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Letters to the Editor: 10-16-2014

NO BASIS FOR DECISION

I attended a work session of the Eugene City Council dealing with options for a new or remodeled City Hall. I had a career in construction, and owned and ran a consulting construction cost-estimating business in Eugene from 1980 to 2003.

The work session was about how to proceed with the project: Whether to build new or remodel; and if the decision were to build new, the old City Hall would have to be demolished. I understand that the old City Hall structure is made up of quite a number of structures, each with separate post-tensioning. Demolition of post-tensioned structures can be very complex and expensive.

No current estimate of construction costs was presented. Items known to be missing from estimates — cost escalation, contingency, demolition and other items — were not quantified. There was no design to estimate. 

Where the new building would be located is unknown — several sites on the City Hall block (and some elsewhere) were discussed. 

The next day the council approved demolition of City Hall and construction of a part of a new City Hall.

That is decision making in the absence of virtually all the information required for decisions. No budget (that I saw), no site decision, no design, no recent or accurate estimates, no schedule. Everything is missing.

I recommend a halt while all the issues are considered and resolved. The city, by failing to insist on clear resolution of all essential issues, puts the consultants in an impossible position. There appears to be no basis for proceeding.

 Tom Giesen, Eugene

 

A THOUSAND BLASTS

Eugene is a lot noisier than it needs to be. By law, trains that travel through cities without an established quiet zone must sound their horn four times at every intersection. For Eugene, this can add up to over 1,000 horn blasts per day — blasts which can be plainly heard throughout the entire city, even though they are only relevant to one intersection.

 Over 600 cities across the country — including Portland and Salem — have opted to have a quiet zone — providing for safety without the need for a horn. A quiet zone would increase livability in Eugene by instilling a more peaceful living and working environment, both during the day and at night when most Eugene citizens are trying to sleep.

 The Eugene City Council is currently considering creating such a quiet zone. Make your voice heard, and let the City Council know you support the creation of a quiet zone in Eugene by signing the petition at eugenequietzone.com

 Since such a quiet zone is already under consideration, then the support it receives from citizens could be more than enough to tip the scales in favor of a quiet zone!

David A. Caruso, Eugene

 

LAUGHING AT UO

Regarding shutting down the life drawing class at the UO: Only an academic artist who’s worried about losing a cushy job with a highfalutin title would shut down a long-lived and necessary drawing class. All this move did was make the art department a laughing stock in the true art community. So much for diversity and creativity at the UO!

Annie Kayner, Eugene

 

TROUT VS. AMPHIBIANS

Every spring, ODFW sends hikers and helicopters to our Cascades lakes to plant trout in areas where they are not naturally found. While hiking, my family has noticed that we find ambystomad salamanders in small fish-less lakes, but in waters with trout we find none. Many populations of amphibians, including Cascade frogs and Western toads, have shown declines in recent decades. 

Studies have shown that planted trout have a negative impact on native frog populations and ambystomad salamanders. Furthermore, studies that removed introduced trout from lakes observed far-reaching effects. In addition to preying directly on amphibians, trout also consume the same invertebrates that amphibians eat. Those insects also provide food for bats. Thus, introduced fish led to decreased bat numbers. Finally, trout compete with native garter snakes for food, as well. 

Since climate change is predicted to cause even more stress to already declining amphibian populations, it is imperative that we not tamper with our montane ecosystems simply to provide recreational fishing that is readily available elsewhere. This spring I hope to see Eugene Weekly highlight the consequences of introducing trout into Cascade lakes instead of touting the glory of hauling fish to environments where they don’t belong.

Kathleen Taylor, Eugene

 

TOP TWO NOT A SOLUTION

I’ve worked on electoral reforms for two decades and do not support Measure 90, which seeks to implement a “top-two” primary system. The 18th-century plurality system we use for voting is the worst of all democracies in the world, most of whom use a proportional representation system. But a top-two primary does little to address the magnitude of systemic problems in the plurality system.

Top-two proponents’ claims of benefits are highly speculative, overly optimistic and not grounded in experience. Their claim of more choices in the primary is contradicted by fewer choices in the general election, where it really counts. Their claims of more participation and less gridlock have not been experienced to a significant degree in California or Washington, both of which have implemented a top-two system. Oregon’s Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission voted 14-5 against Measure 90, saying it “limits the voice of minority voters, minor parties and grassroots campaigns.”

We need bold reforms. I support eliminating the partisan primaries and moving all candidates to the general election, where turn-out is twice that of the primary. The general election would use the instant runoff voting system, where voters rank candidates in order of preference. Mathematically, this accomplishes in one election what a multiple-round runoff election does.

Jim Stauffer, Eugene

 

A MATTER OF RESPECT

As a member of the Finance Committee at Emerald People's Utility District (EPUD), I have observed Patti Chappel and her unprofessional behavior as a board director for EPUD. She has been rude to the other board members as well as members of the public attending the EPUD meetings. Sometimes while sitting and watching and listening I could hardly believe her undesirable actions in the boardroom.

Let’s bring the professionalism back to the governing body of EPUD and vote for Lee Kelley to replace Chappel. Kelley is the ultimate professional who has been a businessman in Veneta for many years and is a shining example of decency with a great deal of respect for others. Vote Lee Kelley for EPUD Nov. 4.

 Vicki Flynn, Eugene

 

GREENS SHOW SUCCESS

The author of the essay “Our Rigged Elections” [10/2] displayed a lack of understanding about the local and global success of the Green Party.

In Oregon, the Pacific Green Party has enjoyed great success at the local level. Greens have been elected to the Salem and Ashland city councils and to a number of other local positions. In neighboring Benton County, the president of the Corvallis City Council, another city councilor and a Circuit Court judge are all Green.

Globally, Greens hold elected office in parliaments from Europe to Latin America to Canada.

Although Greens in Oregon often receive a greater percentage of the vote than our European and Latin American counterparts, the votes in our winner-take-all election system do not translate into representation. The voting system known as proportional representation — used by most democracies worldwide — is what provides representation for Greens in governments throughout the world.

Oregon’s electoral system is indeed in need of an upgrade. Proportional representation would be a tremendous step forward. Proportional representation, like instant runoff voting, gives voters more choices. On the other end of the spectrum, Measure 90 would limit the number of candidates we could choose from at our most important elections. If we’re going to change the way we choose our elected representatives, let’s do it in a way that preserves our freedom of choice. Measure 90 fails this test.

Blair Bobier, Benton County

 

HEALTH & HAPPINESS

Does everyone deserve health care? I cannot imagine why not. Healthy people equals happier workers equals efficient workforce. Diseases spread to epidemic levels without health care for all. Profit-based health care delivery excludes many. Health care is a human right. Support health care for all.

Joan Armstead, Eugene

 

UBER IS RELIABLE

How can the powers that be, who banned plastic bags for the good of the environment, look past the good that Uber is doing? A vision for a more livable city where the goal isn’t to put more cars on the road, but actually to take cars off the road and create even more good jobs and income opportunities for people is what I see.

This service is reducing traffic congestion. It saves the time and hassle of finding parking. It allows you to explore communities that are otherwise inaccessible by traditional transit. Knowing that you have a safe, reliable ride within minutes after a night on the town or when you find yourself working late is wonderful. It serves all communities and neighborhoods with ETA-based dispatch rather than traditional location-based dispatch, ensuring that no rider is rejected because of who they are, where they live, or where they want to go. 

Accountability. After every ride, the rider gets a text with a record of the ride and the request that they rate their driver. If they rate the driver low, they are then asked to explain why. Drivers can lose their permission to drive using the Uber app if they consistently score low. That’s what keeps the drivers nice, the cars clean and the routes correct. Accountability. Riders are also rated by the driver after the ride and asked for details when it is a particularly low score. Uber users can be banned from using the service if enough drivers complain and score them low enough for legitimate reasons.

Take a good look at some of the people driving taxis in this city. They are often dirty, looking like they just crawled out of bed. They or the cab itself sometimes smell like urine or vomit or worse. I’ve called to complain before, but I am then informed that there is nothing they can do, since the driver is an independent contractor with their own lease on the vehicle. Again. No accountability.

Kimberley Thompson, Eugene

 

DISAPPOINTING DEMS

Some people suggest we should hold our noses and vote for Democrats because they are supposedly the lesser of evils. But a better description is they are the “good cop” to the Republican “bad cop.”

The entire congressional delegation (all Democrats except for Greg Walden) supported the Obama administration’s $226 million corporate welfare subsidy to NuScale, the nuclear power company in Corvallis. Gov. John Kitzhaber and his State Lands Board plan to sell the Elliott State Forest to timber companies at their Dec. 9 meeting (after his re-election). Peter DeFazio and the rest of the congressional Democrats are pushing to privatize the BLM forest lands, a gift to timber barons who overcut their own lands. Every Lane County Democrat in the state Legislature voted for funding toward the $4 billion Columbia River Crossing superhighway (which would be up to 16 lanes wide on the Vancouver, Washington, side).

In the unlikely scenario that a Republican replaced Kitzhaber, Jeff Merkley or DeFazio, the environmental groups would wake up and mobilize against them. With the Democrats, environmental groups are lap dogs, not watch dogs. The Republican challengers are straw men and women who provide the illusion of opposition. These incumbent Democrats are shoo-ins for another term due to demographics. Their party labels guarantee they will be in office as long as they want. They’re far more effective than the Republicans could be regarding forest land privatization, subsidy for Oregon’s NuScale nuclear power company, highway expansions and other anti-environmental policies.

Mark Robinowitz, Sustaineugene.org

 

INDIVIDUAL EFFORTS

This community is lucky in its many organizations, including the city sanitation services, in dealing with trash carelessly thrown on our city streets and parks.

My son says, “Organizations are certainly helpful, but at the end of the day, it is also an individual’s responsibility to help keep their city and parks clean. It is a good idea to keep nature clean, especially in natural wildlife habitats. We respect nature and it will respect us back.” 

I believe we can all contribute by disposing of our trash properly. My son Abhinav Vats Schamber is cleaning up the Delta Ponds in Eugene, on his personal initiative. I am proud of his efforts.

Gregory Schultz, Eugene 

 

BURGERS & CLIMATE

It’s wonderful that people care about our planet and environment enough to have marches and discussions about climate change. But if those conversations don’t mention the number one cause of global warming, it’s all a bit pointless isn’t it? According to a 2006 report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the meat in our diet causes more greenhouse gases than either transportation or industry. Think about that for a minute. Producing just half a pound of hamburger releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car 10 miles. Want to really do something about climate change? Go vegan. 

Lila McDaniel, Eugene

 

MCCAIN’S NEW CHOICE

John McCain knew almost nothing about who or what Sarah Palin was about when he nominated her to be his vice presidential partner in 2008, and we now know what a disaster that was for his campaign, not to mention what has happened to the mess we call Congress since then! 

Now he’s proudly promoting Monica Wehby as our savior against Jeff Merkley, who actually has a proven record in Congress. One has to wonder if he actually knows anything about Wehby either, or is this just party politics? We as a state could lose out big time because of his, and people like the Koch Brothers meddling in our local politics. 

Please everybody, think things through before you blindly vote in November.

Robin Bloomgarden, Eugene

 

COUGARS ON CAMPUS

When asked if he had ever seen a cougar on campus, Jed Gilbert [10/2 Back to Campus interviews] said, “Save the cougars! They’re cool. If you watch nature videos, they always take the weakest of the herd.” 

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 2006 Cougar Management Plan: “The common perception that cougars select only injured or sick animals is incorrect.” Studies have found that “body condition did not affect prey selection.”

Cougars are obligate carnivores. When they get hungry, something has to die violently. Cougars eat deer fawns, elk calves, healthy adults and anything else they can catch. Cougars have even been reported eating porcupines in times of severe stress. They also eat pets, livestock and have attacked humans in California, Colorado, Washington, Montana, British Columbia, Alberta and New Mexico. It is highly probable that Oregon will be added to this list sometime soon as the population of cougars continues to climb to unprecedented levels. Sadly, most human fatalities are children.

ODFW scientists say there is enough habitat in Oregon to support a population of 3,000 cougars, which was the level when courgar hunting with dogs was banned in 1994. In the 20 years since, the population has doubled to at least 6,000. Cougars are not endangered or even struggling. They have filled all available habitats and are now becoming more common in urban areas and more damaging to livestock, elk and bighorn sheep populations in rural areas.

Marshall Dunham, Blodgett

 

DUST BOWL DAYS

Thanks to the recent rains that brought an end to our annual summer drought, Eugeneans are able to breathe clean air once again., It’s been a while.

For decades, the prevailing north winds that dominate our area on sunny days have carried with them the pollen that affects so many of us from the tens of thousands of acres of grass seed fields that lie north of us. But thankfully, that late-spring phenomenon lasts only a few weeks.

For the past four or five years, however, those same winds have been bringing us a different agricultural product: dirt. Partly in response to the prohibition of field burning, farmers now till or disk in late summer much more land than they used to, and raise enormous clouds of dust in the process.

So for many weeks, from sometime in early August until late September most years, what rains down on Eugene is not the wet stuff, but dirt that is the result of changing agricultural practices. It’s not tree pollen and it’s not ash from forest fires, folks. It’s dirt that covers our cars, our outdoor furniture, our solar panels, and our indoor counters (if we leave the windows open). And we get to inhale it, as well.

It’s hardly anything worth celebrating, but in the absence of our usual late-summer Eugene Celebration, maybe we can have a new event called Dust Bowl Days. That ought to bring in the tourists.

Whitey Lueck, Eugene

 

THE NEW HITLER

Here we go again. The same corporate military industrial media complex that helped con us into a war in Iraq is working their magic. The American public, one of the most propagandizable and gullible populations in the world is tripping and falling over itself to the accept the new narrative that ISLE is the new Hitler, the new boogie man, the new “weapons of mass destruction” horror that will require massive open-ended military intervention and hundreds of billions of dollars for years to come. And take heed, shivering masses, Sen. Lindsey Graham said, “We’re all going to die.”

Wow, didn’t we just spend $3 trillion on the longest war in U.S. history that created the basket case scenario we now see in Iraq? And now instead of investing the needed trillions into a rotting U.S. infrastructure and creating millions of jobs we will be arming and throwing money at this week’s tribal faction flavor of the month that was our arch enemy last month, and on and on for a mission that no one understands. But of course the corporate contractors will rake it in and the chicken hawks in Congress who receive their enormous campaign contributions will continue to pound the war drums.

Woe to America. Eisenhower warned us 50 years ago about the corruption and insatiable greed of the military industrial complex and now it is even more entrenched and corrupt than ever.

Gerry Rempel, Eugene