THE AMERICAN WAY
I oppose biomass energy production. We need to sharply reduce energy waste instead. If we are going to seriously challenge all of our environmental problems, were going to have to change the way we live. Most of the things that we perceive to be necessities are not. We have had the misfortune of living in the most ridiculously wasteful century in all of human history and we consider this lifestyle to be normal, sane, and desirable. It is not.
The cities of Oregon are highly visible at night from satellites in outer space. I can almost walk from one end of Eugene to the other while reading a book at midnight. Car dealerships and shopping centers are ridiculously well lit, all night long, with wasted energy. They could hire a security guard, turn off the lights, and increase their profits. We need more jobs, and less waste.
I once read an article on Guernsey, an island in the English Channel. The author was impressed by the astonishing common sense of this land, which resulted in a prosperous life with an extremely light footprint. For example: "And at night much of Guernsey is a dark place indeed because many of the parishes have long since decided that street lighting is a waste of money. So there isnt any. Guernseymen argue that if you go out at night and want to see, you carry a flashlight. Which is of course a very practical and exceedingly cheap solution.”
Clothes lines and drying racks can get clothes just as dry as electric clothes driers. Small screen TVs provide us with no less mindless garbage than large screen TVs. For thousands of years, people have enjoyed rich and satisfying lives without air conditioners. And so on.
We are already using biomass fuel to power vehicles ã ethanol. Highly subsidized ethanol is reducing grain exports, and resulting in food riots in poor countries. Biomass energy corporations have two primary objectives: growth and profits, by any means that they can get away with.
Richard Reese, Eugene
OUR OWN KOCH
Eugene, did you know? We have our own Koch brother, here.
Think hard, who might that be? Is there a mill called Seneca? There must be an owner, a great local funder of who and what.
Having your underwear ironed doesnt keep you honest and straight. Just helps you salute to your money and bark as a baron.
Steve Trimmell, Veneta
Im constantly underwhelmed by the idiocy and ludicrousness of Mark Harris articles and "contributions” to the community. Mark, you are such an arrogant windbag! Congratulations, you are one of a handful of black people in Eugene. Why dont you do something constructive with your status instead of stroking yourself?
You can only get away with it here because no one calls you on it. Guess what, buddy? Im calling you out. We all are pretty aware there are few people of any color here. Why not do something positive and help people be comfortable with unfamiliar cultures instead of rubbing your different-ness in their faces constantly? Why not be more approachable instead of swaggering around campus like your balls are so huge you need a wheelbarrow for them? Im really disappointed and embarrassed by and for you.
Just so you know, Im Native, black and white, grew up here, and was trained as a drug and alcohol counselor. You of all people have the training to be a positive contributing member to society. Get over yourself.
Clarice Smart, Eugene
A PROGRESSIVE TAX
On Feb. 14, the Eugene City Council decided to put a city income tax measure on the May ballot dedicated to keeping class size down and making the school year whole again. Most speakers during the public comment section spoke in favor of the income tax. Several, however, spoke against it and specifically referred to the progressive nature of the proposed tax as "class war” against the well-to-do.
The reality is that we have been in class war for some time now. Warren Buffet, the icon of American capitalism, was quoted recently, "There is class warfare, all right, but its my class, the rich class, thats making war and we are winning.” Since the 1980s we have seen the largest redistribution of wealth in history from the working and middle classes to the wealthy.
Recently an R-G op-ed piece "America Fails Wealth Gap test” states that the top 20 percent of wealthy individuals own 85 percent of the wealth, while the bottom 40 percent own very near 0 percent. The income gap is not any better. The richest 1 percent takes in 24 percent of the nations income up from 9 percent in 1976. About 80 percent of the increase in income since 1980 went to the top 1 percent of the richest individuals.
The City Councils decision to make the local income tax more progressive should be applauded. Its time to act before America becomes a "banana republic” ruled by an oligarchy and where public schools, through underfunding, are destroyed while the rich send their children to private academies.
Pete Mandrapa, Eugene
A judges Twilight Zone interpretation of the Open Meetings Law has public officials confused about communicating with each other between meetings. What can the daily newspaper responsible for inflating the case do next?
The Register-Guard could lead us out of this mess by modeling how to conduct its business in public. No more unsigned editorials drafted in closed-door quorums. Sure, the R-G is not subject to open meeting statutes, yet this isnt a time to hide. Can R-G management comfortably go on meeting in private to influence public opinion? Since it finds great fault with how some Lane County commissioners have done it, let the paper set an example.
Release all internal emails and directives related to development of its righteous indignation toward offending commissioners. Make public all notes from discussions between editorial staff. Country Club chatter with contacts, too. Any dissenters inside the paper? Let us hear from reporters who may not agree with ownership.
For an institution that states above its editorials that it is "endeavoring to be candid but fair and helpful in the development of constructive community policy,” now is the time to show everyone how it should be done.
David Sonnichsen, Eugene
EDITORS NOTE: This letter was submitted earlier to the R-G but not published by the time we went to press.
Eugene Weekly is our local newspaper, with a loyal following. Our community eagerly awaits its appearance every Thursday. We ask the staff to use thoughtful policy and discernment in the writing and advertising chosen for publication. Nothing published should make an object of any person, especially those who are the most vulnerable in our community.
The trafficking of minor girls is driven by market demand. Eugene is on a major trafficking route, San Diego to British Columbia. Portland is a major source of minors for trafficking and Eugene is another target. The prime age for entering prostitution is 13.
Is there any reason to encourage a market for sexual exploitation? To run a full-page advertisement that appears to have a very young model (back page, 2/10)? To objectify a person using cover shots of a womans breasts? We are proud of our Weekly. It does not need such immature visuals to promote circulation.
Ideas are sold through their presentation. Let us not sell the idea that a person is an object to be used, rather than an individual of great integral worth.
George and Cynthia Kokis, Eugene
FOOTBALL DOESNT BELONG
As some of the news media remind us, football is becoming a year-round sport, with Oregon and Oregon State already ã just in late winter ã revving up for another season on the gridiron. For 25 years, I worked at lying about college athletics, brainwashing gullible fans into thinking football was part of higher education. It is not. Im reminded of that dishonest part of my past when I see public statements debating value of football in academia. Were lucky there are people like Richard Sundt and Guy Prouty who clarify for us how football is little more than a money-making scheme that costs universities their souls.
Football cheats those who come to school not to learn, but to prepare for a pro career that is beyond the reach of all but a rare few. This violent game also subjects them to serious injury, whose full impact catches up to them later in life. That has to be discussed more openly to help prevent young men from suffering the aftereffects of going to college to play football.
George Beres, Eugene
Megan Hinkel declares that "breasts are not obscene” (letters, 2/24). Well, I dont want to drive the subject into the ground but theres a larger issue here. "Obscenity,” like "liberal,” "right-winger,” "socialist,” "oligarch,” "ugly,” and "sacred” are words. Words have no content until people fill them with it. We should teach our children this simple truth. The world would be seen with much more clarity, and we would have far fewer irrational ã but deadly ã emotional buttons to be pushed.
Don MacQueen, Eugene
TEACHING TO THE TEST
As a preschool teacher I have concerns about our public school system. Teachers need our emotional and financial support. They are eager to uplift and inspire our children. But they are burdened in their efforts by continually having to "teach to the test.”
They are also hamstrung by a system which is using outdated approaches to education more suited to the industrial age rather than the current high speed information age. Our goal to graduate students with enough verbal, mathematical, and technological literacy and knowledge of certain subjects so that they can find jobs and "compete in the global economy” is only foundational and should not be a goal of schooling.
Too often we view education as filling each childs head with information rather than the better cultivation of great critical and creative thinkers. We need to be teaching students about the interconnected global challenges we face and engaging their creativity and intelligence in the discovery of new ideas and solutions. We need a curriculum that draws connections between "the basics” and what these foundational skills could actually achieve in the world. We need to engage our students loving hearts and brilliant minds so that they aspire to play important roles in the great challenges ahead.
Core competencies in core subjects are simply tools. We must make sure that were providing our children with the knowledge, skills, and commitment to participate in the creation of a peaceful, sustainable, and humane world for all. This is how we will meet the challenges of the future.
Christopher Michaels, Eugene
All budget cuts are unnecessary. Ample funds exist at all levels: federal, state, and local, when corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of taxes.
We have been duped for over 30 years by the myth that tax cuts create jobs. This has never worked, and it never will. Tinkle down economics was never intended to work; it was just a pitch to get your vote.
Additional funding for any line item in any budget will become available when we stop blowing up peoples homes with flying robots. We could even launch a new WPA, provide jobs, build green energy infrastructure, truly reduce CO2 emissions, and stimulate the entire economy.
Are these ideas too utopian, too impractical, or too much to expect right now? Then its time for something bigger. Its likely already begun in Wisconsin.
Todd D. Johnson, Eugene
I found Kathryn Masons opinions as stated in her letter Feb. 17 to be offensive. I take issue with her statement that declared the cover Feb. 10 to be "obscene by any standards” ã not by my standards, nor by the dozen or so individuals unfamiliar to me whom I quizzed about the cover. I found no one who objected. I also found her thinly veiled threats of loss of advertisers and the folding of the publications to be unacceptable. The whole letter read like a childish temper tantrum. I say kudos to EW for a tasteful representation of the human form and an interesting article. I view EWs advertisers as open and supportive of diverse opinions, and I will continue to support them with my business. I would say to Ms. Mason, "Grow up!”
Sandra Legaard, Springfield
JOBS TO CHINA
At a time when the main political focus is on jobs, jobs, jobs, I would like to talk about where all the jobs went, and why. Why is everything we use made in China, when millions of Americans are out of work? Because all the famous "American” corporations, the backbone of the American economy (i.e. stock market) have made an end run around all the human rights laws, labor standards, and environmental protections that democracy has made possible here, by moving millions of once-American jobs to (often unrepentantly) undemocratic countries like China. In the process, they have increased their personal profits tenfold, while flooding the country (and its landfills) with cheap, low quality junk, designed to break and be thrown away. What is very good for China and huge corporations is very bad for American workers, democracy, and the planet.
And thanks to the Supreme Court, the same corporations who have bypassed all that democracy has accomplished for We the People, have now gained virtually unlimited, anonymous power to influence our "democratic” elections, flooding the airwaves with carefully devious misinformation.
Multinational corporations are the enemy of real democracy; global capitalism is the engine of disaster!
P.S. Can anyone tell me why there arent hundreds of banking executives in jail right now? Instead theyre back to record bonuses and fraudulent behavior. And We the People, in our tens of millions, continue to do ... nothing?
Rick Moser, Eugene
Tar sands oil contains more harmful chemicals than conventional crude, including five to 10 times as much sulfur, and more chloride salts. Both substances can weaken pipelines and make them more likely to break during a pressure spike.
Kelly Rasmussen, Junction City
The Weekly began to cover a story that sounds like high profile money laundering ("Pat Kilkenny Invested in Courtside?”1/6 ) in the controversial Walnut Station mixed-use development area. Why is the Weekly failing to follow up on that important story? The Weekly is now promoting instead of reporting on proposed EmX expansions. Why the change?
The Emerald now reports UO is selling legacy arena parking garage spots for one million dollars each.
In other news: UO is buying land in Glenwood and faces two hearings next month (5 pm March 16 in the Sloat Room of the Atrium Building) related to a proposed sprawling riverfront Nike complex and museum. The outcomes of the two hearings are subject to appeal.
In other words: What the F is going on over there at the Weekly?
Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene
IMPACT ON FAMILIES
Violence, drug use, homelessness, and an increase of adolescents within Lane Countys juvenile system is what closing our communities schools can lead to. The young need organizations and institutions that provide positive, supportive environments. For most of our adolescents, this comes from local schools they have attended throughout their early education years. Taking this away can certainly be a crisis for most young children and adolescents within our community.
Eugene 4J School Board and local public and city officials held a meeting on Feb. 2. A decision was made to close four of our local elementary schools, Crest Drive, Parker, Meadowlark and Coburg Elementary; students, families, and teachers are all now being critically impacted throughout their communities. Parents and children have to adjust to new schools or even new districts, which can cause a huge damper economically for each family. Teachers are facing layoffs with no guarantee to have any work in their field of expertise; in return, Oregons unemployment rates will dramatically increase.
Giving children what they need to succeed is not removing the place of education where they have already adapted a strong routine. Young people need constructive, enriching opportunities for growth through creative activities, youth programs and congregational involvement, all which are best provided at our local schools. Our youth also need a strong sense of their own power, purpose, worth, and promise which is removed when they are forced to start over and pushed into a different community.
Tiffany Cloud, Springfield