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Letters to the Editor: 9-24-2015

BAN THE CAMPING BAN

I’m just catching up on the news of the homeless situation here in Eugene. I haven’t rallied or been involved in several years. But I can still see the lack of cooperation between advocates for the unhoused and the city. I also see an astounding amount of incompetence from the Eugene City Council in dealing with this issue — a serious human rights issue, I might add. 

The council has had years to accommodate the most vulnerable of our community by simply allowing them the means and services to get their lives back on track. Allowing temporary housing, perhaps with established case management services, could eventually amount to more workers, and more workers equals more money into the local economy. They are still enforcing and refuse to lift the camping ban, resulting in substantial amounts of tax dollars being wasted by putting numerous people through the court/jail system if they get ticketed. 

Ticketing people who do not have addresses is utterly pointless. This results in charges, which I might add hurts our economy even more because having that on your record makes it even more difficult to get an actual job and pay into the local economy, not to mention the exorbitant amount of money it costs to clean out each camp. 

The simple solution would be to build more units to accommodate the unhoused, at least until they can stand on their own or receive the proper services to help them do so. Keeping and enforcing the camping ban is only perpetuating the stigma of being homeless at the expense of taxpayers. 

The unhoused are left without help. The taxpayers are swindled. The police are swept away from much more pressing issues to deal with these minor infractions. Who wins in this situation? Suspend the camping ban.

Adam Brown, Eugene

 

GOING FOR ZERO

I was at a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 17, where a representative of the Sierra Club presented a campaign to persuade LTD to purchase some zero-emission buses. After speaking with an LTD representative I learned that LTD didn’t need to be persuaded. LTD’s current bus fleet is over 50 percent hybrid electric, and LTD is currently in the process of purchasing five zero-emission buses that will go into service in 2016. 

I am encouraged that the Sierra Club is committed to cleaner air and that they are encouraging agencies like LTD to invest in zero emission vehicles. I would encourage the Sierra Club to expand their lobbying efforts and work in partnership with LTD and others to encourage Congress to pass reauthorization of a long-term transportation bill. 

Our nation must fund needed safety and efficiency upgrades in our roads, bridges and public transportation systems. Additionally, this long-term funding should give public transportation providers like LTD the grant funding necessary to move more quickly toward an entire fleet of zero-emission buses. 

Duncan Rhodes, Eugene

 

ELECTIVES LACKING

With higher than average SAT scores despite high poverty levels, Oregon schools must be doing something right. Studies confirm that the U.S. poor outscore the foreign poor, highlighting the general quality of our public schools.

 But if the four-hour SAT already measures college readiness, the 10-hour Smarter Balanced test is superfluous. Assessing only college preparedness, it doesn’t even profile the skills of students even one grade level behind, rendering it useless for helping low performers. 

Unfortunately, Oregon’s dropout numbers are the worst in the nation. Even worse are corporate charters such as Oregon Connections Academy that “counsels out” low achievers, presumably to raise its rating as 15 percent below average, according to The Oregonian.

Strangely, the U.S. Department of Education advocates charters follow a competitive business model, as though producing widgets, not contributing members of society. 

Adding to dropout numbers, the U.S. rarely offers non-college-bound students apprenticeships or other practical programs. Worse, to fund expensive tests, U.S. schools drop electives that inspire students to graduate. Electives also drive creative students to become world-class inventors and thinkers. Yet focusing only on high-stakes standardized tests in math and English, schools drop practical subjects like computer programming.

 Oregon's high SAT scores prove our graduates are champions. But our atrocious dropout rates prove we aren’t serving everyone. We must replace Smarter Balanced with assessments serving both high and low achievers. We must also fund electives and practical programs benefiting everyone, not only the college-bound.

Rachel Rich, Eugene

 

IF THE SHOE MISFITS

Good news: Local community fundraisers to purchase athletic equipment for local community high schools are no longer needed; the Eugene 4J School District sold its soul, wanting to trade the exclusive Nike logo for [discounted] uniforms. How long will it be till the teacher’s dress code is included and any school employee caught with their pants down wearing Under Armour?

Vince Loving, Eugene

 

REDUCING OUR IMPACT

During my many years of living in Eugene and owning homes in various neighborhoods, I have rarely had more than a “driveway relationship” with neighbors. Now being part of the group of individuals who are privately building Oakleigh Meadows Cohousing, I am looking forward to being part of a close group with common goals of community and friendship while reducing our impact on the land.

At 83 years old I am planning to reduce my dependency on my automobile. Much of my daily activity will be an easy walk from my home. Volunteer work on the kitchen garden, group dinners in the common house and, best of all, my grandchild can visit Grandpa with a short walk across the courtyard without crossing any streets.

I will continue using my bicycle for short trips, and the proximity to the bike path around the river will provide even more opportunity for bike errands. I will certainly not add more than a fraction of one car trip a day on Oakleigh Lane.

R.C. Cross, Eugene

 

INEXCUSABLE SPRAYING

OK, so why do we have aerial spraying so close to a school (see news story 9/17)? And let’s not forget that Sept. 8 was the first day of school! 

I have worked for over 20 years notifying city street closures for various entities, state and city, and one would get their hand slapped if schools were not notified of any streets nearby that would be closed, whether or not it affected the school. So again, why? Do we really have to bow to these interests? 

Why would Weyerhaeuser, Roseburg [Forest Products], etc., not have to notify the schools in the area? It does not make sense on any level — there are so few schools out here, anyway, so why not notify? What is the deal? 

When my property was affected by a clearcut, Roseburg gave us two possible windows for its spraying at least a month ahead of time, of which the first date was canceled. Two days before, I was notified that the second option was indeed the date they would spray. This was at my request, to have some window of notification. 

So, I have firsthand experience of that kind of communication happening. This is inexcusable! Close to 200 children were possibly exposed to this spraying, whether or not they were indoors at the time, whether or not this spraying drifted (another science they choose to not acknowledge). It should have been the parents’ choice to send their child to school that day!

I have lots more to share to get my point across, but I will not at this time. And I will be voicing my opinion, you can be sure of that!

 Linda Winkel, Blachly

 

WORLD-CLASS FLAMENCO

I loved your Dance issue Sept. 10 and particularly the article about Nick Davis and Track Town Swing Club. I have taken classes with Nick and found him to be relaxed and great fun, and his enthusiasm for swing dance is infectious.

I do think there was a significant omission from your dance index — Martita Santiago and Eugene Flamenco Arts. Martita is a world-class flamenco dancer who has been teaching in Eugene for nearly 20 years. She is a joy to watch and is a dedicated and demanding teacher. From young children to older adults, her students learn the most basic flamenco techniques and become real flamenco aficionados. She is a wonderful treasure of the Eugene dance scene.

Cynthia Dreyer, Eugene

 

A SMELLY SHAME

I have recently learned about the outlash from management at Saturday Market against Barbara Hascall of Barbara’s Soaps [see Biz Beat, Sept. 10]. This is an utter travesty! 

Barbara’s Soaps brings me pure joy each and every day. As a soap-of-the-month member, I greatly look forward to the pleasant-smelling package that I receive in the mail each month. When I receive my eagerly awaited package, I reach into the mailbox, immediately put it up to my face, deeply breathe in the aromatic scents, and simply … smile.

Not only does Barbara make absolutely amazing products, but she is also one of the most pleasant women I have ever met. I met her five years ago at Saturday Market — how ironic. At the time I was living in Seattle. For years one of my favorite pastimes was to visit the local markets in search of the perfect organic soap. I scoured the Pacific Northwest from Vancouver, Canada to rural Oregon on my soap quest. And yes, I finally found the perfect soap — Barbara’s Soaps.

My friends and family that are fortunate enough to receive one of her blissful soaps as a gift praise the quality and fragrance of her products. My boyfriend swears by her Lavender Green Tea Shaving Soap and will never use commercial shaving cream again. In fact, she created this soothing and moisturizing shaving bar for me as a custom order once, but it came out so amazingly well that it’s now one of her bestsellers! And believe me, if you tried it, you would be a follower, too!

I can’t fathom why the Saturday Market management would have a problem with her delightful soaps. I think the core of the problem is not Barbara, but another vendor who has seniority at the market. Apparently, even in Eugene, politics interfere with what should be peaceful, loving and free. 

What has Saturday Market become if they preclude native artisans from their only major access to the local market? ’Tis a smelly shame.

Libby Delaune, Bridgeport, Connecticut

 

AMAZING PERFORMANCE

Michael Milligan, the actor in Mercy Killers, is an amazing performer! Mercy Killers is an American love story that touches you at a deep human level. Seeing it makes you realize that we are all “killers of mercy” when we allow a system based on profit over healthcare needs of people to be labeled health care. 

I urge everyone concerned about their family’s health care and everyone concerned about the financial disaster illness can cause to a family to attend his last performance in Oregon at 7:30 pm Friday, Sept. 25, at our Very Little Theatre. The audience lives every moment. Don’t miss it! Tickets are $20 benefiting Health Care for All. 

Ruth Duemler, Eugene