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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 12.15.11




EVEN MORE CONCRETE

On Dec. 8, Mayor Kitty Piercy and Councilor Alan Zelenka joined County Commissioners Sid Leiken and Jay Bozievich and the rest of the Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) to vote for the latest version of the billion dollar Regional Transportation Plan.

RTP is the wish list for road projects through the rest of the oil era, including further expansion of the California-style I-5/Beltline interchange and widening of I-5, Beltline and 126 in Springfield. 

In 2007, when Piercy voted for the previous RTP she told me the following day, “You know those roads won’t be built.” But in the past four years we’ve seen several major freeway expansion projects built and the Dec. 8 vote ensures further construction.

The RTP assumes traffic levels will continue to increase, yet LCOG’s website admits traffic levels have peaked in Eugene and Springfield, just as they have peaked in Oregon and the rest of the country. Rising oil prices ended traffic growth and we need transportation triage for the energy downslope.

In 2004, LCOG predicted oil prices would increase to $2.50 per gallon by 2025, which was wrong by 19 and a half years. We have reached the limits to growth and need to plan for the downslope.

Piercy probably will not face a political backlash for voting with Bozevich and Leiken to widen metro area freeways, just as Rep. Peter DeFazio didn’t suffer politically for championing massive expansion of federal highway funds. Maybe if only Republicans pushed highway expansion the progressives might object.

Mark Robinowitz, sustaineugene.org



USE AND ABUSE OF POWER

Since Andy Stahl (letters, 12/1) self-identifies with Chicago power politics, whose latest apotheosis is Rod “This is Golden” Blagojevich, it might be appropriate to reflect on the historical lineage of this school of thought. A small sample: Machiavelli: “Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.” Otto von Bismarck: “The great questions of the time are not decided by speeches and majority decisions … but by iron and blood.” Mao Zedong: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Henry Kissinger: “Power is the great aphrodisiac.”

Fear, blood, guns, aphrodisiacs — signposts along the road of power politics which point the way to the excesses (in the last 75 years alone) of the Nixon White House, sectarian violence in Iraq (pre- and post-Saddam Hussein), the Cultural Revolution, genocide in Rwanda, the horrors of Nazi Germany and the killing fields of Cambodia. Governing by means of a “spoils systems” undermines all the hard work involved in creating a climate of trust, understanding, tolerance and a respect for the human and political rights of everyone. Political segregation is as abhorrent as racial segregation and should be rejected by the Lane County Commission in the best interests of the county it serves.

John Tietjen, Corvallis



FOURTH DOWN SANCTIONS?

It could be premature for Duck fans to order tickets to the Jan. 2 Rose Bowl game. They were enthusiastic for getting to play lowly UCLA for the so-called league title instead of powerful USC again — NCAA sanctions made USC ineligible for post-season games. But such sanctions might be a double-edged sword. Oregon could be punished the same way if it is found that, as alleged, it is guilty of cheating to get Texas players (including a Heisman candidate) through an illegal Houston recruiter. We should not forget that. It remains part of the slow-moving NCAA agenda.

If Oregon is found guilty before the January game, it would mean UCLA would have to replace a sanctioned Oregon in the Rose Bowl. If a decision against the Ducks comes later in the new year, Oregon would have to give up the league title. It ironically would go to UCLA, which combines its losing record with honest behavior.

Adding to the confusion is the post-game comment made by Oregon coach Chip Kelly on national TV. He blurted out: “UPS and Dr. Pepper,” in effect a free commercial before millions of viewers around the country. He is paid so well ($300,000 a year) that he surely did not do it to get fees from both. So what is the explanation? Football is not just a violent game. It also can be confusing and embarrassing.

George Beres, Eugene



JUST A LITTLE RESPECT 

I have the pleasure of living within walking distance to Autzen Stadium. Is it really a pleasure? Every home game my street is lined with cars and people standing in the street drinking. This I don’t mind. What I do mind is when these Duck fans leave without taking their trash with them. My street is currently lined with a ridiculous amount of beer cans, bottles, cases the beers were in and other miscellaneous discarded crap. Hey tailgaters: I don’t come to your house and dump all my trash in your street. What makes it OK for you to come sit in front of my house and do that? I get that we all love the Ducks. Fantastic. But being a football fan does not excuse you from the law or common courtesy. This is where I live. Have a little respect.

Anna Hjelmstad, Springfield



CORPORATE VISION

Dear Gov. Kitzhaber (Viewpoint, 12/1): I believe you are wrong in supporting the Oregon State Board of Higher Education’s termination of UO President Lariviere. The statement you released Nov. 26 makes arguments for terminating Lariviere based on political and corporate America thinking. The argument that Lariviere’s firing was based in part on his disregard for the board and the governor’s office directives; that he violated the board’s policies; and that his actions undermined the Oregon University System only confirms that the board and your office have a corporate view of how the university system should be run. Is that where we want to go with higher education in Oregon and the U.S.?

I do not have enough information to know if Lariviere was truly caustic to the university system as you describe. If your statement is the complete story for why Lariviere was terminated, then you have removed a passionate and visionary leader for the wrong reasons. I believe that the university system in Oregon is already strong (albeit expensive) and a great place to learn. But is that all we want from our university system? Leaders of vision, courage and passion are hard to find and cultivate.

A strong and innovative UO will benefit the rest of the universities in Oregon; similar to how the success of the UO’s football team benefits other student athletes at the UO. It is difficult to encourage and have visionary, innovative teachers unless we have university presidents with vision, passion and commitment.

Rick Bittler, Springfield



OCCUPY CIVIC

I think I found the perfect solution for Eugene and it’s problem of where to put the occupiers. Civic Stadium.

It is built to handle the needs of thousands of people. It is fenced and secure. It is city owned. It represents every thing that is wrong today. A corporate buy out. A dysfunctional, divided government.

Let them occupy Civic Stadium until it has to come down under the developer’s wrecking ball. Problem solved.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain



MORE VARIETY ON KLCC

As an ardent NPR listener, I had mixed feelings about KLCC’s recent changes. I’ve agreed with some of the letters, but some have been too harsh in either perspective. And I think KLCC kind of missed the mark in improving its content overall. 

As a music fan I loved the morning music. I work a lot from home and the car, so this was a great way to get turned onto great new music, not to mention waking up to cool tunes. I like the interviews and live in-studio jams, but the show leaves much to be desired, leaving a major portion of new music completely ignored. The show should be more expansive than just Americana, light rock and folk. 

As for the talk radio element of NPR, I love Talk of the Nation, as it delves deep into issues and the callers give me a pulse of what the nation is thinking. 

I also miss Prairie Home Companion on Saturdays. Now, in Eugene, I have to tune into 1600 on the AM dial to get those excellent shows from Portland NPR. If KLCC wants to balance itself, it should make the talk radio essential talk radio and lose the repetition, Give us great new music in the afternoon, or some music in the morning surrounded with talk radio, that way maybe everyone listening will have a smile on their face enjoying the ever-changing variety.

Jonathan Seraphim, Eugene



PIZZA THROWDOWN

I agree with Jared Wolfsen’s evaluation of local pizza (letters, 12/8) including his judgment that Sy’s Pizza produces a good approximation of New York pizza, but his assertion that “N.Y. pizza rules” cannot stand unchallenged. Three simple words: Chicago pan pizza! But, can’t find it around here. Sy’s can only be a consolation prize for a transplanted Chicagoan.

And don’t get me started on the mushy soft local “bagels”... oy! New Yorkers and Windy City folks can certainly agree on the poverty of the local bagel scene.

Chuck Kleinhans, Eugene



PERMANENT HOUSING

Sometimes I wonder if American hearts have shrunk so small that they no longer care about their neighbors and friends. Where is our real concern for the third of our population in Lane County in poverty? Where is our concern for the growing number of families becoming homeless as First Place claims there was a 25 percent increase last year? Health care costs have continued up with more and more families losing their homes when someone becomes ill. Will we turn the homeless out of the only dry and safe place some have had in years? Crime is down. Court cases are down. Maybe we can discover a way to fund some permanent shelters and show more caring hearts.

 Ruth Duemler, Eugene



ADJUSTED JUSTICE

The Pentagon wants “to hold suspected terrorists linked to al-Qaeda or its affiliates” indefinitely without due process. I follow Taoism, one of those inexpensive imported Chinese religions. How can I find out if I am a suspected affiliate?

Vince Loving, Eugene



IMPORTING INEQUALITY

This time of the year, when I see who’s blowing the leaves off my lawn, I am reminded of all the racial inequality that we are importing from Mexico. This is what former Mexican President Vicente Fox was referring to when he said that Mexicans “do jobs that even the blacks won’t do.” If you watch the Spanish channel Univision, you would think that Mexico is 90 percent European. However, Mexico is only 15 percent European — most Mexicans are somewhere between mestizo and castizo in racial admixture.

The poorest Mexicans who “do jobs that even the blacks won’t do” aren’t even a part of the mestizo majority. They are members of the lowest castes — Mexicans of predominantly Amerindian admixture. It amazes me that we give affirmative action to all “Latino” castes equally, when it is predominantly Indian Mexicans who need it the most. Several Latin American countries, including Colombia and Brazil, now have rigid affirmative action quotas based upon caste. Before Brazil implemented affirmative action quotas in 2003, Brazil’s universities were 97 percent white.

It amazes me that even in such hard economic times, with depression-era levels of unemployment, our leaders aren’t calling for an end to all immigration. Our country does assimilation into Western culture better that any other in the world; but in a post-peak oil world, our economy will continue to shrink and shed jobs. So no, we won’t keep transitioning into an overcrowded Third World hell like India much longer, thank goodness.

Juan Zaragoza, Eugene



DEFAZ LAND GIVEAWAY

Congressman Peter DeFazio has done a lot in the past to protect some of Oregon’s precious wild lands. But I am very concerned about his present plan to give the green light to industry to clear-cut more than a million acres of BLM forestlands located in our state. His plan is in reaction to very real county funding problems. But it is an old way of thinking when a new vision is needed.

The old way of thinking is that we should destroy the forest to save the trees. Or in this case, the counties. A new vision would see the value of our state’s forest lands in clean air and water, wildlife habitat, carbon storage to help mitigate climate change, and the intrinsic beauty that beckons us to live here.

Other viable county funding options exist beyond clear-cutting public forest lands, such as an equitable timber tax on industrial forest lands, an export tax on raw logs, consolidating BLM with the Forest Service, and fixing the broken property tax system in Oregon. Congressman DeFazio should take a breath, drop his present plan, and begin anew with a better vision.

Benton Elliott, Eugene



SMART METERS

 EW has covered the $50 million EWEB smart meter project with one feature story and two opposing points of view articles. Barely covered though is a subject very important to customers: cost.

 The savings professed by Roger Gray, the head of EWEB, includes 15,000 gallons of gas the re-trained meter readers will not use. But by my calculations that means they have been driving over 100 miles a day to read meters. Unlikely.

 The high estimate range of the project will probably be low. That is, the project will cost us more, not less, than $50 million dollars, and each residence will pay at least $500 for the meter installation.

EWEB recently offered to reduce the burden on customers by “paying for them itself.” This is very strange, but the offer is to finance them, use bonds or reserve funds. I do hope the officers at EWEB understand that all of these methods involve using our money. There is no cash cow or secret source of money. These methods hide the cost from us.

 This will be a huge outlay and that is why we need to continue to ask just what we are getting for our money. Retrained workers? Usage information? These little lies cover up the fact we are all going to pay more for something we do not need.

Benefits will trickle down? Only in the sense that we are being pissed on and only get the trickle of that. That’s what it feels like to be governed by your utility, not the other way around.

Michael Lee, Eugene

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. 

 



 

 

 

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

Gov. John Kitzhaber justifies the firing of UO President Richard Lariviere and in the next breath states; “I am personally committed to the concept of local governing boards and seeking new funding sources for Oregon’s universities, including consideration of an endowment-funding model.” Respectfully sir, how and when are you getting us there?

You and the Oregon Board of Higher Education were righteously miffed when Laviere unilaterally raised salaries for administrators despite an agreement to freeze them. Yet you qualify your frustration with, “I am not saying that retention increases are not warranted — they are.” Please sir, how and when do you intend to make Oregon professor’s salaries equal to those elsewhere to keep top teaching and research talent in our colleges? How “much deliberation” is enough? Meanwhile how much talent erosion and tuition increases are tolerable?

Seems that Lariviere was taking steps in the direction you and OUBS (or some other reshuffled governance structure) want to go-not in an opposing direction. His actually tried to implement the goals you supposedly want to reach.

Adding a layer of bureaucracy with an education czar makes another convenient scapegoat for inaction from you, the state superintendent, and the State Board of Higher Education. It postpones solutions to the indefinite future. If your appointee follows a course similar to Lariviere, are we back to square one with another firing and more political double speak?

Time to stop blaming Lariviere or the next guy for making it harder. Time to forward solutions of substance instead.

Ethen Perkins, Eugene



PREDICTIONS

Here's what's going to happen at the Dec. 15 city council meeting: The councilors will be presented an offer by Occupy Eugene to collaborate in easing the horrendous homeless situation while preserving the right of peacefully assembling and organizing. But the council's main priority is to have the messy Occupy movement go away, so they will insist on controlling every aspect of a “transition” that will leave Occupy Eugene in shambles and a fractional “solution” to our homeless problem that will cost the city a pittance.

Some of the councilors are trying to support the Occupy movement, but seem afraid of the notion of peaceful assembly without their express permission. Occupiers have never given any cause for this fear, and have been constantly trying to work with the city. This letter was written before the Dec. 15 meeting, but whatever the vote was let's continue to show the council and the city that a true movement of the people cannot be legislated away, and if the city refuses to work in collaboration with us we will continue to do good works regardless.

Dan Liev, Springfield



MISLEADING VOTERS

Sometimes television cannot evade reality, as in the dull Dec. 10 telecast of a debate among Republican candidates for president. As all of the candidates lied on the same issues, it became apparent the GOP is based on subterfuge common to both major parties, misleading the voter.

The debaters (a very loose term) made it obvious they shared the same main focus — support of two groups that destroy our democratic system by buying our politicians. They go after support from the groups that give the most money to candidates for office, a form of bribery made legal by our system that allows gifts from private donors.

Who are they?

One is a foreign nation, Israel, which all the Republican candidates described as our "ally." Such a lie ignores the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that killed 34 of our sailors. It also denies how Israel pushed us into war in the Middle East, where thousands of our troops have been killed, and which now urges us to join them in the insanity of an unjustified attack on Iran.

The other is corporate business that wants to rob us by being made free of "big government." Government may be big. But Republicans always have wanted to diminish that bigness with less regulation of corporate business, which long has been a self-serving major funder of politicians.

Does President Obama have shortcomings? Of course. But a thinking electorate would elect him by a wide margin over any candidate the Republicans choose to represent their selfish agenda.

George Beres, Eugene



BEST BARISTA

I want to say big thank you and much gratitude for being voted Eugene Weekly’s Best of Eugene’s Best Barista 2011! As I have said to many, I am honored yet I believe the best baristas are my employees at Eugene Coffee Company who serve it up with enthusiasm and quality, hour after hour, day after day. 

My “best” is providing the support and work environment so my baristas can give their best to you, the customers. Sure, I make great drinks and know good customer service but my “best” is in thinking outside of the classic business box to offer creative happenings in a neighborhood coffee shop such as Silent Coffee’s, High School Barista Camps, Coffee Classes, Work Development Placements for Youth, rentals and fundraisers.

It’s an honor doing business in Eugene and an honor working with the best baristas in town!

Sue Harnly, Owner, Eugene Coffee Company



BOO IS DEVINE

Nearly every problem associated with the relatively safe plant cannabis (kaneh bosm, marijuana) is actually a consequence of cannabis prohibition, persecution and extermination (“This Bud’s For Who?” Nov. 24). Responsible citizens should be allowed to use cannabis recreationally and medically with out being confronted by government.

Another reason to re-legalize cannabis that doesn’t get mentioned is because it is Biblically correct since God, The Ecologician, indicates He created all the seed bearing plants saying they are all good, on literally the very first page (see Genesis 1:11-12 and 29-30). The only Biblical restriction placed on cannabis is to accept it with thankfulness (1 Timothy 4:1-5).

And medically, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). Further, many people know cannabis is the tree of life, and the very last page of the Bible indicates the leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations (see Revelation 22).

Exactly what kind of government cages its citizens for using what God says is good?

Stan White, Dillon, Colo.