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Letters to the Editor: 11-26-2014

BLAMING THE POOR

While talking with friends I dissed white middle-class values, and they asked why? Well, the conversation about the homeless camp’s trash by the river is a good example. Good appearances and respecting the law are white middle-class values. So homeless people breaking the law by existing and littering is, by those mores, bad. 

The reality is that bedding and Big Gulp cups washed into the river aren’t pretty, but do little to harm the ecosystem. On the other hand, there are some actual serious problems. One is homelessness and criminalization of that already intolerable life situation. The other is rich factory owners pouring poison into the river every day — perfectly legally. If they were made to stop dumping contamination into the river, soon the river would run clean and clear. Can you imagine how beautiful that would be?! 

As it is, the salmon are going extinct, people are getting cancer, the whole length of the river is poisoned. It is easy for some to blame the very poor for society’s ills. But I have far more respect for the person living down by the river than the rich man who ruins it.

Kari Johnson, Eugene

 

BANANA ART

I hope Eugene Weekly got consent from The Velvet Underground & Nico to appropriate their album art on last week’s cover.

Adam Howard, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Parody is permitted under fair use laws. But had they told us no, we would have understood that “No means no.”

 

KEEP COE AT EPUD

Emerald People’s Utility District General Manager Scott Coe, according to a letter signed by 40 employees, has been doing an excellent job. This letter was presented to the EPUD Board of Directors at the Nov. 12 meeting.

By the majority of the board forcing Scott Coe to resign, it will cost the ratepayers over $100,000 and potentially $200,000-plus.

One board member changing their vote could make the difference. If you live in Patti Chappel’s, Penny Jordan’s or Kevin Parrish’s sub-district, your people power is valuable. We encourage you to contact your elected representative. If just one would change their vote we could save thousands of dollars.

 We still have a democracy. And you have a valuable voice.

 Dick Flynn, Eugene

 

EUGENE WEEDLY

I moved to Eugene just two and a half years ago. Your newspaper was a huge reason. I so enjoy reading about environmental issues, organic gardening, arts and the odd, unusual stories the other papers seem to always leave out. The changes in the paper this year have made it hard to find these stories. In fact there is very little that I find of value and interest with all the new advertisers. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a marijuana drug affliction! 

So maybe it’s a great time for you folks to consider changing the paper’s name to “The Weedy,” especially if this is the direction the paper will continue to take. This name would be much more accurate and beneficial to all these pot-selling advertisers that now fill up so much of the paper’s landscape.

Please don’t forget your non-drug-smoking readers. We might be a very small minority now. We appear to be hugely discriminated against here in Eugene and at EW. Discrimination is a very ugly word for a town that prides itself in embracing all lifestyles! Maybe you can consider keeping a few pages pot free.
Thank you.

Gita Sturm, Eugene

 

EYEBALL THOSE STUBS

To follow up on Camilla Mortensen’s Nov. 13 cover story “Wage Theft,” there is a relatively simple way to catch most “honest” mistakes that account for the vast majority of wage errors: Carefully review your pay stubs. 

Oregon law requires that a statement of wages and deductions be provided with every regular paycheck. As a payroll service provider, we see that both employees and employers are often unaware of the regulations covering wages and deductions. If anything on your pay stub appears incorrect or unclear, ask about it. Most employers want payroll done right.

Michael Sussman, Earth Bookkeeping & Payroll, Eugene

 

WRONG SCROOGE

The actor pictured as playing Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1938 film of A Christmas Carol (Holiday Happenings, Nov. 20) is not Reginald Owen but Alastair Sim, the wonderful British character actor who portrayed Scrooge in the 1951 film, arguably a better acted and more compelling production.

An interesting side note about the 1938 version is the portrayal of Bob Crachit and his wife by real-life spouses Gene and Kathleen Lockhart, and the portrayal of the Crachits’ eldest daughter by their real-life daughter, June Lockhart, best known as Maureen Robinson in Lost in Space and Timmy’s mother in Lassie. Leo G. Carroll, who played Marley’s ghost in 1938, went on to star in the 1950s TV show Topper, about a banker who is the only person who can see and hear a pair of ghosts.

 Lucinda Muñiz, Eugene

 

A GREAT DISSERVICE

In response to WTF in Slant Nov. 13: From 1992-96 I learned that the Democrat politicians of the ’90s were not the Democrats of the 1970s and ’80s when President Bill Clinton passed NAFTA, the welfare slavery act, granted the World Trade Organization supra powers, enacted the salvage logging rider suspending all environmental laws, perpetrated an undeclared war on the Iraqi people for eight years and did away with the Glass-Stiegel Act. 

From 1995 to 2010, as an executive member of the local Sierra Club chapter, I made numerous attempts via newsletters and dozens of letters to the editor to keep politicians accountable by publicly exposing their proposed or enacted anti-environmental policies. For this I was eventually ousted from my position in the Sierra Club. 

In the past, investigative journalists kept politicians and government agencies accountable by exposing corrupt and destructive policies. Now it seems the people’s most important check and balance, investigative journalism, has been abandoned, leaving it up to average citizens like myself to expose the systematic corruption in every branch of local, state and federal government. 

When a publication or any entity whose mission is to serve the people vacates its responsibilities of exposing corruption and destructive policies and endorses politicians solely based on party affiliation and not the soundness of policies they have enacted, it does our deteriorating democracy a great disservice.

 Shannon Wilson, Eugene

 

THE INSURANCE GAME

It’s in the news that health care costs are increasing. First off, this is not news, since health insurance has been increasing the costs and lowering the benefits constantly over the last three decades. Secondly, it is not health care that concerns us in America — it is the cost of health insurance. Just because you or your employer can afford health insurance does not mean that you will be insured for the care you need.

The Affordable Care Act does little to contain cost increases and benefit reductions. The excise tax starting in 2018 only accelerates the problem. Companies adjust to lower the rising cost in two ways: 1) Pawn the increase off to the employee by making them pay more on the premium and/or raising the deductible and other out-of-pocket costs that the employee must pay; 2) Lower the benefits in the plan including prescriptions, thereby containing cost increases.

Companies now are also taking a look at dropping spousal coverage, which will force spouses to seek coverage by themselves. Companies providing care are at a competitive disadvantage with European companies and companies providing no care.

Encouraging healthy behaviors is a good thing but not the answer. People in Europe and other countries with publicly provided health care live longer, have better outcomes, have lower infant mortality rates yet pay half or less for health care than Americans. Why? They either don’t have insurance companies involved or the insurance companies are held to a strict low administrative fee, like 3 to 5 percent with established rates for every medical procedure.

It is time we catch up to the rest of the world and move to publicly funded universal health care. We have no need for greedy insurance companies between us and our medical providers.

For more information regarding this issue see hcao.org

Lou Sinniger, Elmira

 

FAST-TRACK MONOPOLY

The Trans-Pacific Partnership and its “fast track” are not so much a free trade agreement as a giveaway to monster trans-national corporations. It would allow corporations to sue governments for regulations protecting people, communities and the environment. It would allow them to expand the monopoly on pharmacy patents and it would allow for the blocking of websites accused of violating copyright laws. 

The Obama administration, on behalf of the U.S., with the backing of the most powerful 600 corporations, has been pushing for the TPP’s harshest intellectual property laws. To put it bluntly, the TPP would sacrifice national sovereignty, public health and internet freedom, all in the name of keeping CEOs’ wallets fat and their shareholders happy.

As Julian Assange puts it: “If instituted, the TPP’s intellectual property regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as run roughshod over intellectual and creative commons. If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume your food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

With this in mind, it’s no wonder Obama wants this agreement passed in secret. To do so he has been trying to use a special legislative trick called fast tracking that allows only a simple majority vote; no amendments can be made by Republicans or Democrats. Bipartisan lawmakers are banding together to call for an open debate on the TPP and wanting Obama to hold back on fast-track powers — powers the president does not have since their expiration in 2012.

Joni Linda Peterson, Monroe

 

HUGE MISTAKE AT EPUD

I have been an Emerald People's Utility District customer for 31 years and have served on the EPUD Resource Planning Citizen Advisory Committee since 2012.

Fellow EPUD customers, it's time to put the board's petty politics and personality differences aside and do what's right for us and our employees. The lame duck board majority is making a huge mistake requiring General Manager Scott Coe's resignation.

 Coe's background with Bonneville Power has empowered EPUD success in recent power sales arrangements. His personal leadership effort beat the last budget bottom line by $1.2 million, and he saved nearly $2 million more for us in the 2013 refinancing of bonds.

 Coe initiated a stronger safety program in 2013 with increased focus on safety and fewer injuries. Money saved on less loss-time injuries, and EPUD's insurance providers lowered our rates.

 Healthy and happy employees help make happy owners and customers. In 2013 EPUD received an award from Oregon Business magazine as the third best nonprofit to work for in Oregon. Most EPUD employees think Coe is making great improvements, while returning high morale and a sense of pride to the workforce. They are loudly calling for the board to reinstate him as general manager.

 EPUD's customers are EPUD's bosses, and now it's our turn. Demand your elected board member put Scott Coe back in the GM job. Call them today.

John Sundquist, Coburg

 

ELECTRONIC MENACE

People all over the world are starting to ban digital electric and water meters. These microwave emitting “smart” meters have now been around long enough for people to discover the many negative impacts these meters are having on their lives and on the environment. Utility customers are seeing their bills spike upwards. There have been many documented fires, due to faulty meters encased in cheap plastic. 

There are potential privacy and rights issues including hacking, surveillance, the unwarranted harvesting and selling of private information through wifi monitoring, and the ability of utilities to remotely control usage. Then there are the serious hidden health issues documented by science and experienced more directly by sensitive people. It’s like having a mini cell tower attached to your home or business that broadcasts more than 100 feet in every direction.  

EWEB has been fully informed of these issues with documented evidence, but they still insist on going ahead with their plans to install these dangerous devices.  

This is why “Families For SAFE Meters” has drafted an ordinance placing a moratorium on digital meters and has presented it to the Eugene City Council for passage. It is the duty of the council to protect the health, safety and rights of the people of Eugene.  These meters, as well as neighborhood cell towers, are a menace to our community.

Abraham Likwornik, Eugene