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Letters to the Editor: 7-2-2015

CIVIC WILL RISE AGAIN

This is hard. We know all things must pass — but the way they pass matters. My young children ran the bases at Civic Stadium on Sunday nights. We watched fireworks on the lawn over many a Fourth of July. My son took the field as a Kidsports player and then played four years at Civic at his high school's home field. I coached a game once on that field. My heart beats stronger recalling those hallowed grounds. 

The community and Friends of Civic Stadium never abandoned the dream of Civic even when the Eugene Emeralds did. I watched the field go to seed and marveled at how quickly even the most beautiful diamonds lose their shine when they're not cared for. But in true Eugene, Oregon, fashion our civic wheels are their own civics lesson, and the fight to save Civic was classic Eugene, rivaling our effort to build a new library. 

Now what? We know that the only desecration worse than the fire would be apartments or shopping centers. That’s not going to happen. A great opportunity exists to bring “civic mindedness” to the ashes, which could include philanthropic contributions from those who abandoned our field. What good will could be created from such a collaborative effort for the youth of Eugene! 

Baseball is dying in many urban municipalities, but it lives strong in Eugene. Youth baseball and softball at all levels could be played at Civic alongside the soccer fields that were planned. The baseball gods walked on that field, and the footprints of gods don't fade. Civic will rise out of the ashes.

Andy Traisman, Eugene

 

DOING MORE DAMAGE

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan admits that the federal government is going to “phase out the authority of the states” in education. Legislators hid this provision in a bill that, like all good schemes, looks good on its surface, but upon closer examination does more damage to public education. It doubles down on the schemes and the bribes by again promising more federal money for compliance with federal control. 

And so Duncan threatens to withhold funds from our schools for failure to comply with Common Core standardized testing. It is the parents of children in the public school system who should have the final say about the Common Core Standards. This is democracy.

Our students have taken part in these international assessments since the 1960s, and we have typically been in the bottom quarter, seldom surpassing the international average. Our scores have been poor to mediocre for 50 years, yet we have one of the greatest economies in the world. Yong Zhao, the China-born, China-educated scholar at the University of Oregon, has pointed out that there is no logical connection between international test scores and the success of our economy. 

In the rush to privatize the country’s schools, corporations and politicians have gutted school budgets, replaced teaching with standardized testing and placed the blame on teachers and students. 

As a preschool educator, I am appalled that we are asked to waste our time and precious resources on worthless testing that doesn’t work in real classrooms with real students.

Christopher Michaels, Eugene

 

LIFT YOUR EYES

So many gifts nature gives us — as I was reminded tonight when I watched a silver moon float in the twilight above our house in the Oregon hills.

It matters not where you are, if only you lift your eyes to savor the gifts nature freely gives to all of us. The moon was a jewel that made me grateful that even in my ninth decade I could still see it clearly.

For Silvia and me, it is part of an evening pattern. We drive a few blocks above our home to watch the sunset from a spot between the trees. When clouds are near it, their colors reflect the sun with a beauty that changes every evening —never the same. 

As the sun dips below the horizon, we drive home, then sit on our deck on moonlit nights, watching it drift slowly across a sky that turns from deep blue to darkness.

Nature gives us so much beauty. It’s always there. It never can escape, unless we forget to lift our eyes to see it.

George Beres, Eugene

 

VACANT RHETORIC

Laudato Si, the recent encyclical released by Pope Francis, perfectly describes our Orwellian world. The CEO of the trillion-dollar, multinational Roman Catholic church says: “The exploitation of the planet has already exceeded acceptable limits and we still have not solved the problem of poverty” (27). No comment is needed.

“Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see because they have been lost for ever” (33). 

Yes, just as the myriad variety of cultural beliefs, both religious and pagan, have been lost forever due to Catholic missionaries.

“We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature” (44). Then why are hundreds of thousands of paved and little-used parking lots, and billions of tons of concrete, glass and metal, devoted to create your so-called places of worship?

When the Catholic Church gives up its land holdings — or at least pays taxes on them for the greater good, when the corrupt Vatican Bank ceases to exist, when the church approves of birth control and disapproves of GMOs and when we can have a real dialogue about the harm caused by Christianity’s childish and selfish beliefs, we will be making progress. Until then, Francis is whistling in the wind.

Locally, as long as more paved roads are developed and expanded and the number of private automobiles increases, rhetoric dealing with climate change and sustainability is bullshit.

Robert Simms, Eugene

 

SILENCED VOICES

Section 704 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was written by lobbyists for the telecommunications industry to strip homeowners and local zoning commissions of the ability to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community.

Globally, thousands of doctors, scientists and experts know of cell tower radiation and biological damage. 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. 

Smaller organisms cannot biologically withstand the invisible currents from cell towers. We could no longer see or hear birds, crickets, frogs or bees. Families have gotten mysteriously ill and many died with cancer.

A meeting was held regarding a proposed cell tower in the Amazon Creek area. Attending were representatives of AT&T; members of Eugene’s government, others and the Crossfire church pastor responsible for the cell tower. 

Opposing community members came to speak and were given strict guidelines, stifling comments to sight, sound and property values and little more. Most left scientific reports of proven health damage and personal accounts in writing. To what end? A humble community silenced by a large corporation. I am speechless.

Eve Woodward-Shawl, Eugene

EDITOR'S NOTE: AT&T dropped its proposal to build the tree-shaped cell tower in South Eugene and is currently exploring other options.

 

A LEAP FORWARD

I’m proud to be an Oregonian, especially when it comes to reproductive justice. We are the only remaining state without any restrictions on a woman’s access to reproductive health services. As the Fundraising Chair of the Lane County Leadership & Advocacy Team for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, these matters are especially important to me.

In addition, the Oregon Legislature just passed House Bill 3343, which will require birth control providers to dispense a full year’s supply of birth control instead of one or three months. This bill is a huge leap forward, as 99 percent of women will use some form of birth control in their lifetimes, and a 12-month supply has already been associated with a 30-percent reduction in the chance of an unintended pregnancy. You can’t fight the facts: This bill simply makes sense.

I want to thank our representatives for working to get this bill in effect and for keeping Oregon a pivotal leader for women’s health. Here’s to a happier, healthier Oregon!

Geena Glaser, Eugene

 

JUST ONE IS ENOUGH

Just one life (Oregon Senate Bill 941), just one room of school children (SB 941), just one room of people (SB 941) and the loss of their lives through easy gun sales, is reason enough to restrict the sales of guns, by the insistence of criminal background checks before a gun can be legally purchased. 

Please support Oregon Senate Bill 941. This law will eliminate the private-sale loophole, which allows felons, domestic abusers and individuals with severe and persistent mental illness easy access to guns. Why is that not a good idea? 

Martha Snyder, Eugene

 

SWEATSHOP PHIL

Phil and Penny Knight deserve some credit for their $500 million contribution to OHSU [in 2013]. However, let’s put this in perspective.

As large as this contribution is, it won’t affect the Knight’s quality of life whatsoever. They are billionaires who can buy nearly anything they want. However, something they can’t buy is more life. But they can donate to institutions like OHSU that very well may produce cancer treatments, etc. that may extend the lives of the Knights or improve their quality of life. If you’re a ridiculously rich person like Phil Knight, donating to cancer research is money well spent, particularly if that institution is in your backyard.

Let’s remember how Phil made his billions. The sweatshop pioneer has become notorious around the world for exploiting poor people (you would never know it by reading editorials in The Register-Guard) and the environment to produce the Nike products that are worshiped here in the U.S. He has led the charge in exactly the kind of consumerism and unfettered capitalism that is destroying the livability of the planet, which the Pope just highlighted in his encyclical.

Let’s also remember that when Oregon was facing massive cuts in public education and we asked the rich and ultra-rich to pay a bit more in taxes to help fund education, Sweatshop Phil said “no way” and funded the losing anti-Measure 66 and 67 campaign. 

Let’s also remember that Knight funded Chris Dudley, the 2010 Republican nominee for governor. Dudley ran on lowering taxes for the rich and famously was recorded opposing the minimum wage. Dudley, like Knight, wants the corporations to be able to pay you as little as they can possibly get away with. 

And, last but not least, let’s remember the massive 30-year tax break that the Legislature handed to Nike in 2012. Like many billionaires, Knight has worked our corrupt, money-driven system to shift the tax burden away from him and the other plunderers and onto the rest of us.

Joshua Welch, Eugene