In support of David Richards’ “Cover the Others” letter (3/20), why do we get so concerned about the candidates for the next president when quite a few of us recognize that our election and “democracy” systems are what need changing?
Among the corruptions are the two-party system, campaign financing, Electoral College, voting computers with proprietary software and no paper trails, lack of an IRV or other ranked voting system, media corruption and last but not least, the unjustly rich always being able to buy unjust political power to help them continue adding to their wealth. If we had financial reform to where one’s wealth is reasonably proportional to social contributions, at least campaign financing wouldn’t be such a problem.
Here’s an idea. Let’s vote first for a few people who can ask, on national public media, pertinent questions of all candidates for public office and expect answers. Grand speeches are OK, but then candidates choose what to talk about.
Until we get such reforms, I see it as more important to let the parties know what kind of candidates and systems I’d like to see rather than my small attempt to choose the best of mediocre candidates. Unless someone else mentions this major issue of election reform, I expect to be writing in Kucinich for Dem and Nader in November. No, it’s not a vote for the other side, because my next choice might be to not bother voting.
Dan Robinson, Eugene
EW (News Briefs, 3/13) quoted Jim Torrey as follows: “We don’t have to get any more money. We need a marriage of business and government in order to pay the bills.”
In 1942, President Roosevelt defined fascism in this way: “The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”
So exactly what kind of cozy relationship did Torrey have in mind? Given his prior record, it’s apparent that if he is re-elected as mayor, locally we will see more corporate welfare and more benefits for the already wealthy class.
Meanwhile, the rest of us can count on being screwed.
Steve Miller, Eugene
SENSE OF FUTILITY
Yesterday (3/16), I attended the rally and march against the war in Eugene. The hundreds of people who were there held signs and sang chants that I am familiar with from other marches I’ve attended against the Iraq War (and other Bush/Cheney actions/policies) in other cities over the past few years.
What became very clear to me during this last one was a sense of futility, a sense that our protest was having no effect, the occupations will go on, we will not get our rights back, no clean energy revolution, etc. Most seemed focused on Obama/Clinton as the solution, but why are we going to let the next seven months go by with zero accountability?
Why is it OK to allow thousands more civilians and soldiers to die in a war based on lies? What is it that allows the Bush administration to get away with treason, mass murder and war crimes?
The answer is very simple, and yet I’ve seen over and over otherwise intelligent people suddenly become disabled in their ability to think critically and with common sense when it comes to this answer: The official story on 9/11. That ridiculous and proven to be false story is their “get out of jail free card,” it is their eternal “justification” for all of their actions, it is the reason we are told impeachment proceedings are “not appropriate” and why torture and the removal of our constitutional rights, etc. is “necessary.”
Are we going to allow another entire year to go on with no accountability, no end to the Mid-East violence, no restoration of constitutional rights?
Colin Denny Donoghue, Eugene
I am saddened and confused by Alan Pittman’s sensational reporting of the extremely challenging decision that faces Superintendent Russell and the School Board regarding Eastside and Harris elementary schools. There is no easy decision when it comes to disrupting a child’s education.
The School Board initiated the broad and dramatic goals set forth in the “Shaping of 4J” with a tone of productivity and problem resolution. Initially the reporting of the meetings and plans followed this neutrality. Unfortunately, language and reporting of this public process quickly devolved into namecalling and stereotyping of Eastside parents. Pittman has been at the forefront of this one-sided and melodramatic reporting. What confuses me is why Pittman, in his March 13 article, uses so much space to quote Russell and board members, yet avoids getting the whole story from comments from parents or teachers at Eastside.
I am unsure what Pittman’s agenda is, but as a parent of an Eastside student I deeply respect the teachers, the pedagogy and curriculum at Eastside. That does not mean that I do not also welcome and look forward to a more diverse student body and school. My fears are that Eastside will be swallowed up and lost, as other alternative schools have in the recent past.
Please, take the time to get the whole story before stereotyping a group of people; I truly thought Pittman was going to sign off with “fair and balanced news.” I had always believed that one-sided and spin reporting was saved for the Republican noise machine.
Eric Van Houten, Eugene
I recently heard that Mayor Kitty Piercy has convened or attended well over 6,000 meetings, festivals, conferences, association forums and rallies in her three-plus years as the mayor of Eugene. She meets regularly in her City Hall office with people from across the political spectrum, from far right advocates to far left advocates. Each month she hosts her “Mayor’s One-On-One” in a different location in the city, with the corresponding councilor, at a grocery store or other central location during evening hours when working people can stop by and talk with her about neighborhood issues. And she listens really well — you can tell that she remembers you and your concerns when you see her again, which you’re bound to do as she is present at events all over the city.
I think all this, and more, qualifies Piercy to be called Mayor of All Eugene. I find her accessibility, warmth and engagement with Eugene and all its factions to be extraordinarily sincere and consistent. She performs gracefully under fire and takes the hard knocks, whether from the left or the right. And she does get them from both sides — when someone draws criticisms from both extremes, that’s another proof that she is striving for everyone. Eugene is a better city because of her.
And our mayor answers all her own email. I don’t even do that. Do you? I’m very excited about four more years of Mayor Kitty Piercy.
Lynn Dixon, Eugene
I have read the EW since moving here 15 years ago. I will not however be reading it again until the destructive, sensationalized manner you have descended to in your reporting of local school news is remedied. The stories you have been printing are increasingly beneath what your readers expect of you. Eastside School is a community of teachers, staff, parents and students who are artistic, liberal, devoted, positive and kind-hearted (as well as EW readers and staff).
Your continual portrayal of the community in such a spiteful, harmful manner is not constructive for or supportive of our Eugene community. Ultimately it is the children who most feel the effects at this stressful, uncertain time. It takes a village, and that is why we settled in Eugene. The children, your readers and the Eugene community deserve better from you.
JoAnn Hoffman, Eugene
KLCC’S LIMITED OPTIONS
Why isn’t KLCC providing the real diverse community radio programming they have a mission or obligation to provide as a public radio station? As a resident of rural Lane county, KLCC is the only public radio signal I receive.
Programming options are crucial to those of us with such limited options. Last week, KLCC hosted a call-in show to allow the listeners to have a say in the radio stations’ future programming. So I called. I suggested bringing back Harry Shearer’s “Le Show” (which is FREE to any NPR affiliate, including KLCC) and “This American Life” and adding “Democracy Now.”
I asked if one of the two weekly installments of “Car Talk” could be replaced with one of these shows. The defensive response I received from one KLCC manager was, “Why do people attack ‘Car Talk’? It is one of our most popular shows.” Excuse me, I wasn’t attacking “Car Talk.” I like “Car Talk,” but why is it on twice a week when the opportunity exists to air something else? When does the public really get to weigh in about our public radio?
Michelle Holman, Deadwood
EDITOR’S NOTE: For background on this topic, see our online archives, cover story Oct. 13, 2005.
I would like to know why you refuse to print anything about our local government. I’ve written several times complaining about the county commissioners and our rotten Parks Department. Why is it that seniors and low-income people are being targeted for parking fees at our local parks? I’ve been told I have to have a pass just to use the bathroom or just to walk out on a dock. I have a Golden Access Card that allows me free parking at any state or U.S. park. Why can’t the county do the same?
If our county commissioners would get off their butts, they could do the same for the county.
Leslie Swafford, Cheshire
LACK OF SUPPORT
In a recent EW article (Swizzle, 3/13), the author dismissively states that downtown Eugene lacks shopping.
I’m sure this comes as a surprise to the owners and customers of Footwise, Harlequin, Freudian Slip, Passionflower, Pewter Rabbit, Shag, Oveissi, Goldworks, Due Donne, Miss Meers, J. Michaels, Greater Goods, Nick & Nora’s, Shoe-a-holic and the many stores of the Fifth Street Public Market, among many other downtown Eugene merchants.
We don’t happen to lack shopping opportunities, but we do lack the support of local media. For reasons I fail to understand, misrepresenting downtown as dead instead of helping to ensure it remains vital appears to be the rage.
Aimee Allen, LetterHead Fine Paper & Gifts, member Downtown, Merchants Association
EDITOR’S NOTE: Point taken. No offense intended. Our writer was thinking more of the blocks on which the bars she wrote about are located, and we have updated the online edition of the story to better reflect this.
DISGRUNTLED COW LOVER
My name is Jacob Mauck, and I’m angry. I’m angry because the Holy Cow Café is being taken from my community. I am a student at the UO, I am an Oregonian and I am a disgruntled American. Between the complexities of being a busy student, an overworked employee, a citizen of a fascist and evil government and a tired and frustrated human being, I also need to eat. When I eat, I sometimes do not have the time to go all the way home and cook up a meal that supports the things that I believe in (sustainability, humanitarianism and re-localization), but luckily for me, I have the opportunity, nay, the privilege, to support the Holy Cow Café by eating there.
Mr. Frohnmayer, you are the president of my alma mater, and I read that you “claim” to “support” sustainable and local practices, but I say to you, sir: Outsourcing the one and only of its kind to a Portland-based, soon-to-be chain of (though I do love and support Laughing Planet) de-diversifying, greed-satisfying (I know someone out there is making some profit off of this besides Laughing Planet) restaurants. It doesn’t get more local and diverse!
There is only one Holy Cow Café, and when it is replaced, it will not exist anymore! I entreat those of you who have the power to prevent this from happening, to do so. I, among many others at this university, will not let this issue go quietly into the night.
Please don’t take away my Holy Cow Café as it represents far more to me than just a place to buy a meal. It is one of the things that makes the UO special and unique.
Jacob Mauck, Eugene
BAD STUFF BURIED
I am responding to your Aug. 30, 2007 Coast Range cover story.
Up until the 1990s obsolete sawmills in remote locations were scrapped out and burned, along with the accumulated solid and liquid waste that the mill owners were liable for.
The Valsetz Mill was scrapped out by M&E Salvage of Albany. The town and mill were bulldozed and burned, along with 40 to 60 barrels of wood chemicals, used oil and forest pesticides. Some of the really bad stuff was buried in a huge trench and covered over to degrade the lake and river for the subsequent millennium of time.
The real challenge is in the legacy of mill operations. Up into the 1990s there were no commercial mill solid waste/liquid wastes recycling companies that would take industrial volumes of bag crap!
I was asked by Mid-Columbia Engineering to “Valsetz” the sprawling antique lumber mill of Northern States Forests Resources, in Republic, Wisc.
I refused the invitation, declined $132,000 salary and an efficiency bonus if I got the 34 acres cleared before the contract time date. There are just too many discard pits on the property and up on the abandoned forest rail spurs.
Don Baarstad, Corvallis
CHANGE OUR STORY
Steel yourself for the GOP “fear and smear” machine once Obama wins the nomination. What stopped Hillary is her “angry mommy” voice — plus most of us are tired of the Clintons and very tired of Bush.
We’re one IED away from 4,000 U.S. dead in Iraq. Our economy is iffy and the nation is depleted and demoralized. I’m 55 and have never seen this country in such a miserable state.
I’ve got my Obama sticker on my car. I’m ready to rumble. Get registered and vote May 20.
Change our country’s story.
Greg Hume, Creswell
48 OUT OF 100
One out of every 100 American residents is now in prison, and a prisoner costs us an average of $80 a day nowadays. It’s time for the American media to publicize the alarming fact that our very old punitive, outdated, vengeful and counterproductive social justice system is bankrupting our country and communities.
In 1964, while living in Holland, I discovered that Holland had (and continues to have) a criminal justice system based on rehabilitation rather than punishment with a recidivism rate of 4 percent (four released prisoners out of a 100 return to prison.)
The U.S. with its punitive system (in 1964) had 38 out of 100 returning to prison. Today Holland has six out of 100 prisoners returning to prison while the U.S. has 48 out of a hundred returning to prison.
Today, the U.S. has more than two million prisoners in more than 500 prisons. California alone has more than 140,000 prisoners crowded into 38 prisons. Holland, with 22 million people, has two prisons.
Why do we continue to have a bankrupting punitive system?
Providing for prisons is a very profitable big business with corporations controlling prisons in more than one state. Thousands of prison employees are protected by powerful labor unions.
A lecturer commonly finds more than 50 percent of his listeners fearful of cons and ex-cons with a fear often similar to our fear of large animals. “Rehabilitation of these animals it too expensive,” is not an uncommon expression.
While our bankrupting social justice system continues to produce tens of thousands of dehumanized repeat offenders and social liabilities at a cost of $80 per imprisonment day, a rehabilitative system provides thousand of productive and socially responsible tax paying citizens at a comparatively small cost to society.
Jerry Copeland, Florence
A MINUTE OF SILENCE
Sixty-six hours. A wearisome span, when one considers the difficulty of staying awake so long. Nearly 4,000 minutes.
Now consider pausing for a moment of silence, a minute in traditional length, one for each fallen American soldier, a customary honor, a gesture of respect. Not much to ask, given the sacrifice of each young man and woman, given how many minutes of their future each has given up to the cause of this war of folly.
Sixty-six hours. Nearly 4,000 consecutive minutes of silence needed to commemorate the American dead in Iraq. And how many more hours were we to commemorate the Iraqi dead? Fifteen hundred at the fewest, nearly nine consecutive weeks and likely many times more.
Fifty-seven buses, chartered to line up in parade, each signifying 70 soldiers not riding home from Dover to their loved ones in waiting. Fifty-seven yellow hearses, empty of life and promise.
Consider lining a community parade route, craning to see homespun floats and streamer-strewn bicycles and charmingly out of tune school bands passing in procession; stretching to catch brightly wrapped candies thrown from fire engines whose horns and sirens today sound off in celebration. And then come the buses.
Fifty-seven buses, a funereal column, a grave array. Fifty-seven buses carrying 4,000 dreams ended by a nation’s nightmare. Fifty-seven buses, inching along, minute after silent minute, down a gauntlet of tears. And how many more buses were we to commemorate the Iraqi dead? Thirteen hundred at the fewest, and likely many times more.
Sixty-six hours of consecutive minutes of silence. Fifty-seven school buses filled with lost hopes. These are the flag-draped coffins returned home under cover of darkness. These are the pictures we’re not allowed to see.
It is nearly five years on since George Bush started a war of choice against Iraq in the middle of a war of necessity against Al-Qaeda. And all for what cause? All justifications for his war have proven vacuous, save that Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant.
While you never want to say of brave men and women that they died a result of arrogance and willful ignorance, what else did they die for?
This war was not thrust upon us — it was chosen for us. Rather than taking an overwhelming fight to the terrorists in the mountains of Afghanistan, we went looking for them in the sands of Iraq.
Rather than finding the chief culprit of that terrible blue sky September morning, we rode off in search of windmills named evil and darkness.
Rather than chasing bin Laden to the ends of the earth, we decided instead to chase our nation’s blood and treasure into the mouth of an omnivorous and never-ending war.
As we approach two converging milestones — the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Iraq war and the four thousandth American casualty — we would do well to remind ourselves during this contentious political primary season of what matters most: ending this Mesopotamian monstrosity, and beginning the process of bringing our troops home.
Todd Huffman , Eugene
BARACK NOT ON BOARD
On February 8, 2008, Barack Obama stood in the aisle of his airplane and told reporters that he would be “fine” with a new primary in Michigan if it could be done in a way that gave him and Hillary Clinton time to make their respective cases and the DNC signed off. Since then, such a plan has garnered broad support from top Michigan lawmakers and the DNC has given its blessing.
So Barack Obama is on board, right? Guess again. It turns out that his comments about being fine with a re-vote if the above conditions were met were just words. As yesterday’s headline in the Detroit Free Press made clear, Barack Obama is the lone standout: “Michigan do-over depends on Obama’s backing, Senate leaders say.”
The Clinton campaign believes the right to vote is a bedrock principle of our country and that empowering the people of Michigan and Florida to make their voices heard must be a priority for any candidate running for the Democratic nomination. As such, we must either honor the original vote or hold a state-run primary that doesn’t leave the taxpayers footing the bill.
So why is the Obama campaign refusing to give the people of Michigan the chance to exercise their fundamental right to vote?
Curtis Taylor, Eugene
ZERO GROWTH NOW
After reading all the articles concerning pollution of the air, water and earth, species extinction, dead zones in the ocean, extreme storm increases, drug resistant disease and global warming, I am astonished and appalled that the prime cause is so seldom addressed. And that primary cause is human overpopulation. We are presently sickening from and going to be dying from our own waste. All the incredible research invested in microcomputer function, cloning human body organs or space technology, while worthwhile, should be focused on safer and more foolproof birth control and prophylaxis. Our technology has so far surpassed our genetic capability to function, that most humans can not understand the importance of not littering, of practicing abstinence or conservation in all areas of our lives. We have indeed met the enemy and he is us, as the cartoonist and philosopher Walt Kelly said. The power of advertising and mass social pressure could make the difference of a reduction in the world population by several billion within 25 years. Think about it. Act on it. Let’s have fewer children and cherish more the ones we have.
Rev. Alice Orsini, Walton
CLEVER, NOT WISE
You have some very intelligent questions, letters asking why are our nation’s leaders ignoring ruined, dying biosphere and global warming and not preparing infrastructure to help us in the future — including ignoring global overpopulation?
I am afraid the reason is that the human race is a “clever” but not wise species; there is a big difference between the two. Clever species come up with technology, science, gadgets, huge manufacture of goods, but a wise species knows how to use this intelligence so that its baser instincts (greed, lust, aggression, etc.) do not use all these things to destroy itself. That is why, very probably, homo sapiens is either going to destroy itself or the planet.
I am afraid that humans in general (my opinion) are not “smart,” i.e. wise, in the ways that really make the most difference to their, and the planet’s welfare. I am not alone in this cynicism; philosophers, authors (even Freud), thinkers throughout time have cryptically stated that humans are very self-destructive beings and hinted that someday we might succeed in doing ourselves in completely. Yes, we do have an ecologically conscious minority; They are a minority.
I would rather not live in denial, no matter how painful the truth is. I wish I could say this is a common human trait, but if it were, we would probably not all be in this s— now. I hope this is clarification for some of your letter writers; they deserve to hear the truth.
Dorothy Bucher, Eugene
EAT TO ENJOY
Why does every server in Eugene — if not this entire country — ask me if I am “Still working on that?” On what — my food? No, I’m not working on it. I’m eating it.
Is that any kind of a question to ask somebody who is eating at your restaurant? And if you are their server — or even their waiter or waitress — then they are eating at your restaurant.
No, I am not “still working” on my food. I didn’t come here to work, I came here to eat and relax. Work is hard and often sweaty. It tires me out. I do it to make money. Then I use that money to buy things I want — like the food you just served me.
Why is this so prevalent in America? Is it a vestige of Puritanism? Did Jonathan Edwards come back from Hell (which is where any Just God would assign him) and say that Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God must work at their food? That they aren’t allowed to just enjoy the food instead. I’ve never been asked that in France. Or Spain — or Italy. I wouldn’t eat English food, but if I did, I’m sure they wouldn’t ask either.
If the food you serve is worth eating, then let me enjoy it. Ask me if I am finished. Ask me if I am done. Ask me if you may take the plates. Don’t ask me if I am “working on it.”
Ralph Wombat, Eugene
So Oprah has a new project, The Big Give, where a team of gung ho contestants run around giving out prizes to regular folks. Excuse me, but I’m not buying it.
The so called Big Give is a Big Joke. It’s nothing but a game show disguised as philantrophy. Avarice dressed up as generosity. Let’s improve the lives of others by giving them a pile of cash or a new car. I’m sorry, I fail to see the altruism here. Giving someone a new SUV or remodeling their kitchen does not improve the quality of their life. It’s a material fix instead of real change.
While the producers and participants of this phony largesse pat themselves on the back for their feel good efforts, organizations that really do change lives have to go begging for financial support. Like Remote Air Medical, which provides health care to the poor (60 percent of its business right here in the U.S.), who save the lives of hundreds of people every year, and whose shoestring budget is the cost of two SUVs.
Doctors without Borders, the producers of “Plumpy nut,” a nutritious meal that is literally saving the lives of starving children in Africa, are finding it hard to get the food to the needy because of cost, travel hardships and political interference.
These are the people to donate to in a heartbeat without a camera crew in sight. But I can’t. I’m not the head of a multi-million dollar media corporation indulging in fantasy giveaways. I’m just struggling to stay out of debt and poverty like so many others who have bills to pay and no medical insurance or savings.
Maybe if I were a contestant on The Big Give, but it wouldn’t make for good television. It’s not as flashy as a car or a makeover.
Alisa McLaughlin, Eugene
So here we are about to wrap up the fifth year since the unwarranted invasion of Iraq, an action that was long-planned by the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield/Wolfowitz neocon clan before they ever took office. What enable them to put their nefarious plan into action was the climate of fear created by the terrorist acts of Sept. 11, 2001, a fear which they exploited to also ram through the so-called PATRIOT Act and to implement secret torture chambers, third-country renditions and other egregious human and civil rights violations, all in the name of the “war on terror.”
When the realities of this badly planned and poorly executed invasion finally invaded the consciousness of the citizenry at large, at about the three-year mark, people made the war a major issue and even changed Congress from Republican to Democratic control, thinking that the Iraq War would be terminated.
Never happened; the will of the people thwarted again by the gutless Democratic leadership, who not only took impeachment “off the table” but also voted to expand the war (“the surge”)!
These Democrats, such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, should be voted out of office at the first opportunity, along with others, such as our own “progressive” Peter DeFazio, who basically agreed that, although this whole Iraqi situation is legally and morally indefensible, impeachment was not a feasible option.
And so the war, with casualties mounting daily, no political progress in Iraq, and billions of dollars squandered monthly, drags on … and on … and on.
Steven Salman, Springfield