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Letters to the Editor: 11-12-2015

MISGUIDED TAX

The most hated tax in English history was called a head tax in which the lord of the manor and peasants were taxed at exactly the same amount. It’s remarkable that EWEB has seen fit to revive that very same concept with a basic charge of $20 a month, which they propose to increase to $25 a month whether you live in a mansion in the hills or in an apartment on 6th Avenue. 

I don’t think that I’m the only person who sees this as being fundamentally unfair. For one thing, the household that consumes more electricity is making a larger demand on electrical infrastructure and hence should pay a higher rate. To add insult to injury the household that conserves energy is penalized because the basic charge will compose a larger percentage of their bill and hence the effective charge per kilowatt will be higher.

I urge EWEB commissioners to reconsider this unfair and misguided approach. And I urge everyone who feels that way about raising EWEB rates for low income households and lowering them for the well-off households to attend the Dec. 1 EWEB public meeting.

Bryan Shephard, Eugene

 

PAY FOR USE

EWEB [basic] fees should be eliminated, not increased. People should pay only for the electricity and water they actually use. Those who use large amounts should be charged a higher rate in order to encourage energy conservation. 

Paul Spencer, Eugene

 

CHUMPED AND SCAMMED

Can we please stick a fork in MUPTE already? It’s Robin Hood in reverse: robbing neighborhoods, workers, families and seniors to line the pockets of real-estate fraudsters, with city government hacks acting as accomplices. 

The sickening twist is how taxpayers are made to finance the force-feeding of deceitful schemes down our own throats, paying for the dubious privilege of receiving such tawdry, self-serving vomit regurgitating from mouthpiece elitists dissembling as our public servants.

I can’t express how infuriating these duplicitous bureaucratic sharks are, but an alarming majority of people seem to actually enjoy being chumped and scammed by klepto-corporate government combines, somehow believing that fawning to the racketeers under a police state will pixie-dust us all into lives of prosperity, safety and security. WTF?

Dangled worms do look tasty to the trout, I guess. But go tell someone that there is a hook hidden inside their proverbial juicy worm, and they are likely to tell you off as a conspiracy theorist. 

Just as shopkeepers once paid mafia dons for “protection,” so nowadays must humans pay their own governments. This era in time will surely go down as one of the most bizarre episodes of socio-masochism in human history. Yikes.

Michael McFadden, Eugene

 

NOTHING TO GAIN

I was appalled to hear that plans are under way for developing a luxury apartment building in the area we call Kesey Square or Kesey Plaza. The project will have stores on the bottom and apartments on top. I’ve heard a lot of buzz around the issues of vagrancy and, shall we say, “undesirable foot traffic” in Kesey Square.

But I don’t think that developing Kesey Square will solve the root issue. Those “vagrants” might disappear from sight, but they won’t disappear. The problems will move somewhere else. Nothing will really be solved. I firmly believe developing this area will be a mistake, and I hope anyone who agrees will join me and voice their concerns before it’s too late.

It breaks my heart to think of Kesey Square being torn apart and built over. The square is a public space and a source of Eugene character. What will it be like to walk down that street, on the way to the public library or Saturday Market, and see stores instead of the statue of Kesey reading to those kids? Do we want to find out?

Chelsea Ingram, Eugene

 

COUNTY CHIEFS OVERPAID

I’m outraged by the proposed salary increases for Lane County administrators and supervisors. The proposal would increase wage inequality while offering nothing to the lowest paid employees, the ones who could really use salary increases. 

I propose lowering the salaries of administrators and supervisors and using the savings to increase the salaries of lower paid employees. If this would make it more difficult to recruit supervisors and administrators from other areas, this would be an advantage, as these jobs would go to current Lane County residents.

Paul Spencer, Eugene

 

HIGHER FREQUENCIES

I am severely brain injured and have been that way since 1974. I was hit by a car, died twice but was revived. I know abuse very well; I am discriminated against on a daily basis. Most people take advantage of me when they can, whether they realize it or not. I play the game of life, pretending. So when something tragic happens involving death, I am lifted up a little bit. Not my death, of course, but deaths of others. On the surface that sounds bad, but go deeper.

The three energy frequencies of higher consciousness (you could say awakened conscious) are: acceptance, enjoyment and enthusiasm — no matter the content. As I get older I focus more on these three energy frequencies and that really helps reduce stress and everything makes sense.

Long ago, Shakespeare said human beings are the measurement of everything. Love is all there is. The definition of love is cooperation. We humans can do better. Bodies make us separate but in truth we are all one being. One, one, one shouts the universe! 

 Joe Canfield, Eugene

 

POWERFUL EXHIBIT

“The Art of Survival” exhibit at the Wayne Morse U.S. Courthouse [see EW feature 10/29] illuminates the story of 120,000 people of Japanese descent who were “evacuated” and “relocated” from the West Coast to 10 inland “relocation centers” between 1942-1946 and focuses on over 18,000 incarcerated at the Tule Lake Segregation Center. All of these people were either U.S. citizens or had made their home in the U.S. for at least 17 years. None was ever accused of sabotage or treason.

Whether motivated by fear, economic threat, racism, power or hatred, these actions were shocking examples of civil rights abuses and racism committed by our government. Yes, this occurred 70-plus years ago after the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese government, but how can assumptions made about individuals based on their ethnicity still be so prevalent in our society today? 

The past cannot be reversed, but its acknowledgment can inspire awareness, meaningful dialogue and calls for action to prevent abuses of innocent people. 

This exhibit is beautifully composed of artwork and photography by incarcerees, historical documents and educational narrative. Anyone interested in an exploration of civil rights or U.S. history with both emotional connection and intellectual punch should visit this exhibit. 

Joan South-Johnson, Eugene

 

EXCLUDING THE POOR

For the sake of economic equality and human rights, Kesey Plaza needs to be a plaza, not an apartment building.

The new City Hall plaza at 8th and Pearl will be off the path of pedestrian traffic, too far away from the vitality of Broadway and Willamette. Even the park blocks at 8th and Oak are removed from the action most days of the week.

Kesey Plaza is one of the last places downtown where people can sit at any hour for free (I haven’t seen any guarantee that the new City Hall plaza would be open overnight). I would be ashamed of Eugene for excluding poor people from the liveliness of downtown’s weekend nights. 

If you are that concerned about the late-night problem behaviors of people downtown, you can target people who go to the bars, because they publicly urinate, use drugs and harass people much more than homeless people do. I know this because I’m a cab driver and I am outdoors downtown from 11 pm until late. 

I love this city, and I want to see it do the right thing and support human rights. I urge the City Council to let Kesey Plaza be a plaza.

Ashley Wright, Eugene

 

AN UNRESOLVED WAR

Michael Peterson, a Vietnam vet who actually fought in Vietnam, shows admirable honesty and courage in his Nov. 5 Viewpoint. The Vietnam War is an unfinished war. Most of us walked away from the argument over its justice. Not Peterson. It’s been 35 years. Yet, Vietnam still haunts us.

Describing himself as not particularly religious, Peterson hesitates to use the word “sin.” Nonetheless, his use of the word suggests he understands that it partly means the worst is only a hair’s breadth away from the best, that there is a thin line between an imperial republic based on power and the maintenance of power, and the genuine freedom and decency on which a democratic republic is premised.

He also seems to know that an unbroken commitment to any individual or any group, including the U.S., is bound to be demonic. For nothing human can bear such weight.

In addition, any talk about “sin” that doesn’t include an acute awareness of the darkness within one’s self, whether as an individual or a nation, lacks seriousness and depth.

Taking this experiential understanding of the human condition at its extreme worst and extraordinary best, Peterson seems to say we cannot justify hatred of anyone, including the Vietnamese.

On the verge of the Civil War, Nathaniel Hawthorne saw “that pit of blackness that lies beneath us.” Peterson has peered into the abyss. But his experience also teaches him — and us, if we would listen — that at the deepest level of the human condition we are all one. 

 Sam Porter, Eugene

 

FACTS LEFT OUT

In response to Christopher Michael’s Oct. 29 letter on guns and children: 

The “two Boston surgeons” are a medical student and adviser, according to newspaper articles. The report includes all patients under 20 years! Are any of them gang members from Chicago, New York or Detroit? In the Center for Disease Control reports for actual “children” (12 and under), the following stats were recorded: In 1997 there were 318 fatalities and in 2009 there were 209 fatalities. For “children” between 13 and 19, here’s what the CDC said was going on: In 1997 there were 3,905 fatalities; in 2009 there were 2,502 fatalities.

As happens frequently when trying to prove a point, some of the most important facts are left out. 

John Caloia, Cottage Grove

 

DIVINE COFFEE

Does Eugene Weekly have time for a letter about our local coffee scene? Assuming so, here’s a couple tips about lesser-known establishments that make great espresso!

Everyone knows Eugene’s Full City Coffee on Pearl Street makes divine espresso drinks (try them if you haven’t been yet!), but in Springfield may I recommend Café Indulge located near the Bi-Mart on Mohawk? It boasts a very lovely vintage atmosphere and seems to be popular with the lunch crowd. Have a seat and admire their many different beautiful chandeliers over a delicious latte. 

When on the run in west Eugene there’s marvelous coffee-to-go at the “Prime Time” coffee drive-up on north River Road; it’s easy to find with an Oregon Ducks paint scheme. This little drive-through makes a super robust and frothy latte that rivals anything you’ll find in Italy. 

A couple of tips for other coffee connoisseurs out there — support your locally owned businesses and enjoy!

Cynthia Orlando, Springfield

 

RURAL INFERNO

I got to work this morning [Nov. 7] and was socked in fog with 50 yards visibility. I was getting my tools together and I heard the sound of a big cracking fire from across the valley. I assumed it was a slash burn, because the day before it was raining ashes from all of the other slash fires.

My little alarm in my head sounded and my hackles went up. I decided to see if I could find the fire. I drove up a gravel road and had to open a gate. I drove up to the house and it was a fully engulfed structure fire. One end had already collapsed and it was burning rapidly toward the other end and the carport. A 20-foot ski boat was in the carport and a Chevy pick up was next to it.

I called 911 and told them it was the house with the miniature Fenway ballpark. As I was waiting for the fire department, I did a quick look about and decided to kick in the door just to make sure nobody was in there.

Just as the fire truck pulled up, ammo stored in the house began to explode like firecrackers.

The pumper pulled up and I pulled a 1.5 inch pre-connect. The engineer charged my hose and I was able to stop the fire from advancing, attacking with a 150-psi straight stream through a blown-out window. By now I was in the hulk mode, pumped full of adrenalin. 

I passed the hose to a firefighter and proceeded to move the truck and push the boat out of the carport. An explosion rocked the house and blew flaming plywood across the back yard. A pressure tank had exploded. I started stripping the carport: acetylene bottle, Coleman fuel, saw gas, welder, weed whacker, etc. More firefighters and deputies arrived and the situation was under control.

I went back to my job, wet from the fire hose and hands trembling from the rush of attack. After work I stopped by the fire and talked to the fire marshal. The owner had shown up and said he must have left the wood stove door open before he went to work in Roseburg. An arson investigation is under way.

I retired from the Drain Fire Department years ago after 20 years of volunteering. This fire brought back a flood of memories of similar fires. I realized I don’t miss the rush, but I am glad that, like riding a bike, the skills are still there to use when needed.

Michael Hiojosa, Drain

 

STOP RAPE CULTURE

We live in a rape culture, and people like Sean Doyle aren’t helping. Doyle’s letter in the Nov. 5 issue is a perfect example of victim blaming, and if men are to help deal meaningfully with the crisis of male violence against women, we have to do better than to continue this way of thinking. 

One way we can do better is to stop blaming women for objectification (and, by extension, male predation). After a man rapes a woman, it is too often the case that the woman gets scrutinized for what she was wearing, how much she had to drink, not saying “no” forcefully enough, etc., when it is the rapist who should be held accountable. 

Doyle does the same thing here by blaming women for “allowing themselves” to be portrayed in a hyper-sexualized manner, and for “wearing skimpy and suggestive clothes” and blaming men for being “devious” about it. Devious?! Let’s cut the euphemistic crap here. 

In this culture, men are conditioned to be predators, and we need to start talking about that problem honestly if we’re ever going to have a chance of stopping male sexual violence. Name the problem. Stop rape culture.

Dillon Thomson, Eugene

 

BEING IN CONTROL

I am heartened to read Sean Doyle’s letter (11/5) that says from a man’s perspective there is the possibility that some women, by not thinking logically, actually can put themselves into dangerous situations. I agree that women let themselves be objectified. We are a long way from the era of men bonking women over the heads and dragging them away. 

But Sean, you are in for the hot slings and arrows of the modern (backward thinking) women — hear them roar — that will admonish you, as they have me, for “blaming the victim” if it is suggested that women take responsibility for their actions. 

Our culture is absolutely screwy when it comes to anything that has to do with sexuality. Thank you, Puritans. Those of us who were raised pre-computer have an excuse for not being told the whole story about men/women interactions, but those raised with the “Big Eye” at your fingertips have no excuse. Do your research. 

Twenty-first century women and men can stop this travesty of misinformation by using their computers to find out about hormones, brain maturation, psychology or (gasp) alcohol and stop thinking that actions don’t have consequences. If you want to be in control of your body, then be in control of your body!

Annie Kayner, Eugene

 

AVOID ABUSIVE BREEDERS

Every time I see puppies advertised in the paper, I cringe, wondering if these dogs have been responsibly bred. Are they or the parents mistreated? Recently, I attended a Mastiff Rescue Oregon event and was both saddened and angry to learn of the number of dogs rescued from abusive breeders and owners, some right here is Lane County. 

If you are planning to purchase a puppy or dog, please do your homework. There are many great resources such as akc.org for ensuring that you are dealing with a reputable breeder. It will save you money and heartache in the end and will help to close down puppy mills. See dontbuyintopuppymills.com.

Susan Simmons, Eugene

 

HELP NEW READERS

SMART (Start Making A Reader Today) is in need of volunteer readers to read one-on-one with young children at Oregon schools. SMART is starting up in many schools throughout Oregon this month. We have expanded to more schools and need many more readers. 

Most readers read one-on-one with two SMART kids for a half hour each for a total of an hour a week. Sometimes readers volunteer for more than one day and some sites also have half-hour reading slots that are perfect for those who cannot commit to a full hour. We help the SMART kids learn to love books and reading by sharing books in a fun way. 

If you are interested in sharing the love of books with our SMART kids, please go to our website, getSMARToregon.org, to sign up to volunteer. If you do not have access to the internet, please call the local SMART office at (541) 726-3302.

Barbara George, César Chávez Elementary SMART Coordinator, Eugene

 

EWEB’S BAD PLAN

Whose side are they on anyway? EWEB’s new plan to realign its rate plan puts the largest rate increase on low-income customers because they don’t use enough electricity to turn a profit, especially those Social Security couples whose children have left home or the ones that are left alone. Their reasoning is “to stop customers who use a large amount of electricity from subsidizing residents who use less.” In other words, the rich subsidizing the poor. 

As we say at Lane County for Bernie Sanders, “What would Bernie say?” To find out, go to berniesanders.com/issues.

Vince Loving, Eugene

 

EWEB’S ZOMBIE PLAN

The first sentence of The Register-Guard’s Nov. 5 article about the EWEB plan to target the poorest households with the highest rates said the proposal was killed, but it’s not completely dead. If it has been killed, but is not dead, it must be — undead. Beware! (Spooky music.)

The vision of a horror story rises before my eyes …

Opening scene: The gruesome corpseration virus has infected EWEB. This predatory virus will not stop until it makes everything around it undead. Zombie alarms are sounding: We don’t have a publicly owned utility any more, it’s now BEWE, the Bloodsucking Energy-Wasting Entity, a ravening undead monster, preying on the most defenseless households. It’s really hungry, and will devour our brains and grab the most vulnerable.

How can we vaccinate ourselves against this zombie force? How can we stop it from sucking out our brains so that we won’t exist in the twilight of the undead? Do we still have brains enough to see what’s happening, or are we too infected from eating zombie proposals to realize?

Is it possible to turn BEWE back into EWEB, a member of the community? Stay tuned.

Next episode: 5:30 pm Tuesday, Dec. 1, at the community meeting in EWEB’s north building. Wear your zombie shielding! Don’t let the undead virus infect you! Accept only proposals that we can live with and will be sustainable for everyone. Their agenda has allotted us 15 minutes to save our community! (Spooky music.)

Go!

Melody Carr, Eugene

 

OUR SUBTLE BIASES

It was a pleasure listening to icon Angela Davis and white anti-racism activist and writer Tim Wise in the recent SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) screening of Vocabulary of Change. The film helped us better understand structural racism, its continuing inequalities, and subtle discriminatory biases concerning minorities/ people of color many of us “progressives” still hold. 

Both challenged us to think about the world, not just our community, and urged us to connect racism with Islamophobia, the “War Against Terror,” degraded public education, the prison-industrial complex and our Middle East wars. Will the (as yet unidentified) SURJ members encourage our community to do the same? 

Although unmentioned, Davis and Wise support the Palestinian call for nonviolent resistance in the form of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and Wise has come out as an anti-Zionist Jew.

People of color across America are standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people connecting Israeli racism to that in the U.S. These include UCLA history professor Robin D.G. Kelley and Bill Fletcher, Jr. — both on the U.S. Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel advisory board — Ajamu Baraka, Angela Davis, Aaron Dixon, Cornel West, Jo Ann Hardesty (Portland NAACP president), Patrisse Cullors (co-founder of Black Lives Matter) and Dream Defenders. These are among the 1,100 black activists who have signed a statement supporting BDS and full Palestinian human rights including the right of return. See www.blackforpalestine.com.

To my disappointment, discussion of this topic following the SURJ screening was discouraged. I hope future SURJ events will be less confined and controlled. A local chapter of ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), which has been connecting the issues for years and has a strong Washington, D.C., presence, might have been a better choice.

Mariah Leung, co-director, Al-Nakba Awareness Project