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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 12.8.11




UO’S ANGRY MOB

A mob formed at UO’s Mac Court last night (11/30) — an angry mob of faculty, staff and students ready to confront the demonized OUS Chancellor Pernsteiner and board member Lynda Ciufetti. It was called a UO Faculty Senate meeting, but its tenor was that of a mob.

As I sat, daring with a handful scattered around the arena applauding the demonized, I was harassed by a person sitting nearby. To be demonized for applauding — that is mob-inspired intimidation.

A line formed for audience comments. Here are the questions I would have asked:

How many of you support the UO becoming a more corporate, a more private university — as would ultimately happen under the new partnership plan? How many realize that we are showing the state our back side — acting as if because of Phil Knight and other corporate donors, we can go it alone?

How many classified staff realize that if we lose the connection to OUS, we will stand alone against this mob to bargain for our fair wages and benefits? How many realize that going it alone makes each OUS university easy pickings for corporate scavengers to gain control of Oregon higher education? 

How many of you support taxing those corporations and wealthy individuals so we can fairly fund all OUS universities, rather than let them control us by throwing their money around? How many faculty canceled office hours or appointments with students to be here today? And aren’t the students the reason we’re all working at this university?

Hope Marston, Eugene



4J’S GOOD CATCH

The EW interview with Shelly Berman (cover story, 12/1) demonstrates what a “good catch” 4J made in a new superintendent. Shelly’s expressed views are in accord with progressive educational leaders in this country.

This is especially the case with respect to the way to approach evaluation to encourage positive professional growth. Shelly has a long tradition of excellence in fostering this approach. The professional growth evaluation system he developed for his district in Massachusetts became the model for that state. Shelly also has the same approach to student assessment — use of assessment to encourage and support student achievement.

It is nice to know that Shelly has the school choice issue on his “to do” list of issues to address. I have begun to gather this year’s data. Predictably, the disparate impact of choice has continued — despite a decade of attention to 4J’s two-tiered system of inequitable schools.

For example, only 15 percent of Charlemagne’s students are on free and reduced lunch, compared to nearby Edgewood, from which it pulls 88 students, which has 28 percent of its students on free and reduced lunch. Family pulls 77 students from Chavez and River Road. Only 9 percent of Family’s students are disadvantaged racial minorities (American Indian, black or Hispanic) compared to 34.5 percent at Chavez and 44 percent at River Road. Corridor pulls 90 students from Howard. Only 11.7 percent of Corridor’s students are disadvantaged racial minorities, compared to 27 percent at Howard. All of the alternative schools have far fewer students than the board has determined is the minimum size for an elementary school.

Perhaps under Shelly’s leadership, 4J can finally become a district that ensures high quality equitable education for all students, not “exclusive schools” for the more advantaged.

Nancy Willard, Eugene



WE’RE NOT TO BLAME

Judging by the appearance of identical letters in The Register-Guard (11/22) and EW (12/1), Pete Mandrapa is really trying to convince a lot of people that the group Citizens for Jobs and Schools is somehow responsible for the dire situation in our public schools. What Mandrapa doesn’t understand is that this group had very little influence on the outcome of Ballot Measure 20-182. To reiterate what so many people expressed in this forum and others, the measure was so fundamentally flawed that there was absolutely no chance of its passing. He concluded his letter by wondering how many jobs Citizens for Jobs and Schools has created since May, when the measure was defeated.

My question to Mandrapa and to all the others who supported  20-182: Did you write a check to the Eugene Education Fund for the amount that you would have paid in additional taxes had the measure passed, and will you continue to write a check for this amount annually for the next four years? Or are you just full of hot air?

Dave Taube, Eugene



OCCUPIERS SHOULD STAY

Dec. 15 is fast approaching, the date the city of Eugene has designated to reevaluate its position on the Occupy Eugene encampment. Will the Occupiers be asked to move on, or will another period of time and perhaps another place be agreed upon? I don’t think there should be any more deadlines; nor do I think the Occupiers should be asked to move. This is a gathering of citizens exercising First Amendment free speech rights and a model community meeting needs (for the homeless, for example) the city has failed to address. It isn’t just something for the people temporarily living there — it’s a center for the whole community.

As such, it will be defended by many if the city sends police to try to break it up, as has been tried in New York, Portland and other locations. This could easily lead to unpleasant incidents and stories in the national and world press that won’t reflect well on our city. I hope city officials see fit to rise above their petty concerns for “health and safety” that are in truth a cover for fears about loss of control, and allow Eugene to provide an example for other cities of peaceful transition — probably over years — to more equity, democracy and sustainability than it will ever attain under the current old-style political system.

Maggie Springer, Eugene



GUNS PLUS BEER

 I am the parent of a sophomore at UO. I recently learned of the judicial decision allowing concealed weapons on university campuses. I find the existing gun policy appalling, shortsighted and shockingly unintelligent. I think it is fair to assume that very few students have a responsible understanding of handling life-threatening weapons, and many students who would carry these weapons might be under the influence of alcohol while possessing them. The risk of death from misuse of weapons and alcohol related accidents far outweighs the risk of victimization from other criminal activity.

Parents place their students in university custody with the assumption that appropriate safety decisions will be made at all times on campus. It is not safe to have students carrying loaded guns in their pockets and beer in their hands. Plain and simple.

 I implore the legislature to reverse this decision immediately by enacting a new law that prohibits concealed weapons on universities across Oregon. If any legislator resists such legal reform, my first question to them will be: “Are you funded by the gun lobby?” If legislators who are funded by the gun lobby do not act quickly to amend this statute, I can only assume that they are elevating their own political interests over the safety of my student child. That is not acceptable and voters should remove such legislators from office in the next election.

Rebecca Biddle Wood Hardesty, Boise, Idaho



CHOICE OF DRUGS

 I found the recent feature article on medical marijuana (11/3) confusing. It was purportedly about a federal crackdown on medical marijuana, but then mentioned busts unrelated to medical marijuana. Yes, there have been overreaching threats to the industry, but these cases don’t illustrate that point.

 The author went on to intimate that patients can’t obtain medical marijuana and that one local dispensary is singlehandedly meeting their needs. Yes, some patients have trouble obtaining their medical marijuana. A bigger story is that the Oregon Legislature secretly raised the fees for OMMP patients, with the intent that many would drop out of the program because they can’t afford a card. That is sure to drive them to the black market.

 Sadly, the article barely mentioned one of the most important aspects of medical marijuana — it helps people decrease or eliminate their use of more dangerous drugs. In a survey of our patients this year, 66 percent had used medical marijuana to quit or decrease their use of pain medication! Oregon (and the feds) are making a big mistake when they ignore this fact. Most people don’t want to be addicts and will choose a less harmful option for treating their pain. This documented harm reduction strategy not only saves on the cost of drugs, but can prevent health care costs due to adverse effects of opiates, and even avoid rehabilitation expenses.

 Marijuana prohibition is an important issue that deserves better than this kind of coverage.

Cheryl K. Smith, Eugene



MORE ZOMBIE TIPS

My friend and I were relieved to discover the Zombie Apocalypse survival kit in the Weekly. Particularly, we were glad to see inclusion of ever-useful duct tape. But, we believe you have left out a number of critical items that should be included in any robust zombie ready kit. The year 2012 is but a month away so let’s get down to brass tacks here: 

• Item 16: machete. No zombie-fearing citizen will be able to sleep soundly with out a machete under her pillow. $11 at Eugene True Value.

• Item 17: night vision goggles. How can anyone expect to spot zombies during those long, frigid, frightening hours between dusk and dawn without of decent pair of NVG’s? Plus there is some utility in the fright factor in looking like a member of the riot. Just ask the LAPD. $70+ at Action Surplus 

• Item 18: high powered crossbow. Didn’t you guys know that zombies can hear gunshot blasts from miles away? Anyone interested staying alive would do wise employ a high-powered weapon that doesn’t elicit a zombie feeding frenzy by loudly broadcasting the user’s coordinates. DIY on the cheap, can be made with everyday materials important in any apocalypse situation.

Olallie Stahl Wellborn, age 11 zombie expert, and Angela Navarra, Eugene



THE ART OF PIZZA

Wow, a pizza letter! I was excited. I grew up in New York and consider myself somewhat of a pizza snob. Like bagels, knishes and Italian ices, there are some things that we New Yorkers know about and pizza is up at the top of that list. So, Bill Shaw (11/17) writes that pizza in Eugene sucks (almost agree) and that the closest thing to the real thing is Provisions. So what do I do? I run right out and try this delicacy. Big mistake. 

The remark that La Perla is a close second should have tipped me off! No, let me correct that: The remark of PRI being no good should have tipped me off. Let me set the record straight. PRI is delicious and awesome! But hey, it’s not really “pizza.” Provisions and La Perla, well, they’re someone’s ideal of what “pizza” should be, and they’re not terrible, but they pale in comparison to good food, let alone good pizza. Let’s face facts: N.Y. pizza rules and the only place in Oregon to come close to an actual slice of real pizza is, and always will be Sy’s Pizza. My kids stopped eating pizza (“We hate pizza, dad!”) until one day I bought a slice at Sy’s and they devoured it. I realized something: they don’t hate pizza, they hate bad pizza. They know the real thing when they eat it.

Jared Wolfsen, Eugene



WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING?

 In hard times, it might help to ask, “What keeps you going?” The answers are not carved in stone and shift depending on circumstances. But on reflection a little more clarity may emerge.

 Here are six things that keep me going at this moment: 1) A Republican majority in the House saves me from complacency, though I refuse to let them set my agenda. 2) Citizens who understand the world has long been this way but who exemplify the courage to go on living and dying in the faith that we can make a better world and who enact a story we must reject as naïve or share by moving from spectators to participants. 

3) Protesters from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Fall, who know that when we take stands, we may not only be inconvenienced but also pepper sprayed or even shot dead. 4) Knowing the difference between a deep, enduring hope and a shallow, fragile optimism. As Augustine said, Hope has two beautiful daughters whose names are Anger and Courage: anger at the way things are and courage to see that they do not remain so. 

5) Knowing that the word is love, as the Beatles sang, but that justice is the way to bring love to flower. 6) Most of all, a commitment to, and from, friends and family, who love me even when I’m unlovable, freeing us from guilt and self-absorption to lead lives of concern for the most vulnerable, including nature. 

Sam Porter, Eugene



LOUIE’S POOR POT

My compassion for Dante Zuniga West for tackling the medical marijuana procurement problem (cover story, 11/23). This is a logical consequence of what happens when states pass initiatives that are in opposition to federal law. In the article Louis Armstrong referred to marijuana as being “a thousand times better than whiskey. It is an assistant and a friend.” It’s important to know that the pot smoked by Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) had very little of the psychoactive ingredient THC. It is well known that due to genetic engineering, cloning, chemicals, etc. THC has increased up to 10 times in potency since the ’60s.

Sally Smith, LCSW, CADC, Albany



TAXES ARE STIMULATING

Increasing taxes on the wealthy will reduce unemployment. The only time in the last 30 years the marginal tax rate on millionaires rose (during the Clinton administration,) the economy improved and added millions of jobs. Higher tax rates encourage wealthy people to reinvest profits in their businesses to avoid paying taxes.

Paul Spencer, Eugene



REDISTRICTING

Regarding Gary Crum’s viewpoint Nov. 17: If Crum believes the redistricting is unconstitutional then instead of writing to the EW, he should do the same thing I did with Judge Gillespie’s decision under the public meetings law. As a citizen — without an attorney — appeal the actions of the county commissioners to the Oregon Supreme Court. 

Our elected representatives are our agents and do not operate independently. As long as the issue is not for a specific individual and affects many citizens, any citizen can appeal to the judicial branch of government — the same way we petition the other two branches of government. The judicial branch is no different and the mandatory “procedures” only apply to lawyers not citizens. If the “staff attorney” at the court blocks your petition, immediately file a complaint with the Oregon Bar Association. 

Due process and equal rights cannot be blocked by “procedures” or the monopolies that attorneys have. (Note: all monopolies are evil.) The judicial branch of government must serve the people — not the lawyers — or the courts will be abolished — we have the votes.

Frank Skipton, Springfield



KNIGHT WATCH

Show of hands: How many believe that the UO president would still be on his way out if Uncle Phil wasn’t OK with it?

Bill Smee, Springfield



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. 

 



 

 

 

OCCUPYING THE HEART

In response to many requests to create a time and space to deepen the connection to our hearts (and minds), in order to better serve the needs of our community, I would like everyone to know that the Eugene Occupy movement will be hosting a silent interfaith meditation/prayer circle at noon this Friday, Dec. 9. 

"Occupying the Heart and Mind" will be held in the geodesic dome in the center of our encampment and is open to everyone to bring their practice to share. A basic introduction to the universal practices of prayer and meditation will be offered at 11:45. Beginning at noon a bell will be rung at 15 minute intervals to signify an opportunity to enter or exit the space without disturbing others. A 20 to 30 minute mindful movement practice of gentle stretching will be offered following the sit, at 1 pm. Please bring your chair/cushion/floor mat and warm clothing and join us as we cultivate the loving kindness we all so desperately need.

Taylor Pierson, Eugene Occupier



OCCUPY EUGENE’S WORK

Occupy Eugene (OE) is a socio/ political/ democratic awakening. It is an opportunity for people to educate one another about the complex issues facing our global societies today and co-participate in that education. 

Those participating in OE are aware that there are diverse and extensive visions, grievances, solutions/actions, strategies/tactics and questions. 

OE is an open platform that is doing “work.” We invite anyone willing to work to come and join us.  While working on the multitude of complex issues, OE has brought to light local issues. 

OE has been flooded with many individuals who reside on the fringes of our societies. This spotlights the gaps in regards to our homeless people and those with mental health and substance abuse issues. The gaps around the issues of homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse reflect the results of some of the policies, organizations, institutions, laws, behaviors and language presently in place locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally. 

OE is asking the question, 'What is the world we want?' While this vision is difficult to put into words and actions, it is well articulated as 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.” And while many involved with OE are aware that our local issues are tied to the greater global ones, our perspective living in the U.S. is also colored by the tension that exists between individual freedoms and equality as well as the general welfare.

Occupy sites strive to enliven how justice is failing to mediate a balance. The gaps in just the specific issues of homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse show that we do not yet have the world we want and a balance does not exist. These three issues are merely a few of those that we investigate, seek to understand and work to improve.

OE is trying to understand our present role around these three issues and believe our limited resources must primarily be directed to those people who participate in the “work” we are doing together. We struggle with the boundaries of how to help in the short term, yet know we must work with others toward positive actions for the medium and long term. We hope individuals, groups, agencies and our government will work together immediately to address some of the gaps surrounding these issues and not expect us to. In other words, while Eugene has many wonderful and accessible services for these three groups now is the time for our community to deepen our solutions.

Virginia Lubell aka Wintergreen, Eugene



‘FREEDOM’ ACCOUNTS

Twenty years ago my local bank up in Washington was gobbled up by a regional bank (Seafirst), which in turn was gobbled up by gluttonous Bank of America. Upon moving here, I opened a second account with one of the great local credit unions. Realizing that they weren’t screwing me with overdraft and other fees, I happily closed my B of A account.

Once a month, however, I return to deposit a cashier’s check into my landlord’s account for rent. Recently, waiting in line there, I observed two students getting cashier’s checks to pay their rent. They were each charged $10 (to take money out of their own accounts)! The cashier’s check from my credit union cost me $0. I remembered the cardboard cutouts of attractive, smiling models I’d seen in the B of A lobby pitching the “freedom” of a “no charge” college account — great marketing, but really just more B.S.

When I got to the teller I asked about the fees and was told they depended on the type of account. Those with tens of thousands don’t get pelted with all the chicken-shit fees, but those who can least afford it get reamed at every turn.

Why are you still banking at/getting f**ked by, B of A, Chase, Wells Fargo and the rest!? Are you not paying attention? They wrecked the economy while making billions. We then bailed them out, borrowing billions from China (your grandkids will be paying that off down the road). Meanwhile, their CEO’s were rewarded with fat bonuses. 

Credit unions are not-for-profit, owned by members, with an elected board of volunteer directors. Credit unions across the country network together. You can make deposits/withdrawals (without charge) at more than 28,000 ATMs nationwide.

Jacob Swearingen, Eugene

 

APPEAL TO THE HEART

 In support of the Occupy movement I have this word of advice: The movement must remain nonviolent, for it is through this that our voices may be heard. Our oppressors up on Wall Street are born of human flesh and vulnerable to human emotion, as cold as they appear to be. They, too, have wives and children and have felt pain and love. It is by demonstrating and speaking to this part of the soul, that change is accomplished. 

Only when we have been able to demonstrate the struggle will our message be heard. When two sides differ in a stand-off, neither will win. If we push, they push back. Only when both sides stand and work together is anything accomplished. So to the Occupy movement I say, stand strong, appeal to the human heart, state the message clearly and remain non-violent and our message will be heard.

Brandelyn Fowkes, Eugene



TAKE THE HIGH ROAD

The "dry-place-to-sleep" zone is working great! Thanks for the donations! The port-a-potties are a high-priority expense.

Parks and Rec taking the garbage — all recyclables and compost continuously and carefully prescreened on site — is spot on! They're probably also the ones keeping the wood chip paths refreshed — sweet! 

The kitchen is incredible, serving more people than the only other secular soup kitchen (FOOD for Lane County) in town. 

Unhoused people camping at the conveniently located and unobtrusive Occupy site is natural. 

This is a priceless opportunity to raise the consciousness of citizens who are, for whatever reasons, clueless about the severity of this depression.

It’s up to all city councilors and local mass media to act with rationality and compassion and to take the high road. Extend the permit!

What better way to facilitate grassroots awareness and advocacy of such fundamental solutions as: 1) reserving constitutional rights for human beings; and 2) reforming the largely nonproductive, high-risk, and debt-based Fed and commercial banking system that has, once again, got us into a mess worth getting angry about. 

For more on the step-sister to our nation’s military, trade, and fiscal powers, i.e., our monetary power, see the Center for Progressive Economics at http://cpe.us.com

Robert Beal, Eugene



TAX THE CHURCHES

I've long thought that citizens should not through taxation be forced, in effect, to subsidize religion. There is no justification in a secular, democratic society for religious groups to be exempted either from paying property taxes or from paying for multiple government services. 

Well aware of the dangers of theocracy, our country's founders created a secular state which guaranteed free exercise of religion — and freedom from religion. Aware of the danger of using government power to enforce religious conformity, they were careful not to mention God or a supreme being in either the Constitution or in the Bill of Rights. I suspect that they would not approve of unfairly granting special rights to religious groups at the expense of the common good.

Religions are man-made by those who proclaim sanctity and claim divine warrant. To gain control, power, and wealth throughout history, priestly classes have exploited human fear of the unknown, superstition, and love of ritual — and capitalized on convincing imaginative speculations about the afterlife. Believe what you like, but the fact is that I don't know what happens after death, neither do you, and neither do they. We do know, however, that in this country today many are increasingly pushing their faith-based political agendas. We're all paying to subsidize their frequently intolerant and sometimes hateful messages.

It's way past time that our government require religious organizations (and the 1 percent) to pay their fair share of taxes.

Jerome Garger, Yachats



HATE IS THE PROBLEM

This probably won't get space on your website but here goes. I read this month's letters to the editor. People are either complaining about life in this U.S. nation or they are belittling others for complaining. 

There is no such thing as equality among U.S. citizens (no matter what the Constitution says). You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know this. There are the haves and the have-nots.

I got news for all of you. Even though the U.S. is probably the best nation on the planet we still have a whole lot of problems.

The majority of the problems we have (U.S. citizens and the rest of the human population) is that we hate, period! This is not a U.S. problem; this is a depraved world problem.

This was inherited because of the sin of Adam and Eve. Weather you believe in God or not, people all over the world hate, including the United States of America!

The only thing I, you, or anyone can do is to pray to God that he will change us, and at the best, save us ...

Robert Jacobs, Eugene



OUT WITH BIRD-BRAINS

Many of our national politicians are devolving into sounding like caffeinated blue-jays, clogging our skies with their dysfunction while trying to get elected. Let’s not be swayed by their divisive shrieks and their spewing proposals based in the fog of their prejudices.

Lane County is mired in one sad reality that will take much honest work to correct. There are more children in foster care here, proportionate to population, than in any other Oregon county. In fact, Lane County ranks in the top 10 percent nationally of U.S. counties, proportionately, in numbers of kids removed from unsafe homes and placed in foster care. Add the recent police reports that there are 40 youth gangs operating here, and it becomes clear that more preventive action is much needed. How can we avoid the future chaos this trend is leading to?

A beefed-up police gangs unit is needed. Education occurs best in class sizes below 22. Prevention and treatment models call for more sex education and parenting classes in middle and high schools while increasing the number of caseworkers protecting abused kids. Due to funding cutbacks, Lane County caseworkers are now carrying near-double caseloads, with many needy kids falling through the cracks. More revenue is needed, those of us patriots who can pay more in taxes should do so, and contribute more to the organizations working on this problem.

And the shrieking politicians calling for more cutbacks, for blocking sex education and parenting classes? Let’s occupy their offices today and retire those bird-brains on Election Day!

Charles F. Thielman, Eugene



HARD SELL

Advertising is a big deal in the capitalist world of image in production and consumption of goods and services. Advertising drives many a private concern, especially in this new age of computerization.

However, organizations like fire departments, soundly in the category “commons,” should not be using public money to advertise anything at all. There is no profit to be made.

Given a moment’s thought nearly everyone agrees with this — from the left to the right. And yet, today, as a few days ago, a quarter page ad appears in The Register-Guard touting the virtues of EWEB and its conservation light bulb program. In this instance they are using our money to tell us how good they are. There is no source of advertising income other than rates charged.

I do not want to pay for ads.

I can hear the justification already. Education. Really? Only to the extent education is propaganda. The other day a young boy held up two quite ugly fluorescent bulbs in order to sell the idea. But the idea is a bad choice, ugly and full of mercury. Other, better bulbs are available and LED might be made affordable with a program that really funded its financing.

How long before we are barraged with ads about smart meters? That will be a hard sell, so the ad men will be brought out. Ad men that cost money. My money. Your money. Ads are bad enough, but knowing you are paying the full cost of them in a public utility in an attempt to sway the lesser IQs of the area. That is wrong.

Michael E. Lee, Eugene



PASS THE CAKE

Thank God for politicians and bureaucrats! They truly understand the seriousness of the current economic crisis, as reported in the R-G recently. The cash-strapped city of Eugene put a ceiling of just $75,000 for “outside art” for the new $15.2 million police station when they could have allotted $152,000 for “outside art.” The UO got tough with salary demands by only offering the new Duck financial officer a $270,000 annual salary. If her family's large enough, perhaps she can still get food stamps. On a lighter note, the Emerald Valley Boys and Girls Clubs shut down two clubs for lack of money. Pass the cake, Marie.

Andy Bull, Creswell