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Letters to the Editor: 5-28-2015

REMEMBERING THE RIV

This is about “The Hammered Lamb” cover story May 14. It may or may not be true that it is the first-ever gay/gay-owned bar. In the 1970s, there was a gay bar/disco here — the Riviera Room — on 10th between Willamette and Olive, just down from what was then Seymour’s Cafe (where the Cabaret Theatre is now). This was a seriously gay bar, but I have no idea if the owner was gay or not; the employees certainly were.

In the ’70s there was a large gay population in Eugene. Everyone went to the Riv Room, as we called it. It had the ambiance of a 1940s nightclub, replete with large, plush booths, a sizable dance floor, strobe lights and great dance music.

Sadly, in the late 1970s, there was a huge exodus in Eugene of gay men to the San Francisco Bay area. I say sadly because the timing couldn’t have been worse. A large number of them contracted AIDS and died, including one of my best friends. 

My point: No story about gay nightlife in Eugene is complete without mentioning the Riviera Room and the bustling gay scene that was happening here in the ’70s.

Karen Fierman, Eugene

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Hammered Lamb is a self-proclaimed queer bar, not a gay bar.

 

TRICKLE-DOWN WATER

It is an unjust system that allows environmental need to be subservient to corporate interest. With one hand, the Lane County commissioners asked Gov. Kate Brown to declare our county in a state of “drought emergency.” Then, with the other, they propose to help two Eugene companies — Delta Sand & Gravel Co. and Knife River Corp. — to secure extra Willamette River water for their concrete mixing operations. 

“It’s really important that we manage the water coming off the main stem of the Willamette to the benefit of the community,” County Commissioner Pat Farr said.

Farr’s comment indicates that he believes that what benefits business will ultimately benefit the community. We have seen time and time again that this “trickle-down” economic mindset more often results in untold damage. It’s well past time that the environment’s interests are prioritized above those of corporate business.

Zachary Stark-MacMillan, Eugene

 

THE NEXT MAYOR

The election is now over and it’s time to look forward to the next election. The community will have an opportunity to elect a new mayor. It is an open seat; Kitty Piercy will not be available for the next election.

At the present time I am the only committed candidate for that position. Others are reported to be “thinking about it,” but they are currently reluctant to commit themselves to being a candidate. This time should be an opportunity for citizens to talk to those who are planning to be on the ballot and ask them what they have in mind for that position. I hate to think that the reason they do not commit is that they are afraid they might not win the race. But I feel they owe it to the citizens to express their views, and not leave it up to the last-minute mailings and advertising to put them in that position.

We have a great opportunity now to make a considered reflection on who will be our next mayor. Candidates are really committing an awful lot of time to give the necessary leadership for this task. It is not something that should be decided in the last few hours.

Bob Cassidy, Eugene

 

TO THE PATRIARCHY

We met Friday night around 1 am. I was sobering up from a night out with friends. You were on the prowl and made a lewd comment about my appearance. I stood up for myself. You became engaged.

We tried pushing you away, but it didn’t work. After a bit of pushing, we came to blows. You struck me in the eye, split my partner’s lip and kicked my friend in the kidney. Because we aren’t fighters, you walked away unscathed. All six of you. We ended up in the emergency room. 

You were also able to convince all of the 30-plus people around us to simply watch.

You’ll probably say I should have walked away, should have kept my head down and my thoughts to myself. Maybe I should have. You managed to say those things through my partner. What I said to him and what I’ll tell you is this: I am a person. I deserve respect. And I am willing to fight for my beliefs. 

To anyone who doesn’t think feminism is needed, or is a joke, please hear my words. The concept was so alarming to you that my partner has a black eye and five stitches in his lip, and I have a black eye. Just because I told a man that I deserve respect. Patriarchy, you are strong, but I am still going to fight back.

Jasmyn Hinton, Eugene

 

STOPPING ABUSE OF POWER

Ann Kneeland (Letters, May 21) writes that “state preemption is a manufactured corporate tool to keep local communities from deciding for themselves what’s best.” While that argument certainly has merit, it’s not universally true. There are times when state preemption is necessary to prevent “communities” from abusing political power.

The problem is that too often community decisions are made by appointed bureaucrats with no direct accountability to the public and who could care less what the public thinks. A classic example was the city of Eugene deliberately annexing streets to create “islands.” Islands could then be forcibly annexed with no vote of those targeted. Annexation requires planning which can mean job security for planners.

The city did this repeatedly prior to 2007. The Lane County Local Government Boundary Commission rubberstamped nearly every one of these, public opposition be damned. Eugene wasn’t the only city involved.

We worked with then-Rep. Bob Ackerman to draft legislation putting the skids on this practice. With the leadership of then-Reps. Chris Edwards and Arnie Roblan, HB 2760 was passed by the 2007 Legislature. With the help of then-Sen. Vicki Walker we also shut down the Boundary Commission, thus dismantling the most arrogant group of people I’ve ever encountered.

I can cite other examples along the same line with which we’ve been directly involved. Some “communities” have figured out that as long as they alienate only a small segment of their constituencies at a time in pursuit of their own interests, there’s unlikely to be widespread fallout. Sometimes they’re wrong about that.

Jerry Ritter, Springfield, Legislative affairs representative, Oregon Communities for a Voice in Annexations

 

COMPASSION PLUS ACTION

Thanks to Dr. James R. Morris for connecting compassion and happiness and reminding us of an opportunity to learn more on Mother’s Day [“Fearlessness and Compassion” Viewpoint, 5/7]. This special day to honor mothers is also a time to remember the 289,000 mothers who die each year due to pregnancy-related problems. And to remember the grief of the mothers of the 6,300,000 children under 5 who die each year of mostly preventable causes. Even better, we can practice compassion and ask our senators and representatives to vote for forthcoming legislation that will help end these tragic deaths. So try this compassionate action and see if it adds to your happiness. It will certainly add to the happiness of millions of mothers in our world. 

The Dalai Lama also said, “Compassion is not enough; you must take action.” So honor mothers everywhere and take a few minutes to write or call your elected representatives to support this life-saving legislation.

Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Washington

 

NOT SO STANDARD

A supervisor at one Smarter Balanced scoring center brags that he grades 55 to 80 answers each hour, sometimes even 300! Then it takes only 180 seconds to assess a lengthy essay. And since few scorers hold math degrees, let alone teaching certificates, they rely on illustrations to guess if student answers match the models! 

Test items are so far above grade level that often no students reach the highest scores. So Smarter Balanced makes up ideal examples for comparison, rather than admit they gave a fourth grader a seventh grade task. To meet quotas requiring a 60 to 70 percent failure rate or only 7 percent excellence, scorers arbitrarily adjust results up or down. But the real debacle is that states are allowed to determine their own pass/fail thresholds. What a waste of time and money.

Craigslist advertises scoring jobs at $11 to $14 hourly, hardly professional pay. Only a fraction of the work is double-checked for accuracy, while scorers need prove only 70 percent consistency. Home scorers who have questions complain they are on hold for hours. Some confess they quit caring and just go through the motions.

There is nothing standard about either Smarter Balanced or its scoring.

Rachel Rich, Eugene

 

OREGON CAN LEAD

A friend of mine works at Costco, a single mom in her 50s with two wonderful girls who are very active and play sports. One is now in college and the other one a senior in high school. Mom has insurance. The daughter in high school had her lung collapse and now her mom is left with $50,000 in medical bills that the insurance company won’t pay. Dad does not have any insurance coverage for his daughters. 

Does this ring a bell with anyone? Are you like my friend on the edge because of trying to take care of your family the very best that you can and it’s not enough? This is the story of so many, and here we are again. My hope lies in people and organizations like Health Care For All-Oregon. There are 32 countries that have universal health care, and the U.S. is not on that list. Oregon can lead the way, but we need all of you to get on board. We have to take action, and it’s our responsibility to take action so that everyone is well cared for.

Vicki Anderson, Springfield

 

PERSISTENCE IS THE KEY

We know what we have to do to get single-payer healthcare in Oregon. We must keep up the pressure. Thanks to growing state organizing efforts, there’s a bill in our Legislature (again): SB 631, The Health Care for All-Oregon Act. But this time, it had a hearing in the Senate Health Care Committee May 4. That’s really amazing, considering how long we have been demanding a Medicare-for-all system like the rest of the industrialized nations. (I hope you’ve contacted your legislators to urge them to support and lead on this.)

There is progress and we are getting wise, even though our elected time and again fail to represent the interests of the people. (If you wonder who the trustees of our democracy are loyal to, look no further than their campaign contributors.)

Our 30-year-old gardener still has unbelievable red tape and expenses under expanded OHP. She can’t get an X-ray for her back until she pays $180 for orthotics for her feet to rule out that as a cause, and my own physician is worried her patients aren’t taking the medicine she prescribes because they have to pay their rent instead. I’m betting the people are ready to assert their power: The government works for us! Don’t give up on Medicare for all. But we need to get this done now. It’s like some other health issues: The longer you wait, the worse it gets.

Patty Hine, Eugene