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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 10.28.10




WORKING FOR HEALTH CARE

As many EW readers are aware, we are currently facing a health care crisis in Lane County. One in five county residents does not have health insurance. Thousands more can barely afford their insurance and prescriptions. Fortunately, one of Lane County’s state representatives is working hard to bridge those gaps in care and access, both in her day job and as a legislator. That person is Val Hoyle, who represents West Eugene, Junction City, Alvadore and Cheshire. 

Hoyle serves as the director of United Way’s Hundred Percent Access Coalition, a group of more than 50 major health care institutions, government agencies, nonprofits, and business leaders dedicated to maximizing access to health care for all people in Lane County.

As a physician, I think it is critical to have Val Hoyle’s voice and skills in Salem. As a voter, I find her style refreshing.

Hoyle works collaboratively without compromising her principles. That is part of her effectiveness as a leader. The fact that she is supported by Democrats, Republicans and Independents along with major business, educational and public safety organizations is proof that she is just the candidate we need in these politically polarized times.

This is an important election. There is much work to be done. Please vote for Val Hoyle.

Sharon Flynn, M.D., Eugene



SO CLOSE

They were so close. They almost had it done, just $37.9 million short of their goal. When the Coquille-to-Eugene rail line closed in 2007, the various Tea Partiers and other advocates of less-government in our southern coastal areas finally had their golden opportunity to show how the private sector alone can solve the woes of our nation. 

Bridges, tunnels, rails and other track components were in desperate need of repair. Until those upgrades happened, the line would be shut down. This resulted in the loss of hundreds of jobs in the Coos Bay area, along with forcing mills to start trucking their logs to Eugene at a much higher cost than rail.

But, then, while the private sector was diligently working on the problem, the government once again arrogantly stepped in where they weren’t needed. In February 2009, the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay was given $16.6 million of state and federal money to help purchase the line from its previous deadbeat owner, RailAmerica. In August of this year, a state grant of $7.8 million allowed the port to go ahead with the bridge and tunnel repairs. And, a week or so ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation gave the line $13.5 million to upgrade the rails and other track components.

Damn, they were so close. Just a few more decades. I was even thinking of joining them with my sign: “Keep your dirty government hands off of our railroad!”

Bob Berman, Cheshire



VOTE BYERS

Exciting news for Oregon appeared in The Oregonian recently. “Forbes Ranks Oregon Sixth-Best For Business.” That’s the title of Richard Read’s article in The Oregonian’s Oct. 15 Business Section. Sixth best for business — up from 10th a year ago! Oregon’s labor supply ranked fourth in the country, and its growth prospects 12th.

Read goes on to quote OSU economist Patrick Emerson: “There has been a lot of worry on the part of the business community that we might lose some competitiveness with our new tax structure from Ballot Measures 66 and 67. That was overblown at the time.”

Yes it was overblown, and it was the minority party, with Bruce Hanna as its leader, that led the negative scare-smear campaign trying to defeat those measures. Well, it didn’t work, and Oregon’s business climate is now healthier than ever.

Emerson also noted that businesses consider many factors other than taxes when deciding whether to launch a new business or locate a business here. He notes that “Oregon is still quite a competitive place to do business.”

Sara Byers understood early on that the state needed the additional tax revenues from the targeted small-tax increases to help the state balance its already strained budget. Her opponent, however, engaged in old-fashioned fear-mongering to whip up his base. Byers had the courage to stand up for what she knew would be good for Oregon and the voters in her district. Turns out she was right.

I’m not in Sara’s district, but if I were, I’d sure vote for her. I urge others to do the same to restore common sense and fiscal responsibility to our leadership and to insure that all Oregonians benefit from decisions made.

Lillene Fifield, Roseburg



QUIT BASHING SID

I read your cover story (10/21) about the race for Lane County commissioner for Springfield, and I was disappointed. You chose to spend your energy making rude comments about Leiken, referring to our “unemployed,” “college drop-out,” “largely ceremonial” mayor. You even made innuendos regarding Leiken’s wife and the bank where she worked, which had absolutely no business being in this story. I could really have used more information on the actual duties of the office and how the candidates are qualified to perform these tasks. 

Sid Leiken is running an exceptionally clean, non-negative, and non-partisan campaign. He’s been a public servant for over a decade. Therefore, I am proud to support him for Lane County commissioner. 

Teffany Hefner, Springfield



‘SAFE” NUCLEAR?

On Aug. 12, Art Robinson held a so-called “debate” without Peter DeFazio. Robinson claimed DeFazio was absent because he was “chicken.” In fact, DeFazio was in Washington doing his job. The House was in session. 

In his speech, Robinson touted nuclear power. He also said he wanted to terminate all energy subsidies. So, during the audience questions, I asked if that included repealing the Price-Anderson Act that limits liability for nuclear accidents, one of many huge government subsidies to the nuclear industry. Robinson replied there have been no deaths from “safe” nuclear power. I responded that was not true.

Having quickly found four deaths, I stopped looking. 

• Jan. 3, 1961, Idaho. “Three technicians ... were so heavily exposed to radiation ... their bodies were interred in lead coffins.”

• June 24, 1964, Rhode Island. “Robert Peabody, 37, died ... when liquid uranium he was pouring went critical, starting a reaction that exposed him to a lethal dose of radiation.”

Many websites list deaths at nuclear facilities and releases of radioactivity above “permitted” levels. Unfortunately, cancer, birth defects and other maladies resulting from ingested nuclear pollution do not come labeled “caused by radioactivity.” As with cigarette makers, the nuclear industry hides behind this uncertainty. Junk science paid for by the nuclear industry places their impact near zero while independent studies indicate a far greater health impact. 

It was “liberal” protest, the kind Robinson objected to, that forced nuclear plant improvements resulting in the safety record he now points to. 

Joe Tyndall, Eugene



POOR CHOICES

The Democratic and Republican parties play “good cop, bad cop,” keeping the population divided and confused while ensuring corporate power gets stronger.

Our local congressional contest features a candidate who wants to increase burning of forests for electricity and who states that building more and bigger highways will supposedly lower air pollution (source: Peter DeFazio, “Feds must lead way on roads,” Register-Guard, Feb. 25, 2008). 

The main challenger, Art Robinson, is virulently opposed to environmental protection. His extreme views ensure most sincere environmentalists will not challenge DeFazio’s promotion of increased logging for forest biofuel electricity. 

Sadly, Green candidate Mike Beilstein has been shunned by the foundation-funded environmental groups. I hope he at least gets reelected to the Corvallis City Council. 

For the governor’s race, neither Kitzhaber nor Dudley deserves environmentalist support. Dudley’s contempt for ecological protection is obvious, but Kitzhaber’s lousy record is obscured by the environmental groups. Governor Kitzhaber pushed highway expansion projects that subsidized ugly suburban sprawl.

In 1999, Kitzhaber signed legislation removing the timber harvest tax on Big Timber. Owners of 5,000 acres or more no longer have to pay stumpage taxes when they clear cut. Most logging in Oregon is on private corporate timberland supposedly regulated by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

I hope some day the foundation-funded environmentalists will become nonpartisan in their endorsements. Becoming a de facto department of the Democratic Party did not create meaningful ecological protection. 

Mark Robinowitz, SustainEugene.org



PUZZLING MEASURE

Lane County Measure 20-174: Do you really know what it is about? We, the Network Charter School Current Events class, are researching the election. We found the explanation of 20-174 vague. 

What section of the county charter does the measure refer to? We called different sources (Lane County Election, Register- Guard, Lane County commissioners) to ask that question. If we were able to reach a person, they responded with not knowing the answer. We then called Camilla Mortensen at EW, and she gave us the number of Amber Fossen at the Lane County Information Office. Fossen referred us to the Lane County webpage and we learned that Section 19 will be amended in the Lane County Home Rule Charter.

So we ask again, what is this measure about? It appears to give unlimited control to the commissioners to determine what departments should provide specific services. The departments mentioned in Section 19 include finance and auditing, records and elections, health and sanitation, public works, public safety and general administration. What are the “proposed language changes” mentioned on the county website that “would still require the current functions be provided”? What would “greater flexibility” look like?

Current Events Class taught by Ev Marcel, Network Charter School



SHINE A LIGHT

I have seen articles in EW criticize politicians and pundits, mainly conservatives or Republicans, for purposely polarizing the country and making it a divided nation. So imagine my surprise to look on the cover of the Weekly (10/14) and see an image of the very thing you accuse the other side of doing. Now I am not going to say Republicans are better or even that liberals are wrong. But don’t you think that it’s a little backwards to criticize a group of being biased by only showing Republicans as part of this so-called “Electile Dysfunction”?

If anything, you are contributing to the very problem you claim to fight. The problem isn’t just Republicans. It’s Democrats too. It’s every party from Green to Tea. Yes we should have parties in the sense that people like to be with people who share similar opinions. But this idea that a politician or person is bad or good simply because of what party they affiliate themselves with is a problem.

What should matter is not the party but the person. It shouldn’t matter if they put an elephant or donkey button on them. What makes me angry about politics is that no one is willing to abandon our ideological entrenchments and simply do what is best for this country.

So I ask you to shine your light of truth on not just Republicans but every party and every candidate and see if they are who they say they are and if they have the best interests of the people in mind.

James Ready, Springfield



ROBINSON’S RULES

Art Robinson, a Republican candidate for Congress, seems to have stepped out of a time machine from 1953 into the multicultural mix of the early 21st century. Interested in learning about my choices in the upcoming election, I checked Dr. Robinson’s home schooling curriculum site and stumbled upon his commentary on multiculturalism. Let me just say, “political correctness” aside, I was a little surprised to find this reminiscence of the professor’s early experience with the integration of higher education:

“After I finished graduate school at the University of California at San Diego and was given a faculty position there, I spent much extracurricular time with my graduate students and the other graduate students, since we were of the same age. Some of this time was whiled away at a beer and hamburger joint in La Jolla known as El Sombrero. I shall never forget one evening there.

“As several of us sat at a back table, the El Sombrero door was suddenly filled by a tough-looking character whose dark skin perfectly matched his leather jacket. The first rule of survival in such situations being no eye contact, I immediately became unusually attentive to the discussion underway at our table.

“To my astonishment, however, the new arrival sauntered over to our table and sat down. He knew the graduate students. It turned out that he was also one of my fellow faculty members …”

OK. Well, you might think this was common for the time and we all reflect upon our past prejudices from time to time. Ah, but for Dr. Robinson, it was not he who was prejudiced, but his colleague:

“What followed was a discourse on ‘third-world’ and black-power politics in which I took no part — being unprepared academically, politically, or even psychologically for the prejudices of my esteemed colleague.”

Oh. So it wasn’t Dr. Robinson who prejudged another person, but his “tough-looking,” “dark-skinned” colleague whose very presence caused the good professor to immediately dip into his black bag of street-wise survival skills.

 Geoff Barrett, Eugene



MORE WINGS THAN NUTS

Endorsing Rep. Peter DeFazio, you note he “ought to be a shoo-in.” Across from your office tucked in the back on Lawrence Street is DeFazio’s campaign office. Picking up a lawn sign recently the staffer said, “You don’t have to return it. Just keep it for the next time.” That’s confidence talking.

Later I met a worker from Sierra Pine Corp. in Springfield who’d been unemployed a long time. He had a bullhorn heading for a Robinson rally on the Ferry Street Bridge. He was anything but a rightwing nut. He noted Robinson had endorsements from the Constitution and Independent Parties, Tea Party Nation, Glenn Beck’s 9/12 group, libertarians and the Republican Party. Meanwhile, Democrats always try to squash their leftwing challengers. 

In 1969 Steven Stills cautioned, “There’s something’s happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there, telling me I’ve got to beware. It’s time to stop, children, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down.” Is this really a safe democratic district?

So for what it’s worth, here’s to you, Mr. Robinson. “Heaven holds a place for those who pray, hey, hey hey.” Maybe you’ve got more wings than nuts, and have tapped into an energy the Democrats can only wish they had behind ‘em.

Chris Piché, Eugene



LISTEN UP!

At last, I thought, we have someone I can vote for instead of John Kitzhaber and Peter DeFazio (whom I have voted for), someone who can bring positive change. 

Chris Dudley, all right! Then Dudley opens his mouth and states people who get gratuities should not get minimum wage as you make too much money.

What, are you kidding? Well listen up, you thousands of Oregonians who are bartenders, wait staff, hairdressers, barbers, car hops, caddies, car washers, newspaper carriers, landscapers, bellboys, bell captains, car parkers, doormen, taxi drivers, tour guides, masseuses, weight trainers, grocery carry out, house setters, dog walkers and thousands of others who get a gratuity in your daily work. Dudley feels you make too much money and wants the minimum wage taken from you! So he is out in my book!

Then there is Art Robinson, again a new face, new direction, yeah! Wow, he too opened his mouth and states we should just dump the nuclear waste in the ocean or, better yet, put it in the concrete footing of our homes. This has to be a misquote, please tell me Mr. Robinson did not say that. Lord, now who do I vote for? There is no one else.

Dick Walker, Eugene

 

WRITE IN CHRIS HALEY

I consider the conservation of soil and water to be one of the issues facing Eugene voters in this election, and accordingly I believe that voters should choose a candidate who could potentially address that issue. Right now, special interests have conspired to frighten any qualified candidates away from filing to run for the position responsible for this issue, which is why I strongly encourage voters to write in Curtis Haley to become the next Upper Willamette Soil and Water Conservation District Director, Zone 2.

When I first heard about the absence of candidates for the position, I felt confused about what this position even did. However, now I am certain that Curtis Haley will do a better job of filling this position than anyone else running. Curtis believes that soil and water should be conserved, particularly in the volatile second zone. He also has the experience needed to succeed in such a position, having held many other positions before. When Curtis described to me his vision of an Upper Willamette with soil and water that is conserved, I knew that I had a moral obligation to work to get him elected to this important position.

Right now, nobody is running for the district director position, and I know that Curtis can do better than nobody in promoting the soil and water conservation we need. Write in Curtis Haley for Upper Willamette Soil and Water Conservation District Director, Zone 2.

Kai Davis, Eugene



CRAAAZY RACE

Jerry Rust won 21 of 24 precincts in the primary; Four of five district mayors shifted away from Jay Bozievich and towards Rust after the primary; yet Boz has received about twice as much money as he to spend on the general election, and with the passion of the Tea Party/Robinson extremists, could beat Jerry, allowing the right wing to control the county!

Is this craaazy or what?

Doug Card, Eugene



KING OF FOOLS

Now that Obama's aura of invincibility is diminished and his reputation slowly unraveling, let's ponder his presence in Oregon, campaigning for the Democrats.

It doesn't take a dime-store psychic to predict his mandatory rhetoric: Big banks bad. Wall Street bad. Rich people, really bad! Our administration? Snow white!

Of course, hardly anyone believes this king of fools and his impotent cronies anymore, so I guess it makes sense that he'd be surrounding himself with lock-step liberal Portlanders flowering him with accolades.

His latest and desperate attempt to try to undermine Republican donors is hypocritical and pathetic at best. What, no George Soros to the rescue? What happened to all those happy young faces smitten with joy at the thought of a new era in America?

If Obama really wants his party to retain control over Congress, he should step aside because the more he opens his mouth, the more likely a sea of red will sweep over Capitol Hill come November.

Ryan Mitchell, Eugene



JOB KILLING TAXES?

It’s a GOP mantra. Is it true? I asked several of my friends that have small businesses “What if taxes were completely eliminated, how many more would you hire?’ The answer: “none.” Why? The reason a business hires is that they need to keep up with increased business!

If tax cuts create jobs, then why did we lose over eight million jobs under George W. Bush? If taxes are not the cause, what is? Outsourcing! There is a big tax advantage to shipping our jobs overseas. Also companies pay less for labor. A bill was introduced by the Obama administration that would have ended tax credits and deferrals to companies that ship our jobs overseas. But as you might guess, it was filibustered in the Senate by “The Party of ‘NO’”

If you listen to the Republicans running for office they want to cut spending by eliminating Social Security, Medicare, the Department of Education and more. So if you have kids in school, are collecting Social Security or Medicare (or both), have a child or grandchild with a pre-existing medical condition, go ahead, vote Republican.

But when you and your family join the ranks of the homeless don’t look to John Boehner for help, because if you fall on hard times it’s your own fault — you are just too lazy to work. 

 But he may be right. It could be your fault — how will you vote in this election?

Brad Hanscom, Florence



PROSECUTE THEM

I appreciated Kate Winter’s letter “Two tons of metal” (web letters, 10/21), which refers to my Oct. 7 letter about getting hit by a truck in a downtown crosswalk. I had the walk light. The impact left me with pain from two bone fractures which may take months to heal.

She writes, “I would love to see people like this get busted by the cops for not giving pedestrians our right of way.” So would I, but it isn’t going to happen unless we somehow force it to. The system favors drivers, and doesn’t care about the rest of us. The police are indifferent. If a driver hits us, nothing will happen to them.

I believe the driver who hit me was guilty of criminal negligence. At the very least he should have been charged with violating ORS 811.028, which covers failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. This rather wimpy law makes such failure a Class B traffic violation, with a fine up to $400. Not much for risking someone’s life.

However, the police officer who interviewed me to file a report (at my request) refused to cite the driver. She considered it an “accident,” and kept talking about insurance. I don’t want money from an insurance company. I want justice, something to deter brain-dead drivers from running over us. It looks to me like it’s open season on pedestrians and bicyclists. Large parts of Eugene are not safe for us.

(Mr.) Lynn Porter, Eugene



KITZHABER’S RECORD

John Kitzhaber has served Oregonians as an emergency room doctor, a legislator and as governor. While in office, John created more than 100,000 jobs and diverted resultant income tax revenue toward educational achievement; achieved a Coho salmon restoration plan; and increased access to health care for hundreds of thousands of families and children by expanding the Oregon Health Plan, which he had designed as a state lawmaker and then implemented as governor.

Chris Dudley wants to be governor of Oregon, although he doesn’t vote consistently and hasn’t shown much interest in politics. He dodged state income taxes since he didn’t officially live in Oregon while earning $35 million as an elite athlete. Dudley wants to cut taxes for the people in higher income groups so he can reduce government services for those who need them. Dudley wants to eliminate responsible land use laws, particularly if there is money to be made for people in Dudley’s financial circles. Dudley wants to cut down more of Oregon’s forests, including the 3 percent of old growth remaining in the Pacific Northwest. 

Absolutely nothing qualifies Dudley to be governor of Oregon or even suggests that he has any interest in the needs of the majority of people in this state. Chris Dudley is a retired athlete who is tall. But he is not taller than the majority of trees in the old growth forests, and no more qualified to be governor of Oregon than any one of them.

Ethel Bassett, Walton



A SEARCH FOR INTEGRITY

When people want to believe in a social or political view or opinion, and just search for facts to reinforce what they want to believe, they usually end up on the fringe. You’ve all met them. People who so firmly believes that ‘So-and-So is a crook!” that no amount of facts or proof could sway them. “Don’t confuse me with the facts! I’ve made up my mind” seems to be the attitude.

Tabloid journalism takes our First Amendment to new horizons all the time. We’ve all seen the wacky headlines. But what about our local papers here in southern Oregon? Almost all of them are very good, but what about when one of them prints something that is false, provably false, and they won’t respond to requests to retract the lie?

This has happened with the Roseburg Beacon. The owners and editors, Marilyn Kittelman and David Jacques, bought the paper two years ago and turned it into an extreme right-wing publication. They mix some local news in with questionable articles of a political nature. In their Aug. 18 issue they ran two stories that claimed our Rep. Peter DeFazio and 70 other members of Congress are members of the Democratic Socialists of America. They quoted an October 2009 DSA Newsletter as proof. 

 I telephoned the DSA headquarters in New York City. I spoke with Mr. Frank Llewellyn, the national director of DSA. He said the accusation that those legislators are members of the DSA is "totally fraudulent," and the DSA did not even produce an October 2009 newsletter. He expressed dismay that some people have fabricated this information and are using it to smear certain people in Congress via websites and in emails.

I have telephoned the Roseburg Beacon twice and I have sent three emails to Marilyn Kittelman stating what I discovered and asking for a retraction. I have received no call or reply.

 Ms. Kittelman is running for state Senate, and Mr. Jacques is a paid consultant for the Robinson campaign. Are they practicing journalism or playing politics? I guess the answer is obvious.

Richard Davison, Reedsport