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Letters to the Editor: 5-2-2013

DOING THE IMPOSSIBLE

Frequently, significant events are supported by a long history of effort. That is true with the upcoming visit of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

In 1998, members of a diverse community formed under the name of the Universal Peace Celebration Committee. Many civic, business and political leaders endorsed our efforts to bring the Dalai Lama to Eugene and to Oregon for a second visit. Our efforts are now coming to fruition.

Special thanks must go to former president Dave Frohnmayer and Barbara West of the UO. Additional thanks goes to Sen. Ron Wyden and Field Representative Juine Chada, Congressman Peter DeFazio, former gov. Ted Kulongoski and his staff, Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy and her staff, professors Judith Baskin and Mark Unno of the UO Department of Religious Studies, Thea Albright, chair of the Interfaith Prayer and Reflection Service, the Rev. Sherry Lady of the Two Rivers Interfaith Ministries, the Rev. Inge Tarantola of the Unity Church of Roseburg; Robert Bushman, coordinator of the Eugene Institute of Noetic Sciences, Friedrich Burkert, John Lawrence, David Jones of McKenzie River Lodge #195, Bro. Kevin Colum of the Anamchara Fellowship, the Office of Tibet, and most importantly, humble appreciation for Honorific Mother Amala, His Eminence Tulku Ngaglo Rinpoche, Tulku Jigme Rinpoche and the Nyen-Gyud Samten Choe-Ling Center. 

These communities and the citizens of greater Eugene/Springfield have succeeded in doing what some said was impossible. May this fruition of labor and love bring blessings to all.

Susan Ferris, chair, Universal Peace Celebration Committee & Nicholas Chrones, Eugene

 

TIME TO PUSH BACK

It seems Liane Richardson sees no need to temper her ambition and arrogance as county administrator. Perhaps the Board of Commissioners should give her that raise she demanded and throw in a new job title: “philosopher king (OK, queen),” “master (OK, mistress) of the universe (OK, county), “she who must be obeyed,” or some fitting title suggested (OK, demanded) by Ms. Richardson. 

Richardson’s efforts to remove Jack Roberts and, in effect, absorb the Lane Metro Partnership agency he heads, represent a clear effort to expand her power and domain. I’m reminded of the early Steve McQueen movie The Blob wherein the beast engulfed everything it touched, becoming stronger with every successful encounter.

Richardson appears to be a very aggressive bully acting with the support of the majority of the commissioners. It’s clearly time for someone — if not the board, the public — to push back. If, indeed, local law firms are so excited by the prospects of hiring her, it’s really selfish for us to deny them that opportunity. 

Gary Crum, Junction City

 

THE NINNY CABAL

Given that Lane County and Eugene regularly vote “blue” in national elections, how is it that four of our five county commissioners are so bloody “red”?! And is anyone else as sick and tired as I am of reading about our own little Sarah Palin, Lane County administrator and prevaricator-in-chief Liane Richardson? This cabal of ninnies is now trying to expand their rotten influence by taking control of Lane Metro Partnership with the firing of Jack Roberts, by all accounts the able, diligent and well-intended executive director of that organization. And worse, the plan is to replace him with the wife of conservative Eugene City Councilman George Poling! Ach!

Now, obviously not all conservatives are ill-meaning or ninnies or both. But this particular group seems to be just that. A list of quotes by Jay Bozievich reads more like something from Mad Magazine than thoughtful comments by a serious public servant. Their most egregious decision was giving the despoilers of Parvin Butte free reign to enrich themselves at the expense of hundreds of neighbors as well as the rest of us. This was sheer moral and environmental lunacy. And there was no human poop in the county building’s Free Speech Plaza until Richardson showed up.

So how did this come to pass? Is it all gerrymandering? I implore EW to print an article, a political analysis, to explain this “red” coup in our supposedly “blue” region.

Ronald B. Duber, Eugene

 

WHO BACKS THE FEE?

Endorsements don’t always matter, but sometimes they clarify, so: Measure 20-211, the Eugene city service fee, has been endorsed by SEIU 503, AFSCME 1724, IAFF 851 (firefighters), the Democratic Party of Lane County, Mayor Kitty Piercy, Rep. Paul Holvey, Councilors Alan Zelenka, Claire Syrett and Chris Pryor, as well as the Lane County Young Democrats. Opponents like Paul Conte (who exaggerates the number of anti-fee folk at Jefferson Westside Neighbors) balk that the fee is regressive, but all of the endorsers above favor progressive taxation. Dedication to and trust in our community compel them to support this modest fee, which is the only practicable plan on the May 21 ballot to save our vital services.

I’ve been knocking doors for the fee for weeks now. There are two types of folks I meet: those who say, “Hell no! Not another dime!” and those who say “Alright, I’ll step up to save our town.” Democrats and Republicans in the “alright” camp are voting to save our services. Even Jim Torrey has plugged his nose and endorsed the revenue measure.

Opponents have courted money from radical right-wingers in 9.12 Project Lane County and Americans for Prosperity. They are in the “hell no!” camp, and they still offer no feasible plan for saving our town and protecting its people.

I implore you: Put community first and politics second. It is enough (for now) that the measure’s built-in assistance program shields low-income households from paying it. 

Steve Coatsworth,  Lane County Young Democrats & Jefferson Westside Neighbors

 

CHECK THE FACTS

I can understand the frustrations in “believing” that the city is holding priority programs hostage unless this “fee” (tax) is passed.

And I am dismayed that the city’s underlying statement is sending the message that they are willing to contrive, demonstrate underhanded dealing and continue non-transparent government, to do whatever or say whatever in order to get their way.

People, please check the facts:

Why is there never a mention of a gap or financial crisis at those meetings where City Hall is giving out millions of dollars worth of tax breaks and subsidies? Somehow a fiscal crisis never seems to emerge when they are giving money away. The proposed cuts are “tabled” for a year — but the fee (tax) is permanent! There is no sunset clause!

I am not alone at being irked at the tax “forgiveness” on developments. It really angers me that they do not pay their share, and that taxpayers are saddled with it. That’s part of the problem here!

There would be no need for this tax fee if the developers paid what they owed both in financing, property taxes and infrastructure. It’s got to stop!

The movement towards honesty and transparency in government is what needs to continue, not this fee!

Terry Steiner, Eugene

 

EDUCATION DEFORM

It’s been 30 years this week since the “Nation at Risk” report came out calling for reform of America’s public education system. The “reformers” with the financial backing of the top 1 percent (Walton, Gates, Broad foundations) have pushed for standardized testing, charter schools, teacher accountability, vouchers, standardization of curriculum and the destruction of the teacher unions. This corporate agenda was presented as panacea for our schools. This deform has been a total failure and has put public education, the foundation of our democracy, at risk. 

Teachers, parents, students and communities affected by these deforms found themselves marginalized and on the sidelines of the educational debate. The wealthy ideologues with deep pockets have dominated the discussion and have pushed forward their agenda. Poverty and inequality, which are the driving forces behind achievement and opportunity gaps, have been ignored.

It’s time for change. The tide is turning against the deform movement across the country. Recently in Eugene, teachers and parents strongly objected to common schedule decision made by 4J administration. We need to continue to speak out on issues affecting public education here in Eugene and the state of Oregon. 

At 7 pm Thursday, May 2, at Kelley Middle School a public discussion on “The Future of Education in Oregon” will take place. This forum is organized by IDEA (Institute for Democratic Education in America). It will feature a variety of voices and ideas on what Oregon’s public education should look like in the future. Come and speak out.

Pete Mandrapa, Eugene

 

WHY OREGON?

I thought it was only in states like Alabama and Mississippi that had flat taxation to make the poor poorer and the rich richer. I only hope that somehow our state’s proposed progressive income tax is passed and it demonstrates what is fair taxation to our elected representatives at every level of government. California did it!

Ruth Duemler, Eugene 

 

PEOPLE AS OBJECTS

Lots of good stuff in the April 18 EW about women: films about sex trafficking of women and girls, a symposium on ending gender violence, an article on ending gender violence, what progress we are making. The keynote speaker at the symposium who wrote Killing Us Softly spoke about the role of advertising in the objectification of women. It seems to me that this is not even Humanity 101 — it is humanity preschool that teaches us that when you objectify someone — or a group — let’s say people of color or women — they be come “less than” or “not real people” and can be abused in all sorts of ways that we would never dream of doing to our own, same group.

Now give a good look to the American Apparel ad on the full back page. What do you think? What does your son or daughter think? What about your grandchildren? Give it some thought. And think about how this affects people. If it feeds just one person’s justification for abusing the next little girl or woman, or makes one female think that that is her worth or one male think that that is what women are, what price are we paying for that ad? (The ad depicts a woman’s backside, from the waist down, leaning forward, with her hands on either side of her bottom.)

Jean Denis, Eugene

 

CRIME VS. BABYSITTING

The new social host ordinance that passed last month needs to be amended. The new law is directed toward university students throwing unruly parties in a way to deter underage drinking and protect the safety of the public. The example we were given [Letters, 3/28] of well over 150 students is completely absurd. Intoxicated students pouring into the streets comes with nothing good to follow. Expecting low-income students to pay for police response is not practical. I find citations of up to $1,000 in the right ballpark, but not when you tack on excessive fees at the discretion of the police.

Nearly the entire Eugene police force responded to the party on campus last month for concerns of safety, as many students became unruly pushing officers and running from authority in different directions. This, however, needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis. A gathering of five people does not compare to one of hundreds of minors under the influence. These sorts of parties need a more reasonable approach with permits and bouncers checking IDs at the door to keep the police where they need to be — fighting crime, not babysitting.

Keith Armstrong, Springfield

 

THE TRUE COST

The Lowell School Board will be considering proposals from for-profit private companies contracting out the district’s student transportation. Instead of the reliable service provided by the district, our children’s transportation may soon be provided by the lowest bidder. The winner would undoubtedly reduce compensation and benefits for the existing drivers and hire less experienced, lower-paid drivers from outside the community. The district would also sell its bus fleet to the new contractor, effectively locking the district into a permanent commitment. 

The district faces difficult budget decisions, but is it really more cost effective to make this drastic and irreversible change? The UO’s Labor Education and Research Center has studied other districts that have contracted out and found costs are almost always higher in the long term than they would have been if transportation had stayed in-district. The district’s analysis of contracting out does not represent the true cost of handing over control of its bus services.

Besides, the true value of this service cannot be weighed in dollars and cents; it may only be weighed by the confidence Lowell parents have in their drivers. All of the bus drivers — myself included — are highly skilled and trained professionals. The senior bus drivers have a combined record of more than 50 years of faithful service. Lowell parents can have complete confidence in us because we have invested many years in the children and people we serve. This could all go away if a private company takes over.

Jef Jalof, Lowell

 

A FADING VISION

Thanks to Pete Helzer for the nice photograph that graced EW’s front cover April 4 of crew rowing practice on Dexter Lake with Parvin Butte rising in the background. But future participants in the regatta won’t enjoy that same view; and already the butte is shorter than when the photo was taken a year ago. 

Greg Demers and Melvin and Norman McDougal, dba Lost Creek Rock Products, continue to carve away at Parvin Butte. Their plan remains to remove the entire butte and leave a gravel pit in 20 years. They are still permitted to operate 10 hours per day, six days per week with no limits on noise or dust. The nearby residents in Dexter have not regained their property rights or value, nor their peace of mind. 

Please join the communities of Dexter and Lost Valley in efforts to save Parvin Butte. Contact the Dexter-Lost Valley Community Association at saveparvinbutte.org. 

Phil Robbins, Dexter

 

WAR TAX REFUSAL

The tax period is over for the current year. Most have paid their owed taxes. Some of us have followed our consciences that demand that we not voluntarily pay for war, and we have not paid all or part of our federal taxes. We are now well into another year. It is a good time to consider how we respond as we prepare for the next round of taxes.

Some say that it is ineffective to refuse to pay our federal taxes. The IRS eventually gets them anyway, with penalty and interest. They urge those of us who are horrified by our endless wars and oppose the huge military budget, estimated at one-half of the federal discretionary budget, to work within the system: lobby Congress to reduce the military budget, or to pass legislation that will provide a legal option for conscientious objection to war taxation.

I say that these are not either/or responses. Most of us who are war tax refusers also write and lobby our members of Congress. We demand a vast reduction in the U.S. military budget. We yearn for and seek the passage of national legislation that would make war tax refusal legal. For the bill that is currently before Congress, go to peacetaxfund.org.

Is war tax refusal in itself effective? I find myself stubbornly unable to do otherwise. I cannot know if my actions will be effective. Do we ever know? I publicly redirect my taxes to life-giving causes. If I put my owed taxes into an escrow fund, another alternative, the interest on these taxes is used for causes I believe in. My resisted taxes are not levied by the IRS for about a year, and during that time I have control over the principal and interest. Yes, my taxes are eventually levied, with penalty and interest. I have not stopped the gigantic war machine as it bulldozes over our society. But I have not passively or voluntarily supported it either. I have accepted, unwillingly, these levies as the consequences of my actions. To legally reduce my federal tax obligations, I have reduced my income significantly; I donate as generously as I feel able to nonprofit, tax-deductible causes, and take every other legal option available to me to reduce my taxes. In fact, I have not legally owed taxes for several years. And I have spoken out and acted publicly. Others voluntarily live below the taxable income. Their simple living can be examples for us all. (I am not talking about involuntary poverty here!)

I believe that, joined with others, my actions are, at least in some small way, effective. Perhaps they are a part of the spirit of compassion and justice that is living and working among us.

Peg Morton, Taxes for Peace Not War, Eugene Friends Meeting

 

NOT A HAZARD

Those of you who have lived east of the UO during the last 50 years or more will be familiar with the majestic Ponderosa pine that towers just north of 17th on Moss street. Ponderosa pines are increasingly rare in the Eugene area because during the last century the climate has become too wet for seedlings to survive; if you look around, you will notice there are no young Ponderosas to replace the elders that die or are cut down, which is what the UO planned to do early in the morning May 1.

A few months ago it poured concrete around the tree’s root structure, which is the last thing you do for pine trees in our climate, whose roots need to breathe, if you want them to live. It then quietly labeled the tree a “hazard,” although it is only in the middle of its life. Standing alone, it has quietly withstood every gust of wind any living Eugenean can remember. 

The UO wants to level this magnificent tree to build a more profitable edifice. It has become an “event”-promoting bricks and mortar university rather than a thinking one. It is academically last in the Pac-12, as it was in the Pac-10 and Pac-8 before it.

It will always be last. Why? Attitude.

Michael Powell, Eugene

 

HEROS VS. TERRORISTS

I am a 20-year veteran volunteer firefighter from a small town. Our fire department is about the same size as the fire department in West, Texas. My heart grieves for the loss of these brave souls who loved their community so much they dared to defuse a burning 270-ton bomb to save lives. Their heroic loss is now being buried under the constant coverage of the more titillating story of terrorist brothers and their small pressure cooker bombs. 

Last year there were 17 people in our country killed by terrorism. Compare that to the almost 5,000 who died from work place “accidents.” Texas Gov. Rick Perry has already asked for federal money to help clean up this latest “accident.” The Boston bombers will continue to fill up the news as the heroic heroes of West, Texas, are buried, along with any real justice for their needless sacrifice. 

RIP, my fellow fighters.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain

 

BAD TRIPPING

As I read the EW stories April 4 I came across a disturbing picture of a horse, its legs roped, hind quarters in mid-air, looking as if its neck was being snapped. I immediately began reading the story titled “Oregon Bill to Ban Horse Tripping.” I learned the picture was taken at a rodeo in Jordan Valley, Ore., and it’s actually an event where horses are roped by the neck and legs, and thrown to the ground. I am appalled. 

I have been to many rodeos and am thankful I have never had to witness this horrific event. Watching the calf roping has always been disturbing enough for me. Even rodeo enthusiasts would have to agree that the tripping and roping events could actually harm the animals. If you “trip” an animal, which weighs on average 1,000 to 2,000 pounds, it would most likely have some sort of painful repercussions. If you were to “rope” a human-being, they would most likely have painful repercussions. So because it’s an animal this is considered a sport? 

I had no idea this so-called event existed. I am thankful to EW for running this story and bringing it to my attention. I can only hope it grabs the attention of other readers and makes them join in the fight against horse tripping. 

Erica Holmes, Eugene

 

DAY OF INFAMY

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 will live as a day of infamy for those U.S. senators who voted against rational gun control legislation. By voting their own self-interest for re-election, they betrayed our entire nation’s moral consciousness that demands they do something to stop the carnage. Their lack of compassion for the victims of domestic mass shootings is reprehensible. They ought to slink away in disgrace.

Pat Reilly, Eugene

 

WE BREATHE IT

I don’t know, maybe I am just naive. I can walk down any street in my town, look up and see smokestacks pouring God knows what into our atmosphere. It really is our atmosphere, you know. We breath it. 

Maybe I am just naïve? There is no way our government would let them dump toxins, no way, nuh-uh, America is dependable.

I did read about a corporation that made a million dollars a day skating environmental laws and only getting a small fine (Erin Brockovich). They eventually won the lawsuit by settlement, meaning the company did not need to admit fault, even though people died, but that was years ago.

I did hear about an oil company that dumped millions of gallons (or barrels) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for lack of a $500,000 bit of safety equipment. Once again, settled out of court and a $12 million a day corporation is now drilling elsewhere and three low-level guys might go to jail.

Go outside, watch the smokestacks for an hour. Watch the tons of smoke these corporations pour into the atmosphere and remember: There are tens of thousands of these smokestacks all around the country, not to mention the ones in developing nations.

You honestly think we are not causing global warming? Where the hell do you think this smoke goes?

Maybe I am not the one who is naive.

Charles Echols, Springfield

 

SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS

I love hair of all kinds, and in the world of botany grass is the closest thing to it. It is for this reason that I like to look at the lawns when I walk through Eugene. My feeling of happiness though, is bitter-sweet: I appreciate chlorophyll carrying out photosynthesis, however motivated by Monsanto, Dow etc. It has become customary in this country to try to kill anything that grows on lawns except for green grass. Although I love the look of a living green carpet on people’s front yards, weeds, including dandelions are not only beautiful but are edible too and have an assimilable form of calcium (as opposed to diary). 

If grass is allowed to grow to about a foot or more, a large variety of wild flowers will appear and will all but eliminate the worldwide danger of  bee colony collapse. As any observer of nature knows, without the pollinators there can be no life. A pollinator is the agent that moves pollen from the male anthers of a flower to the female stigma of a flower to accomplish fertilization; they come in many forms besides bees, but they all depend on the nectar of flowers — and we depend on them for the growth of 75 percent of flowering plants. Other pollinators besides our friends the bees are hummingbirds, bats, beetles, butterflies and flies. And their gifts to us humans and other animals are chocolate, coffee, berries, squash and many fruits, vegetables and nuts.

David Ivan Piccioni, Eugene