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Letters to the Editor: 2-18-2016

FINICUM’S REFUGE

Snowy plover, greater sage grouse, short-eared owl and bobolink, white-faced ibis, heron, killdeer, sandhill crane and Siskin finch. The birds all pass through Malheur, even the cuckoo and the loon. And like all migratory species, they’ll be leaving pretty soon.

The stillness of the winter morn gave way to a sound of men. And just like that the Malheur was stolen away again. White men; again, with god and guns, found the door unlocked and then, they seized that dinky building, proclaiming:

 We are the best of men! Picked by God to free this land of governmental tyranny. And if you’all are true patriots you’ll lock and load with me. We’ll hold this wind-swept outpost, using every means at hand, until such time as said government meets all of our demands! Washington cut down the loggers and gave miners the shaft. Poor ranchers are bedeviled with no graze for cow nor calf. Farmers clear with fire no longer. Hey! Leave that trout there in the brook! Well, my name, by God, is Finicum. And I will not, by God, be took! Not so long as I draw breath! Not with the Lord and my gun at my side. For in them both I place my faith, and with them I shall abide. Here in this shack, with this Injun crap, until those arsonists are both set free. And public land, Or-E-Gone to El Rio Grande, is given back to good ol’ boys like me!

And the migratory media flocked in from everywhere. Seducing confrontation to justify its presence there. Until Finicum finally took flight — like Icarus, fled for the sun. And the arms of his Lord, and the final reward, of his faith in his God and his gun.

And the silence returned to Malheur, no longer marred by men. And eternity spiraled ever onward for the birds alone again. Trumpeter swan and Brewers sparrow, chukar, creeper, cowbird, wren, cattle-egret, falcon, kestrel, sap-sucker, rail and sanderling.

 David Perham, Eugene

 

NOT A DEMOCRACY

Library. Police station. City Hall. Civic Stadium. Capstone. EMX extension. Willamette bike lanes. None of these city-altering initiatives won voter approval (voting to staff the library isn’t approval; it’s resignation). In fact, the first two went down to multiple voter defeats over years. Our mayor and council members cynically decided to go it alone on the others, not risking certain defeat in the face of overwhelming opposition (polls so showing).

The architects proposing a Kesey Square redo won (not the first try!) the City Hall “competition.” Does anyone doubt who will prevail in Kesey Square? And the unpopular Multi-unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) — does anyone question that officials will extend it? Park Blocks plans: whereto the vagrants dominate during non-market hours?

Is there any city that pays greater lip service to inclusiveness? “Come, speak to us, participate in meetings, join advisory committees!” And be ignored.

Bend. Salem. Corvallis. None of these has the setting of our Eugene, with lofty Skinner Butte — and none of them allowed a Ya-Po-Ah obscenity. In a city boasting resources of a respected architectural faculty, this continued despoiling is shameful. It is tragic. And, in its dismissal of the will of the citizenry, it is profoundly un-American. 

Jayme Vasconcellos, Eugene

 

FAT AND CLIMATE

I never throw up — but I did when I read “In celebration of full-figured sex” in the same Feb. 11 issue that is complaining about free-range cattle over-grazing in Eastern Oregon? This is just absurd. Average Americans eat literally one ton of food per year — 85.5 pounds of fats and oils, 110 pounds of red meat, including 62.4 pounds of beef and 46.5 pounds of pork. Now we are supposed to be attracted to people whom eat three times this! People who eat three tons of food per year?

How many cheeseburgers, Doritos and super-extra-large Big Gulp drinks does it take to be sexy? How much of Oregon’s wild lands need to be converted to grazing so fat people can have another cheeseburger taco at a food truck? Do we make no connection between overgrazing and fat people’s meat addiction?

I am an average woman 5-foot 4-inches and weigh 110 pounds. I don’t go to a gym or do any diets. I do run and stretch every day, I eat fresh food from my garden and home-grown poultry; however, it is now illegal for me to model in Paris because I am not fat enough. My BMI is 18 not 18.5 which is the legal limit. 

Wake up, America: You’re eating the world out of food and grazing your great state to death to feed these fat people, and now legislating that models be fat.

It’s cool if you are big boned or whatever, but seriously! Please, fat people, you are causing climate change by requiring all this food.

Amanda França, Springfield

 

ARROGANT, RUDE COPS

When I moved to Eugene many years ago an attorney friend living here told me about the poor reputation of the Eugene Police Department. She was especially concerned about how they had treated her during a routine traffic stop. During my encounters with Eugene cops over the years, I learned several times that my friend was right.

While minding my own business Feb. 7, I learned again how arrogant and rude your cops can be. After pulling into the 76 Station on West 11th, I noticed numerous cop cars and fire trucks and wondered what was going on. I walked onto the path along Amazon Creek. There was no police tape between the parking lot and path and no tape across the path. Anyone coming along the path had open access to the large group of cops and others gathered about a quarter or half block away. I had no idea what they were doing. I was standing beside two women who might have been news reporters. 

Suddenly a woman officer comes storming my way, waving her arms and yelling at me, “Get back! This is a crime scene!” She was in my face with a look that would freeze water. I asked her what the problem was and she said again, “This is a crime and you can’t cross the police tape, get back!” I told her there wasn’t any police tape, when another male cop looking like a pit bull started yelling at me from half a block away. He was extremely rude and loved this opportunity to bark orders in my face and act like a dumb ass. 

Several other people who witnessed how I was treated commented about how rude the cops were and what dip-shits they were. One woman shared her own complaint about past experience with Eugene’s cops. 

If there is no police tape barrier defining a crime scene, it is my opinion that citizens can be as close to the scene as we choose. If cops don’t want you there, they can request politely that you move back. Insulting people who pay their wages is not necessary. There was no need to get crazy with me.

Wayne Pierce, Eugene

 

GOP BACKS WORKERS

Minimum wage is zero if you can’t find a job. Minimum wage doesn’t mean maximum hours. Democrats in Salem are halfway to their goal of taking away local control and setting artificial rates. SB 1532A has passed the Senate and is now being voted on in the House. It appears they don’t care if you lose paid hours, lose your job or lose control of your future. You lose.

Let’s get some new ideas to start helping working families to win right now:

Poverty is caused by 30-hour workweeks. Full-time workers could earn $4,700 extra per year at minimum wage. Temporary part-time work schedules are the real culprit to financial insecurity. Get an immediate 25 percent raise going from 30 to 40 hours. Government regulations are strangling your local employers. Help them employ you full-time.

Empower minimum or low hourly workers by supplementing their paycheck with a percentage of the payroll tax, going to workers instead of Salem. Net neutral for the employer, but the worker gets more. Legislators should contribute a fair share from government budgets to prevent unemployment.

Republicans want all Oregonians to prosper. Republicans are the minority in legislature; if you want out of poverty and want a job, you need to get to work on the Democrat representatives in Salem. Republicans are already on your side.

Cindy Land, Lane County Republican Party Chairperson 

 

WORDS TO LIVE BY

Happy New Year! Good time to hit reset, start over. Let’s start with a new motto for our fair city. The “World’s Greatest City…” thing was not going to last, and it didn’t. So what are we left with? “A Kinda Sorta Great City for the Arts. And the Outdoors.” The latter is not standing up to scrutiny in a town where we cut down everything with bark. (And what’s left we hide behind big cheesy buildings.) And as for the arts, I don’t see that much. 

Yes, we have great live theater, a vibrant music scene, several professional orchestras, galleries that hang in there. But beyond the generous philanthropy that keeps the Symphony, The Shedd, etc. invested, most of what happens in the arts is done by the artists themselves. No recognition, few opportunities for development. No, that doesn’t work either.

So I suggest a motto that’s really about us, that conveys what our community says to newcomers and old-timers alike. Here it is: “Eugene, Oregon: We Drive Like Idiots.” We run red lights, tailgate, roll through stop signs and drive all over the bike lanes. Solid white lines, stop lines at intersections — they mean nothing to us. I tried to see how far I could drive from home without someone doing something rude, reckless or illegal and I couldn’t get half a mile. It’s weird to live in a town where everyone can use a smart phone, but nobody can use a turn signal.

I know a lot of people would rather have something like “More Ugly Buildings Than You Can Shake a Stick At,” but I think this really captures our town. Whaddya think, Eugene?

Chico Schwall, Eugene

 

FACING THE CHANGES

I am alarmed that Linn County is asking other counties to join a class action lawsuit against Oregon state to increase logging on state lands. As technology and ecology changes, we must face the personal changes we must make and also adapt. I returned to school, took accounting classes and achieved my bachelor’s degree in business management while working full time. I am a poor student, but I needed to push past my fear of failure in order to continue to support myself. This took one and a half years.

Trees grow to marketable size in about 75 years. Trees hold soil and hillsides in place, create an environment for fungi, plants and animals to survive, hold huge amounts of water in their leaves, trunks and root areas, purify water and air and exhale oxygen. If we continue to follow the quick fix of destroying our forests rather than helping our populations to re-educate and work in different fields, we will be turning our rich, temperate rain forest climate into an arid, semi-desert waste land that is not supportive of all the life we celebrate here, now. 

Furthermore, limiting our forests to Douglas fir tree farms also limits the ability of these forests to perform their above functions fully. Forests require a variety of plants and trees. Spraying poisonous broadleaf herbicides also damages a forest’s ability to function well, as well as threatening human health.

Rev. Alice Orsini, Walton

 

TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

Camilla Mortensen gave us a detailed understanding of Oregon’s climate politics Jan. 28, and Megan Kemple’s call for a science-based bill in your Feb. 11 issue is important. The 350 campaign has been marching, meeting with legislators and giving support. The sad revelation is that the proposed legislation is too slow and too complicated. Climate change is here! 

I urge everyone to read the draft of Senate Bill 1574. Polluters can continue to pollute and emissions above cap would be auctioned off with only small emission reductions demanded each year. I have to question why this legislation calls for only a 2 percent reduction a year; is this really a cap and trade bill and are the high carbon emissions of biomass really counted? I appreciate everyone’s effort for a climate bill but I question any real value in this very complicated legislation. 

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

STOP TRUANT RANCHERS

Absentee ranchers ruin the range and encourage predation. My ancestors knew to keep a herd bunched to prevent predation and preserve the mountain summer range. People stayed with the animals all summer to protect and move them. Proper herding maintains graze diversity and improves yield. Waterways can be better protected and predation reduced when there are people involved to move and protect the herd. This old method has a new name: “low-stress herding.”

The state should not reimburse ranchers for wolf or other predation who do not practice low-stress herding.

Put cowboys and shepherds back to work. End the slaughter of the public’s wildlife (wolf, cougar, coyote) deemed harmful by special interests unwilling to manage and protect their herds.

Ask Congress to abolish the USDA Wildlife Services slaughter.

Ed Gunderson, Creswell

 

PHONE BOOK MONOPOLY

The new Eugene/Springfield/Lane County phone book has 49 pages of listing for attorneys. Physicians (13) and dentists (17) — combined — have 30 pages of listings.

All three are statutory granted monopolies.

This should really tell us something.   

Frank Skipton, Springfield

 

 

WAY OUT OF POVERTY

Glad to see the conversation about tax fairness is alive and well in Eugene (“Tax Fairness: Corporate Tax Reform” in Activist Alert Feb. 4). Recently, Congress extended the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, keeping 16 million Americans from falling into or deeper into poverty. Extending the Earned Income Tax Credit to low-income childless adult would be a great next step to provide working people with a way out of poverty. We can call or write our representatives and senators to ask them to continue to pass tax legislation like this that makes a difference to millions of Americans. 

Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Washington

 

TAX THE BUBBLES

A carbon tax? I am all for one. We should start with a carbon tax on all carbonated beverages. All those tiny bubbles scurrying to the top of the container — that’s CO2, folks. Let’s start at a 0.5 cents CO2 surcharge on all 1 to 12 ounce containers, and the surcharge goes up a nickel with the ever-increasing sizes. Fountain drinks should be charged twice that much. Oh, do you spend several minutes every day at some drive-up window waiting to spend an exorbitant amount of money for your sugar and caffeine rush? Or perhaps it is to fill your empty stomach with empty calories. Fifteen to 20 minutes some of you wait at those drive-up windows, with your cars idling away spewing that awful CO2 into the air. I think a 50-cent CO2 surcharge for every dollar spent at a drive-up window. 

Scientists can determine how much a body exhales when at rest, when we are at work, jogging, riding a bicycle and, oh yes, all those 10-K, 20-K or whatever-K marathons. They should be heavily taxed. For a body that is active has to exhale more CO2 than when it is resting. Yes, we should all pay a CO2 tax, according to our activities. Think it can’t happen here? Oh, yes it can, because many of you will vote for it.

James Selby, Florence

 

MISSING THE MARK

The news feature by Amy Schneider Jan. 21, “The Changing Face of Math,” misses the mark, despite my positive response to the idea of change and its importance.

Common Core Math Standards still clearly divides the mindset between the instructor, the tutor and the parent to support any one student. The tragedy remains in the critique. Merely looking to the elite and naively mimic them at surface level to gain fair competitiveness, is not change.

Missing the mark entirely, CCSS and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 are similarly not communicating effectively in the public education sector, as students and parents struggle to keep up with the trends and teachers fail to reach out, despite the propaganda. Closed mindsets continue hemorrhaging from instruction to instructor, and student to parent.

The tutor can and should be used more effectively in the classroom setting and mandated by both state and federal policy to actually employ and implement what the dual legislature mandates. Multiple tutors per classroom groups would not only ensure the one-on-one for each student, but also could holistically bridge the gap in effective interpersonal communication between all vested interests.

Jami Speegle, Eugene

 

THE GENDER CRITERIA

Someone needs to mention Hillary Clinton’s ties to Monsanto for whom she worked as a lawyer. She is a supporter of the seed patent giant and its herbicide-resistant, pesticide-producing GMO crops. The Monsanto corporation and others like it claim the right to intellectual property such as the DNA of food grown for millennia and the genome of animals and even humans.

There are many progressives who would love a good woman for president; however, Clinton does not fit this description. After all, women (and men) need livable wage jobs (Bernie wants $15/hour) as do African Americans, Latinos and other minorities. They need healthy, organic food and an affordable college education. America requires someone to take on the banks so that ordinary people (women, men, black, white, etc.) can buy homes and have good financial credit.

Just getting a woman elected because she has a vagina is sexist. This is a stupid criterion. Vote for the candidate that’s best for you, your family, your country and planet, not someone who’s gender you cheer for.

Elect Bernie in 2016.

David Ivan Piccioni, Eugene

 

HOW IT STACKS UP

Industrialists Charles and David Koch are each worth more than $40 billion. Here’s a way to visualize how much that actually is:

A stack of 400 million $100 bills would be worth $40 billion. How tall would that be? According to my Google search, all U.S. currency paper is .0043 inches thick. So we multiply .0043 times 400 million and get 1.7 million inches or about 143,333 feet or about 27 miles. That’s right: $40 billion in C-notes forms a stack more than 27 miles high.

Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier while skydiving — in a spacesuit — from a balloon at an altitude of about 24 miles. He would have been about 3 miles below the top of either of the Koch’s stack of bills.

How tall is your stack? According to CNN, the median net worth (not the average, which skews the result upwards) of American adults is about $45,000. That’s a stack of just 450 $100 bills, with a height of 1.935 inches.

So most of you who are reading this have a stack maybe a couple of inches tall; each Koch has more than 27 miles of money. I think the Kochs and their billionaire brethren can afford to pay more in taxes, don’t you?

Gordon Kaswell, Eugene

 

BUYING THE PRESIDENCY

Many Trump supporters crow about their candidate spending his own money on his presidential bid. Presumably, this meaning he’s not spending their money, or not being bought by other rich folk. Seems its OK for someone to buy the presidency with his own money. These supporters still think they live in a democracy! Where are their heads?

Marilyn Marcus, Eugene