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Letters to the Editor: 11-5-2015

LIBRARY LEVY HAS BIG BENEFITS

As director of the Eugene Public Library, and on behalf of the whole team here: Thank you, Eugene voters, for your decision to expand library services. And thank you to all the levy supporters who helped spread the word and get out the vote.

The library levy approved on Nov. 3 will increase community members’ access by adding hours, programs, materials, and technology, particularly at our neighborhood Bethel and Sheldon branches.

Eugene, we appreciate how highly you value library services. We look forward to providing you with even greater benefits educationally, economically and for entertainment as well.

 Connie J. Bennett, Library Services director

 

RECLAIM OUR SCHOOLS

Parents, teachers, students, citizens of Oregon, please speak up in defense of public education. Our schools need small classes with innovative teachers who have the freedom to create authentic assessments to thrive. What they don’t need is one-size-fits-all, high-stakes standardized testing. 

Supporters of corporate-driven high-stakes standardized testing claim that we need these standardized tests because we must address the achievement gap that exists between white students and students of color and also between higher income students and lower income students. How will they address it? They will use this “rigorous data” from high-stakes standardized tests to evaluate teacher and school performance based on student test scores. 

For example, if a student gets extremely anxious before he takes the Smarter Balanced test and doesn’t receive a high score, this test score will be used against his teacher. To assign all blame for low scores to teachers is simplistic and insulting to educators, parents and students. There are many reasons for student success, or lack of it. Additionally, these tests are only one, narrow measure of a student’s capabilities. 

Rather than spending billions of dollars on high-stakes standardized testing and large amounts of instruction time on these tests, we should trust our teachers to create authentic, performance-based assessments. We should also demand funding to reduce class sizes, so students can get more individualized attention that focuses on their needs and passions. 

Please go to oregoncape.org for information on how to reclaim public education. 

Laura Farrelly, Eugene

 

FRESH LOOK NEEDED

Thanks to the Weekly for your continued coverage of the rezoning issue in south Eugene. Edward Russo’s often prescient summaries of the workings of the Eugene City Council strangely missed the mark in the Oct. 27 Register-Guard.

Councilor Clark’s strong motion that the SW-SAZ plan be remanded to planning staff to better protect existing residential neighborhoods was approved on Oct. 21. At that work session both City Manager Jon Ruiz and City Attorney Glenn Klein stated that Jan. 19 was too soon to “revise 80 pages of code.” 

So that Monday night the council merely extended the timeline to March 19 for staff to come back with a revised SW-SAZ for public hearing. The approved motion stayed approved. Russo should have known that being approved, it also remains “adopted.” 

Ruiz, planning staff and the involved neighborhoods now have a clear directive on their to-do list: The SW-SAZ needs to be revised according to the motion to better protect privacy, solar access, easements, etc. for existing residential neighborhoods. 

 The best route to accomplish that goal is not outreach to the public with the old plan — i.e. obfuscation and re-branding. The best route to accomplish that goal is to listen to the neighbors and businesses in the impacted areas through neighborhood organizations and a citizen planning team that can work with the city and take an actual fresh look through the previous “redevelopment centric” rezoning.

 Ralph McDonald, Eugene

 

RELENTLESS NOISE

Leo Harris Parkway divides Autzen Stadium from Alton Baker Park and so divides Oregon Ducks from mallard ducks. But even when it’s not game day, the sound volume from Autzen respects no boundary and invades Alton Baker, often drowning out the birdsong, riversong and windsong that people rightly expect to hear in the park. Long practice sessions at the stadium are generally accompanied by a soundtrack as booming as one might expect for a violent sport that lends itself to war metaphors.

As a volunteer nature guide, I am often in the park with elementary school children and I consistently encourage them to respect the plants and animals that live in Alton Baker. I encourage them to use all their senses to fully experience the park and the more-than-human world. The exercise can be a challenge for young people raised in a myopic, digital culture which is often hostile to animals and non-commercial spaces; it is made more difficult, sometimes impossible, when the relentless noise of that culture is pouring out of Autzen Stadium.

Ian E. Smith, Eugene

 

A FLYING SLUG

I do declare, I’ve never — what is all this brouhaha about David Joyce’s flying people? Well, it’s just not fittin’! Having just recently flown in and out of Eugene’s airport, how extra special it was to see my youthful 1980s persona “Dusty, the Feather Fairy” still hanging around. Let me tell y’all how I had the honor of being part of this art project. Now I don’t want to brag, but I will.

With rain falling from the sky, fellow Radar Angel Shawn Fontaine and I flitted downtown with our fairy wings and magic wands. With high hopes, we struck a pose. Seems we made quite an impression as David even brought out an extra camera. We left the studio with spirits lifted and much gratitude for the experience and opportunity. Many months passed and, on one of my trips back from Nashville, my Eugene family came to pick me up.

Well, when I looked up, there we were, flying high! I was overwhelmed with excited pride. Oh, I felt over the moon. I felt immortalized, and being from the hospitable South, greeting travelers along their way seemed to be right up my alley, or in this case, right up my hallway. For all these many flying years, whether you were coming or going — there I was!

I sure do hope the magic continues and that all us “flying people” rest up at the David Joyce Gallery at LCC until it’s time to be placed back at the airport where we belong.

It just makes plane sense. And to all those concerned, when the airport completes its expanded renovation, please do the righteous act and give us the grand homecoming that we deserve, a return flight back to our final destination, where David Joyce intended “Flight Patterns” to always be.

Very Old SLUG Queen Scarlett O’Slimera, aka Joan Gold Cypress

 

PROFITING FROM ILLNESS

What kind of country are we, that: 1) allows people and planet to be slowly poisoned for profit, 2) hales courses of treatment of expensive drugs and protocols that prolong suffering, 3) obscenely over-compensates the revolving-door triangle of “poisoners” (chemical and fossil fuel company execs), “healers” (medical, Big Pharma and insurers) and pick-your-disease-NGO’s Race-for-the-Cure-type fundraisers? 

We profiteer from illness, and build medical and business models with government dollars and “oversight” that impoverish our most vulnerable and destabilize our society. Those of us who are well and healthy need to take note: We won’t always be well and healthy, and neither will our children. It’s past time we join the rest of the industrialized nations and provide a unified, publicly funded health care system to our citizens. 

When I see my friend, who’s been a public school educator for more than 40 years, driven to what would be bankruptcy except for the generosity of her family, by a cancer diagnosis eight years ago, I have to believe the majority of us are ready to wake up! We must elect lawmakers who will get the job done in the Legislature. Colorado is going after it. Oregon can also win single-payer health care. We just have to decide what kind of society we want to be and work to realize that every day. In the meantime, call or email your federal and state officials. Join Health Care for All Oregon (hcao.org). It’s up to us.

Patty Hine, Eugene

 

THE TRUMPKIN COVER

I enjoyed your Donald Trump pumpkin cover Oct. 22. I’m not a Donald Trump fan, but if Bernie Sanders had the guts to talk at Liberty University in September, I wish Trump would come to the University of Oregon. I’d like to come down from Salem and see what kind of reception Eugene would give to a Trump visit.

Jack Presley Evans, Salem

 

ALLOWING OBJECTIFICATION

To follow-up and add to Ryan Foote’s Oct. 22 letter on objectifying women, not only in the media but in society in general, I agree, yet play devil’s and objectivity’s advocate.

I have taken EW to task over objectification in the past, and yet, like most human endeavors, they are contradictory at best. The EW talks and advertises out both sides of its printed mouth, knowing damn well that sex sells, yet prints progressive rants when women’s sex is abused. The real issue here is: If it’s all right to objectify the gander, then why does the goose, who does the objectifying, not allow an equal gander of the goose?

Foote comments on the photo of Storm Large’s nipples, yet they’re not the true “points” of contention. They’re beautiful, though! A picture’s worth a thousand words, so what’s EW’s need for printing “titillates” other than to purposefully draw attention to them? Don’t they do that well enough on their own? And what about the previous page’s ad for Divas, which shows a woman “threatening” to perform fellatio on a microphone, both hands “cocked” at its base, ruby lips wide open, giving a mere impression that it’s really about singing?

Let’s be honest here: If women allow themselves to be portrayed this way by approving these photos and display ads, then let’s have an open discussion. I live in a college town and see women objectifying themselves constantly, fishing for attention by wearing skimpy and suggestive clothes, then blame men for being devious about it. Is there any irony in the fact that the word “deviate” immediately follows “deva” in the dictionary? In Jungian terms, they shadow each other.

So the question then remains: Who’s objectifying whom?

Sean S. Doyle, Corvallis

 

CONSUMERISM BITES

High praise to David Hugh Tyson for his Oct. 22 letter “Consumer Culture.” He notes that “investing in kids” can go very wrong, if what we’re spending on is more consumerism. Kids are being trained from kindergarten to be technology consumers, and to get both their homework and their leisure from these (expensive and polluting) little gadgets.

Too often, liberal causes fall into the trap of advocating change by way of more consumerism. Stop global warming? Buy a Prius? Gotta be kidding — a new car costs the planet and its climate big damage. Cure cancer? Buy a bunch of synthetic pink T-shirts died with poisonous chemicals. (Ninety thousand industrial chemicals in the world are untested for human effects and more or less guarantee a rising tide of cancer.) 

Small activist groups, staffed mostly by volunteers, may do more good than harm. But once they install an officer in charge of fundraising, the constant inhalation of money becomes the group’s main goal. If you’re taking money from the Rockefeller Foundation, you really can’t knock “clean coal.” 

Recently, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (which I respect, generally) sent out an earnest appeal for funds for advertising at the People’s Climate March in New York. To save the environment, they proposed to buy 1,200 synthetic banners on plastic poles, saying “No Nukes.” Never mind that they were probably produced partly by nuclear electricity. Those banners actually contributed to global warming in their production and have today become poisonous garbage.

Care about the world? Better that you really try (and it’s not easy) to do nothing at all than add to our misery with more consumerist posturing. Humans don’t need to get off their ass and do more. We need to do a lot less.

Christopher Logan, Eugene