Where are all the community leaders in Springfield? Apparently, most of them are content to sit on their hands while an out-of-state hospital corporation tries to rip off 330 workers at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center.
McKenzie-Willamette used to be the pride of Springfield. Its walls are still adorned with photos of residents and school children contributing to its funding and construction, but the hospital now belongs to Community Health Systems of Tennessee.
CHS is huge and profitable. They own 126 hospitals around the country with 19,400 beds. They made $243 million last year, including a 13 percent profit locally. They paid their national CEO $17 million. They list eight senior vice-presidents and 69 vice-presidents on their website.
CHS is also greedy. They want to reduce McKenzie-Willamette employees’ health benefits, cut their 401(k) plan in half, eliminate the fund that makes health insurance premiums more affordable and increase patient care loads.
Over the past six months, plenty of local supporters have signed petitions, attended rallies and contacted the hospital urging CHS to call off its assault on our friends and neighbors. With very few exceptions, there hasn’t been a peep out of Springfield’s recognized leaders. Has the mayor said a word? City councilors? Springfield’s county commissioner? No. Their silence has been deafening.
Is it asking too much to have Springfield’s leaders finally speak up and tell CHS they won’t accept this kind of corporate conduct in their community? I hope not, because they could make a real difference if they found their voices.
Kurt Willcox, Eugene
We moved to the Eugene/Springfield area in hopes of a better life. Coming from a small, stuffy town where going to Wal-Mart is the highlight of the day, we were running from the intolerance of closed-minded people. They stared at my husband’s tattoos and my dreadlocks and whispered behind our backs disapprovingly. The people weren’t all bad, but it was enough to make the choice to come to an area known for a laid-back, open-minded mentality.
Up until now Eugene/Springfield has lived up to our hopes and dreams. We are no longer harassed about our lifestyle choices. It appears, however, that our happiness comes at a cost. We don’t know if it’s human nature to have a need to be predatory on difference, but it’s not an excuse for what we have witnessed. It seems that instead of taking out feelings of hate on the “alternative” crowd, the residents and property managers of our new apartment complex are focusing their intolerance on race.
My husband and I befriended a black family this summer who also live in our apartments in Springfield. They tell us all the time that racism is alive in this town. We have now come to witness the reality of it with regards to them and their baby boy, who just celebrated his first birthday. They have consistently suffered a degree of low-level harassment and unwarranted complaints since they moved into their home. This has now culminated in a “no-cause” eviction notice posted on their door Oct. 1. There was indeed no cause whatsoever for this young family to be displaced from their home.
It’s hard to express in words what it feels like to witness this degree of racial hatred firsthand. Racism has recently been rearing its ugly head in the social/political climate, particularly since the inauguration of our first black president. Is our culture backpedaling to an era when bigots could wear their prejudices on their sleeves?
Shaun and Marlies Liberali, Springfield
I was one of the attendees at the public hearing Oct. 26 to increase the buffer zones along rivers and creeks that supply drinking water. I went to speak in favor of this proposal. When I learned that residents could continue to build so close to our waterways that supply drinking water, I was appalled since this flies in the face of science which studies riparian areas. I was perplexed as to why so many would be against preserving our waterways. Most of these people have homes already along these rivers and creeks, and if they aren’t protected, eventually the value of their homes will diminish along with the water quality.
What I heard that evening was selfish and short-term thinking and knee-jerk reactions about land use laws. I wish we would all consider that as the human population grows, we will need more restrictions to protect our air, water, soil and wildlife habitat. We need to develop an attitude of stewardship towards our natural resources. It is a privilege to live along these waterways and a responsibility.
I heard people make accusations that the government was “planning on stealing our land.” I think they wouldn’t have a hard time demanding action from the county if a neighbor upstream was leaching toxins into the water and it affected them. This is no different. You can’t have it both ways.
Let’s all grow up and be willing to make some small sacrifices so the future generations of all species might have a chance for healthy lives.
Pamela Driscoll, Dexter
A BETTER NAME
The city wants to add the 300-plus acres that currently belong to Arlie & Co. to its inventory of parks and green space. It’s well situated and would surely be developed if the city doesn’t acquire the land.
The city should consider bending to the attempted extortion of John Musumeci, a principal of Arlie & Co., and name the park in honor of his wife. But to be perfectly fair and above board the city should name the park: “Suzanne Arlie, Arlie & Co., debtors in possession as Trustee in Bankruptcy, and the Unsecured Creditors Park.”
Michael Miller, Eugene
CIVIC STADIUM MARKET
Saturday Market is split among four areas intersected by traffic in downtown Eugene. This is an inconvenience to both patrons and drivers. Sometimes patrons don’t wait for their signal to cross the street from one section to another. It is only a matter of time before a traffic accident occurs between patrons and drivers. I have a solution to this problem.
Civic Stadium lies in disuse. It features a large, contiguous field, ample parking and a prime location. Eugene School District 4J is looking for a tenant for this national historic site. The Eugene Saturday Market would make an ideal tenant for this site.
The field makes for a perfect place for vendors to set up (with only minor alterations such as removing the pitcher’s mound) and is larger than the area currently used in downtown Eugene; the large parking lot provides plenty of space for vendors and patrons to use; the site is centrally located in the south Eugene area; and the sound system would prove excellent for the musical performers to use.
This would solve the problems associated with the current location and provide a beneficial use to the Civic Stadium site while preserving it at the same time.
Robert Murray, Eugene
Thanks to Brittney Arlint for her very elucidating letter (11/4) regarding the over-the-top October madness called National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She is absolutely correct that we must all “think before we pink.” The pinkwashing of America has gone way beyond corporate greed run amok. “Pinking” has become an invasive visual cancer-like epidemic in and of itself.
For people interested in a truly thoughtful, sensible and well-run breast cancer prevention organization, I highly recommend a group based in San Francisco called Breast Cancer Action (BCA). This national grassroots coalition is at 55 New Montgomery Street, Suite 323, San Francisco, CA 94105. Toll-free phone: (877) 278-6722, or visit www.bcaction.org
Contact BCA to engage in honest, meaningful activism regarding this widespread cancer pandemic. Involvement with BCA can help us all in thinking beyond pink.
Patricia P. Hoover, Eugene
THE NEED TO PARTICIPATE
This letter is regarding Cameron Kennedy and Jonannes Pedersen’s letter (“No Confidence,” 11/18), in which they claim that they did not vote because they have no confidence in the U.S. system of representative democracy.
My message to Kennedy and Pedersen is simply this: Change can only happen from within a system, not without. By voting, you are not, as you claim, surrendering any rights, or disempowering yourself: Indeed, by NOT voting you are ensuring that your views will NOT be represented in the slightest. If you are unhappy with the way our government works, then find someone who shares your views and vote for them, or run for office yourself, or write to or visit your elected representative or build an organization of like-minded people who can speak together with one loud voice. But again, in order to reform the system, you have to participate in it.
Sitting around in the ivory tower whining about the unfairness of representative democracy isn’t going to get anything done. Take pride in your positions, care about the state of the nation and participate in the government we have today to build the one we could have tomorrow.
James Mueller, Eugene
I was not surprised to read that voting turnout is low among students at UO. What struck me as interesting was the reason many of those students gave. Judging by the article (11/4) in EW, there was a common reason among those who didn’t vote and it wasn’t laziness, apathy or a general distrust in our political system. It wasn’t even being too busy cramming for midterms while holding down a full time job. No. Apparently many students did not vote because they felt uneducated and uninformed about the issues and the candidates.
Ironic, isn’t it? The political landscape of our country changed dramatically Nov. 2 precisely because a very large percentage of those casting ballots are uneducated and uninformed (and misinformed) about the issues and the candidates.
It’s touching that these students feel the weight of responsibility involved in participating in the electoral process and are worried about making stupid mistakes on their ballots. Unfortunately their ethical affliction is not one shared by many of our voting citizens.
I hope that in future elections these students will be able to take some time to educate themselves on the facts so they can be informed voters. If not, I hope that they vote anyway. They only need to remember this: Democrats may not be perfect, and going with a third party might be considered a wasted vote, but it’s never, ever a good idea to vote for a Republican.
Michael L. Yaeger, Eugene
TARGET BIG POLLUTERS
This is my letter in response to some letters from not well-informed individuals. Regarding “The property value judgment of the elite” by Vince Loving (11/11): Vince Loving, I am the McKenzie River. I am a native Oregonian and my family has lived on the McKenzie River since the early 1980s. We should protect our waterways by going after major commercial polluters, not middle-class folk who love the river and have sacrificed to live on it.
Were you at the meeting, Elaine Weiss (11/11)? I was. I was sardine-packed in with hundreds of other river property owners. We passed around scratch paper listing our names and addresses so we might be counted. Verify before you make organized political statements.
Dane Palmer, McKenzie River
Regarding Jason Blair’s movie review (11/4) of Mao’s Last Dancer: Mr. Blair, perhaps you might consider tempering your self-righteous reviewing just a tad. “No self-respecting theatergoer can help but wince at the suspended tears, solemn head nods,” etc. Really? I, for one, consider myself among those self-respecting theatergoers of whom you speak, and I did not share your, shall we say, heavy-handed opinion at all. That is not to say I thought the film was perfect. Mao’s Last Dancer is a profound true story embellished by exquisite dance performances, and I fear many people will not attend upon reading your review. This is not helpful.
Ellen Epstein, Eugene
ODE TO A WATER FOUL
Wake up, Eugene! Ducks (human and fowl) make doodoo, and surface water processes many things (including floaters). Thank God for EWEB! They are always testing and treating the water before it gets to your faucets. But why aren’t you guys agitating for a change in the charter to prohibit EWEB from entering the arena of regional water sales? Judge Karsten Rasmussen has just granted them carte blanche to start selling off your most precious asset.
Thus far, we people of the drainage are less than zero. We were eliminated from the “process” in the latest (incremental) takings of our rights and property (the Drinking Water Overlay Plan) and (under the banner of health and safety) we get no compensation for what you want from us. We could develop community drain fields, pay for new septic tanks and create conservation easements along the 200-foot setback zone.
I personally find it sad that Eugene gets all dried up and dusty in the summer because we’ve been taught water conservation. The irony here is EWEB claims more water rights than the city can use, so it is “forced” to sell water to preserve its claim. I hear water is the gold of this century, and the McKenzie is rated as excellent (in spite of all the water fouling we drainage people do). We want our pot of gold duckies!
Bill Goodpasture, Vida
A GREAT OPPORTUNITY
By any other name it would smell as sweet. Call it what you (they) want. Just don’t call it too late to exercise the purchase option!
Thanks to the clear vision of our mayor and city councilors, Eugene is in the process of acquiring 315 acres south of LCC. It will be a wonderful addition to our city’s open spaces. These spaces are vanishing quickly — and they won’t be making more of them — so let’s commend their action, which is in our community’s current and future best interest.
The ills of the recent Papé/Beltline re-naming adventure were mostly due to a lack of public input and an ill-defined process. Our mayor and councilors have wisely healed those hiccups by inviting public comment on this action, and by establishing new policy guidelines. Let’s take advantage of the former to address the latter.
Does the proposed Suzanne Arlie Park meets the new policy guidelines? I think it does. The purchase option comes at a favorable price to the city, and includes recovery of $600,000 that would otherwise be lost in the Arlie & Co. bankruptcy proceedings. We have the land acquisition money available, and it’s a great deal! Also, Suzanne Arlie is known for her participation in Eugene charities, so she should arguably meet that guideline as well.
So, crank up your computer and send a message to our mayor and councilors at: Mayorandcc@ci.eugene.or.us offering pats on the back for making Eugene’s quality of life even better with this terrific decision. On behalf of the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees — and the citizens of Eugene — let’s thank them one and all!
Benton Elliott, Eugene
LEVIN BRINGS SANITY
Amidst the vocal madness of Ducks fans, it’s a relief to see EW sports columnist Rick Levin describe football with words of sanity and accuracy. What a perfect comparison he offers for showing parallels among people assembled for “events like football games or rock concerts or fascist rallies.” He calls those events “pre-linguistic, reptilian brained.”
Levin obviously has been at games this year in Autzen Stadium, where the unremitting screams of fans threaten the hearing of anyone within range of the gridiron asylum. What insight he gives when he writes: “Few things are as unattractive or pointlessly destructive as the collective idiocy of bezerking hooligans.”
Leather-lunged Ducks fans probably knew their high-decibel yelling caused Stanford to be penalized seven times when linemen went offside, uncertain of the quarterback’s timing when he called signals. Without those penalties, Stanford would have won, reinforcing what should be obvious: Stanford is the best team in a Pac-10 Conference that has only two good teams: Stanford and Oregon.
George Beres, Eugene
In the Nov. 11 EW Rachel Foster quotes a Dr. Douglas Tallamy, a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware: “Fifty-four percent of the land area of the lower 48 states is now in towns and cities.” I am a serious environmentalist, but I think we should get our facts straight when we raise the alarm of overpopulation.
Common sense will tell us that this figure is wildly absurd. Pick any state; look at a map of that state. Most good maps give a shaded area where most of the residents of a city or town live. Using this crude measurement only a few populous states approach, say 10 percent. In the Western states my guess is that cities, towns and suburbs occupy less than 1 percent of the land.
Leo Snider, Veneta
EDITOR’S NOTE: Rachel Foster got a clarification from Douglas Tallamy saying “54 percent of the U.S. is in what I call the suburban/urban matrix, the patchwork of cities and towns with small patches of fragmented habitat between and within them. What most people don’t understand is that those habitat patches that look so healthy to us are way too small to sustain nature for any length of time.”
Dear 4J School Board: I’m writing because I learned recently that board members do actually read their emails, and I’m hopeful you might consider voting down the proposal to close five area elementary schools and combine to the K-3/ 4-8 reconfiguration. I strongly feel this is not based on any research, and it would negatively serve my two young boys just starting in the school system. I understand there is a serious budget crisis which is not going away, but I feel that we could better weather that crisis at our current school, Crest Drive Elementary, with the families we know and the teachers we know, instead of such a huge upheaval.
While homeschooling is not a long-term option for us, we would consider private schools. And more importantly, for the first time in my life I would lose faith in the public school system.
Thank you for your hard work and dedication to what is not an enviable job right now!
Amy Vellutini, Eugene
I want to thank you for printing Shannon Finnell’s informative article (10/21) about ODFW’s cougar plan. However, the photograph chosen to accompany it was unfortunate. People may see it and react with fear for these magnificent animals. Fear is their worst enemy. In this photo, the cat looks frightened. It may have been taken at the moment this cat was being chased by dogs to be gunned down by the ODFW. It may have been a mother who would leave behind kittens who would then starve. Or a mother whose offspring, a young male cougar who had not yet learned from his mother and older, wiser adult male cougars to keep to his place and do what experienced cougars do, stay as far away from us as possible.
When we kill cougars, we seek to control something we know nothing about. We seek to tame an astonishing wilderness by removing the very creatures that make it wild, that make it astonishing, that make it beautiful. The ODFW does this on public lands to make room for livestock. Our wilderness becomes fenced, the native plants over-grazed into extinction, the rivers and streams polluted by their excrement. The ODFW asserts that killing cougars helps sustain balance, helps to manage deer and elk populations when quite the reverse is true. Their assertion is artificial, mindless and brutal. Thousands of cougar tags were sold in 2009.
Cougars and other predators keep balance and health in the natural wilderness. They govern themselves, they teach their young. The forest is empty without them.
Jane Hedden, Eugene
PARTIAL TO THE PAT-DOWN
You screen, I screen, we all screen for ice cream! I don't need any more X-rays and I don't mind submitting myself to the TSA's inquisition the next time I fly but if I'm going to subject myself to a patty body search I would prefer a female perform the act. I am not homophobic but when it comes to being touched I am more comfortable with a woman. I am a male man and I don't mean I work for the post office, but the pursuit of happiness is a constitutional right. Right?
Vince Loving, Eugene
Joe Tyndall’s recent letter (10/28) described two fatal nuclear accidents in the U.S. One accident was with a small experimental SL-1 military reactor that killed three servicemen in Idaho, and the other was a uranium metallurgy accident that killed one civilian worker at United Nuclear Corp’s fuel facility in Rhode Island. As far as I know, there have been no deaths at civilian nuclear reactor sites in the U.S. Given the laws of probability, eventually there will be a fatal accident at a U.S. nuclear power plant site, even if it is just a janitor slipping on a wet floor.
Coincidentally, I recently calculated that it is likely that global biofuel production has killed (through malnutrition and related causes) somewhere between 20 million and 80 million people worldwide since 1980.
No American politician has had the courage to put a number on the global biofuel death toll, so I have produced my own honest but very broad estimate. The fact that global statistics of this magnitude are impossible to exactly calculate should not deter us from facing the fact that we have killed tens of millions of people for no good reason. Biofuels are so inefficient to produce that they do not displace significant amounts of fossil fuel use, and they are tremendously environmentally destructive.
The one and only energy source large enough and concentrated enough to practically replace fossil fuels is nuclear power. Other than hydroelectric power, all of the so-called "renewable," but not sustainable, energy sources are absolutely worthless for large-scale energy production.
Christopher Calder, Eugene
THE REAL THREAT
In response to Carleen Reilly (letters, 11/4): You assume much! Do you think people who choose to live out of town don't care for their property, water, etc? Maybe there is a small percent of people who don't care, which I think is small at best.
Do your homework before you put us on the chopping block of heavy restriction. If I may suggest, start at the top with the Big Timber money. They don't care.
Helicopter spray near our homes and streams and waterways is the real threat. It is called drift spray or overspray.
Fight with us, not against us; we are not the ones who need mass regulations and restrictions; it's your government and timber companies.
You environmentalists stopped field burning; what’s left? More Big Chemical Company money and hand or air spraying. Work with us or leave us alone!!
B. Hunter, Lake Creek Valley
MAKE DOWNTOWN FRIENDLY
When I moved to Eugene more than a decade ago, the downtown area was referred to as the "downtown mall." I think the community has lost sight of this vision.
When I think of a mall, I think of people walking around with strollers, buying crap they "can't live without," grabbing a quick snack and having an overall jovial time. I hardly get that impression when I go downtown. Granted, the food carts are a wonderful addition, but nothing else is welcoming about the area. For starters, it's neither pedestrian nor bicycle friendly. There are small lanes that cyclists must share with impatient motorists. The most successful businesses are bars, which does not make downtown someplace you want to take the kids on a summer afternoon. Even for the child-free, the shopping options are abysmal. And if you simply want to go for a stroll and grab a cheap slice of pizza, you have to navigate through throngs of panhandlers and underage smokers. Then, there's the constant construction that never seems to amount to anything. Am I missing something? What went wrong?
Is it possible to turn some of the bars into bookstores? Trade in the foul-mouthed youth for young musicians? Replace those narrow roads with flower planters?
I, for one, would love to see downtown Eugene as a place where people come to enjoy themselves rather than to loiter.
Eve Cienfuegos, Eugene
A CLOAKED PLOY
They despise him. Instead of governing our country, the current and newly elected Republican legislators have a singular goal: Defeat, demoralize and deter Barack Obama from any accomplishments for which he might gain favor from the American public.
Their outcry against spending and the deficit is simply a cloaked ploy to obstruct Obama’s every move. Their concerns about government spending were completely absent when the former administration was eagerly pushing our country into an invasion of a sovereign country. Somehow, the voting public has forgotten that two military actions have resulted in the deep deficit, job losses and the deaths of close to 6,000 troops and almost 40,000 troops suffering war injuries.
These same deficit hawks now want to spend $700 billion of our taxes on continued tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
Andy Harris, a newly elected Tea Party senator who railed against “government-run health care,” demanded at his senator orientation to know why he had to wait a month after he was sworn in to get his government-subsidized health care.
It seems that all of the freshmen Tea Party candidates, as well as everyone who voted against “government-run” anything should opt out of taxpayer-supported government programs including health care, Medicare, Social Security and offer the savings towards reducing our deficit.
The rest of us should inundate the inboxes of John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor and every other anti-health care reform legislator and let them know we want universal health care.
Rita Babauta Kiley, Eugene
While President Obama is pardoning two turkeys for Thanksgiving, every one of us can exercise that same presidential power by choosing a nonviolent Thanksgiving observance. It shows our compassion for an innocent animal and our concern for our family’s health. It’s a most fitting way to give thanks for our own life, health, and happiness.
The 270 million turkeys killed in the U.S. each year have nothing to give thanks for. They breathe toxic fumes in crowded sheds. Their beaks and toes are severed. At the slaughterhouse, workers cut their throats, and dump them into boiling water, sometimes while still conscious.
Consumers, too, pay a heavy price. Turkey flesh is laced with cholesterol and saturated fats that elevate the risk of chronic killer diseases. Labels warn of food poisoning potential.
This Thanksgiving, I won’t be calling the Poultry Hot Line, or wondering how that turkey lived and died. Our Thanksgiving dinner may include a "Tofurky," lentil roast, mashed potatoes, corn stuffing, stuffed squash, chestnut soup, candied yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and carrot cake. An internet search on vegan Thanksgiving and a visit to my local supermarket will provide me more recipes and delicious turkey alternatives than I can possibly use.
Elijah Hennison, Eugene
IGNORING THE OBVIOUS
So President Obama put together a commission on deficits and debt. Funny, I always thought that was one of the jobs of Congress to study a topical issue and make recommendations, but I digress. Obama put a commission together composed of the old guys who created the problem. And they came up with the same old ideas: Increase taxes on gas, eliminate the tax deduction on your mortgage interest and raise the retirement age to 69 for baby boomers.
Even though Obama told these guys, “Everything needs to be on the table,” it appears these old guys never even discussed legalizing and taxing marijuana.
This is confusing to me. If these commissioners are not considering “everything on the table” to lower the debt, then the message I hear is that the debt is not a problem. There is no crisis. It is more important to keep people who smoke marijuana in jail than to lower the debt. It is more important for you to pay more taxes than to let people freely smoke marijuana.
As to the recent defeat of the pro-marijuana measures in Oregon and California, I understand how American citizens can be brainwashed by billions of dollars of government propaganda.
Chris Pender, Eugene
A LITTLE RESPECT
I would offer a challenge to all liberals. Have respect for someone with different views. Stop yelling at other people when they don’t agree with you. Stop swearing at them. Have respect for those of us who don’t agree with you. We have respect for you.
Mom used to tell me that I wouldn’t always agree with people. She said that everyone had a right to their opinion and to respect that opinion. Why not follow Mom’s advice?
Linda Idol, Corvallis
JAIL THE BANKSTERS
I've read your weekly paper for several years now. I've no particular quibble with your editorial stances or your content. What amazes me is that in the face of the most incredible acts of theft and corruption by the federal government, Wall Street and our largest banking institutions, your paper seems to be completely unaware of it.
Have you noticed that the Eugene school system is about to lose $25 million to $30 million in funding? Has it occurred to you that perhaps EW stands to go belly up along with large parts of our society when the government finishes destroying what's left of the economy through qualitative easing to the tune of $600 billion?
The economy's problems are not the sole fault of those dastardly Republicans. Demos and Repubs at the highest levels have been equally complicit in these crimes. The banksters must go to jail, the frauds in the mortgage arena must be reversed and the fraudsters must do the perp walk. The only way our economy can recover is by forcing these banks to default and be resolved through bankruptcy. Confront the government now or lose your wealth. It's no joke. Your iPod will not save you.
We the people are at risk of losing our livelihoods, our financial security and our stability as a nation. Bernanke, the liar and enabler of banksters and fraud, must be stopped now. Qualitative easing is a lie meant to support the banks and destroy our currency in its wake.
Todd Reed, Eugene
A deficit is but a tool. How it is to be used, or not, should be based on the goal of maximizing household security. Economically, increasing household security increases productivity and demand and, thus, tax revenues.
Any deficit commission is at best frivolous if it doesn’t proffer ways to effectively address two fiscal and budgetary situations unique in their extremity to this country — neither of which requires debate about growth: 1) concentration of wealth, and 2) defense spending.
From Reuters: "Based on an inequality measure known as the Gini coefficient, the U.S. ranks on a par with developing countries such as Ivory Coast, Jamaica and Malaysia, according to the CIA World Factbook."
One difference between "haves" and "have-nots" is the lesser or greater likelihood of their suffering a long-term reduction in earning potential as a result of a set-back in employment, health, relationships, housing, and/or transportation. An effective safety net is an investment in human potential and thus is good for all.
Household insecurity creates discontent, fear, and dysfunction, all of which are being manipulated to: 1) perpetuate the uploading of wealth (burden shifting), and 2) divert capital away from (defunding) physical and social infrastructure investments and into the military-industrial complex.
Robert Beal, Eugene