In the case against three Lane County commissioners, Judge Gillespie did not see "a bright line" in the law — that was his phrase. So he invented unprecedented new law, finding violations by four commissioners in sequential, one-to-one conversations. The Register-Guard has relentlessly criticized Handy and Sorenson, minimizing the judge's finding that, "even Stewart participated in the process in violation of the Public Meetings Law." This was not what the plaintiffs intended when they targeted three commissioners, including Fleenor. They intended to paralyze a progressive majority.
It was impossible at first to know who the plaintiff really was. Dumdi and Anderson didn't pay for the case and wouldn't say who did. Seneca Lumber Company couldn't be a plaintiff, as its interests would come up in county deliberations. Without revealing her sponsor, Dumdi pretends to be concerned about open process — a claim that defies credulity.
When they spoke outside meetings, never as a quorum, the commissioners did not reach any decisions. The case probes personal emails, dwelling on Handy's exuberant anticipation and advocacy as if it were some sinister plot.
Following routine procedures essential to effective functioning of any government, three commissioners provided support for constituent services. Administrator Spartz has referred to the dollar amount as "trivial."
Incidentally, assistants for constituent services could be employed for years at a cost far below the price of this malicious lawsuit.
Elaine Weiss, Eugene
EYE ON PUBLIC GOOD
The value of the honest and thoughtful service offered by Commissioners Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy is enormous. Pete has been a competent public official for years. Rob worked hard to win the privilege of representing his district, meeting virtually every constituent.Since then, he has devoted his considerable energy and commitment to navigating the sharp learning curve in a new commissioner's life. Both attend many community meetings, contributing to the discourse and staying informed about issues that affect us all.
The basis ofthe decision in the commissioners' caseis not obvious to me. Can conversations among any pair of people with the same challenging job description be illegal? Everyone who works with others solves problems by chipping away at them in odd moments in the workplace. Some may be willing to spend hoursdeliberating at meetings. But most of us try to keep these formal occasions more efficient by investing in the personal conversations that allow open expression. Our goal is tokeep public utterances civil and brief, making decisions in public without wearing out the audience.
"Respectful of citizen time" and "efficient" are terms that apply to public officials who do their homework so that their transparent, on-the-record performance is focused on the public good, as they see it. "Sham" is not the word used for this intelligent approach in other settings.
I look forward to continued excellent service from Sorenson and Handy and to their vindication in the appeal.
Mary Leighton, Eugene
DIZZY BY GILLESPIE
It is hard to be a politician behind progressive ideas, a representative of underprivileged people vulnerable to society. Does Rob Handy resign his human rights to a private life outside of politics? Is every meeting considered a "quorum" resulting in character assassination?
The Gillespie ruling, the law of public meeting loosely defined, and the allegations against Handy and Sorenson leave me dizzy. I am outraged when politicians in Washington, D.C., get away with lining up votes, and Bush gets away with murder never being sent to trail for war crimes while Handy who works his butt off for the people is being slammed by this ridiculous court ruling!
Firm in democratic principles, Rob Handy is the last person to do a backroom deal.
Ceila Levine, Eugene
EDUCATION VS. MUSHROOMS
We have the money to police, arrest, prosecute, lawyer up, defend, room, board, guard and supervise people who raise mushrooms to sell to adults who eat them at hippie music shows. We do not have money to fund adequate education programs for the children of our community. We're more than $20 million short of a very poor job in Eugene alone. How can we afford prevention laws and forces for Deadheads dancing under the influence of mushroom intoxication, and not afford to educate our children?
Who are the crazy people making these choices? We are making bad choices; education leads to good choices. It would be better to use our resources to fund education for our children than to give a damn about Deadheads, one way or another. Mushroom-inspired hippie dancing is not a big problem in my life. How about yours?
Daniel Betty, Eugene
I am writing in response to the last section of your Slant (1/13). In it, the editor describes a situation in which an attorney's concern for the welfare of a puppy owned by a homeless person is called "harassment" by another Eugene citizen. The issue of homeless people having pets has been bothering me for as long as I've lived in Eugene. I've seen many kittens strapped to backpacks so they cannot run around like normal kittens. People are drawn to pet them and the homeless person then gets attention (and often money). This exploitation of animals interferes with them having a normal life.
I have wanted to cry seeing kittens treated this way. I wonder what happens to these kittens once they become "inconvenient." A couple once walked by my apartment and the woman said she needed help because she was "trying to feed her new kitten." I gave her my whole bag of cat food. She hesitated, not even saying thanks, and said, "Uh, we need to eat too. Do you have money?"
I've been asked for money for dog food as well, and I just want to scream at people. If they can't feed their dog, they should give it to someone who can — but that would be "harassment" in some eyes. True, a poor person might care for an animal better than a rich one, buta person with no shelter for themselves or ability to reliably get food even for themselves should reconsider having a pet. I'm asked to pay for the meals of homeless people and their cats and dogs. Expressing concern for the animal welfare is harassment?
A dog might lend a lot of comfort to a homeless person sleeping under a bridge, but good pet owners take care of their animals. To exploit a pet to assist in your own survival should be considered a form of animal abuse.
Laura Paxton, Eugene
The Slant (1/13) about Steve Cornacchia's apparent harassment of a homeless pet owner really boils my blood. This is what I know from my own life: I am lucky enough to say that I have a home to live in and a job to go to, and the resources to care for several companion animals. In my case, I am able to provide high-end food, routine health care, and unexpected expenses.
I love my animals very much, and I believe that they love me; regardless, my relationship to them keeps me connected to something that is outside of myself. They give me some "one" to care for and on some days a reason to get out of bed.I find it almost impossible to believe that people who are homeless cannot enjoy the same relationship with their pets that I enjoy with mine. They may not be financially able to provide for their pet in the way that I am able to, but that in no way discounts the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between pet and guardian.
If it is all just a matter of degree, who gets to decide the benchmark? Isn't a puppy living with a homeless person who does the best he or she can to look after it, better off than a puppy in a euthanasia chamber because no one wants it? I think it is, and I also think that the sooner we recognize, and act on, how we can help each other rather than how we can make ourselves feel better by criticizing someone else, the better off we will be.
Victoria A. Williams, Eugene
LCC FALLING SHORT
Regarding "Tutor Time" (cover story, 1/3): What do we get from under-funded education? More struggling, fewer chances to make it in life? More prostitution, more crime, more violence? I believe that it is all of the above.
I live in the middle of Whiteaker, arguably one of Eugene's lower-income areas, and while I see a lot of awesome modded fish-fin cars; I also see a lot of desperate homeless teenagers. If education's goal is to prepare our children for the world, we are falling painfully short. The LCC campus is flooded with new students at the beginning of each term, who drop out after two or three weeks but collect their financial aid anyway (which Lane has figured out, so don't try it).
Looking around at LCC's clearly underfunded main campus, I can't help but wonder: Are they dropping out with the sole purpose of collecting the financial aid, or do we have a bunch of kids who can't hack it even at the community college level? I don't know, but I really hope someone follows up and gets the numbers. Maybe seeing something more concrete would kick the powers that be into action.
Rachel Hooper, Eugene
POSITIVE PIT PRESS
I cannot express how grateful I am to EW for giving positive press to the pit bull. The media really needs a boogie man to sell its wares and pit bulls have become a target in the past decade, resulting in people who do not know this breed to have a skewed view.
Case in point:The very same day that the positive article was released in the Weekly, there was an incident in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. where a man was mauled by two Rottweilers and a Wheaton terrier.Although the article clearly says that the dogs in question were not pit bulls, the headline declared "Pit bulls maul …" because really, most people read only the headline. This is a very common devious "marketing strategy" that is perpetrated on a daily basis across America. At the end of the day, they changed it to "Dogs maul …" but the damage was done. I read the comment section and everybody was talking about pit bulls.
A study a few years ago found that this misreporting happens 33 percent of the time.I've seen similar inaccurate reporting in The Register-Guard.Thank you, EW, for being a step above, it is much appreciated!
On a side note, the website dogsbite.org is really formed by a group whose expressed purpose is to ban pit bulls in the United States.They do not report factual information and will not retract something even after its fallacy is brought to their attention.
Sondra Arrache, Eugene
IT'S A LOCAL ISSUE
Should we be impressed that 70 like-minded people attended a Jan. 18 meeting of what normally is a sparsely attended session of the Eugene Human Rights Commission? We should not when they are there to defend brutality of one country against another. That is the case when a crowd that large dominated the meeting to object to a proposal for Eugene to reprimand Israel for its attacks on Gaza and the Turkish ship bringing Gaza humanitarian aid.
The suggestion had been made by a representative of the Lane County Al-Nakba Project that supports justice for Palestine, a global human rights issue. Pro-Israel objectors said the commission should not be bothered with issues that are not local.
Not local when 70 people show up to speak out?
George Beres, Eugene
A HUMAN FAILING
I read Robert Simms letter (1/13) regarding the prayer vigil on behalf of the persecuted Bahà'' believers in Iran. While I can understand his cynicism of religion as a value system, any belief system, religious or otherwise,is subject to abuse and manipulation. That various religions have contributed to pain and suffering is a human failing.
The great religions of the world are, at their heart, based on love and tolerance.The Bahà'' faith recognizes this essential truth.
His "research" of the Bahà'' faith would reveal an enlightened, democratic institution without a professional clergy promotinghuman rights, compassion toward animals, the legitimacy of science, ecology and education for all. Especially significant is the Bahà'' ïs nonpartisan political stance.
The Bahà'' faith provides a non-threatening model upon which we can reflect tolerance, kindness and love.If the vigil increases that awareness, we allbenefit.
Mark Murphy, Creswell
STOPPING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
I appreciate Darlene Selzer's letter Dec. 30 regarding the dangers one faces when wanting to leave an abusive relationship. To add to her letter, Debra Dixon has written on the Stockholm Syndrome in battered women (see http://wkly.ws/10l) that reveals how many people who berate people in abusive relationships do not understand the dangers they face, and also the gradual process of traumatic bonding. The abuser gradually gains control through growing investment and dependence on them. If abusers were to show their true colors in the beginning, their partners simply would not tolerate being assaulted.
The way to end domestic violence is for people to get educated on the reality abused people face. We need a cultural change viewing women and all people as valuable whole human beings who are no one's commodity. We need to support, on all fronts, our elected officials like Kitty Piercy and Rob Handy, both of whom I know firsthand to be great advocates for women and other minorities. I can vouch for Rob Handy on what he says in his Viewpoint Jan. 6.
Ceila (Starshine) Levine, Eugene
A CHILD'S CRY
Lori B. Havas's letter (Dining Disaster, 1/13) highlighted a conflict between two essentially conservative values.On the one hand, we have a socially conservative family value, namely, how as a community we can support families in raising their children.On the other hand, we have a fiscally conservative value, namely, the claim that one can spend one's money as one wishes, and that nothing should interfere with that personal consumption.
While Ms. Havas seems to favor the latter, I find myself more swayed by the former.Parenting is the most important, and frequently the most challenging, aspect of any person's life, and deserves the community's fullest support. I understand that it can be distressing to listen to a young child cry for a sustained period of time; however, in doing so we listen to the future and might best work towards supporting the family.I am often delighted when I see people smile reassuringly at parents in such situations or engage them with a brief word of support.At minimum, I believe that we ought not add to a parent's challenge by complaining or expressing irritation.
A crying child is neither a "societal problem" nor indicative of "poor parenting, lack of manners and concern for others." When we are privileged by any expression of a child's humanity, be it joyful or painful, we are gifted beyond anything our privatized consumption can give us.
John O'Donoghue, Eugene
We are a busy society always on the go and always in motion in different forms of transportation. But as I have witnessed as of late, there is a lot more road work going on surrounding the Eugene-Springfield area, and I question for a moment how it is truly helping our economy. I know that it is providing jobs, but it only provides jobs for a few months. What about the Oregon budget shortfall that is affecting our educational system?
As a new driver and a recent graduate from a 4J high school, I see the great effects that the economic downturn has had on the local school system.
Is fixing the road in Oregon really going to provide great benefit? Twenty years from now, we may have new leaders in this community who have not been provided with a high quality education because the state government cannot find the money to keep worthy educators and leave open many needed schools. All I ask is that the local government takes a look at where they are distributing their money, and find a worthy solution to fixing the insufficient funds that threaten to demolish quality education as we know it.
Alicia Luck, Eugene
TEA PARTY OF THE '20S
Glenn Beck has repeatedly claimed the National Socialist German Workers' Party were liberals. This is comparable to saying the law of gravity states when you drop something it will fall to the ceiling. The Nazis were not liberals, on the contrary, they were the Tea Party of the 1920s — far-right conservative militant nationalists who blamed all of their earthly woes on, you guessed it, liberals.
Glenn Beck warns of a liberal elite destroying America, Adolf Hitler described Germany's enemies as JÙdische Bolschewistizchen intelligenz, or the Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia. Jews are the very origin of modern liberalism and their contributions to arts and sciences so far out of proportion to their population intimidated Nazi eugenicists.
The truth is plain to see in the makeup of inmates in those concentration camps Glenn Beck is so worried about. With strict Teutonic attention to detail, each group of inmates had a different color uniform patch. The Jews wore the infamous yellow stars; Roma gypsies got brown; Jehovah's Witnesses — who were killed for being pacifists, not for their religion — got purple; homosexuals got pink, of course; communists and intellectuals got red; habitual criminals, green; and vagrants, alcoholics and others of no economic value to the Reich got black. They were called arbeitsscheu, meaning "work-shy."
There were no patches for the elderly and children, those who couldn't work were sent to the gas chambers. No patch for black Africans, they were shot on sight. No one "came for" conservatives; they were the ones coming for everyone else.
Warren Weisman, Eugene
LOOMING DEFICIT FOR LCC
LCC's Strategic Plan (2010-14) in part promises to "Promote responsible stewardship of resources and public trust [and] ... apply principles of sustainable economics, resource use, and social institutions to Lane's learning and working environments." Lastly, the 2010—11 budget commits to "focus on our mission of teaching and learning."
Reports on the best current available estimate for LCC's combined downtown projects of $52 million pencil out to approximately $294 per sq. ft. Problematically, remaining downtown projects' construction costs unfunded liability attach to the 90,000 sq. ft. learning facility planned at the former Sears site. Depending on the accuracy of various available yet sketchy estimates, the budget deficit approximately oscillates between $650,000 and a whopping $8 million.
Although according to The Register-Guard 85 percent of the funding is virtually guaranteed through the issuance of bonds and state and city of Eugene funding, moving forward in spite of as much as an $8 million funding hole during this extraordinary economic time, may expose the Board of Education to an even more on-point charge of governance entropy than recently leveled against the college's administration. Lest LCC's board panic, reasonable taxpayers may consider embracing a PAYGO or similar funding methodology.
Jose Ortal, Blue River
I would like to respond to the two recent letters regarding pedestrian safety in crosswalks from Dave Heying (1/6) and Leila McElroy (1/13).
Driving through a crosswalk while a pedestrian is in it is a Class B traffic violation under ORS 811.028, "Failure to stop and remain stopped for pedestrian."
As ODOT explains the law on its website, "When turning at a signal, it's your lane plus six feet: Stop for the pedestrian, who must clear the lane into which the vehicle is turning and at least six feet of the next lane, before you proceed."
However, as Heying pointed out, Eugene police will not enforce the law. They did not when I was hit by a truck, in a crosswalk, with the walk light, sustaining two fractures which took a few months to heal. No citation.
If you are hit by a car, get the driver's name, contact and insurance info. If paramedics come, and you have health insurance, accept their offer to take you in an ambulance to the hospital. Not only will that get you checked out and start a medical record, but it will make the police file a report. Otherwise, you have to call them to get an interview and a report filed. Go to the police station downtown and buy a copy.
Call the driver's insurance company and start a claim. They'll give you a number to pass on to your doctors. Then see a lawyer. They'll take a percentage of the settlement, but you'll probably get more that way than dealing with the driver's insurance company yourself.
There is a lot that could be done about this, but I don't see Eugene doing it. Cars are king, and it's open season on pedestrians. Be very careful what crosswalks you use.
Lynn Porter, Eugene
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