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Letters to the Editor: 2-25-2016

STOP FAT HATING

As a therapist specializing in eating disorders, I couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity to respond to Amanda Franca’s letter “Fat and Climate” Feb. 18 and redirect the conversation to the issue of “fat” phobia in our culture. It is disconcerting that body-positivity paired with healthy sexuality could cause such a sickly response. To directly equate our growing climate crisis, capitalism and pathological overconsumption with the size of people’s bodies grossly undermines a larger systemic and sociopolitical issue. 

BMI is used as a reference point, not a be-all-end-all indicator of someone’s health. Sadly, the letter feeds stereotypes that “fat people” are overconsumers, just eat crap and are not socially conscious or responsible. It appears that it is still PC to degrade and slander people because of their weight. There are too many young people suffering from anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia and binge eating disorders, struggling to cope in a world so obsessed with being thin at all costs that they ultimately learn to hate whatever body they are in. 

Stop the fat-hating, ignorant, body-shaming rhetoric. Take care of your body, cherish it and love the skin you’re in. Check out: feast-ed.org, haescommunity.org and benourished.org. 

Rebecca Rose, Eugene

 

CLARK’S VOTING RECORD

I attended the first mayoral candidate forum, hosted by the Fairmount neighbors, Feb. 16. Audience members posed questions including asking how candidates would address homelessness. Mayoral candidate Lucy Vinis, who worked for ShelterCare, gave a thoughtful, complete answer demonstrating her deep compassion and understanding of the causes of poverty and homelessness. She laid out some concrete solutions for how we might address this crisis. 

She was followed by current City Councilor Mike Clark. His response struck me as lacking sincerity. He has been known to change his tune based on his audience. Of course many people are very concerned about the safety, economic and humanitarian issues associated with homelessness. Mr. Clark’s lip service to addressing these concerns does our community a great disservice.

To give some examples: Clark voted against the Bascom Village project (November 2011), voted against exploring potential sites for Opportunity Village (November 2012) and voted against an ordinance allowing temporary camping on city property or at churches (September 2013). I encourage readers to thoroughly explore his record.

Eugene’s next mayor must make homelessness a top priority. It’s an issue that affects us all, to some extent. No one wants to see our homeless population grow. There’s not a candidate in this race who can say they’ve done more work to tackle this challenge than Lucy Vinis. Her advocacy and experience addressing this pressing social and economic issue make her uniquely qualified to bring our community together and succeed. 

Laurie Trieger, Eugene

 

UNRESPONSIVE COUNCIL

It’s unfortunate that someone resorted to a destructive act to protest the closing of Kesey Square. It’s understandable, though, because city officials are notorious for ignoring the will of the people, and the feeling of powerlessness that comes from being ignored can sometimes turn to anger and cause people to vent in unproductive ways.

I gave up on speaking at the Eugene City Council’s Monday night open mic when I realized that nothing that people said was being considered in the council’s actions. It’s not just ordinary people that our officials ignore, either. They also do not heed the advice of the various citizen commissions that they set up. For example, the Eugene Human Rights Commission has been trying for years to get the city to decriminalize homelessness, with little luck.

The proposed closing of Kesey Square seems to be too well orchestrated to not be a done deal. Shortly after Mayor Kitty Piercy brought up the traveler problem to give an excuse for closing the square, our officials brought up the proposed apartment building. Of course they gave people the opportunity to contribute their ideas, but too much money has already gone into the planning of the apartments to actually consider keeping the square.

At least the architects for the Kesey apartments will know to specify extra strong glass for the ground floor windows and doors.

 Steve Hiatt, Eugene

 

DENYING ACCESS

In recent days the city has been destroying shelter and displacing unhoused folks by building a permanent fence on the north side of Washington-Jefferson Park. The city of Eugene is dehumanizing and harming our community members by thwarting access to this temporary shelter. This action is part of an intent, a decision, by those in power, that unhoused folks do not deserve shelter, do not deserve to sleep, are not part of our community and are only worth moving out of sight.

Actions such as these define our community. It is not only the center of our city (Kesey Square) that needs our attention, dedication and defense, but every corner that provides relief and safety for the most vulnerable in our community. 

I am glad to see my fellow humans staying dry, protecting one another from violence (interpersonal, vigilante and police) and creating community. I am proud to be in community with all folks who use common and public spaces, from dog-walkers to drug users, unhoused folks to city officials, ballers to martial artists, children to grandparents. You all bring me much joy, and you are welcome to be a part of my life any and every day.

Thomas Walker, Eugene

 

FARR’S BAD VOTES

With Order No. 14-05-13-05 on May 13, 2014, Pat Farr, Lane County commissioner for District 4, North Eugene, cast the only vote in favor of retaining contracts for large commercial events in the North Bottomlands (Emerald Meadows) of Buford Park (Mount Pisgah) and against giving the Large Events Task Force a year to complete its work unimpeded. He also voted against waiting until the Howard Buford Recreation Area Master Plan could be amended, with appropriate public input, to reflect any “new policies that may be developed regarding the holding of large events” of 1,000 or more people.

I would consider the Willamette River watershed to be Lane County’s most important natural resource. The vast majority of county parks, waysides and boat landings border the river. We have a right to expect a commissioner to be a thoughtful steward of the environment we all share, including parks bordering the river on which our lives depend. In my opinion, Tony McCown, who is running for Commissioner in District 4, would both understand and be faithful to the principle of preserving and protecting the lands we, the residents of Lane County, hold in trust for the common good.

Ellen Otani, Eugene

 

MORE TRAFFIC, NOISE

The written public comment period to the city on SW-SAZ [South Willamette rezoning] is closing soon. This plan is clearly designed by pro-developer city planners and sweetened by tax breaks (MUPTE), which will make the area so unlivable they will be able to bulldoze and rebuild large apartments to their hearts’ content. Cramming more people into an area means more money for them, not better quality of life for us. They are using a false pro-green message to push through their agenda. The apartment buildings would have minimal allotted parking spots. The promised three- to five-story height has the possibility of two extra stories — that means seven-story buildings. 

We haven’t yet seen the full impacts of reducing the number of lanes on Willamette Street, which will only force more car traffic through the surrounding residential streets. Reducing car lanes will not increase biking through the area, but it will add traffic congestion. The negative impacts of these proposed changes are much clearer: more traffic, more noise, less livability, less green space. 

Oppose the SW-SAZ by writing to the city before it’s too late to be heard. Find email addresses at ci.eugene.or.us.

Danika Esden-Tempski, Eugene

 

SURVIVAL WAGES

I suggest Cindy Land, chair of the Lane County Republican Party, who recently wrote Feb. 18 that the GOP backs workers, should try working a 40-hour week at the current minimum wage. Her suggestion that people can somehow escape poverty by working 40 hours per week rather than 30 at the current minimum is ludicrous.

The whole point of the push for a higher minimum wage is to get people above the poverty line. At the current minimum wage in Lane County, I am sure Land would have no time to dabble with politics and would have to work several jobs just to keep a roof over her head and afford enough to eat! Get some compassion, Ms. Land. And also study some economics. More pay to workers means more money will be spent and make the economy healthier. 

Too bad about Salem dragging out low minimum wages for another six years!

Russ DesAulnier, Eugene

 

SURPRISE RESTRICTION?

In the two years Jon Ruiz was meeting with developers about Kesey Square, didn’t anyone think to check the deed? Or did these experts find the restriction saying the square “is forever dedicated to the use of the public” and think, “Who cares? We have hotshot lawyers on speed dial. We can walk right over a deed restriction.”

Does the city realize that finagling their way past the restriction could discourage future donations?

Didn’t any of Ruiz’s staff suggest that requesting “other ideas” for the development of Kesey Square with a deadline six weeks away could be seen as dismissive, arrogant and even ridiculous? If they want other ideas, they should send out a Request for Proposals (RFP). They can’t, they say, because they haven’t decided that Kesey is for sale yet.

Supposedly Ruiz wanted people’s opinions on downtown, so a meeting was held at LCC Dec 2. About 140 people were organized into 17 small groups and an overflow crowd headed off to the Atrium. Everyone wanted to talk about Kesey Square. Top requests by the public: restrooms, seating, trash cans and public space. Ruiz was a no-show at this gathering. I wonder if he read the report.

Vickie Nelson, Eugene

 

TRUTHFUL CONTENT

I turned on the radio recently to hear that KLCC was dropping Alternative Radio. OPB had done that a couple of years ago, and I was thankful that KLCC was a more open-minded station. It now is obvious that I was wrong, and I don’t know why. KLCC airs some weekly programs twice, which can be found on OPB as well. Ending the program was not due to lack of air time, nor cost since the program is provided for free. Do you owe your owners any explanation of what ox was gored?

I have heard the best insightful and independent description of policies in our country and in our world on Alternative Radio. This is the one program that explains why we do things that risk the world’s environment, world peace, the middle class, resource robbing, corrupt deals by Enron years before it crashed, excellent discussions of international conflict, the prison business and Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. Curious listeners do not want a commercial storyline or tribal lore. It is much more truthful, open and adult in nature than anything from this year’s brawling GOP candidates that receive a half hour of daily coverage, even on NPR.

For the loss of this treasure on KLCC, I look at my last donation and feel some regret that my station is bowing out of the best diverse discussion of the issues of our day. Considering KLCC’s sponsorship by LCC, the plight of students is important to your mission. Their tuitions have tripled, the loans are much higher than the banks' rate and good-paying, stable jobs are rare. Government has been trimming their role in higher education for decades even while our debt grows and leaves many students starting their adult life with a large debt. Broadcasts that challenge our practices with other opinions are not a threat and belong on the airwaves in a college town’s community radio station.

Steve Trapp, Corvallis

 

SKEWED STATISTICS

If you count only students crossing the podium with their classmates, there is actually a 1 percent drop in graduation rates. For better or worse, Oregon graduates now include students with modified diplomas, GEDs, LCC high school equivalency, or a fifth year. The rate is up because it’s simply calculated differently. 

Besides more dropouts, what else have we inherited from No Child Left Behind? We have tests that widen achievement gaps by over-focusing on urban white middle-class preferences, like testing third-graders on NASA’s space program! 

As the state sticks with Smarter Balanced tests, 8-year-olds must also perform complex computer tasks, which simply measure whether their parents can afford laptops and smart phones for practice. The 16 percent of students who don’t own such technology, largely minority and poor, often fail regardless of academic ability.

Yet despite Oregon spending $27.5 million annually on Smarter Balanced, there are fewer computer courses and still not enough school computers. It’s unfair given increasing demands for technology skills.

Despite the repeal of No Child Left Behind, some school officials are waiting for public pressure before making changes. Voice your wishes with your principal, superintendent, school board, PTO or even the Oregon Department of Education. 

Jesse Hagopian of Black Lives Matter and author Dr. Wayne Au invite you to discuss these issues of “Institutional Racism and Standardized Testing” at 7 pm March 4 at the First Christian Church in downtown Eugene. It’s free and all are welcome!

Rachel Rich, Eugene

 

TOXIC BONGS

I hope you’re all watching as an environmental disaster unfolds in Portland. This is the result of airborne pollution from glass factories. Cadnium, chromium and arsenic, oh my!

That’s right, folks, all that groovy, swirly glass you’ve been smoking out of for the last 20 years contains very nasty, toxic chemicals. And their manufacture is polluting the environment. Kinda like the dyes they use for those oh-so-groovy tie-dye T-shirts.

Glass blowers have known about this all along and generally take precautions so they don’t pollute themselves. So it’s off into the atmosphere. See, all better. How about your lungs when you use their pipes? Perhaps the DEQ should start snooping around our local bong factories.

So there it is. The glove has been thrown. Prove me wrong.

I also wanted to mention that green crack extract wax makes a great pipe sealer, for those of us old fogies who still smoke out of wood.

David Feinstein, Marcola

 

SMALL HERB OUTLETS

Your Feb. 18 issue contained the announcement that Mountain Rose Herbs will be opening a retail store in Eugene on 5th Avenue. Eugene is certainly fortunate to have so many outlets for herbs. Less than three blocks down the street from the planned location for MRH’s new store is Mrs. Thompson’s Herbs, Gifts and Folklore and approximately six blocks away is The Kiva with its large herb department. 

I appreciate the fact that Mrs. Thompson’s buys from local farms and seeks out the very best-quality herbs. Smaller businesses such as Mrs. Thompson’s are at a disadvantage in the marketplace compared to a big company like MRH. All we can do is continue to support those businesses/herbalists that we wouldn’t want to be without.

 Rose Barrington, Eugene

 

BLAMING FAT PEOPLE?

In response to Amanda França’s letter (“Fat and Climate”): I am sorry to hear that the Feb. 11 story (“In Celebration of Full-Figured Sex”) made you throw up, as vomiting is never pleasant. However, I question your assumption that fat people have a meat addiction, as there are plenty of slender meat eaters and obese vegetarians in the world, and there are other things that can lead to obesity (plus, BMI is a poor way to measure health).

Though I am far from a scientist, it seems that blaming fat people for climate change would be ignoring dozens of other factors that contribute to the problem. You say we are now “supposed” to be attracted to such people, but nowhere in the Feb. 11 article did it state, “You must be sexually attracted to fat people.” It simply suggested that women shouldn’t feel ashamed of their bodies while having sex. 

Yes, some people need to lose weight for health reasons, but calling them greedy and blaming them for global warming will not help anyone. I appreciate your obvious concern for the health of Americans, but I would suggest a kinder and more compassionate approach to your crusade.

Kendra Lady, Eugene

 

DISGUSTING LETTER

I never throw up. Well maybe when I’ve had way too much to drink which I definitely felt like doing when I read that disgusting letter Feb. 18 by the svelte model Amanda Franca who is apparently too thin to land a modeling job in France. Perhaps her problem could be solved if she added some fat and carbs to her diet. 

She makes several assumptions that are a bit of a stretch, like suggesting that all overweight people are addicted to red meat. A valid point can be made that over-consumption of meat in the American diet is responsible for a host of problems including poor health, environmental degradation, global warming, animal abuse and, yes, along with over-consumption of simple carbs, obesity. 

According to my BMI I am classified as obese because my 5-foot, 11-inch frame is carrying 230 pounds. I am, however, in good health and eat a fairly healthy diet consisting of organic vegetables and “good” meat. I am deeply offended by this attack on fat folks as if they are the cause of our environmental crisis. 

Ms. Franca seems to have a problem with fat people and was apparently disgusted with the idea that they could have a positive image of themselves as fully functioning humans. What I find disturbing in our increasingly acrimonious society is that this kind of bigotry keeps cropping up like poisonous weeds. 

David Bersch, Eugene

 

 

BIG CHANGE NEEDED

What’s a thinking feminist to do? I really hate to disagree with Sally Sheklow [“Living Out” column, 4/30/15]. I’d vote for Hillary Clinton if I could stand to. But we have to face it: We’re already late attending to the epic problems we face. Is the political corruption of our system, which allows corporate “persons” to poison us for their profits, a worse problem than the moral corruption of our culture, whose children are addicted to the consumptive lifestyles that are killing the planet and the only home they have??

It is very difficult to know where to start. But the “wisdom of the ages” in this aging feminist says: Better to elect a stalwart, morally honest, socialist Bernie Sanders than a woman so damaged by her claw-up the elite power structure that she says one thing while doing another and thinks we will still believe her.

We need big change. We need a new way forward as a culture and a country. Bernie, while imperfect, really knows we need a just, healthy, peace-filled world. We can trust that he will lead us toward that vision. He cannot be bribed by big cash and he is fearless in confronting power. Let’s elect him! Embrace the Bern!

Deb McGee, Eugene

 

DOJ OVERREACH

The U.S. government is attempting to force Apple Corporation to unlock the iPhone of a suspect, but so far Apple is refusing. The Department of Justice is taking Apple to court to force them to comply on grounds the phone belonged to a “terrorist suspect.” That has become the U.S. government’s groundless basis for ignoring the Constitution and our civil rights. 

If law enforcement officials want to enter a suspect’s home, they don’t call the homebuilder who no longer has any rights to the property. They order the suspect to unlock the door and if he doesn’t cooperate they either try to kick down the door or they take legal action and have the suspect held in prison until he cooperates.

If the U.S. government wins the battle with Apple they will be able to force other cell phone companies to unlock their customers’ phones. The problem will spread and soon IBM and Dell will be ordered to unlock their customers’ computers. Then it will be suspects’ cars, home safes, bank safe deposit boxes and Facebook passwords. 

Next step would be for the U.S. government to demand that companies provide them access keys for their products so they don’t have to waste time calling them and having them come unlock their products.

Join me in writing to our congressmen and letting them know how we feel about this issue.

Wayne Pierce, Eugene

 

CHANGE IS OVERRATED

Dear Grand Ronde Tribal Council: I’m the superintendent at a school in one of the many small, traditionally racist towns in Oregon. We’re not racist anymore, but we don’t want to be forced to change too much — and the liberal Oregon Board of Education is trying to make us remove our beloved Indian logo and mascot. This will cost us a lot of money — plus, the white people in our little town really like calling themselves “the Indians.” 

We were trying to find a way to avoid change, when someone told us you’re willing to make deals with Oregon schools like ours. So we’re hoping you’ll give us permission to keep being “the Indians.” Yes, we’ve heard from angry Indians around the country, and from psychologists and sociologists with Ph.D.s who claim that mascots like these are damaging to all Indian people — but who cares what they say, as long as we get a local tribe to OK us, eh?

Hey, here’s a deal: if you let us keep our “Indians” logo, we’ll stop teaching racist American history (even though that’s what most schools teach, and you’ve never tried to stop us from doing that before). We’ll teach the truth about history! But without the deal, no deal; we can’t handle too much change!

You can save us big bucks, and allow us to avoid change (which we really hate). Many thanks in advance!

J. Swift aka Jeff Harrison, Eugene

 

TIME FOR REVOLUTION

Guantanamo is the perfect illustration of how Republicans consistently do things that are counterproductive. Ninety percent of the people in Gitmo are innocent, rounded up because Republicans offered huge bribes to those who would sell out the bad guys. Thousands got rich by selling out their enemies even if they had no ties to terrorists. The other 10 percent have been tortured so none of the evidence against them would ever be admissible in any court. 

Republicans are aiding the recruitment of terrorists by keeping open this symbol of all that was bad in Bush’s illegal war, which was the worst foreign policy blunder of all time. Now the Republicans want to return to lawlessness, bring back torture (and going after the families), ignoring the Geneva Convention and most other international agreements, and declaring war on Islam. Wahhabism is the root of almost all Islamic terrorism but Republicans don’t want to go after Saudi Arabia because we are addicted to their oil.

Why does the crazy party always do the opposite of what should be done? Because fossil fuels tell them to ignore climate change and the real terrorists. The military-industrial complex encourages perpetual war. The prison industrial complex wants to arrest 11 million hard working undocumented. Republicans give tax breaks to the rich and corporations, thus growing deficits and shifting the tax burden to the middle class, because they only listen to the moneyed special interests. It is time for a political revolution. It is time for Bernie.

Jerry Brule, Eugene

 

SUPPORT INITIATIVES

Pete Mandrapa’s letter Feb. 11 reminds us it is important to think globally. Beyond just thinking, we can speak up to make a difference. For example, legislation pending in Congress right now would work to end the preventable deaths of mothers and children in our world, the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. A new bill, Education for All, was just introduced to insure every child in our world has a chance to get an education. We can ask our representatives and senators to support and pass these bills. 

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria is seeking to continue its life-saving work with new funding this year. Global Fund Director Mark Dybul says it is now in the realm of possibility to control these epidemics. The 50,000 new HIV infections in America each year reminds us this work matters. So, take a step beyond voting and write or call your representatives and ask them to work to make the world a better place by supporting these initiatives. 

Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Washington