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Letters to the Editor: 5-21-2015

DRAW OF THE CASCADES

There’s a trickle on the back side of Belknap, up there in the wild Cascades. Up where it wanders west towards Clear Lake. Up where it joins the slick parade of the marching McKenzie River. Up where time and trout are one. Where you can hook and land eternity in one prismatic flash of sun. Up where a school of fish becomes a mess of fish. Up where living takes up all your time. Up where the Doug firs set their skirts a-swish.

Up where I surely hope to die. Oh yeah. That’s where I’m going, when they call the final roll. To the evergreen of Oregon, and those rivers that haunt my soul.

From the eternal snows of the Sisters flows a steady, spring-fed seep. One that feeds voracious Waldo Lake, up where Willamette tumbles from her seat. One that thunders down the mountainsides, moving boulders, trees and men. One distant seduction that’s moving me. One that’s calling me home again.

To where the wily trout lurk and swirl about, at ease in the Cascade’s gush. A liquid symphony, consuming me, with its stunning, tumultuous hush.

Oh yeah. That’s where I’m going, when they call the final roll, to the evergreen of Oregon. And those rivers that haunt my soul.

Dave Perham, Eugene

 

THE POWER PLAYER

The common tale of the Common Core curriculum is that the nation’s governors felt we needed a new national K-12 curriculum that would be the same everywhere. Then we could have common high-stakes tests that would be the same everywhere. So the governors had the curriculum written in 2009. Not so.

The Common Core was actually developed two years before the governors adopted it, largely by a group named Achieve. Since 1996, Achieve has been a powerful player in the high-stakes standardized testing movement. Achieve is funded by dozens of giant corporations including AT&T, Chevron, GE and Microsoft. Achieve started writing the Common Core behind closed doors in 2007.

So, who wrote the Common Core Math Standards? According to former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, only three of the 15 individuals in the Common Core Math Work Group had taught math. None had taught elementary or middle school math, special education or ESL. Fourteen of the 15 were affiliated with testing and curriculum companies. 

So, who wrote the Common Core English Language Arts Standards? Only five of the 15 had taught English. None had taught elementary grades, special education or ESL. Again, most were affiliated with testing and curriculum companies.

Before the Common Core was even adopted by the governors, the testing corporations were developing the standardized tests that would be connected at the hip to the Common Core, and the giant textbook and software curriculum corporations were developing their products to go with Common Core. 

Follow the money.

Roscoe Caron, Eugene

 

INSULTING READERS

N. Christian Anderson III, chairman of The Oregonian Media Group, just left his high-profile, high-status, high-paying, highly powerful job to be merely the publisher of The Register-Guard in Eugene. (Willamette Week’s Nigel Jaquiss has yet to expose the real reason Anderson left. To spend more time with his family?)

Anderson sanctioned if not ordered his reporters and editors and editorialists use of the term affordable housing as a euphemism for the correct, informative and useful term for public discussion and debate, public housing.

Anderson’s support for the discredited and abhorrent policy of targeted, unlimited neighborhood concentration of public housing and his refusal to demand meaningful, accurate, complete and timely public housing and market-rate affordable housing statistical data has severely diminished all credibility of news reports and editorials involving housing policy in Portland and Multnomah County.

It remains to be seen if his replacement will continue Anderson’s misguided, linguistically indefensible decision which demonstrates a disregard, indeed, insult to Oregonian readers’ intelligence. 

Richard Ellmyer, Portland

 

GLENWOOD RISING

I shook my head in amazement while reading Biz Beat May 14. People are really complaining about remodeling Glenwood? I guess there has to be someone who is pro-blight. Let me go on the record as saying there looks to be a vast improvement in the offing, and no amount of carping will hold back the future. So lead, follow, or get out of the way. 

Neal Friedt , Eugene

 

CONNECTING DOTS

The 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center towers and the 2008 economic collapse are the pivotal events of the 21st century. The NYC horror led to the creation of a U.S. police state and legitimized an open-ended succession of aggressive wars against sovereign nations. 

The 2008 financial meltdown brought a historic transfer of wealth to a tiny elite linked to the finance and weapons/intelligence industries. Most gains went to the top 1 percent of the wealthiest 1 percent: 10,000 families, a new American oligarchy.

Trillions gifted to the same bankers whose reckless and corrupt practices crashed our economy evoked an eruption of public outrage in the Occupy Wall Street uprising, speaking truth to power.

Occupy Eugene’s work endures: Occupy Medical and Opportunity Village are two among many OE-inspired projects, which include funding the quarterly Eugene Occupier newspaper and an office.

Are there connections between the events of 2001 and 2008? Why is our middle class increasingly trapped in debt slavery and what and who are behind the destruction of the societies of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen — with Ukraine on deck and Russia next?

Connect the dots for yourself. At 7 pm Friday, May 22, upstairs at 454 Willamette St. will be at a fundraiser showing of the film Operation Terror, an imagined dramatization of the events of Sept. 11. Empty out your change jar and bring along a quality item we can raffle off, at the kickoff of the Occupy Eugene Fourth Friday Cinema and Cabaret.

Fergus Mclean, Dexter

 

WAR ON WILDLIFE

The Oregon House of Representatives is out to kill more predators. They passed HB 3188A last month to allow the creation of predator control districts. If the bill passes the Senate, the legal definition of “predator” will expand to include bears, bobcats and red foxes. Coyotes, rabbits, rodents and feral swine are already classified as “predators” for killing purposes. So are cougars and gray wolves.

To pay for killing more predators, the law will tax land located in new predator control districts at $1 per acre or at a $1 per thousand dollars of assessed value.

This proposal intensifies commercial agriculture’s war on wildlife. It would create local funding to pay the USDA’s Wildlife Services for more of that agency’s noxious trapping, hounding cougars and aerial gunning.

The bill is now being considered by the Oregon Senate’s Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, where it should die the legislative death this rotten idea deserves.

Ricardo Small, Albany

 

GMO PREEMPTION

Where, oh where, has our democracy gone? More and more Oregonians and Americans are hip to corporate power in this country. Many wonder “How does this happen?” Look no further than the Oregon Legislature, where our elected officials are again proactively dismantling true democracy at the local level to advance the interests of multi-national giants like Syngenta and Monsanto at the expense of our local farmers and food system. 

Rep. Brian Clem and others are pushing HB 3212 which among other things would invalidate local laws passed by the voters of Jackson and Josephine counties, prevent voters in other counties from passing similar laws and empower GMO farmers to sue our local governments for enforcing laws passed by local residents. 

Does this rub anyone the wrong way? Our representatives are passing laws that prevent voters from using our constitutional right to write laws that protect our health, safety and welfare because they (and the corporations who fill their ears and wallets) think they know what is best for our communities.

State preemption is a manufactured corporate tool to keep local communities from deciding for themselves what is best. Don’t buy the “patchwork of regulations” corporate speak that translates to “no regulations.” Just look at the failed governor’s task force on GMOs and the absence of any regulations to protect local farmers from the devastation of uncontainable GMO contamination.

We cannot look to Washington, D.C. — where democracy is truly dead — to restructure this corporatocracy. 

We must look and act locally. We are the people and silence is complicity.

 Ann Kneeland, Community Rights Lane County

 

THE NINTH WARD

 I would like to say something about the people I know who are living in a camp here called the Ninth Ward. Sometimes it’s hard to find them because they have to keep moving so often. But if you do see their tents and the portable toilet they take with them wherever they go, you will find 18 people who are trying to find a different way to live in a camp. They want a place that is safe and quiet and kept neat. They treat each other with dignity and respect. They even set up a kitchen so they can cook together, and they always leave each site cleaner than it was when they got there. I’ve gotten to know many of them. They are my friends.

 These are people like anyone else. They treat others with kindness and respect and hope to receive that back. Unfortunately that is not always what happens. We all have our stories. My friends at the camp do, too. There are many reasons why people are homeless. I think it’s important to take the time to talk to them rather than make assumptions about why they are there. 

Kay Brandt, Eugene

 

BAD ENDORSEMENTS

Shame on you, EW, for endorsing Jim Torrey and Mary Walston for the 4J School Board. Is this the “devil you know vs. the devil you don’t” or simple amnesia? Haven’t you noticed that 4J has become the most disfunctional public agency in Lane County?

Torrey’s schtick is advocating for kids and education. It’s a front. It’s been his photo op and nothing else. Do not forget his back-handed activities around Hynix/Huyndai which increased the value of his holdings in west Eugene. Torrey hasn’t been fit to hold public office since he sat in his car as mayor and watched his police pepper spray the treesitters downtown.

And while I will not suggest that Walston has any sort of similar record, given the recent debacle over the departure of Shelley Berman, one has to believe that our children in our flagship School District 4J will be significantly better off with a new slate of board members than this very old guard.

Candidates like Kevin Cronin and Colin Farnsworth are desperately needed to help guide 4J into the next decade; they represent our future. The board needs new and younger energy and ideas. It’s a shame you wouldn’t endorse them for the future of our kids.

Jules DeGiulio, Eugene

 

QUEER’S COMEBACK

Regarding your cover story “The Hammered Lamb” May 14, by all means, let’s “hammer out some semantics.” I’m an elderly straight male, so undoubtedly I’m out of touch, but for most of my life calling someone a queer was a particularly vicious insult. Now it’s on the cover of EW. In my lifetime we’ve gone from faggot to queer to homosexual to gay — and now back to queer? How did this happen? Was there a referendum that I was excluded from, and queer was voted back in? Obviously it is not up to me, but I respectfully suggest that this does not seem to cohere with Darwin’s theory of evolution. 

And now I have to wonder, if queer can make such an unexpected comeback, are other discredited relics, nigger and spic come to mind, waiting in the wings, ready and eager to be reinstated? I know that sounds ridiculous, but honestly, five years ago did you even think it conceivable that that you’d be proclaiming queer on your cover?

Mike Kopf, Eugene

EDITOR'S NOTE: As stated in the story, “queer” is now an oft-used umbrella term for LGBTQA. Many consider the terms “gay” and “homosexual” as marginalizing to those in the LGBTQA community who are not males attracted to the same sex e.g., trans and intersex people, lesbians, bisexuals and others. In addition, our sources requested that EW use “queer.”

 

 

SALES TAX OPTION

Kudos to Gerry Merritt [Letters, 5/14] for daring to mention the ST phrase: sales tax as a solution to our budget woes instead of suggesting PERS workers just crawl off and die. I would especially hate to see our final old growth logged in order to save our schools.

Stephen Cole, Eugene

 

BAFFLING RULING

I was disheartened to hear of the ruling issued last week by Lane County Judge Karsten Rassmussen on the Chernaik v. Brown (State) case regarding naming the atmosphere as a natural resource that must be held in trust and protected by the State for safe use by Oregonians indefinitely. That a breathing human being would question whether the atmosphere is a natural resource is utterly baffling. It is a huge missed opportunity, to set precedent and trigger action at the statewide level to curb greenhouse gases and inspire courts nationwide, but I am reminded that we are impelled to be a peoples’ movement—we do not have the luxury of sitting idly, hoping our underperforming elected and appointed officials will do something. We must demand it. 

Coming from a conservative household, I dread the word “activist” for its connotations, and yet, if we are educated and aware of what’s going on, we have no choice, really — each and every one of us has something to contribute. We have to look deep inside ourselves and ask where and how we can become part of the solution, and then put something in. 

Passing House Bill 3470, the Climate Stability and Justice Act, is the most important policy action we can support right now. Legislators need to hear from us (you!) to let them know that Oregonians want them to act on this important legislation this session! HB 3470 very specifically and clearly mandates reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 through 2050.

We are responsible for our own impacts here where we live. The people of every place, village, town, city, county and country must continue to rise up and take action in our home places. Please put something in the pot — something, rather than nothing. 

Shelley Villalobos, Eugene

 

THE MORE YOU KNOW

Smart meters are rolling out! Between EWEB's semi-annual phone surveys of 2011 and 2013 regarding smart meters, customers reported they were now more familiar with smart meter terminology — up from 36 to 59 percent. Those who had a favorable opinion before, went down — from 55 to 45 percent.

 In three years, those with a previously unfavorable opinion increased from 17 to 41 percent — without one single pro-and-con debate offered by EWEB.

 Interestingly, despite their own documentation of increasingly negative opinions in that timeframe about smart meters, they voted again on Feb. 17 to begin roll-out of the $20 million program, despite not having money to find Eugene a reliable backup water system. Not one pro-meter person in the crowd, except them.

 EWEB should be doing another phone survey soon. What will it tell us two years on? Why not do a larger survey through the newsletter they already send with our bills, or are they worried what it might tell them?

 Protect yourself and those you care about. Your privacy, health, safety and cyber-security are at stake. See the movie at takebackyourpower.net as soon as you can! Be informed.

 Robin Bloomgarden, Eugene

 

MONUMENT TO GREED

Pastor Aaron Taylor of Crossfire Ministries is leasing property for a 75-foot AT&T cell tower. This giant tower is planned to look similar to a tree (?) to be built in the West Amazon Drive and Fox Hollow neighborhood!

Hundreds, if not thousands of doctors, scientists and other professionals from many countries are aware of cell tower microwave radiation and the biological damage it causes. 

Cell towers release powerful pulses of electromagnetic energy, saturating us with a level of radiation incompatible with the natural functioning of our body — brain, organs, blood and even DNA replication — potentially destroying the health of future generations.

As well as innocent people, animals tamed and wild will be affected; even smaller lives cannot biologically withstand the invisible currents from this cell tower. It is entirely possible we will no longer see or hear any birds, crickets, frogs or bees, and children could get mysteriously sick as their parents could suffer from any one of a myriad of cancers.

Pastor Aaron Taylor, you claim yourself a man of God, yet you desire to bring darkness and disease to our beautiful little valley. You put a price on our lives and asked us for it. 

"You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind beside the altar of the LORD your God, which you shall make for yourself.” Deuteronomy 16:21

Eve Woodward-Shawl, Eugene

 

EINSTEIN ON FAST TRACK

Albert Einstein was keen on what he called the “thought experiment”: From a different point of view (POV), examine what is happening. So, having taken truth serum, fast track Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) from the POV of a foreign multi-national corporation reads: 

“Secret agreements are good for my secret plans. I need this done fast, before it can be read. I would like to enforce rules I legislate, not your Congress. I oppose ‘protection,’ yet want it for my patents on drugs, which will be extended 12 years — delaying generics, which are too cheap. 

“I need to move jobs to places where labor is the least expensive. I need to hire people more cheaply and obeying national rules on health and environmental protection limits my freedoms. If I am limited in this way I want taxpayers to pay me for the loss. I am tired of this internet freedom exposing me, and I will be limiting that with new copyright rules. Trust me, trust your president, we need to do this fast before Congress can meddle in it. I have plenty of money to buy agreement with me, if the people do not catch on too early.”

Contact your representatives in Congress before it is too late and foreign multinationals wreck our Constitution. Stop fast tracking the TPP trade agreement!

Michael Lee, Eugene

 

REASONS TO DENY

I live within a 10 -minute walk of this supposed Crossfire Church. (I never see anyone there!) As an artist, avid walker, bicyclist and nature lover, this is not acceptable to me. It will be a visible eyesore, not to mention my physical sensitivity to this communication means. As it is, I live close to cell towers located on Spencer Butte. I am seeing continuously bees and other insects flying rigidly into my studio windows repeatedly, as though they are lost or cannot see it. This has happened since the building of those cell towers!

Reasons to deny:

1. Incompatibility of neighborhood values because of decreased property values for homeowners in an R-1 residential zoned neighborhood, while a pastor from out of the neighborhood profits personally.

 2. Natural environment aesthetics (visual, auditory and psychological) violated. Visually and psychologically intrusive.

 3. Stewardship of the natural environment, birds, and wildlife across the street in the Amazon Corridor municipal parkland violated.

 4. Incompatibility with local taxpayers' rights to unobstructed skyline views, a non-commercial atmosphere, and peaceful, beautiful recreation while on the walking trails in park space financed by taxpayers.  

5. Mostly one- or two-story house heights incompatible with a 75-foot corporate monolith. No adequate screening of Amazon Creek by standing trees.

6. Incompatibility of a corporate profit-making venture with a neighborhood church's purpose to promote spirituality and good neighbor relations.

7. Incompatibility with the stewardship intentions of the Audubon Society of Lane County, the Eugene Track Club, and especially the Be-Noble Foundation, all of whom donated much money to preserve the environmental habitat and to attract and protect the birds and wildlife of Amazon Creek and the surrounding natural area.

Go to friendsofamazoncreek.org for full information.

 PS. I have been collecting signatures to oppose this on all levels. I walk the Amazon Parkway and past this bogus "church."

Susan Klein, Eugene

 

SOAKED TWICE

Oh! No! Twenty-two percent of UO’s part time faculty is living below the poverty line [cover story, 4/23]. Well, hello! Part time is below poverty. They must be part of the 48 percent of the population living under poverty? 

How many hours or days were spent on useless laws that only makes law-abiding citizens outlaw, or the stupid law that says we can make a difference: We’ll institute a carbon tax so we can steal from the poor; that way those underpaid faculty members will be able to buy an electric car. Well, perhaps not, as those carbon taxes will eat away everyone’s income, because somebody has to pay it.

We the citizens get soaked twice for it. Both at the pump, and if you bought it, a truck brought it. Those new taxes should help those 22 percent make it above the poverty threshold. I know! Just hike the tuition — what the hell, the taxpayers are paying for it any way. Did you hear the one, about the employer who decided that he earned too much and took less income for himself so he could keep his small work force employed? 

James Selby, Florence

 

MORE ACCURATE WORDS

I am politely requesting EW stop using the words “climate change” and “global warming” and use “climate crisis” and “climate chaos” where appropriate instead. It would be helpful if readers started using this substitution also as it more accurately describes the situation. Some would dismiss this critique as semantics, but it may awaken people to the situation's gravity and give less credence to the naysayers who still hold sway as witnessed by the 2014 elections.

While overall the climate is getting warmer, weather patterns have varied wildly, and people are confusing climate with weather. “Climate change” doesn't indicate good or bad, just change. “Global warming” should really be global heating. Who doesn't like to be warm?

The fossil fuel company’s scientists, the Koch brothers and their Republican lapdogs have influenced how slow the U.S. has been to address the problem. Unfortunately, they hold power and have millions of followers.

The U.S. East Coast was one of the few places on earth where temperatures were not above average after history's hottest recorded winter. Republican senators have finally conceded that the world is getting warmer, but it would be “egotistical” to think that humans are responsible. Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, brought a snowball into the chambers and declared “snow on the ground in Washington, D.C. proves global warming is a hoax.”

Old beliefs die hard, and whatever progressive media and people can do to raise awareness, the faster we can address this crisis.

Scott Fife, Eugene

 

MIXED MESSAGES

Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik resorted to a lawsuit to force Oregon lawmakers to reduce carbon emissions and help forestall climate change. But Judge Karsten Rasmussen last week said he lacks authority. When the elected officials refuse to act, we are told that our recourse is in the courts. Mixed messages are being sent. We want to encourage our youth to engage in solution-oriented actions. We want them to help us find solutions to the problems created by previous generations — those they will inherit. Then, when they do, a judge shuts the door in their faces. 

I’ve no doubt that these young women are not so easily dissuaded. They will continue to fight for fairness and justice. But what about our response? Are we really saying we’re willing to accept that environmental rights shouldn’t be protected in our courts? And further, that “we the people” lack the power to require our government and legal system to protect the welfare of the people and the planet? Check out CommunityRightsLaneCounty.org. We believe community members have the right to protect what we hold dear.

Michelle Holman, Deadwood

 

LEGALIZED CORRUPTION

Does the government represent the will of the people? A study at Princeton University of 40 years of data says no. Peoples' desires were plotted against the probability of our government carrying them out; ideally the graph of a democratic republic would show that the higher people's wishes were, the higher the government's response to them.

Unfortunately the graph shows that all ideas have about an equal (30 percent) probability of becoming laws. This means that the public's opinion is statistically insignificant to the legislative policy of Congress.

This study is unsettling for another reason too: It applies only to the 90 percent lowest earners of the population. The richest 10 percent do get their wishes translated into laws more proportionally. It is perfectly legal in this country today for the rich to pay any politician willing to sell out.

This is the cycle: Special interest groups hire lobbyists who give campaign contributions and offer job positions to politicians. They then write laws that reward the special interests. Both of them benefit with the cycle starting anew.

Often lobbying efforts are written off as charity and nonprofit ventures for which they are reimbursed.

In the last five years an investment of $5.8 billion by the 200 biggest corporations turned into $4.4 trillion as rewards. The state of our country today is proof that the government is for sale to the highest bidder.

See the YouTube video "Corruption is Legal in America."

David Ivan Piccioni, Eugene

 

OUR CORPORATE NATION

The president came to Oregon to trot out the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that he promises will provide more jobs and a healthier environment. Last time we had a Democratic President (honest Bill) trot out a trade agreement, we got the WTO. The result? Hundreds of thousands of factories shut down in the U.S. and machinery was put on wheels in less developed countries. That enabled them to easily roll the machines into trucks and ships to another destination where labor was cheap and the environment not yet saturated with industrial waste.

The American Revolution was a response to the multi-national corporation, the East India Company, upheld by stockholders, many of whom were members of Parliament, and facilitated by the king of England. Tax breaks would help uphold the corporation's domination over smaller colonial traders in the tea market. Needless to say, the colonists saw this situation as untenable. 

For a period of time after the revolutionary war, the states, through the wisdom of their experience, held corporations to strict standards. For example: corporations were strictly forbidden from making contributions to political campaigns. Receiving money from a corporation for political favors was tantamount to treason!

International treaties like the TPP supersede local, state, and federal laws. Essentially these treaties form a corporate run nation-state.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." — Benito Mussolini

Do we want a democracy? Guarantee: No one will come to knock on our doors to give us one.

Richard Gross, Deadwood