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Letters to the Editor: 6-25-2015

FRIENDLY SOCCER

Thank you for making serendipitous soccer games your cover story June 11. My husband moved here from Bolivia 14 years ago and we quickly found a network of local and international friends while playing pick-up soccer. I have also played for many years and enjoyed meeting players and connecting with families from all over the world. Likewise, we always invite newcomers to Eugene to come play pick-up soccer. It’s an open international community that welcomes all ages, all languages and all abilities. These pick-up games happen all year and rotate around local parks and schools. In summer, Saturday mornings at Maurie Jacobs Park and school fields on weeknights vary (Kelly or ATA). 

I have long felt that these friendly soccer games deserved a spotlight in the local media, or at least a mention in the Weekly's “What’s Happening” calendar. Thank you again for highlighting the soccer scene in Eugene on your front cover.

Karen Rengifo, Eugene

 

TOXIC RESTORATION

Dear drinkers of McKenzie River water (Eugene): Are you aware that in order to “restore” riparian and side channel habitat (next to the river) the McKenzie Watershed Council and McKenzie River Trust must use toxic chemicals such as Roundup as “standard operating procedure”?

This is happening on approximately 18 acres at the publicly owned Berggren Watershed Conservation Area despite an established [McKenzie Watershed] council policy that chemicals will be used only as a “last resort.”

We might wonder whether real restoration can be accomplished in this way. Do we know how Roundup, et al, affects living river ecosystems? Can we come up with alternatives that better protect water quality? Both of these organizations represent water quality as a guiding principle.

Carol Ach, member, McKenzie Watershed Council

EDITOR'S NOTE: The issue is a complex one. According to Joe Moll from the McKenzie River Trust, the watershed council and trust staff agreed to look again at the site with Carol Ach and other council members, to consider why herbicides are used in habitat restoration efforts, and to discuss at a later council meeting.

 

DENYING INFORMATION

The 4J School Board and the Gates Foundation-funded Stand for Children are teaming up to petition Gov. Kate Brown to “kill” the Parental Right to Opt Out bill that our state legislators passed overwhelmingly. The bill requires districts to provide parents with information regarding their rights to opt their children out of state testing. I wonder why the Eugene School Board and Stand for Children are so adamant about denying parents information about their rights.

Parents opt out for many reasons. Some are concerned about the impact that low scores have on the self-esteem of children. Some believe the tests waste instructional time. Some know child psychologists are concerned that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are not developmentally appropriate. Some believe that Common Core/Smarter Balanced Assessment are designed to remove education from local control. All these concerns are valid. 

There was no democratic consent to allow CCSS into our schools. These measures represent a shift in control from local responsiveness toward federal oversight. Parents are rightly concerned and have few options available. One of those options is to exert our rights through the democratic process. We have done that work. Our elected representatives listened. For Gov. Brown to veto this bill denies parents their only legitimate avenue.

Geoffrey Barrett, Eugene

EDITOR'S NOTE: Gov. Brown signed this bill June 20.

CAP EMISSIONS

Let’s limit greenhouse gas emissions! House Bill 3470, the Climate Stability and Justice Act, which is currently under consideration by the Oregon Legislature, would set a cap on greenhouse gas emissions for Oregon. It would set that cap based on the best available science, with truth checks, every five years, mandating further reductions if needed. California has adopted a similar approach, designed to be joined by other states, so Oregon can easily join in. 

Readers, please contact your state legislators, both your representative and your senator, and tell them you want the Legislature to put a cap or limit on greenhouse gas emissions this session! There is no time to lose. Ask them specifically to support HB 3470, the Climate Stability and Justice Act of Oregon. Here’s how you can reach them: bit.ly/OregonLegislators.

Megan Kemple, Eugene

 

DO SOMETHING MORE

To the person who submitted the “I Saw You” item June 11 about possible dog abuse: I suggest you do something more than post a paragraph in the back of the Weekly that the abuser is unlikely to see. Get some neighbors together and confront this creep if you really want to put him/her in a “special level of hell.” Animal abuse is everybody’s business.

Spud Smith, Oakridge

 

GET OVER IT

After years of getting upset with having to dodge cyclists on the sidewalks while taking my kids for a walk, I’ve decided to give up and join these faux passers. They are right. The roads are dangerous. So, from now on, I am going to be driving my Volvo on the sidewalks. To the pedestrians out there, I’m sorry, but you know, I’m just trying to watch out for myself!

While I’m at it, I’ve also decided to join the ranks of those Eugeneans who text and talk on their cellphones while driving. I know, I know: It’s not safe and all. But, I really need to answer my texts. I’m pretty important. And, I cannot be expected to park for my cellphone usage. Besides, what if something goes viral on Facebook and I’m one of the last people to hear about it because I chose to use my time waiting at a traffic light? It’s just not realistic. 

So yeah, I know I should follow these silly rules because it protects people’s safety and all, but I’m just choosing not to for the time being. I intend to follow the rules someday, so quit being a fascist and get over it.

James Brains, Eugene

 

MOVE THE WORLD CUP

South Africa, Russia and Qatar bought votes to host the soccer World Cup. South Africa’s $10 million in bribes stole the 2010 World Cup from Tunisia and Morocco, the runner-ups. Tunisia successfully hosted the African Cup and Mediterranean Games in the past decade.

Qatar is now using slavery to build new stadiums in a desert by trapping immigrants who are dying every day: 1,200 so far and 4,000 by 2022. Qatar also unsuccessfully tried to finance religion in dirty politics during Tunisia’s successful revolution to overthrow its dictator for the first time in Arab history. Let’s show Qatar who deserves to host the World Cup: the corrupt dictator or the noble peacemaker.

Thanks to its liberal new government, Tunisia deserves a Noble Peace Prize, or better, to host the 2020 World Cup to stick it to cheaters. In addition to equal rights for women, Tunisia is also the only Arab/Muslim country that’s friendly enough to Jews and members of the LGBT community.

Instead of moving the World Cup out of the Arab/Muslim world, let’s promote the beacon of freedom, peace and hope in our troubled world. Join the Facebook group “Move Qatar World Cup to Tunisia.”

Mohamed Jemmali, Eugene

 

LANGUAGE OF EXTINCTION

What happens when we quantify the sacred? Giving authority to corporations and chemicals without accountability, responsibility or liability? When we value the shadow but not the being? When we refuse to acknowledge consequences and cause and effects but merely count the profits divorced from liabilities?

Should we be surprised when corporations destroy the environment, when fracking pollutes the ground water, when cities and education are bankrupted, when jobs are short lived, when violence becomes commonplace and when militaries dominate the landscape, economics and social order?

Should we show concern as we retire on the backs of future generations liabilities? Or simply live the good life that we so deserve? How do we disconnect ourselves from the children and grandchildren we profess to love?

How do we not see the mass wasting that follows most everything we touch manifesting through our collective unconsciousness based in domination and the illusion of control? Technology has overrun this finite planet without understanding that Nature is the master, not us nor our management. From killing buffalos for their tongues to destroying our forests in the name of increasing productivity, we delude ourselves into thinking this is progress.

We stand on the precipice, just like the lemmings, waiting to follow into our collective demise. Our denial prevents us from seeing, and greed drives us over the edge.

Epitaph for Homo sapiens: so smart yet terminally so dumb.

Craig Patterson, McKenzie Bridge

 

CONTROLLING OTHERS

While I am a happily confirmed non-smoker and am no fan of the smell of smoke, I’m firmly against the ban on smoking in public parks. 

Why? Smokers are people too. They’re even taxpayers who support parks and city services. Additionally, tobacco is a product used and obtained legally by adults. While I understand that many complain that they are concerned with being exposed to second-hand smoke, it’s a little feeble to suggest that the minute amounts one would encounter in an outdoor setting could be more harmful, or even as dangerous, as the many other toxins we face in the urban outdoors. I’d even posit that the number of carcinogens found in that bag of Cheetos that a park-goer might delve into could be more cause for concern.

My real message is that we are going too far in trying to control the lives of our neighbors. If you’re really against smoking, work on banning the availability of cigarettes and tobacco products. Don’t allow it to be sold legally, enjoy the benefits of the tax revenues sales provide and then punish the legal user of those products. 

Jake Gariepy, Eugene

 

INCREASED LOGGING?

It really seems from the headlines we see every day that the problems stemming from global warming are becoming increasingly severe and dramatic. From the red tide along the West Coast that is restricting and shutting down the fishing and crabbing industries to the difficulties farmers are having with access to irrigation, we are experiencing this crisis now in all different ways with daily living, finances and the psychological ramifications of witnessing what is happening.

That is why it is both preposterous and unbelievable to me when I hear about the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) calling for increased logging in the Northwest. This was mentioned in the same article that stated their aims to further protect endangered species. What, I ask, is the logic system being used here? Doesn’t the BLM know you can’t do homework and play outside at the same time? Not only am I surprised by the nerve of BLM calling for more logging during these seriously troubled times, I am angry as well, for the BLM no longer has the funding to monitor the effects of increased logging and global warming on our public lands, which seems like their real jobs. No, even though this is predicted to be the worst year with toxic blue-green algae, they do not have the funding to regulate this. 

But they have the funding for speculative logging for the wood products industry, and I am not really thrilled that this is where my tax dollars are going. This is a pretty blatant example of industry-related pressures on the environment continuing to go unchecked while the restrictions and limitations are shouldered by the working public and families. The silver lining is that this outrageous logic system is beginning to expose itself. But it needs all of us to call it out. Agencies such as the BLM do not have the internal structure to moderate and check themselves; that is perfectly clear!

Kerstin Britz, Cottage Grove

 

 

 

MORE BIG AND UGLY

Having nearly completed construction of huge ugly apartment buildings downtown and near campus, the Eugene Planning Division has now targeted South Willamette between 22nd and 33rd for high-density development. The South Willamette Special Area Zone would allow seven-story apartment buildings on Portland Street south of 29th and five stories on most of Willamette.

The planners seem to have been captured by big developers and forgotten they work for citizens. In a summary they prepared for the Planning Commission meeting on June 15, they characterized reducing the towers to five stories on Portland Street as “not expected by all property owners.” Long-time residents were referred to as “opposing testimony.” So, the planners are primarily concerned with big developers who bought property on speculation like Cascade Manor. Residents are just naysayers.

I support compact development, but that’s not the same as building huge buildings without any concern for existing residents. All future development in the South Willamette area should be limited to preserve the human scale of neighborhoods. Three stories is tall enough for South Willamette.

Contact the Planning Division for more information. The Eugene City Council will make a final decision in the fall of 2015.

Brian Wanty, Eugene

 

MEANINGLESS TESTS

I propose having the editorial board of The Register-Guard and all of those in favor of high-stakes standardized testing take the Smarter Balanced Assessment and publish the results. However, I believe they should experience this test like the majority of the children in Oregon: One out of five of these adults will be subsisting on food stamps; some would have to be homeless; some would have families that are dealing with addiction. 

How can we ask students who are dealing with so much stress before they even set foot in our schools to sit down and take these tests? How can we possibly collect student data from tests that are not meaningful? In order for learning to take place, students need to make connections and create meaning in their lives. High-stakes standardized testing is not meaningful and does not provide data to prove that our students are learning. 

Teachers collect data all day long through our classroom-based performance assessments that are trustworthy, accurate and reliable. Imagine if we actually funded our schools adequately. Teachers would have smaller classes, and students would reap the benefits. We would have more counselors and nurses to help the children who are living in poverty. Providing a meaningful education to our children should be our top priority, not getting invalid data from test scores. 

If the proponents of high-stakes testing really want what is best for our children, they need to eschew corporate-driven, invalid assessments and fight for school funding.

 Laura Farrelly, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: An R-G editorial June 15 in support of standardized testing said, “70 percent of 11th graders who take it are expected to fail. This objection says more about the schools than it does about the tests.”

 

 POPE FRANCIS & THE EARTH 

Growing up in a Catholic Argentina and going to Saint Augustine School, I always rejected this religion’s theology. Now, in America 30 years later I am proud of this Argentine pope, Francis.

Pope Francis said protecting the planet should be a moral and ethical “imperative” for believers and nonbelievers alike that should supersede political and economic interests. In his long awaited encyclical he also underlined the problems of a society in which there is much economic differences between the rich and the poor (people and countries).

Naomi Klein, who has been invited to participate in the “People and Planet First” at the Vatican, said that the pope’s encyclical not only challenges the denial of the science of climate change but also addresses the matter of its urgency.

The pope repeatedly calls for radical change. In a leaked document he said that “in a corrupt culture we can’t believe that laws will be enough to change behaviors that affect the environment.”

Klein, who appeared on DemocracyNow.org on June 18, believes that what the pope is saying is that the root of poverty and the root of climate change is the same: this logic of domination and endless greed and that the way out of both crises is a new economic model that strives to live within nature’s limits.

Taoism and Buddhism have addressed this for 2,500 years. They advocate for the environment the best, have always proclaimed the sanctity of nature and consider it a model for all great people to follow.

David Ivan Piccioni, ESSN Board Member, Eugene

 

DISENFRANCHISED VOTER

To Sen. Ron Wyden: Please attend this, my own words, in reference to the Fast Track vote. You have finished me as a Democrat. I will never vote for a Democrat in any status. The lesser of two evils is no longer viable. I am resigned to an America that wants me as a consumer and has no respect for me as a citizen. 

You were the last straw. No explicative nor “acting out” of injury is an appropriate answer to being disenfranchised. There is no answer containing an excuse for displacing the qualitative humanist values of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights with the quantitative values of expedience and the marketplace.

Leo Rivers, Cottage Grove