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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 6.2.11




VOLUNTARY TAX

Did you vote "yes” for the recent school tax measure? If we all sent a check for the amount we would have paid, or any amount, we could save some jobs and preserve school programs.

Mail checks to Eugene Education Fund, PO Box 1015, Eugene 97440.Mark the bottom left of the check for "4J staffing,” or "(name a school) staffing,” or divide your contribution such as "50 percent 4J staffing and 50 percent (name of school) staffing.”To donate online, look at the Eugene Education Fund website. All donations are tax deductible.

Perhaps some people who voted no might still like to make a contribution that would support the staffing of a specific school. Or soften the impact of prospective drastic cuts.

So, just do it. Write that check now. Garrison Keillor said, "Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.” Lets do this for children and for the quality of life in our community.

Paulette Thompson, Eugene



UNBALANCING ACT

It is all so clear now, makes me wonder why I didnt think of it: Just increase federal taxes and we can solve the budget deficits in all 50 states. Makes me wish I would have stayed in school and gotten a Ph.D. in politicalscience rather than a BS in accounting and a CPA license. I am certain I will never be an advisor to Congress.

Mike Tayloe, Springfield



FACTORY FARMING

Free press advocates have been outraged recently by bills in Florida, Iowa and Minnesota legislatures to prohibit the possession and display of videos of factory farming. Yet, for the meat, dairy and egg industries that push for these bills, the prohibition makes perfect sense.

A year ago, undercover investigators exposed Texas E6 Cattle Co. in Castro County chaining dairy calves in tiny wood crates and bludgeoning their skulls with pickaxes. Last June, Cal-Cruz Hatcheries in Santa Cruz, Calif., were found grinding up and suffocating live chicks. In August, Iowas Hillandale Farms and Wright County Eggs were forced to recall 550 million eggs for Salmonella contamination. If I was running one of those operations, I certainly wouldnt want people with cameras anywhere near my facilities.

Filthy conditions and cruel practices are likely to remain legal and commonplace on U.S. factory farms, and their operators will continue to avoid public exposure. Our only option as consumers is to stop subsidizing these conditions and practices at the checkout counter by shifting to wholesome, cruelty-free vegetables, fruits and grains, as well as grain- and nut-based meat and dairy substitutes available in every supermarket.

Edward Newland, Eugene



SALES TAX

Governor Kitzhaber was right. The way we fund schools in this state has to be changed. What we are currently doing is not working ã and it hasnt been for the last 30 years. During that time however, it did correct the economic gap between the rural and urban schools, which was good.

The band-aid approach of a city income tax was recently soundly rejected. It is a whole state problem. There may be some waste in the administration of school funds, but getting rid of that would not solve the massive problem of lack of funds to properly run the school system.

What we need to do is give all of us in the state a chance to vote on a new tax that will correct this 30-year-old problem. It has to be a tax that can be used only for education. It has to be subject to our approval, both in initiating it, or changing it in the future.

We could call it a dedicated education tax based on consumption. It would be in the state constitution and couldnt be changed without our vote. We would be back to the previous way where we voted on school taxes, only we would do it on a state level, instead of by each city.

Yes, there are some who would call this a sales tax, thats what it was called in 2002, when Sen. Carter submitted it to the legislature. They ignored it then, but it was a good idea, and even a better idea now. About five percent would cover everything from pre- kindergarten through community college, and it would have built in funds for income variance. Lets ask the legislature to give up their supervision of school funding and leave it to us. What do you think?

Bob Cassidy, Eugene



Non-Voters

The travesty of this recent vote against the city income tax is not that approximately 27,000 people voted against it. Anybody that has been to a Duck football game recently knows there are at least 27,000 assholes in Eugene, so no surprise there. The truly shameful thing is, that 47,441 souls in our fair city were either too busy, too lazy, too stoned, or simply too uninterested to even bother to vote. People in other parts of the world are dying in the streets for the right to vote ã 47,000 Eugeneans, not so much. Im filing this one under "W” for "we get what we deserve.”

Kevin OBrien, Eugene



CLOSING, TESTING SCHOOLS

I had always hoped that one day if I had children, Id want them to attend a public school just like Springfield Middle School (SMS). That, unfortunately, will be a dream unfulfilled, as SMS is closing along with a few other schools in Springfield ã and even more in Eugene are on the chopping block because of budget woes.

Presently, our schools are funded through property taxes. Since wealthy corporations pay little in taxes due to the loopholes that are hidden in the tax structure, we the taxpayers must demand that our elected local, state and federal officials close these loopholes. Wealthy individuals and corporations need to pay their fair share of taxes, too. If they did, our public schools and other public services would not be in the dire circumstances they find themselves in today.

I believe in public education, even though I know the system is flawed. Public school teachers have numerous constraints placed on them because of the bureaucracy in Washington. Regrettably, the government seems more interested in testing, testing, testing our students so that the United States can prove to the world that our students test well. But the staff at SMS and other public schools deserve to be recognized for the tremendous effort they put forth to help students find and nourish their passions while offering hope in these ridiculous days of testing.

I wish to express my gratitude and admiration to each member of the staff of SMS for providing a loving, supportive and fun-filled educational environment for the children of Springfield. I am honored to have worked as a substitute teacher there for the past few years where I have been treated with warmth and kindness. The talented enthusiastic public school teachers treat the students with respect and love, supporting them both academically and emotionally. There is a palpable feeling of intimacy that exists at SMS, and I believe this is possible because of the small class sizes and the dedication of the staff.

My fear is that if we dont collectively wake up and speak out about the inane way we fund our schools and assess our students, the public education that many hard-working Americans depend on, along with the personal attention and devotion that I witnessed in my time at Springfield Middle School, will soon become a thing of the past for every district everywhere.

Laura Farrelly, Eugene



COURTESY CAN KILL

This is a plea to all drivers out there who stop in random places to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the street. Please stop doing this. Traffic laws, while often worthy of a few curse words, are intended to create predictability and safety.

As a pedestrian (frequently pushing a stroller) and as a bicyclist, I often have cars stop in the middle of the block or at an intersection with no crosswalk to allow me to cross on streets where there are two lanes going in the same direction. These well-intentioned drivers do not realize that cars in the next lane continue to zip by, having no clue why they are stopped. Perhaps without intending to do so, the stopped car creates pressure to cross quickly exacerbating an extremely unsafe situation. Please just go!

As a biker, I wait (sometimes without putting my feet down) for approaching cars to pass. If the car, stricken by courtesy, stops to let me cross, I dont move. Cars doing strange things are to be avoided when you are on a bike. Why would I cross in front of it? Please just go!

As a driver myself, I almost hit a young girl who came dashing out from in front of an enormous truck pulling a boat that had stopped mid-block on Oak between 18th and 19th (a street with two northbound lanes). The girl could not see me, and I could not see her until she ran across my lane. Both the girls and my eyes bulged as our gazes met.

So please fight the urge to stop randomly for pedestrians and bikes. Nice sentiment, but a very bad idea. Please just follow the traffic rules.

Ann Kneeland, Eugene

Editors note: From an ODOT safety brochure: "Remember, under Oregon law there is a crosswalk at every intersection. Do not pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. A stopped car may be a clue that a pedestrian is crossing. When stopping for a crosswalk on a multi-lane road, you should stop about 30 feet before the crosswalk so you dont block visibility to a driver in a second lane.”



WAKE UP WOMEN

The cuts proposed in the U.S. House Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 and beyond (H. Con. Res. 34) are appalling. Eliminating $4.3 trillion over ten years in vital social investment programs that disproportionately employ women as well as disproportionately serve them, while extending $4.2 trillion in tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, is utterly irresponsible.

Converting Medicare to a voucher system and block-granting Medicaid would have serious repercussions for those who are already the most vulnerable. Fast-tracking benefit cuts to Social Security is equally unacceptable. We should instead be finding ways to assure long-term solvency and benefit improvements through raising the cap on taxable income and other means.

Capping federal spending at a very low share of the Gross Domestic Product is a recipe for paralyzing the government in times of economic crisis. The House budget proposal would head the nation in the exact opposite direction of where we need to go, deepening joblessness and further weakening the economy.

Right now, our number one priority is not to reduce debt or the deficit or spending. People need jobs. Women, who are being left behind in the recovery especially need jobs. Significantly more investment in job growth must be made to accelerate the economic recovery, even if the government has to borrow funds and run a deficit until recovery is secure.

Ethel Bassett, Walton



NO PED CROSSING

THE PEDESTRIAN RIGHT: The law as written states that an individual at a cross walk has the right-of-way. You can not expect the traffic at rush hour on 6th or 7th to stop for a pedestrian or bicycle, for that matter it wouldnt be appropriate. Pass a law that requires people walking, biking or cruising to be courteous.

Vince Loving, Eugene



ALTERNATIVE SPORTS

I would like to see an alternative sports section in your wonderful paper. I know for a fact that there are many fine athletes in the area that arent covered in the pages of The Register Guard or on sports spots on our local news channels. Roller Derby is first and foremost in my mind, as I am one of the Emerald City Roller Girls (and lucky enough to grace one of your covers for the Best of Eugene). I am also friends with many of the local rugby girls, on which yall did an AMAZING write up. I think it wouldnt take more than a half-page for you to showcase a few box scores for these fabulous leagues scores. Why stop at these two leagues, though? Mens rugby isnt covered by local news, but they are quite active as well and from what I understand, pretty awesome. Kickball too is another fabulous and hipster sport that finds itself loved for what it is, not what it is known for, as there is no coverage whatsoever. I have been a member of NWAACK (Northwest Association for Adult Competitive Kickball) for over five years now and there are actual leagues out there that have real games and they are playing their hearts out (not to say that we arent, we just drink a lot and have a ton of pick up game fun) without any kind of recognition.

I know for a fact that there are people who can supply you with easy box scores, without a whole lot of "blah blah blah” to accompany them, making this something that can be accessible to those who care and not wasteful of space that you so blessedly fill with meaningful stories that I regularly enjoy.

Many of the local sports teams also have local sponsors that would find it very fruitful to advertise in areas near these scores, perhaps. What do I know, Im just an athlete and a consumer.... but Im pretty sure beautiful things could happen....

Well, thats all. I just thought Id give you a heads up as to what Id personally like to see in yer paper as I tend to just read Red Meat, my horospcope, Savage Love and the local letters (in that order) for the most part.

I love you all and what you do and look forward to future issues!

Hearts and stuff,

Bullet Brains (roller derby) aka Fudge Munky (kickball) aka Erin Tiel (real?life), Eugene



FRED MEYER

When the Register Guard originally unveiled the 3 Civic Stadium options considered by 4J, a story about 4J teacher layoffs also appeared. It essentially explained that many teachers and classified staff would lose their jobs next year because of the deficit the school district faces. The juxtaposition of those two stories provided a sad commentary on our society.

How ironic I thought that the school district would lay off qualified, hardworking individuals and simultaneously decide to sell a community treasure to build a new shopping center. Is it spiteful to suggest the unemployed teachers would have four Fred Meyers to spend unemployment checks in? Maybe the laid off teachers could apply for jobs at the new Fred Meyer. Talk about irony; they might compete with students from local high schools.

Corporate commercialism appears to be winning the day; the proposed ultra-chic South Eugene Fred Meyer catches the school district in a safety net of dubious integrity. The thought of a large shopping center ® think the same footprint of West 11th or Santa Clara ã in the location of Civic Stadium should make us shudder and say with a collective voice NO! If you dont believe its potential negative impact, look at the affect that Robert Moses projects had on New York neighborhoods in the 1950s. The proposed Fred Meyer will be a knife in the ribs of the immediate vicinity- separating the cohesiveness of the area as well as putting many businesses on Willamette at a huge disadvantage. Put a new Fred Meyer in Glenwood; not in South Eugene.

The members of the school board in favor of the Fred Meyer option need a collective conscience that believes in long term good. Why should it? It should because the two injured entities, soon to be unemployed school district employees and neglected Civic Stadium, have provided an invaluable asset to the community. Each deserves respect that George Russell has yet to openly recognize. Respect is not found through bean counting but in a visionary outlook.

The bottom line for the school district and city council should be to choose the option that will be considered friendliest to South Eugenes Willamette gateway. However, Im not confident that a fair and enlightened judgment can be expected from either the school board or city council. Foresight has not been a strong point of Eugene city councils.

Jeff Simons, Eugene



Picket Civic

Eugenes Civic Stadium is a lot like Little Rock Arkansas Ray Winder Field. That ravaged field still stands today. On May 14, 2011 it was opened for the last time so that baseball hungry relic hunters could claim the remaining wooden seats. It has sat vacant since the 2007 baseball season. That is when the Arkansas Travelers minor league team moved to their new field, Dickey-Stephens Park, in North Little Rock.

Ray Winder Field is similar to Eugenes Civic Stadium in many ways; both have a similar seating capacity, both have home plate in northwest corner, both stadiums were built in the 1930s, both are nostalgic and historic, both are facing demolition, both survived replacement attempts and both have an apathetic citizenry to the preservation of historic baseball stadiums.

The motivation to build Ray Winder Field was different than that of Civic. Ray Winder Field was built in 1931 for their minor league franchise, the Arkansas Travelers. It was a tribute to the people and the franchise of Little Rock to build that stadium during the great depression.

Civic Stadium, on the other hand, was built for the school district so that local high schools would have a football field, and the municipality would have a baseball field. The money was raised through Eugene taxpayers, fund raising and the Works Progress Administration ã a 1938 Franklin Roosevelt initiative to help a struggling economy. The WPA provided the largest share of the money, $25,000. This was a major distinction between the two stadiums ã Civic stadium had to meet WPA standards for its construction.

Wikipedia writes about Ray Winder Field, "the field has been purchased by the University of Arkansas for the medical sciences, with all structures to be razed and the land cleared for use as a parking lot.” This is an important point since historic stadiums are being systematically razed all over the country. When Ray Winder field is demolished, Eugenes Civic Stadium becomes even more rare, an unbelievable relic of baseball architecture. Eugene has an opportunity to save this unique piece of history.

A friend of mine, a former assistant football coach at South Eugene High School, keeps prodding me to get him a piece of Civic when they tear it down. He can go to hell. If that comes to pass, however, I envision a line of trophy hunters from civic to PK Park. Yes, they would have a piece of Civic for their dens and garages. I say why not save the whole stadium, it is still not to late. Come on Eugene; lets rumble! Lets picket Civic.

Joe R. Blakely, Eugene