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Letters to the Editor: 12-18-2014

CORPORATE MODEL LACKING

The university is not a business! Despite what Chuck Lillis says, his role at the university is to preside over the board of trustees of a “semi-public” institution of higher learning, not be a corporate CEO of the UO.

His push for efficiency, highly valued in the corporate world, is not as valuable in a university setting where “thorough and deliberative pace … cooperative, consultive, dialogue-heavy shared governance process … [is] deeply cherished” (R-G, 12/12). The academic world is not Wall Street.

Also, union busting, an activity held in high esteem in the corporate world, is inappropriate in the academic setting. I find it highly coincidental that the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF), in existence for over 30 years at the UO, is forced out on strike for the first time as the university is changing from a public to a semi-private institution overseen by a board dominated by business interests and wealthy individuals.

The same corporate education model pushed in public schools that values competition (Race to the Top), high-stakes standardized testing (Smarter Balanced Assessment), privatization, charter schools, etc., is on the move at the university level. 

The goal of lowering corporate taxes, shifting the cost of education from the state to students (student debt) and cashing in on public education dollars is well under way. The drama at UO is only in the first act.

Pete Mandrapa, Eugene

 

IN DEFENSE OF LTD

Marianna Cathryn Glenday (“Unwarranted Praise,” 12/11), I am sorry that you had bad experiences on LTD, but I must speak up for LTD drivers. 

I ride the bus several times a week with many different drivers, and I have observed them to be unfailingly courteous and helpful to passengers who need assistance. When a driver could not accommodate a wheelchair passenger because the wheelchair bays were full, she apologized profusely. Never have I seen a driver pass by a waiting passenger. 

I commend LTD drivers for doing their jobs with a dedication to public service.

Bonnie Koenig, Eugene

 

ON WAGE THEFT

Thanks so much to EW and Associate Editor Camilla Mortensen for the Nov. 13 cover story “Wage Theft." It brought back a lot of old memories, because as a young kid I wasn’t paid for work I did and turned in my boss for failure to pay. I was fired for asserting my rights. It’s part of the reason I became a lawyer and a commissioner.

While it is true that most employers pay their employees — both the full amount due and on time — there are some that don’t. When workers complain about wage theft, they are frequently threatened with retaliation.

My hat is off to organizations like the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project and to the lawyers who represent workers who haven’t been paid. I especially appreciated the comments of Eugene attorney Alan Leiman. He pointed out that workers at a fast food restaurant in Eugene regularly worked more than 40 hours a week but were never paid overtime. I am glad that we have lawyers willing to represent unpaid workers.

Efforts to curb class action litigation are a threat to workers all over this country. As Eugene attorney Drew Johnson pointed out, class action suits occur when a group of people sue on behalf of a larger group of people in an effort to create change.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to Vancouver, Washington, lawyer David Schuck who points out to his wage theft clients that he must tell clients that they will likely be subject to retaliation if they pursue a wage claim.

 Thanks for this excellent article and for shining a light on wage theft. When people do a job, they should be paid.

 Pete Sorenson, Lane County commissioner, Eugene

 

SHARING TIME AND SPACE

As Thanksgiving approached, Eugene lost to death two persons whose lives represented what makes Eugene special. 

The caring behavior of Evelyn McConnaughey and Royal Murdock was a constant reminder of what makes life here so worthwhile. They are missed. More important to me is that they were here while I was here. They are remembered by those who found many reasons to love them and who give thanks for having known them.

George Beres, Eugene

 

POSITIVE ACTIONS

Last week’s [12/4] two stories, “Good God,” on the contributions of two local pastors to helping the distressed and homeless were inspired journalism. Hats off to writer Anna V. Smith for her insightful portrayal of pastors Dan Bryant and Brent Was. It’s very encouraging to see the Weekly report the positive actions of these two leaders of the faith community in helping care for those in need. 

As Smith writes, “In the Kingdom of God, there are pancakes, sausages and scrambled eggs aplenty.” I like living in a place like this.

John Kline, Eugene

 

WHO TO TRUST AT EPUD

What could the “Gang of Three” possibly be planning for the next upheaval of the EPUD board? The last fiasco revealing phone conversations served no purpose other than to expose how really low they will stoop. EPUD deserves better than that. 

Imagine being an EPUD employee right now: Their morale must be at an all-time low, knowing that one of their own spent countless hours (probably on company time) undermining the general manager and a longtime board member. What could be their motive? How and who asked them to do it, and what was his or her motive? A disgruntled employee? A patriot for the Gang of Three? I am sure by now the staff knows the culprit and can’t feel good about it. 

It is really time for this board to get back the integrity and sense of purpose they were elected for. Ron Davis and Kathryn Schacht are the only board members I trust right now. I am more than looking forward to Lee Kelley coming on in January. Perhaps then they can get back to the business this board was elected to and behave with dignity, respect and decency. With Patti Chappel leaving there might be a chance for board members Kevin Parrish and Penny Jordan to set aside their differences and work together with the rest of the board.

Mary McNamara, Cottage Grove

 

THE FUZZY FRENZY

’Tis the season for hypocrites. Ever notice all the people who go around saying how much they hate the holidays? Well, their actions show something completely different as they happily do their Christmas shopping, unconsciously humming along to “Jingle Bells” or “Silent Night” playing over store speaker systems. Oh, and don’t be late getting those Christmas cards out.

These people either really love Christmas, even though they say they don’t, or I think in many instances they are pressured by family and friends to participate in all the warm and fuzzy Christmas frenzy.

We all have an individual choice whether or not we wish to participate in all the madness.

Allan Grossman, Springfield

 

NOT-SEE GOVERNMENT

The results are in from a long “investigation” into Highway 36 exposure to atrazine and 2,4-D. No surprise, our “responsible” government agency, the Environmental Health Assessment Program, (877) 290-6767, has failed to find any health impact, despite the outraged testimony of victims. I received this by email: “Concentrations of pesticides in drinking water, soil and homegrown foods in the spring of 2011 and other seasons and years are unknown.”

The whole purpose of the investigation was to test for a poison known to disrupt hormones and an organochloride once used in Agent Orange. Timber companies have been spraying local farms with these two poisons, and severe symptoms have been reported. 

Here’s the punchline of the Health Assessment Program report: “That post-application sampling did not occur, for reasons that were beyond the investigation team’s control.”

What are the “reasons”? Certainly not a lack of manpower. I personally volunteered to assist in reaching remote communities for testing. I’m sure plenty of volunteer labor could have been drafted to assist. And it wasn’t a lack of funds: During this investigation, the state of Oregon decided to build a new $4-billion, 10-lane bridge across the Columbia River. How expensive would a couple of testing employees been?

And who did control the process? Has Big Lumber employed officials higher in the government to fix this investigation? 

We should definitely find out specifically which officials made it impossible to test, and then hold their feet to the fire and find out why.

Christopher Logan, Eugene

 

YEARNING FOR FREEDOM

Have you ever desired freedom, happiness or a better life for your family? In America we celebrate our unalienable rights every day. I ask you to consider what it would feel like to be an alien or an outsider who is continuously crucified for simply desiring freedom.

Immigrants come to the U.S. in exploration of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as American citizens did when they fled Great Britain. As Americans, however, we view these people as a threat to our nation and therefore create a 2,000-mile-long fence guarded by law enforcement to keep immigrants out. The cost of this wall could provide immigrants with all their basic needs. But instead, we allow their blood to spill easily on our hands by creating such an enormous barrier. Immigrants are people regardless of their country of origin. 

I am angry, I am disappointed and I am tired. I want to live in a world where there is peace amongst all people, a world where a wall doesn’t keep me from seeing my family. I ask you to reflect one more time about how you would feel if your human rights were taken from you. 

The current immigration reform is not enough! We need a new immigration reform policy that advocates for saving lives and giving everyone a better chance at that life. 

Selam Wako, Eugene

 

LEASH YOUR BEAST

A few months ago, a huge red Doberman bounded around a bend on a local trail and scared the bejeezus out of me. I called to the owner to leash his dog and he refused.

Yesterday, I was confronted by a large black dog growling at me on the same trail. The dog snarled and lunged at me several times while the owner watched from 20 yards away. I called to her to leash her dog, but she also refused. In fact, she implied that I caused the dog’s behavior by being afraid of it.

I know all dogs and owners aren’t as bad as these two examples, but there’s no way for me to tell when approaching on a trail if you’re a good one or a bad one. All I can see is whether your dog is leashed, which tells me if I’m more likely to be safe passing you. 

Please follow the law and be considerate to others: Leash your dog.

Ben Grieger, Eugene

 

OREGON LAGS BEHIND

Oregon rural communities like Cedar Valley, Wheeler, and Tiller are reporting problems of serious illness from herbicide drift to the state Legislature.

”I never bled through my lungs before in my life!” Cedar Valley Fire Chief Keith Wright reported when he coughed up blood repeatedly. A baby vomited for 24 hours and 40 others were sickened after a forestry helicopter spray in Curry County (High Country News, 11/10/2014).

In Wheeler (Tillamook County), Maia Holliday, caught outside during the spray while helping her elderly mother, went into seizures on the floor of the medical clinic (Tillamook Headlight-Herald - 8/26/2008).

In Tiller (Douglas County), Lori and Joe Valuch saw a helicopter swoop down and spray the clearcut across the road. They saw droplets from the spray land on their property and experienced burning eyes, asthma-like breathing problems and headaches (OPB, 12/1/2014; The Oregonian, 10/21/2014).

Why is this happening in Oregon? The answer is that Oregon finishes last behind every other Pacific Northwest state in protecting people from pesticide drift. 

Oregon’s no-spray buffers for homes are 0 feet. Washington and Alaska require 200 feet. Idaho requires a 2,640 foot buffer. 

Oregon’s buffer for domestic drinking water is 60 feet. Washington protects with 100 to 325 feet. Alaska buffers at 200 feet. Even Idaho protects drinking water by 100 feet.

If Washington, Alaska and Idaho can protect people and drinking water while supporting a profitable timber industry, why can’t Oregon? State legislators, please bring Oregon into the 21st century of environmental health science and drinking water protections.

Lisa Arkin, executive director Beyond Toxics, Eugene

 

HEALTH CARE MONOPOLY

The recent disclosures by the nurses at the four Lane County Sacred Heart hospitals have made painfully clear that SHMC is not a not-for-profit organization and its decisions regarding patient care and staffing are profit-driven. SHMC should lose this status immediately. As a former manager in a real 501(c)(3) that cared about people and helping them, I can assure you that the other not-for-profits in this area probably hate SHMC having this status because it is clearly fraud. 

Not-for-profit organizations put people, animals, the planet and other good causes first. Clearly Sacred Heart and its affiliated PeaceHealth Medical Group does not. The only way to stop them is to hurt them in the pocketbook, and losing their taxpayer status is a good way to begin.

 As a public health professional I also know that patients or their family members can contact the body which accredits hospitals, the Joint Commission and file a complaint about poor care. This body does not act until a pattern of patient care violations is seen, so many voices complaining are required for them to act. If SHMC loses its accreditation they will go out of business.

Finally, since we live in an era where health care is big business and money is to be made by preying on the suffering, residents can complain to their insurers; many insurance companies will deny payment to hospitals that have a pattern of poor care. If the insurer is Medicare patients can call 800-MEDICARE to get the number for Lavanta, the Medicare Quality Improvement Review Organization, and if enough problems are found SHMC will lose Medicare reimbursement.

The people of Lane County have been forced to deal with this health care monopoly and the poor care provided from such a monolith for too long as they grow in power. It is time we take a stand and act as a community for quality care.

 Marinna Cathryn Glenday, MPH, MA, Eugene