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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 4.8.10




HEED THE HARM

Reading about UO football students committing sexual assaults and the unfolding horrors of the Catholic Church child abuse scandal is so very sad. It’s sad not only for those affected by these abuses, but also what’s so much worse is how little attention the vast majority of sexual assaults receive. These few isolated cases in the paper are but a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of assaults committed every year in every town by every group of people you care to think about.

I don’t know if people realize, but April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I would love to hear Eugene/Springfield collectively shout “No more!” to the sexual violence that exists in our community. Help stand up against the rape of the homeless, those with disabilities, college students and the children being violated right now in homes in every part of Lane County.

Local nonprofit agency Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) responded to almost 5,000 requests last year from people needing help. They have a 24/7 crisis line, support groups and advocates for the medical/legal systems. I want to ask every decent person out there to stand up and help end sexual violence by going to see SASS’s production of the Vagina Monologues at the Very Little Theater on April 9-11. Please also support the other events throughout April like the Clothesline Project, Take Back The Night Rally & March and survivor poetry reading at Tsunami Books. Let’s make our voices heard — we can make a difference!

Rebecca Taylor, Eugene



DESPERATE PLAN

Does anybody remember the people advocating for LCC to build a new campus downtown? Somebody correct me if this isn’t another top-down project proposed by the power brokers and the anti-democratic majority in the City Council. 

As we await a democratically inspired solution to the eyesores leftover from past urban renewal schemes, I have a suggested use for the Sears pit.

I would like to see the Sears pit reserved as a take-off and landing site for personal sub-orbital spacecraft. We will all be flying in such vehicles by the time local government, as it is now configured, gives us an appropriate remedy to the downtown blight.

Sorry LCC, but a new campus is a ridiculous proposal for the downtown site. Why? Downtown has parking problems.

Downtown parking is engineered to get you into trouble with the non-transparent and secretive municipal court ( remember, no court reporter for the purpose of producing a transcript of your “trial”).

The lack of adequate, long-term and free parking is what caused Sears to move out of downtown in the first place. Now, you are proposing a major new project that will create an impossible parking situation.

If LCC would like to do something to demonstrate that you honor your democratic origins, then build some truly affordable housing on the site. The affordable housing option would require less parking than a downtown commuter campus.

The LCC downtown campus plan is a desperate scheme, in a desperate situation, for desperate times. Don’t do it.                           

Martin E. Williams, Eugene



ADVICE TO TEA PARTY 

I’d like to get angry about the behavior of Tea Party activists as of late, but, frankly, all I can feel is depressed. The stories coming out of the D.C. health-care reform protests, the behavior of Tea Party folks at town hall meetings, the vile comments posted to the YouTube video of Rep. Val Hoyle — they all make me dismayed at the state of civic discourse in our country and the hostile environment towards debate.

I know plenty of conservatives with whom I can have reasonable conversations about issues. Our ideas about the role of government may differ, but we value (and even enjoy) respectful and honest debate. It doesn’t appear to me, however, that the Tea Party wants to have reasonable conversations or honest debate. All I see is shouting, hostility, and name calling. These tactics may be good ways to garner media attention, but they are not good ways to help address the issues we are facing today. 

Perhaps they should put more energy toward offering solutions to our current problems (like how to put Oregonians back to work), rather than attacking anyone who disagrees with them.

Julie Fahey, Eugene



BRAZEN FILCHING

Open letter to the well-dressed couple seen by several shoppers (including me) at the Delta Oaks Market of Choice during the week of March 22: Did you know that “grazing” is really stealing? Yes. It is! 

You were both wearing nice clothes and the female half of you had a clearly professionally cared-for hairstyle. Anyone would assume looking at you two that you could afford the wine you were actually paying for and the food, some of which you paid for, the rest you filched from the produce section — brazenly as a store employee was nearby — and from the bulk foods section, reaching into bins with bare hands. Not only is this stealing but it is unsanitary. You might be well-dressed, but how recently did you thoroughly wash your hands before touching unwrapped bulk foods such as the raisins and dates you grabbed and stuffed in your face?

Your assumption that groceries the rest of us actually pay hard-earned money for is just there for your taking is arrogant and it ends up costing the rest of us a lot more when the grocer has to replace stolen goods with raised prices on the remainder.

Hint: If money is tight, forego the expensive wine and pay for your food.

Roxanne Sitterly, Harrisburg



ECOLOGICAL FORK

The film Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators showed on March 23-24 in Baker City and Enterprise. The film’s information was complemented by talks on “Large Carnivores and Sustainable Ecosystems.” More than 300 people attended. The attendance highlights the interest in wolves, their role in ecosystem restoration and the ways that progressive ranchers are coexisting with wolves and managing their operations to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts — such as burying their livestock carcass piles. 

The condition of willows, cottonwoods and aspen, it turns out, is a key measure of stewardship skill and system health — a grazing season’s final exam. The more trees that are browsed to less than 4 feet tall, the lower the grade. Because the browsers vary, a complex partnership between large carnivores and people is needed to restore watershed health and ecological diversity and function. Wolves/cougars modify wild ungulate behavior in ways that humans cannot. In turn, the responsibility for modifying livestock behavior and use of riparian vegetation rests with ranchers, land management agencies, and the public. 

The return of the wolf represents an ecological fork in the road. Its presence leads to recovery of water lush landscapes, abundant with wildlife and fisheries, and economically sustainable and vibrant communities. Its continued absence gives us the status quo — small fish struggling to survive in overheated waters, rivers that go dry during drought, stunted plants and starving livestock and wildlife. How we choose depends on the future we prefer and our willingness and courage to coexist. 

Suzanne Fouty, Baker City

EDITOR’S NOTE: The film will be showing in Eugene April 8. See Activist Alert this week.



CAFO BLUES

I am surprised that EW did not have much to read during the past weeks, considering David Kirby’s, author of the book Animal Factory, talk at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference Feb. 27. There was no coverage in either the Feb. 28 or March 1 R-G.

Kirby said that intensive, commercial meat production causes diseases, especially through the animal’s excrement. These concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are responsible for the swine flu, the bird (chicken) flu and the bacterial infection MRSA.

Organic meat is not in itself a solution. Horizon organic meat is CAFO-produced. The never-elected “President” Bush blamed swine flu on the small producers, which are really much cleaner that CAFOs. Cheese and milk are almost always from CAFOs. Factory dairy farmers criminally collude with one another.

Obama likely won the Iowa caucuses because Clinton was simply too close to the CAFO operators; Iowans knew better. Three boys who were in the same school classroom caught the rarest form of testicular cancer due to arsenic, most of which is excreted by CAFO chickens; so arsenic isn’t so much in their meat. The operators have the money to write their regulatory laws.

Kevin Russell, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: We ran a half-page book review of Animal Factory in our Feb. 25 issue just before PIELC. One of the sources in the book is Eugene environmental attorney Charlie Tebbutt.



RAILROAD PATH

How can we use the railroad tracks (from Veneta to West Eugene) as a bike path?

Linda Wagner, Noti



RIGHT TO BIKE

Bicycling is popular in Eugene. It is fun, inexpensive, enhances well-being and reduces oil consumption. No wonder local trips by bike are on-track to hit an all-time high in the next decade.

Surprisingly, while citizens and City Council are focusing on environmental sustainability, public health and social equity, and while we are set to spend federal money to entice more bike ridership, we are also about to spend millions of public dollars to build roads that will deny hundreds of citizens the opportunity to bike near their homes.

Crest Drive, Storey Boulevard and Friendly Street near Morse Ranch handle all local traffic. They are about to be rebuilt with narrow, nine-foot wide lanes with numerous blind curves. News reports over the past several months have pointed out the unsuitability of the street design for buses and emergency vehicles. Without more lane width or a designated lane for bikes on the uphill portions, these streets won’t allow cars and bikes to safely and comfortably coexist and will deprive most residents of the option to ride a bike to school, work, a restaurant, a store or the park.

Common sense tells you it’s wrong. The Oregon Bike Bill, passed in the 1960s does also. The recent Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (see news story, 3/25) inspires legal action to put Eugene’s actions in line with its commitments and to defend your right of transportation choice. Speak up and get involved by contacting right2bike@arrivingbybike.com

Paul Moore, Eugene



EWEB BULL

Paying this monthly EWEB utility bill ($104.46) is painful, considering that these funds maybe directed towards destroying treasured river space and scenic views.

I attended some meetings and asked about the missing Millrace in the three represented choices on “raping an innocent landscape.” Mind you, it could be worse, given the shortage of sites for prisons, riverfront casinos and medical waste disposal. On some level it was novel: eating slippery pizza, washed down with smooth talk of empty promises, while toying with a hand-held voting light bulb. What bull!

Having anticipated a plan for restored native plants, flowers and trees, the Millrace running to wetlands for returning toads, turtles, natural animal and human paths, flowing seasons of life and change — not this time!

EWEB, continue what you do best: water and electric. When you finish with our space, clean it up and leave. There are many, many skilled landscapers, consultants and shovel-ready citizens who can direct the restoration to its native, natural environment.

John T. Egan, Eugene



STRUT YOUR STUFF

Eugeneans like to think they’re unique. Recently we’ve been upstaged by a rare bird. Wandering in the hills of south Eugene is a wild turkey with white feathers. The ends are dipped in black and she sports a flashy brown, buff and copper tail.

The long-legged Rio Grande turkey can run a four-minute mile. It was introduced to Oregon in the 1970s, about the time bands of hippies showed up in costumes and colorful vans for the Oregon Country Fair. A researcher estimates one in 500 turkeys have rather peculiar feathers. ODFW claims we now have over 25,000 Rio Grandes in the state.

Other colorful birds of Oregon include Steve Prefontaine before he was branded and stuffed inside a shoe box; Ken Kesey, who helped start the Country Fair and invited some of the flock to stay at his farm; and Former U.S. Sen. Wayne Morse, an early principled opponent of the Vietnam War. 

The Tea Party is rocking and talking these days. It’s time for cultural creatives and people of conscience to rise up on the political stage. Spread your wings and start strutting. Fill the world with beauty and the streets with artistry, before they’re soaked in blood by angry patriots spoiling for a fight and looking for some poor turkey to blame.

Chris Piché, Eugene

 

 

MAN OF STEELE

The continuing saga with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele just keeps getting better and better. One would almost think that Steele is an Obama plant and that Steele and Obama are in cahoots to do mischief to the GOP. Alas, the President is a bit too busy with the health care reform rollout and the fallout from various other problems, like the need to get Americans back to work, to deal with Steele. 

I just love it when the self-righteous Republican right, who usually can’t wait to remind the rest of us sinners just how good they really are, get caught with the proverbial hand in the cookie jar. I really hope that the Senate and House Republican “leadership” continue to give President Obama this early election victory gift and keep the Man of Steele right where he is: making daily plays that make the Republicans look like incompetent incumbents.

Gerry Merritt, Eugene



HALT’S MAL

Regarding “Ruhe Bitte” (letters, 3/11): As an Oregonian and Eugenean, I know how much we love our free speech rights, even when we are appalled by the activities of groups like the Pacifica Forum — which I am. I would no sooner stop the protesters outside the forum who were against it than those within. The public debate over the forum has been amazing and has worked wonders to raise awareness and opposition to a misguided philosophy.

A large neo-Nazi march would bring more protesters against it than participants in it. While the UO has many active and thriving liberal groups, it is a state, not a liberal institution. And last I checked, there is no risk of the ANSM winning any elections — in fact, the more they get their message out, the more hate speech opposition groups are created!

You can fight to silence others, or fight to make your own voice heard. Your staunch opposition to free (even hate) speech is where our opinions differ. I think that “all of us immigrants, Jews, etc.” is more inclusive than us immigrants and Jews.

With all respect, Dr. Multer, you seem to want to silence all speech that doesn’t jive with your personal philosophy; you responded to an insanely complicated problem with a rich and bloody history by essentially saying that Jews were there first and have a 2,000-year-old deed in their back pocket. As a Jew, I recognize this as simplification, evasion and forceful self-delusion.

There is a legitimate debate about Israel’s inception. There is legitimate disgust at and discussion about the actions and events at the Pacifica Forum. Please do not get the two confused, and please do not silence others, regardless of their views — such action would put us in philosophical communion, in common ancestry with those who have done the same to us.

Dee Dee Moriarty, Eugene



CONNED CONSCIENCE

I just drove through the San Fernando Valley and back on Highway 101 to and from L.A. It’s been 40 years since I did that. Back then I stopped three times to clean dead bugs off my windshield. Now, no bugs at all — no birds either. From horizon to horizon, sterile-looking earth with small food bearing trees along I-5. Along 101, sterile-looking vineyards, also no bugs; six crows in all I saw along 101. Large drums were placed here and there, I assume for chemicals. Political signs on I-5 stated "Congress created dust bowl." Have these people read history? Do they understand nature) or, "food grows where water flows" — no word about the salmon, or the about where water is piped in from to that valley. In Australia, where they grow sugar cane and use sugar, they have no problem with diabetes or obesity. Here in the USA, where we grow corn, and diabetes and obesity have become rampant. Now reports reveal a link with liver scarring from high fructose corn syrup (Google it). All these are related topics, folks. We will go the way of the San Fernando insects if we keep dosing chemicals on the earth, processing our food into unnatural forms and transporting water where it never was before instead of letting Nature rule. And L.A. — an artificial city sucking down water for golf courses and more, while across the world people starve to death and die from polluted water. Where is our conscience?

Pamela Lewis, Eugene



INTERVENTION PAYS

During the last 20 years states’ spending on corrections jumped 315 percent. Research indicates that the economic benefits of well-designed violence prevention programs are at least seven times greater than the costs, and that early interventions on youth have the greatest benefits. It costs $80,000-$100,000/year to incarcerate a youth, plus court, law enforcement, health and social services costs. 

In the R-G op-ed of March 26 regarding summer jobs for teens Chuck Forster said "jobless youth ... have a greater likelihood of involvement in the criminal justice system," which is true. However, there is more than simply providing employment that we as citizens can do to empower our youth to become productive citizens. We can urge Sens. Merkley and Wyden to support the Youth PROMISE Act (SB 435). This bill has bipartisan support and will provide proven intervention and prevention programs in a customized, all-systems response for each community that will be evaluated for performance. 

Services include mentoring, conflict resolution skills training, sports, arts, life skills, employment, recreation programs, and alternative school resources for school drop-outs. The PROMISE Act also provides early childhood development and welfare services, family stabilization and violence intervention, health and mental health services, substance abuse counseling, housing assistance, gang prevention and exit services, education programs for pregnant teens, alternatives to detention and confinement, restorative justice programs, and finally, reentry services to assist incarcerated youth with transitioning back into the community.

David Hazen, Eugene



SWALLOWING CAMELS

Entitlements for government programs recently have gotten a bad rap. It is often heard that entitlements are driving the nation into bankruptcy. Critics of entitlements consider programs such as Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, unemployment insurance and now the health care plan as unnecessary expenditures gobbling up tax dollars that could be used to balance government budgets. 

These entitlements of course are mostly paid for by the people who will receive benefits from them. They pay with the anticipation that what is given will be saved in trust for them so they can withdraw their investment later.

Most critics of these programs object to the government forcing them through taxation into a mandatory confiscation of there wealth thereby creating more government bureaucracies. It's argued that retirement and health care is the responsibility of individuals and furthermore that government programs are the least effective method of insuring peoples health and welfare. Often the critics of the government programs argue this is socialism and moreover, "the government can't do anything right."

Curiously these same arguments are seldom applied to government programs for the military or taxpayers’ socialized gifts to banks, Wall Street and financial insurance companies. Have not programs for defense, national security and bailouts of the financial industry cost us much more and given far less than so-called social entitlement programs? $800 billion for defense, trillions in bailouts. 

Socialism? And so it goes: "Strain at a gnat and swallow a camel."

Tom Hinkle, Springfield



FIX WALL STREET

Recent articles in publications like the Wall Street Journal and news media like CNN have pointed to the need for hard-line reform of large financial institutions. What Wall Street was doing had been no concern of mine. That is until it affected my life.

Too big to fail means too big to not be broken into smaller pieces. These over-sized mega money handlers like national banks, mortgage companies and of course the credit card companies who we now see as loan sharks have, in the process of lining their own pockets, cost millions of Americans jobs, retirement investment and overall a sound financial well-being.

We need strong reforms now and not the watered down versions lobbyists on Capitol Hill are trying to impose on the taxpayers.

We need to know if our elected officials are working for us or working for big business who can't even get into a voting booth in our country.

We aren't sheep to be led to slaughter. Congress needs to realize that we have teeth and much like wolves we single out the weakest when going in for the kill.

We want representatives that are members of OUR pack, not sheepish politicians swayed to and fro by the whims of big business special interest groups.

Mike Reno, Eugene