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Letters to the Editor: 6-18-2015

A RIVERFRONT VISION

Following the UO Foundation’s disappointing renege on its winning bid to be the project manager for the Willamette riverfront EWEB development, I am encouraged by new voices promoting again the notion of a last chance for the city of Eugene to “take control of a project that will affect us forever” and buy that property from EWEB. 

Another voice encourages the notion that the steam plant is the perfect host building for a world-class tourist destination museum and visitor’s center, touting the primary historical developments of Eugene over the last 175 years, including timber/lumber, food production and processing, the railroad, the UO, clean water, energy and the recent growth of the Silicon Shire, Eugene’s response to the Silicon Valley in California. The Lane County Historical Museum and the Science Factory could both be included in such a new museum energy. 

In the interest of better understanding the now fenced and vacated EWEB property (except for three buildings — the steam plant, the bow-truss warehouse and the river’s edge meter-calibration building), what if we hold the Eugene Celebration on the 17 acres in question this fall, giving one and all the opportunity to know what is at the river’s edge property. At this stage of the game, it seems like EWEB and the city of Eugene are the folks with the controlling interest in the property, so let’s organize a group of interested, passionate people to ask “what if” to some of these possibilities?

Tom Snyder, Moments In Time Exhibits, Eugene

 

SPRAY VACATION?

No, “spray vacation” is not a typo of something as benign as a spring vacation, but something much worse. After attending a monthly speakers’ forum held by the volunteers with the Blackberry Pie Society (a much appreciated and needed service to the community), I had to write this letter. As speaker for the month of June, they hosted State Rep. Cedric Hayden Jr.

When the Republican politician answered questions about aerial spraying of forest pesticides (atrazine and glyphosate) over humans and their waterways, he replied that it was too bad that people were not given more notice so they could go on vacation or leave the state while timber companies are aerial spraying near their homes. Many outraged citizens responded immediately to his suggestion to take a spray vacation.

A woman from the Cottage Grove [South Lane] school board asked if profits were more important than people and clean water. She also asked how families were going to move all their livestock and pets on such a vacation. One may need an ark for that spray vacation.

Another gentleman shared how a right-of-way for powerlines had been sprayed above a water district that served 100 homes and 300 people. These folks would need a cruise liner for their spray vacation.

One couple explained how they removed their children from summer camp after they found the water they were swimming in had been contaminated by drift from an aerial spray. Where do summer camps go on spray vacation? 

It was disappointing that Hayden Jr. seemed totally out of touch with this issue which is so important for rural Oregon. Luckily he is up for re-election in 2016.

There is a way to learn more about how rural communities are being poisoned by aerial spraying “drift.” Watch on OPB how the small community of Tiller on the South Umpqua was sprayed: wkly.ws/214.

Patrick Starnes, McKenzie Bridge

Editor's note: Starnes attempted to get on the ballot against Hayden in the 2014 election but didn't collect enough signatures.

 

LINDENS IN BLOOM

Please, let’s not make the same mistakes as last year! Linden trees are blooming now, and the wonderful scent they have is causing domestic and wild pollinators of all kinds to flock to them. Mine are buzzing with bees today. These trees do not get aphids, or any other pest that I have seen. I have two in my front yard that are 15 years old and I have never seen any sticky dripping sap below them. I park my car under one and the windows stay clear. 

Please, no neonicotinoid use on these. There is no reason to use any pesticides on these trees!

Mike Koivula, Springfield 

 

EMPATHY TENT

A teacher who touched our lives deeply passed away this year. After he died, around 30 of us locals met to discuss how to keep Marshall Rosenberg’s energy alive and growing. Through his training in nonviolent communication he gave so much, so clearly, on how to live a full life, seeing more fully and connecting with self and others.

One idea was to have a space at the Saturday Market for people to be listened to in an empathic way as he taught. I volunteered to get it going, and our first “Empathy Tent” will be open from 10 am to 4 pm this weekend at Saturday Market.

Come by to be listened to, to be heard in a deep, non-judgemental way. It is free and sessions last approximately 20 to 40 minutes.

Look for us in the west block of Saturday Market on the first aisle in from the south. It’s a tent and there will be a sign-up sheet outside. We’ll hear whatever you bring, from troubles or mourning to celebrations and joy.

Mark Roberts, Eugene

 

MORONIC ACCOUNTING

I read recently that our “thrifty” city government is thinking of another levy to help, amongst others, our public library stay open longer hours. I like that idea. I am a truck driver and use the audio book section a good deal on my sojourns up and down I-5. Sometimes I am a day or two late returning items, but what does that matter as those fees go to the library I enjoy supporting.

 But wait — what do you mean those fees don’t go to the library? The general fund?! I get it — just like the feds, you raise “easy come” funds, then spend them on anything other than where they came from, then expect us to bail you out because you are bad at math.

Well sorry, but I’ve had enough of this crazy accounting. It’s moronic. Oh and by the way, for the record, I’m a liberal.

Peter Tildesley, Eugene

 

TOXIC ZIP CODE

Smoking tobacco is hazardous. It causes lung cancer and mouth disease, and it aggravates pre-existing respiratory conditions. To breathe secondhand smoke is to breathe in a large number of known carcinogens.

Exhaust fumes from gas motor vehicles are dangerous, too. They expel nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide and fine air particulates — all of which contribute to asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and cancer. Acute effects include nausea, light-headedness, cough and phlegm congestion. Diesel exhaust, such as that from commercial trucks and trains, is particularly detrimental to health.

Residents living in Eugene's Trainsong neighborhood have suffered a disproportionate accumulation of fine air particulates due to their proximity to the train yard, for example. They have a higher rate of cancer than is considered normal. Their schools and parks are located near the train yard.

Industrial emissions in Eugene also pollute our air. According to a 2010-2011 study by Eugene Toxics Right-To-Know, our industries emit zinc compounds, acetone, methanol, xylene and toluene, among other things, into the air. In its research, 99.9 percent of all emissions came from industries located in the 97402 zip code. 

I can agree that secondhand cigarette smoke is harmful. But I cannot agree that it is so harmful that we need to ban smoking in public areas. Standing on the sidewalk downtown, the thin line of smoke circling out of a cigarette has little repercussion in comparison to the toxins emitted from the exhaust pipes of passing and idling vehicles. And just imagine how difficult breathing would be if you lived near industry.

So let the smokers smoke. We fixed the air pollution problem they created by pushing them outdoors. For those worried about the mal effects of smoke on public health, push for real legislation on behalf of people living in at-risk Eugene neighborhoods. Or protect air quality for everyone — cap carbon and protect forests.

Nicole Medema, Eugene

 

SUICIDE IS PREVENTABLE

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S., and most suicides are a result of untreated mental illness. We know today that more research, advocacy and education can help prevent these needless deaths. Like so many others, I know about this personally because I have lost a grandfather, father and brother to suicide. 

For too long, suicide has been swept under the rug while families have been made to feel ashamed for losing a loved one to mental illness. Now, some solutions may be within our grasp. For example, studies have shown that placing additional barriers on bridges reduces the number of suicides. Once deterred, people often do not try again, and their suicides just never happen. 

I’m traveling to Washington, D.C., later this month to tell my members of Congress how important this issue is to me. If you suffer from depression or anxiety — or you know someone who does — take five minutes right now to call your congressional representatives at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to make suicide prevention a national priority. 

You might just save a life.

Sara K. Scofield, Eugene

 

REVISIT THE FIRING

On the topic of the Springfield basketball coach firing [Bill Wagner]: Who are you to believe, the greatest girls high school basketball player to come out of this area (and likely the state) or the parent who everyone in the stands thinks is a pain? I hope someone on the Springfield School Board has the courage to say, “Let’s revisit this decision, as the community is asking.” 

Don French, Eugene

 

PENETRATION GAME

One of the most fascinating expressions of the rape culture is spectator sports. Football at the line of scrimmage, for instance. The players line up. On the one side (offense) players are planning to penetrate the territory of the others. The others of course are planning to repel the expected attempt. Rigorous training leads up to this encounter and emotions will be running at hurricane pitch. Offense is urgently eager to gain even a few yards. Defense, if they can’t intercept, yearns to throw the trespassers for a loss. The crowd loves it.

Rapist and rapee switch roles throughout the game, signified by possession of the sacred object (the ball). The game is a lot of fun because the ordinary rules governing physical interactions are replaced by ones that allow players to slam into each other really hard. (Man, I can think of some bodies I would like to slam into really hard!) A squad of alert officials trot along with the players, ready with the whistle should an infraction occur.

So this rape game is super popular with many adults. The most dramatic moments of the game occurs at the consumations, the touchdowns. The rapee’s territory is penetrated all the way the goal. The courageous exertions of the defenders to prevent that penetration have come to naught. The extra point kick is good. Successful rapers slap each other on the butt in congratulatory affection. The others wanted to keep us from advancing the sacred object into their endzone, but we did it anyway, they tell themselves with delight.

David Hugh Tyson, Eugene

 

DENYING REALITY

Are we all climate deniers at heart? Are we really terrible procrastinators as individuals when it comes to making the changes needed? Do our leaders appear to be going in the wrong direction with climate carbon reduction? 

Greg McPherson, Ph.D., professor emeritus of natural resources at University of Arizona, will give us new thoughts on how we can deal with the coming catastrophe, and it is a catastrophe! Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has stated despondently, “No amount of psychological awareness will overcome people’s reluctance to lower their standard of living.”

Come hear McPherson’s uplifting answer to this quandary at 7 pm Wednesday, June 24, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 13th and Chambers.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

LOGGING BUFORD PARK

Lane County Parks (LCP) plans to log 145 acres of the Howard Buford Recreation Area, aka Buford Park or Mount Pisgah, this summer. LCP won’t do the logging but rather its surrogate manager Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah (FBP) will contract out the logging using an Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) grant of $108,000. This project is part of a vision articulated in the draft Habitat Management Plan that will attempt to recreate throughout the park grassland and oak savanna habitat conditions common in the Willamette Valley when Euro-American settlers first arrived and aboriginal prescribed fire was common. The Douglas fir and other conifers have re-established themselves in the absence of fire.

This logging project and the draft Habitat Management Plan (HMP) have not been properly vetted by the public, the owners of this park. Hiking and horseback riding are the most common forms of recreation in the park. Oak savanna, meadow and mixed conifer forests provide a variety of experiences and desirable shade for hikers and riders. FBP is actively managing your park using herbicides including 2,4-D on 37 acres in the South Meadow last fall. 

Before any vegetation management project is implemented under this proposed HMP, the plan should be publicly vetted and accepted. No project should be implemented unless LCP has adequate oversight to protect the public’s interests.

If you have an opinion about the direction of park management, please call Mike Russell at 682-2000 or email Mike.Russell@co.lane.or.us and share your thoughts.

Jim Nelson, Eugene

 

TRAIN WRECKS

Lately the television news has been filled with news of a train wreck. Early on all that was known involved the train going too fast on the track.

Seemingly not important, the "fast track" legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) "free trade" deal has not been much in the news. The TPP will be the largest and most complex deal of this kind ever agreed to. Yet we cannot know what is in it!

Even members of Congress are having a hard time, and they cannot take staff members or pen or paper into a secret room just to have a look.

We all should be searching the internet for comments by Elizabeth Warren and even Robert Reich, not to mention checking with Rep. Peter DeFazio. This is a horrible agreement killing jobs and even net freedom. We need to learn what can be learned and flood the offices of Congress with expressions of concern. It is legislation for multi-national corporations, not most of us.

Michael Lee, Eugene