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Letters to the Editor: 9-11-2014

MISTAKEN IMPRESSION

To the Eugene mayor and council: I’m very much in favor of Eugene building a new City Hall, but I don’t believe you have to waste the present building’s combined economic and historical worth in the process to do it.

I also don’t think Eugeneans presently understand or would approve of the total cost commitment of your two-phase, headquarters-hindquarters concept if they did. 

Most people I’ve talked to are under the mistaken impression that they are getting a new City Hall for $15 million. They don’t realize it's just a down payment and will require another $25 million to $40 million second phase office building connected behind the new building to bring back and house the city services that are now spread out in leased space downtown to support private development.

They don’t realize that without buying that Phase II, the City Hall project ends up all hat and no cattle, all honey and no hive, and carries the continued burden of leased space that needs to be able to become more economically productive.

I think it’s time to step back from awarding each other cedar plaques and make sure the community understands the magnitude of the costs and long-term commitments they are being asked to make. 

If we buy the honey, we're on the hook for the hive.

 Jerry Diethelm, Eugene architect

 

OUR BROKEN SYSTEM

On Sept. 15 ShelterCare’s Royal Avenue Program (RAP) is closing. Located at Highway 99 and Royal Avenue, for 28 years RAP has provided crisis respite services to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis whose needs are severe enough to warrant being in a supervised, therapeutic environment, but not severe enough to warrant prolonged hospitalization.

For hospital mental health staff, RAP has been a more accessible and affordable alternative to inpatient psychiatric services, such as provided by Sacred Heart’s Johnson Unit. The JU, overwhelmed by a mentally ill population with increasingly severe needs, is mainly for those with the most extreme suicidal ideation, mania or psychosis. Many people who are good candidates for RAP but not the JU will now be discharged back to bad circumstances. 

The program I work for (but do not represent), CAHOOTS, has always had a special relationship with RAP; helping RAP staff manage the complex issues of their guests while they help us to provide shelter and respite services to clients ranging from battered women fleeing abusive situations to homeless schizophrenics who may freeze to death in the winter without such a resource. 

RAP is closing, of course, because of money. As usual, with this broken system of ours, the closure of a service such as RAP means a bigger workload for much more expensive jail and hospital services, while service providers are left with fewer options to help those in distress. Things are about to get uglier in Eugene. 

Brenton Gicker, Eugene

 

HIDDEN COSTS

Pushed by Oregonians for Food and Shelter, a pro-pesticide group with board members from Monsanto and Syngenta, and by the Oregon Farm Bureau, which accepts 28 percent of its contributions from those two chemical giants, the Lane County commissioners are considering eliminating the county’s no-spray policy along county roadsides. 

The commission majority will doubtless claim that spraying poisons will save the county money. But chemicals, equipment and their maintenance are expensive and the continued die-off of bees, which has been traced to pesticide use, will be environmentally and economically catastrophic. Toxics litigation won’t be cheap either. 

Chemical poisons along roadsides harm people and a diversity of wildlife, including pollinating insects such as honeybees. Moreover, water run-off from county roads ends up in streams and rivers where the pesticides it carries can harm fish and other aquatic creatures.

Why fix what isn’t broken? The Public Works Roadside Vegetation Program under the leadership of Oren Schumacher has done a good job of managing roadside areas. It would be irresponsible and counterproductive to negate the years of work spent developing this excellent program. Since the no-spray policy has been in place, there have been no health complaints and no chemical litigation. That saves the county money.

 Lane County has developed excellent partnerships with agencies, watershed councils and other partners to manage roadside vegetation. Those good-faith and effective relationships should not be squandered to line the pockets of individuals and corporations bent on re-poisoning a county in recovery.

 Robert Emmons & Nena Lovinger

Fall Creek

 

SOLID OLD BUILDINGS

It seems pretty clear that our City Hall is a stylish and well-made building that could, if renovated, be beautiful and practical. They just don’t make ’em like they used to! The materials used in that building are no longer. Old-growth lumber is gone.

Builders used to take more time, with better materials, and be proud of their work. The old Public Works projects from 90 years ago look great and work well. 

I painted a mural for River Road School some years ago and was inspired not only by the vision of social justice that the school cultures but by the quality construction of the building. It's old and in fantastic shape. The doors are solid and fit perfectly into place. The halls are wide, the windows are huge and open up to fresh air. They really don’t make ’em like that anymore. 

That school is slated for demolition! Not up to code. How many buildings on the Historic Registry are up to code? How much would it cost to make the changes?

If we don’t want to be surrounded by wasteful, ugly new stuff, let’s take care of the well-made old stuff and be more thoughtful when we do build.

Kari Johnson, Whiteaker

 

FLAWED DECISION

Congratulations for the easy-to-understand “Pop Quiz” [9/4] on the proposed City Hall! Personally I don’t want to look at another parking lot in downtown Eugene. I also don’t want the new building that is only housing the city administration and have to continue paying for department offices spread out over the city. That is no way to have an efficient government. 

I also don’t appreciate this complete lack of consideration of environmental planning when the valuable underground parking lot and complete structure is mowed down. It does need changes with seismic structuring costing less than $1 million, and the estimates of design for entrance on 8th Avenue, and of most importance, insulated walls, windows and roof would cost less than $15 million. The new plan for total new construction is three times this amount. Maybe we should sell it and locate City Hall where Jerry Diethelm suggested in the Aug. 28 EW on the North Park Block and let someone else rebuild?

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

CIVIC VS. CITY HALL

I am excited and impressed about the Eugene Civic Alliance’s work towards preserving Civic Stadium. I am also impressed by the City Council’s requirements both for fundraising and a detailed business plan for this project before it will agree to purchase the Civic Stadium property from the 4J School District. I appreciate how carefully the City Council is protecting our city funds by ensuring that this will be a viable project before spending our money on it.

But then a question came to mind: Why is the City Council not using the same stewardship approach with respect to City Hall? As far as I am able to ascertain, there is no approved budget or plan either for building a new City Hall, or for the option of renovating the existing building. This project represents an unknown investment of city funds substantially larger than the Civic Stadium project. Yet city government is taking steps to demolish the existing building anyway. 

As a Eugene homeowner and taxpayer, I am astounded that city officials could believe that this is an acceptable approach to such a significant financial project. The residents of Eugene deserve responsible and transparent money management with respect to this and every project that requires our city funds. 

Pam Dillehay

Eugene 

 

NOT FUNNY

I was quite surprised under the “Best Drinks” category in the Best of Eugene ballot to see a space for “Best DUI Lawyer.” Really, Eugene Weekly? Is drunk driving a joke to you? Because I am sure it is not to the many people who were killed, injured, or lost loved ones to drunk driving related accidents. Here are some statistics from MADD that are sobering:

• Every two minutes someone is injured in a drunk driving crash.

• On average, two out of three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.

• In 2011, 226 children were killed in drunk driving crashes. Of those, 122 (54 percent) were riding with the drunk driver. See wkly.ws/1t6.

You obviously placed this category with intention. By doing so you might have gotten some laughs, but you are also perpetuating the idea that drunk driving is a laughing matter, even socially acceptable. 

Many of us aren’t laughing.

I encourage you to correct this error in judgment, realize the implications of your actions and eliminate this category from the Best of Eugene. 

K. Harnedy

Springfield

 

BETTER ADVICE NEEDED

It’s unsettling to see that you’ve created a spot for “Best DUI Lawyer” on the Best Of Eugene ballot this year. If people want to make the reckless and stupid decision to drive drunk, then they deserve whatever repercussions come their way. Eugene should be giving better advice than who to go to when you get caught.

How about “Best taxi to call when you’ve been drinking”? Preventative measures are always a better alternative than trying to fix a mistake that’s already been made. Especially when it’s a mistake that is dangerous and potentially fatal.

Kati Dawalt, Eugene

 

KEEPING US IN THE DARK

Why are there corporations spending millions of dollars to keep Oregonians from knowing what is in their food? Is there something they don’t want us to know? Could it be there is something to hide? Do they think we aren’t smart enough to decide for ourselves? Do they want us to just “shut up” and drink the Kool-Aid? What is your threshold for being controlled by corporations? 

Vote “yes” on Measure 92. If we don’t use our rights we will lose our rights!

Deb McGee, Eugene

 

UNETHICAL MEAT

There are still people patronizing restaurants that serve veal? Someone out there doesn’t know what veal is? Any establishment selling veal should be boycotted until they stop. Even for the numb-hearted who feel OK taking another being's life to eat — veal is so far beyond the pale. Eugene Weekly prints a picture of it, portraying it as something desirable. Wow. For humans who feel they have the right to take the life of another being, yet also feel the right to bemoan, complain or protest about wars or all the other atrocities occurring on this planet, look to yourselves. 

 In case someone out there doesn't know, veal is tortured calves — babies of the gentle-hearted bovine species. The only way veal can be tender is to be very young with little to no muscle development. Think about that. There is no such thing as ethically obtained meat. They will try to tell you they have a new kinder way. Thank the animal all you want and feel better about yourself, but it’s still murder.

Even if you intend to keep on eating stolen lives and living on stolen energy don’t you draw the line somewhere? Boycott anyplace selling veal and let them know why. That is something you could do to make the world less appalling and to reduce some amount of misery and barbarism.

I would just like to include the blessed name Cesar Chavez in this plea. Eugene has an elementary school named after him but that’s it. We don’t use him as a model in this world or even in this town. We could change that.

Genelle McDaniel, Eugene

 

DIRTY BUSINESS

Fossil fuel companies see the Northwest merely as a corridor for transporting dirty fuel to developing markets in Asia. Thus we have the prospect of coal and oil trains and terminals, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and oil pipelines and all the dangers and problems associated with them. Oregonians must send a loud, clear message to the industry that we live here, that we value our natural environment and will not have it sullied by their toxic trade.

The good news is Americans are using less carbon-based energy. The bad news is that industry wants to mine, drill and pipe what’s left and sell it overseas. Never mind that scientists have determined that four-fifths of the known carbon reserves must remain underground if we are to have any hope of turning the tide on climate change. If we care about future generations and the species with whom we share this Earth-home, we cannot stand idly by while the fossil fuel industry profits from selling its dirty fuels abroad. Given the pressure to expand export capacity, Oregonians have a major role to play in stopping the movement of coal, oil and natural gas.

The People’s Climate March will take place in New York City Sept. 21, bringing together people of faith, labor unions, environmentalists and a host of others who want to declare our allegiance to people and the planet before profits.

Across the world, solidarity events will be held the same day. Here in Eugene/Springfield a local Climate March will begin at 1 pm Sunday, Sept. 21, at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza and end at the UO.

Bring banners, signs and your love and concern for the planet as we demonstrate our determination to undertake the good fight.

Sara Burant, Eugene

 

SMALLER IS BETTER

As a neighbor who lives on Oakleigh Lane, I would like to emphasize that Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing (OMC) continuously tries to portray us neighbors as "against cohousing" (their opening statement at every hearing we have had so far!) and "afraid of change" or "unwilling to share." Those are very personal attacks to all of us and an attempt to make us look bad to the public. Our neighborhood embraced cohousing and we were very excited to have OMC join our neighborhood! We are all extremely disappointed in the direction this has gone and would still welcome cohousing in a smaller scale. Our argument has always been about the size of the development and the city following its own code for safe and adequate transportation, and this being compatible and harmonious with the existing neighbors.

The neighbors of Oakleigh and McClure lanes would still like to see a smaller scale cohousing development in our neighborhood. We are not anti-development or anti-cohousing as we have been portrayed. We feel a compromise could be made that would preserve part of the Greenway, protect the livability of the people living on Oakleigh Lane, and still meet the needs of OMC. 

We hope for a peaceful resolution to this conflict every day. Unfortunately, OMC has been unwilling to come to the table with any compromise, so the neighbors have been forced to pursue legal appeals to point out the violations of City Code in OMC's proposal. We have gained some small victories and hope to continue our most recent success, a remand at the Land Use Board of Appeals level.

OMC needs to realize that nobody wins if people are not willing to compromise to meet the needs of everyone involved. Isn't that part of the philosophy of cohousing? OMC can't expect to get everything they want and assume the neighbors will just accept it and be happy with them once they are here. 

Sandy Thoms, Eugene