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Letters to the Editor: 5-30-2013

TAKE BACK THE BUDGET

Thank you to everyone who voted, helped, and supported the No City Fee Campaign. People stepped up from all over our community to write letters, go door to door, make phone calls and contribute skills or resources — we could not have prevailed in this election without your activism. Together, we fought City Hall and won.

Like most struggles, it goes on. We can’t assume the city’s overwhelming loss at the ballot means they finally “get it.” It is painfully obvious that city leadership is out of touch with the everyday lives and challenges of its residents. The mayor has already signaled she may repackage the fee and bring it back. The city manager’s abbreviated and tightly manipulated budget process is a continuation of the dysfunction that disenfranchises taxpayers, and fosters distrust of city government. And our most needed and popular city services are still on the “chopping block.”

It remains to be seen if the Budget Committee and council have the smarts or the spine to take back control of the budget and do what’s right for the public they serve.

We strongly encourage you to stay involved and submit comments to the budget process online at eugene-or.gov/budgetcommittee or testify at the next three meetings; May 30, June 4, and June 5. You can also send comments to the city on the most recent tax exemption application for MUPTE for student housing at wkly.ws/1hj. Information and links to submit comments are at our VoteNoCityFee.org website, where you can read my comments submitted to the Budget Committee.

Bonny Bettman McCornack, Eugene

 

DELAY CITY HALL

I don’t envy the task the Eugene Budget Committee is facing right now to figure out how to balance the budget without adequate funding. I suggest that in order to keep services that are necessary for the livability of our city, do not put any funding into rebuilding City Hall until fiscal times are better. It’s my understanding that there is also money that has been put aside to rebuild City Hall, I suggest spending some of that money on critical services for the city.

With the economy in such dismal shape and inadequate funding due to the passage of Measure 5, now is not the time to rebuild City Hall. Hopefully in the future the fiscal picture of our city, our state, our country and the world will improve, but until then it is important to spend funds on services such as CAHOOTS, Buckley House, recreation, the library and other important services and forgo funding less important material items such as a City Hall and tax breaks for developers. We need all the taxes possible, so no more tax breaks!

I work in the Lane County public service building and enjoy having the city offices sharing the building with us. As the county has had to downsize we have room for some of the city staff. Harris Hall has also worked out to be a good place for City Council meetings. It makes good fiscal sense to share as well as being better for the environment.

 Susan Barnhart, Eugene

 

A NEW BEGINNING

The voters across the spectrum, from progressive to conservative, have delivered a resounding “no confidence” vote in the city manager, who through his incompetence and duplicity has once again led the mayor and City Council to a disastrous result.

It’s time now for all who care about accountability and transparency in our local government to unite and send another clear message to the Budget Committee and the mayor and council that it’s well past time for the city manager and staff to start serving the community, not just a select few who want to profit from city giveaways and preferential treatment.

As a first step, we should make clear to the Budget Committee and City Council that our priorities are emergency shelter for the homeless, fire protection, Sheldon pool, CAHOOTS, neighborhood services and other community-building services. Our priorities are not more tax exemptions for student housing developers, “lux” digs for the city manager and his posse, fantasy “visioning” exercises by ivory tower planners or all the other self-aggrandizing pursuits of the city manager and mayor.

If you supported Measure 20-211 because you cared about our fellow citizens and quality of life, do not despair. This could be a long-needed new beginning, if we unite in our efforts to have an accountable city organization that is genuinely responsive to our community’s priorities.

Paul Conte, Eugene

 

LOVE IN MY HEART

I wish to thank all those who spent much time and energy arranging for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s recent visit to our community. I was blessed to have been able to share this time with the Dalai Lama and about 12,000 other brothers and sisters.

If I had to describe the gathering in one word I would say “lovely.” And I would add about his holiness: humble, kind, calm, love and peace along with a wonderful sense of humor! Lasting effects seem to be a smile coming across my face, calmness in my body and peace and love in my heart — better than any of the high blood pressure medicines I have tried, and without all those nasty side effects listed in TV commercials! 

Once again, thank you all. Love, 

Tim Boyden, Eugene

 

BENEFITS OF ‘YES’ VOTE

The passage of the Lane County levy was not only good news for public safety but also for clean drinking water, wild salmon and remaining ancient forests of western Oregon. The vote signals that we have entered a new era of diversified county funding and that solutions other than ramping up clearcutting on our revered public forestlands are possible.

While the levy doesn’t solve all of Lane County’s funding woes, it does set the table for further discussion about how to fund basic services. Other ideas abound including how the state and counties can capitalize on the corporations who are shipping raw logs, jobs and tax rolls overseas, or provide incentives to process the wood at home. Taking a fresh look at the timber harvest tax on industrial forestlands to benefit counties is also in order.

The outcome of the vote is an important step towards a reliable, long-term solution to pay for the core public services we all rely on, and reminds us that our backyard public forests that provide the air we breathe, the water we drink, unparalleled recreation opportunities and unique habitats don’t have to shoulder the funding burden for Lane County.

Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, Eugene

 

BEES ARE THE KEYS

The goal of our community in recent years is to create an environment that is sustainable. By definition, sustainable means conserving an ecological balance by protecting our natural resources. As a beekeeper, in order to sustain my bees, I need your help. Beekeeping is no longer sustainable for the simple fact that pesticides are building up in our hives at lethal levels. Our local stores sell particularly harmful chemicals that cause if not immediate colony collapse a slow poisoning of the hive with the final result being a dead hive in the spring. 

 If we can’t sustain this most precious resource how are we going to move forward and insure a food supply in our local community? In essence we are destroying the very thread of life we depend on. It is time for us to stop using pesticides immediately to not only protect us but our air, water, food and the insects that we depend on for survival. 

Our local stores have been notified that these pesticides cause colony collapse in all pollinators but they still insist on selling them to make a profit. As a beekeeper this is completely unacceptable. In Europe they have banned these pesticides and the bees have rebounded. Our own government sits by aimlessly while big corporations are making huge profits poisoning our world. If you value the world we live in please do your part and stop the use of pesticides immediately!

Doug Hornaday, Eugene

 

FUND ALL THE SERVICES

I hope everyone lobbying to preserve programs on the city manager’s proposed cut list will support saving not only their personal favorites, but all of them. And that would be consistent with the election results. 

 Given the fee’s defeat, some decision-makers feel obliged to make the threatened cuts, because using one-time sources of funds would not solve the long-term problem. But the services on the hit list are among those most popular with Eugene residents. The “yes” votes show many people not only support the threatened services, but are willing to pay more to keep them. And statements during the campaign showed that many more want the services funded from existing revenue. So the message of the vote in context is that people opposed the fee, but support the programs.

The election created a forum in which many city budget priorities were questioned. These should now be given a comprehensive review. The Weekly’s proposed independent performance auditor (Slant, 5/23) would be one way that could usefully be accomplished. But regardless of how it’s done, to allow time for the process, it’s entirely appropriate and responsible to spare the threatened services for another year, by using one-time funds as needed.

 Robert Roth, Eugene

 

CLIMATE & MEAT

A review of 12,000 papers on climate change in the May 15 issue of Environmental Research Letters found that 97 percent of scientists attribute climate change to human activities. Although we’re unlikely to reverse climate change, we can mitigate its effects by reducing our driving, energy use, and meat consumption.

A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat consumption accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that it may be closer to 50 percent.

Carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, is generated by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport, and slaughter animals. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

Each of us has the power to reduce the devastating effects of climate change every time we eat. Our local supermarket offers a rich variety of soy-based lunch meats, hotdogs, veggie burgers and soy and nut-based dairy products, as well as an ample selection of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts. Product lists, easy recipes, and transition tips are at livevegan.org.

Edward Newland, Eugene

 

MINORITY RULES

Following each local election, I tally up the results, adding them to 16 years of totals, then occasionally reporting them.

• 282,026 census population as of 2010 report

• 209,894 registered voters in this election

• 82,166 voted (39 percent, 16 year average 49 percent)

• 215 positions, 11 with no one filed (5 percent, 16 year average 9 percent), 25 contested seats (12 percent, 16 year average 25 percent), 179 one filed paying $10 fee (83 percent, 16 year average 66 percent)

• Six tax increases on ballot with four accepted (67 percent, 16 year average 67 percent)

• Of the contested positions, candidates are being seated by a minority vote since a third do not mark a choice for that contested position. Thus only 12 percent of the seats are effectively chosen and decided by only 13 percent of the voters. This ignores those who have not registered. And rarely is an incumbent relieved of office.

Conclusion: We are extremely happy and contented with those who oversee and run our ever-expanding public agencies. We love them very much and are delighted to expand their control over and extraction of our diminishing wealth. We support the majority of all new taxes, fees, and regulations which those we elect establish; and on occasion allow us to decide.

Demonstrated is our “happiness quotient,” extremely high with contentment reigning throughout our coastal county. The results are in!

Keith Stanton, Florence