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Letters to the Editor: 12-24-2015

COUNTY SHELTER IDEA

Imagine that from cooperation among the Eugene Mission, the city of Eugene and Lane County, a partnership develops that allows the Mission to operate as a public shelter, able to receive public funds like Community Development Block Grants or FEMA emergency shelter and food grant funds. It probably would require the Mission’s board to change some requirements, and would require the county to help fund but not run the Mission.

That would finally give Lane County a public shelter. It would allow the experts at the Mission to continue their life-sustaining work and allow the experts at Lane County and the city of Eugene to apply for and use state and federal funds to help homeless people in a very efficient way. That would allow the Mission to gain funds to build accessible buildings and programs.

At present the efforts in the county are spread out among many different programs and agencies. I lived at the Mission and have a lot of respect for its work. Building a new Lane County Public Shelter would take a long time and much discussion. Siting would probably be a massive headache. But the Mission has the land, the expertise and the huge base of contributors who have funded its work for generations. 

Hugh Massengill, Eugene

 

TAP INTO IDEAS

As city officials contemplate the fate of Kesey Square, this irreplaceable parcel within our urban environment, I would urge you to consider a few ideas:

1) Invite architects, urban planners, landscape architects and designers from throughout the Northwest to participate in a contest to resolve the logistical issues within this space. Offer a monetary award and celebrate the winning designs with some notoriety.

2) Seek input from the UO School of Architecture, Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture. Consider a similar award or contest.

3) Offer subsidies to the adjacent building owners to develop their buildings to complement this space, opening frontage onto the court.

Finally, I would urge you to imagine this open space as a vital part of our urban landscape. Please do not allow the lack of funding, will or imagination to bury this open space for all of us. 

Nick Russo, Renaissance Remodeling and Restoration, Elmira

 

INCONSEQUENTIAL SQUARE

I find it interesting that so many people are concerned about losing the open space referred to as Kesey Square. I, personally, do not care either way as I, like the majority of Eugene, including the esteemed writers opposing the privatization, never use it.

I work downtown and have for 20 years. I walk by there on a daily basis. I seldom if ever see people frolicking about enjoying this “open space” save for “travelers” milling about asking for handouts. It is no surprise that 1 percent of people in this town go bat-shit crazy when private citizens want to do something with public land. The outcry from so many bandwagoners is a good example of this.

I truly doubt that the architects at the UO ever bask in the glory that is Kesey Square but are more than willing to post rhetoric when the Eugene Weekly puts their nickel in them.

Do something or do nothing, but 99 percent of us in Eugene could care less.

John Carlson, Eugene

 

URBAN CANYONS

Yeah, build in Kesey Square, and we can call ourselves Canyon Eugene, where the light is reduced by the tall buildings and the air is replaced by exhaust as cars slowly cruise through city center. Let’s remove the small open space where one could linger in an inviting atmosphere (if Parks and Open Space create a plan to make it a more inviting space to spend time in) and once again purge a problem not by addressing the issue of “travelers,” but by throwing MUPTE money at it and then dusting off our hands and feeling pleased that we can’t see those travelers there any more. 

I recently saw photos of the fountain that once was the solution to downtown, and I remember the plays we put on there during the summer. The complaints back then were that no one came downtown to shop. How long did it take to realize that if we brought housing downtown, commerce would flourish? Now that housing has come, we’re about to obliterate the small piece of “grace” to find some place to just stop and be. 

As it is now, it doesn’t work, but putting in another brick-and-mortar, commerce-driven solution is a “low hanging fruit” option and is just lazy thinking. Suggestion: Close the city center from traffic from 7 pm to 10 pm in the evening.

Thanks (once again) to Otto Poticha for his professional wisdoms (often ignored). For a community once steeped in creative imagination (thanks, Mr. Kesey), I now wonder when the “new” generation will envision the city’s “big vision” since there is so much more at stake for the whole of Eugene’s future — the EWEB property and how it becomes part of the whole city, for one. Besides the Hult Center and The Shedd, what is there downtown to be entertaining and engaging for families and visitors? Look around, millennials: The city is in your hands now to shape for the future. 

Martha Snyder, Eugene

 

HAZARDS OF CONGESTION

Planners extol traffic congestion and making streets narrower with parked vehicles on both sides because drivers will slow down in congested areas resulting in safer streets. This is nonsense.

I grew up in Chicago in a dense inner-city neighborhood where side streets on weekdays were packed with cars. The owners worked at Crane Co., located near our flat, and at that time no parking was provided for them on the factory’s grounds. Eugene’s Portland Street in the South Willamette area, recently clogged with construction and employee overflow parking, is reminiscent of my Chicago street.

Cars parked along curbs made our Chicago street narrower, but children were often injured or killed when they unwittingly dashed out between cars while playing, for example, to fetch a ball. This memory is painful.

Congestion could in theory have a slowing effect, but is this faulty reasoning? Planners must consider the ultimate costs when lives are lost or bodies broken because of reduced parking options and blind spots in densely developed areas. Remember, too, that like cars, bicycles can hit and injure pedestrians.

Let’s be careful when promoting congestion and traffic-calming devices that could be using the bodies of our children as speed bumps!

Christine L. Sundt, Eugene

 

A MORAL ISSUE

I am happy that our city will be considering a higher minimum wage for the people who serve us. Paying a wage that entitles people to qualify for food stamps is verging on promoting poverty for the community. When a person gets just enough to “get by,” and the unexpected expense happens, then they can’t pay an electric bill or the rent.

Once people are on the bottom of that ladder, many forces tend to keep them there. The Earned Income Tax Credit, if they qualify, is used to pay for last year’s expenses. There is a reason — or many reasons — why we have so many people standing on our street corners with cardboard signs. Minimum wage should not be just enough to “get by.” It should permit them to have enough left over to add to a savings to cover the unexpected. Tax relief and food stamps are to help them “get by.”

City employees — all of them — work for us. I don’t want my fire protection or police protection to be serviced by a “minimum wage worker.” I expect and am willing to pay a living wage for their services. The City Council can make that happen for us.

Bob Cassidy, Eugene

 

STORM OF VIOLENCE

It is time to shed a lot more light on what police have called an “epidemic” in our community. We have had an alarming amount of violence, including murderous violence, in the Eugene-Springfield area this year. Much of it can be laid at the door of drug use, specifically meth usage. Though the local police have arrested a growing number of users, there is very seldom news of a significant dealer bust. 

According to the state police, almost all of Oregon’s supply now comes from out-of-state — mostly from out-of-the-country, i.e. Mexico. Are our local authorities unable to coordinate jurisdictions to increase the vigilance and to arrest big-time dealers?

A perfect storm of violence is created by this drug. Those 40 years of age and under are the primary users; those years contain by far the highest percentage of perpetrators of violent crime; meth is known to provoke highly aggressive behavior.

Local police spokespersons have said that over 99 percent of home invasions are drug-related; our latest (Dec. 15) horrific double-homicide may yet be another chilling example. Ultimately, treatment is the only way to overcome this scourge that has so devastated our community — though it is very costly. Compared, however, to the immense toll in human lives, and the astronomic cost of incarceration, intensive counseling is wise fiscal policy.

Jayme Vasconcellos, Eugene

 

MORE SUPPORT NEEDED

Please wake up. The poor in America are in a deep depression. That is why so many individuals, families and children do not have shelter. No place welcomes all of them. The need is greater than our churches and nonprofits can meet. 

We need more federal and state dollars taxed from the rich corporations which send American jobs overseas and make great profit. 

There is no recovery for America’s working middle class. Every day more of them can’t pay their rent. Some live in their cars, but we do not allow most of them to park anywhere. It is even tougher for people with disabilities. 

We need shelter and car parking with support in Eugene now.

Jerry Smith, MSW, Eugene

 

PESKY DIESEL FACTS

The “No Stinkin’ Diesel!” letter from David Hascall Dec. 10 was mostly wrong and misleading.

First, the “barely a pulse” RV industry is doing fine. RV sales and good-paying jobs in the RV industry are at a strong level not experienced in many years.

Second, those “1,000 motorhomes” that roll from the assembly line in Junction City are built here, do a brief test drive, then drive away to dealerships nationwide. The amount of time they spend here with engines running is minimal. 

Third, Hascall doesn’t need to keep his fingers crossed for the tighter emission standards. Today’s diesel engines must adhere to stringent emission laws referred to as Tier 2 regulations, and tighter Tier 3 in 2017, and they’re working just fine at reducing NOx emissions. Between the ultra-low-sulphur fuel in use and hardware such as the urea-based Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) systems, today’s diesels run cleaner than many of today’s gasoline-fueled vehicles.

Fourth, there are good business reasons for utilizing the Country Coach facilities as an addition to the Winnebago headquarters in Forest City, Iowa. The trickle-down-effect businesses that benefit from those extra 200 jobs in Junction City, such as gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, clothing stores, doctors, schools and the like, will also likely appreciate those extra jobs.

Winnebago is a good fit for Junction City and Oregon, and I’m glad they’re here. There’s a good chance the company’s new batch of employees will feel the same way.

Jeff Johnston, Eugene

 

POLLUTED NEIGHBORHOODS

Not all of the Emerald Valley is as clean as you may think. In Bethel here in Lane County, there is an average of 13.9 percent of people with asthma; the nationwide average is 8 percent. A few of the schools with the highest rates in asthma are Willamette High, Kalapuya High and Cascade Middle. 

The cause of these significantly higher than average rates in asthma are the heavily industrialized zones in west Eugene (Seneca Sawmill, J.H. Baxter, Union Pacific Railyard, etc.). The top chemicals these factories emit are acetone, ammonia, creosote and formaldehyde; all of these chemicals have an impressive list of negative effects on the human body, but the one they have in common is respiratory irritation. 

Rather than continuing to buy inhalers and scheduling doctor appointments because of asthma attacks, our community should tell the factories to begin taking responsibility for the actions they take in the name of money. Industry should build around what is best for the people; the people should not have to rearrange their lives for the best of industry. 

For positive change to happen, our community should no longer put up with the prying claws of factories tearing away our right to clean air. I encourage everyone to take a stand for the deep green valley that we call home.

Jasmine Gutierrez, Eugene

 

ENFORCE THE LIMITS

At least 18 different groups from around the state are working hard to pass a carbon emissions cap in the 2016 Legislature. The Healthy Climate Bill will use money collected from the state’s largest greenhouse gas polluters to invest in clean energy infrastructure and conservation, while creating family wage jobs at the same time.

This bill would enforce already existing state limits on greenhouse gases that have never been implemented. It would move tiny little Oregon into a much larger group of U.S. states and Canadian provinces (the Western Climate Initiative) using funds collected to build infrastructure already benefiting their citizens. For instance, California is building high-speed rail with some of the billions in funds they have received so far.

When Oregon joins this group, we will be part of the sixth largest economy in the world! Hard on the heels of the successful Paris climate talks, we can truly be leaders for climate change as the rest of the world comes on board.

These are exciting times, and we should all be glad to see Oregon’s Healthy Climate Bill pass in 2016. Please contact your legislators and show your support. 

Robin Bloomgarden, Eugene

 

BANGLESS BUCKS

When I read the account of the city’s new dusk-to-dawn camp in The Register-Guard, I figured our public officials must have gotten someone from EWEB to help them negotiate the deal.

 It will be open for 42 nights at a cost of $25,000 or about $595 per night. For 20 people that comes to about $30 per night for 15 hours, which comes to about $2 per hour of shelter per person. For this, each person will get to share a tent with 19 other people and maybe get a shower at St. Vinnie’s nearby service station after they have to leave the tent at 7:30 am. 

To rent a room at a motel with weekly rates might cost $275 per week, or about $39 per day. Since that buys 24-hour access, this amounts to about $1.63 per hour of shelter. Since two people can comfortably share a motel room, that results in a cost of about 82 cents per hour of shelter per person.

For this, the residents would have access to a real bed, toilet, shower, sink, TV, etc. Wi-Fi might not be free. They could stay indoors, out of the weather, all day if necessary.

That’s what I would call bang for the buck.

 Steve Hiatt, Eugene

 

UNHEALTHY AIR

I am a student and a citizen of the Eugene/Springfield area. I have three cousins who current attend schools here and I worry for their health. I have recently found out that the schools in the Bethel District have higher asthma ratings than most of the Eugene schools. The top three schools with a large asthma population are Willamette High, Kalapuya High, and Cascade Middle School. The first school has 13 nearby industries, the second has nine, and the last has 11, all within a 2-mile radius. I am worried that my cousins go to school in an area that they could be potentially harmed in, just to grow the industry. I am the oldest of all of them and I feel responsible to make sure that they are safe and healthy. 

I encourage people to learn more about industrial growth and help me keep the children safe.

Shiko Hart, Eugene

 

DONNY BE GONE

OK. Enough is enough. Enough of The Don.

Enough of Donald Trump’s walking, talking, insult campaign. We have grown tired of all the insolent rhetoric and incendiary pronouncements. We are no longer shocked or impressed by his outrageous verbal attacks. Enough of his immature posturing and grimacing when faced with legitimate questions by other candidates or the press. Petulance does not well befit a U.S. president. 

We are tired of waiting for some semblance of substantive policy solution or strategy to combat the real issues that confront our nation. His rabid outbursts and bombastic style only reveals his lack of sophistication and maturity. Is this face the Republican Party really wants as its representative for the U.S. presidency? Really? 

I for one have had my fill of the circus show demonstrated by The Don. It’s time for him to exit the arena. To paraphrase John Goodman’s over the-top-character in the film The Big Lebowski, it’s time to “Shut the **** up, Donny!” 

W.C. Crutchfield, Eugene

 

POTTY-MOUTH TRUMP

Trump said Clinton’s use of the restroom during the last Democratic debate was “too disgusting” to talk about. “I know where she went — it’s disgusting, I don’t want to talk about it.” Is Donald J. Trump uranophobic (uranophobia — an unreasoning fear of urine)? Or, is it the idea of a woman going to the bathroom at all that disgusts him? Dr. Freud?

Walker T Ryan, Eugene