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Letters to the Editor: 10-8-2015

DO NOTHING?

Accusing someone of insensitivity by “having a political agenda” when they ask for better gun laws is an easy way out of contributing to real solutions, and is actually a case of having one’s own political agenda. Asking for better laws is a huge sign of being nothing but sensitive to the victims. 

Some try to distract the issue by saying “it’s too soon.” It’s with deep respect to victims that I wish for better laws. What are we supposed to do? Wait and give more troubled souls with assault weapons more time to kill more people? Again, action is not disrespect. It’s respect.

People asking for better gun laws are not looking to gain anything personally (except safety). They’re not attempting to take anything away from those wanting to legally obtain a gun and own it for legal reasons. Sadly, many of the lobbyists/politicians fighting so fervently to stop new gun laws do have political agendas (having more to do with profit rather than freedom or liberty). 

If better common sense gun laws are enacted and actually enforced, those law abiding/mentally healthy gun owners would lose nothing, especially not their freedom nor their liberty.

Doing nothing solves nothing, every time, without fail. If not the laws, the culture must change now.

A heartfelt R.I.P. to the victims involved. Love and warmth to their families and friends, as well as to those we all know and love. Hug your loved ones tightly and infinitely.

Joe De Rieux, Creswell

 

OUR VIOLENT SOCIETY

Tragedies like the Roseburg massacre will continue to occur, and there is nothing we can do about it. We are a violent, gun-crazy society and no amount of gun laws, current or future, and no amount of “thoughts and prayers” will alter that fact. The distinction between criminals and “law-abiding citizens” is ridiculous — most mass shooters are law-abiding citizens until they choose not to be. We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us.

Spud Smith, Oakridge

 

WEAPON MONGERS

The UCC shooter had 14 guns. Who in this world needs 14 freakin’ guns? The situation practically screams “sociopath!” Prosecute the seller(s) as accessories to murder. In Oregon, if someone serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person who then goes out and does damage to others — such as a highway massacre of innocents — then the server can be held liable for that harm (ORS 471.565).

Media reports have stated that the UCC shooter obtained his guns “legally.” This means that the seller or sellers can be identified. The tragedy was perhaps preventable, if some greedy weapons monger had only exercised a bit of socially conscious overview and restraint.

If we can’t seem to rein in the mass murderers, we can at least make it hard for the pre-event profiteers.

Vip B. Short, Eugene

 

ADDING TO THE INSANITY

How insane is it that the only solutions being offered to protect our kids from being killed by gunshot in school are more guns for the teachers and body armor and bullet-proof backpacks for the children? See wkly.ws/22w. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld as he sent our troops into Iraq with canvas-sided Humvees, “You send your kids into battle with the clothes you have.” 

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain

 

THE REAL CULPRIT

As per usual, Bonny Bettman McCornack is “spot on” regarding seeking funding replacement for library services [presentation at City Club of Eugene 10/2].

She, as in times past, understands the shenanigans the city of Eugene uses to deflect attention from the real reason there is a lack of money for library services and a whole host of other funding shortfalls. Time and time again, the city provides property tax waivers of the Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption program (MUPTE) to developers at the expense of funding our services! 

Yes, the average working taxpayer picks up the tab for all these tax breaks. I am sorry for the lack of funding that is available, and the “sluggish property tax revenue” that occurs due to these property tax waivers, but the answer lies in eliminating these programs! 

The taxpayers would not need to be asked to pass a levy if the city would be transparent with one big reason there is a funding shortfall. The library levy is a “city service fee redux”! It’s just the same shenanigan again, removing an essential service from the general fund, and seeks to establish a separate and additional funding scheme. 

Shame on Rep. Val Hoyle for even voicing support for this, instead of going after the real culprit in all this funding shell game, the MUPTE!

Terry Steiner, Eugene

 

HOSTEL TERRITORY

I own and operate the Eugene Whiteaker International Hostel. It’s come to my attention that there may be some misunderstanding as to the mission and culture of my simple establishment. It seems that some of the local population may consider the hostel a “squat” for local and non-local transients. Although there is no harm in the idea of providing a place to stay for people in need, and I have done this from time to time, during the “high” season (pun intended), I have a fairly strict “no locals” policy intended to provide space for “travelers” from the U.S. and abroad. During the summer more than half of the hostel guests are from outside the U.S. On the day of this writing I have guests from Spain, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and New Hampshire (that’s a foreign country, isn’t it?).

During the infancy of this precarious project, this was not a popular policy. Anyone who has lived in the Whit or dabbled in the culture knows what a wonderful and whimsical web we weave here, and also the potentially argumentative nature of the inhabitants, and as a newbee nine years ago, I caught it. I have a clear memory of one fateful evening in Tiny’s being hotly interrogated regarding this issue. 

Maybe in the early years my policies were fairly liberal. I have a slight anarchist bent and prefer to allow people to act on their own while respecting the needs of others. This attitude has evolved through the years, and as of this writing we currently have a no smoking policy (yes, that includes pot) and prefer that guests only drink on the weekends, particularly focusing on the community potluck on Sunday. 

I simply have the feeling that folks are projecting their own impression on the hostel without actually investigating. Please search the internet for Eugene hostels. HostelBookers, TripAdvisor and Airbnb will all have real photos from real people doing real things at the hostel as well as reviews about what goes on here. I want a great, clean, wholesome place for international travelers to stay while they visit this interesting city of Eugene and explore the surrounding areas — and maybe have a beer or two.

Mac Hines, Eugene

 

A GREAT WEEKEND

After a 40-hour work week in the social service world, I look forward to my weekends. A recent weekend started with a visit to the Saturday Market. Despite the current suds controversy, the Saturday Market still stands as a brilliant cooperative which subverts the dominant paradigm every week. On Sunday I rushed to the library and found a spot in the standing room only appearance of one of my favorite cartoonists, Dan Piraro. He was hilarious, and the community laughed heartily. 

To end my 48 hours of relaxation, I headed up to Skinner Butte with friends and joined yet again another jubilant community gathering of gazers waiting for the rare eclipse of the decade. There was even an awesome jug band playing for free. Note to the city: Portable potties would have been smart in this park for this unique evening. I’ve got plenty to bitch about as well regarding the struggles of living in community, but this recent weekend exemplified for me what is so great about Eugene.

Eva Kronen, Eugene

 

NRA COWARDS

The people who want to do something about guns and gun control are usually not in a position to do anything, and the people who are in a position to do something won’t. 

The National Rifle Association (NRA) knows more about guns and gun ownership in this country than any other agency. NRA President Allan Cors and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, along with other members of its executive staff, are in a position to help do something about all of the mass shootings in this country. They have the knowledge, the resources and the expertise to work with Congress to draw up meaningful, sensible gun legislation. But they are cowards. They are afraid of losing a portion of their membership base, which equates to losing income. However, if they took a sensible approach and worked with Congress, they might appeal to a broader constituency. As it stands now, and has for as long as I can remember, they are a somewhat radical organization that uses scare tactics to make their members believe the government wants to take everyone’s guns away.

On a related note, the FBI, the CIA and the NSA all monitor the internet on a daily basis to find threats by terrorists against the U.S. Why can’t they dedicate some man hours to monitoring social media sites for these shooters who like to post their hate-filled manifestos and even telegraph their plans? For that matter, why can’t all law enforcement agencies dedicate some man hours to looking at social media sites, even obscure ones?

Chuck West, Eugene

 

CONVOLUTED FINANCES

I fully support funding for our libraries. As others have pointed out, having a well-run public library system helps us become a better community. My concern is that the city is more and more inclined to fund basic city services like libraries and park maintenance through ever-increasing fees, taxes and special levies. The rationale for doing so is, of course, a lack of sufficient revenue in the city’s general fund. This is where our property tax dollars go and has traditionally been the primary source of revenue to fund city services. Given that the city’s political leadership has taken it upon itself to transfer significant sums out of the general fund to finance a variety of questionable endeavors, is it any wonder that the needed revenue is not there? 

How do we taxpaying citizens voice our budget priorities and influence our elected leaders’ decision-making beyond lobbying the budget committee or participating in an annual “yes” or “no” vote? How can we better understand the intricacies of the budgetary process and the city’s convoluted transfers of revenue out of the general fund? It seems to me, we need a pre-election primer. 

David Monk, Eugene

 

THE THIRD OPTION

Sprawl or densification: Are these our only choices? Many believe this and are trying hard to figure out how to do it. Some examples are: Capstone, South Willamette, Oakleigh Meadow, bigger and better high rises. The result? Increasing the population means more everything: people, cars, houses, hotels, trucks, pollution, noise, crime, isolation. Less of the reasons we all live here; less intimacy, clean air, peace, caring. Too many of my breaths are mixed with car exhaust.

Oakleigh Meadow hopefuls propose taking one of the few remaining open spaces — our Greenway, which should be cherished and protected — to be sold to a wealthy few. The winners either way are the developers.

What about a third solution? What if we do nothing? People who want to move to Eugene may have to wait for housing to open up or move elsewhere. Is it wrong to not want to live in a mini Los Angeles?

Mental illness is rampant. People are wandering the streets, screaming, homeless. Until we can take care of those that live here, why on earth are we considering increasing our numbers?

Gov. Tom McCall said in 1971: “The interests of Oregon for today and in the future must be protected from the grasping wastrels of the land. We must respect another truism — that unlimited and unregulated growth leads inexorably to a lowered quality of life.”

Jean M. Denis, Eugene

 

TRAFFIC HAZARD

My grandson attends the Charlemagne French School at its new location on 3875 Kincaid Street. I am quite concerned about his safety when he walks or bikes there. He lives west of Amazon Drive, which has a four-way stop at Fox Hollow Road and is fairly easy to cross. However, there is no stop sign on East Amazon at Potter Street (east from Fox Hollow), and traffic on East Amazon is fast, heavy and continuous during rush hour. The 85th percentile speed is 42 mph.

 I live near the intersection of Potter Street and East Amazon, and am unable to cross East Amazon to Fox Hollow in my car during rush hour. It is completely unrealistic to expect bicycles, pedestrians and schoolchildren to cross the intersection of East Amazon Drive and Potter Street at rush hour, or indeed to be able to safely use the existing crosswalk at East 39th Avenue.

 Please request the Eugene City Council to direct the city traffic engineer to install stop signs on East Amazon Drive at Potter Street. I believe that the failure to do so will result in serious injury or death to a child at this intersection.

 Duncan Rhodes, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: The “85th percentile speed” is defined as “the speed at or which 85 percent of all vehicles are observed to travel under free flowing conditions past a nominated point.” 

 

 

UNMONITORED VET

This is in response to your Sept. 24 article “Into the Institution.” Community health is failing the mentally ill veteran living in our country neighborhood. He is back in the community living on the property of the house he set fire to in February, without water and electricity.

He is back in the community making sexual comments to neighbors, including my child. He is back in the community threatening physical harm to neighbors. He is back in the community threatening employees at our local store with returning with a gun to kill people. 

He is back in the community hitchhiking rides and stiffing taxi drivers. He is back in the community where no one monitors the taking of his daily medication. He is back in the community violating a stalking order against him.

At what point is being back in the community worth risking the safety and livelihood of an entire neighborhood? We’re told he is considered a violent, sexual predator. We’re told he has to do “something big” again for real intervention. And yet, when he does, as he has already had two prior civil commitments, he is able to return, unmonitored. 

Angie Hampton, Springfield

 

FRETTING TRAVELERS?

I’m a longtime Eugene resident and homeowner and am downtown often. I don’t ever recall seeing anyone sitting down anywhere causing any problems. The people who yell and disturb others invariably seem to be standing and usually walking. I think the avoidable problems have been caused by the city government in removing amenities such as restrooms, benches and at least one wall that people could sit on.

The city also eliminated a beautiful, small park on East 14th. It was traded for a grassy area in front of an apartment complex that is seldom used, contains one bench and appears to be the lawn of the apartment complex.

It appears to me that the percentage of troublemakers among travelers is much lower than that of Eugene residents. Maybe we need more travelers and fewer residents.

Paul Spencer, Eugene

 

AN OPEN SORE

 Last night [Sept. 28] I watched the Eugene City Council meeting where many residents blasted the mayor and the City Council for allowing the police to violate the rights of homeless folks who just need a place to sleep. As you may know, the police under the direction of the mayor and city administrators have been rousting homeless folks in the middle of the night, sometimes calling out 20 police to move a few sick, disabled, and mentally ill poor folks in the middle of the night from their tents, fining them and ticketing them.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Obama administration are threatening to cut off grants and funding for such cities that violate basic constitutional rights; even the pope got pissed off about this last week. Yet there is no mention of this outcry by the citizens at the council meeting anywhere in the media. I don’t care what the issue is, when one person after another gets up and blasts the mayor and council it should make the news. 

Eugene really is a wild West town, owned by the bankers and the sheriff, and not the liberal haven as presented by the mass media. I am proud that folks are keeping up the pressure. Lawsuits are coming down the road, most likely they will be quietly thrown out or settled, but it will cost the taxpayers. The lack of action on the part of our cities leaders is akin to an open sore that will not heal. We will just cover it up and maybe it will go away.

Marc Time, Junction City

 

NEIGHBORS BLINDSIDED

Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing (OMC) stated in The Register-Guard Sept. 21 that the OMC site is a “vacant lot lying fallow,” more misinformation by OMC hopefuls. 

The “vacant lot” is a meadow that used to have many more trees until OMC acquired it. Back then, they stated publicly that they bought it to preserve it. This “vacant lot” lies in the floodplain and greenway along city parkland and the river. Despite the drought, it still remains green. 

OMC was required to get a greenway permit. The neighborhood was blindsided by the change in the size of the project. We had a very short amount of time to appeal. The city appeal cost was $4,400 and it would have been $1,000 to appeal the greenway permit. We didn’t have the money and the permit went through. 

The Willamette Greenway Act (WGA) was put in place in the early 1970s to preserve the river system on the west side. The city should be better steward of the river. This maximum density condo project if built will set a precedent for developments all along the river. There is nothing “modest” about OMC or their plans. 

Instead of reading OMC’s BS “value statement,” come see for yourselves what will be destroyed. Voice your opinions about how the city is allowing developments that close to the river when they should be honoring the WGA and protecting the river. 

Bruce Buschelman, McClure Lane, Eugene

 

NOT FEELING SAFE

It took police officers armed with weapons and a trained veteran to stop the gunman in Roseburg. It could have been a lot worse if not for these several trained individuals. What if we had officers on campus? What if we could cut that response time and save lives? I recall having several officers at my high school, so why not on Lane’s campus?

I am a student at Lane Community College. I fear to go to campus now because of what happened at Umpqua Community College. This tragedy happened only 60 miles away from LCC. I advocate not everyone, but certain trained individuals to be stationed on my college campus. I would feel much safer knowing that there are at least several trained police, armed with standard police equipment on campus, willing to protect me in cases like the tragedy of Umpqua Community College.

Adam Brown, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: See our story this week on campus safety. LCC has 35 people on staff dealing with safety issues, but none are armed. The UCC campus also has unarmed safety staffers. 

 

THE COURAGE TO STAND UP

I applaud Hillary Clinton for putting the safety of the American people above the special interests of the corporate gun lobby. Just four years ago it seemed unthinkable that a major presidential candidate would make gun violence prevention a cornerstone of his or her platform. This is a major victory for the 90 percent of Americans who support expanding background checks to all gun sales and is further evidence that we are at a tipping point on this issue.

This is exactly the type of leadership that has been sorely missing in Washington. We need more political leaders in both parties to have the courage to stand up against the corporate gun lobby and take meaningful action to protect the people they represent. While ultimately it is actions and not promises that will put an end to the senseless slaughter of tens of thousands of Americans every year, I applaud Clinton’s leadership and sincerely hope other candidates will take bold action of their own.

Curtis Taylor, Eugene

 

THE GREAT DRUG RIP OFF 

 The owner of the company that makes a parasite infection-fighting drug called Daraprim recently raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. He blithely excused the price raise with “I’m a capitalist.” And he further excused the outrage with the worn refrain about covering research and development costs. In the fallout from this outrageous gouging, Hillary Clinton has vowed to rein in the price of drugs.

The government has been loath to touch the pharmaceutical industry, clearly because of the industry’s huge financial grip on our lawmakers. While Congress complains about budgets and Republicans relentlessly attack Obamacare, there is never a whisper about the Bush-era Medicare provision barring negotiation of drug prices with Big Pharma. 

Controlling health care costs has to be the foundation of any affordable universal health care, but even though Obamacare has brought affordable health care access to many needy people it has done little to abate costs that continue to spiral upward for both the government and a large portion of the middle class. 
     

The outrageous cost of drugs is just one more glaring case why health care cannot continue to be a function of the free market. Untold millions are spent in political influence and marketing which otherwise in an ethical system would lower costs to the consumer. Ask your U.S. representative or senator what he or she has to say about that!

 Russ DesAulnier, Eugene