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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 3.25.10




GREEN DISTRICT

I commend the Eugene City Council for voting to approve the LCC project and Farmer’s Market enhancements last week. Improvements to the Lane Farmer’s Market are long overdue, and having the LCC building and new housing with its award-winning energy management training school in the heart of downtown will, I believe, come to anchor a resurgent new Eugene “Green District” in the years to come. 

Yes, urban renewal isn’t perfect; yes, it has been misapplied in the past. But these are great projects we can get moving on now to create jobs and housing downtown. It’s time to move on. Kudos to the council for taking that step and to the Weekly for presenting both sides of this issue.

Dan Carol, Eugene



MISLEADING NUMBERS

Your March 4 story “Nuclear Waste Through Eugene?” discussed the plan for shipping radioactive waste bound for Hanford through Eugene. In apparent reference to this plan, the article stated: “Saturday’s PIELC panel mentioned concerns for radiation emitted through trucks transporting the waste. The USDOE even estimated 816 fatal cancers in adults along truck routes through routine exposure.” Wow! The DOE says that its plan to ship waste along this route will kill more than 800 people? And it’s doing it anyway? 

But then I went and read what the DOE report at http://wkly.ws/fb actually said. It turns out that this 816-person estimate refers to public side effects from all nuclear material transportation for the entire country for the next 50 years assuming a doubling of nuclear power usage. Not only that, but this estimate only applied if the entire national infrastructure were based on high temperature gas-cooled reactors, an experimental design not currently used at all. That estimate was also by far the highest number in the entire report.

If the current technologies were used for the next 50 years, still doubling the total nuclear power, the report estimated there would be 42 cancer-related fatalities, in addition to 11 fatalities from routine car accidents. If trains were used instead of trucks, there would be one cancer fatality.

We need serious discussions of these issues, but the cherry-picking and blatant misrepresentation of evidence shown in this article does not contribute to that discussion.

Ethan Walker, Eugene

 

CRITICAL PROJECT

As business owners, property owners and fans of our downtown core, we are completely supportive of the city of Eugene using urban renewal funds to help LCC build a new downtown center.

Our building, home of three businesses: Funk/Levis & Associates, Downtown Languages and Olive Grand, is right next door to the current LCC downtown campus. They are wonderful neighbors and bring much needed and productive activity to the downtown. We are thrilled to have them here helping to keep some vitality in our city’s core. We cannot imagine what it would be like if they weren’t here.

Imagine now, yet another Lane building downtown! It would be a fantastic investment in the center of our community. This project isn’t only needed, it is critical to returning our downtown into a vibrant, bustling, exciting living room of our community that it once was. A project of this scale will draw other investments downtown. Using urban renewal funds to help push this project to success is exactly the type of project that this tool should be used for. The college is a great community citizen, and we need to partner with them to help invest in our downtown.

Imagine putting people back to work in the construction of this project. Then imagine the people this state-of-the-art, sustainable center will attract to our downtown. People bring more people. More people draw businesses to serve them, which in turn, brings more people. This project could very well be the tipping point to making our downtown a safe and vibrant place again. 

We strongly urge you to support the city’s targeted, strategic urban renewal proposal.

Anne Marie Levis and David Funk



TIPPING POINT

The steering committee of the Eugene Downtown Neighborhood Association urges the Eugene City Council to assist the LCC building project at the former Sears site downtown however possible. This includes increasing the spending limit on the downtown Urban Renewal District (URD).

For some, URDs are controversial. As an association, we have heard both sides of the issue. Many of these concerns are justified. However, we have yet to hear of a concern regarding the URD that outweighs the possibility of having the LCC building project fall through.

We would argue that in the past when help from the URD has been requested by and denied to developers, alternative funding sources — such as risky bond measures — were not sought. The developers either abandoned their projects or simply abandoned downtown altogether. When URD has been used well, it has been successful. Just look at the Hult Center and our public library.

Ideally, downtown Eugene would not need a URD because the downtown economy would be vibrant enough that developers would line up for opportunities to build there. I foresee a time that I too would support abolishing the URD. That time is not now. 

The LCC project must happen. The project has broad community support, even from those opposed to the URD. It would be a major asset to the larger community and possibly be the tipping point for turning downtown into the vital place it should be.

William Kennedy, Eugene Downtown Neighborhood Association Steering Committee



DISTINGUISHING JOHNS

On behalf of the LOOJH (League Of Other John Helmers) we wish to make it known that, while we love our father/grandfather, are honored to carry on a naming tradition that goes back many generations and enjoy the insights and churlish musings of John C. Helmer, we do not necessarily share the opinions of our pater familias. In a recent letter to EW he held forth on law enforcement and gun ownership (“Confusing Contradictions,” 2/18). In The Register-Guard he has furthered the popular mythology about Native Americans and their treatment of the elderly, and still elsewhere he has conveyed his hydrophilic obsession with the Mill Race.

Please do note the much appreciated use of the middle initial “C” in all these missives. John C. is not John F. or John E., the latter two also residing in Eugene and proud to be his son and grandson. 

Go get ‘em Dad/Grandpa, and keep using that “C.”

John F. Helmer, Eugene



MOSTLY PARKLAND

I’m disappointed by Alan Pittman’s “Riverfront Skyscraper of Park?” article (3/11) suggesting the March 3 EWEB waterfront meeting was “developer-dominated.” I attended and saw many people I know, and none are developers. Judging from the electronic voting process there were about 300 people at the meeting, but I find it hard to believe developers dominated the crowd. If Pittman’s assumptions about developer presence are true, then there must have been 150 developers present. Seems like a lot, maybe Pittman should actually count the number of developers before reporting that most of those in the crowd were developers.

I also disagree with the assertion that the proposed master plan minimizes parkland. My impression is that Eugene’s riverfront is mostly park. The north bank from Coburg Road to I-5 is all park, the south bank from Coburg to 105 is all park, and both sides of the river from 105 to the Beltline form a continuous public area with a bike path. It is a great bike path and riverfront area except that the city miserably fails to meet the waterfront at any single point.

Of course, many in Eugene may think the city should not meet the river, and it should maintain even greater setbacks than the minimum. On the contrary, this city should have a meaningful urban presence on the river. I’m for development of the city center and a connection to the river. It should be compelling and obvious to everyone who comes to Eugene, and it should show everyone that we care for the river and are directly connected to it. To assume that this will degrade the river and ruin every natural quality it offers is wrong. It is possible to develop the EWEB site and improve the city center, the riverfront and the environment. 

The greater danger is to not create a compelling downtown and riverfront experience. Without a strong city center we will never stop the expansion of car-dominated streets at the edges of the city.

Maurice Reid, UO master of architecture candidate, Eugene



TINY LOSS FOR SCHOOLS

I support the LCC project downtown. It will bring lots of people, activity and life. We have been complaining about filling the pits for years — and we now have a great solution in our grasp. Let’s not blow it!

 

It stuns me that some on our city council might kill it because they don’t like the urban renewal funding system. Okay, we may need to fix, or even abandon, urban renewal districts. However, this is a separate issue, and it would be an absolute crime to kill this great project for that reason.

Furthermore, claims that the URDs hurt school funding are exaggerated scare tactics and offensive to me. Possibly nobody in town has worked harder than I have for almost a decade for better school funding in Eugene and Oregon. If filling the pits results in a very tiny loss in school funding, it will be worth the price for the improved quality of life in our city. Shame on those who exploit the school funding issue to kill downtown.

LCC is a wonderful community re-source. With enough will, we can resolve the details and have a great downtown. Let’s not “sacrifice the good on the altar of the perfect.” Let’s get LCC downtown!

 

Joy Marshall, Eugene



COURAGEOUS VOICE

Ted Taylor, editor of EW, deserves thanks for the sensitive reminder he gave us of the life of Paul Prensky, who died March 6.

I always welcomed hearing Paul’s outspoken defenses of the disenfranchised. By disciplining himself, Paul lived in their style. With his courageous voice, he spoke out in their behalf to prick the public conscience.

 Eugene has a uniqueness made valuable by persons like Paul Prensky.

George Beres, Eugene



THE GREAT GADFLY

If I were to say, simply, that a wise, adept writer recently died, what image would that conjure up? Who it be? A reclusive novelist somewhere in rural New England? A professor of philosophy at a liberal arts college? Or a bongo-playing, dumpster-diving, newsletter- and letter-writing hippy with a mental illness?

We arbitrarily bundle attributes. In other ages, philosophers lived in barrels, went to jail, wandered across the Alps and cried at inappropriate moments. In our age we can’t seem to see wisdom unless it has at least a master’s degree. We can’t see a person’s worth until we recognize what brand of shoes he or she wears. A person spouting nonsense but who wears a nice suit and appears on TV is heard and actually obeyed by millions (e.g. Glenn Beck).

If you saw Paul Prensky around town in his last years, if you didn’t know him, you probably didn’t see him at all. You glanced at him and thought “another crazy bum, look away” and dismissed him. You were wrong. Paul contributed more to this community than most people ever will. Paul fought, leafleted, smudged, lectured and wrote to City Hall. He fought in defense of nature, of decency, of people you dismissed and didn’t want to look at. 

He was wise. He wrote well. He was The Great Gadfly.

Martin Champion, Eugene



CHUMP CHANGE

I guess I’m not so mad anymore about the Oregon Transportation Commission for renaming Beltline, though they disregarded my emailed objection at their meeting. 

On second thought, it does make sense to blame one of the most dysfunctional parts of our local infrastructure on an entrepreneur who led the looting of our tax dollars to divert business from our downtown, destroy the Greenhill alternative to Truck Route 99 to construct an unneeded runway or (your favorite boondoggle goes here). The quarter-million for signage is chump change compared to what this guy and his cronies already cost us.

If we can’t afford to fix the Beltline, apparently we can afford to fix the blame!

Phil Siemens, Eugene



URBAN RENEWAL WORKS

Urban renewal districts (URDs) have been used with great success in cities throughout America. In many cases, the only option for dealing with outdated, toxic or run-down properties is for the local government to jump in and clear the site to make it shovel-ready and competitive for private sector development. In Eugene’s case it’s taking even more than that: we have to provide additional help in the form of property sold for $1 and low-interest construction loans when private financing is not available.

This offends some people as a giveaway to developers. But the bottom line is that demographics and the fundamental issue of supply/demand will continue to make downtown less attractive for new construction compared to greenfield sites elsewhere in Eugene. And the proposed supply of EWEB riverfront land and the downtown core will need even more help to attract multi-story and mixed use development. 

It’s not that URDs are wrong; the point is that in Eugene we’re struggling with mega-trends that result in downtown needing extraordinary government intervention to create positive change. Taking a private sector-only approach is not working in other comparable cities and will not work in Eugene.

Comparing the last URD vote — which was admittedly a landslide in opposition — to a possible challenge over targeted uses like LCC, VA clinic and Saturday Market, I like the chances this time around. The projects as proposed and the sites they’re working on are much more compelling. Kudos to the mayor, manager and council for championing these projects and having the guts to keep working on downtown. 

Rich Gaston, Eugene

 

STOP THE KILLER

Hi, my name is Josh Brown and I am 8 years old. My mom will type this just as I say it. I have type 1 diabetes. My mom has type 2.

My wish is that no one ever has to get this. Every 20 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes. This is a lot! What if it was gonna be you?

Tuesday, March 23, was American Diabetes Association Alert Day. Discover your risk for type 2 diabetes, and join the movement to stop this terrible disease by visiting www.stopdiabetes.com or call 800-DIABETES.

It's time to stop this silent killer once and for all., Josh and Kim Brown, Eugene



BREATHE EASIER

A promise made is a promise kept. President Obama and the congressional Democrats have done a great service to the citizens of the U.S. The log-jam that prevented millions of persons from obtaining health insurance has been broken, never to be rebuilt.

After 100 years of fits and starts we all can breathe a bit easier today knowing that in short order quality and affordable health care will be the normative condition of the American culture, rather that the province of the fortunate few. 

Gerry Merritt, Eugene



SOONER IS BETTER

The downtown pit has been a problem for too long and it has presented a serious drawback to the development of the downtown area. The sooner something is developed at the site the better.

Plans from others wanting to build at the site have been hindered by lack of funding and this problem is not going to be solved any time soon. The LCC downtown project has the seed money necessary to get started on this project and with the transfer of site to LCC, they can begin the process to raise the final funding.

The LCC plans call for an energy efficient building and this is always a great idea to add another high quality building to the downtown area. This will also house the energy management program, a growing field that is attaining national recognition and graduating a much desired cadre of energy managers and technicians. In addition, the energy efficient building can be integrated into the lesson plans to show the students what can really be done in terms of energy efficiency and how it works in practice.

This project will increase the number of people downtown and has potential to have apartments for people who want to move downtown. 

We are excited about this project and we see it as a win for downtown, a win for LCC, and most of all a win for Eugene.

We strongly urge the City Council to support this effort by LCC.

Frank Vignola & Mary Lou Vignola, Eugene



PC GONE WILD

Was LaMichael James victimized by political correctness? 

The news accompanying James’ guilty plea suggests he was minding his own business (maybe that was the problem) when his girlfriend went to his apartment, confronted him, then entered his car, took his keys, exited, ran with him catching her, and the two of them falling to the ground wrestling for the keys. 

Sounds like a not-so-civil civil case at best. Yet she filed criminal charges, and James was jailed and became the object of the court’s reshaping of the cornerstone of American justice: “Innocent until proven guilty” into the court’s “rules of pretrial release.” As a result James stood to be punished more by the court’s pretrial rules than if later found guilty.

By the time James would have battled to a not unlikely “not guilty” trial verdict his attorney would have had to tackle the more difficult job of trying to negotiate James’ reentry to school and football. 

Meanwhile, Athletic Department administrators tried to avoid that nightmare by hoping university professors would forgive the department for barring them from the second floor of the Jacqua student-athlete center and would gratuitously travel two miles out of their way on their own time to school James in the classes he was unable to attend because of the court’s rules. 

This story doesn’t sound so much like another chapter of “Ducks gone wild” as The Register-Guard’s Robespierrian sports columnist has concluded but rather the latest chapter in “political correctness gone wild.” 

Charles Glenn Duncan, Vida



WORSE THAN BANKERS

An open letter to Gov. Kulongoski about changing the name of Beltline Highway: How out of touch are you? You are taking $250,000 out of the people’s budget to rename a highway to honor a fellow millionaire. You are no better than the bankers on Wall Street who do not have a clue. You talk about how important education is for our children, and society, yet you cut school funding to ribbons. Shame on you, Mr. Kulongoski! 

The speed in which this idea was announced, and the minimal amount of time it took to enact is so telling as to where your loyalties lie: fast track for honoring millionaires while schools, children, and families flounder for years, without end. 

You are worse than the bankers, Because you took an oath, Mr. Kulongoski, you took an oath!

Keith Gatton, Eugene



SHAMROCK ROCKS

It has been great to see so many businesses participating in the Muscular Dystrophy Association's (MDA) Shamrock Program this year. As an individual who has had muscular dystrophy all of my life, I know from personal experience how important it is to both raise money for needed services and to raise public awareness of neuromuscular diseases. The Shamrock Program does both of these things very well each year. 

I would like to personally thank the many businesses around town that are participating in this year's event, and would especially like to thank everyone who has bought a Shamrock for the MDA. Thousands of dollars have already been raised by Eugene businesses, and there is still several days left of the program. The money raised allows MDA to provide grants for neuromuscular disease research, medical equipment repair funds and clinic appointments for people like myself. I'm proud to have been part of the MDA community for the past 50 years. Keep up the good work!

Roxie Mayfield, Eugene



NOT JUST OUR PROBLEM

In January 2009 the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that greenhouse gas emissions must peak worldwide by 2015 if most big cities are to avoid going under water. Our planet's atmosphere is complex, so scientists can only estimate when global warming will reach a point of no return. But clearly, time is short.

 People in the U.S. need to understand the power India and China have in global warming negotiations. Without their cooperation, no agreement can reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. People in India and China would like to reach the standard of living that we have in the U.S., and are willing to burn more and more coal to further their economic development goals.

 Ted Trainer's 2007 book, Renewable Energy Cannot Sustain a Consumer Society, points out that alternative energy cannot provide for all the current consumption of the world. India and China can only pursue the way of life of the richer countries by burning fossil fuel.

 People in the U.S., Europe and Japan must agree to yield ground to India and China, even though some will be predisposed to not wish to make concessions to people of color. People in the richer countries cannot continue to live as they currently do. They must agree to reduce consumption, say by driving less, taking up fewer square feet of space for housing and eating less meat.

 I propose a global agreement under which India and China freeze their economic development while the richer countries reduce the size of their economies. The U.S. should withdraw from military bases in Asia so that India and China feel less of a need to become richer countries with stronger armed forces.

 Milton Takei,  Eugene



UNPREDICTABLE WIND

Sounds like we'll soon find out if the Steens Mountain wind farms are modeled after the somewhat incomplete green-energy policy of their counterparts in the Columbia River Gorge (CRG). Apparently (as far as I'm aware) the CRG windmills have no electric storage capacity, and the CRG hydropower grid is required to wire them in. So, as slaves to the wind, jumping from zero to the megawatt range rapidly and somewhat unpredictably, if there's no demand into which to funnel the power, it may have to be practically given away just to get rid of it. 

We really need to be better stewards of public policy. 

Jack Janisch, Hoquiam, Wash. (formerly of Corvallis)



PERMISSION TO PEE

To all required by law to attend school: You don't ask to sneeze, blink, or scratch an itch at school, yet many of you are required to ask permission to empty your bladder and bowels.

School policies require you to ask permission because you might miss an important part of the lesson, and so that you don't disrupt the class.

There is a fundamental problem with these policies: They don't trust you to be a human capable of making educated, respectful choices. Instead, they assume that you are ignorant, disrespectful and unchanging.

Security is often a reason as well, but schools are not nearly as secure as many have been lead to believe.

The most effective way to change these policies is to stop asking permission and simply do what you need to do. You are fully capable of understanding what is important to you in a lesson, and you likely know how to respectfully leave the classroom. You are the only person who truly knows when you need to use the restroom. If the faculty tries to "punish" you, then they are being disrespectful of the fact that your body doesn't run on a clock. Also, they are ignoring the fact that you don't need their lessons to be a successful human being. Enforced, systemized education usually holds you back from your true potential.

The current school system is an industry designed to standardize you, but there are no standard people.

Brandon R. Farmer, Swisshome



BENIGN MEDICINE

I am so sick of this crap. Why do we allow ourselves to be discriminated against?



Why is our medicine treated as a stigma, a bad thing, and why do we allow this to go on?



As a veteran, why do I not have the same right to exist with my belief system not under daily attack by my own government? As a minister being told by our court system and government that our church has the right to exist as long as we don't use our sacrament, which our government has made illegal through lies and manipulation.



We need to be proud of the fact that of all the things out there being offered as medicine, we choose the most benign. As a recreational tool, it is the one whose side effects are least harmful.



Our government declared war on us, its people, and as a veteran of two wars I want to know, where is the Geneva Convention when my rights as a POW are impinged upon?

I am not a criminal. I should not be locked up with criminals. There should be a separate place for those of us with a differing cultural belief. I am proud I smoke/vaporize MJ and like others like Michael Phelps who allowed himself to be bullied, badgered and made to feel a less than a human being because he chose a substance to relax with that is least harmful to him. 

Total legalization. Nothing less will suffice. 

Rev. Will I. Am Winget , Eugene



LARS LIES

Lars Larson is a big fat liar. From the lies of the false WMDs to the nonexisting "Death Panels," Lars has been using the public airwaves to spread the propaganda of his far-right masters to his brainwashed minions. 

Lars’ latest false flag rumor is that President Obama wants to ban recreational fishing in America. Taking the opinion of an editorial story posted March 10 on the ESPN's website, Lars and other right-wing megaphone propagandists, including Glenn Beck, have been trying to repeat this lie enough so that it becomes a truthiness. Both ESPN and Snopes.com, a rumor investigating site, have denounced this rumor as false. If truth is the gold standard by which we judge a man's character, then Lars should be judged as fool's gold.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain