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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 3.11.10




WE WILL BE JUDGED

Yes, we do have rights. We have the right to remain silent and turn a blind eye to the sick, hungry, homeless and poor amongst us. We have the right to acquire as much wealth as we can. But we must never forget that our creator has rights also. Our creator has the right to strip our souls from our mortal coil and judge us by our deeds. Those who helped the sick, hungry, homeless and poor will receive all the eternal riches of Heaven. Those who chose to ignore and turn a blind eye to the needs of the lesser amongst them will be cast aside and receive eternal punishment and their wealth will turn to rust.

The debate over health care is as simple as that. We as a people and as a government must follow the Golden Rule rather than let gold rule.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain



STONE SOUP GARDEN

We are pleased to see the coverage EW has given in the last two issues regarding local food security (“Give the homeless a garden?” 2/18,  and “Food Security Action No Longer a Choice” 2/10). Here in Monroe and Alpine we have created a solution that is helping people learn about gardening, grow their own food and lift the burden on our local food bank to provide for its ever increasing customers. We call it a “Sharing Garden.”

What makes these ‘sharing’ gardens unique is that, instead of many separate plots that are rented by individuals, these gardens are one large plot, shared by all. All materials and labor are donated. The food we grow is shared amongst those who have contributed in some way as well as others who are in need in our community. All surplus is donated to our local food bank. No one is ever charged money for the food that is grown. 

We like to think of it as a “Stone Soup” garden where each of us donates a little of our surplus — whether in time or materials — to grow both a sense of community, and plenty of food to share. This model is easily replicated anywhere there are vacant lots and people with enough gardening experience to oversee the project and does not require a large input of money to make it work. 

Alpine has been host to this unique type of community garden for a year (and is heading into its second). Monroe is starting its first plot this spring. For more info about our project: www.AlpineGarden.blogspot.com

Llyn Peabody and Chris Burns, Garden Coordinators



A NEEDED VOICE

I was shocked by Kevin Hornbuckle’s letter (12/10) dissing Mark Harris. The Harris Hornbuckle spoke of is not the professor Mark Harris I’ve known at LCC. After reading “Scary Reality” written by Harris (11/25/09), I was dismayed that someone considers that to be “turgid” and “insufferable” prose.

I’ve taken four out of five of Harris’ classes at LCC, and they’ve been among the most valuable classes I’ve come across. His classes helped me learn about a variety of cultures, including my own ancestry. Harris encourages seeking truth about ourselves and each other. He has never treated me with disrespect for being “white.” I can’t imagine him doing so to children. Harris didn’t call the trick-or-treaters “non-white.” He spoke of “maroon” as a preferable term to “mulatto.” 

I’ve never heard Harris speak approval of unjust wars or having total trust in U.S. government or presidency. I don’t agree with all President Obama does, yet I see he’s having to work harder than white presidents and is trying to get some good things going. Obama’s the first U.S. president attacked with racism. That’s the same racism children of color are faced with throughout their lives in the U.S. Education helps support strong maroons who can bring great things to our multi-cultural society, and it’s true that some are still afraid of that, which is what I see as “backwards.” 

Mark Harris is a voice that’s needed in Eugene. Someone who takes cheap shots at him seems like a scaredy cat to me. 

J. Maria Guagliardo, Eugene



EASY TO EXILE 

An open letter to the alleged “Downtown Safety Task Team”: You think cannabis and homeless people keep downtown Eugene vacant and stagnant, bleeding money? 

First look at the eyesore pits your city refuses to fill with something as horrible as a park, as it might attract more “behavior crime.” Eugene as a city, Oregon as a state and the West as a whole section of the U.S. has decriminalized possession of less then an ounce of marijuana and made it a maximum punishment of a fine outside the criminal justice system. This was a law voted in by the people of Oregon and is being violated by the EPD. They use draconian laws to turn any cannabis possession within 1,000 feet of any school into an arrestable offense. All of downtown is within 1,000 feet of a school. Any homeless person with any cannabis can be arrested for setting foot downtown and subsequently banned from downtown, in a sense exiled. 

You want to control “behavior?” Ban this drink or that drink? Why not tell us what to think or Taser us if we protest, or come for us in the night, electricity in hand. Don’t worry, there is no one to call for help — you are the police! Thank Jah I moved to Portland. At least I can sleep at night. 

Christopher George Hughes, Portland



A COARSE TOOL 

I have been pushing Lane County to make good on its claims of joining the government transparency movement and substantiating their “Working For You” marketing campaign. In February, the revenue and expenses in excess of $100 in any given month was made available in computer usable form on their web site without the $90/hour charge.

Oregon requires the monthly publishing of payments made to a single party cumulatively exceeding $500 that month. Lane County has been good about their website as it reduces the cost of answering inquiries. However, the monthly reports were not easy to find, were not advertised and were deleted with each new month. More was needed.

In November 2009, Lane County Finance announced the “5” in the search had been replaced with “1” and the same would also be done on revenues. The reports back to July were also provided. They still were in a form difficult to crunch the numbers with a computer. 

More was needed.

In February 2010, Lane County reviewed the legal ramifications of providing the reports in a computer usable form. The reports are now in both the PDF and XLS spreadsheet forms. Go to http://wkly.ws/dl More is needed.

This is a coarse tool for those who want to look into where Lane County gets its funding and how it spends it. May the citizens find Lane County to be acting financially responsible, and if not, to approach their commissioner with any evidence to the contrary for corrective action.

Keith Stanton, Florence



FEELING SAFE IN EUGENE

So, a guy in Texas burns down his house so that the federal government won’t get it, and rams a plane into an IRS building, killing a federal employee. In his suicide note he states “violence (is) not only an answer but it is the only answer.” The Austin police chief assures us that there is “no cause for concern.” The Homeland Security office is investigating an apparent isolated incident. And the media reports that a man with a “grudge against the IRS” flies his plane into the IRS building. One week later the story is nowhere to be found in the media. 

Meanwhile, the Tea Party Movement is gaining strength. In Idaho, Tea Party folks are joining Friends of Liberty coalition, which includes Glenn Beck’s 9.12 Project, John Birch Society, Oath Keepers (a new player in the militia movement) and Arm in Arm, a local group in the coalition that is organizing for possible civil strife by forming armed neighborhood groups. Loose alliances are being formed all over the country, with some groups stocking up on ammunition, gold and survival food.

Sarah Palin calls for “revolution” at the Tea Party Convention, while Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Indiana, Richard Behney, assures his followers that if the 2010 election does not turn out right, “I am cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show. And I am serious about that, and I bet you are too.” 

I feel so much safer knowing this guy wasn’t some Muslim terrorist.

Pete Mandrapa, Eugene



ARE WE READY?

A recent Associated Press article predicted an 80 percent chance of a mega-quake (9 or greater) in the next 50 years from the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Even if this prediction is overstated, eventually another devastating quake will hit western Oregon and Washington. We old timers know that the last big one occurred on Jan. 26, 1700, and that another big one comes roughly every 300-500 years.

Some people think we have not prepared enough. Does Florence have enough surfboards for the possibly 100-foot tsunami wave the quake could generate? If the quake breaches the dams EWEB uses for our power, does Sacred Flood Plain Hospital have enough life jackets for patients and staff to withstand the torrents of released water? When Eugene City Hall pancakes onto all of the city’s Public Safety vehicles parked underneath, where will we find maple syrup? Have local anarchist organizations staged enough earthquake preparedness drills to cope with the resulting immobility of Public Safety?

The Bush administration said, “No one could have predicted what would happen with Hurricane Katrina,” although National Geographic had published an article a year before describing the scenario, predicting nearly everything with frightening accuracy, except the name Katrina. 

Young newspaper reporters may want to read what National Geographic says about the Cascadia Subduction Zone and write a first draft of the Northwest earthquake report before the actual event. Maybe they could even name it in advance. Polling data from Springfield suggest that “Sid” would be a popular name for a natural disaster.

We should take earthquake preparation seriously, unless we want to become another New Orleans, because the day will come when we will need to use what we know.

 Lynn Kahle, Eugene



RUHE BITTE

I grew up in the Federal Republic of Germany and know what the indiscriminate awarding of free speech rights to groups, who, if in power, will do anything to destroy free speech.

I was hence appalled by the recent activities of the Pacifica Forum and am writing this letter in support of Joe Liebermann’s original article “Free Speech vs. Hate Speech” (12/17/09) which started this debate.

 I personally will do anything in my power to ensure that movements like the American National Socialist Movement, skinheads, etc. will never again anywhere in this world gain a forum for their atrocious activities and proclivities. 

Some more comments on the ensuing letter debate:

The Palestinian issue: Those criticizing Israel may consider that maybe the Jewish people have been first in the region.

Read the article by the Israeli ambassador, who is Berber, about how people of Arabic descent, which he is, enjoy more freedom in Israel than in any other Arabic nation.

I find it highly alarming that shouts of ‘Seig Heil’ were directed against a rabbi when he stepped up to voice his criticism of the forum. And this at a supposed liberal university. Such goings-on indeed conjure up images of Germany in the 1930s, as Liebermann so rightly put it.

The increasing presence of hate groups in Oregon reminds us of the old adage, “Injustices happen if righteous people do nothing.” There are now plenty of community organizations against hate active throughout Oregon. It is time the university adds its share to ensure that we (all of us immigrants, Jews, etc.) continue to enjoy our freedom.

Lioba Multer, Ph.D., Eugene



POWER MAD

The search for energy production has become so frantic that people are reconsidering using radioactive uranium to boil water, heating great quantities of our already over-used water, to turn turbines to provide electric power so more people can acquire more gadgets. 

Within the past century our society has only become more adept at accelerating entropy. We are converting anything that contains stored and potential energy for silly and destructive purposes. 

Locally, the people’s elected and appointed representatives are not objecting to the 19th century idea of burning wood (waste?) to heat water to turn steam turbines to produce more electricity, but, of course, we have to disguise what it really is because that doesn’t sound “green.” Biomass sounds “green,” and it is according to my 1975 Webster’s unabridged Dictionary. Biomass refers to “the total mass or amount of living organisms in a particular area or volume.”

So the idea of “biomass” as a natural state is flipped and the word co-opted — a specialty of corporate exploiters of the natural world. Sad thing is, much of the public is so easily suckered.

There is no waste in nature. Maintaining soil requires biological material, but the power mad want to incinerate biological material for heat and air pollution. In other words, they would remove carbon from the soil, where we need it; and put it in the air, where we don’t need it.

We need more power, they say, so go watch stupid football games on TV. 

Jan Nelson, Crow



BOTH PARTIES BAD NEWS

Larry Gambill (3/4) asks us to help him understand how voters could have chosen “W” over the Democratic opposition not once, but twice.

Hey, Larry — when the best opponents the primary voters can come up with are a couple of way far lefties, stuff like this is going to happen. Until, that is, the Republicans make such a mess of things that a way far lefty does get elected and makes the mess even worse.

Is anyone connecting the dots yet? It’s time to throw both major parties out of Washington!

Jerry Ritter, Springfield



THEY’RE JUST TEABAGS

I tend to think of myself as a pretty dirty minded guy, but it wasn’t until I read K. Sowdon’s letter (“Tea Bags to Nuts?” 2/25) that it even occurred me that there was anything testicular about the cover of your issue focusing on the Tea Party. As I read that on the bus I found myself thinking, “Balls? What’s this dude talkin’ about? Weren’t those just two tea bags under the bell?” Once I got home I took a look, and sure enough, it was like I thought. As much as I tried to stretch my mind I just couldn’t make the leap to see those bags as anything other than teabags.

Sowdon, you strike me as someone with a very repressed dirty mind that spends his or her time looking for reasons to be offended. I applaud your decision to quit reading EW as it’ll give you one less source of offence. I’d suggest that you also stop listening to the radio, watching television or surfing the Internet so as to further shield yourself from the cruel twisted world. If you can’t look at something as simple as a bell with two tea bags without immediately seeing a sexual innuendo to get angry about, then you’re not cut out to handle the world.

Greggory Basore, Eugene



ASS BACKWARD? 

I don’t understand Eugeneans. For three years, out by LCC, we’ve had a shining model of sustainable business, SeQuential Biofuels. A solar-powered, green-roofed, local company selling biofuels that work in all cars; biofuels made not from corn, but from Oregon waste products. Yet with thousands of gallons of gas bought in Eugene every day, only a fraction is from SeQuential.

Maybe shopping there sounds ass backward to you? Drive out of your way, put an unfamiliar fuel in your car, and pay the same if not more per gallon. What are they thinking?

Explain recycling: Put all your garbage in one of three containers. Some you can just throw in there, others need to be clean and dry, no you can’t recycle the lids, only open the cans part way, remember which day it is or you have to wait two weeks for the next pickup. How easy and convenient it would be to just put it all in the trash.

Explain your food habits: Get in your car and drive past the Safeway. Go out of your way to random people downtown, pay the same or more for a couple of foods. Then drive past the Albertsons to the special store and spend twice as much buying organic, all-natural, local, biodynamic food.

Light bulbs? Go buy a strange looking bulb that puts out weird light, contains a toxic substance and costs four times as much.

The right thing to do is not always cheap, easy, convenient or simple. Hmm ... suddenly that whole biofuel thing doesn’t seem so ass backward. Maybe it’s just normal, and by not shopping there, you’re the ass backward Eugenean.

Alan Twigg, Eugene

 

 

SWEET EVENT

I wish to thank EW for writing a wonderful article (2/11), with photos of my (our) Valentine Weekend Open Studio in my warehouse space at 2nd and Blair. A beautiful, cohesive writing of a one-page blurb discussed our benefit for Ophelia’s Place and expressed art as healing. The cover photo was magnificent, colorful and textural!

It seemed like all of Eugene came out and were interested in not only artwork by seven female professional artists, but about the workings of Ophelia’s Place. We raised some great funds for this important nonprofit, located in our great city. I especially and wholeheartedly wish to thank Territorial Wines, the LCC Culinary School and Tarte Bakery for all their fabulous donations which made this weekend a very sweet, loving event and we look forward to creating it again next year. 

Susan Klein, susankleindesign.com, Eugene





WHAT MOBILIZES US?

I was gazing into the rear view mirror of time today and recalled the fervor our country was embroiled in after 9/11. It seemed nearly all Americans were unified for immediate gratification and retribution against whomever was responsible for the deaths of 3,000 of us.

Our president sent our troops to wage war in Afghanistan and we supported that decision because 3,000 Americans had died. Our president then convinced us that war against Iraq was necessary because 3,000 Americans had died and Saddam Hussein was involved, and we supported that decision.

Today our new president is trying to reform the health insurance industry in our country that leaves millions of us without insurance and leads to the deaths of a reported 45,000 Americans yearly due to this absence of health insurance. He has been rebuffed in his efforts by the entire Republican Party and even some in the Democratic Party. 

I wonder if he would have more support if those 45,000 all died on the same day every year.

Mark Taubenkrau, Eugene

 

 

LEGAL HELP NEEDED

I wish to make a special public appeal to all local defense attorneys specializing in civil and human rights and the ACLU to please consider volunteering your legal expertise for the homeless at the Homeless Connect on March 18 and throughout these difficult economic times. They have no representation, no one to turn to for necessity camping advice against Eugene’s abusive, and unconstitutional camping ordinance.

No homeless individual or family should ever have to lose vehicles, worldly possessions, camping gear, food, or clothing to impound while waiting for the city, or St. Vincent De Paul — but they are!

Help them to know their rights, to understand and fight against police harassment, illegal searches, public nuisance citations, anti-camping laws, panhandling laws (the most highly resented, in fact hated, constitutionally protected free speech), and also offer them your pro-bono assistance in homeless-related cases of unfair impounding of vehicles, storage of personal belongings, or other violations of state laws regarding the removal of homeless from their camps.



The homeless of Lane County are all misjudged and condemned; and all suffer for that which is clearly beyond their control. Choice of evils defense is a must! Please help them to hang on and survive along their homeless trail of tears!



I am a formerly homeless resident, grateful for all those pro-bono lawyers and older homeless activists who stood up for me in my hour of need, in defending my rights and taking back my innocence.



Danielle R. Smith, Eugene 



CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS

Teondre Williams was the UO men’s basketball team’s leading scorer when he was benched for academic reasons. LeKendric Longmire led the team in points and rebounds in the Ducks’ final game of the regular season, after sitting for weeks on the bench, also for academic reasons. 

The 2009-10 Ducks were a team with two seniors, Tajuan Porter and Joevan Catron. Catron missed almost the entire season with a still undiagnosed injury to his back, and despite struggles by Porter, Coach Ernie Kent remained loyal and supportive, in appreciation for Porter’s contributions to the team his entire career. When three Duck players were cited for firing BB guns in the park last summer, Kent reacted proactively, coordinating their discipline in a public but respectful way, overseeing their public service and guiding them to better themselves as people and community members. 

Would having Williams and Longmire play the full season won a couple more games? Very likely. Would another coach have sat out Porter when he was struggling early in the season and limited his minutes when his diminished productivity continued, and would this have added another win or two? Arguably yes. Would it have been the right thing to do? One could argue either way, but it would be hard to make the case that Kent continued to start him because he thought it would help Kent save his job. No, despite the pressure of knowing he was on the hot seat, Kent conducted himself as he always has as coach — with professionalism, dignity and respect for the UO, the basketball program, and its players.

Ask any parent whose son was recruited by Kent if they support the coach and appreciate his handling of them under his tutelage, and from what I’ve observed, they would overwhelmingly respond in the positive. Even an in-state family, whose star athlete son (Kyle Singler) chose another school, felt comfortable enough to send their son E.J. to play for the coach. As always, Kent helped E.J. grow as a player and a person, allowing him to play instead of red-shirting him as another coach would have likely insisted upon. Even past players disciplined by Kent who transferred to other programs have been given a chance to return as assistants under Kent when he recognized their maturation and potential.

The fact is that over the 13 years of Kent’s tenure, the men’s Ducks basketball team has the highest graduation rate in the conference. Yes, even better than programs with superior academic environments (Stanford, Cal, UCLA, and perhaps USC, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State and OSU). Kent has also been Oregon’s winningest and most successful coach, credited with recruiting and developing about as many first round NBA draft picks as all the previous Oregon Coaches combined. Oh yeah, not to mention coaching the team to the school’s only two Elite Eight appearances, two Pac 10 Tournament titles, and the first outright Pac 10 title since 1939.

Finally, after an off season like the Ducks football team has had, to fire a coach with the above listed attributes flies in the face of what the UO’s Athletic Department claims to be: a department that cares about more than winning. Surely a loyal coach/ teacher/ mentor who is willing to sit talented players for academic reasons to the detriment of the team and his own job status is exactly the kind of ambassador the university needs, if only to balance the community’s and the country’s current view of the UO Athletic Department and its players.

Frank Silva, Eugene



COULD HAVE BEEN DEAD

As a driver and passenger who has seen pedestrians do some pretty stupid things, I can understand why drivers complain about pedestrians on occasion. I am, however, also a frequent pedestrian, and today I was almost hit by a man in a large pickup who appeared to not even be aware of my existence.

Everyone using the roads and sidewalks have responsibilities to make sure that they and the people around them are safe. I would be lying if I said I weren’t upset by the fact that if I had assumed that all the drivers in the turn lane were going to be respectful of the pedestrian’s right of way, I would be dead right now.

Pedestrians can do stupid things. We’re human. Drivers do, too — once again, human. However, I’m struggling to see how such a thing is a simple “oops.” Perhaps I’m biased — it was, after all, me in the crosswalk. Nonetheless, were it anyone else, the fact that a person could have died because a driver wasn’t paying any attention does not change.

I suppose my point is that while drivers may have cause to complain about pedestrians on occasion, drivers must also be aware of they are doing on the road. If they don’t, they may very well kill someone.

Tahni Nikitins, Creswell



WORSE THAN NOTHING

Was the recent loss of Ted Kennedy's seat and the Senate super majority partly due to Massachusetts serving as the guinea pig for the type of health care legislation President Obama and Democrats are now proposing? This “worse than nothing” legislation, working it's way through Congress, is mandatory profiteering for and written by health insurance companies. The administration's current trajectory of betraying the base with this and other failed policies could lead to Republican control of Congress in 2010.

 With everyone required or penalized to have health care, the CEO of United Health Care is guaranteed his $122 million a year. As in Massachusetts, insurers will cherry pick healthy patients while dumping the worst cases on taxpayers. Small businesses will carry more proportionately than larger companies. Privatizing profits and subsidizing costs is now the status quo. 

 The Gingrich-led Republican revolution took congressional control of in 1994 when Clinton passed NAFTA betraying middle and lower income earners who responded by not voting. Polls show 45 percent of the Democratic base won't bother this year. President Obama has fulfilled one campaign promise, upping the number of troops in Afghanistan.

 Obama supporters should demand far better, such as single-payer or even a public option. If the Republicans take the House, the administration will long for days when they had a chance, but failed to pass any meaningful health care legislation. Obama, acting more like Clinton everyday, serves as both the Republican's whipping boy and a lap dog performing tasks benefiting the elites of both parties.

Scott Fife, Eugene



JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS

I have lived a few miles west of Creswell for more than six years and have enjoyed the drive into town, the flora, and fauna. I have experienced foggy, snowy, icy, steaming hot weather, and have looked forward to my daily commute nonetheless. These past few days I have not been enjoying the view, and feel anger welling up as I drive into town. 

As part of the county's preparation to resurface Camas Swale Road this spring there has been a mowing crew at work, with the result being the ugly butchering of the road-side brush, jagged remains visible everywhere along the "swale." I asked one of the workers why they were doing this, he said, "This is what we were told to do." I am sad that what has been such an enjoyable time of my day has been marred by this thoughtless "just following orders!"

Yaakov Levine, Creswell



CORPORATE PRIVILEDGE? 

Can anyone tell me why Qwest is getting away with changing the services rendered in our phone contracts without any prior notice to the customer? 

Now I'm no lawyer but it seems to me that somewhere I learned that you must first provide notice of intent to change a portion or all of a contract before you actual do the deed, thus allowing the customer to either OK the change or cancel the contract. Am I totally out of it here? 

541? This is absurd! All of our phone contacts numbers have to be changed on cell phones, speed dial, etc. This costs us dollars right now. And yet I've heard nothing from the corporation commission, state representatives or anyone who might be able to set this right. Can you say "class action lawsuit”? 

Let us remember that Qwest used to be U.S. West and they changed the name due to bad customer treatment, relations, and somewhat shady dealings, if not downright cheating. Maybe I'm just not with today’s policies of corporate corruption being "status quo"! How long will this go on? You and I know it's illegal, and yet nothing from our elected or appointed officials concerning what kind of restitution Qwest will be paying us and when. 

Doug Horvath, Cottage Grove