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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 4.28.11




YES ON SCHOOL TAX

Am I the only one astounded that the spokeswoman of the campaign against supplemental funding for Eugenes public schools sends her kids to private school? Or that the "no” campaign is managed by someone living in Yachats? Or that large chunks of their campaign funding come from local and out of state business interests, not individual Eugene voters?

The anti-school-funding crowd appears to care little about the quality of the public education our children receive. Otherwise, they wouldnt push a "just say no” position that would result in fewer school days, larger class sizes, and the layoffs of 100 or more of Eugenes dedicated teachers.

Instead, the opposition to adequate school funding seems to be waging a campaign built around their anti-tax, anti-public schools, anti-public employee ideology. To them, this isnt about our children, its about the Tea Partys extremist ideological agenda to remake America in its imagined self-image. But the reality of that image is a lot closer to a feudal aristocracy than it is to a democracy envisioned by our Founders in 1776.

The foundation of our democracy is a strong public education system that produces informed, critically thinking citizens. Because I care about our democracy, because I care about public education, because I care about Eugene, and most of all because I care about our children, I will proudly vote "yes” on Measure 20-182.

Pete Mandrapa, Eugene



WE CAN DO BOTH

Apparently, YMCA members have been busy. When informed at a recent School Board meeting that the Y serves 7,000 members, Superintendent George Russell joked "and weve heard from every one of them.” Yes, the Y does need a new home and, yes, the Civic Stadium site would be a great place for it, but the Ys proposed partnership with a developer would require demolishing the historic stadium and paving the field for apartment parking.

Do we really need to choose between a new Y and preservation of the stadium? Absolutely not! We can (and should) have both. The Save Civic plan will rehabilitate the fundamentally sound grandstand to host professional soccer and community events. The stadium itself occupies only the portion of the site that, in the Ys plan, would contain the apartment buildings. Theres plenty of room for a new Y and Civic Stadium, too ã a great combination!

While so often it seems we need to choose between the lesser of two evils, in this case we have two great options and, even better, we have a chance to get both of them. A city of Eugene partnership with Save Civic Stadium would make that possible. If the School Board chooses the Y proposal we would get a new Y and an apartment complex. But the choice of Save Civic Stadiums plan could give us a beautiful (and historic) sports complex as well as a new Y.

Trey Imfeld, Eugene



FREDDY: TAXES & JOBS

As a senior citizen in the Crest Drive neighborhood, I was excited to hear of the possibility of a Fred Meyer occupying the old Civic Stadium site. Many of the senior citizens who live in the south hills area and prefer the Fred Meyer shopping experience are now commuting to its West 11th store. We could save money on fuel costs, drive less on city roads, and create a smaller carbon footprint (my average is two trips per week).

One of the Civic Stadium proposals would create a soccer and entertainment venue. We have a new entertainment venue at the Matthew Knight Arena ã how many more do we need? And if the city wants to spend taxpayer money on a new soccer venue, it would be far less expensive to upgrade the existing soccer field at South Eugene High School (its currently an artificial turf field, well illuminated, and parking is available ã how about constructing new covered grandstands and restroom facilities).

Also, both the City Council and the school district need to be mindful and realize the benefit in perpetuity of the tax revenue created by a "for-profit” entity at the site (especially in an economic downturn). Tax revenue is of utmost importance in order to maintain the quality of education and city services the citizens of Eugene have enjoyed over the years. The tax revenue and employment elements should carry elevated consideration in the selection process as they would benefit both the school district and the city for years to come.

Bruce Foster, Eugene



THANK THE WATER

This past weekend Eugene was host to Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, affectionately known as Grandma Aggie. She is chairperson of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers.

Grandmother Aggie had a full schedule. She spoke twice at the "Water for Life, Not for Profit” event on Friday, held a film showing on Saturday and did a water ceremony and book signing on Sunday.

Her message was simple: Water is a sacred and essential resource that must always remain free for all humankind. Having gratitude for water as we interact with it on a daily basis can change our lives and our world.

She underscored saying "thank you, water” when we drink, shower, water plants, mop, wash hands, clothes, dishes, etc. She reminded me that its important to be a voice for the "swimmers,” or fish, as they are an indicator of our health. She spoke on the necessity for all in the community to protect and love the rivers through our personal actions as well as our collective political voices and take steps to reduce industrial pollution.

She spoke of dams as choking the river and collection basins for algae and eventually toxins such as mercury. She reminded the crowds that nothing is impossible, as today the Rogue River runs free after years of strong collective resistance to remove the three dams.

Her impassioned pleas and heartfelt wisdom brought tears to many. All of us who attended were touched by her deep sincerity and positive vision. Let us take action on her words and welcome her back soon.

Joshua Arthur, Eugene



YERTLE THE TURTLE

While we squabble over modest tax proposals to fund education and give tax breaks to the rich and ultra-rich during a time of historic economic inequality, it would serve us well to take a look at a Dr. Seuss classic: Yertle the Turtle.

King Yertle lived in, "A nice little pond. It was clean. It was neat Ä there was plenty to eat. The turtles had everything turtles might need.”

Yertle had a throne in the form of a stone, where he could see the entire pond. In Yertles mind, he ruled all he could see. Although he could see the whole pond, it wasnt enough. Yertle began ordering the other turtles to stand on each others backs to form a bigger throne so he could see more and expand his kingdom. (Many conservative turtles actually cheered on Yertle and volunteered to be stacked.) Even as the turtles complained about their mounting pain and hunger, Yertle continued ordering more turtles to pile on. Turns out you can only stack so many turtles.

Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz makes the same point: "The top one percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors and the best lifestyles; but there is one thing that money doesnt seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top one percent eventually does learn. Too late.”

Vote yes for schools on May 17!

Joshua Welch, Eugene



CANT WAIT FOR STATE

The question for the voter is, do you support public schools? There are many things that are wrong with any tax but it boils down to deciding if public schools are important to our community. We cannot wait until next year for the state to develop a new tax. This is really a small fee and progressive so those making more will pay more.An adjusted gross fee for joint filersof about $30,000 pay nothing, $50,000 pay $120,$100,000 pay $529, and $250,000 pay $2,284.A small amount to save our schools and help our kids.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene



DOESNT SOUND RIGHT

Let me make sure I have this right. The Eugene Y, a nonprofit organization traditionally associated with family and community recreation, is proposing to demolish our historic Civic Stadium, which was built with public funds to be a recreational facility for the community, so that they can build housing for profit. Does that sound right to you?

Please let the mayor and City Council know that you want them to work with Save Civic Stadium in strengthening their proposal. And let the 4J Board know that the deciding factor in Civic Stadiums future should not be just the bottom line. It takes a healthy community to raise healthy kids, and healthy communities have public recreation centers like the one that could be developed at Civic Stadium.

Lonnie McCulloch, Eugene



A-GRADE WICKED

Anna Grace mentioned in her interview (4/7) with a cast member of Wicked that she was concerned about the quality of the production coming to Eugene, saying that "touring companies often have the reputation of B-grade actors.” This concern is actually fairly new in theatrical history. Over the past 20 years, many Broadway producers have been sending out touring companies with non-union actors as a way to save money and increase profits. These non-union actors tend to be younger and less experienced than union actors. Compare the touring company of The Wedding Singer (non-union) to the touring company of Spamalot (union). I walked out of The Wedding Singer at intermission ã something I have only done two or three times in my life. Now I ask the Hult Center staff to tell me whether a show is union or not. Thankfully, Wicked is a union production, and if you check the cast list online, you will find most of the actors have Broadway and off-Broadway credits.

Non-union shows are laudable because they give newcomers a chance to perform, but please dont think you will be getting a Broadway-quality show. I would suggest using your entertainment dollars to support our local theaters rather than these non-union shows, and save your big bucks for the quality companies coming to town, like Wicked.

BTW, in non-union tours, actors are paid below industry standard, are forced to double up in hotel rooms (no privacy for six months), and most dont get health insurance.

Carol Dennis, Eugene



GINSBERGS ODD VIEWS

Parents and school staff in the 4J School District have significant reasons to be concerned about a current candidate for the School Board. Matt Ginsbergs own website makes some outrageous statements about equity and achievement (www.ginsberg4j.com). His position states that if we try to close the achievement gap, we will "bring the kids on the top down,” and that students who are performing low do so because it is merely a reflection of their potential. Therefore, he claims, working to close the achievement gap is "a mistake,” "unfair” and "inefficient.”

He also states that special education teachers take money away from "the rest of our students.” When asked about this, in an email to me (3/10) Ginsberg stated, "We have to cut back (special education) because the majority of our students are suffering.” Im not sure what he meant by "suffering,” but there is plenty of data to support the contrary when comparing students with and without disabilities for outcomes such as graduation, drop-out rates, employment, post-secondary education, etc.

Ginsbergs position is quite a contradiction to what I believe the school districts goals are regarding equity and achievement, and have an undertone of classism, elitism and racism. He seems to lack the understanding that his wealthy white male privilege affords him and his children significant advantages. His divisive tenor will not be helpful as the school district works with a new superintendent to reshape itself for the future. I urge you to please vote in opposition to his candidacy.

Andy Bracco, Eugene

EDITORS NOTE: Matt Ginsberg is running for Position 7 against Sherry Callahan and incumbent Mary Walston.



COVER THE NEWS

Lately it seems as though the definition of "news” has dwindled down to nothing more than a recap of whatever fad most recently appears on YouTube or is featured in the ever-growing blogosphere.

To go from covering a pressing topic, tax increases for school funding, to reviewing a quartet of hipster women and documenting the fun time had at a cupcake shop makes me question the validity of the Weekly. How is a feature on indie rockers Warpaint cover-story news (3/31)? Of course it is interesting to learn these women recently performed in the town two are originally from, but column after column on how they love to laugh? And the recounting of their love for Hall & Oates? That is back-page blurb-worthy at best. Meanwhile, features regarding CALCS MLK reading and the possible plastic bag banning are absent from the issues cover ã probably to make room for the noting of a Sucker Punch review.

With so many events to focus upon, the extensive report on Warpaint draws parallels to the rest of Americas most-recent interest. Last month Rebecca Black informed millions that "Friday comes before Saturday,” and her video-count skyrocketed overnight. But while her 15 minutes continued, 10 U.S. soldiers were lost in an Iraq suicide bombing, and little could be found online.

Perhaps features on all-girl bands and 13-year-olds who know the days of the week are fun, but theyd be more appreciated shortened and towards the papers end.

Courtnee Stagner, Eugene

EDITORS NOTE: We like to mix things up, and who knows ã perhaps humanitys survival relies as much on the arts as on politics.



ITS UP TO YOU

The opening of a new grain grinder in the south Willamette Valley is the best Earth Day news Ive heard in a month. Now our community can consume wheat flour and other grain grown by our neighboring farmers.

However, Earth Day has been co-opted by big business, agencies and utilities to greenwash themselves and to switch the burden to saving our climate and biosphere to the average citizen.

It is now the average familys responsibility to stop emitting carbon and toxics into the environment. Corporations, utilities, agencies and the universities have done all they can to save our biosphere so now its up to you. It doesnt matter that you dont have a job to pay for a new $20,000 hybrid car, or a new $3,000 heat pump, or a $10,000 solar electric system, or $7,000 solar water heater. Its all up to you now.

Shannon Wilson, Eugene

 

 




TRY WRESTLING

Two men macing a child, people doing the old serial "catch me before I kill more" routine, baseball fans try attempted murder at a Dodgers/Giants game, rapes, etc. All this BS is partly the fault of our lack of proper physical contact with one another.

When you wrestle at any level, you will touch people in private places in front of lots of witnesses, touch and taste the sweat of other same-sex individuals, and feel the muscles that may be currently squeezing the c--p out of you. All this, and this sport is taking off all over the state except at the UO, which just vacated a sport not responsible for producing anybody doing the above behavior. Wrestling builds character even in losers. Try it; you'll see.

A little physical contact even with men and women in public, while under the supervision of a trained adult in front of a crowd of strangers, can be a good thing ã not the kind of contact sport to get rid of for group cheer.

Thank you for listening, if you did.

Dan Dubach, Eugene



BENEVOLENT LEADER

If Muammar Gaddafi would just let American corporations control Libya's oil assets, he would be a benevolent leader whose government must be protected; and the rebels would be terrorists.

Todd D. Johnson, Eugene



REVEALING THE TRUTH

Four hundred years ago, Galileo revealed to the world his scientific proof that the Earth was not the center of the universe.

He was tried for heresy by the zealot religious conservatives in power and placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.

After 400 years the remnants of those conservatives honored Galileo's truth.

Today we are facing the same struggle to reveal a truth about climate change. As Galileo needed to create an instrument, the telescope, to reveal his truth, today's scientists need the data from satellites. Starting in 2001 with Cheney canceling the launch of the $500 million DSCOVR climate-change "Gore" satellite, the explosive failures of OCO carbon data satellite in 2009 and the GLORY atmosphere satellite this last March, a pattern of data suppression is becoming more apparent.

We can only hope that today's zealot conservatives don't wait 400 years to face the truth about climate change.

Micheal T. Hinojosa, Drain



MIDDLE CLASS FIGHT

Once again, the forces in favor of chaos and distracting political drama have successfully maneuvered the people of Eugene into a confrontation that pits middle-class citizens against each other. On one hand we have parents of school-age children, educators, and progressives asking for $16.8 million annually for schools to be collected through an income tax. On the other hand we have the retired, those of fixed or reduced incomes faced with a tax increase that of any kind or amount will create barriers to their ability to pay the rent, buy food, or see a doctor.

How is it that we have allowed ourselves to be so taken advantage of that we dont even recognize that we are being manipulated? One tell is the presence of the Koch brothers in this context who are funding a front group called Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax political organization. Another tell is that the fact that Oregon ranks 49th in the nation in student-to-teacher ratios and that this is not a cause for alarm in the general population. The last tell is that Social Security Online states that the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker wasabout $1,177 at the beginning of 2011.

The general population is consumed with its own survival; and just simply does not have much energy to devote to the educational standards of elementary school children. So, what has happened to us in the middle class is that we have been demoralized by the never-ending drum beat of criticism that it is very wicked of us to complain about our "free” education system and even more wicked of us to suggest that a good solution is more money. The purveyors of drama and chaos want us to panic and to attack each other so that we will never notice that we are being used and that the great accomplishments of the middle class are somehow not relevant to solving our current problems.

Gerry Merritt, Eugene