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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 8.4.11




OUTLANDISH ATTACK

Lane County sheriff union spokesman Les Sieczkowski recently used the county commissioners’ settling the partisan “open meetings” lawsuit against three Democratic commissioners as a lame excuse for not making minor concessions. How phony.

If anyone should have paid for the political harassment lawsuit, it should begin with Seneca Jones Timber/Sawmill, in whose corporate office former commissioner Ellie Dumdi was introduced to Salem lawyer Nathan Reitman, already chosen by Seneca’s top brass to be “her” attorney. Dumdi, who agreed to serve as a proxy plaintiff in this bizarre and totally unfair attack upon the county, hid from public knowledge the three-party legal fee agreement with Reitman wherein she was spared financial responsibility. So much for “openness”!

Coos Bay Judge Michael Gillespie’s outlandish verdict was, by most expert legal and judicial sources, destined to be overturned. Gillespie, no stranger to being reversed by Oregon’s Court of Appeals, blatantly legislated from the bench, distorting the intent of the open meetings law beyond recognition.

Commissioners Handy, Sorenson and Fleenor never met as a quorum to discuss the December 2009 funding of part-time aids. While the Judge declared Fleenor totally innocent of voting for the small supplemental appropriation, he unfairly ordered the county to pay thousands for his defense.

The current Republican board majority (Stewart, Leiken and Bozievich) could have successfully appealed Gillespie’s verdict, saving some $600,000 in unjust legal fees, vindicating the defendants.

They chose politics instead to reward generous campaign donor Seneca with taxpayers’ dollars. That’s the galling outrage.

Maryann Francis, Eugene



INTELLIGENT PROVOCATION

Environmental activists are tree sitting and blockading access to several timber sales in the Elliott State Forest. Many just came from a protest in Montana against Big Oil at the governor’s office, which made nationwide headlines (EW news, 7/28).

 During the ’60s civil rights movement, the strategy was to show how guilty a system that used violence against nonviolent protestors was. To do that freedom riders had to provoke violence — and to show it big time on every television channel and newspaper front page. 

When civil rights activists protested in Albany, Ga., a bit earlier than Birmingham, the city establishment was smart enough to do nothing, to let them demonstrate and to change nothing. There was no good publicity. They knew Birmingham was going to be different because they knew the chief of police was an extreme racist with very little self-control. 

Martin Luther King Jr.’s strategy in Birmingham, Selma and elsewhere was deliberate, though utterly peaceful, provocation. The north was on his side but passively. He had the northern press and television on his side, but King needed them to make vivid what it was really like because passive sympathy would never bring change — only strong outrage would. Jesus, Gandhi and King weren’t “nice” guys. They knew what they were doing. Of course, for each of them, the point was to show how deeply wrong the violent side was. The option to provoke violence in a legal, nonviolent way surely does not exonerate the violent. On the contrary, it is necessary in order to convict them. 

Environmentalists should think harder about how to show how deeply wrong and violent our way of life is to the natural environment. That may mean provoking violence in a legal, nonviolent but much more publicly visible way hitherto — for the purpose of restraining the violence of the state and corporations toward the natural environment.

Justice is the most important thing in our common life. If we must suffer violence for its sake, so be it. 

 Sam Porter, Eugene



UNEXPECTED

A UO political scientist expounding (accurately and articulately) on one of the many harmful effects of America’s de facto open borders policy (“Summer Jobs: No Americans Wanted” 7/28)? Never would I have expected such a piece in EW! Gotta hand it to you guys. But the UO lefties are liable to run Mr. Lafer out on a rail!

 Jerry Ritter, Springfield



KEEP THEM OPEN

I oppose the proposed closure of the north and south bike/pedestrian entrances of the Fairgrounds, and the removal of that right-of-way. Indeed, these entrances are already closed unless there is an event in progress.

The bike and pedestrian paths through the Fairgrounds form a very important connection between the College Hill/ Friendly Street and the Jefferson Westside/ Whiteaker neighborhoods.  

The proposed policy is being implemented without public outreach and without gathering the opinions of those affected by the closures. This is in direct conflict with Eugene’s triple bottom line, and with the goals of the 20 Minute Neighborhood initiative, Envision Eugene and most other City initiatives that I know of.

This represents a decided step backward in preparing for our future. Inevitably, gas prices will increase and auto use will decline.

Closing the bike/ped entrances reduces the connectivity of the bicycle and pedestrian paths, and reduces the “eyes on the street” in the Fairgrounds area, which is the best way to reduce crime and vandalism. The more traffic in the area, the better!

Increasing police patrols in the area would be a better response to any criminal activity, as would increasing the nighttime lighting.

Several women I know have expressed safety concerns about the closure, since this would force them to travel areas they see as more dangerous.

We ask the City Council and the county commissioners to oppose the closure of the north and south entrances of the Fairgrounds, and the removal of that right-of-way.

There will be a Fairgrounds right-of-way Hearing at 1:30 pm Wednesday, Aug. 17, at the Lane County Courthouse, 125 E. 8th Ave.  Please attend and make your opinion heard!

Duncan Rhodes, Whiteaker Neighborhood



GOOD COPS, BAD LAWS

A recent City Council summary reports 359 calls about illegal camping.  That’s almost 359 Eugeneans who’ve basically declared, “I am not my brother’s keeper. Come, remove these homeless campers and exclude them from our community, and please hurry!”

During past discussions I’ve had with police officers about camping, much to their credit, some actually confided to me almost apologetically, wishing they were not being used to deal with homelessness in such a manner, that their time could have been used towards more important priorities.

This proved to me that the way in which the city uses the anti-camping ordinance to enforce compliance is a perfect example of good cops having to enforce bad law.        

People, simply because you are freely invited to report such incidents, does not absolve you from the karma of additional suffering you place upon already hopeless and hurting individuals. 

Stop complaining and using our police as proxies for your anger and frustration!  Stop using our police and volunteers to do such dirty work in denying the homeless what little they have! If you must call, please request that they check the welfare of those campers instead.

This way, your concerns will be investigated, but you won’t be placing either side under such tense, adversarial situations, complaints will drop and you’ll feel better about yourselves as first responders, as good Samaritans, instead of overzealous, contemptuous, malicious and selfish.

Danielle R. Smith, Eugene 



TOO SKINNY

At first I thought, how clever to use BMI (body mass index) from driver’s licenses but then it dawned on me that the Fat Map (“Bike Plan Wobbles Along,” 7/21) is missing population density, which really makes the Fat Map invalid!

Linda Clark, Oakridge

EDITOR’S NOTE: The map documents average BMI per block and many areas in north and south Eugene have comparable population densities but apparently different body densities. The UO area has a high population density, but many of those scrawny young students do not have local driver’s licenses, and are therefore not counted.



POLICE PRIORITIES

It’s good to know the Eugene Police Department’s priorities. Call them to investigate property theft and they are unlikely to investigate, but get them involved in a $39 billing dispute and they scramble.

This week my wife had a mundane $39 billing dispute with a local massage business. She had called them to say that she had paid for two months but had not used those massages, and asked if she could make them up. She was told she could, so she scheduled an appointment for July 12. She was not asked for payment when she arrived or when she left. After she got home the business called her to say she owed them $39, which she disputed. They said they’d send it to collection and my wife told them to proceed.

So imagine our surprise when we got a call from officer McGann of the EPB on July 13, calling us from the massage business, after they called EPD to charge my wife for theft of service. 

After much discussion with officer McGann my wife agreed to pay the $39 rather than waste everyone’s time to dispute the charge. As a business owner myself, I’m really happy to know that I can involve the EPD in a billing dispute by charging my client with theft of service, and that EPD will scramble an officer to my business and will call the client to threaten a criminal charge. 

Other Eugene business owners: Be sure to use this incredible service EPD offers!

Norman Levinrad, Eugene



TORSO TRAUMA

Sigh. Thanks to the Pets issue (7/28), we’ll have another rash of complaints about a picture of a bitch exposing her breasts on your cover.

Glenn Leonard, Eugene

 

 

SCOBERT CHANGES

The other day, I went to walk my dog at Scobert Park in the Whittaker, like I do several mornings a week, and noticed that the city had removed a couple benches. I talked to the community members who were sitting at a picnic table under a tree that protects them from the rain and they informed me that the city has further plans for Scobert Park. Apparently, the city is planning to build a fence to prevent folks from sitting where they do now, something about making the park more "family friendly."

So I called Rob Hallet of parks and recreation and was told that they had plans to both build a fence on the east side and pull the shrubbery on the west side of the park to prevent people from hiding in there. Mr. Hallet said they weren't targeting the homeless population, they were just targeting illegal activity. When I asked how preventing people from sitting in the places that are out of the rain is not targeting the homeless, he informed me that right now, anyway, all plans are on hold because EPD wants to have meetings with Eugene Parks and Rec to come up with a comprehensive plan about the whole Scobert Park/Tiny Tavern "problem." I wondered out loud why the meeting would not be open to public input, especially from concerned Whiteaker community members, and he suggested I call EPD to get more information.

People have always hung out in this area. Actually, I've seen the situation a lot worse in past years. Why is the EPD and city making plans to have closed meetings to come up with a plan to fence out the folks who need this community asset the most now? Hopefully, we can all work together toward a viable solution for Scobert that will benefit everybody.

Darcy Weinshienk

Eugene



NO TICKET TO RIDE

In your July 14 letters, Mark Abell of Portland asks “Isn’t a university diploma supposed to guarantee economic security?” Although I graduated two years ago from UO and haven’t had a job yet that uses my degree or has provided me any real sense of economic security, I don’t like Mr. Abell’s assumptions. Let’s break it down. What is a university diploma? It’s a piece of paper that says you went to college and learned something. Mr. Abell, like me, probably learned a lot of somethings from a lot of intelligent and dedicated people, none of whom, I’m guessing, promised him a job after college. What is a university? It’s an institute of higher learning, a place where you can expand your mind away from the rules and restrictions of the real world. It’s not vocational school. A diploma is not a free ticket to employment.

I did learn these things in college: Our country has been headed for a rapid halt to growth and prosperity for quite some time. We may be just seeing the beginning of a long slide. Economic security? Most people in this country would probably say they don’t have it — college graduates, high school graduates, retirees, working people and especially the unemployed. You’re one of 14 million, Mr. Abell. Time to get creative, learn to live with less, get to know your neighbors and be ready to work a job you never expected to get when you were fruitlessly striving for that high GPA. Please don’t blame your education.

Tuula Rebhahn, Eugene



EMBEZZELERS 

The greaseballs we’ve been electing to represent our interests in Congress have embezzled $2.6 trillion in surplus cash from our Social Security trust fund accounts, replaced it with taxpayer backed IOUs known as treasury bonds, and spent it all on pork. It’s gone, y’all. FYI, $2.6 trillion factors down to over $8,300 for each and every one of us 310 million Americans.

And now that annual Social Security revenues will no longer keep up with payouts, that cash needs to be paid back to the trust fund, and guess where it’ll come from. Taxpayers. Yep, we’ll all be forced to pay higher taxes to fund our Social Security accounts a second time. 

Not only that, but the interest on those IOUs is both earned and paid by taxpayers, meaning there is zero benefit to that “investment” in treasury bonds. We’ve all been bent over by the D.C. sleazebags who hoodwinked us into voting for them. They make Bernie Madoff look like a Sunday school teacher. If Rep. Peter Defazio had a grain of integrity, he’d introduce a bill to confiscate every stinking penny from the Cadillac congressional pension plans and hand it over to our Social Security trust fund.

Then make all the scalawags walk the plank. Damn right.

Don Richey, Eugene

 

UTTER NONSENSE

If Stephanie Golubski-Stark had not mentioned her political leaning in her letter (7/21), the tired and childish conservative cliché gave it away: That Councilor George Brown, or anyone else for that matter, who does not conform to every “garsh durn” thing in these Citizens United States of Wal-Mart, can and should pack it up and go live on their own Red planet. 

To insinuate that not “pledging” is akin to undermining America's unity, is equal to the utter nonsense that Osama bin Laden's supposed death (yes I said supposed) makes the world a safer place.

Brown took an oath to uphold the principles of his position on the Eugene City Council, and that oath does not obligate him to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, nor does his choice to not recite have any connection to un-American activities, Socialism, terrorism, Islamo-Fascism, or any other -ism. 

As well, Miss G-S states that "he is not respecting the views of the people who elected him," insinuating that ALL who voted for him think the same, which is either disingenuous on her part or plain ignorance. What Brown chooses to do is act in a most patriotic, not idiotic, way as an individual member of this society, not under God-given freedoms, but by freedoms, "values and ideals" created by said society that are constantly fluid. 

A society, a culture, that does not question its own moral obligations from time to time, that does not amend and reconsider its self-appointed principles and ideologies, creates a sick and (a)pathetic populous, “patriotic” only to those in power who would use and abuse that power over the people. Ultimately, it is the culture of a society that changes the society over time, not laws.

It is conservatives like Miss G-S who waste our time trying to get us to focus on superficialities, like whether to pledge or not to pledge, rather than on more serious misrepresentations by public officials.

Sean S. Doyle, Portland



SOURCE OF MILK

Dear socialist utopian dreamers: Let me try to describe this in terms I know you have a deeper comprehension of: If you kill the mother, then the source of milk is eliminated and the dependent, incapable young will die. You have mistaken the government for the mother, when in actuality the government is just the teat.

Whether you know it or not, are duplicitous or not, your actions are slowly starving the mother while simultaneously increasing the load on the teats to unmanageable proportions. You will never get there from here. Message ends.

Scott Zeppa, Eugene



NEAR-MISS

The song was true to its name, nobody does walk in LA, but here in Eugene, it's a different story, am I right? With "bike highways" as I once described our bike paths as to some friends of mine I made while working out a contract in the City of Angels, I wonder if motorists still appreciate that a notable percentage of residents here commute the greener way.

What prompts me to rant a little stems from a near-miss with a lady in her stereotypical soccer mom SUV on her cell phone (no less) stopped at the drive to the Market of Choice on Cal Young in the Sheldon area, waiting not for me to cross, but for the obvious passing traffic. As soon as vehicular traffic was clear, she started to roll on out, not seeing me right in front of her! I'm 6-feet tall, clearing the hood of her gas guzzler by feet, and what do my eyes and ears have the pleasure of witnessing? Her attitude — that I would actually have the audacity to cross in front of her stopped vehicle. 

Ever since I moved to Eugene eight years ago, I have never once owned a vehicle. Never have I had the need or desire. Our public transportation and pedestrian access around this city is absolutely amazing compared to other cities I've lived in. With buses on time, EmX and bike lanes nearly everywhere, we have to wonder who is going to reassure residents that obstructions like talking on a cell phone, which is illegal, will be reinforced? Eugene police? I dare say they have enough to deal with. 

So, to you, our law enforcement personal, I propose taking a day, leave your flashy uniforms in the locker room, and take a walk around our beautiful city. Note how many motorists continue to neglect a law that is so important to the safety of pedestrians. Then put your heads together and figure out how we can prevent even one hit and run. 

Jeremiah Henschel, Eugene