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Letters to the Editor: 4-30-2015

A BETTER MUPTE

The Eugene City Council will soon meet to discuss reviewing and revising the Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE), which enabled the construction of multi-unit housing in the downtown area including the controversial Capstone project, 13th & Olive. I hope the council will either allow MUPTE to sunset or redefine its parameters for mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, commercial developments. 

Looking across the street from the Bijou Metro at the Broadway Commerce Center, I see an example of the type of development we need more of in the downtown area. Not only does the BCC contain popular downtown bars and restaurants such as Sizzle Pie, Killer Burger and The Barn Light — that create dozens of jobs, serve goods produced in Oregon and attract young and old alike — but also an architecture firm, a graphic design company, several software development firms and a lobby space often utilized for art exhibits and business gatherings. 

As they consider revising MUPTE, I encourage the council to redefine its scope to attract bids for mixed-use development proposals that incorporate retail, offices, housing, commercial and civic uses into their design. Supporting more projects like the Broadway Commerce Center that expand and strengthen downtown’s commercial and social activity will better serve downtown revitalization than large residential developments targeted towards a revolving door of students here today, gone tomorrow. 

Joshua Kendall Purvis, Bijou Cinemas, Eugene

 

CREATING SAFE SPACE

In response to Mahla Shaebanyan-Bady’s letter to the editor April 23 titled “Tone-Deaf Mission”: Unfortunately, she has fallen into the trap of comparing a marginalized community with the majority and claiming that they are the same.

With a series of tongue-in-cheek comparisons, the author links a queer-owned and run business to those with mainstream identities, the most egregious being a white-owned and run business. This conjures up images of white supremacy and compares it to gay-owned businesses; in short, calling them fascist. This is a fallacy.

When a marginalized community comes together to create a safe place, such as a queer bar, it is to create a safe place for that community. This can be seen in other minority communities — for example, the feminist bookstore, the black-owned barbershop or the high school gay/straight alliance. When safe places are created for marginalized peoples, it doesn’t take away from the majority. 

The notion of a gay bar is nothing new; they have existed for hundreds of years, mostly underground — I’m happy that isn’t the case anymore. However, that does not mean these spaces are unneeded. A queer-owned and run bar in Eugene will create a safe space for a community to gather. 

When I was a kid I naively asked my parents why there was no “kids day” (on Mother’s Day, no less!). They both replied in unison, “Because every day is kids day!” I learned a simple lesson that day with a much larger meaning. It has stuck with me all my life.

Robin Spoerl, Eugene

A CREDIT TO THE UO

The board of directors of the Community Center for the Performing Arts wishes to express our support for James Fox. 

The CCPA is the nonprofit that operates the WOW Hall. Founded in 1975, it was one of the many counterculture organizations that blossomed in Eugene, as documented in the book Fruit of the Sixties. Being one of the organizations from that time period that has survived, assimilated and thrived, the history of the CCPA will be of interest to future historians.

As director of the Special Collections and University Archives division, Fox was instrumental in securing the donation of our organization’s archival materials for the UO. He took the time to attend meetings, answer questions and develop a contract that met with everyone’s approval. Without question, it is the trust and confidence that we placed in Fox that resulted in our signing a deed of gift.

 We have extreme respect for the professional expertise and commitment to historic preservation demonstrated by Fox, and his record of achievement in securing collections for the UO. He has been a credit to the university and to the greater community. 

 Aaron Dietrich, chair, WOW Hall board of directors and seven co-signers

 

A PLACE OF THEIR OWN

The cis-sexist heteronormative response written by Mahla Shaebanyan-Bady April 23 underscores the importance of what’s great about a queer bar opening in Eugene. Instead of celebrating the diversifying landscape of businesses in downtown Eugene, the reader protests a business owner who is proud of his queerness opening up a bar where others can exist in a safe space owned and operated by one of their own. Fostering that sense of community among (often invisible) minorities should be celebrated, not maligned. The gimmick used to illustrate Shaebanyan-Bady’s point is worthless. I can only assume Shaebanyan-Bady wrote a similarly indignant letter when The Register-Guard ran a story about a Chinese immigrant planning to open up a dim sum restaurant. Further, no business in Oregon can legally discriminate in hiring or in the services it provides, and it is immature and ignorant to read that in Colin Graham’s quotes. 

Shaebanyan-Bady’s letter smacks of the privilege that queer people are not afforded. Queer people deserve a space to call their own, and that decision should not be made by anyone but queer people. Fortunately, we don’t need Shaebanyan-Bady’s permission to open one. It is not an act of aggression toward the heteronormative community. This may come as a shock, but it has nothing to do with anyone but queer people. Eugene is home to a large queer and ally community. I applaud Eugene Weekly for recognizing that. 

 Matthew Napolitano, Eugene

 

NO REAL CHOICE

Angie Marzano, in your letters to EW April 23 and the R-G April 19, you praised EWEB’s “smart” electromagnetic, microwave radiating, digital meter program. Are you the same Angie Marzano who’s employed by EWEB? If so, you really should have let everyone know of your seemingly biased sympathies. So, this is how EWEB weaves its publicity campaigns. Angie, here’s what you neglected to tell the people: 

These expensive, plastic digital meters that EWEB plans to eventually foist upon all of us are all smart meters with an on/off switch. If you opt-in, EWEB will remotely turn it on and it will become a dangerous smart meter. EWEB has given no guarantees that opt-in will remain a choice in the future. They could easily switch it to an opt-out or even a you-have-no-choice policy. 

Opt-in actually gives us no real choice, anyway. According to EWEB, every meter will radiate microwave energy for a half mile in every direction. This will effectively give us no opt-in choice in places where we work, shop, eat, walk or even in our own homes, if our neighbors opt-in. This is why demanding analog meters is the wave of the future.

I’ve done the research. There’s nothing good about digital smart meters, nothing that’s worth the cost or the risk to health, safety and security. Don’t take my word for it. Do an internet search for smart meters and see for yourself. 

Don’t “turn-on.” Keep digital out, analog in. 

Abraham Likwornik, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Angie Marzano tells us she has not worked for EWEB for three years and her views are her own and do not represent EWEB.

 

STRUCTURAL INJUSTICE

Questions that might seem obvious are rarely asked. Take a supermarket. From where does our cornucopia of extraordinarily cheap food come? The food Americans buy is uniquely and astoundingly inexpensive.

The reasons why are complex but involve farming economics, transportation and retail enterprise. Yet, one crucial cause is low wages of mostly Latino and immigrant farm workers.

The Labor Department’s National Agricultural Workers Survey shows farm workers on average work 42 hours a week at $7.25 an hour. The average annual income for individuals is between $10,000 and $12,500 and for families between $15,000 and $17,500. Upshot: 30 percent of farm workers have family incomes below the federal poverty line.

We can afford to buy and enjoy cheap food only because many farm workers work full time for wages that condemn them to poverty. We’re affluent only because they’re poor. Ours is a society of the better-off and the worse-off in key part because the poor are poor.

The comfortable frame of mind which avoids attention to such facts is, according to a leading contemporary social, moral and political philosopher, Alasdair MacIntyre, “heedlessness” — inattention to structural injustice.

 A merely local politics is insufficient. But a politics not rooted in local injustices is inadequate.

 Sam Porter, Eugene

SETTING A PRECEDENT

On April 7, co-plaintiffs Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Cherniak presented oral arguments in Lane County Circuit Court to require our state of Oregon to reduce atmospheric pollution. Supported by “Our Children’s Trust,” these teenagers are pursuing legal oversights via a public trust doctrine which holds that state government keep natural resources in trust for current and future residents.

 Oregon’s Assistant Attorney General Rachel Weisshaar argues there are no recorded cases for government controlling the atmosphere. While Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon’s Legislature agree that clean air is important, Weisshaar contends that without a precedent government ought not be required to regulate the atmosphere.

Hence our teenagers bring this litigation to court. There is no precedent to monitor or control air quality until we set one. The principle of clean air is salient and timely. A historic decision simmers. Judge Karsten Rasmussen can require Oregon state officials to designate goals that sufficiently reduce atmospheric pollution. The ramifications are extensive.

Outside the courthouse, dozens of children gave testimonials, rousing supporters’ response: “Save the planet” — “We can help you!” “Save the tortoises” — “We can help you!” “Save the otters” — “We can help you!” 

We applaud Oregonians seeking a sustainable future!

Climate Crisis Working Group, Eugene

Joan Kleban, Cary Thompson, 

Max Gessert, Evelyn Hess, Jere Rosemeyer, 

Marietta O’Byrne, Kate Gessert, 

Earnest O’Byrne, Megan Kemple

 

BLAME MOKROHISKY

I appreciate Wayne Ferrell’s letter to the editor last week regarding the, as he put it, regressive county vehicle registration fee and agree with his opinion that there are better, more progressive ways to approach funding much needed maintenance and repair for Lane County roads. I don’t, however, believe that the problem lies with Commissioner Pete Sorenson. Our County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky is the brainchild of this fee and has put it forward with little to no education of how we do things here in Lane County. 

As a resident and active community member for over 40 years, I can unequivocally say that the people who live and work here appreciate being asked what and how they will pay for vital services rather than being told. Instead of gallivanting around to community meetings where you try to sell your idea, why not spend that time finding out what the people of your county are willing to pay for? 

Mokrohisky may feel emboldened by his cost-cutting career in the right-wing bastion of Douglas County, Nevada, but perhaps he should learn our way of doing things before asking every vehicle owner in Lane County to fund his next career move. 

Tony Black, Springfield

 

ON GLOBAL WEIRDING

Since “The Changing Tide” news story April 16 had specifically to do with ocean acidification, and the overall article relates to the effects of climate change and drought, I thought I’d recommend a few great reads for the concerned.

Most know Rachel Carson for Silent Spring, yet her first book in the early 1950s was The Sea Around Us, which gives an incredibly articulate and scientifically historical account of how the oceans came to be and their effect on the world. This seminal work will give anyone reason to go to the coast and “sea” the waves with a new perspective.

From the 1980s is Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner, which will give pause to how much fresh water we’ve always never had and how, and in what ways, we’ve quickly used up the planet’s resource in the blink of an eye after millions of years.

Finally and most recently, Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction, to read about acidification’s destruction of coral reef systems, among other human-induced carnage, and our demise in the Anthropocene.

Sean S. Doyle, Corvallis

 

 

DEDICATED STAFF

I have been a volunteer at Greenhill Humane Society for many years and have seen first hand the time and effort needed to get an animal ready for its forever home. The dedicated staff and volunteers work tirelessly to ensure that all the animals have the best chance at a wonderful life. I am proud to be involved with animal lovers like those at Greenhill and First Avenue.

Peggy Casper, Eugene