Seldom does anyone get up in the morning and say, “I think I am going to sleep on the sidewalk, lose all my possessions over and over again, beg for money and listen to people shout obscene things at me.”
Here are some answers given to me when I interviewed some of our homeless population. With the exception of the few mentally ill homeless I talked with, all that would talk with me have had past or current drug and alcohol problems.
“My wife and I separated, and I drank a lot. Now I am clean and sober and even though I quit being a productive part of society for a couple of years the child support payments didn’t stop. So if I go to work, my paycheck will be garnished.”
“I have moved so many times, have a record, have no identification and if I started the process of getting ID, someone will find me, and I will have to resolve the warrants for my arrest and have more fines and fees.”
“I found an apartment but when they did a background check they refused to rent to me because of my unpaid fines and fees.”
“I found an apartment but when they did a background check they refused to rent to me because I was evicted from my last apartment.”
“I found an apartment and the management Googled me and saw I was arrested two years ago for a drug charge. It was a misdemeanor but they didn’t care.”
One of the boroughs of New York City is now addressing this problem. When someone makes a mistake and is arrested, we could benefit from helping them get back on their feet, not with handouts but with case management. Almost every person I interviewed expressed the degradation they felt even though they covered this up with an entitlement bravado.
Let’s work together. This is not going to go away.
Carolyn Shawgo, M.S., Eugene
SLAPPING THE CLASSICS
This pertains to your recent article [“Locavore Music” by Brett Campbell, 4/10] on classical music and its mention of an upcoming Eugene Symphony concert featuring three 19th century “Euro classics.” It takes a slap at magnificent music that has endured over the centuries and will likely forever touch people’s hearts and souls.
Contemporary American composers should, of course, also be given the stage, but I wonder how many fans will be filling concert halls in 200 to 300 years with their music? I would love to see what happens. Instead, I will be attending the Sibelius, Schumann, Mendelssohn concert at the Hult April 17 and reveling in the magnificence that these “dead Europeans” created. It is timeless.
I will also keep an ear out for modern music that might fill me with joy. Marin Alsop was a big fan of American music and would often include a contemporary piece in her more classic programs. I think this is an excellent way to get more people to hear such music. If the music is deserving, the recognition and appreciation will follow.
Jane Dods, Springfield
The news from the last month or so has been so inspiring that I’ve come up with a solution for homelessness.
The Whos of Whoville should move on — let’s say to a piece of land out in Glenwood. They should name their new encampment the Whoville Luxury Hotel. Instead of asking for extravagant handouts like stones for pillows, they should ask for a subsidy of several million. How could local officials turn down a subsidy for luxury? After all, luxurious folks are the ones who create jobs for us little people.
In their new positions as the rich and subsidy entitled, the Whos could meet the best families in Lane County: the Chambers, the Giustinas, maybe even the Bakers. Working with these self-made tycoons who never inherited anything more than some real estate, some media assets and a few million dollars, the Whos could make a movie and get it shown over at Valley River Center. Maybe it would even be written up big in the local paper.
After six or eight years of running the hotel into the ground, the Whos can retire and take up painting. By then, the art-loving media will have run out of fulsome words for that grand body of work by the self-made painter George Bush. The world will be ready for painting by Whos.
And so, by dint of their own hard work, the Whos will solve homelessness. They will become rich by choice.
John Blonigen, Eugene
County Commissioner Jay Bozievich has planted campaign signs all over the district with the slogan “Solving Problems Together.” My single interaction with him was exactly the opposite. In September 2012, Bozievich was given a completely false allegation about my professional work by a constituent whose identity he has kept secret. He treated that unsubstantiated rumor as a fact without doing any checking of any kind. He then passed on that rumor to one of my clients, alleging that I was associated with a “cult” that has “been carrying out a campaign of intimidation.”
I sent a message to Bozievich strongly objecting to what he had done, pointing out that he had damaged my reputation and risked my employment with his reckless act of gossip. He responded that he now trusted my client’s assertion that I was ethical and professional in my behavior. He did not apologize for being a party to spreading insult and innuendo, but stated that he was just passing along the concerns of his secret source regarding my ability to be impartial.
I don’t know if Bozievich was being dismissive in his response, or if he just didn’t get it. He chose to promote false and potentially career-damaging information instead of making one phone call to check that information. In the process, he defamed a group of local citizens who are also his constituents.
I expect better ethics and better behavior from an elected official. I won’t be voting for Bozievich.
Rob Lafferty, Blachly
Raining toxic chemicals on rural Oregon was a shocking discovery when I moved here over 20 years ago, and it continues to poison Oregonians. Thank you Camilla Mortensen for your revealing chemical, or should I say criminal, trespassing cover story [4/10]!
I feel guilty to have not screamed at our elected officials to halt this inhumane poisoning. Where is our medical community? They must surely recognize the danger and health effects of spraying poison on our communities. Oregon appears to lack a medical advisory board that speaks up when the health of our citizens are challenged. Please speak up!
Ruth Duemler, Eugene
Apparently Commissioner Jay Bozievich doesn’t know the meaning of honesty and integrity. At the March 20 candidates forum (Florence Area Chamber of Commerce) he falsely stated that he had “worked with the folks” north of town to form Heceta Water People’s Utility District. I was one of the co-signers on the PUD petition and Bozievich did not support our efforts; in fact, he constantly impeded the process. Because of those impediments, a process that should have taken approximately six months took nearly three years to complete!
When asked if he ever met with the people, Bozievich said he “meet[s] with the city” monthly. Since when does he consider “the city” to be all the people? Here on the coast two-thirds of the people live outside the city of Florence. Constantly, we have confrontations with the city on issues ranging from annexation to water. Bozievich has not supported the people on any of those issues.
His outrageous claims in these matters can have no other purpose than to dupe and deceive the voters with his false information. It was after he was publicly challenged on these issues that, suddenly, the list of his so-called accomplishments disappeared from his website!
He should be voted out of office for his continuing pattern of deceptions!
Lea Patten, Florence
SENIOR COMPANION CUTS
The Obama administration’s proposed 2015 budget will cut and phase out the Senior Companion Program, which has placed volunteers with frail, elderly and disabled adults in their homes and in care institutions in Lane County for 30 years. Senior companions provide transportation to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store and the pharmacy as well as companionship to elders in Florence, Junction City, Veneta, Eugene, Springfield, Oakridge, Creswell and Cottage Grove.
This low-cost program is the very kind of service that we should be supporting. I have written to my members of Congress and the president to urge them to continue these vital programs. I hope you will do the same.
Christine Krygier, Eugene
VOICE FOR EQUALITY
Great column in EW this past week [4/17] by Sally Sheklow. Just wanted to thank you for sharing her voice, which brings passion, intelligence and authenticity to the issue of equality and respect for all.
Lisa Gardner, Eugene