GIVE IT BACK
PERS retirees got a nasty surprise last week when they took a look at their PERS benefit checks. The net amount was reduced by a considerable amount. When I spoke to the PERS office they told me that the federal and state tax rates had changed and that PERS was required to remove more money for taxes from PERS benefit checks. They also told me that there was "nothing they could do."
I called The Register-Guard news desk. The person I spoke with claimed not to know anything about this. I spoke with Congressmen DeFazio's office. The staff person there claimed that "this is a state issue, so call your state representative, not us." I haven't yet tried my state representative but I'm sure the answer will be "this is a federal issue, so talk to them, not us."
Here is an opportunity for Gov. Kitzhaber to keep some faith with the retired who elected him by directing the state Department of Revenue to immediately issue revised rates to add back the money taxed away from PERS benefit checks. Retirees living on fixed or reduced incomes don't need to pay more in taxes. Retirement benefits almost always go instantly into the local economy for the purchase of goods and services.
It doesn't make good sense to remove more money from benefit checks to pay taxes when the federal government just passed a tax rate reduction, the intent of which was to stimulate the economy by giving citizens more of their own money to spend. This tax increase takes money from retirees that is needed to buy medicine, pay bills and stay alive. Give it back.
Gerry Merritt, Eugene
LUCK IS RIGHT
Alicia Luck's letter ("Temporary Jobs," 1/27) proves that District 4J is still turning out thinking graduates and good writers. But for how long? Cuts in school budgets, and weird priorities in spending what remains, threaten the future viability of Eugene as we know it. To me, that means a community of educated, thinking, communicating people, engaged in useful and interesting occupations.
Keeping road workers employedmay feedtheir families for a few months, but if the road work is not necessary we'd be better off giving our tax dollars directly to the unemployed, and letting themfigure outbetter ways to spend their Life.
Face it, we're at or past the peak of oil production in this world, and the inevitable decline in available quantity will continue to force gas prices up. This can only result in fewer car miles being driven, and less need for roads and highways. Yet at every level of government, plans are drawn up for exotic new ribbons of concrete that will not be needed! On the other hand, well educated young people will be very much in demand.
I'm all for fixing potholes in the most cost-effective way possible. But creating jobs by taking money from other economically stressed people —via an obviouslyblind government —makes no sense at all. We need life, not jobs.
Christopher Logan, Eugene
The recent smearing of our fine Lane County commissioners is really an outrage. What I would like is some justice from Big Money buying politicians. I am reminded of politicians who took money from big businesses for their campaigns and then allowed development on land that they owned and subsequently profited from. This has taken place in Lane County since I moved here in 1993, and no legal actions were taken. Or how about on the federal level of a recent president who started a war based on lies; why was he not impeached?
Wanting to hire assistants to help with a heavy workload and talking about how to make it happen doesn't seem worthy of an expensive and time consuming legal battle. It seems to me the people who should be ashamed are the ones who brought this whole issue up in the first place.
What an incredible distraction from the work they need to focus on in helping accommodate the needs of the citizens for now and the future. Follow the money to see why this was instigated in the first place. It won't take long to figure out their motives.
Thank you Commissioners Handy and Sorenson for all your great work for Lane County, and I am sorry you have been put through this fiasco.
Pamela Driscoll, Dexter
ONLY LAWYERS WIN
Regarding Judge Gillespie's opinion against Lane County Commissioners Rob Handy and Pete Sorenson on the Oregon Open Meetings Law: It's standard procedure; lose at the trial level, and win on appeal. And the lawyers get rich. Which is the primary purpose of our legal system. It doesn't accomplish anything else.
Frank Skipton, Springfield
THE FINAL TALLY
Well then, is this the final tally in the Dumdi/Seneca-Jones Timber Company lawsuit against the county?
1)Cost of 5 half-time administrative assistants: $180,000; 2)cost of one jail bed: $300,000; 3)cost of lawsuit: $1,500,000 ($300,000 so far to the county); 4) public meetings laws actually violated: 0.
So Dumdi/Seneca-Jones Timber have hypocritically stuck the county (i.e. the citizens of the county) with an unwarranted fat bill to gain less than half a jail bed.Oh, and by the way, possibly bankrupted two honorable men in the process. Nice job!
Ramona McCall, Eugene
Where did you get that Judge Gillespie'sverdict has anything to do with two commissioners meeting circumventing Oregon's Public Open Meetings Law? I read three county commissioners and their three budget committee appointees, along with appointed representatives for certain county commissioners (i.e. Phyllis Barkhurst) meeting without public notification and out of the public view, with the clear intent to deliberate and reach decisions regarding the spending of the public's funds before they were supposed to in a public session. All with the admitted intent of circumventing Oregon's Open Meetings Law (the technical "quorum" defense?).
Did you actually read the verdict? I remember you asking once for me to provide you a transcript of a speech that you could have easily pulled off the internet yourself. Did you do the same with the Gillespie verdict? Rely on someone else's interpretation? Oooh, an opinion based upon someone else's bad opinion. Bad journalism!
Gillespie's verdict is pretty solid. I doubt the state Supreme Court will overturn it. I also can't help but wonder if you would have been so defensive of their illegal action if the commissioners who were found guilty were named Stewart, Bozeivich and Leiken.
Chris Matson, Eugene
EDITOR'S NOTE: We read it all, and we read that while they were not sued to begin with, Judge Gillespie named Commissioners Stewart and Dwyer as having participated in the "serial" email meetings as well.
A BAD JOKE
EW recently reported that The Nation magazine considers Mayor Piercy the country's most valuable local public official.
In 2007, Piercy voted for the Regional Transportation Plan highway expansions. She supports the new Seneca Sawmill forest incinerator even though it will increase deforestation and air pollution. Claims that Eugene is concerned about human rights did not result in public explanations of why police sheltered criminals on the force. Perhaps EW could investigate the sales job that resulted in The Nation's award, since it probably avoided these inconvenient truths.
Carbon credits for highway widening is a bad joke.
I first subscribed to The Nation in 1983. I found it useful for understanding the Reagan regime. They run some authors I like, notably Jeremy Scahill and Michael Klare. But I dropped my subscription during Bill Clinton's time since their partisanship ignored the crimes of the Democrats and worse, they attacked Oliver Stone's excellent film JFK.
Sorry that I don't trust "liberal" magazines who side with Allen Dulles and Gerald Ford in their promotion of the official story of the military coup of Nov. 22, 1963, even if some of their other views are good. See www.oilempire.us/the-nation.html for details.
I hope there will be at least one city in the U.S. that drops highway plans due to peak oil and climate chaos before gasoline rationing starts, but it probably won't be Eugene.
The writer Ed Abbey said "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul."
Mark Robinowitz, Eugene
I am writing in support of building the EmX in west Eugene. In 2001 the Eugene-Springfield community adopted a regional transportation plan and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was selected as a key element of the plan. This plan was updated in 2004 and 2007 and today BRT, or EmX as our local system is called, remains a key to our transportation future. The EmX will provide accessible transportation, reduce green house gases and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. It will also encourage commercial and industrial development along its corridors.
In the U.S., during the early 20th century when streetcars were introduced (including Eugene), development occurred along these corridors. Later when automobiles became the major mode of transit, development occurred along major streets. And today, as rapid transit systems have been put in place, development has occurred along these corridors, Portland is a good example. The EmX will encourage development along its corridors and bring more jobs to Eugene and Springfield. It will also encourage the development of multi-family housing along its corridors. This will bring us closer to our goal of reducing sprawl and increasing housing in the cities.
The west Eugene EmX will be an extension of the Franklin and Gateway EmX systems. Students living in west Eugene will be able to take the EmX to the UO, residents will be able to go to downtown Eugene or Springfield, or travel to RiverBend without having to transfer buses. We need to build the West 11th segment of the EmX system.
Edward Winter, Crow
APOLOGY IN ORDER
I'm confused. When I was a Metropolitan Wastewater Management commissioner I remember that public meetings law applied when a quorum was present. Since a quorum was not present I don't understand the verbal attacks as well as legal challenge when our Commissioners Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy discussed issues of importance to the county.
Isn't it important to get as much information as possible before an issue is introduced so everyone has a better understanding? Should we just allow staff to take care of county business and forget our elected officials and their responsibility to the voters?
I think an apology is in order! I know how hard the commissioners have worked to represent us on issues such as health care, air and water pollution, and criminal justice.
I was impressed by the intelligence and compassion evident in Betty Taylor's Feb. 3 letter about the crazy ruling against Commissioners Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy. By contrast the judge seems to be an incompetent fool from outer space writing bizarre and worthless dogma that deviates from the intent of the law.
Bob Saxton, Eugene
Eugene is the city of the arts and the outdoors. That's great because I love the arts and the outdoors. So much so, that yesterday I decided to hike the Ridgeline Trail off of Blanton Road. I hadn't been there in many years. I was so shocked to discover that instead of a beautiful trail passing through a contiguous ecosystem of Douglas firs, Oregon grape and ferns, it's really more like a trail passing through housing developments where you can hear lawnmowers, yapping dogs and human voices throughout your hike.
Who is responsible for this kind of zoning that would allow huge houses to be built adjacent to, or perhaps, within Eugene's open space? It felt like a double travesty: houses invading and breaking up the open space, and the sheer obscenity of the sizes of those houses. I can't help but think about the huge amount of resources (including trees) that go into building those monstrosities for what-two or three people to live in?
I know I sound judgmental, but all you have to do is go look at Google Earth to see the critical level of deforestation that is occurring around the world — much of which supplies the housing and furnishing markets. I would love to see Eugene make a stronger commitment to preserving complete ecosystems and large tracts of open space. People need nature.
Dana Vion, Springfield
I read your "Pittie People" cover story (1/6) and absolutely loved it. I am a teacher, equine massage therapist and Realtor, and own/have adopted four pit bulls over the years. They are absolutely wonderful family dogs that have a sensitivity and willingness to please unlike any other breed. I've had a chocolate lab, golden retrievers, a Tibetan mastiff, a cock-a-poo, and a silky terrier. Overall, the pit/Staffordshire terriers are my favorite. Their capacity to please, their athleticism, yet mellowness, create a wonderfully intelligent family dog.
I have been fostering this last year for Save the Pets. Almost a dozen dogs/pits have come through my home, have been adopted, and went on to become fantastic family pets. It pains me to hear the judgmental critics of pit bulls, or see people make detours around me because my dog happens to look "pitty." I feel pity for those people who close themselves off to a wonderful breed of dogs. All I ask is, the next time you are in a pet store and there's a pit or pit mix heading your way. Ask to pet him or her. I'll bet you will be greeted with an exuberant tail wag and an abundance of wet kisses.
Wendy Jameson, Eugene
Color me (not) surprised when I read the first letter in your Jan. 13 edition offering more fear-based misinformation about a breed of dog long regarded as family-oriented and loyal. Writer Shapiro quotes from Dogbite.org, a site famous for misinterpretation and lies about pit bulls. Folks in animal rescue regard Dogbite as an anti-pit bull website, run by a web designer and two lawyers whose expressed purpose is to methodically ban the breed across the country. It often quotes from the CDC trying to prove that pit bulls attack more frequently than others. But the CDC has released its own report about the data on its site and admits it's highly unscientific: The reports are hearsay and not made by reliable experts.
There are 35 breeds of dogs that commonly get misidentified as pit bull. Consequently, it's very hard to know if the dog in question is in fact an American pit bull terrier. And no matter what breed of dog a person owns, the dog's behavior is, in the end, the responsibility of the owner. Are there dangerous pit bulls out there? Yes. But there are dangerous great Danes, Dalmatians, and Pomeranians too. Just ask your local animal welfare officers; they'll tell you.
Valerie Brooks, Veneta
MORTGAGE LOAN REGULATIONS
I have been looking to buy a home in the Eugene or Cottage Grove areas. I have been approved for renovation, conventional, FHA and Home Path loans at different lending agencies. It has come to my attention that none of the lending agencies look at my health care expense when determining how much I can afford.
Also, the majority of lending institutions do not look at child care expenses when qualifying families for a mortgage.
Considering the crisis America is facing with the costs of health care and the foreclosure crisis, it seems reasonable to me that lending agencies and underwriters should have regulations that look at all health-care, child care, and debt expenses when determining how much a person can afford to pay on their mortgage.
On another note, Mortgage lending institutions used to give potential customers a "Good Faith Estimate" that would show all of the lending expenses and fees for buying a home. Now, regulations have changed and lending institutions can only give a "guaranteed fee estimate" after an offer on a home has been accepted. This gives the buyer little information as to what they are getting into before they make an offer. In other words, this prevents the buyer from making well informed, serious economic decisions.
I guess the banks and lending institutions don't have to worry about lending to people who can't afford to pay them; they'll just request a bail-out.
After all, it's only the little guys and families that will get hurt. And in the end we can accuse the little guys and families who suffer from financial crisis of creating their own problems; we can say "their problems are self inflicted, you know".
Trish Gillespie, Eugene
Much to my surprise, my children and I experienced discrimination from an LTD supervisor last Saturday (1/22). We had a wait of 30 minutes at the Eugene Station. My son told me the man who had just left was laughing at his sister and me. He said very rude comments about us going together to the restroom. I explained to my son that people have their own opinions about what is going on around them. My daughter was not as subtle and was using profane language.
The LTD employee behind us got our attention and told us we needed to quiet down and watch our language. I asked her "Have you heard of freedom of speech?" She answered "Yes, but that doesn't apply in this building." I quieted down for a bit and listened to the profane language being used all around us. Yet, this employee said nothing to anyone else.
My daughter's cell phone went off; it has a ring tone to it. The employee once again told us that we needed to be quiet and not play any loud music. I asked "Where was it posted that we could not have a ring tone?" She ignored me completely and called security. I explained my side to the officer and let him know that there were others using more profane language than us and yet she said nothing to them. Was it because I'm bilingual and my children and I have darker color skin and dark hair? I'll never know. I do know that I will always remember how she made my kids and me feel.
Samantha Holguin, Eugene
Whatever happened to our "latch-key kids," you know the kids with both parents working? Well, after the big public to-do, over 50 years ago, they're still with us!
In the current to-do about America's failing educational system, not a word has been mentioned about latch-key kids, only about teachers, budgets and methodology, in general.
An estimated 20 million latch-key kids get up alone in the morning and are home alone until (hopefully) parents return home from work. Rather than help their kids with homework, parents find themselves obligated to perform other duties, if they have time. Such is our system requiring both parents to work for familial survival.
Jerry Copeland, Florence
HOMEGROWN LAW ENFORCEMENT
If you live in Eugene for as long as I have, sooner or later you will witness a couple of junkies shooting up as I did on Monday. As I have done many times with situations like this in my neighborhood, I called the Eugene police to alert them to this situation, and similar to all previous calls, my name, location and number were taken to appease my need for gratification. As with the other calls, no police came.
I called back as the junkies were finished shooting up and leaving, and the dispatcher told me they were experiencing a high call volume on that January Sunday evening at 5:30 pm. They tend to have high call volume whenever I call, whether Tuesday afternoon or Friday night. I was told I should call the Tip Line, an unmanned voicemail system, which I have called several times in the past. I have never heard back or seen any sort of increased presence as a result.
I am not a typical Eugene police hater. I believe they fuck up on a fair occasion and need some real leadership, but I also believe Eugene's knee-jerk reactions to continually reject budget increases burdens and hinders the advancement of the EPD far more than any idiots beating up hippies or raping meth-head prostitutes. At the same time, the lack of leadership in the department itself and above does not help create an efficient police force that is able to handle more with less.
The EPD does not have enough police to handle the call volume of an economically diluted town filled with meth, heroin and poor white trash. I was specifically told by the dispatcher that they do not field these types of calls due to the volume of violent, person-on-person type crimes occurring at that moment. So junkies, thieves and burglars are able to freely reign with little fear of police intervention, and absolutely no fear of a broken judicial system that can neither hold them nor pursue them when they do not appear for hearings.
We the people must take the policing of our community into our own hands. The criminally intent will continue to flow in and out of Eugene until the laissez faire attitude is withdrawn and these undesirable subcultures are completely and fully rejected from this community. The police will not protect our neighborhoods from the criminally intent so those residents of Eugene wishing to not live in a neighborhood where break-ins are an accepted fact of life must protect themselves with whatever way one deems necessary.
Multiple solutions are best, from a peaceful lack of giving spare change, to orders to "move on," to confrontations with baseball bats — drug addicts and thieves will not stay long in a community that does not accept them on any level.
The EPD has made it abundantly clear that they choose only to respond to violent situations, so until the department is adequately funded and shown it is ready to play a leadership role in this community I suggest that those people inclined to do so and wanting police involvement, give them what they want.
The next time I see people shooting up in my neighbor's yard, I'll give the police 10 minutes before I do the policing myself. I'm sure they'll find an available unit to show up.
Paul Kuck, Eugene
MADE IN THE USA
WTF! If President Obama wants to "Win The Future," he should stop sending "aid" in the form of tear gas canisters, stamped "Made in the USA," to dictators, who use them to crush democratic uprisings. The future is not something you can "win" for America. It should not be a contest or another failed war. It should be a shared vision for all of humanity, connected now by computer and cell phones. We have seen the future, and it is a world without borders, sharing information in order to survive.
Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain
I thought Lori B. Havas' letter ("Dining Disaster," 1/13) was a perfectly reasonable request for common courtesy. To anyone raised with a healthy sense of boundaries, it is not a foreign concept. If we all are to be able to enjoy experiences together surrounded by strangers (eating in a restaurant, going to a movie, etc.), courtesy is indeed required.
We can choose to either: A) Have it come from within us because we "get it" or B) Have it asked of us by others because we don't.
If we can't/won't choose option A, we should be neither offended nor surprised by the occurrence of option B. Courtesy fosters harmony between us. Thankfully for society, those in the know will continue to express courtesy and to expect it.
Susan Burns, Eugene