UNDERMINING OUR NATION
Since we are now entering the patriotic season, it would seem reasonable to consider who are the real enemies of our republic and how to defend it. We citizens have been told for years that our prime enemy is al Qaeda, perhaps with some reason. But the time has come to consider the following:
If al Qaeda were blowing up mountains in Appalachia and elsewhere, pouring toxics into our groundwater and particulate matter into our air, holding patents on seeds that contained potent insecticides and herbicides, threatening the population of bees on which so much of our food depends, influencing legislators and regulators to allow all this and more to continue — then I am sure that American patriots would be convinced that it is indeed our prime enemy.
But perhaps it is not. What is a patriotic American to do if the prime enemy of their health and welfare lies somewhere else? Putting a flag in every classroom and on every porch may not be enough to make us secure.
Patricia Spicer, Eugene
WAR ON THE POOR
America has turned from the compassionate nation of the war on poverty to Paul Ryan’s war against the poor. We have created a large new lower class we call Homeless.
Government structures are needed by the poor now being attacked, abandoned and currently have no hope of help.
Present governments must go beyond inadequate food stamps for the abandoned people now unsheltered with no safety. Federal, state and local government must add to their systems shelter and income for all needy Americans.
“Welfare” (except for some families with children) has disappeared; no shelter, no income and no services now reach the homeless. America’s unfortunate homeless human beings need safe shelter day by day.
What forces people into homelessness? Biggest of the problems is no income or too little income to spend on housing. Homeless people are seldom accepted in “the job market.” Others, also without enough money cannot manage their lives due to lack of education, physical and mental disability, substance abuse or being discarded from institutions. Family problems cause many to have no home, especially children and women.
Failure to stop Republican cuts is a catastrophe now for millions of poor Americans. Cuts are injuring and killing many American children and adults already homeless.
Regular grassroots Americans need to restore our democracy that serves everyone. And daily, we need to shelter and provide income and services to America’s most poor. The job is way too big for just the faith community and other well meaning volunteers to reach all in need.
Jerry Smith, MSW, Eugene
OUR BASIC RIGHTS
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the U.S.:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Tom Giesen, Eugene
JOIN THE FIGHT
State Sen. Floyd Prozanski just voted to give the timber industry more special, unfair rules with which to intimidate protesters in the courtroom. It comes as no surprise, really, that the vast majority of Democratic politicians in Oregon, in both the house and Senate, would support anti-activist/pro-timber initiatives pushed through by timber and ALEC funded interests, but it is a little surprising to me just how overwhelming their support was.
When I do work in the community or in the woods as an environmental activist I often get massive public support and thank-yous and the like from people all over this state, but people need to stop thanking us for doing the work and get active themselves. When all non-Portland based Dems voted in support of HB 2596, further bolstering the timber industry’s grip on Oregon’s forests, they did so because they had the confidence that y’all would still vote for them, because you are scared of the other guy.
Now, this isn’t to say that literally everyone reading this makes such poor choices, but the majority of you do, and you know it — hell, you may even feel bad about it. It’s time to stop thinking that your Democratic vote can save this dying Earth, folks. Every single one of us must chose a side here, and join the fight, no more “lesser of two evils.”
It is time to stop letting these lunatics destroy these ecosystems with false cries of “jobs, schools, sheriffs, oh my!” Timber extremists and their paid-for politicians have got to go, and they will not leave just because a handful of Cascadia Forest Defenders asked them to. For more info, go to www.forestdefensenow.com.
Jason Gonzales, Walton
ILLUSION OF DEMOCRACY
I learned two new words yesterday. You see, all this time I thought I was living in a democracy. Then I learned a new word and I realized, I/we are living in a plutocracy.
Lovely word, plutocracy. It combines nicely with kleptocracy. And this seems to be the type of government we have today.
This is sad, folks.
Philip Dietz, Springfield
Education and economy go together. How can teachers agree to a new contract with such a small increase in salary, more teacher layoffs, large classes and fewer days to educate our kids? This is bad for teachers and bad for our kids. Our legislators and school district leaders need to work for a new progressive source of funding. Our state has had a large increase in wealth but I don’t see our kids and the general public benefitting. Other countries are making education their first priority. When will we turn this around?
Ruth Duemler, Eugene
MAGNET FOR THE NEEDY
While Terry McDonald, St. Vincent de Paul’s director, is a terrifically nice guy and widely respected, I have to call bullshit on his so-called “debunking” of the myth about social services not attracting “outsiders,” which the EW printed in Slant [6/13].
Those of us who do live in west Eugene and do actually talk to people we meet know the actual facts. Eugene is a magnet for the needy because the rulers here have stacked our city with so many and so much that it is quite well-known among the needy in several other states: You go to Eugene, not Portland, not Ashland, not Los Angeles. This is neurotic proactivism with no regard for the wider impacts. It short-circuits the positive social process of communities elsewhere recognizing they have social service needs they should meet. Instead, people pack off to Eugene where we bear the expense of the ever-increasing need.
Zurich’s experiment with heroin control provides a lesson: In the 1980s Zurich designated the public park next to the main train station as a heroin free-zone, meaning that you could legally go there to buy, sell or use heroin, and get safe needle exchange all in one spot. This kept heroin and HIV from spreading to other parts of the city, and appeared to be a great idea. What they hadn’t foreseen was that because it was the only free-zone of its kind in Europe, an enormous number of junkies and dealers from the rest of the continent eventually descended on the park, and it became a total nightmare.
This is not an argument against social services, but in support of the intelligent and responsible management of social services, and sharing these responsibilities fairly. The city should definitely not have located Opportunity Village at its North Garfield property, which is within a stone’s throw of the Eugene Mission. Why not locate it in south Eugene near the homes of Terry McDonald and Pearl Wolfe?
Den Ramsey, Eugene
DON’T TAX CREDIT UNIONS
Congress is looking for creative ways to dig themselves out of a hole that they dug through their own volition. Topics include eliminating the mortgage interest tax incentive and taxing not-for-profit credit union income.
As a credit union member, I enjoy lower fees, higher rates, a voice and voting power at my financial institution. If Congress decides to tax credit unions, they’re really deciding to tax me and my choice to support local not-for-profit cooperatives, rather than the big bank corporate model. But even worse, if Congress taxes CUs, they’re really taxing everyone — credit union members or not — because credit union rates help create a competitive marketplace and force banks to keep their rates down.
Big banks have the ability to raise capital and rates whenever they want, with little to no customer accountability — remember 2008 or when Bank of America decided to start charging for debit card use? Credit unions don’t work that way; credit union members are exactly that, members! CU members have voting power and a voice in how their financial institutions behave!
Beyond low fees and higher interest rates, credit unions are well-known for giving back to their communities. For example, last year alone Oregon credit unions delivered $121 million in direct benefits to Oregonians. Oregon Community Credit Union provided 2,000 hours of community service projects and more than $500,000 in sponsorships, scholarships and financial literacy programs. Please visit donttaxmycreditunion.org and tell your congressperson exactly that: Don’t tax my credit union!
Mat Beecher, Eugene
There is all this talk about homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, but there is a large group that is being ignored. It is time to come out of the closet. I’m monosexual and proud of it!
Vince Loving, Eugene
MORE TAX INCREASES
Florence residents were promised that merging the city into the rural fire district would not cause higher taxes. A written agreement limited the increases. In 2011, Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue (SVFR) staff gave notice to the Florence City Council they removed this restrictive/offensive section. To the annual 3 percent tax increase due to 3 percent increase of property appraised values, fire staff is adding 6 percent this year to its district rate; 0.8891 to 0.9391. I say “staff” since monthly board meetings average 30 minutes; staff provides the issues, supporting research and singular decision choice; and the board votes unanimously. Just because the fire district provides a decent service is no excuse for us and our elected board to give the staff a blank check and invite into a candy store.
The proposed and last year’s tax increases can be eliminated by one decision. The receptionist/ secretary/ office worker received consecutive 10 percent pay increases, becoming the second highest salary on the fire staff. She will cost roughly $48 per actual work-hour. Together with her full-time assistant, they provide office support for the huge staff of six full-time workers. This largess may be since both she and her boss are retiring this year and PERS retirement is based on 1.67 percent times years in PERS times final salary.
The solution is to simply retire her position, saving $62,370 salary plus $6,600 medical (with dental vision) plus $6,000 PERS (estimated) plus 8.6 weeks paid days off plus her other compensations. Most local businesses would agree one competent office staff worker fulfills the support needs of an equivalent service shop. The assistant is already trained, so let her assume the lead position at her current compensation.
Supporting documents can be viewed on the siuslawcounty.org website. The proposed budget’s single public hearing was June 19.
Keith Stanton, Florence
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