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Letters to the Editor: 12-10-2015

PUBLIC BONFIRE NEEDED

Each morning as I ride the bus to downtown, it takes me through the center of the Capstone project. Almost every morning, including some recent ones where a burn ban is in effect and, memorably, when the Egan Warming Center was shut, there is a gas bonfire burning in an empty courtyard that is gated off from the public. No one who really needs to stay warm could access it even if they wanted to. In my mind it has become symbolic of the taxes that I, as a lucky homeowner, get to pay to support this city.

I would like to propose that if the city is indirectly funding activities like this through MUPTE already, it’s not a stretch to suggest that they should directly fund a public access bonfire like the inaccessible one in the courtyard (perhaps in Kesey Square). This would reduce the hypocrisy that is evident, provide people with a place to gather and warm up, and show a modicum of caring for the citizens of the community who are not moneyed developers. After all, when City Hall is complete, the city won’t have to rent office space at above-market prices anymore, and I bet none of those extra funds will go to the library. Why not just suit actions to words and burn the anticipated excess, but in such a way that it can benefit the people who need it most? 

Ariana White, Eugene


IN DEFENSE OF SWSAZ

As longtime south Eugene residents, we’d like to voice our support for the proposed South Willamette Special Area Zone (SWSAZ). This proposal, in fact, protects and enhances neighborhood character.

 The existing code allows 11-story buildings right up to the sidewalk with no room for street trees or a wider sidewalk. The SWSAZ decreases the allowable building height for the majority of properties along South Willamette Street and 29th Avenue and requires wider sidewalks and street trees. So, density is decreased over what is currently allowed and the pedestrian experience is improved.

Similarly, the existing code does not prevent new developments that could be similar in quality (or lack there of) to the Capstone buildings. The SWSAZ requires better building materials and stricter design standards.

Density increases are few and new developments, for the most part, will feel more like the new Lucia development across from Friendly Street Market — a beautiful addition to the neighborhood. The Cascade Manor vicinity will potentially see higher density. That welcomes seniors to continue living in the core of town, which is a good thing. 

Anyone interested in the project should watch the Oct. 21 City Council work session online to better understand the actual proposal.

Anya Dobrowolski & Andrew Jensen, College Hill, Eugene


EXPEDITE INFILL

What does designation of a state and city housing emergency mean in terms of policy action? Not much, apparently. Here are some suggestions:

• Remove obstacles (annexation fees, code limitations) and provide incentives (tax exemptions) for property owners to add small rental housing units to their property. We could easily add thousands of affordable rentals, increase density and help homeowners stay in their houses at the same time!

• Fast-track affordable housing projects. A current project proposed for River Road will take years to complete. A state of emergency should expedite these projects and get 10 more in the works. I recently had the opportunity to visit three low-income housing developments in Eugene and was very impressed with the design of the homes that includes solar energy, gardens, community space and programs.

“Safe spots,” Conestoga huts, dusk-to-dawn are not solutions. They are Band-Aids. We can do this, people. It is a matter of political will and respect for humanity.

Clare Strawn, Eugene


EXPAND LEGAL CAMPING

During this time of heightened awareness and compassion, thousands of community members turned out to participate in Egan Warming Center trainings and town halls on homelessness. We see the tremendous need for safe shelter in the community and want to help.

Faith communities, businesses, nonprofits and government offices can help through participation in the Overnight Parking Program (OPP), giving those living in their cars a safe, legal spot to park and sleep at night. The OPP provides camper screening/placement, sanitation and trash pick-up, and parking site management by St. Vincent de Paul at no cost to the host.

Hundreds are on the active wait list for the OPP. If enough organizations participated, then the program could immediately help many families and individuals stabilize their lives and gain better access to services and employment. I urge all concerned citizens to work with property owners to facilitate this network because it is a proven program that can make immediate short-term impact.

In the long term, we need to work toward government solutions for providing a public homeless shelter option. Begin the process by signing the petition at petitions.moveon.org (search for public homeless shelter) and contact info@thriveugene.org to connect with people and opportunities addressing homelessness in our community.

Heather Sielicki, Eugene


VALUABLE GROUND

I attended the meeting Dec. 2 at LCC downtown that was noted in the Weekly as being about the future of Kesey Square. While many of the people who attended came specifically about the future of this space, the meeting was really a city-sponsored forum for gathering ideas about how to make public spaces more people friendly.

There were lots of earnest good intentions and ideas displayed, of which discussion of the square played a minor thread.

Kesey Square is zoned commercial, so by definition is not public space, whatever its current use. Without a constituency, this vital space will be reconstructed into a commercial enterprise for the profit of the builders, who will likely shelter their profits under another Multi-Use Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) tax-free donation of city services.

If you value being able to go somewhere downtown where you do not have to pay a business to sit or to enjoy the byplay of your fellow citizens, then speak now in concert or lose this invaluable piece of ground. Let’s take the example of Civic Stadium to form a focused constituency to own the square. If you think of the many wonderful events that occurred there all summer, drawing crowds that enhanced the downtown experience immeasurably, this could be a permanent state of affairs. 

Or, just put up another building with Ken’s statue in the basement and call it good.

Todd Reed, Eugene


EDITOR'S NOTE: The Downtown Solutions Forum was noted as being on Kesey Square and public space in general.


A DESIRE TO HELP

I’d like to give a shout out to some very special girls who have chosen to live in tents in an Occupy Eugene camp. They are activists who have homes and could be living comfortably. But they have such a desire to help the homeless that they are willing to freeze through the winter and deal with police forcing them to move over and over. 

One of these young women, 21-year-old Shayna Friedman, even attended the latest volunteer training for the Egan Warming Center. She says her parents in California are of course concerned about her but are supportive of her activism. I’m so very proud of these amazing souls who are willing to do what the rest of us can only watch and admire. All the camps are in need of sleeping bags, tarps, warm clothing and food.

Margareta Gannon, Eugene


RECOGNIZE RAPE

In Rick Levin’s Dec. 3 review of the movie Room, his opening paragraph states that the kidnapper “makes routine visits for creaky sex acts.” The term “sex acts” implies consent. This is not some SM bondage deal that this young woman agreed to, OK? She is a prisoner. There is no consent. The word you should be using is rape. Every time. For seven years. No matter what she does or doesn’t do to survive this. And real women have survived ordeals like this. When they finally escape, far too many people say, “Oh, they must have wanted to stay because they didn’t try hard enough to escape.” Survivors have reported that after so many rapes, they feel like such a piece of shit that they can’t imagine that anyone will ever want them.

I am surprised that the EW editors missed this error. If we are ever going to stop rape, first we need to recognize it and name it. 

Sharon Blick, Eugene

EDITOR'S NOTE: A valid criticism — we agree. Call rape what it is.


OUR IGNORANT CHOICE

Burning fossil fuels creates CO2, which heats the planet. Our CO2 emissions have increased each year since before 2000 — except in 2009, a recession year. CO2 emitted today will be partially absorbed in oceans and in photosynthesis, but absorption is less than emissions, so atmospheric CO2 continues to rise.

Atmospheric heating will continue for a long time even if emissions cease — for example, if a pulse of CO2 were emitted today, 50 percent of the heat would be taken up in the ocean, biosphere and soils in 25 years, but 20 percent would remain in the atmosphere after 500 years.

We have no hope of constraining warming to 2 or 3 degrees C because we are not trying to meet those goals. Instead, many if not most of us are living a rich life of cheap gas, travel for vacations, indulging our materialistic urges, etc. We are ignoring the scientific consensus that our lives will become very difficult if we continue our habits. We must give up burning fossil fuels.

Carbon reductions of the magnitude needed will create dramatic changes in our lives. For example, reducing carbon emissions will reduce our mobility because our transportation system is nearly 100 percent fossil-fueled. There are no adequate substitute fuels and no available alternative transportation systems. We continue to rely on oil — a profoundly ignorant choice, given that burning oil creates CO2 and that oil is finite and diminishing.

Our civilization depends on petrochemical energy, and there appear to be no satisfactory alternatives. Our current way of living is a dead-end.

Tom Giesen, Eugene


KID FOOTBALL BRAINS

The Mayo Clinic Florida Campus recently came out with a study showing that one-third of high school students who participated in contact sports developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. They are not talking about professional or college participants where this pathology exists but with young people who did not go on to contact sports at college or the professional level. CTE can cause everything from short-term memory loss and headaches to dementia and depression.

So parents — how with a good conscience can you allow your children to play football if there is a one-in-three chance that your offspring will develop neurological damage later in their lives from their participation in this brutal contact sport? And with knowledge that a third of children playing football will develop CTE, how can this be permitted? And when does this rise to the level of child abuse?

David Marks, Leaburg


NEED FOR NATURE

Again, I find myself writing to preserve some sort of nature or space for those who love downtown Eugene. We so need nature and open spaces for those of us who live downtown. We have had at least 50 trees taken away from us between the Capstone and the Hilton sites, and now you want to take away open space? 

Here’s a thought. Instead of eliminating Kesey Square (not to mention the property taxes for the new building), let’s leave the statuary, add a lawn, trees and benches for a meeting space blessed by nature.

Jane Smith, Downtown Eugene


THE PLASTIC HABIT

It is time. Lincoln County should be ashamed of itself for not passing a ban on single-use plastic bags. The statistics are everywhere. 

After the last couple of storms one can see plastic bags hanging from trees and stuck in bushes along Hwy. 101 — a sad and scary sight knowing many more have flown out to sea polluting and creating havoc in our most tender ocean environment. 

The “Washed Ashore Project” out of Bandon has been making art out of plastic bags and other found plastic objects from our beaches for years. Maui County in Hawaii banned them a few years ago, and they usually lag behind in everything West Coast.

Yes, you can recycle plastic bags, but at another kind of environmental cost. That isn’t the answer either. We need to take this issue seriously and see it on the next ballot. Come on, folks, pay attention to what is needed and break long-standing habits. Gather your reusable, preferably cloth bags and use them, now. 

 It is easy and environmentally necessary. 

 Rheychol Paris , Yachats


KEEP UP THE PRESSURE

I have enjoyed your paper and often read it online or when I visit friends in Oregon. Today I read your mission statement for the first time and I want to congratulate you on how it guides your printed word. Particularly the part: “We advocate aggressively for environmental sanity, government accountability, sustainable economics, social justice, cultural diversity, tolerance, and the lively, free interchange of ideas and opinions.” I think you print more letters than just about any other paper I have read. 

On the government accountability part, thanks for printing letters on the Reach Every Mother and Child Act [Letters, 10/15], which increases the efficiency and transparency of our development aid agency, USAID. Perhaps in part because of your paper printing these letters, representatives Blumenauer and Schrader are now co-sponsoring this bill. Let’s keep up the pressure to pass this bill that reforms government and saves lives.

Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Wash.


NO STINKIN’ DIESEL!

Knock! Knock! “Hello!” Anybody in there? Here we go again. Our economic visionaries must live in an “end justifies the means,” climate-controlled bubble. 

Having endured a three-day stagnant air alert in the south end of the valley that banned wood burning and survived a record pollen level summer, we read our air here will soon get more polluted. The floodgates are open to the largest RV manufacturer — this time dirty-diesel engine RV manufacturer, Winnebago. 

We already wheeze most of the year with declining air quality (LRAPA, the worst in the U.S.). In 2017 the air will be degraded as up to 1,000 diesel-powered RVs a year roll off Winnebago’s assembly lines near Junction City, further compromising our precious breathing space. 

The U.N. World Health Organization declared that diesel exhaust causes cancer and was comparable in its effects to secondary cigarette smoking. Emission regulations have been ineffective for diesel cars and trucks. Levels of nitrogen oxide emissions, for instance, haven’t fallen significantly over the past 20 years. 

Have the bubble dwellers forgotten our tragic history with RV manufacturers, the lost jobs and heartache for hundreds of Lane County residents? 

Winnebago will breeze into our back yard with tax breaks and lottery money with an unnecessary and admittedly discretionary product in an industry with barely a pulse. Keep your fingers crossed that tighter emission standards can be quickly developed for diesel engines. 

The justification of adding a few “family wage jobs with benefits” smells suspicious. They can’t find 200 workers in Superfund-riddled Iowa? There has to be more to Winnebago’s story there. Funny what the first three letters in diesel spell.

The south end of the Willamette Valley is the toe of the sock for air quality already. Now we’ll be sucking the south end of a diesel bus. Claim your breathing space! You’re entitled to it.

David Hascall, Eugene


ILLEGAL U.S. WAR

Islamic terrorist groups like ISIS apparently get their money through U.S. “allies” including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Turkey gives ISIS sanctuary and allows ISIS and other terrorist recruits, funds and weapons to transit through Turkey into Syria. Turkish middlemen, supposedly without their government’s knowledge, buy oil from ISIS. 

Turkey’s President Erdogan and President Obama want to overthrow Syrian president Assad, although he was elected and is still popular in Syria. The war on Assad is a smokescreen for efforts to assert U.S. control and to site a natural gas pipeline from Qatar through Syria, and on Turkey’s side, to expand its influence, and perhaps its territory in the region. 

The year-long U.S. bombing campaign achieved almost nothing, as the U.S. refuses to work with the Syrian Arab Army and others fighting ISIS on the ground in Syria. But Russia has been bombing terrorist infrastructure, including tanker trucks carrying ISIS oil from Syria into Turkey, thus cutting off funds for ISIS and corrupt Turkish middlemen. 

So Turkey shot down a Russian bomber over Syria, risking World War III. And Obama’s response was that Turkey had the right to defend its airspace. Even over Syria, apparently. 

To oppose terrorism effectively, tell Obama to follow the money flowing to ISIS and to make it stop. See whitehouse.gov/contact, (202) 456-1111. And Rep. Peter DeFazio to cosponsor HR4108, to end the illegal U.S. war to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria.

Robert Roth, Eugene



OUR GLOBAL MESS

There sure have been a lot of people killing people. Some acting alone like Kip Kinkel, some radicalized, organized ISIS Muslims types, skinhead crazies (a dying breed) and, of course, countries like the God-fearing U.S. that can kill whole bunches of people with the latest in 21st century weaponry and suspicious agendas. 

We are all wired somewhat the same with egos that judge and fear as we live in an increasingly overcrowded, complex world of corporate dominance using slick marketing strategies that perpetuate and magnify our competitive, wanting desires. 

Fundamental Islamic ignorance is poised against Christian and Jewish arrogance. Throw in the Russians, Chinese and North Koreans and we have a real global mess. The nature of existence is unfathomable, yet we have religions that create thir own version of God, which is a no-no and stupid. Yep, I think, therefore I judge.

We observe life from our tiny egocentric perspective, often missing the forest, seeing only the trees. On the bright side, humans have the potential to find peace of mind, which is the only path to peace. Hang in there, live simply, vote progressively and be a little more like the big, fat and happy Buddha dude. Peace.

John Wilson , Eugene


OPEN OUR DOORS

Us vs. them. Hysterical. Prejudiced. Attitudes behind America’s slaughter of Native Americans, slavery, witch burning, turning away Jews escaping the Holocaust [to the U.S.] and imprisoning 110,000 innocent Japanese-Americans. Never mind none were convicted of spying. 

By the same logic, the U.S. ought to round up all Baptists with Scottish sounding names, like Unabomber Timothy McVeigh. Or imprison everyone alleged autistic, like the boy opening fire on Umpqua Community College. 

On which side of history do you want to be once the fear and the dust of Paris have settled? Or do you think white terrorism is better than brown terrorism?

Let’s invite and carefully vet our share of Syrian refugees. On a recent trip I saw tiny European villages take in at least 25, and Canada’s religious communities also adopt many.

 Besides, it’s only fair. Our country and Russia are responsible for bombing Syria to rubble, displacing more people than the entire population of Oregon. The real reason? Control of three gas and oil pipelines. If the issues were actually about ISIS and terrible dictators, America would have bombed a third of Africa by now.

Look at the facts. The State Department now enforces the all-time strictest standards for refugees, demanding biometric data, extensive background research, and intensive questioning, causing a two-year wait. 

Let’s show gratitude that this country took in our ancestors by opening doors to those fleeing terror, whose homes we have destroyed. We can be careful, but fair. We’ve done it before. After all, you’re here.

Rachel Rich, Eugene


THE CULT OF SAUD

We have been told by our government, in order to defeat terrorism “If you see something, say something.” I have seen something so I will say something.

• I have seen 15 Saudi-born terrorists highjack jet liners and kill our citizens.

• I have seen Saudi royal family members allowed to fly home four days after the attack.

• I have seen President Bush kiss Saudi Prince Bandor on the mouth.

• I have seen President Obama bow down to the Saudi Prince.

• I have seen the Muslim faith poisoned since 1744 by the House of Saud and it’s extremist Wahhabism sect.

• I have seen the House of Saud spend millions of petro dollars building mosques and schools around the world that indoctrinate Muslim children into the Wahhabi jihadist cult.

• I have seen a Wahhabi-influenced Muslim, face covered, mother take her infant to a babysitting grandmother, just before she and her radicalized husband went on a killing spree.

• I have seen the root of Islamic terrorism and it is the House of Saud.

 • I am seeing our government bury its head in the sands of oil rich Saudi Arabia in denial.

There I said it.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain


MILBURN’S MISTAKE

A central California police chief’s recent experiment conclusively demonstrated that stability rises from adequate shelter, not the other way around. I don’t fault street people for self medicating via tobacco, alcohol, weed and other drugs in absence of due access to proper care. I myself am partial to coffee.

The root cause of our current situation here in U.S. is land hoarding, a habit we inherited from England. Failure to allow human beings to sleep unmolested is a clear violation of ICESCR, a decades-old international convention signed but not ratified by (and thus not binding on) U.S. One might expect such a compassionless breed of negotiation to arise from the genuine stresses of the Gobi, but it came to U.S. from England, Belgium, and France — all of which are experiencing their own human rights challenges despite having ratified ICESCR. Such poor breeding rises from blind adherence to the assertion of Thomas Malthus that human population inevitably increases exponentially like that of rabbits. Malthus, a war refugee slumming in Paris, used bad data: He built his model of human population growth on that seen in colonial U.S., a population which was expanding to fill the artificially created vacuum left by extermination of the previous inhabitants. 

Since his time, more realistic studies have been performed, finding that educated women regulate human population size quite adeptly.

 In conclusion, the solution to Eugene›s street situation is not to throw stones at those our ancestors wronged, but to credit and emulate those who have succeeded in improving our common lot. Improve access to education for all, and let all sleep unmolested.

Andrew Cottrell, Eugene