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Letters to the Editor: 3-12-2015

THOSE NAKED BONES 

As I stand grieving, again, before the ever-so-sad spectacle of the naked bones of the City Hall building, I have to agree with Otto Poticha’s memorializing statement in his March 5 Viewpoint, “Standing Naked,” urging “everyone to go and view the City Hall frame, give it a second look and imagine what we could or still can achieve. Please join me in seeking management and decision makers with a deeper and more profound vision the next time we go to the polls.”

I’d love to be able to agree that we still can achieve something truly forward-looking, rather than the glitzy glass box that will serve virtually no purpose other than housing a few city officials — whilst we pay over $1 million a year into the unforeseeable future to local landlords to house the real agencies that service this town. Is this truly the best this city can do, with an award-winning UO architecture department only blocks away that could design numerous alternative solutions as student projects?

How much more parks maintenance and other city services (such as the community garden’s manager position now cut by half) will end up being cut to enable this monstrosity, which the citizen’s committee voted against?

The naked bones await only vision and action on the part of we citizens. The old City Hall stands awaiting truly forward and sustainable thinking! I say, let’s change the current paradigm and make a real reconstruction happen!

Robert Thompson, Eugene


UNSUNG HEROES

Congratulations of course to the Eugene Civic Alliance, the city of Eugene and School District 4J for the impending transfer of Civic Stadium land to the Eugene Civic Alliance, literally insuring the preservation and renovation of the stadium for public use. Yet let us not forget the small group of unsung heroes who through their vision, commitment, optimism and dedication in the face of ridicule and derision, made this victory possible. 

Signature gathering and grassroots organizing to save Civic began as early as 2006, gaining nonprofit status in 2008 as “Save Civic” and transitioning to Friends of Civic Stadium (FOCS) in 2012. Often criticized and written off as overly nostalgic Ems fans and unrealistic dreamers, Friends remained undeterred. FOCS continued to grow, meet weekly, form alliances, garner public support, eventually creating a plan with the City of Eugene to purchase Civic and establishing an escrow account for fundraising. In the process, Civic Stadium was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, soccer was introduced as the future for Civic and the sturdy old WPA-era stadium remained standing and out of the hands of private developers. 

From those of us who believed in your vision, thank you Friends of Civic for the countless hours, energy, money, boundless optimism and strength of vision you so generously gave to this community. We will not forget you, dedicated Friends, and what you made possible. 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Meade 

Rebecca La Mothe, Eugene

 

BAD GRAVEL LEGISLATION

Missing from Tony Corcoran’s flock of legislative turkeys (Hot Air Society, 2/26) is the fattest one of them all: his good friend Rep. Val Hoyle’s HB 2666.

As Karen Reed called out in a recent Register-Guard column, “HB 2666 would make it harder for farmers to fight proposed gravel mines and easier for gravel companies to get approval.” The bill “would make it harder to demonstrate that discharges (such as dust, noise, flooding and groundwater) from the mine would damage farming, and it would shrink the impact zone around a mine where conflicts with adjacent farms must be considered.” The legislation would also shrink the mining traffic impact zone to a meaningless level and, adding insult to injury, “would not allow counties to place conditions of approval on mines, unless the conditions would cost the gravel company nothing.”

A high percentage of farm soil in Lane County and throughout the Willamette Valley has already been lost to gravel mining and urban sprawl. What we have left must be protected for food production and security. Instead, unconscionably, HB 2666 aims to weaken protections of Class I and II soils.

Farming can produce both crops and jobs perpetually. Mining is a short-term endeavor that irreversibly destroys farmland and its communities. As compensation for her sponsoring HB 2666, Hoyle’s political future should be short-term as well.

Because, like Hoyle and the former governor, Corcoran is a labor Democrat and environmentally myopic, it’s not surprising that he fails to see their fowl play.

 Robert Emmons, Fall Creek


TESTING VS. FUNDING

EW reporter Amy Schneider did an excellent job in making the very complex issue of high-stakes, standardized testing easier to understand. The intricate web of federal, state and local requirements make it hard for anyone to comprehend. 

What we know is this: Over the past 20 years, there are more tests, costing more money, taking up more time, squeezing out more creative curriculum and becoming more punitive to students, schools, teachers and parents. The “new improved” tests always promise to deliver what the “old” tests didn’t: a magic improvement in education to make up for the decades-old defunding of public education.

When I began teaching middle school in the 1980s, my average class size was 23. I had time to work with kids, to identify their problems, to work on solutions, to build relationships. Kids had access to lots of creative elective classes. 

When Measure 5 passed in 1990, everything changed. Corporations that used to pay half of the taxes in Oregon now paid 35 percent. They saved billions in taxes. The children of Oregon paid the price.

These same corporations, and their national counterparts, now have a powerful role in deciding what gets taught in Oregon, what gets tested and what subjects don’t matter. Meanwhile, the captains of industry send their kids to private schools, where they are not tested every year, and where they have lots of access to art, music, languages, etc.

The only route forward in reclaiming public education is to begin by saying “no” to these tests. Let us reclaim a time when local people had a meaningful say in how their children were educated.

Roscoe Caron, Eugene


ANTIQUATED FORESTRY

If you are concerned about herbicide drift from aerial spraying of timber lands, please contact Sen. Chris Edwards as soon as possible: (503) 986-1707, 900 Court St. NE, S-411, Salem 97301. Email sen.chrisedwards@state.or.us. Website: oregonlegislature.gov/edwardsc. Edwards chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, and he controls the fate of this bill — he can schedule a hearing for this much-needed bill, or not! This may happen as soon as mid-March.

On Feb. 11, Oregon Sen. Michael Dembrow and Rep. Ann Lininger and seven other co-sponsors filed bill SB 613, the Public Health and Water Resources Protection Act, to protect the health of rural Oregonians living near industrial forests and farm land.

What does SB 613 accomplish? 1) Timely notification prior to an aerial spray, 2) Accuracy in reporting pesticide use, 3) A protective buffer around schools and homes and enhanced buffers to protect drinking water systems and fish bearing streams and 4) Ensures the Oregon Health Authority is empowered to respond and investigate poisoning emergencies. OHA will also be provided with resources to develop a program to educate health care practitioners in diagnosis and treatment of poisoning.

This bill is supported by Lane County Medical Society, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, League of Women Voters, Beyond Toxics, Oregon Wild and over 20 other groups in Oregon.

Carla Hervert, RN, MS, Eugene

WHAT TIME IS IT?

When I’m walking around downtown, people sometimes ask me for the time, or for directions. I suggest we all coordinate our efforts to refuse those requests, because who knows what people are really doing with that time, and who knows what people are really doing with those directions? 

Ashley Wright, Eugene


BAD FOR THE SCHOOLS?

Eugene 4J’s form to opt out of the tests reads that parents have to have a “sincerely held belief.” This suggests that the district will analyze the sincerity and basis of your belief.

As one who has studied the law, I have a “sincerely held belief” that under the First Amendment, the state (that includes public schools) does not have the right to pass judgment on whether someone has a sincerely held religious belief.

Schools must officially try to ensure that most students take the test. The principal will likely tell you that opting out is bad for the school.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Educators have been protesting this destructive path of high-stakes tests but have not been successful in stopping this. It appears that the only way possible to stop the destruction of our schools is massive parent and student protest. (Thousands of New Mexico students walked out of their tests.)

Opting out of these harmful, invalid tests is the best thing you can do for your child, your child’s teacher and your child’s school. Just think. If all of the students in a class were opted out of the tests, then their teacher could teach something really interesting. Perhaps a lesson on the Boston Tea Party.

High school students, especially, have been set up to fail these tests. There is an alternative way for high school students to graduate. For your writing sample, I suggest a paper exploring the “sincerely held beliefs” of Gandhi.

Nancy Willard, Eugene


DELUSIONAL THINKING

“This Smart House,” by Sophia June March 5, is subtitled “Saving the Planet with Home Automation Systems.” “Smart” systems are “the future of sustainability,” she declares. A perfect example of green/sustainable, i.e. delusional, comfort-zone “thinking.” Easy to laugh at for its idiotic superficiality, but the denial is not a laughing matter.

Techno-modernity is the current stage of civilization, which is failing like every civilization before it. This one, by the way, is global in its breadth and depth and bids fair to take life and health with it on a grand scale. June’s expensive home systems are a ludicrous monument to the very destruction of the planet that its promoters claim to resist.

“No more fumbling in the dark to turn on the hall light.” Fumbling in the dark anyone?

John Zerzan, Eugene


STOP STALLING

I am a local dog rescue and citizen and I’m mad! I’m appalled that I have to spend my money to save the community’s dogs that Greenhill turns away, but they are happy to take my family’s tax dollars.

I also am very upset that the rescue people (that do Greenhill’s job) are having to spend more time and money for attorneys and a DA to receive public records!

I demand immediately that Greenhill/First Avenue Shelter, county contracted, make public records public. Today. Stop stalling.

Robyn Broadbent, Springfield


VAX MISINFORMATION

Please allow me to clear up some of the misinformation you printed in Slant March 5. Oregon does not have the highest percentage of unvaccinated kindergartners in the nation! That 7 percent is misleading information used to scare people. Where are you getting your “facts,” EW

Listen to this: If a kindergartner is vaccinated, they have received all 30 or so of the CDC-recommended shots except for one — say they are missing one of the four polio shots — then that child is considered “unvaccinated.” If you compare the real numbers, you can see for yourself that Oregon’s vaccination rates on every mandated shot meet or exceed national averages, according to the CDC. Oregon is not in a state of “emergency” as SB 442 declares.

SB 442 applies to all state-licensed schools public, private and childcare facilities. 

You want to talk about parents’ flawed research? How about reporting on Merck’s flawed research? EW, your mission is “to boldly question prevailing wisdom and authority.” We beg you to do some serious journalism on this issue. At the very least, do not regurgitate government or corporate propaganda. 

SB 442 is an erosion of our personal rights and our freedom to make medical choices! 

Stacey Black, Eugene

Editor's note: According to the Centers for Disease Control's 2013-2014 vaccination coverage, among children in kindergarten, Oregon's rate of exemption was 7.1 percent.


NOTHING TO HIDE?

Greenhill is the custodian of the records for First Avenue, a public shelter, run by taxpayer money ($500,000 a year).

Please note that whether or not Greenhill Humane Society is a “public body” subject to disclosure of this information, Oregon Public Records Law is not based on being a governmental entity, nor is it based on the form of incorporation of Greenhill, but rather on the “character of that entity and the nature and attributes of that entity’s relationship to government” (see Marks v. McKenzie High School fact-finding team, Oregon Supreme Court Case, 1994). “[N]ongovernmental groups performing duties at the request of a governmental body” are considered public bodies under the law, especially when the function of the nongovernmental group is “traditionally associated with government.”

Yes, Greenhill is a private nonprofit, but according to the Oregon Supreme Court, since 1994, that does not matter. It’s highly suspicious that Greenhill has been fighting this transparency so hard for three years, ignoring this Oregon Supreme Court ruling (and others). It is unfortunate that in order to get Greenhill management to comply with the law, we had to hire an attorney. Their self-proclaimed undocumented reports are truly meaningless. Their save rate is meaningless as long as they are putting to death adoptable/treatable animals, which they do. Nonprofits with nothing to hide, hide nothing.

Tamara Barnes, Eugene, No Kill Lane County


DEATH TRAP FOR BIRDS

The King Estate perches over Territorial Road near Lorane like a bird of prey admiring its domain. Proclaiming it’s the biggest contiguous organic vineyard in the world, they boast that “our large property and highly diverse habitats are the perfect place for birds to regain their strength.”

I recently attended a workshop in the Vineyard Pavilion sponsored by the Eugene Friends of Jung called “Madness and Buddhist Compassion.” The notice said: “What the world often considers ‘success’ and ‘triumph’ is, from another perspective, sheer madness.” As we listened intently, a pair of robins crashed into the windows.

I had mentioned to staff that the building’s design was a deathtrap for migrating birds. It has spotless, wrap-around, sliding glass doors. Looking dismayed, an employee replied, "One was dead when we arrived.” The pavilion is designed to show off the vineyards.

Bird studies have found that “one out of every two (window) strikes results in a fatality.” Birds that fly away often die of trauma. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says putting up small-mesh crop netting saves lives. The sooner the pavilion is bird-friendly, the easier the pinot gris will go down. That’s the wine that made them famous, except among the birds. 

Chris Piché, Eugene


RANDOM THOUGHTS

Yes, gaining historic status is no easy task in Eugene — especially for trees. Apparently 50 years old is not very old for a tree, so cutting down a whole lot of them in Eugene for the EmX is justified. Like, it’s so easy to raise very, very old trees now in Eugene, since there’s plenty of rain all year long. In no time at all, 30-year-old trees and 50-year-old trees will pop up like magic.

Oh, and Common Core: Apparently that’s why all the charter schools are popping up, so they can avoid having to use Common Core. I can see how effective Common Core is: It has all the parents and children running the opposite direction.

And that’s so “democratic” of the mayor to hold a public outreach meeting at Grocery Outlet, since that is where all her taxpayers have to shop. She really knows her constituents, doesn’t she?

I have to compliment Eugene and Lane County for finally getting another call center of low-paid jobs for some big company in India. Remember the good old days, when it was just the opposite? 

I got a good friend of mine just to register to vote “no” in the upcoming election for the proposed $35 vehicle registration fee. Even people who never vote on anything are coming out of the woodwork to vote “no.” Have you ever asked the staff at Walmart how much their shoplifting has gone up? They raised all their prices because of shoplifting. Nobody has any money, and you’re going to tax these people $35 for their broken-down cars?

I really value all the marijuana advertisements. I know where to get my next hit, but that all depends on how much shoplifting I can do there.

Sincerely, I am a fan of EW. Keep up the good work, especially “Savage Love,” the best column in the paper.

Terrance Smith, Eugene


RAISE THE STANDARDS

When Sen. Ron Wyden held a town hall meeting at Sheldon High School recently many people got to express their opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership. I asked him this question:

“The TPP would turn over American sovereign interests to 600 international corporations accountable only to profit. Since Congress, the Legislature and the president don’t have any authority over them, don’t you think supporting the TPP is un-American?”

His answer was that Free Trade Agreements would allow free flow in and out of the U.S. and that this could set up Oregon as a manufacturer of goods sold worldwide.

The problem with this answer is that without protections for workers, consumers and the environment, jobs will flow to wherever the workforce gets paid the least and workers have less rights. This is exactly what FTAs engender. So to achieve what he proposes, Oregon would have to lower its wages!

The only solution which would be best for all to achieve is raising the standards worldwide. Minimum wage in the U.S. should be a livable wage. If the same happens in other countries, no one will be exploited and the pyramid metaphor of a few billionaires on top and millions of poor people at the bottom will be replaced by less economic extremes.

Hard work would still be rewarded, but the wealth of states and countries would express more justice. This is what the Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network (ESSN) works towards.

David Ivan Piccioni, ESSN Board member