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Letters to the Editor: 11-21-2013

PARKLAND IMBALANCE

In his Viewpoint [11/7] “The Civic Solution,” Eben Fodor proposes that the city purchase Civic Stadium with Parks and Open Space Bond funds because south Eugene has a relative deficiency of park facilities. City purchase is also supported by Donna Taggert’s Viewpoint [11/14].

Fodor is correct that we need to continue to purchase parkland to match population growth and there certainly is interest in preserving Civic Stadium. As for south Eugene needing more parks, that area has much more than its share!

Here are the facts: A report shows that the south Eugene planning sub-area having 18 percent of Eugene’s population and 39 percent of the acreage of developed parks, 2.2 times the city average. South Eugene’s parks and open space acreage is 2.4 times the city average. (Table C-1 of the November 2004 draft of the Eugene Parks Recreation and Open Space Comprehensive Plan)

Recent parkland purchases haven’t eliminated the imbalance. A report to City Council a few weeks ago shows that 66 percent of parkland is found in the four south council wards and 33 percent is in the north wards.

New student housing around the UO might create an argument for more parks, but other parts of the city are seeing our greenfield sites developed for single and multifamily housing as well. It would be interesting to know which parts of Eugene are really growing faster.

There are good arguments for saving Civic Stadium; let’s not detract from them by incorrectly claiming that making it a park will improve the geographic distribution in the city. The reality is that more parkland should be purchased and developed in north and west Eugene to reach parity.

Jon Belcher Co-chair, River Road Community Organization and Jerry Finigan Chair, Santa Clara Community Organization

 

MONSTER CHAIN

That wonderful old Civic Stadium might be torn down to put in a Fred Meyer makes me feel ill. The Register-Guard is no help, headlining an article on page one of the Nov. 16 edition: “Freddy’s Pitch.”

It’s way past time to stop calling these stores by the cutesy/folksy moniker “Freddy’s.” Way back in 1985 they devoured Salt Lake City’s Grand Central Stores. In the 1990s they consumed Los Angeles’ Ralph’s chain and Seattle’s QFC, already making it the nation’s fifth largest food and drug purveyor. And then ol’ “Freddy” merged with Kroger!

Fred Meyer stores are a monster chain of big-box discount stores a la Walmart and K-Mart. That 4J School District would sell this magnificent wood structure, a structure given to them by the city for recreational use, to help with a short-term budget problem is absolutely outrageous. The stadium is on the National Register of Historic Buildings! A big-box discount joint that smells like plastic and polyester would nonetheless result in plywood-boarded windows of lost small specialty shops which make south Eugene so livable. This has happened all over America. Don’t let it happen here.

Please note that “Freddy’s Pitch” is all about looks. Are we collectively that stupid!? Ever hear the old adage “You can’t tell a book by its cover”?

Letting the YMCA auction the grand old building so it can be demolished to cram in more housing is just as nuts. Let’s show some foresight. Save Civic! 

Ronald B. Duber, Eugene

 

PLAN FOR WALKERS

Remember when it was cool to smoke, cruise the boulevard or just go for a Sunday drive without purpose? Well, that was yesterday. Today we need to take responsibility for ourselves, our neighborhoods and the planet. The redesign of South Willamette Street must be one where people can enjoy walking. Currently that is not the case.

More than one-third of adults are not just overweight, they are obese and have related conditions that include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

We have neighborhoods for cars and not for people, maximizing the sale of goods of various kinds. We have not built the places we live with an eye toward future generations.

From 2001 to 2009, the average annual number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by young people (ages 16 to 34) decreased from 10,300 to 7,900 per capita — a drop of 23 percent — and is expected to continue to drop. Many of America’s youth prefer to live places where they can easily walk, bike and take public transportation.

Let’s plan for future generations now.

Richard Hughes, Eugene

 

REBEL AGAINST TESTING

Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO): If you enter nonsense data into a computer, that’s what comes out. That’s what the standardized testing machine amounts to. If these tests are so precise in measuring students and teachers, how come they change them every few years, then compare the new scores to older scores? Now, the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) test will be replaced by the Common Core Test. Here we go again.

But that doesn’t stop politicians from wanting more tests. It certainly doesn’t stop the giant testing corporations from making “new” tests every few years and, of course, making billions in profits.

But more and more people are saying, “Enough!” Over 875 school districts in Texas, representing 91 percent of Texas students, signed a resolution to reassess high-stakes testing. In Snohomish, Wash., over 550 students opted out of testing recently. Those parents spearheaded HB 1293, the Parent Right-to-Know Testing Transparency Bill.

Portland high school students walked out of school last spring, refusing to take yet another standardized test, then carpooled to Salem to give testimony for HB 2664, Oregon’s testing accountability bill.

Diane Ravitch, Reagan’s testing czar, now says high-stakes testing is ruining education. National organizations are forming to oppose the tests. Opponents of testing are winning school board elections.

Come hear from a teacher and a student from Seattle’s Garfield High School. They captured national attention with their inspirational entire-school boycott of the local standardized test. They will be at Springfield High School on Nov. 21 at 6:30 pm. Come join the movement!

Roscoe Caron, Eugene

 

BUY THE STADIUM

I support a resolution that the city of Eugene preserve the stadium. Per Donna Taggart’s Viewpoint column in the Nov. 14 EW, I endorse the Friends of Civic Stadium proposal that the city purchase Civic Stadium. It would be a shame for it to go into the hands of developers for more parking lots and box buildings in our city.

Barbara Sophia Douglas, Eugene

 

WHAT DEFAZIO LEFT OUT

Congressman Peter DeFazio’s “A Long-term Solution” Viewpoint [11/14] defending his O&C bill interestingly didn’t talk about long-term solutions such as forest’s role in climate change, habitat for wildlife and clean air and water for future generations. Why not explore getting paid to maintain healthy forests for the carbon they sequester? One acre of healthy forest sequesters 3 to 4 tons of carbon a year. He didn’t mention the thousands of jobs thinning forests, the need to increase the timber harvest tax to similar levels of Washington and California. 

The timber industry wants to get their hands on our public forests because they have overcut theirs. The only forests left that are halfway healthy are our public owned forests. There has been a huge increase in clear-cuts on private forests here in Lane County and if we allow his bill to go through (the Republicans love his bill; what does that tell you?), the eco-systems will begin to fail quickly. 

He also makes it sound like all the old-growth will be protected; not true. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of forests that have trees a hundred or more years old to be cut in his plan. This is a gift to the timber barons, not future generations, wildlife or unemployed in southwest Oregon. We need to be creative and look for alternatives for revenue for the state and jobs for the unemployed. The forests have been tapped and need time to repair and heal.

Pam Driscoll, Dexter

 

KIMCHI CONNOISSEUR

My daughter and I are kimchi lovers but don’t make it. We try it everywhere. We saw the EW [blurb] for Best Kimchi on Highway 58, and respectfully suggest that the field be opened in order to have fair competition. And we have our own nomination. In our opinion, the most balanced and the most satisfying kimchi can be enjoyed at your Best Hangover Breakfast restaurant, Brails. Today, as we speak, Joy Knudtson is making up the perfect batch — perfectly balanced so it’s not too fishy, the chili does not overwhelm and aged just right. Almost melts in your mouth. Since I buy in bulk, and she is making it today, I am sharing a quart with your kimchi connoisseur so they can see for themself.

Maki Doolittle & Misa Joo, Eugene

 

KENNEDY & MORSE

Fifty years ago, on Nov. 12, 1963, Sen. Wayne Morse had a private meeting with President Kennedy at the White House. JFK told Morse that he had decided to pull out of Vietnam.

On Oct. 11, 1963, Kennedy signed National Security Action Memorandum 263, which called for removing a thousand “advisers” by the end of the year, with the remaining 15,000 to be out after JFK won re-election. This was immediately reversed after Kennedy was removed from office. Some 58,000 U.S. troops and three million people in Southeast Asia were killed because of this reversal. NSAM 263 has been declassified for a long time, you can read it at jfkmoon.org/vietnam.html.

The military command and the “intelligence” agencies were bitterly opposed to this policy, as they were to his refusal to bomb Cuba during the 1962 Missile Crisis (which probably would have led to nuclear war) and his efforts for detente with the Soviet Union, including the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty signed in late 1963.

The term “conspiracy theory” was created by the CIA to ridicule citizens who didn’t believe the Warren Commission cover-up report, which claimed Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK. This polarizes public opinion between “nothing is a conspiracy” vs. “everything is a conspiracy.” The truth is in between. We need critical thinking to evaluate evidence, including fake claims of conspiracy created by conspirators to discredit looking at these scandals. Details at jfkmoon.org — Kennedy’s 1963 plan to convert the Moon Race to global cooperation.

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene

 

PRÉTENTIEUX? OUI

Regarding “La Petite Mort” [feature, 10/31]: If you’re gonna use pretentious French, at least check it out. It’s le mort and le petit mort. In French, death is not feminine so “the” and the adjective are masculine as well. Yeah, I know, what the fuck. Sorry, but it rubs me wrong.

Georgette Silber, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: We cheese-eaters stand by our pretentious French.

 

A HEAVY BURDEN

I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to Mariah Leung for her steadfast courage and willingness to research and report unpopular truths about the state of Israel. Sometimes knowing too much can be a heavy burden to carry, particularly if one’s conscience does not permit one to remain silent.

It’s one of current history’s funniest paradoxes that opposition to Israeli policies is more freely expressed within the boundaries of Israel than here in “the land of the free.” Unfortunately, the joke is on us.

Fergus Mclean, Dexter

 

NOT AFFORDABLE YET

After weeks of exchange glitch news, finally something more relevant: the substance of the exchange and Affordable Care Act, affordability and choice. What does the public get? An income over $46,000 gets you more expensive options but only one choice: private insurance. An income under $15,000: no choice on the exchange and only one “affordable” option, Medicaid (with the financial drawbacks that entails for family members left behind). 

With an income between $15,000 and $46,000, you can buy on the exchange determining how much out of pocket you will pay. If you can only afford the bronze or silver plan, will you be able to pay the 30 to 40 percent out of pocket even with the subsidized premiums? And how cheap are those premiums? If you are under 30, you can be enticed with the catastrophic cheap policy.

Glitches have been a fine distraction, wasting time on blame, giving the public an increased sense of urgency to sign up for whatever they are allowed to get before fines are imposed and enrollment closes. It will work out well for the insurance industry and hospitals, but the Affordable Care Act is not yet affordable for the public. Choices in the exchange are Illusion. the public has already been “pre-slotted” for what kind of coverage is available to them. There is almost no choice at all. The government is doing something very big and to get it right will require many more fixes than fixing computer glitches.

Gwen Heineman, Eugene