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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 12.1.11




FOLLOW THE DUCK BUCKS

In a time when transparency is in high demand, it seems fitting to be drawing our attention to the covert operations of our beloved ducks at the UO. The distribution of money within this academic institution is not in line with the university’s mission to provide “a continuing commitment to affordable public higher education.”

As an out-of-state student responsible for funding my own education, the idea that tuition has risen 200 percent in the past 10 years is astonishing given the fact that average wages have remained stagnant since the 1980s. Where’s that money going? Not to academics. In the past five years, the athletic budget has soared from $47 million to $76 million, whereas the UO Foundation general academic scholarship funding was cut $1.4 million. The salary distribution of faculty, classified staff and administration has been all but transparent — administrative allocation increased by $2 million while faculty and classified staff have not received adequate compensation as their workloads increase.

As a part of the future generation of citizens and decision-makers, I feel cheated by the university’s dishonest representation of academic affairs. I may quack like a Duck, but I am here to learn — and I ask that others stand in solidarity with the teachers who provide our education and with the students who pay for it. Join the Occupy Eugene Education Alliance for weekly meetings, from 3 to 5 pm Tuesdays in the Ben Linder Room EMU Amphitheater, to support equitable resource distribution within higher education.

Christa S. Linz, Eugene



NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Gary Crum’s Viewpoint (11/17) should be titled “Misleading” instead of “Unconstitutional.” Crum argues that the Lane County commissioner’s redistricting decision violates the U.S. Constitution’s “equal representation” mandate because the plan improves the chances of a “conservative” winning a “liberal” incumbent’s seat.

Crum is simply wrong. Neither the Constitution nor any statute bars redistricting based upon the political preference or party of the electorate. There is, in fact, a long and storied tradition of doing so; it’s called the “spoils system” — to the victor goes the spoils. As the U.S. Supreme Court has explained, “a jurisdiction may engage in constitutional political gerrymandering.” Hunt v. Cromartie (1999). 

The Constitution does bar gerrymandering based upon race. Crum does not allege the commission majority engaged in racial gerrymandering. One would be hard-pressed to imagine how it could in an 88 percent white county.

Politics ain’t bean bag. The sooner the commission’s liberal minority and its supporters stop acting like cry-babies, making bogus accusations, the sooner they can reestablish the majority they once enjoyed.

Andy Stahl, Eugene



CRUM’S THINKING

Gary Crum’s Nov. 17 Viewpoint reads almost like a legal brief in a lawsuit attacking the redistricting of their own electoral districts ordered recently on a 3-2 vote by the Lane County commissioners. Ideally, redistricting decisions would be made by an objective outside body, but we are bound by the present system and our only immediate recourse is litigation.

Immediately beside Crum’s article on the same page is Ann Tattersall’s letter expressing only her unhappiness with the decision. She makes no effort to persuade others of her opinion, instead using the insult and exaggeration (“Wonderland Tea Party” and “return us to medieval times when commoners were subject to the whims of layers and layers of royalty and aristocracy”), which we are all subjected daily by the ever-coarser advocates on every public issue.

My hopes are two: that Crum’s thinking will find its way into a legal proceeding and that Tattersall will control her anger and use her energy to persuade others of her position.

Gil Campbell, Eugene



VOTING ISN’T ENOUGH

The County Commission now has a 3-2 right-wing majority thanks to the election of Tea Party Jay Bozevich in 2010. The new right-wing majority gerrymandered Lane County in a way that will make Rob Handy’s North Eugene District more conservative and provide an opportunity for a 4-1 right-wing supermajority. Most readers probably don’t know or don’t remember that Tea Party Jay beat his progressive opponent by only 3,000 votes (15,610 to 12,540.) Voter turnout was a measly 42 percent.

That same year Republicans managed to gain enough seats in the Oregon House to give them an even split with Democrats. They’ve killed lots of good legislation and degraded everything that passed. 

Right-wing City Councilor Mike Clark won his seat [unopposed] in 2006 and was reelected in 2010. He has had no serious challengers from the left in a district that supported Kerry and Obama. He has consistently represented the 1 percent on a closely divided council.

Eugene had to endure Republican Jim Torrey as mayor for eight years. In 2008 he nearly beat Kitty Piercy in a nail biter. In 2010 Gov. Kitzhaber narrowly defeated Republican Chris Dudley. 

If the 99 percent wants to take control of our local and state government, we must raise expectations. Increasing participation in get-out-the-vote campaigns is crucial to winning elections. Come election time, we need to do more that fill out our ballots. Many more of us must volunteer to phone-bank, canvass, and register voters. 

Joshua Welch, Eugene



MY AMERICAN DREAM

I hear a lot of talk these days about the American Dream and I must admit, much of what I hear doesn’t sit well with me. Sure, I’m grateful to live in a country where people can dream, work hard and achieve their goals. But too often, it seems to me, the American Dream gets equated with making lots of money, having a big house, and retiring to a life of luxury. This is not reality for most people. And it never will be because there’s simply not that much to go around.

My American Dream, and the dream I hope to pass on to my daughter through my words and actions, is this: “I dream that you will have what you need — enough money, time, friends, resources, intelligence, and skill to provide your family with food, clothing, shelter and whatever else you need to make your life joyful and full. If you have more than you need of any of these, I hope you will share. Look around you. There are many who do not have enough. I also dream that you will realize how lucky you are to have been born in such a beautiful, diverse, and influential country, where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are assumed to be birthrights. I hope you will take your luck, work hard, be grateful, and do something to make the world a better place because not everyone has such good luck.”

This is my American Dream.

Beth Stein, Eugene



CITIZENS FOR JOBS?

Where are the “Citizens for Jobs and Schools” now?

It’s been six months since Citizens for Jobs and Schools raised $100,000 to defeat the city of Eugene’s income tax proposal that would have gone to Eugene’s schools. More than 100 teachers, custodians, teacher assistants and other school employees have been laid off, the class sizes have increased dramatically and the remaining school employees have had their pay cut and are working harder than ever. 

I am wondering how many jobs the Citizens for Jobs and Schools have created since May and what have they done to improve the education of our children in overcrowded, underfunded schools? Specifically, what has Jennifer Solomon done for our children lately?

Pete Mandrapa, Eugene



A TURTLE’S WISDOM

The “Sprawl Envisioned” story by Alan Pittman (11/17) suggests that city staff view it as their job to enlarge the urban growth boundary (UGB) to enable developers to build more sprawl development. Given that the reigning orthodoxy is that any and all growth is inherently a good thing, this comes as no surprise. But city staff and developers alike may wish to familiarize themselves with the laws of mathematics, physics and geology that state that within a closed system like a planet, growth cannot continue. Urban growth depends on finite, nonrenewable resources that civilization is using up just as quickly and frivolously as market forces dictate.

When a turtle is threatened, he retracts his legs and head into his shell. Likewise, instead of continued, outward growth, Eugene should pull itself in, strengthening and improving upon what’s already here instead of creating more flimsy, automobile dominated sprawl. Even the U.S. military is now warning that demand for oil is about to outstrip production, leading to shortages, price volatility and social unrest. As automobiles have an average life expectancy of about 10 years, and buildings much longer, we shouldn’t keep designing for the age of endless growth and happy motoring when that’s about to begin winding down.

Robert Bolman, Eugene



PUBLIC STREET SALE

There has been a hearing about a important issue and local media have failed to inform you about the issue or the hearing. At the hearing I successfully urged the Eugene City Council and mayor to leave the record open for two weeks in case the public is able to become informed about this issue. 

UO is ready to buy and close Moss Street to serve the private needs of elite donors who would like to park near the Nike arena. UO claims Moss Street will remain open. They are full of it. This southeastward surge by UO planners should be opposed by Eugene residents. 

UO has considered nanotechnology labs for the Moss Street area and there is still a indoor track proposal that the UO Foundation would like to find a site for. The City Council and mayor need to get feedback from the community opposing this street sale and closure/ privatization proposal as soon as possible. The last day to get input considered before they vote on approving this sale is Dec. 3. Call the local TV newsrooms and ask them why they have refused to cover this UO land banking news story (and the recent city of Eugene deliberations surrounding it). 

Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene



FOLK OVER RACISM

I prefer punk rock myself, but I would rather listen to New Age folksingers than the racist caricature of African musicians that Matt Watkins shared with us in his letter (11/17) about KLCC. Far from clever, his words revealed either ignorance or prejudice, and there is no excuse for the first or the second.

Ryan Foote, Eugene



IN PRAISE OF MUSIC

Being a long time listener and supporter of public radio in Eugene (KLCC/ KRVM) I have read with interest and concern the past month’s letters regarding recent changes in KLCC’s lineup. Like Elizabeth Figueroa (11/10) I do not necessarily like every program that KLCC airs, but I respect their attempt to please their diverse listeners and contributors. KLCC serves as my primary news source (NPR) but, unlike her and Matt Watkins (11/17), music is the strongest draw that keeps bringing me back to the station. I do not believe that I am in the minority. 

KLCC is the only public radio station that offers such a diverse music agenda including informing their audience of who they just heard. While an iPod may permit folks to listen to tunes they are familiar with, KLCC continues to surprise me with new musicians and songs that serves to broaden my musical interests. There is no other station like it! The majority of public radio stations have gone the way of talk radio. I mourn their loss. I hope KLCC does not follow their footsteps. If it does our community will have lost a valuable asset, and I will have lost a radio station and friend.

Dennis Griffin, Corvallis



NEUTER NUTRIA

We are told that nutrias, brought here years back for their fur, as a non-native species, are causing damage. They breed rapidly. They must be killed. Around our “compassionate” city of Eugene, the nutrias are trapped in live traps. The traps are then immersed underwater, so eventually, these water creatures unable to come up for air, drown. What a horrible, unforgiveable way to kill. And why kill? Why not take these trapped creatures to the shelter, as is done with feral cats, neuter and release? Why not prove, through such simple humanity, that ours is a compassionate city, respecting the living creatures around us in all their forms?

Joan Dobbie, Eugene 



DEFAZIO’S ‘TRUST’

Ever since government came to its senses and realized we can’t go on extracting resources from our public lands forever and without limit, wealthy timber companies and their rich owners have been looking for a way to sidestep existing regulations and nullify the barely adequate environmental safeguards we have in place, so they can go on exploiting public forests and make more millions just like they did in the ‘60s, ‘70, and ‘80s.

Currently, Congressman DeFazio is considering the idea of allocating one half of Oregon’s BLM lands to a “trust” dedicated for commercial harvest. This is just another attempt by timber barons to coerce government into opening up public lands in the Coast Range to more logging because they have already depleted their own holdings to the point where they aren’t profitable enough to satisfy their greed. 

Reed Wilson, Corvallis



WIRELESS MESH

Oh, EWEB how far you have come — maybe not. Ugly building spread out on acres of land; meanwhile, brownfields near the rail yards go unused. Wait, you’re a public-user supported company, a co-op so to speak. Next it’s the wireless noise of thousands of smart meters. 

So let’s rethink this. A) If you’re going to provide thousands of wire transmission devices why not simply and for a lower cost put a 5ghz wireless transmitter, with a digital pulse reader on the existing meter and then create a regionwide wireless mesh (like a spider web) giving customers faster than European/Asian internet performance for $9.95 a month or less. The emergency services could use this network as a backup in the event of a major cataclysmic event. Or B) use the actual light to create a 1,000 times faster network that uses light waves. See http://wkly.ws/14w

It’s all energy, wireless or wires, competition, gives Eugene a technology upgrade. The device would cost half what they are currently purposing, and new technology jobs and opportunities would grow from the seeds.

Let make something great for us all. Email wirelessinternetforall@gmail.com

 Mike M. McCallum, Eugene



A VITAL PROGRAM

I am writing this letter to state my concern about the recent closure of the Lane County Boys and Girls Club. This program was a vital asset to so many families in our community. It is these types of programs that give adolescents and children appropriate outlets for social interaction, as well as providing much-needed childcare for many families in the area.

The Boys and Girls Club was able to provide after-school care for up to 259 children in the Eugene/Cottage Grove area, for the small membership fee of $20 a year. This allowed a number of families who could not otherwise afford childcare a safe and nurturing environment for their children to spend time. I worry about the families that cannot place their children in other after-school programs, and how this affects their employment, as well as daily family dynamics. Without these programs, many of the older children will have to stay in their homes alone, resulting in isolation and boredom that can lead to troublesome and sometimes destructive behaviors. 

The Boys and Girls Club is hoping to reopen on Jan. 3. In the interim, it is their goal to raise $150,000 in order to get things back up and running. This program relies heavily on donations and fundraising, so as a community I encourage all of us to do our best to support this program and others like it. They are vital to our community. It is our responsibility to work together to make these programs available to the children that need them.

Kathleen Jolly, Eugene



TRYING TO RECONNECT

While I was waiting in line to grab some lunch at LCC, I overheard a conversation going on and a few key words popped out. A big one being the word “Mexicans.” Me being a big ole Mexican, I brace myself. I wait, and boom there it is: “Why do we have to learn their language? This is America, we speak English!” Blood rushes to my cheeks as the two women in front of me laugh to themselves. This is a conversation I have heard many times over; it still affects me. 

My grandmother and grandfather moved to California from Mexico in the late 1950s. They both worked and raised a family, all the while trying to assimilate into a culture that would never really accept them. When I was a little kid, I remember my grandpa trying to teach my brothers and me Spanish, so we could in turn better communicate with our grandmother. In our English-speaking world, we didn’t want to learn this weird language, none of our friends spoke it, so why should we learn it right? We were disconnected to our culture at an early age and it wasn’t until I moved to Oregon from California, a little over 10 years ago, did I really feel that disconnect. 

So now I’m in my 30s trying to reconnect. Luckily through time I’ve gather enough Spanish words that I can carry on a conversation with my grandmother and throughout the years she has learned enough English to talk to me. She still has shame around her accent and is reluctant to speak English to anyone she doesn’t know. It is sad that this beautiful 84-year-old grandmother has this shame surrounding her Spanish drenched English speaking voice. It is because of intolerant folks with entitlement issues that this kind of shame exist. 

Yes, we speak English in the U.S., but we also speak so many different languages. You aren’t the only ones here. Get over it. 

Marlena Zaragoza, Eugene



OCCUPY THE HEART

We may be the 99 percent of the U.S. population, but as American citizens, we are still the wealthy elite of the global population. We are among the 1 percent with access to a college education, highly quality health care and clean drinking water. As broken as our political system is, we still posses a great deal more political freedom than our brothers and sisters of the less “developed” nations of the world, the people whom we directly oppress through our daily support of the very same corporations we decry. 

We buy shoes manufactured by abused children working in sweatshops in Asia. We use cell phones and computers containing rare and toxic elements controlled by guerrilla forces in central Africa, killing innocent civilians and endangered species in the crossfire. We eat bananas, sugar and chocolate grown on slave plantations throughout Latin America. We further desecrate and pollute our own land through resource extraction and the dumping of toxic waste. 

We are collectively responsible for the resource wars being fought across the globe. We maintain our consumer lifestyle at the expense of all others. We are all conditioned by our parents, school teachers, government “representatives,” corporate media, etc. to accept this short-sighted and self-centered version of the American dream. 

We could all use a bit more love and compassion from our friends and neighbors. However, if we are going to survive as a species (or evolve beyond our present circumstances), we are all going to need to make some very drastic changes in the way that we relate to one another and the more-than-human world. 

The one thing I have discovered which has never failed is the willingness to listen to the heart. Through meditation and/or contemplative practices we are able to deepen our connection to a source of strength and clarity which is needed now more than ever. 

Nathaniel Nordin-Tuininga, Eugene



JUVENILE NAME-CALLING

Responding to violence with violence ensures the escalation, not the eradication of violence. We want to avoid becoming that which we abhor. So perhaps its time we actually live by our ideals and become the change we want to see in the world. 

It can start simply with our use of language. Stop this juvenile name calling, and actually acknowledge the people that we don’t agree with as we would want to be acknowledged by them. 

Every time you print the terms “gun nuts” or “wing nuts” you are stooping to their level, and you are becoming the very ignorance you criticize. Additionally, you are fanning the flames of conflict instead of rising to the challenge of reconciliation. Grow up. Evolve. Expand your compassion to all living creatures. Don’t be so lazy as to resort to insults to categorize entire populations of complex human beings. 

Or not — the future is yours to live in.

Robert Gans, Dexter

 

LETTERS POLICY: We welcome letters on all topics and will print as many as space allows, with priority given to timely local issues. Please limit length to 200 words, keep submissions to once a month, and include your address and phone number for our files. Email to letters@eugeneweekly.com fax to 484-4044, or mail to 1251 Lincoln, Eugene 97401. 



 

 

 

THANKS FOR ONLINE SCHOOL

November is the time of year we start focusing on Thanksgiving and what we’re all thankful for. I think for us it’s a time of reflection on the events of the year and our children. We’re thankful because we have an online school like Oregon Connections Academy (OCA) which has allowed our family to come closer by participating in our children’s education, and by providing us with a more flexible schedule. 

We have a fifth grade son and a second grade daughter enrolled in this program which is free and it’s part of the public school system in Oregon. They tried the traditional brick and mortar school in our neighborhood but they were bored academically. Then we attempted home-schooling, but weren’t sure we could meet all their educational needs. 

With OCA, my children get a well-rounded education tailored to their abilities, allowing them to progress at their own rate to keep them challenged. As parents were are also learning coaches and more involved in their studies. This kind of school enables us to see our students excel academically and gain self-confidence.

OCA provides our children with an outstanding education with caring, supportive teachers who go above and beyond to help our children reach their full potential. The teachers have helped my kids become more independent and self-motivated. 

Our family also likes the flexibility we get with OCA so our children can be in sports, music and art classes. We also have the opportunity to attend fun and educational field trips with other OCA families all over the state. In our area we even have the option of weekly get-togethers so the kids can play and bond. 

OCA is perfect for our family and this Thanksgiving we are thankful to have this educational option for our children. 

Kim Guy, Eugene



FUNGAL SIGNS

I’m surprised by how much some businesses along 6th, 7th and 11th avenues care about public transportation. And whatever else their political action committee can devise.

Daily I drive 6th, 7th and 11th and marvel at how the anti-EmX signs appear like toadstools — on trees, public rights-of-way (that's illegal) and on the lawns of national franchises. I guess these businesses can display anti-EmX signs because they care so deeply about us.

Funny though, I rode the EmX a number of times (car in the shop) and found it to be an improvement. Students with bikes, seniors unable to climb steps, those in wheelchairs, and young parents with strollers walked or rolled right on to the bus with ease and little delay.

Currently, regular service must deploy a wheelchair lift, and bikes are hung on the front of the bus. Conveniently, EmX loading platforms are level with the bus floor. During my ride, the bus was full or almost full. My college-age, bus-riding daughter thinks the EmX is "fantastic" and an improvement over regular service.

I've lived in Eugene for 34 years, and am not giving up my car anytime soon. Growing up in New York City, however, I learned that business and commerce could not function there without buses and subways. And as a kid I went all over the place on public transport.

There was a time when some businesses fought the building of subways and expansion of bus routes, and the changes they brought. I guess they preferred manure and horses.

Leslie Weinstein, Eugene



JUST WRONG

To the dumbasses riding bikes down River Road at 5:30 pm Saturday, Nov, 26. You and your cohort need to learn the rules of the road, chump. You were not justified to punch the back of my car. I hope you broke your hand! 

I was pulling out of a shopping center at the Dollar Store and you came out of nowhere even after I had stopped and established my position. You were wrong on two big counts: You were riding on a sidewalk and you were going the wrong way on a busy street that has bike paths clearly marked to indicate which direction motorists are expected to see a cyclist. I looked for pedestrians first on the sidewalk, then moved into position. No one expects a faster cyclist. Stopping or slowing down wasn't an option?

The moral of the story: Pull your head out of your ass and share the road like the rest of us. Happy holidays.

Jeff Albertson, Springfield