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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 9.22.11




RUDE DUDE SPEAKS

Driving around Eugene in my politically correct Prius I am mostly polite. But this is a pretense by which I achieve, if not invisibility, at least some modicum of non-noticeablity. Actually I am a misanthropic old codger widely viewed as a real rude dude. I always feel ridiculous even participating minimally in this stupid, diseased culture.

Luckily for Eugene the presence of my wife tends to ameliorate hostile outbursts and encourage a diplomatic demeanor, especially in the fall when university students swell the ranks of imbeciles one encounters on the streets. Don’t want the old gal to start shrieking because I take a notion to bestow a lesson, sans tuition, on one of the arrogant little twerps.

However, my wife is not always present while I am politely tooling around town. Then those cocky campus brats better beware. Want to play the punk who swerves from lane to lane, kicking in the afterburners when unoccupied pavement appears, terrorizing cyclists and pedestrians? I am not always the most astute when it comes to taking my medication and something snaps in my brain and I’ll be on your tailpipe like white on rice. Congratulations, you’ve acquired the attention of someone who not only despises the hokey legal system but champion chumps like you who make the hokey legal system marginally significant. You now have a double dose of rage locked on your bratty butt like a Sidewinder missile on a MiG-17.

Your only reasonable recourse at this point is to pull over and endure one of my five-minute polysyllabic jeremiads, for which I am so famous. Believe me, I’ll not squander much time. After all, if you had any brains you wouldn’t be pickling the neural mush slopping around in your skull at an institution of liar earnings ... er, higher learnings.

David H. Tyson, Eugene



KNOCK DOWN THE DOORS

Our new school year is stacking up better than the Republicans and other right-wingers could have dreamed! At one elementary school in Eugene where class sizes reach 37 students (in classrooms built in the 1950s to hold 20), experienced and gifted teachers were crying in the hallways during the first week of class because it is impossible to give attention to individual students in a class of 36. The expected increase in class size of four students somehow changed over the summer. At this school, class sizes increased by 10 to 13 students.

Districtwide, teachers and staff hours and pay were cut, many staff and teachers were dismissed, four elementary schools were closed, classrooms that were stuffed to maximum capacity last year now are over capacity, and each teacher has to teach more students in less time. Meanwhile, administrators at district headquarters got raises. 

If I were a parent, I’d be knocking down the doors at district headquarters, demanding the district respond to this emergency by making more resources (money, classrooms, teachers, staff, supplies) available in the classrooms, now, this week.

This doesn’t mean we have to build bigger schools with bigger classrooms in which one teacher can “manage” 40 8-year-olds, as corporate bullies insist. That is not what children need!

Ann M. Tattersall, Eugene



NO SMEAR CAMPAIGN

When south Eugene voters elect a county commissioner to serve again and again, we do so for solid reasons. We choose someone dedicated to progressive values, great quality of life, open government and the natural world — someone prepared and accessible. That’s why Pete Sorenson has been our commissioner since 1996. 

Pete’s diligent support for schools, parks and public participation is well known. He is consistently engaged in a substantial range of concerns. At town halls, on radio, in the courthouse and through his helpful responsiveness to constituents, Pete whole-heartedly goes the extra mile. 

Hopefully, there will not be a smear campaign based on the bogus lawsuit under Open Meetings Law. The judge reached conclusions far beyond the statute, yet the new majority refused to challenge his decision.

Now they’ve dismissed the county lawyer who wrote what should have been a winning appeal. Any attempt to use this lawsuit to obscure Pete’s record deserves to be thoroughly rejected.

With renewed commitment to Pete, south Eugene voters have a chance to demonstrate that our neighborhoods and businesses are places where public awareness, critical thinking and education still prevail.

Elaine Weiss, Eugene



TOXIC INVASION

Today (9/9) Giustina Land and Timber deliberately sprayed a toxic mix of pesticides by helicopter less than a mile from my home. There was no notification of neighbors and no concern for health issues among neighbors or for children waiting for school buses at that early time of day. Neighbors have written letters and attempted to at least initiate dialogue with the company so that those with health concerns could evacuate. There was no consideration for these needs.

The closest neighbors watched the helicopter go back and forth spewing its deadly cloud, frantically locking their goatherd in the barn to prevent contamination of their pasture and their milk. No one had forewarning of the spray date to allow them to cover sensitive areas of organic gardens.

Frankly I am disgusted. I believe timber companies have the right to conduct business, but in the close proximity of neighbors they also have the responsibility to be responsive to community needs. I hear the Giustina family is proud of their community involvement, so does this mean that we can thank them for future cases of cancer, Parkinsons’s disease, autism or a host of other conditions caused by toxic contamination?

Robin Winfree, Eugene



GOOD OLD BOYS

The UO administration spins a tidy excuse for the UO administrators’ decision to reward the good old boys’ club instead of spreading the wealth around. The gravy train always invents an excuse (for there is no reason outside of selfish ingratitude and greed) to reward themselves first and best, with few historical exceptions. Why is it, with wealth and power, always “more,” never “enough”? The rich get richer and congratulate themselves for a job well done. The rest of us can go suck an egg, if we can find an egg, if we can afford said egg.

Austerity, like prosperity, needs to be applied equally. 

Where is the integrity? Oh, silly me. I forgot. There is none left. It was sold.

 Sarah Ruth, Eugene



BICYCLE RIGHTS

It’s sad to hear about another bicyclist struck to death by a motorist recently. It seems apparent that bicyclists have fewer rights than most people in our society. 

Pedestrians have miles of seemingly endless sidewalks which they deserve. However, bicyclists are subjugated to ride in the gutters or so-called bicycle lanes with broken glass, rocks, disintegrating manhole covers, potholes and speeding vehicles that may cause our death each day we decide to brave these city elements.

This is not to mention distracted drivers, while answering their cell phones or tuning their radios or spilling their lattes. could kill any bicyclist in the blink of an eye in the so-called “safe” bicycle lanes.

Is it not time for the denigrated bicyclist to demand the same rights as pedestrians and motorists and that being in the form of some bicycle-only streets in this city and every city?

How many more of us must die before we demand these rights to pursue our healthful lifestyle? I call all Eugene bicyclists to dedicate 12th Avenue as a de facto bicycle-only street and memorial to the bicyclists who have been struck down until our rights are realized.

Shannon Wilson, Eugene



DIRTY AIR WARNINGS

So our Lane Air Pollution Protection Agency has asked the public to cooperate and not burn wood in fireplaces and stoves. How about Seneca burning wood 24 hours a day, making breathing difficult and harming our lungs? In some communities laws have passed that stop all children playing sports, with football practice only in early morning hours and running halted for the duration of heavy pollution. Maybe we need to have schools and the university implement some restrictions?

Ruth Duemler, Eugene



GREEN JOBS LACKING

The “green jobs” everyone was anticipating never developed. Why? Because what little manufacturing in the U.S. that has not been off-shored is highly automated. Very few people are employed in modern American factories. The next great challenge facing humans on this planet is life after fossil fuels, which will require the transition to compact, car-free 3D eco-cities of mid-rise, mixed-use buildings incorporating urban farming and local agriculture: eco-cities powered by decentralized combined heat and power systems that generate electricity and heat at the same time fueled with waste-to-energy processes from locally available organic wastes, such as biogas from anaerobic digestion and thermal gasification of pellets from annually renewable dry wastes like straw, city maintenance debris, twigs and branches. Not solar panels. Not hydrogen. Not Algae. Not liquid biofuels. Stop funding such nonsense. 

Those hundreds of thousands of green jobs everyone has been waiting for are available immediately the day we begin this transition: construction workers and equipment operators to build these new urban centers and mixed-use buildings, manufacturing and operating the generators, steam boilers and turbines, district heating systems, anaerobic digesters and wastewater package plants and local and intercity passenger and freight rail infrastructure. 

How do we fund this? Simple. Tax the wealthiest Americans the 90 to 92 percent they paid in the 1950s to fund the nation’s interstate highway infrastructure. Stop allowing a handful of sociopaths who hate their children to sabotage our country’s future for the other 307 million of us and let’s get America to work. 

Warren Weisman, Eugene



DODGING THE DRIFT

I am 11 and live on a farm on Fox Hollow Road. We have goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and a large organic garden. We drink milk from our goats, eat cheese made from the milk and eat the fruit and vegetables from our garden. Giustina Land and Timber Company want to aerial spray a clearcut next to my house. They want to spray Escort (banned, in most of the EU countries), Oust, Polaris, Accord, Garlon 3A and 4, and Milestone VM. They are thinking of spraying one or all of these herbicides starting this month. Some of these chemicals stay present for many years. 

Giustina thinks that if they aerial spray it won’t hurt anyone in our valley. However, I am worried that after they spray in the air, it will drift, get to our goats, our milk, our vegetables … us. These herbicides can also get into our well water and we would drink them. It seems unfair that they can aerial spray herbicides that are potentially harmful to so many people, so many animals and last for a long long time. To me, it seems like they should only be allowed to spray from the ground so there won’t be excess herbicides in our valley.

Zoë Sing Hoff, Eugene



OVERZEALOUS REPORTING

In response to Ian Rapp’s “Unsupervised” letter (9/8). A quick heads-up for Eugene parents who may not be in the know: You may have more to fear from an overzealous mandated reporter targeting your family than actual child abusers!



I worked in the field of child welfare for 8-plus years. Unfortunately, neglect is not as simple to diagnose as a 6-year-old in a park. Mr. Rapp would know this if he were trained as a child welfare worker (one year) with a master’s degree in social work (two years), rather than simply as a mandated reporter (an afternoon). 

I walked eight blocks alone to school when I was 6. Neglect? Most would argue “no.” Those of us who have worked in this field know that recognizing neglect requires looking at the whole picture. This is why DHS actually uses trained professionals to do investigations, rather than taking the word of every caller. The large majority of calls to DHS are unfounded.

And, more importantly, where is your compassion, Mr. Rapp? For someone allegedly concerned about children and families, I worry that you have so little consideration for parents attempting to raise children in a society with shifting norms!

P.S. It is absolutely never OK for a mandated reporter to compromise an investigation by questioning the child, parents and neighbors. Please let the professionals at DHS do the investigating! And mandated reporters — please keep reporting! DHS truly depends on your eyes and ears to keep kids safe!

Laura Lawver, MSW, Eugene



HARMFUL IDEAS

In response to Ian Rapp’s letter “Unsupervised (9/8):

As a parent of a 6-year-old who takes his dog on short walks and plays at the park near our house (sometimes with friends, a parent, or his elder brother; sometimes solo), I reject the self-proclaimed moral authority of Mr. Rapp over my parenting. 

From a good and natural desire to keep our children safe, so many of us have accepted irrational fear as responsible thought. Without reflection, many overstated and unlikely threats seem real and immediate, and unwittingly, we can teach our children some truly harmful ideas, about the world and about themselves: There are dangers lurking around every corner, and you cannot handle it. 

As recently as 1979, the navigation of an eight-block path to and from school, a park, or a friend’s house was considered an age-appropriate milestone for kids entering the first grade. In a single generation, we have gone from being a society that expects this behavior of children to one that reports it to authorities and publicly calls out parents as negligent. Children have not lost some special skill in that time; they have not become less capable. And the world has not become more dangerous.

Like now, the future will present major problems that need solutions. It will call for people who are hopeful enough to think it is worth it, and capable enough to act. How in the world will they learn to do this if we don’t let them out of our sight for an instant? 

To set the record straight: the school buses allow first-graders to get off the bus and walk home without a guardian. It is not illegal, it is not immoral, it is certainly not neglectful. 

And just to say it: Having cared for their pets in childhood, I have faith that my children will have both the ability and conscience to handle what this world throws at them. How about you, Mr. Rapp?

Amary Taylor, Eugene

 

STUPID EVENT

Silliness again reigns in Eugene with the “Eugene Sunday Streets” Sept. 18. In The Register-Guard article Sept. 6, the city of Eugene makes some outrageous statements, such as:

1. “Eugene’s streets are among the largest public spaces but they are mainly used by motorists.” Hello! It’s a street, it is supposed to be used by motorists. Pedestrians can and should use sidewalks and bikers the bike lanes. That is their intended purpose. I, for one, am glad that the activities suggested by this event (dancing in the street, walking in the street, turning it into a party, etc) are not done in the street on a daily basis. Wouldn’t that be dangerous? That is why we have parks, front yards, sidewalks, etc.

2. The article asserts that pollution will be reduced. Forcing people do wait at intersections or drive a longer route because of detours will increase pollution, accomplishing the opposite of what the event advertises. Closing a section of street will do nothing to make people consider other modes of transportation.

3. The event is advertised to cost about $25,000. Surely the city of Eugene can come up with a better way to spend that money than inconveniencing motorists for the sake of another party. 

I support alternative transportation, but this event is just stupid. Wait, there’s Ninkasi beer! 

Rich Peters, Lowell