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Letters to the Editor: 10-15-2015

DON’T PUNISH LIBRARY

Voting “no” on the library levy is no way to correct the problem of misguided tax policies and benefits to special interests. It would not convince our politicians to mend their ways nor would it improve the current funding mechanism. Instead, it would punish library users, including students, computer users and residents who need expanded access to a local branch. Clean up the bathwater, but don’t throw the baby out.

Sara van Dyck, Eugene

 

A KIND GESTURE

I realize there’s probably a plethora of letters about this by now, but I thought the president’s visit to Roseburg to meet with the families was amazingly thoughtful. I don’t agree with him on everything; I personally oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I also think there is no morally justifiable reason to use weaponized drones. But I still can recognize this as a kind gesture, it was probably comforting to those families in their time of mourning.

I won’t comment on anyone’s particular political agenda (I’m actually somewhat moderate on the whole gun issue), but I found it very insensitive to have a pro-gun protest when families are grieving over their loved ones being killed by a gunman. 

We don’t have to agree to be respectful, and while I understand some people want to use their First Amendment rights to protect their Second Amendment rights, it was neither the time nor place. (Well, except the signs that were ignorant and/or racist, it’s never the time or place.)

Lil Frey, Eugene

 

MISLEADING LABEL

Betty Taylor — a strong voice on the Eugene City Council for the homeless and others who need help, for education, for economic justice, for the environment, for the public good generally — has for decades consistently supplemented her humane values with appropriate humor, articulate common sense, wise perspective and enlightened skepticism.

A recent otherwise admirable Register-Guard front-page tribute to her, however, on the occasion of her 90th birthday and her fifth, nearly completed, four-year term of public service, can’t resist labeling her as representing “the far left.”

Many national and local practitioners and beneficiaries of what has become a short-sighted, cold-hearted, predatory, quite insane economic system routinely destroy the health of the planet and its people. It’s collateral damage to them. But in the nearly 50 years I’ve been reading the R-G, I’ve yet to see one — not one — of these oily, oil-dependent extraction/development/industrial corporations, their cronies or their bought-and-paid-for political toadies described as “far right” (or more accurately “neo-fascist”).

But it’s “far left” to help the poor and homeless? To protect the health of our beautiful planet? To question corporate practices? To oppose giving massive tax breaks and numerous other perks to out-of-state mega-corporations pursuing maximum profit at any cost to people or to the environment?

Enough already with such predictable but inaccurate, misleading, self-serving labeling. And a belated happy birthday and many thanks to Betty Taylor for her admirable years of service as a teacher and as a council member.

Jerome Garger, Yachats

EDITOR’S NOTE: Betty Taylor last week took out filing papers to run for another four-year term on the Eugene City Council. 

 

NEW SUNDOWN LAWS

Would the mayor have thanked the chief for arresting Rosa Parks? Structural violence is so pervasive it is canonized into public law, societal attitudes and police practices.

In response to a weekly police report, Eugene’s mayor thanked the chief for removing a small group of homeless veterans and disabled people off unused public land, referencing a team of 20 EPD officers plus animal control and Public Works personnel dispatched to move them to “nowhere.” She also wrote of her “appreciation” for removing homeless youth from Kesey Square, lamenting they had only moved across the street. 

She failed to praise the chief for arresting a felon with a loaded gun, a parole-violating registered sex offender or a man accused of credit card fraud, all included in the report.

Cities used to reserve a portion of the public buses for “colored people.” However, today Eugene reserves 100 percent of park land for recreation; leaving no “back of the bus” for poor people who have no shelter.

Under the unwritten sundown laws, people of color were escorted out of town at sundown under threat of arrest. Today sundown laws have morphed into “quality of life laws” in which the poor are chased out of town 24 hours a day with selectively enforced laws.

That is structural violence in a nutshell.

Jean Stacey, Eugene

 

OUT OF BALANCE

When I read that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) wants to let trophy hunters kill even more cougars than in the past, I was shocked. The hunters are not killing cougars to get a source of food; rather, they are killing them in order to display a stuffed, dead cougar. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think that’s justification enough for this loss of life. Furthermore, the argument that killing cougars increases deer populations for hunters (who want to kill more deer) also doesn’t stand up. These arguments are out of balance as is the approach ODFW is taking, as it uses taxpayer money to subsidize lethal methods of predator control that we as voters and taxpayers twice voted against. 

Proposed is that ODFW agents be allowed to kill cougars with painful traps called “neck snares.” A majority of Oregonians voted to ban dog hunting, and yet government “volunteer” hunters will be allowed to use hounds to hunt cougars! That’s a total end run around what we voted for. 

I have just written the Department of Fish and Wildlife and told them I don’t want cougar hunting expanded. Their email address is odfw.commission@state.or.us. I encourage readers, whether you are concerned about how your tax dollars are spent, whether your vote is taken seriously or out of care for animals, to also contact ODFW.

Debra Merskin, Ph.D., Eugene

 

MY LIBRARY STORY

Besides our public schools, there are no institutions that do more to cultivate a culture of learning than our wonderful public libraries.

Shortly after my son was born we began visiting the library on a weekly basis. My son has always loved to be read to. I can hardly remember him ever turning down an opportunity. Now in the second grade, he is a voracious reader, tearing through middle-school level books sometime in one night. Some evenings he emerges out of his room (well after lights out) with an ear-to-ear smile holding a book up in the air proclaiming that “I’ve finished it!” 

It wasn’t long after we began visiting the library that I started to bring two large bags to fill. To this day, I hook a bag around my shoulder and slowly poke through the aisles filling bag number one and then bag number two, usually scoring about 50 books! While I’m packing my bags, my son and daughter peruse the shelves, play in the indoor or outdoor play area or analyze the display cases.

One of the best parts comes when we get home. As if we’ve just dug up a treasure chest, my children pour our literary booty out onto the playroom floor into a carpet of books and begin sifting. On more than one occasion, both of my children have fallen asleep right on top of the pile.

Our public libraries are a vital component of our civilization where many children hold their first book or read their first word, and where the candle of curiosity is lit. They are truly special places where communities are strengthened and children are inspired. They deserve our full support.

Joshua Welch, Eugene

 

WE’RE ALL TRAVELERS

Mayor Kitty Piercy’s recent comments about travelers vs. residents in downtown Eugene led me to research some recent U.S. Census statistics. The 2010 Census revealed that about 45 percent of the people who live in Oregon were born here. The remaining 55 percent — myself included — come from somewhere else. As we talk about how to help people on the streets, let’s not forget that most of us are “travelers” who decided to remain here for jobs, education or the exquisite beauty of Oregon, and not use labels to decide who deserves a hand.

Adele Berlinski, Eugene

 

TEN-STORY THREAT?

You’ve heard this before. That threat of 10-story buildings popping up under existing city code in the South Willamette Special Area Zone (SW-SAZ) next to your modest single-family dwelling has been repeated often by planners, but in reality this is mostly an empty threat. Here’s why.

To be built in South Eugene under existing code, a 10-story, 120-foot-high building must be zoned C-2 (community commercial), be marketable and be profitable. Currently there are 72 properties zoned C-2 in the SW-SAZ. If developers could have built them 10 stories high, they would have, but for practical reasons they chose not to. The market for tall commercial buildings anywhere in Eugene is weak to non-existent. The preferred profile for commercial buildings is a low, sprawling, one-story box. Currently C-2 properties are located mostly between 24th and 29th along Willamette Street. 

High-density residential towers (R-4, allowing up to 10 stories or 120 feet) are not allowed in any part of the South Willamette zone under existing code. The maximum height permitted is 50 feet for R-3 (limited high-density residential). 

The moral of the story: Don’t believe everything you hear. Sign the petition to save Eugene neighborhoods at swneugene.org/sign.

Christine L. Sundt, Eugene

 

NOT NIMBY

Regarding Jim Johnson’s Oct. 1 letter “Better Location”: It’s pretty easy for the entire Lane County community to dump all its NIMBY in Whiteaker’s yard. But the Whiteaker is capped out. We can no longer resolve the entire homeless or community service needs of Lane County. The other neighborhoods and other cities, especially the city of Springfield, need to start pulling their own weight on issues such as the Oakleigh Meadow project. Just because the Whiteaker is willing to look at the community’s needs and try to address some of it, doesn’t mean it all belongs here. Yes, Jim, your neighborhood is going to have to bear some of the weight of the community, too, and if this comes in the form of Oakleigh Meadow, then so be it. 

Cathy Feely, Eugene

 

PROGRESS OFFERS HOPE

Sam Porter’s evaluation in his Viewpoint Oct. 1 of the state of mankind provides philosophical hope to Guy McPherson’s glooming predictions. Even more hope comes with the fact that, though not fully realized, the great progress provided by the Millennium Development Goals are a cause for celebration. Abject poverty was cut in half, more children are in school and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are within reach to control. The new Sustainable Development Goals offer universal hope in these and environmental areas over the next 15 years. Senate Bill 1911, the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, is a part of this hope. This bill targets ending the preventable deaths of 16,000 children and over 800 mothers each day. We can take action by asking our senators to support it. So let us rise up to humanity’s greatest opportunity to make a difference!

Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Washington

 

BAFFLED BY PROTESTS

I am very much looking forward to the building of Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing on the 2-plus acres of private property between McClure Lane, where I live, and Oakleigh Lane. I was present five years ago during early conversations about a wide range of possibilities for the property.

As ideas developed among the growing group of interested and then committed people I stayed informed and current through the years on the evolution of their thoughts, goals and then plans.

I saw continual, transparent outreach to the neighbors and community throughout the years. Current status of the group’s plans were always available. Neighbors were personally and repeatedly invited to join the discussion. I saw opportunity for input from anyone at any time. I’ve put in my two cents more than once. It was welcomed even though I was not going to become a member.

I am baffled by the protestations that only started to occur when the plan had been in the works for four years, public for a year and then approved by the city. Where were the opponents for the four years this project was evolving and all the information was available during that time?

Everywhere I go throughout Eugene I hear support for the project. I am looking forward to having OMC as my neighbors.

Patricia Holtz, McClure Lane, Eugene

 

MAKE BETTER CHOICES

The media has invited comment about how best to solve the mass murder problem. As I see it, the problem is not the tool but the brain behind the tool. How can we expect safety when our minds are filled with violence? Computer game violence, TV and computer program violence, violent movies, violent music, divorce, fighting in the home, insecurity in the home.

On top of this, add the drugs and alcohol that numb the frontal lobe where mercy, justice, self restraint (self control) and conscience come from. Then add generations of fathers and mothers that give (by choice and habit) a weakened mental and emotional legacy to their offspring even while pregnant (science suggests that marijuana affects male genetic material also). When society tells us to do what we “feel” rather than what is unselfish, healthiest and best, negative consequences follow. 

Be careful what you think. It affects what you say. Be careful what you say. It affects what you do. Be careful what you do. It affects your habits. Be careful what habits you form. They create your character. Be careful what character you develop. It becomes your destiny. It also affects the destiny of those around you.

Putting government, money, resources, entertainment, time and thought into what we want society to become is part of the solution. Hold Hollywood accountable and get them on the positive side. What you and I put into our minds through the five senses (and our diet) creates who we are in large part. Clean up the spring and the water will be drinkable again. You and I have freedom to choose! 

No matter what is the matter, it matters to Him about you.

Jim and Beth Boram, Cottage Grove

 

UNREAL EXPECTATIONS

Common Core standardized tests are loosely graded on a curve, failing all without a score of “3” or B and on track for college. Still, No Child Left Behind requires every student be 100 percent proficient by 2014! 

This is illogical and unachievable. Always only a fraction of students and schools can pass tests graded on a curve, let alone college entrance exams. The consequence? Schools ranking lowest for three years must be shut down, and teachers with low performers fired.

Sounds logical, doesn’t it? But there are unintended consequences.

Low scoring schools have the least tax support, yet the neediest students. So those with mostly English language learner, minority, poor and disabled students are prone to fail regardless of each student’s individual progress. 

Shuttered neighborhood schools are then typically taken over by corporate charter school chains, often run from overseas. But given the same clientele, commercial schools fair no better. Because they are incentivized to profit off taxpayer dollars, avoid shut downs and sell online alternatives, they counsel-out low achievers. Atrocious graduation rates result: Oregon Connections Academy (owned by the British giant, Pearson) matriculates only 54 percent.

Another consequence of testing for high stakes, instead of individual progress, is that nationally teachers dedicated to low performers like special education, ELL, rural and inner-city students are leaving in droves. This only drains schools of talent and hurts students.

The system is rigged. Unattainable perfection is expected by NCLB law. Why? For profit. 

Rachel Rich, Eugene

 

A LITTLE HISTORY

Springfield City Councilor Dave Ralston has been roundly excoriated for his unwelcoming attitudes toward non-whites by Silver Mogart in both the R-G and EW (online), as well as many others. Mogart believes Ralston does not represent most of his constituents. That may be true, but neither Ralston nor constituents who do share his ethnic biases are likely to benefit from efforts to “shame” them. They may learn to keep their mouths shut in polite company, but Mogart’s guest viewpoints provided no information to potentially change their minds and hearts. Let me try to supply some.

Ralston abhors the prospect of a bilingual community. But had not President Polk — intoxicated with racist “Manifest Destiny” — incited a war with Mexico over the Texas border in 1846, marched upon and occupied Mexico City, and extorted cession of half their country, California and the entire Southwest would be Spanish-speaking. We tore up their Spanish deeds, stole their land and now exclude their descendants.

Today’s desperate immigration from Latin America results from over a century of ruthless exploitation and domination of their political and economic systems by violence-enforced U.S. capitalism, including the terrible atrocities of Operation Condor and the proxy Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Nicaraguan wars, disappearances, torture and assassinations. Add to this the ravages of drug cartels to feed the U.S. drug market, long providing the CIA with off-the-books funding.

Ralston also opposed appointment to a city committee of a Marshall Islands native as “another minority element.” The Marshall Islands provided strategic WW II airfields for operations across the Pacific theater and was the site of our post-war nuclear testing that irreversibly poisoned their environment and population.

We owe these people an enormous debt. The least we can pay them is respect.

 Jack Dresser, co-director Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Springfield

 

JAIL THE BOSSES

VW CEOs need to be jailed! When I read that NOx emissions from diesel cars can be 40 times the emissions allowed, I’m angry and very concerned about those who have suffered breathing the exhaust. I remember when doctors testified at the NOx emission hearings over 40 years ago when they first passed limits in California. I was there, and I can still see the angry faces of the auto industry and remember some shaking their fists as medical testimony was given as to the harmful effects of NOx emissions to our lungs. The California Air Resources Chair Arie Haagen-Smit explained his successful tests of his personal auto testing and soon had the board pass the needed emission standards. He urged cooperation among the auto industry to achieve lowered emissions. 

We now know that these high VW emissions also have escalated climate change. VW CEOs need a long stay in jail with huge fines!

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

DOUBTFUL OUTCOME

I am still waiting for any kind of explanation from supporters of the Trans Pacific Partnership, such as Sens. Ron Wyden and Patty Murray, as to how this enormous pact would mitigate climate change. And if it does nothing of the sort, why do they support it? All they say about the agreement is that it will be good for economic growth, a doubtful outcome and one that does nothing to encourage conservation of resources and to discourage environmental degradation. Hilary Clinton is not high on my list of candidates, but with respect to opposing TPP, she did get it right.

Patricia Spicer, Eugene

 

WISHFUL THINKING

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued on Sept. 30 its final environmental impact statement (EIS), as regards the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export facility at Coos Bay and the Pacific Connector pipeline (the pipeline would feed gas to the export facility).

The final EIS does include analysis of the project's effect on the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The EIS admits that the undeniable reality is that the power plant at the Jordan Cove site, which would be necessary for freezing the gas to -265 degrees F, so that it could be exported by ship, would become Oregon's largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions after the Boardman coal-fired plant is closed in 2020. FERC's EIS then delves into wishful thinking in that it supposes that this increase would be offset by natural gas replacing the use of coal in Asia. This wish ignores the fact of leakage of methane during the fracking process, by which the gas is obtained. Rep. Peter Buckley has written that, if all factors are considered, fracked natural gas is no cleaner than coal. So we have the certainty of a huge increase in net greenhouse gas emissions if this project is built.

FERC will make its final decision on the project on Dec. 29th.  Public comment to FERC can be submitted at wkly.ws/0. The docket number for the Jordan Cove project is CP13-483-000 (this docket number is necessary in order to file a comment). The docket number for the Pacific Connector pipeline is CP13-492-000 and separate comments can be filed as regards that. And, Gov. Kate Brown should be contacted, as our state's regulatory agencies do have a say as to whether or not this will be built. 

Stephen Amy, Eugene