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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 5.5.11




MARKET MOVING?

Is it true that the Farmers Market is planning to move from our downtown blocks to a fast moving spot closer to the Matt coliseum? Please tell me it isnt so. People come downtown on Saturdays to enjoy walking through the creative and famous joint community of Saturday Market and the Farmers Market, to take in the whole thing. It has been a win win partnership of markets for a long time, and there are hundreds of local vendors who count on the happy shoppers. Last Saturday, I overheard a Farmers Market vendor say that the market wanted to "expand and is eyeing a spot next to The Shedd, near Franklin.” That was the first Id heard of it, and might ruin a very good thing for both markets.

Is it big-business growth mentality that is showing up here, maybe inspired by the electric screen now unavoidable on Franklin Boulevard? Who is calling the shots? Im guessing that it isnt the tiny vegetable vendors with their small booths. College neighborhoods are not known for rushing over to vegetable stands just to get fresh ingredients for cooking supper. A sports/student neighborhood would support more beer gardens and ready-to-eat food. Nothing wrong with that, for sure, but that isnt the heart and soul of a real farmers market. And ours is already successful ã I would hate to lose what we have.

Deb Huntley, Eugene



WHO IS AMERICAN?

Dave Ralstons rant against Centro Latino raises interesting questions. Heres one: Who is an American? Only people in the United States? Well, no. Our neighbors north and south will remind us we arent the only Americans ã not even the only North Americans. We share that distinction with Canadians and, yes, Mexicans. Then there are all the people in Central and South America.

Next question: Must we speak English to be American? Well, no. Hundreds of languages are spoken in the Americas. Here at home, many languages always have been spoken in the land that is now the U.S. Even among languages brought by European invaders and colonists, English arrived long after Spanish was first spoken in Florida and the Southwest. In fact, the United States does not have an official national language. Yes, English is the dominant language, and very useful ã thats why immigrants, including newcomers, struggle to learn it and English classes are full.

Last question: Does ethnicity determine our nationality? In many countries the answer, historically, would be yes. Thats never been true of the U.S. Im proud to live here because weve always been a multiethnic nation, benefiting in countless ways from one others customs, cuisines, cultures, ways of relating and of seeing the world. Yes, its also true that weve had to deal with deep-seated racism. We still do. But in the U.S, we have an opportunity to open ourselves to one another, to claim our relationships within the human family. Lets try it!

Marion Malcolm, Eugene



YOUNG & WORRIED

Im a student at the Eugene Waldorf School. Ill go to public school for high school and Im worried about what it will be like when I get there. My moms a teacher in 4J, and can only get work as a substitute because theyve cut teaching positions. The class sizes keep getting bigger, with classes of 45 freshmen! When I get there, there may be 50 or 60 students per class! Its unbelievable how much is getting cut from public schools. My mom raised me in Eugene because the schools were good, but due to budget cuts they are getting much worse. I feel many things that children are interested in have already been cut.

Im young, but it deeply upsets me to see how little is invested in schools. Education should be one of, if not the top priority for funding. Without it, the future generations will not be able to fix problems that people in this generation have made. Something needs to be done to save education and we can start by voting for the Strong Schools-backed Measure 20-182. Please help make Eugene a better place to live for families and everyone else.

Asha Logan, Eugene



LANDLORD SIGNS

Kudos to Chuck Areford for checking up on the West 11th businesses supposedly opposing EmX. I already knew that popular opposition to the West Eugene EmX was a tiny fraction of what the "No Build” loudmouths would have us believe, but Mr. Areford confirmed something that I suspected: that only a few of the West 11th businesses sporting "No Build” signs actually oppose the EmX project, since it was the landlords, not the businesses, who put up the signs.

This handful of opposing businesses and property owners who have been spending their money on frivolous lawsuits and a breathtakingly extravagant disinformation campaign have only one thing on their minds: manipulating public opinion and the democratic process so that they get what they want, and the hell with everybody else. Dont fall for it.

Elizabeth Henning, Eugene



SO SMUG AND MEAN

As a frequent reader and admirer of Dan Savages writing, and as a member of no religious group, I was nevertheless struck by the irony of the idiotic, smug and mean-spirited April 28 cover illustration depicting Savage in the classic image of Jesus or maybe a Christian monk.

Giggle, giggle.

I know it feels clever ã in a junior-high, "were really gonna piss •em off with this” way ã to present a cover whose impact relies wholly on its ability to offend and hurt one group of people at the pleasure of another group, but I long for the day when the leadership at the Weekly is able to resist this urge and rely more often on genuine wit and cleverness.

Savages work succeeds largely because he can be outraged, hilarious and powerfully assertive without being gratuitously mean. One of his core messages seems to be "dont hurt people for fun, unless theyre into that sort of thing, and even then be sure you have a pre-arranged safety word.” In the insightful and informative piece teased by the cover illustration, writer Shannon Finnell relies heavily on an endorsement of Savages ethics by a Lutheran pastor. Yet the honchos at the Weekly still felt it necessary to rely on a particularly tired and brutish illustration technique whose only satirical "oomph” comes from its ability to offend Christians and entertain others who want to laugh at Christians.

Dan Savage deserves better. Shannon Finnell deserves better. Although you appear not to know it, you deserve better.

I know from a long career of writing and editing for print that its much harder to be truly witty and clever than it is to be dully smug and mean, but I think it would be worth your effort. If I knew what my pre-arranged safety word was with the Weeklys leadership, I would be saying it now.

Kevin Miller, Eugene



HE DESERVES BETTER

I was shocked to find in EW only a casual mention of EPD officer Chris Kilcullens death Friday, April 22, at the hands of a motorist. I read through the April 28 EW several times before finally spotting a one-paragraph reference to the shooting of Kilcullen on page 10 in the "Slant.” Even this mention was on the smarmy side. About Officer Kilcullen, a 12 year veteran of EPD who had received over 85 commendations among many other awards for distinguished service to our community, EW said: "We hear from many directions that Officer Kilcullen was a thoughtful and compassionate public servant with a high degree of personal integrity.” Maybe Im paranoid, but "we hear” seems to reduce Kilcullens positive character to nothing more than rumor. Then, with characteristic opportunism, EW uses Kilcullens death to promote gun control and the Million Mom March.

Officer Chris Kilcullen deserves better than a footnote. This should have been your cover story, and, failing that, at least you should have printed a full-length article honoring him. I hope that in the next issue of EW you will do the right thing.

Toni Hanner, Eugene

EDITORS NOTE: Our mission as an alternative newsweekly is to cover news and culture that the other media are ignoring. We intend no disrespect to the memory of Chris Kilcullen. His story is being well told.



SODOM & SANTORUM

The April 28 cover story demonstrated that EW will publish its syndicated columnist Dan Savages obscene definition of "Santorum,” but without crediting the source SpreadingSantorum.com or its inspiration, the former Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum who is on record supporting laws against gay anal sex that were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003.

Conversely, the mainstream press will only prudishly mention Santorums "Google problem” if he decides to run for president.

Fortunately, Dan Savages "Mark Twain” style of biting political satire is still protected as free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, by multiple U.S. Supreme Court rulings that bar politicians and public figures from suing for defamation, libel or slander.

Thomas Kraemer, Corvallis

EDITORS NOTE: Our understanding is that spreadingsantorum.com was a project of Savage Love. Savage had a contest to rename something kinky for Santorum, and all the finalists are listed in his column athttp://wkly.ws/123



CANT FOOL ME

After years of having my letters substantially edited by liberal R-G editors, Im changing my venue to EW where free speech is honored.

An old proverb declares that "A fool and his money are soon parted.”Soon enough, Eugene residents will be asked to part with some more of their money by voting on a so-called "temporary” city income tax for the Eugene School District.How ironic that on the very same ballot is a separate measure to renew an existing "temporary” tax.Somebody needs to call Ripleys Believe it or Not.

Looking at my Lane County property tax statement, nearly 40 percent of my tax bill is already going to the Eugene School District, including two "temporary” taxes known as Bond I and Bond II. One is set to retire soon, but only a fool believes that any tax is "temporary.” In fact, Measure 20-183 seeks to renew that "temporary” tax, while Measure 20-182 seeks to set in place yet another "temporary” tax for the district.

The Eugene School District is playing us for fools.Well, my momma didnt raise no fool, so Ill be voting "no” on both tax measures come May 17.

Don Richey, Eugene



MISDIRECTED ANGER

I went to the kick-off press conference March 8 for the Strong Schools Eugene campaign. As I walked up I saw 10 or so people donning Americans for Prosperity T-shirts and holding "No New Taxes” and "Reform PERS” signs. AFP is funded and backed by the Koch brothers, also the financiers of the Wisconsin debacle. It seems to be their goal to blame our economic woes on public workers, including teachers. I wanted to remind them that our current problems were created by Wall Street bankers and the overall paradigm of neo-liberal economics of the last three decades. I dont think they would have listened, so Im writing this letter.

We have experienced 30 years of failed voodoo economics. The assumptions of Reagonomics, that lowered tax rates on the wealthy would lead to higher tax revenues, were flawed. Now, instead of growing tax revenues, we have dwindling funds to pay for our needed public services.

Many of us were swept away by Barack Obamas promises of change. But we were deceived. Obama surrounded himself with the very architects of our financial demise. We cant look to the federal level for help. If we are to combat the stranglehold that corporations have on our government, we will have to struggle at the local level to build the institutions, safety nets, and protections that give our children real hope for a decent future.

I have two daughters, ages 7 and 5. When I look at them, I fear for the future they face. Will they have access to high quality education through high school? Will Social Security exist for them in their old age? Will the environment be so trashed by corporate malfeasance that a healthy existence wont be possible? I dont know. What I do know is that it is up to my generation to pass on a fighting chance to live decent lives. I will do my part by voting for the Strong Schools initiative.

Geoff Barrett, Eugene



ALL IN THE FAMILY

Sometimes people have the cozy thought that the small population of Oregon is like a family. It has functioned like that in the past. But it has been falling apart. First we disowned crazy Cousin Jake. Then we turned out crippled Aunt Betty. Eventually huge numbers of the disabled Oregon family were homeless and abandoned.

What causes families to fall apart? Addictions. Bad habits that are costly and have nasty results. Oregons addiction is two-fold. The oldest addiction is giving tax breaks to the rich. The later addiction is no government debt, no deficit. Most real Americans have debts. Oregon goes into debt by giving away tax revenue and believing that new taxes on the rich will cost everyone.

Well, this family, Oregon, has hit the very bottom on this addiction. Now it wants to "save” by throwing out whole families and children. The governors sick budget includes huge tax breaks to the rich and destruction of most of the safety net for children and families.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is the downscaled miserly welfare offered to families with children. It is paid for by a "block grant” from the federal government. Budget squeezers are planning to reduce the amount of time a family can get assistance from five years to 18 months. This huge cutback doesnt stop there. No provision is made for families who become homeless.

Oregon has shown no interest in helping the thousands of disabled people who are homeless and is cutting back the few swamped services that now exist. Adding thousands of Oregon families to the huge derelict community of discarded people is more than our community services and faith organizations will be able to care for.

We need a citizen intervention. We have to end the giveaways to the rich and the cuts to the poor among us. End the tax breaks. Fund our human services. Take care of our family.

Jerry Smith, Eugene



 

 




TAX TRANSITIONS UNFAIR

Many letters have been submitted to the EW and R-G both for and against Ballot Measure 20-182, the four-year tax for Bethel and 4J schools. And many authors throw numbers around as if they have actually read and understood the specifics of the ballot measure. You can make numbers say almost anything that you want, it happens every day.

I am not going to argue the need for the tax, or the fairness of who is and isnt taxed based on where they live or if they are a PERS collecting retiree. I do, however, take exception with the manner in which the tax handles transitions between the various proposed tax rates.

As written in the online Voters Pamphlet, Measure 20-182 "Summary” (page 6) reads: "The tax would be applied to Oregon Taxable Income ("income”) earned each year by Eugene residents between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2014. If joint income is $22,000 or less, then no tax would be paid. If joint income is between $22,001 and $35,000, then tax rate would be 0.35%. If $35,001 to $50,000: 0.47%. If $50,001 to $75,000: 0.75%. More than $75,000: 1.2%.

Examples: if joint Oregon Taxable Income was $30,000, tax would be $105; if $60,000, tax would be $450; if $90,000, tax would be $1,080.”

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? We are looking at Oregon Taxable Income (OTI), not Federal Adjusted Gross Income, so lets not get wrapped around that axle. What the pamphlet specifically avoids are those couples (same thing occurs for single filers, at lower income levels) who have OTI at or near the transition points. Those examples would be;

Joint examples: If joint Oregon Taxable Income was $35,000, tax would be $122.50; if $35,001, tax would be $164.50 ($1 OTI increase results in $42 in additional tax); if $50,000, tax would be $235; if $50,001, tax would be $375.01 ($1 OTI increase results in $140.01 in additional tax); if $75,000, tax would be $562.50; if $75,001, tax would be $900.01 ($1 OTI increase results in a whopping $337.51 in additional tax).

Single examples: If single OTI was $17,500, tax would be $61.25; if $17,501, tax would be $82.25 ($1 OTI increase results in $21 in additional tax); if $25,000, tax would be $117.50; if $25,001, tax would be $187.51 ($1 OTI increase results in $70.01 additional tax); if $55,000, tax would be $412.50; if $55,001, tax would be $660.01 ($1 OTI increase results in a mind-numbing $247.51 in additional tax).

How can this be, you ask yourselves, as I know I did! Even the federal government isnt this stupid! The federal government taxes you the higher rate only for that amount earned above the transition, not your entire income. But not our Eugene mayor and City Council, who either dont understand how federal tax rates transition, or dont care. Maybe they assumed no one will actually calculate what they have done. This proposal was rushed through in order to make the May ballot deadline, and was not fully and fairly planned out. Run the numbers for yourself, the information is available.

Stephen Clarke, Eugene



PEAKING OUT

The Fukushima multiple meltdowns have economic and political fallout along with the radioactive plumes.Peak electricity, globally, was probably March 11, 2011, the day of the earthquake (www.oilempire.us/peak-electricity.html has details). One impact for Oregon, the proposed liquid natural gas terminals on the coast, is less likely now.

Japan is the biggest importer of LNG since Japans geology (like Oregons) did not create fossil fuels.They now have more motive to outbid other importers to get LNG for their electric grids now that Fukushima Daiichi is offline permanently. There's still pressure to bring in more gas for the California power grid but Japan is desperate to pay more for the same, declining fuel source.

"Peak natural gas” in the U.S. was 1973. The U.S. now imports about half of Canadas natural gas production. Drilling in deep water in the Gulf of Mexico shows the easier gas (and oil) has declined. The new technology of "fracking” of shale gas is a short-term activity, not "100 years” of gas as the drilling industry claims. Shale gas wells deplete faster than conventional gas wells (documentation at www.oilempire.us/shalegas.html).

This winter, a cold snap in New Mexico forced some industries to close since there was not enough natural gas to go around. LNG opponents (EW, 3/31) who say these terminals might export natural gas should consider the political impact of gas depletion. Will the U.S. government allow exports when supplies here are harder to sustain?

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene



CHANNEL THAT EVIL

When all you "pro-lifer/conservative-spending” war pigs woke up on May 2 with a lingering hangover,did you lookat yourselves in the mirror and think about what you celebrated the night before? Look deep into your own glassy bloodshot eyes and channel that evil. It feels good to have the devil running through your veins doesnt it? Gloat for today, and I will join you simply because I want you to finally be appeased.

You celebrated killing on the Sabbath,too, so remember that the next time you sit in church. Think about all the thousands who were sent to dieavengingthe deaths of a few. Think of the hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children that were killed in the crossfire or gunned down for sport, (see Cpl. Jeremy Morlock, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, Col. Harry D. Tunnell, or Blackwaters Erik Prince for some examples of these sport killers) and think about how pointless all of this was.

We can pass around the presidential re-election Kool-Aid and temporarily quench our bloodthirsty values, but are we any safer? Was this a search for WMD's,oil reserves,or a war on terrorism? It's been so long, Imust have forgotten.

As we dust off an empty throne to the worlds most wanted, remember that glorified murder will likely bring more of the same.Ask yourself why Guantanamo Bay prison is still open today? Was it worth the rest of the world losing respect for our military, viewing them as a bunch of jackass perverts that torture and molest prisoners at Abu Ghraib?Was it worth the repetitivegang rape of Jamie Leigh Jones in a shipping container by hercoworkers at a Halliburton/KBR camp in Iraq?Was it worth spending billions of dollars that could have gone to something more constructive?

Think about the stains left on the souls of our children in the last decade, and the opportunities for them that we have selfishly thrown away.How will the next generation of youngAmericansbe influenced by our revenge for a desperate act carried out by a desperate group of misled individuals?At one point, those 9/11 terrorists were childrenbeing influenced by parents and elders in their place of worship too.

Randall Bonner, Corvallis



TANGIBLE STANDARD

I really enjoyed the income tax article (4/14), but really now ã aren't we still just addressing the effects and not the real cause of the monetary shortfall in this country, the Federal Reserve Bank? How many trillions of dollars we have watched just run completely out of our hands and into the arms of waiting bankers who have no interest in the general welfare of ordinary U.S. citizens?

JFK appears to be the last U.S. president who apparently wanted to go back to a tangible standard on which to base our monetary value, and he was murdered for it. Besides, the Fed is unconstitutional; as per the Constitution only Congress can only coin and print our money. Stop pissing away our money now. Elect leaders with the guts to stand up to the top end elites that are squeezing the last vestiges of us. America is now sick and dying. The cure? End the Fed now. Stop the interest payments to the Fed. Put our tax dollars back in our hands! C'mon Obama, don't be the same as the chickenshits that preceded you! Show us the hope you promised to deliver!

Jeff Sutton, Veneta