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Letters to the Editor: 12-19-2013

POWER BILLS COMING

Last week, we experienced the lowest temperatures in 40 years. We also used more electricity than anytime during the last decade. At one point, Eugene was consuming 557 megawatts to stay warm. Overall energy consumption was 30 percent to 50 percent above a typical December day as many residents hunkered down at home and kept the heat turned up.

While crews were out responding to bursting water pipes, Eugene Water & Electric Board’s management was thinking about the bill shock we’ll likely experience around Christmas. The reason is simple: The more you consume, the higher your bill. Most of us can absorb this one-time hit to our pocketbooks. But for thousands of low-income customers, it imposes a true hardship.

EWEB is a community-owned utility, not a private corporation. When there’s a positive balance at year-end, we can re-invest it in projects and programs that you care about. Normally, EWEB makes $1.7 million available annually to its low-income Customer Care program. General Manager Roger Gray added $660,000 more to cushion the impact of last week’s cold snap. Nearly 3,400 low-income customers will receive automatic $200 credits to their accounts. Other eligible ratepayers not currently enrolled in the program can also apply for bill assistance. 

Last week, many of us privately gave thanks for a warm house and wondered how others were fairing. Due to Eugene’s concern for those less fortunate, EWEB’s managers invested in one of our long-held community values. Thanks for keeping our spirits warm.

 Steve Mital, EWEB Commissioner

 

THE LOYAL JERKA

I’m sorry for the belated letter regarding this subject, yet when has the invasion of Afghanistan become past tense? [Regarding “The Loya Jirga” column by Jake Klonoski 11/21, writing from Afghanistan.]

Jake Klonoski is the $4-trillion dollar man, and worth every drone strike for his efforts as a hack apologist for the militarist, multi-national corporatocracy he (Exxon) “Mobil”-ized for. Under the (dis)guise(s) of “economic development” and bringing “stability,” he writes this piece of garbage propaganda posing as virtue. I wonder if Klonoski has read Malalai Joya’s book, A Woman Among Warlords? If not, he might have a better understanding as to the enmity his presence creates, and answer why we fund all sides of the violence: the Taliban, the warlords, Karzai, opium dealers, etc. — and destruction of that country and its culture.

I’d like to quote an excellent example of the corruption behind Klonoski’s blinded virtuousness and arrogance. It is from the book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:

It is a common fate of many human institutions to begin as a response to some universal problem until, after many generations, the problems peculiar to the institutions themselves will take precedence over the original goal. Modern nations create armed forces as a defense against enemies. Soon, however, an army develops its own needs, its own politics, to the point that the most successful soldier is not necessarily the one who defends the country best, but the one who obtains the most money for the army.

There, Klonoski, I hope you’re satisfied. You’ve been a successful soldier, spending all our money to create chaos, death and destruction. There’s your virtue. Now get the fuck out of Afghanistan and leave those poorest people in the world alone!

Sean Doyle, Corvallis

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jake Klonoski is actually a sailor, not a soldier.

 

IGNORING THE POSITIVE

Adrian Black does a fine job of pointing out many very serious societal issues focused in downtown and midtown Eugene. I do, however, consider his piece to be far more of an editorial than investigative journalism. It is true that the city of Eugene has a large homeless population and there are simply not enough services to meet the needs of that group. 

I would, however, like to point out that my experience with the Downtown Guides differs from Black’s. I have seen the Guides work with homeless people to get them the services that they need. In my experience, they have done so with compassion and an acknowledgement that there simply is not enough help available. 

In a time when our city cannot pay for enough emergency responders, I am grateful for the help that CAHOOTS and the Downtown Guides are able to offer. 

It would have been interesting to know how crime statistics in the areas mentioned in the article differ this year from last. With more businesses bringing more people downtown for positive reasons, it seems likely to me that there has been a change in those numbers. That information might have been too positive to be newsworthy. 

Not for the first time, I am left wondering how both of the newspapers in our town are able to run enormous cover stories about some alarming things happening in downtown and not mention many positive things happening in the same area.

Reisa Maddex, Footwise, Eugene

 

SAINTLY REDCAPS

I was shocked to see that you went after the Downtown Guides, or redcaps as they’re sometimes known, in your recent cover story [12/5]. Are you kidding me? These guys might not be perfect, but in my book, they’re one step shy of sainthood. They are a huge resource for everyone who lives, works and passes through our charming downtown. I’ve been doing business here almost 20 years and have not had too many occasions to call the Guides, but when I needed them, I found them to be incredibly skillful at defusing some weird situations in ways that were very respectful to all parties. 

I might suggest that instead of seeing the redcaps as “private muscle” or folks who “protect the retail environment at all costs,” you could tone down the class warfare hyperbole and reframe them as a huge community resource that saves many, many phone calls to the police, de-escalates lots of potential problems, helps people who need help and allows us all to feel a little safer and sounder out on the streets.

They have a tough job and I value the work they do.

Jewel Murphy, Passionflower Design, Eugene

 

RIPE FOR ABUSE

In response to J.C. Helmer’s “Cuckoo’s Nest Option” [Letters 12/12] regarding a system for filtering mentally ill homeless individuals: Helmer, I appreciate that you are trying to find a pragmatic solution to a complex problem and suspect that you care deeply about the issues of homelessness and mental illness, but I am frightened by your enthusiasm for filtering all Eugene’s homeless mentally ill to Oregon State Hospital, where they will receive the “most modern and up-to-date knowledge of treating mentally ill.”

As a young woman, I was incarcerated in a mental institution against my wishes because a doctor intervened “for my own good.” This automatically put me in victim status: Despite having committed no crime, I was confined with no power over what happened to my body (restraints) or mind (pharmaceutical drugs), and I had no knowledge of when this would end. This scene is ripe for accidental and intentional abuse.

I don’t believe that when anybody freezes to death that “he was doing exactly what he wanted.” It is a choice about power and whether you will exchange all your power for a bed and food. We lucky ones with jobs and homes only have to exchange part of our power for a bed and food.

Catherine Burke-Maher, Springfield

 

DOWNTOWN’S COMEBACK

I would like to throw in my two cents about our downtown and its growing pains as it attempts to reassert itself as a place to both shop and gather publicly. For disclosure’s sake, I am both a small business owner (Out on a Limb Gallery at 191 E. Broadway) and also an activist for basic rights for all, which certainly includes the right to gather in public squares.

I would start by reminding folks of the two huge pits/eyesores that were quite recently part of our downtown. My second thought is this will certainly not be fixed overnight. Thirdly this involves not just business folks taking a chance, but also you, me and your friends coming down and supporting these businesses! This is our downtown we are talking about, our community. To me this is the biggest thing that will make it all come together, a magical number of folks, a critical mass of us.

We all make choices daily where to shop, eat and go for entertainment, within reason of course, depending upon our finances. Many good folks in our town live simply and still make it a priority to support local farmers, artists, etc., in essence supporting their neighbors. I have a vision of a downtown that perhaps dates me. Call it Mayberry if you like, and even call me a dreamer, for “nothing happens, unless first a dream.” 

My little business just passed two years, and I hope it has a long run. I am quite proud of Out on a Limb and hope it is a tiny piece of our downtown’s comeback! We have recently made some pretty big steps in that direction. Ever the optimist, I do my best to keep my glass more than half full and my heart as well. We can do this, but it will take all of us. And knowing how many truly amazing folks I know around here, I am confident. Come back to our downtown. Let’s do this! 

Tim Boyden, Eugene

 

NO ASSETS TO COLLECT

In response to Gwen Heineman’s complaint that Oregon Health Plan (OHP) will take her assets after death: Yes, it says right on the Cover Oregon application that if you die while receiving OHP, they will attempt to recover the amount they paid out in medical costs from your estate, unless you have a surviving spouse, a child under 21 years old or a disabled or blind child. If you have assets but not income, you are eligible for OHP but not for the exchanges. 

Why not get on OHP to satisfy the individual mandate but pay all your medical bills with cash? Or write to your lawmakers and ask them to tweak the system so you can get a subsidy instead of OHP. The vast majority of people on OHP have no assets worth recovering, and I am personally quite happy if they try to recover assets from those who have used the system in their lifetime (including me).

Kara Huntermoon, Eugene

 

ON WOOD BURNING

David Hugh Tyson is so savagely furious he can barely marshal the coherence to compose a missive to the EW readership.

That he, with such a fine stack of seasoned madrona, which burns with such bright sublimity, should be denied his comfort because of weaklings with respiratory discomforts! Chicken-chested weaklings who nonetheless cling like lice to their fossil fuel systems dumping gigatons of lung-damaging, planet-destroying poisons into the atmosphere, acidifying oceans and melting icecaps — not to mention the suffering of future generations who don’t yet even have a voice to whine about how they have to wear a gas mask to enjoy any outdoor recreation!

David Hugh Tyson thinks it is insupportably unjust that his short-cycle wood burning should be repressed by these asthmatic fossil fuel fools.

David Hugh Tyson, Eugene

 

ENDANGERED MEADOW

We reside in the River Road area and own a home 200 yards from the bike path. I walk this path with my dogs along side the river daily. We are blessed to live in such a beautiful area, with no developments on our side of the river — until now. There is a proposed development to be built on a beautiful meadow just off the bike path on private property. Presently, the meadow is filled with life. Beavers, osprey, eagles and river otters all frequent the area. The property owners and Oakleigh Meadow Co-Housing (OMC) have decided to put 28 condos, a large 4,000-sq.-ft. community house, 48 parking units, bike garages and concrete walls where this meadow currently thrives. 

I feel it is in the best interest of the Ruth Bascom Path users to stop this development and save the meadow. We should prevent the loss of open spaces we have so few of. Once it is gone, it can never return. And the precedent is set for more and more development. I encourage the developers and investors of the Oakleigh Meadows Co-Housing to consider the loss of yet another open space and natural habitat. I urge, with respect for the land and environment, that OMC sell the property to the city for park use and preserve a threatened ecosystem, an urban meadow. Please think wisely.

Cecelia Baxter-Heintz, STOMP (Save The Oakleigh Meadow Please)

 

UO VS. EUGENE HRB

Several weeks ago the city of Eugene Historic Review Board (HRB) discussed structures UO is now seeking to move or demolish near East 19th and Columbia Street. The HRB requested that city staff person Steve Ochs gather background information about the structures. UO is now stonewalling and ignoring staff requests for information. 

UO could lose federal funds if it is shown that they are degrading or demolishing structures that have potential to be designated as historic. EW should be asking UO what is going to be developed on all of the 10 or so historic blocks that UO owns. They should be asking UO what happens if UO is blocked and delayed by the important work of the HRB. 

Vast areas of empty UO land now exist along East 15th Avenue. UO planners claim the empty area is “fully developed” as surface parking lots. Why should UO be allowed to pursue high-impact dense development far away from the campus core while large empty parcels exist much closer in? The Eugene City Council compounds the UO East Campus/Moss Street conspiracy development pattern by voting to close and sell to UO any street UO desires.

Perhaps the Eugene City Council will make this situation more “sustainable” for UO by simply dissolving the HRB entirely. Which street will be sold to UO next?

Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene

 

BASED ON EVIDENCE

It’s hard to say why Eben Fodor doesn’t care to consider student housing when informing us of the huge uptick in multifamily housing permits in the last few years [“Eugene Growth Trends” analysis 11/21]. His graph showing a dramatic increase in the multifamily category since the recession does not seem reasonable. A call to city permitting confirms my perception that Fairmont, South University, West University and Downtown permits for multifamily units in the last few years have been overwhelmingly for the student market. Fodor’s analysis produces a false picture of the recent history of housing in Eugene. 

My breaking student housing apart from the group is based on evidence: news outlets, observations, and a call to the city permits department. It is my attempt to make sense of the data so that reality might be reflected in the report. The breakout by neighborhoods is available in the data supplied by Fodor, so applying what is known of what type of multifamily housing has been built in which area is a reasonable next step and not speculation. The result is a graph showing very little to zilch in the way of multifamily non-student housing having been built in the center of the city since the recession.

Fodor’s main goal seems to be to one-up Envision Eugene, saying he shows a different result than the plan predicts. Whatever his differences with Envision Eugene might be, presenting this skewed and misleading analysis to the public as part of his ongoing feud or self-promotion is at least unethical. 

Joe Wayman, Eugene

 

SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY

There are 20 million unemployed in the U.S. Some can’t find work, others have given up and other part-time workers wish for full time employment with benefits which is no where in sight. This problem could be solved simultaneously with what has been called “sustainable forestry.” It involves more manual labor and workforce and fewer damaging machines. Workers could walk into a forest and cut the sick, dead and overcrowded trees.

On Dec. 10, six groups organized by Cascadia Wildlands, which included Cascadia Forest Defenders, Sierra Club, Audubon Society and others met with three “liberal” Democrats: Gov. John Kitzhaber, Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Secretary of State Kate Brown. The governor’s answer to every question about alternatives to cut the Elliot State Forest seemed to focus on what he called “fair market value.” This problem which was seen long ago by Chief Seattle: how can you put a price on the air we breathe, water, sky, all the life in the forests? Dealers assign value but the true price of the ecosystem is invaluable. To pit the earnings from destroying such life giving systems against paying for schools is an unfair proposition the federal government placed on us. They (the feds) should also get off our backs and let us grow fiber and pulp from hemp.

I don’t think Elliot State Forest should be sold to either of the two choices we are presented with: the logger industry and “conservation societies” which always cave in to industry. I think the Elliot should be preserved and managed sustainably or left alone as much as possible.

David Ivan Piccioni, Eugene

 

HISTORY LESSONS

How much and for how long will “history” remember Nelson Mandela? It has been my experience (I’m 77 years old) that the “historians” find people like Nelson Mandela — boring. How many books have historians written about Mahatma Gandhi? And please remember: The historians always have the last word — always.

 Everyone knows about the violence of Nazis and Mongols, and a lot of very violent and/or controversial people. Which presidents, all over the world, get the most write up in the school history books? So it is unusual to find school history books with very much about people like Nelson Mandela.

Those who use violence or create controversy, conflict, confusion, etc., seem to fill up the school history books, while the non-violent, solid-as-a rock people get a lot of write-up as long as they are “current” and fodder for the local news. But as time passes violent people are remembered and nonviolent people seem to fade away. Why?

 Perhaps the Americans for Department of Peace (www.afdop.org) could write a history book about the nonviolent peaceful people of the world. Somebody needs to.

Frank Skipton, Springfield