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Letters to the Editor: 4-2-2015

INDUSTRIAL SEAVEY LOOP

The city of Springfield is charging ahead with plans to industrialize the Seavey Loop area while engaging in a cynical and patronizing exercise meant to show public engagement. As a member of the city’s “visioning” workgroup, I participated in four sessions aimed at engaging stakeholders in a discussion of the future of Seavey Loop. During these meetings the city’s planning staff resisted any discussion opposing the UGB and even tried to avoid including the modest notion that boundaries might be redrawn to include less farmland. Other curious practices included minutes issued without opportunity for review, meetings that were recorded without informing participants and a final report submitted without opportunity for comment on a draft.

The coup de grace was a City Council discussion on March 23 that forbade comment by the public or participants in the visioning sessions. City councilors selected their favorite concepts from the staff report and proceeded to discuss how much better Seavey Loop would be managed when industrialized. There was no mention of significant opposition to the UGB. I felt compelled to point out this omission and was escorted out of the meeting for speaking up. 

Springfield council members and planning staff clearly made up their minds long ago and the farms and open spaces of Seavey Loop are now well on their way to becoming a Springfield industrial park. Fortunately, the city assures us that they know best. Take heart, Seavey Loop and Mount Pisgah, Springfield is coming to the rescue.

John F. Helmer, Eugene

 

MEDICAL FLEECING

Health care provider companies use their local market dominance to drive up costs, and not just a little but as much as 2,000 percent. Unfortunately for consumers, neither the patient nor the doctor is entitled to know how much a test or treatment costs until after they decide to buy it. Of the two million per year bankruptcy filings, most (62 percent) are for medical bills, and 80 percent of those people had medical insurance. Short of bankruptcy, one in five American adults will struggle to pay medical bills this year. Around 40 percent of Americans owe collectors money for illness. Even small medical bills can ruin a person’s credit rating.

Enough with secret pricing! Oregon’s Legislature has two bills aiming to give consumers the information they need. Senate Bills 891 and 900 would require hospitals and clinics to make bill estimates available in real time and would require the Oregon Health Authority to publish average prices on the state’s public website. The bills would not completely fix our broken health care system, but they would help savvy consumers. 

Hospitals and insurance companies are lobbying hard to stop this legislation. We need to speak out or continue to be fleeced.

Tom Payn, Florence

 

WAY TOWARDS PEACE?

As I write, we are about to enter Holy Week, a time when those of us with Christian heritages commemorate the brutal end of Jesus’s life and celebrate his resurrection. It is also almost Tax Day, when we focus on our personal and also on government finances. What a juxtaposition!

I am thinking of Jesus the man and the lessons he taught. He lived in a period when there was a rising movement among his people to violently throw out the Roman Empire. They longed for someone to lead them. Instead, they got Jesus. Jesus walked the countryside, speaking out against injustice and corruption and teaching peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers.” “The kingdom of God is within.”

Meanwhile, our U.S. government airstrikes and drones kill and devastate, multiplying our enemies. Our weapons land in enemy hands. We arm our local police with sophisticated weapons; we spend $2 billion a year to modernize our nuclear weapons arsenal and send $3 billion a year to Israel for its defense. Our domestic poverty increases as we spend billions on wars, weapons and military aid. Is that really the way towards peace?

 Where is our heart? Did we ever learn anything from the life of Jesus, who sacrificed his life as he pleaded for compassion? It will take that kind of courage and sacrifice to turn our world in another direction. The least we can do is speak out for a transformation of our government policies. If we pay our federal taxes, we can urgently protest that one-half goes to wars and war preparation. I will join many who will not voluntarily pay our federal taxes. I will redirect any money owed to compassionate and life-sustaining causes.

 Peg Morton, Eugene

 

UNACCEPTABLE SHELTER

Writing as a longtime, current volunteer at First Avenue Shelter, it is clear to me that we need a new public shelter building. The current facility, built in 1978, is horribly cold for dogs and often overcrowded to the point where dogs are housed in crates or staff offices. This is unacceptable.

Writing as a taxpayer, however, I am very concerned about a new shelter proposal being considered by Eugene and Lane County animal services departments: It would combine the public shelter and the Greenhill private shelter into one, and contractually contribute taxpayer money for the new shelter to be built on Greenhill Humane Society’s private property.

I wholeheartedly agree that Greenhill needs better dog kennels. Maybe Greenhill could take the $3 million it has raised from donors and build new ones. But since Greenhill rebuilt its administrative offices and cattery in 2000, it shouldn’t need a whole new shelter at this point. 

The inhumane First Avenue facility, however, needs to be completely replaced, but the solution is not to combine the Greenhill shelter and the public shelter into one.

Our new public shelter should be centrally located. Our new public shelter should not be located on private land. And taxpayers should not pay for a new shelter building we do not own. 

Misha English, Eugene 

 

GOSHEN ON THE SCENE

There is a small district south of Eugene off of I-5 north of Creswell with a rural area. This area has a fire district like no other fire district. It has LCC, I-5 and several residential areas and business. The area I am talking about is Goshen.

In the last several years there have been many volunteers leaving for what has been said unknown issues. This department is over 50 years old, and there’s never had to be a “help wanted” sign on the building. People that wanted a full-time career as a firefighter knew that this was the one department to go to. If needed, Eugene/Springfield would be glad to help with training. 

The fire district had engines that stood out from surrounding departments; you knew Goshen was on the scene by the color of its equipment (yellow and green). Old and new firefighters were happy to spend time at the station for sometimes hours discussing the last call or calls from years past — or all getting together to watch a Ducks game. We would answer your call, and then leave you with a smile.

That’s all changed. Equipment is new, and the building has been updated. Goshen Rural Fire District still is operational.

Jeff Dolgin, Eugene

 

A PUBLIC SHELTER

The desperate need for a new public animal shelter is apparent to anyone who has seen the current one. It is time to stop talking about a new facility to care for the area’s stray and abandoned animals and to step up and get that done. As a taxpayer and a longtime dog walker at the First Avenue Shelter and LCAS before that, I am additionally well aware of the need for a new shelter facility to remain under taxpayer control and independent from private entities. Private and even nonprofit organizations operate under different rules than public ones do. A public facility is accountable to taxpayers, and a private one is not. It is time to build a new public shelter on public lands so oversight remains in public hands.

Kit Duchin, Eugene

IN SUPPORT OF TPP

I urge Oregonians to encourage our congressional delegation to support adoption of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. TPP boosts made-in-America exports to some of the fastest growing countries in the world, eliminates trade barriers, creates a level playing field and establishes rules stopping unfair trade. 

In 2013 Oregon exported $2.3 billion in raw agricultural products, as well as other value-added products. Oregon’s agricultural exports boosted farm income and supported about 17,400 jobs that can pay 20 percent more than jobs not connected to the international economy.

Foreign trade is crucial for Oregon’s urban and rural businesses. Standing still on the TPP is not an option. 

With Oregon’s strategic Pacific Rim location, the TPP is vitally necessary. For Oregon companies with products garnering international demand, Asia is essential for our growth.

The TPP will grow Oregon’s economy, add family-wage jobs and support industry throughout Oregon.

Stan Baker, president, Baker Seed Technologies, Corvallis

 

RAISE WORLD 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, Eugene

 

WRONG CONCLUSION

In response to John Zerzan’s Jan. 29 letter “Keep Pretending,” I would say that his claiming the 18th-century Enlightenment and its attendant gains in science and technology as being the ultimate causes of fundamentalist terrorism, as we see it today, is totally wrong.

What is the logic of Zerzan’s charge — that advancements in philosophy and science should have been stifled? The Inquisition tried to serve that purpose, using fundamentalist violence in an attempt to carry out its aim.

Are we to believe that, if Muslim fundamentalists were reading Baruch Spinoza and Thomas Paine, they would still attack Charlie Hebdo? Or, if I get Zerzan’s point, the attack on Charlie Hebdo is a result of the writings of Spinoza and Paine? Wouldn’t a more realistic assessment be to say the problem has been a Wahabbist fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic scripture, which might do well with some widening of scope?

Stephen Amy, Eugene