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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 4.14.11




TEMPORARY TAX

I have nothing but gratitude for my childrens education in the Eugene 4J School District. I have experienced dedicated hardworking teachers from the elementary through the high school level. These teachers have been stretched to their capacity to make a difference in the lives of countless children both during and after school.

I am afraid that this might come to an end if we dont do something now. We have asked too much from our teachers already. We are at the bottom of the list on number of school days per year in this country, only beat by one other state. Class sizes are already too large for teachers to attend to students independent needs.

I support the temporary tax for schools. This tax is intended to preserve school days and class sizes. Some have said that it is unfair that county residents will not have to pay. I urge all non-city residents to join me and many others in pledging to donate the equivalent (or more) to the Eugene Education Fund or the Bethel Education Fund. Our children and the future of this community need our help now.

Gwen Gwilym, Eugene



TAX US, PLEASE

Public education benefits us all ã wherever we are in our lifespans, however little we participate directly in public schooling. Our children are grown. Others have no children. Others children attend private school. So what? ALL children must learn to think and care for themselves, so they can sustain our shared spaces and public life when they all aregrown.

We know that, as this tax is written, some who benefit wont pay as much ã or pay at all. We also know that for a modest price (check your cost at the citys website under "Education Funding Update”) those who will pay ã ourselves among them ã will get great value for our dollars. And we will get that value soon, and certainly, rather thanmaybe somedaywhen, and if, the state reforms school funding.

We know money doesnt guarantee schools success. We dont approve of every school dollar spent; but we also know that too little money guarantees school failure. We know that every public budget is a compromise; and we know that public schools with too few dollars simply cannot do their hugely important job. Thatsboth a terrible bargain andatrue misuse of public funds.

So please, Eugene, dont waste our school dollars. Lets spend enough to spend them well. Please, raise our income taxes to support public schools!

John Holtzapple, Vicki Harkovitch, Eugene



CLOSED-MINDED SLANT

I will be watching with interest to see if, and how, EW reports on the recent decision by Springfield officials not to expand the citys urban growth boundary. Call me cynical, but I half expect Alan Pittman to find a way put his usual closed-minded slant on the story.

Despite Pittmans assertions over the last couple of years that the only reason to separate Springfields and Eugenes urban growth boundaries was to placate the "pro-sprawl” construction interests, it turns out that, after careful review, officials in Springfield have decided that enough land exists within the citys current boundary to meet residential needs for the next 20 years, so theres no need at present to expand the boundary. Imagine that! When Springfield is allowed to determine its own future, rather than being bound to its neighbor, the city can sometimes make good decisions!

Ive occasionally complained in this letters column about what I consider EWs one-sided tactics to promote its editorial point of view. Its not that I typically disagree with the papers stance; on the contrary, as a fellow lefty I long to see intelligent arguments in favor of the positions I support. My problem is with the negative language too often employed by EW, and especially by Pittman, to make its point, as a cheap substitute for the well-reasoned, balanced arguments that would give the paper so much more credibility.

When Springfield asked the state Legislature to separate its urban growth boundary from Eugenes, EW seized on the fact that one of the parties involved in the lobbying efforts was the Home Builders Association of Lane County, and from then on any individual or group in favor of the separation was described in its pages as "pro-sprawl.” I am emphatically anti-sprawl. Im from Houston, Texas, a metropolis that has been given over to ugly sprawl for the last 40 years. I support Oregons strong land-use laws. Still, it made logical sense to me that, as discrete entities, the two cities should have separate urban growth boundaries. But there was no room in Pittmans narrow view for someone to hold these two apparently contradictory opinions, and no attempt that I ever saw to explore the subtleties of the topic.

I continue to challenge EW to refine its reporting and writing to show more balance and to better reflect the complexity of issues. Lane County needs two reliable papers.

Kelley Blewster, Springfield

EDITORS NOTE: We are the only news source that consistently points out sprawls hidden costs and unsustainability. We are trying to balance 150 years of pro-sprawl bias in the R-G and other media, bias that continues today. Good for Springfield for finally recognizing the futility of unfettered growth. Maybe Eugene city government will catch on someday.



BAIT AND SWITCH

LCC is about to launch a new business to provide dormitories for international students. Using money that was originally provided by the voters through Bond Measure 20-142, the public institution is moving toward privatization.

We supported LCC in their plan to: "Improve existing career training and educational facilities, including the Downtown Center” (exact wording from Measure 20-142 in 2008), but Im not sure that we were adequately advised that would mean the construction of a completely new campus.

This is certainly typical of how the city of Eugene operates, since they cant ever seem to convince the voters that we should reward the questionable behavior of the police or City Council with a new City Hall.

LCC, to my limited knowledge (14 years in area), has enjoyed generally goodwill with the students and the community at large. That is why I dont understand why they would want to squander that goodwill by getting involved with the citys political problems. The voters backed the bond issue for needed repairs to existing buildings, and by counting on our disinterest, it now appears to have become a bait and switch plan to move the public community college to a new entity as a private institution (using public financing).

What concerns me here is, that perhaps they have also concealed the actual purpose of the new institution from us, as well.

Martin E. Williams, Eugene

EDITORS NOTE: LCC tells us their $83 million bond request included $9 million for downtown all along.



DIAL BACK TECHNOLOGY?

John Zerzans claim (letters, 3/24) that big buildings increase deaths in earthquakes is an artifact of his ideology rather than a product of observation. Large structures in technologically advanced Japan fared far better than smaller, older structures in Turkey and Iran that entombed thousands of inhabitants during recent quakes. Indeed, as abundant footage makes plain, it was only large, steel-framed, structures that provided refuge from the tsunami that swept away everything else in many Japanese towns.

Nuclear power aside, the only inescapable way industrial society magnifies the deaths caused by natural disasters is by vastly multiplying human population in the first place.

Herein lies the imaginary quality of Zerzans oft-made call for undoing civilization: Seven billion people do not simply melt back into Paleolithic bliss. Undoing civilization would require a massive die off of human beings dependent upon the productive capacities of technology and organized labor. Such an event may be close to inevitable, regardless of how desirable or horrific we regard it. Still, I wish Zerzan would for once be clear in his letters about what undoing civilization would entail, rather than cloaking his anti-civilization advocacy in terms of concern for human casualties.

The desire to dial back human history to some pastoral idyll is likely as old as civilization itself. The question is how. Ideological certainties about the evils of technology, though they contain a critical portion of truth, do not help answer that question.

Timothy Shaw, Eugene



HAND JOB IS BETTER

Another case for legalized prostitution in Eugene:

There is more dignity and public service in offering a $5 hand job than being dressed as a national monument and dancing on 7th Avenue to remind us to get our taxes done.

The fuck, people ...

Jeff Albertson, Springfield



LOCAL RACISM

I find emails, letters and comments of criticism and support motivating. But I have to disagree with Fergus Mclean (letters, 3/24) about the Pacifica Forum being the most receptive or effective venue for Cheri Turpins research and my presentation of the historical experience of people of color in our town and state. Prominent in the experience of people of color in this town is the historical and continued presence of the Klan and their supporters.

I spoke once at the Pacifica Forum not really expecting a warm reception, hoping for a fight. They were polite and the bad actors were not in evidence, much to my disappointed surprise, since we were talking about the support racism has had historically in our state and town. I havent been back. Actually the most effective venue was being on educational television for classes, as well as Rites of Passage. Ironically, Barry Sommers is currently on television more than I am in an instructional venue, and the controversy around his Islam class has generated more attention.

Our original intention was to have this information become part of school curricula, but that hasnt happened so much either. Our kids, our original motivation for doing this project for the schools, have all successfully moved on, most of them away from here, something we heartily recommend, for everyone. Spend some time getting comfortable in places where people of color are in the majority. See how the majority lives in a different kind of normal. Where diversity is the reality and doesnt have to be "celebrated.”

Mark Harris, Eugene



Preschool Cut

It was recently announced that North Eugene High School will be eliminating its Early Childhood Development Program as part of on going budget cuts.While I understand that 4J School District is facing a huge budget shortfall, I feel the decision to cut this program is a mistake. It is one of the, if not the only, revenue generating programs at North Eugene High. I pay a monthly tuition for my sons to attend North Eugenes preschool and would have no problem with a fee increase to help get through this economic rough spot.

Over the last three years my experiences and those of my children in this program have all been wonderful. It provides a place for my children to get a head start on early education where they feel secure and comfortable. The high school students in the Early Childhood Development Program have always been kind, creative and supportive. My boys are always excited to get up and go see Teacher Kelly and their friends at North. Closing this program after 33 years would be a tragic loss to our community, from the families that feel safe to have their preschoolers at North, to the high schoolers planning on going into careers working with children.

No one asked if we, the parents, were willing to pay more, or donate, or volunteer at the preschool to help save this great program. Early education programs are a valuable commodity, can we really afford to lose one that has been a part of our community for so long?

Rita Verdugo, Eugene

 




BOTH SIDES?

Dave Taube (letters, 3/17) doubts that "the conflict in the Middle East is all Israels fault.” That sounds reasonable. After all, there are two sides to every story, right? Well, maybe. But did the KKK "side” receive a sympathetic hearing during the civil rights movement? Or the German or Japanese "sides” at the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials following WWII?

What evidence might be presented in a similar trial of Israel?

The World Zionist Organization set its sights on Palestine around the turn of the 20th century to establish a national homeland for Jews by expelling the indigenous Palestinians. Following WW II the British were attacked by the Zionist Haganah, Irgun and Lehi terrorist gangs who then turned against the Palestinians when UNGA Resolution 181 was rejected by the U.N. Security Council and the British departed, driving three quarters of a million Palestinians into refugee camps and committing 33 massacres in 1948. This was followed by another massive land grab in 1967 and progressive Palestinian dispossession ever since.

From only 6 percent Jewish land ownership before this ethnic cleansing, Zionist control of mandate Palestine is now 100 percent. The Palestinians have steadfastly resisted in one form or another for over six decades against overwhelming military force enabled by two superpowers, first the U.K. and then the U.S., both ignoring Palestinian rights under international law. Setting aside the role of these two enablers, if Israel is not at fault, who is?

Israel can have peace tomorrow by simply complying with international law. Palestinians can have peace tomorrow by simply relinquishing their land and their rights and submitting to Israeli domination. We have no right to demand the latter and every right to demand the former.

Jack Dresser, Ph.D., Springfield



NO NUCLEAR

There are now 104 nuclear plants in the U.S., and 24 of them are similar in design to the Fukushima plant. Radiation is now coming from Fukushima because the diesel generators that were supposed to power cooling pumps after an earthquake were immediately knocked out by flooding from tsunamis, and the emergency battery power was exhausted in just eight hours.

Spent fuel from nuclear plants needs to sit in cooling pools for years after removal from a reactor. The amount of spent fuel being crammed into these pools keeps increasing. After it leaves the pools, the waste typically gets encased in concrete containment vessels that sit above ground somewhere, such as on the bank of a river.

No permanent storage facility for nuclear waste has yet been found in the U.S. Nowhere has underground storage been determined to be safe. The only "safe" storage system we currently know requires monitoring containment structures for leaks, then fixing the leaks. The radioactive life of nuclear waste ranges from thousands to millions of years. Very likely, this material will need to be watched over by our descendants for thousands of generations ã not a considerate legacy to leave for our grandchildren.



If we are to include nuclear in our energy strategy for the future, we must first figure out a better way to dispose of the waste. Our current "figure-it-out-later” approach is both unwise and dangerous. We must also have plants that can be kept safe in the event of earthquakes or other catastrophes. If we can't do these two things, then nuclear should not be part of our energy future. A combination of conservation and renewable energy seems like a wiser approach.

Steve Goldman, Eugene



PRIORITIZE KIDS

I can think of a couple of concrete ways for taxpayers to finance K-12 education nationally:

Number 1: Eliminate pay and perks for all U.S. elected government officials. For those elected officials who are truly in need of reimbursement, pay fair stipends for their services and expenses only. All salary savings should be mandated solely for K-12 education. Secondly, establish an internet sales tax for billions of dollars profit generating from companies such as Amazon.com. All this revenue should be mandated solely for K-12 education.

Whether we personally have a child in K-12 education or not, our children in this country are our future. Let's put fair and reasonable ways of financing K-12 education on the ballot as soon as possible, and put kids first.

Diane Van Orden, Springfield



DEMOCRACY EDUCATION

Jefferson warned that democracy could not survive without an educated citizenry. The national assault on public education and school teachers will be the last nail in the coffin of democracy in the U.S. if communities like Eugene do not successfully convince their neighbors that investing in education is the only way to assure the survival of government of, by and for the people.

We are already seeing the result of a citizenry that lacks the reasoning skills to vote in its own interest. From Wisconsin to Michigan and in more than a dozen other states, there has been an organized effort to strip the last rights of working Americans at devastating costs to the prospects of economic recovery. Without the power of collective bargaining, already struggling unions cannot counterbalance the overwhelming influence of large corporations in elections. Without a strong middle class provided by the work of union organizers, the backbone of the economy will remain broken and schools cannot be adequately funded.

In the wake of Citizens United, these large corporations and the economic elite in America have a disproportionate influence on the representation of all Americans in Congress. The only effective remedy to the clear and present danger posed by corporate personhood is a Constitutional amendment to abolish corporate "rights" granted them by the Supreme Court. All Americans concerned about the fight need to get involved in the move to amend the Constitution. In Eugene you can contact the leaders of We the People Eugene on Facebook or by going to the Oregon page of MoveToAmend.org.

Rick Staggenborg, MD, Coos Bay



OUR TECHNOLOGY

If Jason Gonzalez isnt wishing he could reword the last sentence of his April 1 letter "Undo The Tech,” he should be. Not the substance of the letter, just the tone of the last sentence. The letter decries the bad effects of technology on the world and says that it will ultimately be its and our undoing unless we do something about it. No argument there.

Where he goes wrong is in his final rhetorical question asking how long it will take you and me to stop worrying about heating our homes and conducting our business. Nowhere does he mention his own responsibility for technology. He probably wrote his letter with a pen and paper or a computer. He may even heat his living space and wear man-made clothing. Its our technology. That includes Mr.Gonzalez.

The rhetoric in that last sentence paints a bulls eye on the back of every politically left-leaning person. His accusations and implied self-absolution represent the left as a bunch of self-righteous finger-pointers tut-tutting at hard-working families for being hard-working families. With one of our own using rhetoric like that, who needs Fox News and the Tea Party to sideline the left?

Spencer Doidge, Eugene



BIRDBRAIN TIMES

Two days ago, I was staring out a window, when a common jay caught my eye. It was painstakingly burying a large peanut in the leaves right outside. Pecking, digging, stacking leaves Ä just like a squirrel, and all for a peanut.

Maybe birds should be in charge. On a good day we'd get stork-like treatment, on a bad day, a talon thrill ride into the sunset. At least birdbrains would follow predictable, instinctive behavior.

While we humans are slugging it out with ourselves ã our instinct to survive apparently lost; our unpredictability growing.

It's high time to bring on the birdbrains. What have we got to loose? Everything.

Dan Dubach, Eugene



DISINTEGRATION

Democracy is overrated. What we havein this country isa true democracy. According to Webster, a definition of democracy is; "rule of the majority." Infrastructure is collapsing, affordable health care is almost inaccessible for many, governments are ditching the poor, schools are failing, millions are unemployed. Yep, it sure looks like we've made it.

When you consider the things that really interest the great unwashed masses out there, you begin to understand why this nation is disintegrating around us. They can tell you who won lastweeks American Idol, but they haven't a clue who Clarence Thomas is!

What the Founding Fathers kept repeating inour earliest documents wasn't so much ademocracy, but a republic. Check it out. "Citizens" have the power to vote, not corporations!

John DeLeau, Springfield



PROTECTING THIEVES

There are many worthwhile support groups that make all the sense in the world: support groups for addictions, for loss, for disabilities, and many others. However, the Tea Party support group for billionaires baffles me.

The Tea Partiers support everything that makes billionaires richer, just as they are consistent in wanting to cut anything that makes life better for regular people: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and just about anything for the common good. But boy, just bring up the idea of regulating the thievery of billionaires or asking them to pay their fair share of taxes and, bang, the anger thing happens.

Now I realize that billionaires always want a bigger yacht, another mansion or another giant tax break. But if you support firefighters, teachers or social workers making a middle class living, or medical care for poor kids or the aged, well, anger alert!

Now here come the billionaire Koch brothers-funded Tea Partiers to Eugene to spend $100,000 to defeat a community effort to help local schools during the Great Recession. It appears theyre mad because a community is trying to help kids have a decent education.

I know the Tea Party is busy being the billionaire support group, but there are also anger management support groups out there for people with anger issues, like the tea partiers. Maybe the billionaire Koch brothers could provide some support. Wait, that would require actually thinking of othersã not exactly the strong suit of the billionaires or their Tea Party supporters.

Roscoe Caron, Eugene



OUR GOOFY AGE

Its extremely interesting to read that Dave Taube (letters, 3/17) thinks that its a good idea to fight stupid, obsolete wars over stupid, obsolete religions for it clearly shows how out of touch with reality many folks are in this goofy age of pretend enlightenment.

We need to do the right thing instead of the brainwashed thing. End crazy violence and end crazy bigotry.

Bob Saxton, Eugene

 

 

NO POLITICAL PARTY?

An item in Slant March 17 on the impending Japanese nuclear meltdowns states that "like peace advocates, those with nuclear concerns in this country have no political party.” Considering the statement is false, its a very strange thing for the writer to say. Im assuming EW Editor Ted Taylor at least checks out Slant for blatant inaccuracies. A newspaper editor should know very well ã shouldnt he? ã that a political party does exist based on precisely those issues, a party that has been active in this state for 20 years. It is the Pacific Green Party, part of the international Green Party movement.

Most publications in this country, even those that claim to be "progressive,” insist on pretending that the Green Party doesnt exist. Is EW really one of those?

So please tell us, Ted: Is there a political party in Oregon that advocates for peace and consistently, vehemently opposes nuclear power? You can find out for yourself at www.pacificgreens.org Once you run that minimal check, you can set the record straight by printing a correction.

And to join a political party that supports peace and opposes nuclear power, change your registration to Pacific Green Party (PGP).

Charles Newlin, Corvallis