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Letters to the Editor: 8-21-2014

COUNTING 

Kevin Sullivan made a stab at class analysis in “And Inequality For All,” (Aug. 7), saying “It is near impossible, however, to draw a bead on the wealthiest Eugeneans.” That’s not the “end of story,” however. Colorful income maps for all of Oregon show wealth distribution patterns by sections of neighborhood, city and county. Pie charts break it down for cities.

Eugene had 1,956 households making over $200,000 in 2009 during the Great Recession. There were 1,791 making over $150,000 and 1,776 taking in more than $125,000. These 5,423 households comprised 10 percent of Eugene’s total. This could be mapped onto the public disclosure list of the 5,077 Eugeneans contributing large amounts to political campaigns from 2006 to 2014.

It lists them by name and occupation, though many are retired. Coordinating these with actual residences is fairly easy, though time consuming. News stories and business statistics add interest. The income map shows high levels up in the hills and lower ones in the flatlands. North Eugene and parts of west Eugene were moderately wealthy, too. In South Eugene, though, income and elevation are coordinated.  

Divining the 1 percent, or the richest 500 households in Eugene, would require research, but it’s not impossible to find them. Many don’t want to hide. We’re still in a roaring, plutocratic era. Characterizing the top 10 percent, or 5,000 households, would be more useful for a class analysis looking at wealth and power of the elite, like the sociologist C. Wright Mills did for America during the last century.  

Chris Piché, Eugene

 

MOVED BY FONTS

I thought I might never be moved to write another letter to the Weekly, let alone stoop to the superfluous use of profanity in one. However, after reading Ray McMillin’s condemnation of the font Papyrus, I just have to say right the fuck on.

Timothy Shaw, Eugene

 

AWKWARD MOMENTS

I appreciated Sally Sheklow’s description of the “awkwardness” of saying “my wife” in public conversation [“Living Out” column, 8/7]. As a parent with a gay son and son-in-law, I know that most people are not used to hearing anyone refer casually to “my son and his husband.”

I try to talk about my gay son in the same way that I talk about my straight daughters. I never announce that my daughters are straight, so I don’t need to announce that my son is gay. But it would be routine for me to say, “My daughter and her husband are visiting me, and we’re going to the fair.” So I can say, “My son and his husband are coming to Eugene, and we’re taking the kids to the wave pool.” 

This works because there is no announcement requiring a response. The conversation can move on gracefully even if the person I am speaking to is startled by the incidental mention of my gay son.

This simple formula never fails me. Anytime I consider how to phrase a statement about my son, I try the sentence substituting a straight daughter, and it is easy to tell if it works.

If everyone who has gay children, siblings, or friends would acknowledge them in routine conversations, the awkwardness of these references will disappear.

 Susan Kehrli Rogers, Eugene

 

EXPIRED TAX HIKE

Responding to “Inequality for All” [cover story, 8/7]: The most important paragraph talked about how in 2010 Oregonians voted yes on Measure 66, increasing taxes on individuals earning over $250,000 a year. And then the state Legislature allowed it to expire in 2012.

This is worthy of an article. Who allowed this and are they still in office? These are the legislators who are not doing as the people wish. Vote. 

Rouanna Garden, Eugene

 

MEDICARE FOR ALL

Raging Grannies celebrated Medicare’s 49th birthday in front of Lane County’s Health Department! Health Care For All Eugene members loved having the Grannies share this special event and remind everyone that improved Medicare is really what we want for everybody in Oregon. They also remind us that a raising of the eligibility age from 65 to 67, with additional cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, is not acceptable! Cutting Social Security or Medicare is not acceptable! 

HCAO asks their supporters to call the Capitol switchboard (866) 220-0044 and request to be connected to their representatives or senators. A truly universal health care system that will reduce the deficit and save American lives will also save us $500 billion a year just on health care costs. 

The rest of the world is watching our failing health care system. Can we make the changes needed? Join their monthly meeting at 7 pm the first Tuesday of the month at First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

SMOKING AT CUTHBERT

We have attended two concerts at the Cuthbert this summer so far. The venue is well organized; however, the smoking section is huge, encompassing the portable toilets and bathroom area. Also right next to food and drink booths. You have to stand in the smoking area to wait for the bathroom and the smoke wafts all around you while waiting for food. Horrible! I think the smoking section should be a fenced area that is actually outside the venue area so non-smokers can breath without being accosted by secondhand smoke.

Cathy Rau, Newport

 

TYPOCIDE RAP

First they came for Comic Sans, and I did not speak out — &#8232 — because I did not spec Comic Sans. Then they came for Helvetica — hold it right there, typography bigots! This is Eugene! This is our alternative community newspaper, Eugene Weekly! We honor diversity and respect all typefaces, from the lowly, common Times Roman, to the regal Goudy Old Style. 

Helvetica is one of the most respected, legible and readable typefaces in the whole wide world. I bet you don’t know that it’s named for a country, eh, right, smartypants? The most neutral and well-designed country in the whole wide world. 

Even if you want to disparage that copyright-avoiding bastard Arial, I won’t stand for it. Nosireebob, you snobby sans serif hater. All typefaces deserve love and respect. Oh, and stop showing your ignorance! A “font” is not a “typeface.” Look it up, Mr. Knowitall.

So, don’t come to our happy little town spouting your hateful hate and willfully ignorant aesthetics, because we won’t allow it, Bub. We will stand up to you bigots and hug all typefaces close to our bosoms, protecting them from your disgusting talk of typocide. Take your vile opinions to Springfield (some other Springfield, not ours — try Missouri or maybe Kentucky). We don’t need your kind here!

PS: Please don’t set this letter in Eurostyle Bold Extra-Expanded. That’s only used by engineers and student architects. Thanks. BTW, that Whit Party cover was rather ugly, but it’s fishwrap now.

Stephen Stanley, Eugene graphic designer

 

THE GREEN CORRIDOR

An open letter to the Springfield mayor: The intent of this letter is to share my opinion regarding the proposed expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary to include an area of Seavey Loop and develop it as an industrial area. This project is going to encounter some very serious opposition from different stakeholders far and wide. Not just the local residents are ready to get involved in this issue. 

As a resident of south Eugene and a frequent visitor to the Seavey Loop area where I find pleasure, healing and relaxation when hiking in the Mount Pisgah complex of trails, kayaking on the Coast Fork of the Willamette or also when my wife and I come to the area to buy or pick local agricultural products, I can assure you that we feel very invested in this green corridor to the [Mount Pisgah] Arboretum. The thought of having this natural Oregon gem being tarnished by further development is a source of outrage.

The presence of small, family-owned farms in this area so close to Eugene and Springfield is an incomparable asset for local residents and it deserves to be protected. It’s linked with food security. I am wondering if the current work on Franklin Boulevard is in any way linked to the city of Springfield’s need for growth. Is the installation of a new sewer line linked in any way to the project of industrializing the Seavey Loop area? 

In light of the historic drought that is impacting most of the Western states, and considering that California’s Central Valley, once known as a global breadbasket, is turning into an arid desert, it might be wise to foresee a future where fertile alluvial lands such as the Willamette Valley (and Seavey Loop) will soon become strategically important for food production while we still have sufficient water for irrigation. Laying concrete and asphalt over fertile lands and possibly polluting nearby farms is tantamount to being an agent of collapse. We humans need fruits and veggies more than gravel and crushed rock to survive. 

Marco Elliott, Eugene

 

COLOSSAL MISTAKE

National Public Radio eliminated my favorite show, Michel Martin’s Tell Me More. The airwaves have nothing like this program. It fills a crucial need in the community. Many folks have no contact with people of color and only learn about racial issues from the media, which, in general, does a dismal job. Michele is artful in her ability to get people to listen and learn.

So I wrote to NPR to register my dismay and was told that NPR plans to “infuse Michel Martin’s perspectives into every aspect of our journalism.” The problem with this is the glaring reality that we are losing a woman of color as the head host and replacing her with a white guy. How do young women/girls of color imagine themselves as the host of a radio show if they don’t hear themselves reflected by a woman of color? Listening to her confident and intelligent voice gives us all a view into what reality can and must sound like on radio. As NPR’s new CEO pointed out in an interview with Michel, on one of her last shows, a majority of NPR listeners are white; all the more reason to position voices of color in publicly heard leadership roles. It is vital to create the climate in the microcosm that we say we want in the macrocosm.

In my opinion, NPR has made a colossal mistake by replacing Tell Me More with On Point. I have been listening every day trying to give On Point a chance. But, for me, this program falls flat. It sounds like more of the same NPR white male hosted programming, while Michel Martin’s voice and guests woke us up. We need to hear more racial diversity in radio’s choice of hosts and subject matter.

Michelle Holman, Deadwood

 

SCHOOL GARDENS

Thanks for the great article about the Spencer Butte Middle School garden (“Learning to Grow,” EW, 8/14) and congratulations to principal BJ Blake, Keith Fiedler and the Spencer Butte team of teachers and students who make it happen. While not every school chooses to move the produce from their garden into the cafeteria, it’s a great option for those who do. Having cooperation from Nutrition Services staff is crucial to success.

Many schools in Lane County — including 4J, Bethel, Springfield and Crow-Applegate-Lorane public schools — have developed educational vegetable gardens that focus on science and STEM curricula, while teaching kids to plant, maintain, harvest and eat the produce they grow. While not supplying much produce directly to the cafeteria, this approach offers the option of increasing garden diversity, letting plants go to flower to reinforce lessons on pollinators, and still encouraging students to “graze” the vegetables they grow directly from the garden. 

Both university studies and our own observations indicate that kids who grow vegetables in a school garden are more likely to learn to like them. That’s important because Lane County’s Community Health Improvement Plan calls out farm to school and school garden education as key components for addressing childhood obesity, one of the five priority health issues identified in the plan.

We appreciate the shout out to School Garden Project at the end of the article. We depend on more than 100 volunteers each year to help us deliver our garden education programs in Lane County schools. For those interested in helping this year, there are three volunteer trainings scheduled between September and October. Email info@schoolgardenproject.org or call 541-284-1001 for details and registration. Thank you!

John Moriarty, Executive director, School Garden Project of Lane County, Eugene

 

 

THE SLUSH/HUSH FUND

Michael Gottfredson is off down the road, all his idea, so the public is told. That $940,000? Why, ’twas just a gift — nothing to do with any rift.

 See, we have this fund, code name “slush,” or upon occasion, code name “hush,” and we’ll spend the dough as we see fit. Not a damn thing, you can do ’bout it.

We’re the “new sheriff in town,” so give us space, as we see fit, to run this place. And if our actions, you don’t like, go join Michael on his well-paid hike.

Gary Crum, Junction City

 

GOODWILL PRICING

The WTF? photo in the Slant column July 31 was amusing. The pricing conflict likely occurred because Goodwill moved to regional standardized pricing several years ago and it was too much work to peel off the old sticker.

Who determines the prices on items and what is that based on? Goodwill prices are standardized and based on the fair market value sheet, which provides the price at which stores are able to sell donated items. These prices have been carefully researched over a period of years and reflect the current fair market value of each item listed.

This sheet is for donor valuation and not for setting prices, so it’s not quite the full answer. Their official pricing list is much more detailed and updated regularly. It is not publicly available.

Prior to price standardization, stores were able to independently set prices on the donated merchandise. The problem was that a systematic bias occurred in that urban, inner-city Goodwill stores had higher prices. While this was said to have been related to higher rents and upkeep in urban settings, it also amounted to a sort of economic class discrimination. 

Corporatization of the stores standardized procedures and prices, including becoming more selective as to what items they accepted as donations. Their model has shifted toward taking in more dollars to finance new and remodeled buildings, corporate salaries and work centers for rehab training. Their current operating model still helps disadvantaged persons receive work training and experience. Unfortunately, the stores no longer have discretion to benefit those in need directly and cannot respond to urgent needs.

See also article and comments at http://wkly.ws/1ss.

Brian Lee, Corvallis