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Letters to the Editor: 12-26-2013

KEEPING BOTH TONGUES

I am a teacher and a conversation I had in line at the bank steered towards bilingual education. The person I was speaking with expressed dismay at monolinguals who spoke only Spanish. 

“They are in America now, and in America we speak English.”

I am not one to disagree with speaking, or rather, learning English. The problem is, when we say that it is time to learn English, we’re often asking a little more than just language acquisition. We are asking for assimilation. In assimilation theory one gives up their culture for the dominant culture. In doing so a type of deficit thinking becomes pervasive when we speak of immigrant individuals and families. We have a harder time seeing the benefits that can be brought by embracing the diversity of culture, and we are left wondering, “When are they going to become like us?”

In critical race theory, when we see assimilation as the solution to the problem, we negate the fact that not everyone is the same. There are fundamental identities people cannot change about themselves. What can change are our attitudes and beliefs about how we educate.

Research tells us that English as a second language students learn comprehension much faster when they are encouraged to continue using their mother tongue. They also retain their own language throughout their lifetimes. A bilingual approach to ESL education would not only bolster test scores, it would promote a more diverse culture in Oregon. 

Shane Hudson-Connor, Eugene

 

THANKS, JAKE

I would like to apologize to Jake Klonoski for Sean Doyle’s letter of Dec. 19. I am not an expert on Afghanistan, and I doubt if Mr. Doyle is either. I do know, however, that every one of us owes Mr. Klonoski a debt of immense gratitude for his sacrificial service on all our behalf.

Thank you, Jake.

 Dale Riddle, Creswell

 

ANOTHER HORSE RESCUE

Thank you for running the “Give Guide” stories Dec. 19. We are blessed with many organizations doing inspired work in our community.

I wanted to let EW readers know of a new horse rescue and sanctuary just west of Eugene. My wife, Jane Kelly, and I started Oregon Horse Rescue a little over a year ago in response to the huge problem in the Northwest of neglected and abandoned horses. We currently have 33 horses on our property that we have saved.

I invite you to learn more about us (and maybe even donate!) at OregonHorseRescue.com or find us on Facebook.

David Kelly, former Eugene city councilor

 

IT WAS NOT THE TRUCKS

During the week of snow everywhere in Lane County, I thought it would be the trucks that would be the problem for drivers to look out for. I was wrong. Everyone was driving with a nice cushion of space on all sides, with room to stop and room to slow down to turn — except the four-wheel-drive cars. They constantly jumped into the cushions everyone else had made around their vehicles.

Yes, most four-wheel-drive cars are more capable driving in adverse weather. I only ask their drivers to be more considerate of the rest of us who are doing our best. 

Rouanna Garden, Eugene

 

VOLUNTEER REPORTERS

Every public agency uses in-house volunteers to provide services due to the excessive cost of public workers and reductions in revenue. I propose our public media adopt the same practice.

Most publish selected non-solicited letters, press releases and, to a lesser extent, articles. All have vastly reduced their reporting and eliminated investigative journalism at great loss to our society’s health and vitality.

We pay vast sums to tax districts, are expected to elect good citizens to boards and accept their services and regulatory edicts without complaint. But, we no longer have reporters assigned to write up their meetings and activities, keeping the public informed and involved. And do you trust media coverage written by agencies about themselves?

The Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue tax district has eight paid staff and 60 volunteers (I was one). The Oregon Coast Aquarium has 75 paid staff and 400 volunteers (I am one). The city police and county sheriff utilize in-house volunteers (I was asked). I would welcome volunteering some for the local newspaper and know others with the free-time and interest.

All volunteers are trained, certified and directed by the agency involved. The community benefits from the vast improvement in the quality and extent of coverage. The local media benefits by remaining relevant and sustainable. I challenge the local print, radio and television media to consider having and expanding volunteer reporters in their operations.

Keith Stanton, Florence

EDITOR’S NOTE: We do “citizen journalism” to a degree through letters and guest columns, and we encourage comments on our website, blogs and Facebook page. The biggest obstacle to expanding citizen journalism, for EW and other newspapers, is limited space in print. 

 

SACRED VOW

Weyerhaeuser defends spraying herbicides on its Triangle Lake property saying they “religiously” follow EPA’s “stringent chemical labeling laws.” Unfortunately if you are poisoned you can’t view the labels unless the Department of Forestry says you can, and you can’t sue because of the Oregon Right to Farm and Forest Act. As the old saying goes when visiting Mexico or Los Angeles: “Don’t drink the water and don’t breath the air.”

Vince Loving, Eugene

 

LIBS CREATE JOBS

David Piccioni (Letters, 12/19) points out the dismal jobs picture in the U.S. and implies that “liberal Democrats” aren’t doing enough to address the problem.

Liberal Democrats are doing plenty to find jobs — jobs for foreign workers, legal and illegal. Both über-liberal Oregon senators voted for SB 744 which would allow millions more foreign workers to come to the U.S. for work. Corporate America, ever in search of the cheapest labor, is solidly behind them.

 In Oregon, Gov. Kitzhaber and his Democratic allies in the Legislature — including all Lane County Democratic legislators — made in-state college tuition available to undocumented immigrants so they can get an education and good jobs. They also restored driving privileges to undocumented immigrants so they can get to their jobs. The latter action was quickly referred by petition to the voters and will be on the November 2014 ballot.

So don’t accuse liberal Democrats of not doing much about jobs — it just ain’t so! 

 Jerry Ritter, Springfield

 

RECLAIM OUR RIGHTS

As folks grow increasingly weary of big corporate incursion into our daily lives, the sense of powerlessness continues its march as well. Our communities reflect the corporatization of our local institutions. School gymnasiums sport corporate sponsorship on scoreboards. Nike “owns” our university. Local businesses move out as big box stores take the market share. Wages stagnate, jobs are lost to the lowest-paid workers on the international market and capital is driven to the top of the corporate ladder. 

Lane County: Take heart! Community Rights Lane County (communityrightslanecounty.org) has teamed up with Support Local Food Rights (localfoodrights.com), authors of the Local Food System Ordinance of Lane County. We are emboldened by more than 160 communities across the nation who have already passed rights-based initiatives to protect their communities by elevating community rights above corporate power and privilege. 

And hey, why do corporate entities, who don’t even reside in our county, enjoy more legal protections than we, the people?! Join us in “Community Rights Conversations,” a free monthly discussion series aimed at understanding the challenges and opportunities involved in confronting corporate power. 

Mark your calendars and be a part of our first conversation from 3 to 4 pm Saturday, Jan. 11, at Holy Cow Restaurant, 2621 Willamette St. Together, we will reclaim our rights.

Michelle Holman, Deadwood 

 

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 [Letters, 12/5] 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