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Letters to the Editor: 2-5-2015

HEADS IN THE SAND

City Club of Eugene Jan. 30 had UO law professor Mary Wood speaking on the Children’s Trust and how the children are suing the states because nothing is being done to stop climate change. Nothing! In fact, I have to question why our elected officials are doing the very opposite! They are enlarging roads, allowing heavy truckloads that damage them, have little in the way of truck emission controls, have trains that only unload in Portland so more trucking is needed, build pipelines that destroy farm land and increase methane and then enlarge cities using vital farm land! Every inch of farmland is important. 

Only Councilors Betty Taylor and George Brown voted against enlarging the urban growth boundary. Many in the audience expressed their pessimism about life 10 years from now. Will it take that long before our planet is unlivable? 

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

NOW IN SPRINGFIELD

White Bird Clinic’s mobile CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) program began operating in Springfield and Glenwood Jan. 13. CAHOOTS operated exclusively in Eugene for 25 years and finally moved into new territory after many years of discussion about the need for such a unique and innovative program to expand beyond Eugene. 

CAHOOTS was formed in 1989 as a collaboration between White Bird Clinic and the city of Eugene to help address the needs of the impoverished, homeless, mentally ill and addicted — populations that frequently have counterproductive contact with 911 services that may be avoidable — and others in distress, and to provide an auxiliary or alternative to 911 when a social-service response may be needed instead of or in addition to a police or fire department response. 

CAHOOTS in Eugene continues to be funded by the city and dispatched by Eugene Police Department non-emergency dispatchers at 682-5111. Services are available in Eugene from 11 am to 3:30 am daily, with two vans in service from 3:30 pm to 10:30 pm. 

CAHOOTS Metro in Springfield/Glenwood is funded by Lane County and is dispatched by the Springfield Police Department non-emergency dispatchers at 726-3714 from noon to 11:30 pm daily.

But CAHOOTS staffers are not cops, they don’t carry weapons and their services are voluntary. They are emergency medical technicians, nurses and mental health workers contracted to provide mental health counseling, medical care and other services, with a priority focus on assisting or substituting the police in mental health crisis situations that may involve people feeling suicidal or experiencing psychosis or having intoxication problems, etc. This helps to therapeutically address issues of mental illness and addiction, and reduces chances for bad encounters between the mentally ill and the police. 

This free service provides an appropriate and effective response to a broad variety of problems, helping to alleviate suffering while saving taxpayers money and preserving exhausted emergency resources. Visit whitebirdclinic.org. 

Brenton Gicker, Eugene

 

NOISY BREWERY

It seems to me that many people in our community are so enamored by Ninkasi (or as I call them, Ninshwazi), that they are willing to get on their knees or bend over to show their affection. Most people are probably unaware though of the endless and obnoxious amount of noise that constantly bellows from their brewery expansion at 220 Blair Blvd. The dozens of families that live in the neighborhood behind the brewery are subjected to non-stop noise that is reminiscent of a jet airplane taxiing on the tarmac around the clock.

Since May 2014, Nikos Ridge (one of Ninshwazi’s czars) has promised me on multiple occasions that a sound retention wall would be installed to stifle the noise. Well here we are 10 months later and the unwanted symphony plays on. 

Ninshwazi claims to “perpetuate better living.” That is a freaking joke to the families living in their shadows. How does adult dodgeball “perpetuate better living” anyway? Selling $40 cases of beer is perpetuating a fortune for their owners and stockholders and nothing more. I’m not drinking their Kool-Aid or their overpriced and unbalanced beers. If there was profit involved, I’m sure that the sound wall would have been built months ago. It is time for Ninshwazi to put their money where their mouth is and be the community partner that they pretend to be.

Brian Green, The Whit

EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked Nikos Ridge about this and he says, “We’re working on it; we have encountered some design issues with adding the sufficient sound dampening to the existing structural elements of the building, and unfortunately it takes time to meet code and do it right … We are committed to spending the $90,000 needed to fix this issue retroactively despite having built a permitted and approved building for the site location. We are certainly sorry for the delay, and yes, we think dodgeball is fun.”

 

BRING ME WHISKEY

The Whiteaker needs one more bar. Not a brewpub, music joint or restaurant with a liquor license, but a bar. The loss of Tiny’s has left a huge gap in late-night Whiteaker recreation, but it couldn’t capture all of the business, or anyone’s attention, anyhow. The breweries close at midnight (but whiskey isn’t available there), Sam Bond’s always has a cover, the line at Meiji is always annoying, and Pizza Research Institute and Falling Sky don’t possess proper bar counters; it never feels like you can just hang out there without ordering food. I know that we have Blair Ally, but as soothing as lumbersexuals smacking pinball machines are, the flashing lights and vinyl-coated tables and chairs do not create an ambiance conducive to much more than being a drunk lumbersexual.

Business graduates, are you listening? We need a place to hang out, like the oh-so-cozy Pint Pot, but in the Whit! The neighborhood is a gem within Eugene, and is almost my favorite place to be — if I didn’t have to pay a cover, or wait in line for 45 minutes, so that someone can bring me a whiskey ginger.

Roxanne Robles, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: We hear Tiny Tavern is back open.

 

WHO WILL SUFFER?

Some of your readers (e.g. Ted Chudy, Letters, Jan. 29) think that voting against funding the library will “punish” the City Council and the MUPTE developers. That’s not how it works. Council members will not suffer. Certainly MUPTE developers will not suffer. But those served by the Sheldon Branch Library (slated to be axed if the measure does not pass) will suffer. 

Some of us, especially seniors and children, find it hard to get downtown to the library. North Eugene is already under-serviced, so why make it worse for us? All those who can come up with a few bills to help the Haitians or save the wolves ought to be willing to assist their neighbors. Please don’t kick the dog on this one.

Jane Muhawi, Eugene

 

WHY NO PUBLIC OPTION?

What higher authority than the public are our politicians answering to? A recent study by political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern showed “economic elites and organized interest groups play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence.” So we’ve noticed.

Take universal, publicly funded health care. Forbes last summer reported on The Commonwealth Fund in itsMirror, Mirror On The Wall, 2014 Update,” writing, “The most notable way the U.S. differs from other industrialized countries is the absence of universal health insurance coverage.” We’re 37th, between Costa Rica and Slovenia.

The “public option” wasn’t on the table when ObamaCare was discussed. I think I know why. Politicians serve a higher authority than the public. No wonder people everywhere are rising up to make our leaders accountable and thwart the obscene influence of these “corporate persons.”

We are coming to the capitol in Salem Feb. 11, and we’re a lot smarter than we were two years ago and a lot more engaged. We plan to offer Oregonians single-payer health care in 2017 because it’s the right thing to do. Listen to the people or move aside for real public servants.

Patty Hine, Eugene

 

SNAKY JAY

Addressing Mr. Jay Bozievich, Lane County Commissioner: I am a property owner in Florence. I just read in today’s Siuslaw News about your plan to raise our taxes via a VRF (vehicle registration fee). According to your plan, I would have to pay $35 each for my three vehicles and one utility trailer. Plus, at the moment, I have three boats on trailers. That is seven times $35 or $245 a year! 

First of all, we already pay street taxes here in Florence. Secondly, we already pay state and county taxes that are supposed to pay for road maintenance. My property tax went up when the value of my property lost $51,000 in value. Additionally the 60/40 split should be reversed; 60 percent going to the cities and 40 percent going to the county. So I’ll vote “no” now. I suggest you live within your means, like the rest of us who are “responsible adults” must do.

PS: As a Tea Party “patriot,” I thought you were against new taxes. I guess you only want to tax the 99 percent. Making you both a hypocrite and a snake.

Daniel Snyth, Florence

 

IMPOSING ON OUR CHILDREN

I am a doctoral candidate in education at the UO, a high school math teacher and the father of two school-aged children (at Camas Ridge and Roosevelt Middle). In all these roles, I am confronted with the reality of the upcoming Smarter Balanced tests that all public education students in Oregon are mandated to take. I have deep reservations about the value of these tests. 

The Smarter Balanced tests are more about the imposition of an accountability regime than about helping individual students succeed. These tests are “snapshots” of how a student performs on a particular day and have little value in guiding instruction for individual students. Nor are the Smarter Balanced tests our best assessment of how the nation’s schools are doing overall, which is better addressed by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a methodological superior test for measuring the effectiveness of the public education system. These tests are, as Superintendent Sheldon Berman plainly stated, “about accountability,” in other words, for teacher and school evaluation.

Parents should know that tests like these, especially when tied to teacher and school evaluation, can ultimately harm their children’s education by narrowing curriculum and diverting precious resources into test preparation and administration. Also, there is the real possibility that, after laboring for eight hours on a test, students will be dismayed and discouraged if they fail to meet standards. State officials are estimating that 60 to 70 percent of students will not meet standards.

On a personal level, I don’t see the value in implementing an accountability regime that will result in 70 percent of students failing to meet standards. Accountability is an important issue, but we ought to find a system that doesn’t place the burden of its imposition on our children. As a father, my responsibility is to protect my own children from participating in tests that could negatively impact their education and self-esteem. I plan to pursue avenues for opting my children out of the Smarter Balanced tests.

Geoffrey Barrett, Eugene