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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 7.28.11




BEING THERE

I wish to publicly thank Sacred Heart Medical Center for their “Bridge Program.”

Thank you so much for having such a wonderful program and for being there for me, without question, though from the start you knew I had no insurance to reimburse you. I was hospitalized three different times in the span of four months. I found all the hospital staff, volunteers, CNAs, clergy, counselors, nurses and doctors quite compassionate and caring.

I was suffering from depression and to receive a letter saying that my complete bill was being forgiven brought me relief beyond description. It is tough enough to pull oneself up from the depths of despair, but when you add on top of it all the worries of a massive hospital bill, along with the guilt you feel for the financial hardship you have brought upon your family, the thoughts of losing our home became very real during this medical emergency.

I know some in our community were not happy with the expense spent on our new community hospital, and I, too, still question its location in a flood plain. But I can attest to the healing powers of the river, which my wife and I could view from my hospital room. Once again thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and generosity. I promise to do what I can in my own simple small ways to give back to our wonderful Eugene/Springfield community. To those able financially to give to local charities, I would give my heartfelt recommendation to Sacred Heart’s “Bridge Program.”

I own my own small business and live a pretty simple life. To throw my own two cents into the pot, I would love to see some sort of (here comes that scary word) socialized health care system adopted by our country. I would also like to thank all those who had me in their thoughts and prayers as I found my way back up.

Tim Boyden, Eugene



INSURRECTION

Foreseeing a time that a rebelling political party would seek to do harm to the financial security of our nation for political gain, the framework of our government was amended to derail such an insurrection. Amendment 14, Section 4 states, “The validity of the public debt of the United States ... shall not be questioned.” The current turmoil about the unconstitutional debt ceiling would not be occurring if our leaders would just read the Constitution. Either we use our Constitution to govern, or we ignore it and lose it.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain



GOOD GOVERNANCE

Your recent cover story (7/14) about the majority of Lane County commissioners’ hard shift to the right ought to be a wake-up call for Lane County residents.

Whether it’s clean water or energy efficiency, the majority approach to public policy is to rely on voluntary compliance or do nothing at all. Either way, we have no assurance our watershed or residential energy conservation needs will be met. Good governance requires a commitment to policies that sustain the entire community, not just a few wealthy donors. Many of these decisions have been made without the necessary transparency for an engaged electorate to have informed consent as to their efficacy. I encourage EW to continue exploring the impact of county policies that affect us all.

Pat Reilly, Eugene



AUDITING STANDARDS

If the article by Mr. Pittman (“Auditing the Auditor,” 7/14) is even half right, there appears to be “trouble in River City.”

By definition an auditor is charged with the responsibility to audit — i.e. to evaluate — and report to elected officials with a copy available to citizens, the same as the Audit Division of the Oregon Secretary of State. The Yellow Book produced by the GAO establishes Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS). The Audit Division follows these procedures, and their website shows how it should be done. Is the police auditor following these standards? The reports by the police auditor must be available on the city website — the same as the Audit Division. If not, the city of Eugene is wasting more than $12,000 every month — on the police auditor.

I also see a couple of other problems. Mr. Gissiner could be facing civil lawsuits for conflict of interest and even criminal fraud, for taking a paycheck under false pretenses (saying he will do the job and he doesn’t — failure to do one’s job is extremely easy to document).

City of Eugene elected officials could be facing civil lawsuits for breach of fiduciary duty. When it comes to the police, elected officials have a much higher duty to protect the public. Waste of money by a bureaucrat is one thing; failure to provide the public safety is quite another.

They all could end up as named defendants in U.S. District Court for violation of civil rights and perhaps they all would lose their pensions. In U.S. District Court anything is possible.

In addition to financial audits, the Yellow Book standards cover performance audits, which evaluate the performance of a program or project against defined objectives, such as objectives for efficiency and effectiveness. See http://wkly.ws/133

Frank Skipton, CPA (ret.), Springfield



GOOD START

Many thanks for uncovering some of the real story behind the righteous — and malicious — county open meeting law accusations (“Shifty Politics” cover story, 7/14). It was right on the money.

The politically and ideologically motivated scheme to bring down Commissioners Handy and Sorenson began in earnest with a mass attack in 2009 on their frugal and far-thinking positions on the funding of 84 jail beds. Now the sheriff’s predictable need to defund those beds has been met with resounding silence by the present board majority, the rightwing zealots that they represent and The Register-Guard.

The Weekly’s cover story was a good introduction. I look forward to the next shift.

Robert Emmons, Fall Creek



PEDESTRIANS, TOO

Alan Pittman’s “Bike Plan Wobbles” (7/21) on the draft Pedestrian Bicycle Master Plan was articulate and insightful about the plan’s lack of teeth, but it misses an important point: It’s not a “Bike Plan”! This Master Plan focuses on both biking and walking. Bicyclists AND pedestrians! It’s a plan to increase biking and walking in Eugene!

Pittman writes passionately on the bicycle aspects of the Pedestrian Bicycle Master Plan yet says nothing about pedestrians! At the same BPAC meeting where biking was discussed, comments were made about the master plan’s lack of targets for sidewalk infill funding or increasing transit use, and why walking has to be not only safe but desirable. How do only bike issues and quotes make into the Weekly?

Over 80 percent of the people can walk and use transit today, while we hope for 22 percent by bike trips by 2031. While I love to ride my bike and don’t own a car, walking is still the simplest form of transportation. It requires no special equipment and is part of every trip even those that are made by bike, bus, or private car. Those who want to be part of the solution include people with disabilities, many in our aging population and people who can’t afford or simply don’t want to take the risks of riding a bicycle.

Remember when 50 percent of us walked to school?

Tom Schneider, Bike and Pedestrian  Advisory Committee Member



BACK-DOOR CHAMPS?

Could Oregon still be the national grid champion? That elusive national football title may come to Oregon — through the back door. That’s what I learned after I checked with the NCAA on the continuing investigation about a major illegality involving the Auburn team that beat the Ducks in the BCS title game. I verified the earlier published account about charges involving the Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner. When he asked NCAA reps if that investigation was over, it was reported the Auburn coach was told: “No, and you’ll find out when it is over.”

Sounds ominous for Auburn, but good for Oregon. If Auburn is found guilty and has to give up the BCS title, Oregon should inherit it! Then again, the NCAA is grilling Oregon about recruiting illegalities. If the Ducks are guilty, I wonder how they determine who gets the title as third place team. If the Auburn quarterback is found to have become ineligible because of charges involving illegal money for his father, maybe his Heisman would revert to the second place player, who happens to be from Oregon. Then again, he’s the focus of the recruiting investigation. But that’s another story.

George Beres, Eugene



ASKING RIGHT QUESTIONS?

EPUD today doesn’t read like the EPUD I used to know! I served on the Metro Waste Water Commission with Katherine Schacht and we worked together to serve the ratepayers with the best service possible. Katherine devoted many extra hours to make sure the public was well taken care of and with low rates, and she never missed the necessary details. When I read the R-G article it was hard to believe it was about the Katherine I knew and I had to wonder if maybe she was asking too many of the right questions to the wrong people. Any whistleblowers stepping forward?

Ruth Duemler, Eugene






THANK YOU, FOX NEWS

The entire flap over reciting the Pledge of Allegiance including Fox’s professional handling of it and the number of responses they received from outraged conservatives nationwide has been wonderful source of entertainment for me.

I think every liberal in Eugene owes Fox News a sincere, heartfelt thank you for deterring legions of right-wingers from ever stepping foot in our fair city.

Even if the city were swimming nude in a sea of cash we could never afford to buy that amount of positive publicity.

Now there are millions of quiet, out-of-town liberals who are thinking “Golly gee, if Fox News hates Eugene so much and all council members ride their bikes naked, we might fit right in. Let’s move to Eugene today!”

Tim Neun, Eugene



ISSUE OF FREEDOM

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at Stephanie Golubski-Stark’s comments (letters, 7/21) about George Brown not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Given that most conservatives/Tea Partiers and Libertarians are so anti-federal government I would have thought they would see George’s refusal as supporting freedom for each state. In reality, all Oregon elected officials should uphold what is engraved on the Capitol building in Salem:

“A free State is formed and is maintained by the voluntary union of the whole people joined together under the same body of laws for the common welfare and sharing of benefits justly apportioned.” 

That’s what our elected officials should be pledging to uphold. 

Dr. Virginia Lubell aka Wintergreen, Eugene



YUCKY BREWSKY

Since I don’t drink beer because it tastes yucky to me, I was happy to see on the cover of EW’s “State of Suds” July 14 that beer is 50 percent bullshit.

Bob Saxton, Eugene

 

 

THANKS, MEL

We would like to express our gratitude to Mel Pyne, outgoing CEO of PeaceHealth Oregon, for his service to our community. We especially want to thank him for his leadership with making sure that the new Nurse Midwifery Birth Center was built near the RiverBend campus. 

Our daughter was born recently in the peaceful, home-like setting of the new Birth Center. We have been impressed by the care and support that we have received from everyone who works there. Our community is so lucky to have this health care facility for women and families filled with caring and dedicated certified nurse midwives, nurses, lactation consultants, and staff. 

Thank you, Mel, and best wishes.

Eleanor Vandegrift and Deven Holmgren, Eugene



MORE BILLIONAIRES

Good news! There were 199 more billionaires in 2010 than the previous year, according to Forbes magazine. In addition to that, the U.S. Supreme Court is insisting we give corporations unlimited spending under our Constitution's “free speech” protection, so they can continue to purchase politicians to ensure they make even more. Meanwhile, people are struggling with job losses and cuts in wages, higher prices of food and gas and foreclosures on their homes. 

Also, environmentally, there is relentless pressure for more drilling, mining and blasting to extract more resources, doing irreparable damages to fragile ecosystems in our rivers, oceans, forests and farmland.

We should be creating jobs in clean, renewable energy, high-speed rail and family farming, but those industries don't have millions of dollars of “free speech” to buy legislators. The congressional newcomers of both major parties are doing quite well themselves. Forty percent of newly elected House members are millionaires and 60 percent of the new senators are millionaires. The system is working for them. The “Repulicrats” play games haggling over the budget, pretending to represent us, the average working Americans who make on average $30,000 a year, but we know who they are beholden to. They refuse to get rid of the sacred cows: the bloated military, tax loopholes and subsidies to big oil, coal, nuclear energy and the rest of the big money players. 

Good news? The rich are getting richer — at the expense of everything and everyone else.

Pamela Driscoll, Dexter



FAILURE TO PERFORM

Deficit spending is the failure of the executive to fulfill the function of staying within available revenue. The approved budget specifies what he/she may spend on and the maximum amount for each. This is not about political affiliation, nor nonpartisan position, nor even hired versus elected. Deficit spending should be grounds for immediate firing, removal, impeachment, etc., being a flagrant failure to perform the single most important qualification. Those unable to balance a checkbook should have not have access to one, let alone a credit card. When those providing the funding empower such incompetence by approving the accumulation/expansion of debt, we have a dangerous co-dependency no different than giving drugs to a drug addict.

In our system of governance, the Legislature finds and provides the money for government operations with the Executive spending the vast majority. 

With money comes strings restricting where it may be spent and the maximums. Since revenues and expenses are estimated and the budget always exceeds anticipated money, the executive is tasked with making the "final" spending decisions. He/she is authorized not to spend at all or less than the maximum authorized each line item to prevent exceeding actual revenues. Budgets undergo extreme scrutiny and deserve respect. It is a weak and irresponsible Legislature that allows alterations except in unforeseen emergency situations.

It matters not if the spender is the head of household, the tax district's administrator, the state's governor, or the union's president. Deficit behavior should not be tolerated; nor should the weak in the Legislatures be treated any differently. We are handed juvenile threats by these capital addicts to cover up their inexcusable failures. Just say no! We are the bosses and need not empower nor support such incompetence from our public elected/hired servants!

Keith Stanton, Florence