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Letters to the Editor: 5-7-2015

UNDERMINING RIGHTS

As the administration raises pressure on Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority to seal the deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, I wanted to bring your attention to a letter written to Congress by President Obama’s mentor at Harvard, Laurence Tribe, and a group of senior legal experts. In the letter, they raise very serious and real concerns about the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system under TPP.  

The American legal system is based on every citizen’s equal right to seek a fair trial in court. But ISDS creates a separate, exclusive legal system available only to foreign investors. It’s a powerful tool to further empower multinational corporations to undermine workers’ rights, consumer protections and environmental health. As you opine on the trade debate, I hope you will bring this issue to the attention of Oregonians who deserve to know the truth.

 Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, Springfield

 

CRONIN OWNED DEBATE

The best part of the debate April 30 between 4J School Board candidate Kevin Cronin and Republican former mayor Jim Torrey was when Torrey asked Cronin, “Have you ever been to a 4J School Board meeting in your life?” 

Cronin responded with this: “Mr. Torrey, not only have I been to numerous meetings, I also ran the 2011 local measure that, if passed, would have helped to hire more teachers and deal with our class sizes at 4J.” 

To be fair, Torrey would have known that if he’d been there with us fighting for our local schools — he wasn’t. 

Cronin raised the bar for the purpose and direction of the 4J School Board. He differentiated himself from Torrey by defining his school board election as a run to force action on our local school board and to force conversation in our local communities about how to truly deal with the crisis facing parents, students and teachers around the state. 

Cronin also said that he would never sue The Register-Guard to keep secrets from the public, but rather engage the public by informing the newspaper of important developments in the district — a stark difference from what we have seen from Torrey, who chairs the board and voted to sue the paper for trying to inform the public about what was going on. 

We need transparency. We need action. We need Cronin on the 4J School Board, Position 5. 

Keith Hoskins, Eugene

 

IS IT REALLY ‘MODEST’?

The ballot title for Measure 20-231 in the Lane County Voters’ Pamphlet reads “To ensure road safety by modestly increasing vehicle registration fee.”

I do not disagree with the need for “road safety.” But I am amazed that the adjective “modestly” passed title approval. I always had the impression titles were to be written with impartiality. I would be very surprised if many low-income Lane County residents would find the proposed registration fee of $35 per vehicle to be a modest increase.

I recommend careful reading the entire ballot summary for Measure 20-231 to learn what passage would encompass and how it might affect you.

Eilene Schultz, Springfield

 

A GOOD FIT FOR ESD

Regarding the Lane ESD board election for the at-large seat (the seat I currently hold), I believe ESD will be best served by electing Linda Hamilton. Hamilton brings life and professional experiences that resonate perfectly with the growth and direction of ESD, and which are crucial if the organization is going to properly support the districts and students it is being called upon to serve. Lane ESD is expanding its participation at the MLK Jr. Education Center, which serves the youth at Serbu and is contracted though the Junction City School District to provide educational services for youth housed at the new psychiatric hospital. 

Lane ESD is an active partner in Lane County’s Gang Prevention Task Force. Lane ESD is committed to closing the achievement gap and is helping facilitate countywide discussions addressing disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates among students of color. Hamilton’s life experience makes her uniquely qualified to bring a relevant and important perspective to these conversations. Her work experience as a parole officer (opening her heart to youth and adults who have been marginalized) will bring a needed voice to the board, ensuring that Lane ESD fulfills its mission to serve all students in Lane County. I believe the Lane ESD Board needs Hamilton. She is a perfect fit. Please vote for Hamilton for the Lane ESD board.

Carol Dennis, Eugene

 

SCRATCHY THROATS

It’s too bad that reviewers only see a theater production once, and then make broad, general statements about certain aspects of which they have little or no knowledge. Case in point is Isabel Zacharias’ review April 23 of Les Miserables at Cottage Theatre.  

Her statement, “Kory Weimer, as young, heartfelt revolutionary Marius, was insecure in several vocal passages. Mandy Rose Nichols, playing Marius’ ardent and unrequited admirer Eponine, did a similarly passable job; of the leads, these two were the shakiest ... unable to keep their faces from betraying their level of effort.”

Did Zacharias talk to the actors after the performance? No, she did not. If she had, she would have discovered that both Weimer and Rose were suffering from laryngitis. Yes, there definitely was a “level of effort.” Barely able to speak, they put everything they had into their vocal performances and did an outstanding job. 

I would just ask that, in the future, Zacharias know the whole story before she states her opinions as fact.

Rhonda Turnquist, Cottage Grove

 

FRESH PERSPECTIVE

I volunteered for the Democratic Party of Lane County during last fall’s 2014 election when Kevin Cronin was the regional field director for the Coordinated Campaign for Lane County. Kevin was responsible for turning out the vote for Sen. Jeff Merkley and Democrats up and down that ticket. I was impressed with his ability to inspire people of various ages to work together, with his strong work ethic and with his knowledge of issues, local and national.

As a result of his leadership, Lane County had one of the highest voter turnouts in the nation for a major metropolitan area, 78.7 percent. Cronin is now running for Eugene 4J School Board against incumbent Jim Torrey. And it is time for a change. Torrey has been in this position for eight years now. We have seen no new ideas and are actually seeing a worsening of the situation. While Torrey’s priorities are lofty and well-intentioned, he offers no solutions. Cronin has offered solid proposals for funding Eugene 4J: a review of Measure 5 and the tax kicker and the support of an upcoming movement/measure to increase the corporate income tax in Oregon. Kevin states that he would form a coalition of other school boards to move this forward. From what I’ve seen of Kevin’s organizing skills, he would accomplish this.

Kevin is a more recent graduate of Oregon’s school system and experienced its downside. This fresh perspective may be very helpful to the Eugene 4J School Board.

  Zenia Liebman, Junction City

 

TORREY’S RECORD

Dear 4J School District voters: Please consider my advice before filling out your ballot for the May 19 election: Type the following into your web browser: wkly.ws/20l. Allow it to jog your memory about the political temperament of Jim Torrey, our former Republican mayor. Join me in supporting for the only Democratic candidate who is running for 4J School Board, Position 5: Kevin Cronin.

Robert Farewell, Eugene

 

 PAYING FOR POTHOLES

Commissioner Peter Sorenson used poor taste when he tied the new revenue from [nearly] doubling vehicle registration fees to a family being mowed down on Main Street in Springfield. A pothole did not cause that. What causes potholes are vehicles that weigh over 26,000 pounds running 24/7 over Lane County roads that somehow are exempt from this fee proposal. Why should we bail out heavy equipment industries and/or local politicians who can’t keep timber fees in place as before? Alaska gets its oil kickbacks, so we should keep receiving our tree fees. 

Already, our property taxes are up to cover jail funding that timber sales supported. Now, this proposal. Tell Congress that austerity is for Europe, not Eugene!

Dan Woodmark, Eugene

 

EASY MONEY PLAN

In Lane County I am told that the smooth-talking Commissioner Blagovitch [sic] has sponsored a Lane County measure to raise money to fix Lane County roads. Unfortunately he has decided he can get more money by assessing Lane County residents only (not the road users) based not on the amount of use but rather on how a person has decided to invest their money. 

For example, a senior citizen such as myself who drives relatively few miles per year but has collected several vehicles over the years (motorcycles, one that rarely goes on a county road and a motorcycle trailer used perhaps once per year if that). I don’t use them much and will pay dearly while a person with one vehicle with high usage will pay little. Not to mention all the out-of-county drivers who will pay nothing.  

There are other inequities in Blagovitch’s easy money plan as well. The only reasonable way to fund road maintenance is through user fees such as gasoline tax, short of monitoring every vehicle’s usage that comes to Lane County.

Joel Lusby, Noti

EDITOR’S NOTE: Commissioner Jay Bozievich supports the Vehicle Registration Fee but is not its author. The proposal came from the citizen Road Advisory Committee that evaluated 20 different funding options, including a gas tax, sales tax and property tax levy.

 

TRANS-PACIFIC HOCUS-POCUS

When I was young, my parents warned me not to eat anything unless I knew where it came from. Sensible advice — so good that even Congress acted on it. In 2002 responding to public demand, lawmakers enacted a straightforward law called COOL (Country of Origin Labeling).

For the last six years, in secrecy, corporationists have come up with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Of the document’s 29 chapters, only five address tariffs and actual trade. The other 24 consist of various ways to “free” corporations from any accountability and responsibility! TPP laws would void buy-local laws and could override other existing laws! 

Their extreme deregulation only helps global banks, big pharma and corporations themselves. The trade agreement includes a process called ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement), a bit of legalese hocus-pocus that elevates corporations to the status of corporate states equaling nation states.

There are already pending cases of corporations claiming lost profits in ISDS cases including: suing Egypt for increasing its minimum wage, Phillip Morris challenging Australia and Uruguay anti-smoking laws, lost compensation from a moratorium on fracking in Quebec. The list goes on, and the cases would be tried by corporate lawyers, in secret.

I can’t do much about this TPP, but a call to someone who could might help. Please call Sen. Ron Wyden and voice your concern.

Bill Joosse, Elmira

 

REINSTATE JAMES FOX

The UO administration needlessly created controversy that resulted in the termination of James Fox as head of Special Collections at the Knight Library. 

Newspaper editorials, letters to the editor, electronic media and words of mouth have, for several months, accumulated mostly in support of Fox. I wish to add my name to the growing number of artists who are spreading the word they are reconsidering donation of their own archives to the repository of Special Collections. 

In recent years the library has collected several of my photographic projects related to the history and culture of Oregon. During the past two years I had been in serious discussion with Fox whether Special Collections, upon my passing, might become the permanent home of 50 years work — visual records of my personal view of life in Oregon rural and urban landscapes. Under the leadership of Fox, Special Collections has been an increasingly important repository for our regional history. 

The newly appointed university president should follow The Register-Guard’s and EW’s recent editorials that suggest he reinstate Fox, who originally tried to warn the university to deal with potential problems with massive email records. Instead of consulting with him as an expert resource, the UO made him a scapegoat.

John Bauguess, Dexter

 

TOWERS ENDANGER BIRDS

After reading EW, where can a person easily go within the city to refresh one’s spirit in the spacious outdoors while walking silently beside trees? The opportunity to de-stress, surrounded by natural beauty and open sky space, with no reminder of corporate privatization of public resources, is offered by the trails along the Amazon Creek corridor. We taxpayers, along with donors from the Be-Noble Foundation, the Audubon Society and others, contributed generously to protect the corridor’s natural ecosystem and wildlife habitat.

Citizens of Eugene, please claim stewardship of this unique area and its birds, especially. The U.S. Department of the Interior wrote to the Federal Trade Commission in February 2014, declaring that the non-ionizing electromagnetic radiations emitted by cellular towers “injure, cripple and kill birds in a variety of ways.” “Study results have documented nest and site abandonment, plumage deterioration, locomotion problems, reduced survivorship and death.”  The FCC was charged with using outdated standards that don’t protect organisms from adverse effects of exposure to cell tower radiation (1.usa.gov/1jn3CZg).

Birds in the Amazon Creek Corridor need readers to write nick.r.gioello@ci.eugene.or.us to ask planners to deny the ATT CUP 14-003 75-foot cell tower proposed for 4060 W. Amazon Dr.    

Jane Katra, Eugene

 

FEAR AND DENIAL

EW co-owner Anita Johnson writes that it was “unlikely” that Sen. Wayne Morse was correct that “John Kennedy, had he lived, would have ended the Vietnam War” (“Reckoning with the Past” story, April 30).

On Nov. 12, 1963, Morse was the first member of Congress to be told by President Kennedy that he had decided to pull out of Vietnam. JFK signed National Security Action Memorandum 263 to start the withdrawal, a month before he was removed from office. A copy is archived at jfkmoon.org/vietnam.html.

I also heard Professor Christian Appy, subject of Johnson’s book review, at a Morse Center event last year, but was less impressed. 

In most countries, when the military leadership and “intelligence” agencies assassinate the president and then reverse his policies, that is considered a coup d’etat. The biggest secret of the coup of Nov. 22, 1963, is the perpetrators knew they’d get away with it due to fear and denial. Two years ago, Robert Kennedy Jr. urged “all Americans” to read JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters by James Douglass, the best introduction.

George Orwell wrote in 1984, “Who controls the past controls the future: Who controls the present controls the past.”

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene

 

WHY MENTION RACE?

I started to read “The Teaching Poor” cover story April 23 and became slightly puzzled. What century am I living in? The article opens with the statement that “Michael Copperman teaches composition to at-risk students of color.”

What color am I? Pink? Which color is referred to here? 

I expected something different from a supposed liberal weekly. Or is that how the university labels this course? Still more puzzling. A supposed liberal university? No wonder Europeans sometimes are aghast when confronted with U.S. American reality.

Lioba Multer, Ph.D., Reedsport

 

OFFENSIVE TACTIC

Corporations think local democracy is a patchwork of nonsense. It doesn’t matter what state you’re from, corporations love attacking democracy when local people act to protect their quality of life. One of their favorite strategies is to paint community level decision-making to reject harms like GMOs, fracking, toxic pesticides or corporate water withdrawal, to name just a few, as recipes for doom and gloom because of the “patchwork of regulations” that will be created. 

The corporations feign chaos, but it’s centralized, corporate control of our own state governments that truly devastates our communities — not people at the local level exercising real democracy and asserting their right to self-government against corporate harms. "Patchwork of regulations" is corporate speak that really means: How dare communities say no to harmful corporate practices in order to embrace a more sustainable existence? It’s an offensive tactic used to prevent any weakening of corporate power. The corporations’ use of “intrastate preemption” against us is their way of exercising greater “rights” to destroy our communities than we have rights to protect them. For more information, go to oregoncommunityrights.org. 

Delaney Pearson, Community Rights Lane County, Eugene

 

CHARGING AHEAD

 “If your tenants want to drive electric vehicles it’s your job to accommodate that.” Thus spaketh Rep. Phil Barnhart, presumably aiming the comment at landlords (“Bills on Capping Carbon, Charging Stations Still Alive in Salem” story, April 30).

 The promise of free stuff and services for which someone else is forced to pay trumps calls for personal responsibility and accountability in this deep-blue state. Barnhart will have his job for as long he wants it.

 Jerry Ritter, Springfield

 

OREGON LEADS THE WAY

Recently I watched Oregon Experience on public TV recalling Gov. Tom McCall’s achievements of setting new standards for the rest of the nation with our Beach Bill, Bottle Bill and Land-Use Planning law. I believe that Oregon can also be and should be a leader in providing health care for everyone.

The Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction by covering more citizens. However, as Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojourners, has asked, “Will there still be those who are too poor to be healthy in America? How do we move from a mindset that views health care as merely a commodity and not a human right? These are the questions we should be asking.”

As a longtime health professional, I believe that a single-payer system, expanded universal Medicare for everyone, is not only the right thing to do but will provide better health results for more folks for less money.

HB 2828 will fund an important study to determine the best way for Oregon to actually provide health care for all. Now is the time for each of us as citizens to stand up and demand that our state legislators pass this bill. Let’s go, Oregon. We can again be a leader for our nation and at the same time join the rest of the countries of our developed world in providing health care for all.

Shirley Kingsbury, Eugene

 

MOTHER’S DAY TRAGEDY

We all look forward to this Sunday, May 10, when we celebrate Mother’s Day and the cherished bond between mother and child. Ironically, dairy cows — worldwide symbols of motherhood — never get to see their babies. The newborn calves are torn from their mothers at birth and turned into veal cutlets, so we can drink the milk that nature designed for them.

The distraught mothers bellow for days, hoping for their return. Most cows spend their lives chained on a concrete floor, with no access to the outdoors. Each year they are impregnated artificially to keep the milk flowing. When their production drops, around four years of age, they are turned into hamburgers.

This Sunday, let's honor motherhood and our natural compassion by replacing cow's milk and other dairy products, all laden with fat and cholesterol, with delicious, healthful, cruelty-free nut or soy-basedmilk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. These are available in every supermarket. Mother cows, and our own bodies will be most grateful. 

Elijah Hennison

Eugene

 

BANNED BY GREENHILL

Lane County does need a new animal shelter, that's for sure. However, based on my experience volunteering for Greenhill, I just can't support Greenhill's current management, veterinarian and board running any shelter.

I filmed shelter dogs for seven years, starting at Lane County Animal Services in 2008 and later for Greenhill. I videoed for advertising purposes and had much success getting dogs placed. Greenhill banned me in July of 2014, I believe because Greenhill doesn't want the public to see proof that the dogs I videotaped that they killed were not too dangerous to be saved.

Videos posted on my YouTube (wkly.ws/20g) titled “In Memory Of” are some of the dogs Greenhill has killed. Greenhill kills dogs secretly that qualified rescues and adopters want to save, while telling the community they do everything to avoid putting dogs to death.

The First Avenue kennel manager has banned or fired a number of people since she was hired. I believe these people did not deserve this. If you worked or volunteered for Greenhill, now is the time to write letters to the editor and tell your story so the community knows what is really going on. Our animals deserve better. 

Molly Nicole Smith

Eugene