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Letters to the Editor: 1-14-2016

DEAR OREGON

Your air feels freer, your coffee tastes richer and you always sound like a Sunday afternoon. I must a steal line and declare, “Oregon, I have just met you, and I love you.” It has been so few days, and yet I already wish to rip off my license plate and replace it with yours and a matching collegiate bumper sticker. 

I have become interwoven in your world of plaid and peace. Along your rivers, everyone just calmly lives like they already are at their journey’s end. Long ago they headed north or chose to stay amongst your trees where I am certain God would yearn to retire. 

And yet, I worry. I have heard whispers that folly, flaws and self-righteousness underlie your genuine character. Will these whispers eventually ring loud and true? 

And here in your late autumn I worry that even if you stay perfect to me, I will not ever be that same to you. For rush hour is in my DNA, Disney is on my resume; and I love you, peaceful Oregon, but I am a frantic Californian. 

So for you can I, will I, should I, change? Will you find me bothersome if I don’t? Will my Hollywood heart become bored of you if I don’t? 

I do not know. But I do know today, Oregon, that you are beautiful. And in the moments before our first winter I cherish this one last lovely thought: When today becomes yesterday, I will now always know what it was like to have fallen so immediately in love with you. 

Troy Campbell, Eugene

 

WHY HAVE MUPTE?

The prevailing logic underscoring Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) bribes is that if we don’t give developers big tax breaks, they won’t invest in our city and go somewhere else. But that is now clearly a fiction, foisted on the unwary public. What is worse, the city government has not been carefully overseeing these needlessly subsidized projects from plan to completion, causing us to end up with shoddy eyesores like Capstone while making our city treasury millions of dollars poorer. 

Statistics now getting play in the national media tell us that Oregon leads the nation in population growth with people coming here from all over the country. It’s little wonder when you consider what has been going on in other parts of the country. California is dry, overcrowded and overpriced, while the weather extremes in the Midwest to the East have become worse than ever.

Obviously Eugene has many attractions and doesn’t need to sweeten its attraction with bribes to developers. Why have a MUPTE policy at all? 

Russ DesAulnier, Eugene

 

EASY TARGET

Capstone [see news story Jan. 7] got the scent of ignorant hillbillies and took full advantage. Duh?

Marilyn Mantini, Eugene

 

A SHINING EXAMPLE

Reflecting upon the life and work of activist Peg Morton [cover story, Jan. 7], I am reminded that we can all work to practice goodwill in our everyday actions. Goodwill is the foundation of right human relations. Goodwill is the practical application of love, which itself is the foundational energy that connects us to all other people. True love is the fixed determination to do what is best for the whole of humanity (all people) or for the group, and to do this at any personal cost and by means of the utmost sacrifice. If we can see things in the spirit of true love, then we can see the issues clearly and help to end the current rule of fear and hatred. 

The work of Peg Morton is a shining example of love, and we thank her for the gifts and blessings she has given us. And though she is gone from our lives in one respect, her work lives on in our hearts.

Christopher Michaels

Eugene

 

HOMAGE WAS LACKING

Your eulogy of Peg Morton Jan. 7, whilst appropriately respectful, told us little to nothing about who this woman was. Where was Morton born? Where did she grow up? Was she a city girl or a country person? Did she have brothers and sisters? Where did she go to school? What were her parents like?

Did she travel? Did she work? What was her career? Or was she independently wealthy and have no job? Briefly mentioned are her three daughters, but only two by name. Did she have a husband? What did he do and why did they divorce? Did she ever get remarried? Did she write books, or go to conventions or run for public office? In short, what happened prior to her life in Eugene, during the previous 72 years of her existence?

May I suggest that next time EW writes an homage, perhaps your writers could consult one of the excellent eulogies written in The New York Times, or take a gander at Wikipedia, in order to have a sense of how to write an effective and informative biography. Remember the journalism basics: who, what, when, where and why (and sometimes, how come).

Jeff Zekas, Veneta

EDITOR’S NOTE: A lengthy obit for Peg Morton was published in The Register-Guard Jan. 2. Our story focused on an interview with her before she died, as well as on her book.

 

GRABBING THE COMMONS

The plan to develop Kesey Square represents a microcosm of the worldwide theft of the commons by private entities. The commons are defined as pertaining or belonging equally to an entire community, nation or culture: public. The developer’s proposal reflects the pillage that’s happened across the globe, beginning with the rise of empire and whose final result may be the very real possibility of extinction of all earthly fauna except those with exoskeletons.

The tragedy of the commons occurs when individuals neglect the well-being of society in the pursuit of personal gain. There has been a constant expropriation of land, labor and resources from indigenous peoples and the “lower classes.” Our common air, water and soil have been fouled to the benefit of private corporations and individuals. Why is it that everything’s value depends on what kind of profits can be extracted from it?

Adding insult to injury, the developers want to deprive the Eugene community of its common tax base by using the MUPTE to help them steal the square. Development will happen anyway; there’s no need for corporate welfare to encourage it.

The developers say the activities that take place at Kesey Square can take place now where City Hall was. Was tearing down City Hall with its still usable skeleton part of the plan for taking the square?

It’s time to take back the idea of the commons and take a stand against the developers and their political lackeys. Kesey Square is a line in the sand that cannot be crossed. Never shall we surrender any more of the commons to these despoilers of the earth.

Let’s call it what it is, a naked grab of the commons with the voiceless “travelers” used as a scapegoat.

Scott Fife, Eugene

 

CIVIL RIGHTS IN JEOPARDY

The U.S. has always been torn between the visionary people power of our Declaration of Independence and the gritty reality of a slavery-based corporatist state waging relentless war around the world. 

Many are aware of the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court and the resulting flood of corporate money in politics. Fewer perhaps have considered the connections between Citizens United and other Supreme Court decisions, which are rolling back the civil rights gains of the 1960s. 

With Peg Morton’s passing, we're challenged to dig deeper into our daily realities to understand how we can fulfill the vision she articulated so well for us.

To mark MLK Day, We the People-Eugene is joining with the NAACP to present a forum called “Race, Police, the Supreme Court and Democracy” at 7 pm Wednesday, Jan. 20, in Room 110 of the UO Law School. State Rep. Lew Frederick, sponsor of the successful anti-profiling bill passed in the 2015 Oregon legislative session, will join Eugene NAACP President Eric Richardson and psychologist Bob Doppelt in a conversation facilitated by Evangelina Sundgrenz. With this event, We the People-Eugene hopes to stimulate an ongoing series of public conversations linking our judiciary, economics, civil rights and democracy.

Fergus Mclean, secretary, We the People-Eugene

 

BENCHES FOR PEG

As a relative newcomer to Eugene, I don’t remember when Kesey Square had benches, but it certainly needs them. Among other amenities, I recommend a few sectional benches for community convenience, dedicated to Peg Morton, whose letter Dec. 17 was a comment on this very need.

Patricia Spicer, Eugene

 

VOICES NOT HEARD

I know that the voices of the unheard are the voices of those who need help. They are the ones who need to move away but they can’t. These voices come from low-income families, big families and young families. They are from people who can’t speak the native tongue, the voices are from people who are disabled. These voices are from west Eugene.

 These people can’t move away from chemical-spilling factories. These chemicals can cause miscarriages, cancer and asthma. Some people can’t even go outside their houses without feeling sick. Some kids aren’t able to go outside for recess because they say they can’t breathe properly.

 This is in west Eugene. This isn’t a faraway land. This is only a few blocks or miles away, or it’s right underneath your feet and around you. Why can’t we fix our problems without causing more of them? Can we help our neighbors before we help our wallets?

Zoe Beauchamp, Eugene

 

KESEY SQUARE MOMENTUM

 I would like to contribute some positive ideas to what has been referred to as a poorly designed space. Kesey Square could easily become a success story of public activity. Bicycles, downtown residents, bus riders and students all have direct access to the plaza area. It would take some funding, but I can envision the plaza offering a real sense of purpose. Saturday Market could expand to weekdays and offer local foods, music and crafts. Along one wall you might see built-in vending stands for produce, even ones that collapse to open up the plaza, or a decent stage for performers and yet still lots of plaza space for weekend events. Wellness fairs, public speeches, the list is endless and each contributing to the livelihood of our downtown economy.

Robert Howarth, Eugene

 

HISTORIC RESOURCES

I’m writing to appeal to EW readers because I believe you are an interested, intelligent, open-minded and sometimes activist group of local folk. The Springfield Historic Commission (SHC) is looking for candidates to fill four open positions, as previous commissioners' terms have ended or they have decided to focus on other endeavors. We’ve been an energetic group in the past and need to maintain that momentum as we move on with plans to complete our Lumber Heritage Historic Context Statement — and follow through on actions that result from it. We also must serve our existing mandate of stewardship for the Washburne Historic District and other identified historic resources in the city. The directive for the SHC is monitored and directed by the City Council and staff.

There are a few qualifications: Candidates must live within the metropolitan boundary, or vote or own property in the city of Springfield. You can be an appointee of Willamalane Park and Recreation District or Springfield School District #19, as those bodies already manage significant historic resources. And, finally, we ask that you are in a field related to archaeology, history, architectural history or architecture. We have public meetings every other month on the fourth Tuesday at 5:30 pm in Springfield City Hall. At that time we may have public feedback, or be asked to review development and restoration requests from owners of historic resources.

The deadline to apply is 5 pm on Jan. 22. Interviews will be conducted by the Springfield City Council at the Feb. 22 work session. Confirmation of the chosen candidates will be at the City Council at the March 7 regular session.

 Copies of the application packet are available at the City Manager’s Office in City Hall, 225 Fifth Street, Springfield, 726-3700.

 Tim Hilton, Chair, Springfield Historic Commission

 

CAMPING FIRST

I was encouraged by Mayor Kitty Piercy’s State of the City address mention of the “housing first” model for dealing with the homeless crisis because, although city and charity officials have been talking about housing first for years, this might mean that they are ready to implement that model in Eugene.

That would be a positive step because, unlike current projects, the housing first model would make housing available to people who are not sober and mentally healthy.

Judging by previous city-sanctioned charity efforts, we might expect to see a pilot project that would house 20 to 30 people within a year or so, but little else.

My fear is that while this is being implemented, city officials will still allow, or even encourage, police to break up homeless camps and cite those waiting to be sheltered in a sanctioned project for trespassing on public property.

A more compassionate path would be for them to implement a “camping first” policy, which would allow homeless people to set up and maintain camps on public property where they would be able to take care of themselves and one another while they are waiting for more permanent shelter.

This should be done as soon as possible, because the way we are going, it will be decades before all those who need shelter will have it.

 Steve Hiatte, Eugene