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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 2.17.11




A HUMAN WALL OF SUPPORT

I was at South Eugene High School the night our community lost Conner Ausland and Jack Harnsongkram. I was there to offer support to their friends, fellow students and parents as they gathered together, united by unspeakable sadness and grief. As director of Center for Family Development and a therapist in private practice, I have been part of a healing profession for over two decades, yet I have never encountered a more powerfully healing moment than what I experienced that night.

After waiting hours in solemn anti-cipation for the vans to arrive from the Oregon Coast, the students who had gathered in Souths parking lot finally caught sight of their friends who were on the coast trip with Conner and Jack. Weary from their coast ordeal, these friends approached hand in hand, accessing strength from one another. I watched in a sacred silence as the hundred who had been waiting spontaneously formed a long line, creating a human wall of loving support. The two sides came together slowly in a massive, sobbing embrace. They then created a literal circle of support, hugging, talking, crying and consoling one another. These were remarkably and tragically beautiful moments, and it was then that I knew I was no longer needed for this night. It was clear these youth intuitively knew how to connect deeply and take care of each other.

If you consider grief a portal through which we must enter in order to experience deeper levels of truth, may I suggest you follow the lead of these brilliantly compassionate teens, who are showing us the way as they enter their pain and cope with the passing of Conner and Jack.

David J. Mikula, Eugene



LEARN FROM L.A.

Three months ago I moved to Eugene from Southern California. I have a car and drive, but like to take the bus when possible for environmental reasons. While I cant comment on details of the debate regarding the extension of the EmX system, it has been a pleasure and a surprise to use the current system: clean, convenient, pleasant, fast, far superior to what we had in Los Angeles. Its a very positive feature for this city. I will soon be moving to West 15th and would be delighted to be able to use the EmX there.

Please learn from the dreadful example of Los Angeles: At the time I left, traffic congestion was a constant frustration for us, yet development, rising costs, and local politics made it almost impossible to add mass transit lines or a subway. In coming years Eugene will be very grateful to have solved this problem while there was time.

Sara Chesluk, Eugene



OBSCENE COVER

The cover of your Feb. 10 issue was a very poor choice. It is obscene by any standards and insults all businesses that advertise within your publication. More than one business, I noticed, turned the top paper face down, and few people are picking it up from those stacks.

Whoever proposed this vulgar cover pulled an "Emperors New Clothes” stunt. I am assuming that same person is high enough in the pecking order at EW to command surrounding peons to bow down and praise his duds. I choose to have faith that more than a few staffers were as appalled as the general public.

No doubt that Weekly ruler is pleased with being "on the edge,” but the bottom line of any newsprint enterprise is advertising. No matter how obscene the cover or how radical the content, without the income through participating merchants, you will fold. If I were such a business person, I would immediately cancel any such agreement.

I can only say to those businesses who agree that this offensive emperor is acceptably clad; I, one lowly Eugene peon, will not be reading about your wares and services in future EWs.

And to the ruler of that Weekly, "Mister, you aint got no clothes!”

Kathryn Mason, Eugene



LOOKING LARGE

Im a lefty Kucinich Democrat, but I think folks need to take a few steps back and see the BIG picture.

1) Most parents in the U.S. would kill to have their kids in a school district like Eugenes. So no undertaking will destroy the district. The Harvard valedicts will still be the Harvard valedicts. And the ax murderers will still be the ax murders.

2) Yes, school mergers are an incon-venience, but fiscal realities means painful cuts. I feel for laid off teachers and staff.

3) Essentially nothing in Eugene is farther than 3 to 5 miles, so bus service could be cut (except for special needs students). I feel for the laid-off bus drivers.

See the BIG picture.

Also, having children is a choice. Income taxes should tax income, not family status.

Jose Thometz, Eugene



WHERES THE PROBE?

I dont get it. Usually EW, and Alan Pittman in particular, does an excellent job calling the city bureaucracy, developers and their ilk, on running scams on the people of Eugene. The out-of-control police department, Phil Knight ã you guys do a great job on all of this. So why, oh why, has the Weekly decided to take up the cudgels for the West Eugene EmX?

Buses are good, yes. Mass transit is good, yes. But a very expensive bus to ... Walmart? Target? When LTD first started shutting down bus lines in order to fund the first EmXs, the Weekly was right on it. Now that some bus lines have been discontinued on West 11th, EmX is being praised to the skies, because it is soooo super-zoomy. Where will future operating money for it come from? Who exactly is it going to serve out in west Eugene (new development?)? In the wetlands? We are not getting a balanced discussion about whats good, not quite so good, what we will gain, what we will lose. Instead we get really nasty and silly attacks on those who oppose the EmX extension.

I went to a demonstration, on a work day, of nearly 100 people and the ratio of cars honking and waving approval versus those expressing disapproval was at least 10-1. The Far West Neighborhood Association is not made up of car-oriented businesses, but we went on record opposing the extension, both when it was slated to go down the bike path in our neighborhood, and also down West 11th.

Some real reactionaries are opposing this project, but there are also some real supporters of public transit (mass transit, not rapid transit), and some veteran progressives who think this is just a bad idea. Please, stop repeating what LTD management tells you. Do some reporting; its what you are good at, right?

Jack Radey, Eugene



CELEBRATING FAGGOTRY

I felt compelled to write regarding Jessica Zuckermans letter in the Feb. 3 issue, in which she called out Sally Sheklow for using the word "faggoty” in her piece on seeing Joan Rivers. I cant personally speak for Sheklow. I also cant speak for the LGBT community, which is incredibly diverse and not in the habit of making unilaterally agreed upon recommendations on word usage.

To me, the use of "faggoty” in Sheklows piece made perfect sense. She clearly uses it as a term of affection: "We were loving the conductor,” she writes. "Faggoty” in this context expresses inclusion and solidarity, not exclusion or derision ®® it says, "We have faced similar oppression, and though we may be strangers, we are members of the same queer family.” "Faggoty” also makes sense in a piece on Joan Rivers ®® Sheklow is borrowing a page from Rivers book, using brash and offensive language to convey a campy appreciation. And, as Sheklow points out, Rivers is a gay icon and theyre playing the overture from Gypsy, for crissakes! The conductor, Joan, Sally herself ã theyre all taking the potentially hateful "faggot” stereotype and performing, reinventing and celebrating it as the radical and delightful identity it really is.

To answer Zuckermans question: yes, LGBT people get to say "faggot” out loud, hopefully as loudly and enthusiastically as possible. Like other reclaimed slurs against marginalized people, its history is ugly and its use controversial. Im sure not everyone, gay or straight or what have you, would agree with me. But in my experience, the people who bigots call "faggot” are among the most resilient, self-aware, daring, admirable people I have known, and I am honored to claim them as my brothers, sisters and others in faggoty faggotry.

Russell Melia, Eugene



VIVE LA DIFFERENCE

The healthy rivalry between the R-G and EW, exemplified by their differences over the legal flap about the meeting process at the county courthouse, marks a coming of age of politics in Lane County. Divisions between rural and urban, and between resource owners and we the people, are coming into focus. Vive la difference!

In the Guards version, we are led to believe that those staunch defenders of personal liberty, our old-time timber family interests who own much of Lane County, were obliged to step forward to protect the rights of citizens being abused by corrupt leftist politicians who dont think answering their own telephones is the best way to discharge their duty to manage Lane Countys $600 million organization.

Or else the timber barons have decided to reassert their historic control over Lane County politics and resources, first broken by the 1976 election of Commissioner Jerry Rust, in the post-Watergate Carter democratic election landslide, when the commission went from three seats elected countywide to five geographic districts.

While virtually the entire forestry, sand and gravel, and real estate industry was donating to Jay Bozievichs campaign against Rust in west Lane last year, Seneca Industries meanwhile apparently persuaded ex-commissioner Ellie Dumdi to put her name on a lawsuit against Commissioners Handy and Sorenson for Oregon Public Meeting Law violations. Seneca dropped something like a quarter million dollars in legal costs on the campaign against Handy and Sorenson while their forest, mining and real estate comrades ponied up a similar sum to defeat Rust. The Guard overlooks the fact that Dwyer and Stewart, who were not named in Senecas suit, were equally guilty under Gillespies ruling, which has sent a chill over governing bodies around Oregon.

What public official might not be found guilty if someone is willing to spend a quarter million dollars suing them for trying to "think about and discuss issues carefully” with their elected colleagues? Is that not exactly what we elect our public officials to do?

Had the Guard read the Gillespie decision they would know (or should have known) that Stewart also supports paying for a personal assistant. But he pays his personal aide out of his personal fortune ã a fortune made in the timber industry.

Fergus Mclean, Eugene



JUST A SCARE TACTIC

I would have to take umbrage with a couple of items in the Alan Pittman cover story (2/3) concerning the purposed school tax.

First off, 25 percent of the 4J and Bethel students live outside city limits and no households in those areas would be taxed. But the school supporters want us to ignore that fact, using the thought, those children are part of our broader community. So we who live in the 4J area should shut up and carry the load.

Secondly, the economic impact. You tell us that officials from the UO, medical community and other local employers such as Palo Alto Software and Sporthill have testified that school funding crisis is making it hard for them to attract new employees. Come on people, you are telling me out of the thousands of unemployed here in Lane County you cant find someone who needs a job? When was the last time you placed a " help wanted” ad? One business listed an ad for two new hires and 270 people applied. Cant find employees?

I have to feel that this is nothing more than a scare tactic on the school supporters. I am all for helping the school with funding, but feel strongly that most of this tax would go to pay the past due contributions to PERS, plus the new increase of 18 percent due in 2011 and would do little to help anyone but teachers retirement.

Dick Walker, Eugene



TRUMPED-UP CHARGES

I think what the few are doing to Pete Sorenson is wrong and mean spirited. I have lived in Eugene for 22 years and know that Sorenson has served our community well. With his progressive ideas (since when was progressive a dirty word anyway?”) he has fought for Eugene, Lane County and Oregon time and time again in his work as Lane County Commissioner.

The letters in the local papers are downright nasty and make a villain out of this civic leader who has done everything to represent the majority of people in this town. A few disgruntled people are trying to ruin his reputation but they wont succeed; he has far too many people who are behind him.

Over the years Sorenson has fought hard to keep Eugene one of the most progressive and green cities and this is the thanks he gets. No wonder people are not willing to serve on boards as they risk a few misguided people going after them in some trumped-up charges. I only hope that Sorenson knows that there are people out here that support him and would not want him to step down, and that we will continue to vote for him in upcoming elections.

Diane DeVillers, Eugene

 

TARGETING STRENGTHS

Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy hold many open public hearings without misusing public comment. They are open, progressive environmentalists. It was these qualities that were used in "an attack on their strengths.” This technique is one right-wingers mean lie.

Because of their openness, legal action against our Lane County commissioners was an attack falsely claiming that they operated a closed quorum.

R-G articles implied the funding for the lawsuit came from timber corporate interests. Perhaps they were the same corporate interests who ignored the broad community rejection of their polluting biomass industry, and won an approval that a true public hearing should have denied. It appears that the closed quorum suit was an attack paid for by corporate polluters.

It was decided that the charge of a closed quorum was not true. Strangely, the court ruled against Handy and Sorenson based on an unprecedented notion.

This "activist” judgment charged the legal expenses not on the corporate interests who allegedly financed the suit but on our two good commissioners. This is an apparent win for people who hide from the public against openness. Lane County should appeal on behalf of good government.

Jerry Smith, Eugene



COMMON VISION

I would like to think that the most active citizens in this community have a similar vision for Eugene, Lane County and all of Oregon as those elected leaders who are supposed to be the most educated minds in our state. However, on a weekly basis that common vision doesnt seem apparent based on the shortsighted decisions of these elected leaders.

Case in point is when elected leaders receive recognition for accomplishments that no one can readily distinguish from business as usual.

I have not seen any great strides in our metro area to clean our air, to lessen our ecological footprint by voting against new freeways, athlete temples, dirty energy incinerators, and urban sprawl. I do not know of any new truly ecologically sustainable jobs created by increasing our local food and energy security as well as cleaning up our rivers and air.

Our elected leaders seem to be able to ignore the few voices advocating for ecological sanity and crisis preparedness. The only way this will change is if the average citizen speaks and stands boldly behind their visions for the future of Eugene, Lane County and Oregon.

Shannon Wilson, Eugene



SANCTUARY STATE

CAUSA wants state legislators to "know the story” (News Briefs, 2/10). Heres part of "the story” CAUSA does NOT want them to know:

1) More than 200,000 Oregonians are out of work but as many as 100,000 illegal aliens are working in the state (per the Pew Hispanic Center).

2) More than 75 percent of the meth and other street drugs are brought into Oregon by illegal aliens.

I will give CAUSA credit for scaring the folks in Salem. Along with certain business interests, unions and other open borders supporters theyve been able to quash all meaningful efforts to address Oregons status as a sanctuary state with the exception of the Secure Drivers License Bill (SB 1080). The latter was passed only because the Legislature had a Homeland Security gun to its head.

Our legislators were elected to represent Oregonians. Illegal aliens are not Oregonians. If they want to become Oregonians there is a way to do that legally, after which they would be welcomed.

Jerry Ritter, Springfield

 



THINKING BIG

I wouldnt quite call it obsessive compulsion, but lots of conservative Republicans sure pay lots of attention to Big Government. While conservatives obsess on big government, some mighty big things seem to escape their bigness radar.

For instance, the conservatives bigness radar misses the big military budget, by far the biggest in the world. Its doubled in 10 years to over $700 billion. The big military budget is full of big cost overruns by big military contractors who use big payoffs to get big contracts from their Pentagon and congressional friends.

Then there are the big tax breaks for the big corporations. Some big oil companies barely pay taxes at all on their massive big profits. Also, many big corporations use big tax incentives to move their plants outside of our country. These big corporations get big money from destroying our jobs and future. Then their big lobbyists help set up big tax havens in places like the Caribbean, eliminating legitimate tax revenue and increasing our national debt.

Then there are the big gun manufacturers, who use intimidation and bribery to push their gun laws in places like Arizona, helping the big drug gangs in Mexico to buy all the guns they want, thus making big bloody profits.

Its time we all develop a different kind of bigness radar. The big lies about big government have always been meant to serve one purpose: They keep people distracted while big money steals as much as it can from us little people.

Roscoe Caron, Eugene



PANDERING TO BLOODSPORT

Once again, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) resolves wildlife violations by making illegal activities legal. As described in the ODFW Feb. 1 press release, the killing of game birds, even when these birds are nesting and raising young in public wildlife refuges, will now be legal simply because people who train hunting dogs and raptors will do it anyway. As always happens, the ODFW gives in to a small minority of hunters rather than respecting the overwhelming conservation and humane sentiments of the vast majority of Oregonians.

The ODFW also refuses to have a member of the humane community, such as the Humane Society of the United States which donates considerable funds to the ODFW to fight poaching, on their advisory board. When will ODFW respect the goodwill of the majority of Oregonians toward wildlife rather than constantly granting the wishes of the small bloodsport community?

Mary Jane Hildreth, Sweet Home



SEND TWO BITS

Dear Congress: I am currently living off my Social Security and as a part-time care worker. I don't know if I can call myself poor because I don't have enough income to reach the poverty level. Ten percent of my meager paycheck is taken by the SS and because of a tax loophole law that says if you don't make as much money when you were gainfully employed as you do now then it is not applied to your benefits. From me they take less than a $150 a year and I understand the "tax” word is no longer accepted in polite society, I doubt you can change the rules, but if you could get each member of Congress to just send me a quarter a month I'll call it even. That's only two-bits a piece and the cost compared to your tidbit legislation would be uncountable.

Vince Loving, Eugene



TRAVESTY TRAIL

Eugene is the city of the arts and the outdoors. Thats 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 hadnt 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, its 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 Eugenes 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 cant 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 ã 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



DEFENDING HUMAN RIGHTS

A 20-minute public testimony period at the Eugene Human Rights Commission Jan. 18 meeting was deluged with statements from a gallery of Israel defenders, launching a pre-planned challenge (http://wkly.ws/10u) to the EHRCs July 2010 decision to issue a letter condemning Israels attack on the Gaza Freedom flotilla. They challenged the EHRCs expertise in deviating from local issues, failure to consult the "Jewish community,” and "furthering the interests of a local group that demonizes Israel,” claiming that Israel was rightfully attempting to prevent weapons smuggling ã as if any adversary would be stupid enough to bring arms aboard a vessel assured of search by the IDF.

A human rights commission is competent to judge human rights violations, and needed only consult the comprehensive U.N. Human Rights Council investigative report debunking the complainants assertions (http://wkly.ws/10v).Moreover, the EHRC decided in that same meeting to issue another statement supporting non-locals ãunrecognized California Native American tribes.

Might local taxpayers care that Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid? Might local residents care who have worked as human rights activists in Gaza and the West Bank? Might two Palestinian refugees care who were recently insulted and threatened for daring to utter inconvenient truths at UO events?

And why would any American citizens, Jewish or not, proclaim the right of a foreign country to attack, murder, abduct, imprison and steal the property of other American citizens on the high seas? And why would any human rights commission hesitate to condemn such an attack against human rights activists defending the same principles they defend locally? The decision has been suspended pending public input.

Jack Dresser, Ph.D., Co-director, Al-Nakba Awareness Project



MEAT ON THE MENU

I was extremely disappointed to read (in Chow!, 1/27) that Holy Cow now serves meat. Apparently they only consider cows holy, all other sentient beings, guess you're fair game now. I dont judge other peoples dietary choices, but I believe Holy Cows owner Katherine Lavine is going against what theyve always espoused as their core values. In the same vein as Ratatouille it feels that she has sold out to the mighty dollar, by now offering meat on the menu. I supported Holy Cows petition to remain in the Erb Memorial Union as the only completely vegetarian/vegan option offered, when she railed against Laughing Planet which served meat. Oh, the hypocrisy! I eat at restaurants that serve meat, but I dont eat meat. So why would Ms. Lavine assume that carnivores who start eating at Holy Cow will begin choosing the vegetarian dishes? "Flexivores" as Katherine dubs them would still go to a vegetarian restaurant if they felt like eating veggie and go to restaurants that offer meat on days when that was more to their liking.

I will continue to support the true vegetarian restaurants in town and hope they dont suddenly change their ethical beliefs to bring in more customers. Im really sad to leave Holy Cow behind and feel Katherine will be losing some of her longtime followers.

Cheryl Kline, Creswell



THE REAL PET ISSUE

I am writing after I read Laura Paxton's "Exploiting Pets" letter (1/27). I have always had pets my whole life and still do at this time. I have a home, a job, a car and clothes on my back and I still have trouble coming up with the money to take my animals into the vet. Just because someone lacks the financial stability to take the proper care of their pets doesn't mean they dont deserve to have a pet? It is proven that animals help the mental state of people and I think everyone deserves to own a pet, homeless or not.

The real issue that you are not seeing is the outrageous prices our vets are charging. I went to the vet the other day and my cat has a tumor that is fairly easy to remove and they want to charge me $800 to remove it. And in the same breath she told me most likely it will come back.

It's not just homeless people who can't afford vet bills for their animals. The problem is vets who overcharge for a procedure and feel OK about doing so. So now I have to take my cat back home still with the tumor and hope she doesn't suffer to much until one day I can afford to pay for the surgery.

Crystal Brown, Eugene



ITS ALL RELATIVE

This is in response to Andrew Harmon's letter (2/3) stating that veganism is extreme. What do nutrition experts advise people to eat more of to help ward off heart disease and cancer? Fruits and vegetables. What do they advise people to eat less of? Meat and dairy. So, it's extreme to eat healthy foods?

Casein (dairy protein) is a potent carcinogen. Grilling meat forms heterocyclic amines (a carcinogen). So, it's extreme to not ingest carcinogens?

In nature, all animals stop drinking milk once they are weaned. Humans are the only animals who continue to drink milk once they are weaned, and who drink the milk of another species. I think that's pretty extreme.

What about those lagoons full of pig manure? If a farm worker falls in, no one will help him because it's too dangerous. Isn't it extreme to have a pit of poop that is so toxic it will kill people?

Veganism only seems extreme compared to the dominant culture. But the dominant culture is full of people who are overweight, and/or taking toxic medications to deal with their dietary choices. And doctors know next to nothing about nutrition. Frankly, I think the way we do things now is extreme. I think it's extreme to take a cholesterol-lowering drug that may damage your liver. I think having your sternum sawed through and your chest opened up is extreme. Eating a salad and a baked potato seems pretty mild in comparison.

Marcy Stevick, Springfield