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Letters to the Editor: 12-11-2014

PASSION FOR TEACHING

You broke my heart. You took what I loved away from me. I’m talking to you, UO. You have taken my work, my motivation, my passion and my dreams and thrown them away without care, without regret.

My work is teaching. My motivation is the improvement of my students’ lives. My passion is seeing students understand something they didn’t understand before, and feeling like a better person because of that. My dreams are to improve as a teacher for the rest of my life.

I know closely and have deep respect for some members of the administration. I don’t know the rest of them, but I wonder about their experiences in academia recently. They are scholars at the pinnacle of the research in their field. They’ve spent decades developing their research, working tirelessly towards the pursuit of knowledge. They have been passionate teachers in the past and fervently believed in what they’ve said in classrooms. They’ve had impassioned debates with their students and amongst their peers about what is right and just. They have thought fairly and deeply about their field of study. I respect them but, right now, I cannot be on their side.

I wonder when a member of the administration last had an undergraduate student in their office genuinely trying to understand a difficult concept from a class. I wonder when they last said something to an undergraduate about academics that transformed a student. I wonder about the last “ah-ha!” moment they witnessed: when it occurred, how it made them feel and whether they carry that feeling with them in their role as a university employee. I wonder when they last hugged an undergraduate who barely squeaked by, or one that excelled and became their protégé.

I love to get to know my students, understand their backgrounds and struggles, and be the best educator I can. I stand by my students as an ally in all aspects of their lives.

I routinely have students tell me that I’m the only teacher at UO who ever bothered to learn their name. This is a damn shame, and I’m angry about it. But right now, you’re trying to take even that small sliver of personhood away from our undergraduates.

This is why I strike now. Originally, it was for women in STEM fields and the right of graduate students to earn a living wage. But now it’s about the undergraduates and the future of this institution. We are the flagship public university of this state, and we owe it to Oregon to educate the future generation, to teach content, to evaluate understanding of content fairly and to treat students as human beings.

The UO is failing in all of these aspects, and I am ashamed. I am willing to reach a compromise, but I am not willing to sacrifice my students’ educations for it. They’re far too valuable.

Leanne Merrill, GTF, Department of Mathematics

 

COLTRANE’S CONCEIT

When I deployed to Afghanistan, I quickly learned that Afghans would judge us on our deeds, not our words. I came to accept that was as it should be. In contrast, many of my friends felt that the Afghans should support us because of our promises, or simply because we were Americans and by definition “the good guys.” 

 UO President Coltrane has the same conceit — that good intentions are sufficient. I don’t doubt that he believes in paid family and medical leave. He believes that the university would administer his proposed family and medical compensation fund fairly, despite his unwillingness to put it in writing. I am sure many supervisors would. 

But should something as important as the right to spend time with your newborn child without going bankrupt depend on the whim of an administrator? Some are kind and generous, but others firmly believe that the professor-graduate student relationship should be akin to the master-apprentice relationship. With due respect to Coltrane, if he truly believes what he has written, he must accept that paid family and medical leave should be a right, not an act of generosity. 

Just as I learned in Afghanistan, it is not being a “good guy” that matters; it is backing that up with policies and actions that bring real benefit that matters. Coltrane should provide paid family and medical leave to the GTFs.

 Marshall L. Wilde, Eugene

 

UNWARRANTED PRAISE

Soon I have to have a routine test for a person in her 50s and I have to take LTD. I will need to leave at 7:30 am to get to my appointment at 9:30 am! This is outrageous, a waste of my time, and there is a good chance I will get hurt in the process and LTD will not pay my medical bills, as has happened seven times since May.

If we really want people to take LTD and reduce our carbon footprint, LTD must be more responsive to our needs. If I had any other option, I would not take the bus. I am saving for a car and never intend to ride LTD again once I get one. I live near a route near UO that is only serviced once an hour on the weekend and many of the routes I take are not even available on weekends. 

People are angry about the EmX extension into west Eugene, but I have never been hurt on the EmX; it is easier to get on and off and there is more room, so I never have to sit next to someone reeking of marijuana like I do on regular buses.

Drivers routinely drive past me and slam doors in my face as I am disabled and slower than other riders. This means I have to wait another 30 minutes or more. I am no different than anyone else, and my time is valuable, but not to LTD. If I get angry about this insensitivity I risk ridicule on the bus or, worse, being expelled by the omnipotent driver.

LTD is the worst transit system in the U.S., certainly the worst I have ever encountered since I was a young girl. I prefer mass transit to driving. Given that LTD was named the best in 2014 [“Outstanding Public Transportation System” by the American Transportation Association], I shudder to think how poorly the rest of the country is being served if our awful, disrespectful and poorly funded system receives such praise.

 Marianna Cathryn Glenday, Eugene

 

FILL THE STREETS

Economic inequality and injustice in this country are directly connected to racism, sexism and classism. We need to understand that the system is not broken; it’s designed to oppress and marginalize people of color, women and the poor. The state uses violence to uphold unjust laws and a system to protect the banks and corporations who now own our government, military, police and politicians. To address these issues and this class war against the people, we need to organize and fill the streets and speak out against this system of violence and oppression!

We the people must take back the power from those who are at war with the people and the world before it’s too late.

sadmonk aka Scott Martinez, Eugene

 

YORDY’S EXCESSIVE PAY

Last week’s Register-Guard announced the retirement and $1.4 million pay of PeaceHealth CEO Alan Yordy. I can’t imagine what a salary of $1.4 million brings to a family. I can imagine, however, what a salary of $13.05 an hour brings: a hard-working young mother telling her daughter that her total Christmas will consist of one highly coveted $25 gift. 

That $13.05 an hour is what Sacred Heart (aka Sacred Wallet) pays its beginning certified nursing assistants (CNAs). These are the workers, mostly women, who provide most of the direct patient care at this “nonprofit” hospital. 

If my math is correct, Yordy is paid 52 times as much as the CNAs employed by Sacred Wallet. Shame on you all! Of course, Yordy may feel slighted. The R-G also reported Microsoft is paying its CEO $84 million.

And we wonder what went wrong in America?

Susan M. Connolly, Eugene

 

THE NATURE OF WANTING

People who have nothing want something. People who have something thank God and are grateful (if they are wise about the ways of life on Earth). People who have everything want more … and more … and more.

Terry Heintz, Eugene

 

IGNORED FILMS

Two films recently screened at Bijou Metro were ignored by EW’s reviews. Kill the Messenger is about reporter Gary Webb, who made the career-ending mistake of investigating the CIA’s complicity with the cocaine trade in Central America in the 1980s. Profits from drug smuggling were used to fund the Contra terror war against Nicaragua, and the social consequences included the crack epidemic in the U.S. The film showed how mainstream media forced his newspaper to backpeddle and Webb was made persona non grata in the media industry. Perhaps if the film had glorified being stoned it would have been reviewed by EW.

Citizenfour profiles the whistleblowing of Ed Snowden. It shows the duplicity of the Obama administration, which is not politically correct for liberal Democrats.

The popular focus on corporate power is only part of the story; there are other tentacles of the Empire that deserve scrutiny. The National Security State’s so-called intelligence community was born in World War II and came to full power with the coup d’etat of Nov. 22, 1963.

The differences between Bush/Cheney and Obama/Biden (and the factions they represent) are tactical disagreements about managing global domination, not war vs. peace.

EW’s Dec. 4 Slant praised Obama’s initiative to equip police with body cameras. It’s no surprise Obama wants cops to have more cameras but he has declined suggestions to stop giving military equipment to police forces. 

Mark Robinowitz, oilempire.us, Eugene

CARBON TAXING II

Lots of Oregon citizens are talking about carbon taxes lately. Participants at Rep. Phil Barnhart’s global warming town hall in August were energized and very enthusiastic! Now part two: “Carbon Pricing Options for Oregon,” a larger event with a closer look at different taxing structures. Who gets what of collected monies? How will jobs and low-income communities be affected? Pricing must be done in a way that is fair and equitable, and your input will help make it so! Please join us for part two in a series of informative discussions so you can influence our Legislature next year.

The event starts promptly at 6 pm Monday Dec. 15, at Willamette Hall, Room 100 on 13th between University and Agate streets. School’s out, so parking will be easier!

Speakers will include
Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal council Our Children's Trust, talking about science-based emissions reductions targets; Kristin Eberhard, senior researcher Sightline Institute, talking about the history and successes of California's cap and trade System, British Columbia’s carbon tax, and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; and Jeff Renfro and Jenny Liu of Northwest Economic Research Center, talking about their just published research on carbon tax options for the Oregon Legislature.

Robin Bloomgarden, Eugene

A LUCKY DUCK FAN

I do declare, I’ve never ... had so much fun! I just got back from the PAC-12 game where the mighty Oregon Ducks whooped the Arizona Wild Cats 51-13!

When I found out that we were going down to California for hopefully a Duck victory, I couldn’t resist the temptation to pack my crown, sash and the eye-catching, green-ruffled gown with fittin’ accessories. I added my green and yellow ribboned fan that also serves as a pom-pom. It was waving proudly with each play. 

The game started a bit slug-gish but nothing wrong with that. And if you want to talk photo opportunities, well, I had plenty! The enthusiasm that we fans felt was uplifted and unified — just my cup of tea. And yes, I wanted the national TV camera to tune into this “very old” SLUG Queen. Oh fiddle de dee, maybe I’ll make it on TV at the Rose Bowl. Feeling the elation, regardless, we won! 

After partying into the wee hours with little sleep, it was time to head home to good ole Eugene. With a four-hour layover in Seattle, my dear consort and I found a cozy place to rest, find some fast-serve vittles and take turns walking around.

As we headed back to our gate with my Oregon bag in tow, we heard the call, “Mariota is walking this way”! I reached for my cell phone, wanting to get a picture of him and my proper partner says that would not be fittin’, in his own way protecting Marcus’s privacy. Obliging, I kept it “in the pocket.” Well, sure enough, got to our gate and across the room and there he was in all his splendor. I immediately walked over and thanked him as I shook his magic hand. Another woman was taking his picture, so you can bet your booty, I made a quick phone pass to Marvelous Marv, and “rushed” back to our hero. 

Not only is he the very best quarterback, he is so cordially gracious! I told him that I was dressed as a queen for the game and shared many a smile with fellow Duck fans. He smiled as well. Feels mighty fine to be at the right place at the right time. 

Thanking him again and giving blessings, I expressed our love for his outstanding athleticism. My flight home was sweeter than I could have ever imagined. I am such a lucky Duck fan!

 (Very Old) Queen Scarlett

aka Joan Gold Cypress

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unfortunately, the photo of Queen Scarlett and Marcus Mariota was too out of focus for publication.

 

PASSING THE HAT AGAIN

So, the conservative majority of the Lane County commissioners want to fill our potholes by raising the fee, er "tax," on vehicle registration. The public has also been asked to pass bonds for schools, levies for jails and other "pass the hat" measures.

We are asking more and more of the middle class on flat-lined wages, seniors on fixed incomes and the working poor on minimum wage to shoulder the costs for these projects, which are absolutely compelling. But, should anyone raise the issue of increasing the income tax on our millionaires and our 492 billionaires in the U.S. to help pay for these and Republicans go nuts.

There is an Infrastructure and Jobs Bill languishing in the Republican-led House since September 2011 that would have created two million jobs for the purpose of building up everything from road/potholes, bridges, airports, schools, electrical grids, etc. It included efforts to shore up state and local budgets and measures to modernize schools. It would have prevented layoffs of teachers and put thousands of construction workers to work. And it provided a $1,500 tax cut for the average family. It was to be funded by offsets to close tax loopholes and it asked the wealthiest to pay their fair share. One month later Republicans blocked the bill.

Nationally, there is no hope now for increased revenue from our millionaires and billionaires. But perhaps Oregon can lead. After all, Measures 66 and 67 proved beneficial to Oregon.

Zenia Liebman, Junction City

 

BIZARRE TALE AT EPUD

I have been an avid reader of Eugene area newspapers for many years. Needless to say the EPUD issue has peaked my interest. The whole issue seems somewhat bizarre. Why would the utility force out a very competent general manager over some illegally obtained private conversations between a board member and the GM, when the problem seems to be with out-of-control employees? 

Here we have a well-run public utility. Yet due to a couple of disgruntled employees who have aligned themselves to a lame duck board majority of three board members, the whole agency is in danger of great turmoil.

In the newspaper articles the question has never been raised regarding the legality of taping conversations presumed to be private. This is a serious violation. It must be addressed. Privacy in this regard is being discussed as a major national issue.

It is clear that downloading the taped conversations was done by a disgruntled employee. This abuse of employee power must be addressed out of respect for other loyal employees and must be taken care of immediately. 

Was this employee paid for the time when they performed this illegal act? Is the taping a fair analysis of the conversations meant to be heard? Are they still employed by EPUD and if so, why? Can this person be trusted as an employee in the future? Could this cause future problems for EPUD morale and employee stress?

P.J. Clarkson, Portland

 

USELESS VIDEO

A video now isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Charges were dropped against New York police officers in the recorded death of Eric Garner. So the only use of requiring body cameras on police officers would be for recruiting purposes.

Vince Loving, Eugene

 

WHO DO THEY SERVE 

A lot of people are upset about the racial implications of the happenings in Ferguson, Missouri. I agree that the events point to racism in the Ferguson Police Department, but the most troubling aspect of the events is the belief in police supremacy by all those involved in the justice system of that state.

I think that the reason the prosecutor didn’t press for an indictment was not that the victim was black, but that the perpetrator was a policeman.

This is evidence of a good old boy system in the prison industry (which includes police and prosecutors in addition to prison personnel) where everyone has one another’s back. It is rare that a policeman is indicted for acting as the judge, jury, and executioner of some unfortunate person. These killings are regularly pronounced to be justified by panels that are usually composed of other policemen.

As our police become more aggressive and militarized, we have to ask ourselves, “Who are they protecting and serving?”

 Steve Hiatt, Eugene