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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 7.14.11




BUS PROGRAM CUT

I read with dismay that Oregon lawmakers recently decided to stop funding LTDs Student Transit Bus Program. Since 2005, this program has encouraged middle and high school students in the Eugene-Springfield area to take advantage of mass transit by providing them with free bus passes. According to Lisa Van Winkle, director of the program, student boardings on LTD have increased 42 percent over the past four years. With a cost of only $1.2 million per year, this program would seem to be a bargain compared to many other energy conservation programs.

At a time when energy conservation would seem at least as important as development of alternative fuels, why did the state legislature decide to eliminate this highly successful program? The funding for the Student Transit Bus Program came from the Oregon Department of Energys Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC). For those of you who have been paying attention to the Seneca biomass debate, the BETC should ring a bell. Seneca used these tax credits to cover half of the $20 million cost of the biomass facility. With additional federal stimulus funds and a guarantee from EWEB to purchase energy from the facility, Aaron Jones and company will be doing quite well for themselves. Our schoolchildren? Not so much.

Michael L. Quillin, Eugene



CREATIVE SOLUTION?

The state recently informed LTD they were cutting the $1.1 million grant that fundedthe student transit pass program.LTDs comment was that they have no hopes of finding a new funding source. This is typical of their new think-within-the-box attitude. "Theres nothing right now to suggest that theres new funding available,” and "Its just a tough economic time,” an LTD spokesperson said.

Before LTD became obsessed with EmX they pioneered this program. Creative thinking plus creative financing produced a successful program.

The ability of our children to conveniently get to school is a vital part of their getting an education. It appears that a majority of the 7000 daily student boardings were on regularly scheduled bus routes, and that on very rare occasions, busses were added to meet additional anticipated capacity requirements.

I suggest LTD continue the program, or a modified version, using the existing scheduled routes.Lets see what happens. We know there are empty seats on the buses.

LTDs mission is to enhance the community with responsive progressive transportation leadership.

Shame on you, LTD! You continue to fight for the unsustainable, oversized, unnecessary, overpriced EmX, but you roll over for the students.

Robert Rubin, Waldport



PERCEPTIVE REVIEW

I taught college and university drama courses for more than 40 years and have attended countless plays of all kinds from grade school to Broadway productions. I read local and national drama reviews frequently. I found Rick Levinsreview (6/16) of the Cottage Theatres production ofTheBoysNextDoorstraightforward, clear, perceptive, insightful andthought-provoking.

Reviews of local drama offerings usually tend, understandably so, to be overly generous and uncritical in their assessments. Levins sharp-edged review presents an important, challenging, uncomfortable point for us to consider: this cultures invalid use ofoversimplified, sentimentalized, stereotyped myths about the developmentally impared or mentally illthat present them as guides to wisdom and salvation.

No doubt Levin had an attitude and his knickers were in a bit of a twist, having suffered through the rude, disruptivebrayings of the middle-aged women sitting behind him. At any rate thank you for printing this review. To me it was drama reviewing at its best.

Jerome Garger, Yachats



MR. CITY ATTORNEY

Behave does not mean get out of town, Mr. City Attorney!

There are times in heart and mind when something desperately needs to be said, yet we realize that only we know what that is, how to say it, or if we should, knowing if we dont, nobody else will.

The result is that others will continue to suffer needlessly, because no one challenges the devils advocate, or his absurd, false accusations, whose use of Prohibited Camping Ordinance 4.815 violates the equal protection clause of the constitutions of the state of Oregon and the U.S.

When few legal options exist, campers are forced to choose the lesser evil as willful violators, and they are damned well justified in defending their freedom of travel, personal privacy and right to sleep! Choice of evils was already used to defend a camper in court; the city did in fact dismiss charges and set a precedent against itself.

Attorney Glenn Klein: Citizens of Eugene ã those stripped of citizenship rights, who are at risk of being stripped of all personal belongings ã deserve to know in exact detail how they are expected to behave.

Before your homies make fools of themselves and hurt more innocent homeless homies as willful violators having no compelling state interest, the unconstitutional portions of the ordinance should be severed ã not standing in court ã because to the best of my knowledge, the amendment was illegally inserted in violation of law, which requires a 10-day public comment period that the citizens of Eugene were denied. Now who is the willful violator?

Danielle R. Smith, Eugene



SWING IS OUT

The Eugene Swing Club hosts a weekly dance each Monday night that provides great times, clean fun, effective exercise, educational challenges that are available to all ages, affordability, and availability to mass transit in a drug-free and safe environment on campus! What is not to applaud? Yet the UO is eliminating this and all other community use of Agate Hall!

The Swing Dance Club has been using Agate Hall for 15 years. We pay rent annually and have an attendance of approximately 50 to 75 people weekly, bringing people from all over Lane County, Corvallis and Portland to dance West Coast Swing! We teach beginning dance to intermediate level. Each year our members travel the competition circuit in the U.S. to compete and bring home championships. They bring honor to our local dance community and to the UO, as most learned while being students.

The UO has arbitrarily decided that they do not want to rent out Agate Hall to any community groups with the exception of ROTC, the Law School and the School of Journalism. Agate Hall has been used by the Native Plant Society, the Russian Theater group, Lindy Hop and East Coast Swing groups, and numerous others since being acquired by the UO from District 4J.

The ROTC is a priority of the president of the UO; it is a high priority according to letters sent to club members! Meeting the demand they have for space is more important than allowing the community to continue to use one of the few dance floors available to community members.

Does the UO really need this space each Monday night? Does the UO really need to alienate current students, alumni and community members in this way?

It seems to me the UO does very little community service that is not money- making. Come on Eugene, show some outrage!

Join us on Facebook at Eugene Swing Dance Club; write to the UO president with us.

Linda Shaver, Springfield



AGAINST THE WALL

John Davis (Viewpoint, 7/7) writes well of the relationship between the public and private sectors. I have spent the last four years on the board of commissioners of a local utility district, most recently as vice chair. Theres nothing like such service to give one an appreciation for all our public employees do.

We take for granted that when we turn on our faucets clean water will flow and when we flip a switch the lights will go on. But I believe few understand or fully appreciate the work and dedication of those who make these conveniences possible. Our districts public employees have made us feel very privileged to have them as part of our team.

Thats why it has been so gut-wrenching trying to deal with financial realities, which Davis partly nailed down: "Union membership has steadily declined in the private sector, along with private sector wages, benefits and security.” I will add to that the disastrous free trade agreements, gross malfeasance by the financial sector and those charged with its oversight, crushing regulations, a totally irresponsible, inept and bought-off Congress and other factors that have body slammed the U.S. private sector, especially the working class.

All of these factors have cost millions of private sector jobs ã jobs that arent coming back anytime soon if at all. The result is that the ability of the private sector to fund the public sector has deteriorated badly and is likely to continue on a downward spiral.

The Left wants to "tax the rich” (more) to fix this problem, but with tax code loopholes big enough to sail a supertanker through, how effective would that be?

I wish we could continue giving COLAs, full or nearly full medical coverage, sick leaves and other benefits that are increasingly rare in the private sector. But were up against a wall, as are the boards of most small utilities. Unfortunately, I dont see a light at the end of this tunnel.

Jerry Ritter, Springfield



ENLIGHTENED UP

I am very fond of the brief comments by your mini-columnist, Rafael Aldave. Hes a man of wit who puts his ideas succinctly, gives his analysis briefly and has his heart in the right place.

Henry G. Campbell, Jr., Eugene



PIGEONS DOWNTOWN

This letter is to set the record straight. I was misquoted several times in the Weekly article June 30, "Meeting Eyes Behavior Downtown.” Specifically, the author missed my point when I suggested giving the truly homeless an opportunity to preserve their dignity by charging a small amount of money (or work) for a meal. This is actually being done with good results in other Oregon cities.

The "pigeons” mentioned in the article are the people who often have homes, but come for the summer and freeload off of Eugenes excellent services. The Dining Room is definitely not "bird feed to feed the pigeons” (a quote the author attributed to me).

You wouldnt know it from the article, but I really love living in downtown Eugene.

Sherrill Necessary, Eugene

EDITORS NOTE: In the story, Sherrill Necessary was quoted referring to homeless individuals as "pigeons” and services offered by the city as "bird feed” during a discussion about behavior issues in downtown Eugene.



BRIGHT FUTURE?

I recently graduated from Portland State University. The tone of the ceremony was optimistic and suggested that bright futures await us 5,000-plus graduates, which I hope is true. However, market conditions suggest otherwise: Matthew C. Klein published an article in The New York Times March 20 titled "Educated, Unemployed and Frustrated,” which chronicles the fact that 11.2 percent of college graduates under 25 years of age are without work.

Consequently, as a 22-year-old graduate, this situation concerns me personally: Despite maintaining a high grade point average during my academic career and submitting applications for hundreds of entry level positions, Im concerned that I may be homeless within a matter of months unless I can quickly obtain work. Hopefully, the job market will rebound soon, otherwise I may soon be living on the street. Isnt a university diploma supposed to guarantee economic security?

Mark Abell, Portland



A NOVEL IDEA

With the economy down, high unemployment and entitlement putting a strain on the budget, I have a solution to cut overhead cost. Lets start by eliminating the handicapped, elderly and the poor. They contribute nothing to the economy. The elderly spend their time in idle retirement draining Social Security. Raise the retirement age to 70. Anyone above that age ã eliminate.

The handicapped are an obviously a waste of money. Do you know how much these unprofitable folks cost Medicare and SSD? If they have two perfectly good limbs, give them a shovel or broom and put them to work or else. Think about how much money we save by getting rid of all that excess. Not to mention all the housing and resources freed up for people who contribute to society ã you know, the ones who work.

The state cant afford these deadbeats living off the earnings of the rest of us. Either you are a contributing member of a capitalistic, consumer driven economy or you are a loafing socialist who thinks you are entitled to a free handout from the government. Only the fit and productive are allowed to live in this freedom loving country. God bless America.

This is Swiftian satire of course, but some might think this is a good idea ã be afraid.

Alisa McLaughlin, Eugene

 

 

DECISIVE VOTE

In Dan Neal's letter July 7 regarding MUPTE, (Multiple Unit Property Tax Exemption), he states he is only using the tax incentive provided in the MUPTE legislation to help generate economic growth in the area and is offended by Alan Pittman's article June 23 portraying this as an "irresponsible tax giveaway." Neal fails to mention that the most advantageous economic growth factor lies in his investments via this tax break, and the millions of dollars in long-term income he stands to gain from taking advantage of it.

On July 20 Mayor Kitty Piercy may cast the deciding vote on whether or not to use budget funding to extend this $1.5 million tax exemption for another 10 years to Neal and other developers like him. Millions of dollars of future income for these zealot developers depends on this decisive vote.

The MUPTE is a well-intended incentive that offers the break if five or more multi-unit projects are built in two main areas ã the university area and west Eugene. However, it has been misused and exploited by over-development in only the university area and at the expense of valid community concerns including over-development, parking, congestion and privacy issues.

The gross injustice of extending a tax break to a multi-millionaire developer, for a second time no less, certainly justifies grounds to lobby against this travesty of budgetary disbursement. In light of all the budget cuts, school closures, teacher layoffs, police department cuts, slashes to children and family services, and a plethora of other truly, worthwhile causes this $1.5 million should go to, renewing this sizable tax break during a budget crunching year defies logic and should not even be on the table for consideration. One of the provisional rules of receiving this incentive is: If it is in the public interest to do so, the incentive will be allocated. Clearly, Dan Neal is in violation of this provisional rule by his egregious manipulation of this tax break.

I hope that community members directly or indirectly affected by this will come forward and lobby against the extenuation of this tax exemption. Mayor Piercy has always been generous in her attention to the concerns of the citizens of this community. We have a good chance of helping to redirect this part of the budget to a far more worthwhile cause than giving one of the wealthiest developers in the area, another big, fat tax break.

Nicolette Helm, Eugene



ISRAELI APARTHEID

"We are in urgent need of jobs, we need to restore vital public services, and we have to fund social programs to meet the needs of our fellow Eugeneans, including the most vulnerable among us."

I appreciate Anne Bridgman's and Michael Carrigan's effort (Viewpoint, 6/23) to inform us about where our tax dollars go and how they could be better used. It's also important to know that we continue to pay for Israel's 63-year occupation of Palestinian land. Israel's 10-year allowance costs U.S. taxpayers $30 billion. Oregon's share could buy: affordable housing grants for 3,472 families, primary health care for 231,588 Oregon citizens, early reading education for 8,455 children and green jobs training for 4,747 unemployed.

Our foreign aid to Israel violates both the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which prohibits U.S.-supplied weapons for any use other than legitimate self defense, and the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act which prohibits foreign aid to any country with a repeated pattern of human rights violations. For more information see www.aidtoisrael.org and www.weaponstoisrael.org

In addition, U.S. citizens lose revenues from the tax-exempt status of the Jewish National Fund which should be challenged and eliminated. The JNF solicits contributions to "Plant a Tree in Israel,” misrepresenting itself in the U.S. and some 50 other countries as a charitable environmental organization. In truth, the trees are planted on illegally confiscated Palestinian land, often to conceal depopulated and destroyed Palestinian villages euphemized as "reforestation.”

The JNF was established in 1901 to acquire land in Palestine for exclusively Jewish use. Its land is held in trust for "those of Jewish race or descendency” living anywhere in the world, and its constitution explicitly states that its land and property is not to be rented, leased, sold, or worked by non-Jews. This racist policy remains unchanged today. The JNF is the principal instrument for greenwashing Israeli apartheid. Those interested in joining the growing opposition campaign can contact www.stopthejnf.org or the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network at www.ijsn.net

Mariah Leung, co-director, Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Eugene