus service is part of the essential infrastructure that supports Eugene’s residents. Without the bus, adults will not be able to get to work, children will not be able to get to school or the library, senior citizens will lose independence and be more isolated, and an essential part of the fabric of our community safety net will be frayed.

I urge LTD to step back from cutting routes and please reconsider other possibilities. Cutting bus service can’t be the first choice. The consequences for Eugene residents are too grim.

Pam Dillehay, Eugene



BEAST ON THE LANDSCAPE

Standing alone, the 9,773 ft. Steens Mountain has endured domestic sheep, cattle and feral horses on its western flank; it has survived the mines pocked into its eastern face. Through it all, its waters continue to nourish the wildlife refuge — and the ranches — below, and its stark character and beauty have prevailed.

Unfortunately, only a part of the mountain is in the public domain. Now, aging private landowners, with offspring off the acreage and uninterested in coming back, are trying to turn their ranches into wind farms. Where for a century and a half far-ranging livestock have fouled the soil and water, soon “green” giant turbines and transmission towers promise to desecrate the viewshed — and enrich the royalty rancher — without taking a step.

Satisfying the governor with green energy and jobs and a consumer base on the western side of the Cascades with greenwashing, the absentee neo-cowboy and his stationary stock count on little opposition in a dry land with infrequent visitors and scarce inhabitants. Out of sight, out of mind.

But not out of all minds. Fortunately, there are those who know that providing a few short-term jobs for the long-term defacement of an Oregon icon is an unacceptable trade-off.

Too long the sacred cow has crushed sparse native vegetation and fragile layers of soil as she grazes the romantic landscapes of our imaginations. But beware the immovable beast born of ignorance and indifference.

The cow, at least, is edible.

Robert Emmons, Fall Creek



GAMING THE SYSTEM

(Regarding the 2/18 letter on earned time release:) I disagree.

The purpose of prison is to punish — not give out rewards for doing what is right. All this does is make the public mad and demand “truth in sentencing.” And it gives the criminals another way of “gaming the system.”

I would do just the opposite. If an inmate did not behave, they would get 10, 50 or 100 days added to their sentence for every day they misbehaved.

Frank Skipton, Springfield

 

 

URBAN RENEWAL’S BENEFITS

Helping LCC fill the vacant lot across from the Downtown Library with an innovative energy and job training center is a tremendous opportunity. Urban renewal is a tool that can make this opportunity a reality without raising taxes. The projects in the proposed downtown urban renewal plan, excluding interest on debt, are estimated at about $17 million (not $25 million). It would not extend the use of urban renewal for 20 years. In fact, the proposal would terminate the district once the proposed projects are paid off over the next several years. Of the $17 million, $8 million would help LCC build a new downtown center that would bring energy to our downtown and train students for green jobs of the future. 

The proposal would use $5 million to improve public safety downtown, adding police officers paid for by paying off the debt on the Broadway Place parking garages. About $2.5 million would help a Veterans clinic relocate to the PeaceHealth building on Willamette, and $500,000 would go toward improving the Park Blocks for the Farmers’ Market. Together, these projects create jobs, support education and job training, improve veterans’ health care, and assist our local food system, all important community goals.

Administration costs are also part of the urban renewal budget. In the 2010 budget, $150,157 paid for staff to oversee urban renewal projects and programs. The remaining $640,000 was budgeted for project costs for the anticipated WG project on 10th & Charnelton and the Beam project at Broadway and Willamette. In the proposed urban renewal amendment, less than 8 percent of the funds (about $150,000 a year) would pay for administration costs including staff wages and benefits, materials and supplies, and legal fees.

The downtown urban renewal district currently costs the average Eugene property owner a little less than $2 a year. 

Urban renewal dollars have made important improvements in our community. They were crucial to building the Downtown Public Library and the Hult Center. They helped build new and better downtown housing options, like Broadway Place. They have supported and enhanced local businesses through loans to places like the McDonald Theatre, Davis Restaurant, Shoe-A-Holic, Café Zenon, and Harlequin Jewelry. 

 Over the last several months, we have heard from many people in the community that creating a downtown we can all be proud of is a high priority. We have the opportunity now to move forward with LCC’s new downtown center and other vital projects to help us reach that goal.

Mayor Kitty Piercy

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

A very special thank-you to EW and Darcy Wallace for the great photo and article in Chow last month, and to Mark Stone, Cafe Coconut, Numana Woodcraft, Valley Restaurant Equipment, and all of our family and friends who gave their time and support to help us open Cornbread Cafe. And finally, Eugene, we couldn't do it without you. Thank you for your patronage and enthusiasm! 

Sheree Walters & Kristy Hammond, Cornbread Cafe, Eugene



NO HATE FROM US

In the first six weeks of this year, Pacifica Forum (PF) has attracted more attention than in the whole of its previous existence. The overwhelming impression has been that PF is a “hate group.” From the L.A. Times to leftist student rags, the Zionist bias has been clear. As always, their tactics "plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation," says Charles Freeman, a diplomat axed by the Israel lobby. Honorable exceptions have included the Oregon Commentator.

“Militants” were urged to descend on the university Feb. 12 to protest an alleged neo-Nazi meeting. The presentation was nothing of the sort. But you won't find apologies or retractions. The protestors will go quiet until the Forum has another controversial speaker.

Once again: PF does not spread hate. It does not advocate violence. It does not even know what “white supremacy” is. It's a free speech group. That's something to defend.

On the bright side, the website stats have gone hockey stick: http://pacificaforum.org

Hopefully, some of the site's more careful readers will notice the range of views presented by PF attendees, presenters and bloggers — pretty much everything but white supremacy!

Jay Knott, a.k.a. Roderick McLaughlin, Portland



HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

On Feb. 12, neo-Nazi Jimmy Marr gave a speech at the UO under the auspices of the Pacifica Forum. Marr put out an open invitation to white supremacists and members of the National Socialist Movement, a prominent neo-Nazi organization, to attend this event on campus.

Marr is returning to campus. This is not a simple issue of testing the limits of free speech; this is a safety issue for the students at the UO and the larger community. Neo-Nazis have a well-documented history of violence. Neo-Nazis have attacked people of color, GLBT people, Jews, and women and their presence on campus should be a cause for alarm for students (and their parents) and the larger community. 

I personally witnessed what neo-Nazis were capable of when I lived on the streets of Northern California during my adolescence in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Neo-Nazis assaulted and raped my friends and I had to fight them on many occasions to protect myself and my friends from harm. During this time, Tom Metzger’s white supremacist organization and others ruthlessly recruited young, angry, disenfranchised men and boys into this movement and the number of neo-Nazis grew quickly. 

These movements metastasize rapidly and I question the prudence of allowing the UO to become the new neo-Nazi stomping ground and recruiting center under the Pacifica Forum banner.

J. M. Norris, Eugene



DON’T IGNORE DARKNESS

I think Pacifica Forum is a blight upon the university.

I feel strongly that ignoring the forum keeps them going, keeps them able to feel secure and able to make a hateful statement unquestioned. I challenge the logic of anyone who says this is the proper course, that ignoring them is at all helpful. It instead encourages them; it drives the forum and allows them to grow. I, for one, am never comfortable with any situation where bigotry, xenophobia and prejudice are advocated. We can turn our backs and go home, but if you look in your conscience you cannot support this either.

We should honor our forbearers, who struggled for justice — the founding generation, casting off the yoke of imperialism. The Constitution was formed after the Articles of Confederation, violating the law to create a better system. The Civil War violently confronted slavery and states’ rights. These were not legal struggles; they were about correcting fundamental problems. Civil rights activists, nonviolently standing in the face of segregation, marching into the white sections of town and knowing they would face violent retribution. The labor movement, striking and facing down scabs, and police, trying to seize a better condition of labor.

Should we ignore the darkness of society, we ignore the darkness within ourselves. Should we ignore terrible words, we let them gain legitimacy in our society. But if we want a better society, if we seek to know peace, understanding, “We will have to want it enough to overcome our lethargy.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Cimmeron Gillespie, Eugene



HEART OF THE MATTER

Last summer when Congress recessed from the health care debate, legislators returned to their home states to conduct town hall meetings. Therein, numerous proponents for health care reform attempted to describe what the House and Senate were planning. The public forums these legislators hosted were disrupted by an organized effort from right-wing interest groups. Representatives and senators were taunted and jeered as they attempted to answer questions and receive feedback from their constituency. The liberal left decried these tactics as being destructive.

Fast forward to the last couple months. The Pacifica Forum is under intense scrutiny of late for espousing anti-almost-everything beliefs. Protests arise at every meeting. While neo-Nazism is an easy thing to rally behind for both liberal and conservative ideologies, I think it's fair to assume the majority of protesters would be considered liberal. The same liberals who taunt and jeer the Pacifica Forum to disrupt its meetings, the same liberals who cried foul when conservatives did it to them in the town halls.

Health care reform and hate speech vs. free speech are very disparate issues, but at the heart of both contentions one ideology disagrees with another, and attempts to silence it by disruptive behavior.

Take a step back and think about how to enact the change you want to see, rather than use the same destructive tactics you lament when they are used against you. Else, you're just a hypocrite.

James McDonald, Eugene



HOPE, CHANGE, NOW DO

In his State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama again called for America to lead by creating a clean energy economy, naming it one of his major 2010 legislative goals. Now it's the Senate's turn to take action.

Our nation is poised to be a leader in clean energy industries, be it in manufacturing wind turbines, installing solar panels, or making our homes and buildings more energy efficient. President Obama understands that by investing in clean, American energy now, we can create good jobs, stimulate the economy, and combat global warming.

Unfortunately, Big Oil, Dirty Coal and their allies in Congress will do anything to stop progress toward building a clean energy economy. Oil and coal are fighting to get rid of the tools that hold them accountable — including the Clean Air Act authority to regulate global warming pollution — and are spending tens of millions of dollars lobbying for loopholes and billions in giveaways that would encourage more reliance on dirty energy.

That is why it's important that the Senate take action now — before it's too late. The longer we wait the harder it will be to shift, and the further America will fall behind. I urge our senators to support and defend strong clean energy and climate legislation that puts America back in charge of its economic and energy future.

 Kimberly Lewis, Eugene



NO END IN SIGHT

George Beres' Feb. 4 letter reminds me that the state of Israel is guilty of war crimes against Palestinians and that the U.S. is guilty of war crimes against Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and other nations that have been unjustly bombed/invaded. Of course, many other nations have committed war crimes since WW II without being punished. The least President Obama can do is to stop committing U.S. war crimes caused by U.S. bombings. Without doing that, stupid and immoral war will not stop being waged and the human race may be exterminated by our own massive defects.

Bob Saxton, Eugene



DUMB SPEECH REIGNS FREE

In another 5-4 decision echoing their controversial campaign funding ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has now overturned the centuries-long legal standard that outlawed shouting the word “fire” in a crowded theater. Tourette’s syndrome support groups and practical joker organizations across the country applauded the ruling. While the court’s liberal minority debated questions regarding the size of the theater, the number of well-marked exits, and the vocal volume employed to denounce the word in question, the conservative majority said continuing the ban was a restriction on dumb speech guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. 

Chief Justice John Roberts considered the ongoing ban a slippery slope, possibly leading to a similar ban on in-theater laughing, audible crying, and calling out warnings to dim-witted on-screen characters in horror films. The last is a practice he particularly enjoys. 

The Eugene Fire Department and other anti-‘fire-shouting’ advocates worried that by banning the ban more people could be injured in genuine theatre fires. Justice Anthony Kennedy responded in the majority opinion that anyone killed in an actual fire or resulting human stampede would, despite being dead, still be free to sue the theater owner — although he would vote against that as well. 

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas pointed out in a concurring opinion that nowhere in the Constitution is this “fire-shouting business” ever addressed, let alone forbidden. Thomas added that he had read somewhere that many of the founding fathers took delight in shouting the word “fire” at random and unexpected times. 

Just blocks from the Supreme Court building, extreme animal rights activists rallied in hopes that the long-held ban would be expanded to forbid the yelling of “fire” in a crowded forest.

Thomas C. Chapman, Eugene



HOUSE BILL OVERBROAD

I am writing in regards to House Bill 2442, which went into effect Jan. 1. While I do support the intent of the bill to protect vulnerable individuals who are reliant upon care and services provided by state-funded agencies, I believe that bill goes too far to limit those who may seek employment on or after Jan. 1. 

I am currently enrolled at LCC as a human services major and myself and many of my fellow students have had or will have our employment directly and severely impacted by this bill. To impose a law that restricts all individuals convicted of any myriad of offenses without regard to the circumstances of the offense or the length of time since the offense took place implies that these individuals are incapable of rehabilitation or that their life lessons serve no purpose to themselves or to other offenders struggling to reacclimatize themselves into society. 

This bill does not only hinder their employment but does lasting damage to their spirit and self-esteem. It is certainly a viable argument that those who have made serious but not irreparable mistakes in their lives can learn from those mistakes and turn those experiences into something positive, many having already gone on to becoming effective and compassionate workers in the field of human services prior to this bill going into effect. I hope that our state Legislature will take into consideration the difficulties this bill places in front of those whose calling is to assist others and that they will seriously amend or repeal this bill. 

Jeffrey Shervey, Dexter



BRAINLESS IN OLYMPIA

On my way to school this morning (1/28) while listening to KLCC I heard of something scary up north. A committee of lawmakers in Olympia has passed a bill that would allow advertisements on Washington school buses! Apparently Colorado has already made this brilliant move. A Washington State study estimates ads could bring in as much as (a whoppin') $175,000 for underfunded schools. Wow, that's like probably enough to totally pay for half a day’s toilet paper use! 

So yeah, let's get our kindergartners accustomed to corporate advertising at an early age so they can grow up to be good consumers. What the hell is wrong with us! Are idiots like Washington State Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe too brainless to imagine a future where every single centimeter of public space is covered with some corporate sponsor's ad? Where will the refuge be when all the world is a gross billboard?

Jacob Swearingen, Eugene 



A TAX UPON YOU

Tax, tax, tax, tax, tax. The final solution. The only solution. The voters and legislators of Oregon should build a colossal concrete deity and we should all bow down to the giant TAX. Praise Tax as the One, the All Knowing. I will teach my child that when he grows up and does not manage his funding correctly that he should turn to the people around him and tax them to fulfill his needs. How pleasant a world we shall live in. For all those whom find themselves down and out shall just tax their neighbors.

Local and state governments shall now be known as "disorderments." We have all become slaves. Yes, I said it: slaves, to our government masters, who failed to govern our resources, lacked foresight and proper planning. Now citizens of Oregon, prepare as the shackles of tax are levied upon you from all arenas. None are safe. Praise be to TAX.

Jeffrey Bode, Eugene



AUTONOMY IN DEATH

Oregon voters, do you know that legislation is afoot by the funeral industry to curtail our rights to have our own private family oriented home funerals? Will we be forced to pay the funeral industry thousands of dollars and bury our deceased in tropical hardwood boxes after embalming the remains in chemicals? I don't know exactly what is up, other than it seems like our right to deal with our personal affairs is being squeezed again by corporate interests. Why can't we have the right to deal with the intimate events of birth and death in a personal home environment without government regulations if we have trained people helping us do it? 

Why spend thousands of dollars for an impersonal funeral when we can hire someone trained in Final Passages to help us at home for a few hundred? Death will come to all of us in time. Stop the denial of this natural process by sanitizing it. Bringing a funeral to the home living room brings completion and intimacy and should be allowed for those courageous enough to have it.

Pamela Lewis, Eugene



OPEN FIRE ON VIOLENCE 

I thought that President Obama supported sensible measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and children. Unfortunately, in his first year in office, the president showed no signs of leadership on the issue. 

I understand that the president had a lot of important issues on his plate. However, he has a responsibility to speak about the serious problems facing our nation. And gun violence is a major problem. More than 110,000 people are killed and injured each year by guns. 

Time after time, however, Obama evaded this issue. In fact, he signed into law more repeals of good gun policies than President George W. Bush. 

The year started with statements being removed from the White House website that repeated support for gun violence prevention laws Obama had expressed during his campaign. 

Then, after horrific, high-profile shootings last spring, Obama and his staff studiously avoided any mention of guns.

When his cabinet members, Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder, expressed support for reasonable gun laws, they were quickly muzzled and forced to backtrack from those statements.

In May, Obama, without any indication of concern, signed legislation letting people carry concealed weapons in national parks. This fall, he signed legislation that allowed guns in checked luggage on Amtrak trains.

Obama can still improve his record by taking action to make our families and communities safer, but he needs to hear from Americans across the country.

Please join me in urging the president to help solve the problem of gun violence.

Curtis Taylor, Eugene



HELP ME UNDERSTAND

I have this problem regarding American politics and the voting public and it's driving me nuts. I'm hoping some enlightened soul out there can help me find the flaws in my thinking.

It seems to me that when a president leaves office there are three criteria for determining the quality of his service: unemployment, the budget, and our involvement in wars.

Clinton left office with 4 percent unemployment, a budget surplus, and no wars. That's about as good as it gets. Now, of course, Clinton was not solely responsible for that state of affairs but you gotta give him some credit.

So the first question is: Why would the country replace Clinton with a Republican? What could be the thinking involved in that? What's the rationale?

It reminds me of this friend who had a Toyota for 15 years. He put 150,000 miles on it and never had to do anything but change the oil, and then he traded it in for a Ford. It blew me away.

So, Bush gets unemployment headed toward 10 percent, starts two wars, and leaves office with a trillion dollar deficit. And, with Bush in charge, we experienced the biggest terrorist attack in U.S. history, an attack that killed 3,000 Americans. Bush's response to 9/11 was to attack a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 and get 4,000 more Americans killed.

But what truly boggles the mind is that even after Bush's performance, maybe 40 percent of the people still voted for him in the form of John McCain.

So, what could be even crazier that all that? I'll tell you what! I read yesterday that the leading republican prospect for president in 2012 is, really and truly, Sarah Palin, that silly "fluff" from Alaska. Can that really be true?

Can somebody out there explain this to me? I find all this beyond comprehension. Am I crazy? I am 65. Maybe I'm senile.

 Larry Gambill, Veneta