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Letters to the Editor: 3-17-2016

OFFENSIVE FENCES

The next step in the city of Eugene’s plan to criminalize the homeless is fences under bridges that have been used for shelter. Human beings, with no other resources than the clothes on their backs and the food they can find, use these areas for life-saving shelter and to find safety with others in the same predicament.

A fence creates a perception of “other” when so many of us are just a paycheck or medical emergency away from losing everything. These fences are taking away yet more public space. It seems that the Department of Parks and Open Space should be renamed Department of Parks (during posted operating hours only, restrictions apply) and Closed Space. Displacing unhoused folks means they will migrate further into neighborhoods. These fences are yet another violation of human rights, my rights and your rights, not just homeless rights.

The city claims it spends $250,000 annually on cleaning up after the homeless. Better solutions could be funded with this money. Ideas could include funding check-ins by CAHOOTS at areas where unhoused people shelter themselves. With sharps collection and mental health services, a CAHOOTS-like model could be very effective at filling social service gaps. A social worker could be assigned to check in at various spots, assisting people in getting the help they need. Actions like the above could truly make a difference, both in the lives of those helped and in the amount of money the city spends on “cleaning up after the homeless.”

Vickie Webb, Eugene

 

AERIAL SPRAY ACTION

Oregon Wild and the Freedom from Aerial Herbicides Alliance (FfAHA) stand united in their demands that this practice [aerial spraying of pesticides] be banned — as soon as possible. We recognize that due to the entrenched power of the corporations that benefit from this practice, a diversity of tactics toward this goal is necessary, and we respect the fact that several legal avenues must be taken to end aerial spraying of toxic chemicals on our homes and streams. 

FfAHA has spent years working toward a Lane County ballot initiative that would completely ban the practice of aerial spraying for any purpose in this county. Similar efforts are being made in other counties around Oregon. FfAHA is in the process of collecting signatures to put this initiative on the ballot, which can be found on their website. Thanks to the hard work of many volunteers, citizens of Lane County will soon have the opportunity to vote in support of this initiative.

This year, launching a campaign to reform the Oregon Forest Practices Act, Oregon Wild, Beyond Toxics and others have submitted nearly 4,000 signatures to qualify three separate initiatives for ballot titles on a statewide ballot. In addition to other new logging regulations, these initiatives would halt forestry-related aerial spraying “on any watershed which serves as a source of drinking water.” DEQ maps indicate that this would include almost the entirety of western Oregon. 

Together, we call for unity and will use all available legal routes to end this practice as soon as possible everywhere we can. Please find us online, where you can view these initiatives, and find contact information for these organizations. 

Jason Gonzales, Walton 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jason Gonzales is the Forest & Watershed Campaign organizer for Oregon Wild. This letter was co-signed by Oregon Wild and the Freedom from Aerial Herbicides Alliance Steering Committee, and is in response to a letter from Mark Robinowitz March 10 critical of “establishment environmentalists” and their proposals.

 

HOSTILE CARTOON

I was very disappointed in Ben Ricker’s cartoon depiction of Springfield. It is mean-spirited. Not at all what I would expect from EW, even if the intent was to be funny. Springfield is not Eugene. We don’t want to be Eugene, but we are neighbors, and as such, I hope that we can appreciate each other for who we are. 

Maybe it’s just the influence of national politics that has elevated ugly, mean-spirited rhetoric to a new level of acceptance, but I was hoping our two communities could see how much harm it is doing and stay above the fray. EW’s choice to run the cartoon has proven me wrong. I consider the cartoon a form of bullying and bullying is just wrong, plain and simple. 

Our two communities have been working well together on many important projects like the river districts that we share along the Willamette River. I know because I am part of those discussions. There is so much we can do together; I just hate to see anything cast a doubt on the progress we’ve made to improve both our communities.

I will continue to make every effort to work with our partners in Eugene, many of whom I consider friends. And I will encourage Springfield residents to do the same. I am just hoping for the day that hurtful prejudice against Springfield goes away, and I don’t have to write another letter to the editor in response to an inaccurate, hostile cartoon about the city that I love. 

Christine Lundberg, Springfield mayor

 

UNINFORMED BIAS

I wrestled with the question of even responding to the ridiculous article the Weekly wrote about Springfield in Swizzle March 10. The writer is obviously suffering from an outdated stereotype of Springfield and as is the case with bias, he has bought into their stereotype so firmly that he didn’t bother to observe reality — not unusual for EW

In recent years downtown Springfield has developed a vibrant and thriving downtown that provides excellent food, drink and entertainment. Main Street features a theater with some of the best acoustics of any venue in the region. The Wildish Theater features a wide variety of entertainment from classical to popular. Audience members at the Wildish are from both Springfield and Eugene.

The Plank Town brew pub on Main Street features excellent food and drink and a great place to meet friends. It is frequently packed with people having a good time. Haven, also on Main Street, is a wonderful place to find unique antiques, art and gifts.

The pizza at Mezza Luna on Main Street is top notch. The Washburne Café offers a hometown venue with outstanding food, a wonderful atmosphere, a friendly staff and a good place to meet friends.

Springfield also has its own arts scene with many of the downtown buildings featuring a wide variety of murals. Springfield also has the Art Walk on the second Friday evening each month. There is an eclectic range of unique and diverse businesses on Main Street and throughout the entire downtown.

Willamalane in Springfield boasts some of the best indoor and outdoor park and recreation space in the region, including the region’s only wave pool.

If you need a hospital, Springfield has two of the area best, with McKenzie Willamette undergoing an $80 million renovation/expansion right now.

Sprout! and the weekly Farmers Market provide a place for farmers to offer fresh produce to all comers. Sprout! also contains a commercial kitchen that can be rented for everything from home canners to those exploring new food concepts for an emerging business. While the Abbey may not be a wild place, it is a great place to meet friends.

In short, Springfield is a wonderful place to live, work, recreate and visit. It provides a true hometown feel and the kind of friendliness that can only be found here. Come on, Eugene — ignore the outdated, uninformed bias of EW, and come and discover Springfield for yourself!

Mike Eyster, chair, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce

 

FICTIONAL SPRINGFIELD

“All Quiet on the Eastern Front” March 10 has left me thoroughly confused. I’m not kidding. I don’t get it. What Springfield did you visit? I appreciate thought-provoking, artistic talent that through humor, wit and creative expression expands my view of the universe. But, creativity born of mean-spiritedness and interpretative observations lacking any hint of truthfulness is nothing but, well, mean-spirited fiction. Fortunately, fiction does not dictate reality. Your readers are smart enough to know that, and the many who have found the real Springfield have experienced one very different from yours, Eugene Weekly

Vonnie Mikkelsen, Springfield

 

 

Illustration by Ben Ricker

 

Actual Voicemail received Monday at 9:20 AM:

this is regarding the flyer disrespecting springfield
in the recent eugene weekly article,

uhhh ... if you are listening to this ...

i hope you are FUCKED for the company that you work for running such a 

shitty fucking article about any business in oregon ... or town in oregon. 

and that your whole fucking newspaper is wrong. 

and you guys oughtta just fucking BURN AND DIE!

Editor's note: The employees of EW would very much not like to fucking burn and die.

 

SPRINGFIELD NIGHTLIFE

Hi, just wanted to say that I liked Ben Ricker’s cartoon “All Quiet on the Eastern Front” about Springfield nightlife (or lack thereof) in the March 10 EW. Very clever and really funny. These sorts of personal graphic narratives are not rare — lots of cartoonists do them — but his seems especially well written and illustrated — the graphics worked really well. I'd like to see more of his cartoons.

Bruce Burris, Corvallis

 

AN EYE FOR NEGATIVES

What were you looking for in your one-time “trek” east to Springfield March 10? Did you choose to visit the Willamalane Adult Center when it is hosting any of a multitude of age-range programs for the community? Did you choose to visit Springfield on a Second Friday Art Walk when the downtown is full of a bustling crowd of art aficionados and shoppers? Did you choose to visit Springfield to notice that the city library programs and services are reaching a cross section of multi-cultural and educational offerings all year long? Did you choose to visit Springfield and its thriving Sprout! Farmers Market? Did you choose to visit Plank Town Brewing Company, a cornerstone restaurant, one of the best in the region? Did you choose to visit Springfield when the community hosts a block party to celebrate the additions to its downtown art program? I could go on and on.

You have brought to mind an adage I was taught a long time ago — if you seek with a positive outlook, you will find the positives; if you seek the negatives, you will find them, too.

And just who considered your one night escapade newsworthy? What were you really looking for? Instead, look what I found when I moved here 19 years ago: “a community of people who can work and live and play together and enjoy being neighbors — a community that is striving together for the best Springfield can be.” It’s all in how you seek and what you seek.

Marilee Woodrow, Springfield

 

TALK ABOUT REVOLUTION

Poor Mindy Stone in the March 10 letters had a bad case of discourse interruptus at the recent Ani DiFranco concert and was tossed from the venue, ostensibly, for her shouting little “somethings” related to voting and calling for “revolution.”

Now, I don’t attend paid concerts, as I consider them a waste of hard-earned cash, but if I did and someone started yelling political outbursts at the performer, I might be a tad annoyed. Be that as it may, the idea that a likely economically comfortable “liberal” who can casually plunk down $30 for a couple of hours of entertainment feels she’s accomplishing something profound by calling for revolution is amusing, if pathetic. The fact that she was upset, not at missing out on the concert (and forfeiting her 30 bucks), but at being unable to exercise her “right” to interrupt the concert, shows how privileged some of us believe we are. 

Here’s an idea, Mindy: Get one of Ani’s CDs, drop it into your home player and shout to your hearts content; it will have as much positive impact as your concert outburst did, and nobody will eject you from your living room.

And for Ms. Stone’s edification, revolutions quite often entail a whole lot of blood-letting and other bad gotchas, quite often giving rise to dictatorships to quell them. Be careful what you wish for.

Karl Stout, Eugene

 

WHY DIVEST

$3.4 trillion — more than 500 institutions have already collectively divested this amount from fossil fuel extraction companies. Why? The math is pretty simple: We know that if fossil fuel companies are allowed to extract and burn the remaining carbon stored in their reserves, we will put too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and exceed global warming past the scientifically agreed upon “safe” level of 2 degrees Celsius. Warming past this point will result in irreversible changes to Earth’s climate and ecosystems, not to mention suffering across the globe. 

We must not allow these fossil fuels to be extracted and burned, and in order to do that, we must weaken the corporations that intend to profit from every last drop of oil. By divesting from these companies, we can effectively delegitimize them. 

As a current student at the UO, I am quite concerned about what the future looks like in light of climate change and our collective lack of action to reduce our emissions — specifically, that my university refuses to divest its alleged $4 million that is currently invested in these fossil fuel companies. The UO Foundation, which controls our financial portfolio, has been quoted saying it “considers climate change to be one of the most important issues of our time” and “invest[s] accordingly.” I do not believe that the UO should be investing in the very companies that are contributing the most to climate change and destroying the futures of the students the university seeks to prepare for the future.

Maddie Cheek, Co-director, Climate Justice League, UO, Eugene

 

A GAP REMAINS

While Reveal on KLCC is an interesting and entertaining radio program, it doesn’t provide the hard-hitting, educational value of the internationally syndicated Alternative Radio. With presentations from the globe’s foremost progressive minds, AR satisfies a crucial need of KLCC listeners. Management’s decision to ax Alternative Radio is short-sighted and defiant in the face of public outcry. It’s not too late, KLCC. Give us back our Alternative Radio.

Michelle Holman, Deadwood

 

HILLARY’S BLUNDER

Irene Henjum’s letter in the March 3 EW was mind-boggling. Just like Sally Sheklow’s column in the April 30, 2015 issue, we are urged by the writer to support Hillary Clinton because — she has a vagina!

Sheklow, in her elation over Clinton’s announcement of her candidacy, did mention “our reasonable objections to her stance on climate, fracking, GMOs, Wall Street, foreign policy and real stuff like that” (my emphasis), but spent most of her column fretting about the “sexist stereotypes, misogynist claptrap and general nonsense” to which Clinton would be subjected during her campaign. And Henjum, downplaying the most critical Senate vote in 50 years, states that Bernie Sanders, being from Vermont, had the luxury (!) of being able to vote against the Iraq invasion, whereas Clinton, representing New York, “had no choice under the circumstances” but to support the Iraq War.

War is war and this particular war — the unnecessary, unwarranted attack on a sovereign nation that had not attacked us — has cost us thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and has helped bring about all of the other instability in that region, not to mention the $2 trillion to $3 trillion (and counting) that has been wasted.

It is obvious that having a female president would be “historically important,” but so would having a president who would take back our economy from the oligarchy, raise the real wages of the working classes, promote truly universal education and health care and (hopefully) not lead us into foreign-policy blunders.

 Steven F. Salman, Springfield

 

OUR SOCIALIST ROOTS

Those on the right say they want to take America back to the constitutional founding of our nation and denigrate the concept of socialism. 

The fundamental purpose and guiding principle for the creation of our government is written in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

“We the people,” “common defense” and “general welfare” are all tenets of socialism in which people unite to share a common goal of tranquility and justice.

Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate who truly understands this guiding principle. 

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain

 

PROGESSIVE MANTLE

I am consistently struck by how incoherent Hillary Clinton supporters are in advocating her candidacy. According to Irene Henjum’s letter March 3, Hillary had to vote to invade Iraq because New York City had been attacked by — um, other Muslims, mostly Saudis, who had no connection whatsoever to Iraq? Allegedly, she had a duty to her constituents to buy into the cynically, and transparently, fraudulent case for war laid out by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Clinton must have known she was participating in a war crime, but was too scrupulous a believer in representative democracy to vote her conscience. 

The idea that we shouldn’t let the little matter of criminal complicity in over a million casualties, $2 trillion wasted and the ongoing devastation of Iraq stand in the way of our first female president is equal parts infuriating and absurd. Worse, Henjum and others cloak this utter perversion of both morality and sense under the mantle of “progressive.” 

Should our system continue, the election of women to the presidency is a certainty. By contrast, what’s always perilously unlikely — given the entrenched corporate, financial and military interests that dominate both major parties — is electing anyone ethical and sane to the office. 

Timothy Shaw, Eugene

 

THE EMPIRE PARTY

The sanguine support for Hillary Clinton by knee-jerk Democrats and their inability to meaningfully distinguish her from Sanders is deeply troubling. Clinton’s warmongering toward Syria and support of Obama’s continuing neoliberal imperialism in Libya and Ukraine, proxy wars upon Syria and Yemen, and Godfather selections of drone assassination victims violating U.S. and international law, are deeply troubling.

Mainstream Democrats and Republicans are simply two branches of the American Empire Party, with domestic policy differences ranging between conventional and antediluvian that fail to challenge our economic colonialism inflicted when necessary by naked state terrorism.

By far the more rational, consistently ethical and visibly honest candidate, Bernie Sanders proposes a sensible remake of Holy Capitalism, our unchecked growth-obsessed system with ever-increasing vertical condensation of wealth. Instead, he proposes a steady-state economy facilitating horizontal distribution of benefits, the only model capable of survival in the real world of exhaustible resources. I can only hope that he would extend his respectful egalitarian worldview to our relationships with the rest of humankind.

Sanders is much more likely to prevail in the national election. Clinton’s record is extremely vulnerable. Among other things, the Clintons’ duplicitous courtship of black voters will backfire when the opposition revisits Bill’s disastrous records of prison expansion and the three-strikes law, welfare “reform” including “workfare” eliminating AFDC, NAFTA that accelerated loss of inner city manufacturing employment, and trade sanction threats against Nelson Mandela to block generic HIV/AIDS drugs for sub-Saharan Africa to protect Big Pharma profits, costing uncounted thousands of African lives. Hillary compounded her support for Bill’s policies with ugly, racist statements. Once exposed and reexamined, these should cost her the black vote, especially when compared with Sanders’ principled civil rights activism.

Jack Dresser, Ph.D., co-director, Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Springfield

 

SPRINGFIELD TRASHED

Since we’re neighbors, can’t we be friends? It was disappointing to see Springfield trashed in “All Quiet on the Eastern Front” March 10; however, after years of put-downs and biased reporting by local area papers, I shouldn’t have been at all surprised.

For example, ever noticed how local stories about crime are always more pronounced if the crime takes place in Springfield rather than Eugene? People, while Eugene may tout itself as being open-minded and unbiased, when it comes to sharing that my family lives in Springfield I must say I’ve experienced quite the opposite. Ouch.

Maybe we Springfield residents should make our displeasure at stereotyping known by boycotting Eugene businesses; my guess is, Eugene’s shops and restaurants would mightily miss the dollars we spend over there. Oh, and we all know Eugene doesn’t have any strip clubs — only Springfield does. Ditto for homelessness.

While in Springfield, the writer could have enjoyed a delicious BBQ sandwich and microbrew at Hop Valley or a nice Mexican meal and margarita at Memo’s. He could’ve checked out Plank Town Brewing Company. Or he could’ve taken a pleasant stroll with friends through the Washburne Historic District.

There are also good shows at Wildish Theater that might have been mentioned, and if he’d shown up earlier, he could’ve gone antiquing or enjoyed an art exhibit at Springfield Museum. While on the subject of Springfield — for lovers of the outdoors, come spring and summer we have fine parks, trails and waterways for fishing or boating; in July, Island Park is always jammed for its excellent fireworks display and live music.

But I guess your writer didn’t want to talk about any of that — always easier to take pot-shots. 

EW’s mission statement says “we advocate aggressively for social justice.” Really? Judging by this story it seems you advocate for put-downs and stereotypes. In the end, though, I guess I’m glad you ran that childish and distasteful piece — a good chance to express my thoughts and maybe, just maybe, help people take off their blinders.

Cynthia Orlando, Springfield

EDITOR’S NOTE: A half-page story on MEDGE at the Wildish was in the same issue.

 

ALIENATED READERS

What was the point of such a mean-spirited attack on downtown Springfield? It’s so painfully obvious that the editors tasked reporter Ben Ricker to find the darker side of nightlife in Springfield, rather than to report on the bright, vibrant and energetic downtown that Springfield has become. 

This sad piece of writing and illustration has insulted the residents, business owners, employees, community leaders, artists, musicians and those of us who have been involved in the revitalization of downtown for the past six years. It’s too bad Ricker or any of your other staff, for that matter, missed another fun, busy and eventful evening full of people downtown enjoying the monthly Art Walk, the Marketplace at Sprout!, the art galleries, the Wildish Theater, the restaurants and businesses that were open late. Why not report on that?

As a business owner on Main Street, I was asked if I wanted to advertise in an upcoming section in your paper the day before the article ran. I was considering it, until I saw the article. Several other downtown businesses and organizations who have advertised with the Weekly will most likely no longer be your customers. I just don't understand what EW was hoping to accomplish; did you not realize how much of your readership you have alienated?

Karen Hageman, Springfield

 

UNCOUTH CARTOON

Ben Ricker’s Springfield cartoon March 10 was unfair and uncouth. Don’t believe everything you read in EW!

Erik & Ann Muller, Eugene

 

DON’T IGNORE THE THREAT

Donald Trump appears to be on his way to becoming the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

It’s worth taking a second to remember how we got here: For months, we watched the GOP basically leave him alone. They didn’t take him seriously, they didn’t pay attention — they just crossed their fingers and hoped that he’d go away by himself. By the time the other GOP candidates decided to attack Trump, it was too late, and now he’s almost certainly going to be their nominee.

It’d be easy for us Democrats to do the same thing now — Trump is so offensive, so vulgar, so self-evidently awful. You could look at him and think, “there’s no way he’ll ever get elected,” and then just wish him away.

But we can’t. Trump can win a general election if people assume that he’ll collapse under his own weight, that someone else is going to stop him. If all we do is hope that people are going to come to their senses, we’re going to be watching President Trump’s inauguration come January.

We can’t risk having a commander in chief who would embarrass our country, alienate our allies, and embolden our enemies. The stakes are too high and the job is too big to leave up to chance.

Trump can’t do the job. That’s why I’m fighting alongside Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination, then take the fight to Trump to make sure he never gets the chance.

Curtis Taylor

Eugene

 

THROWING STONES

I find it troubling that Palestinian parents allow their youth to throw stones at Israeli soldiers; surely they must realize how very dangerous that is.

RoseMarie Cassidy

Eugene

 

OUR SOCIALIST ROOTS

Those on the right say they want to take America back to the constitutional founding of our nation and denigrate the concept of socialism. 

The fundamental purpose and guiding principle for the creation of our government is written in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

“We the people,” “common defense” and “general welfare” are all tenets of socialism in which people unite to share a common goal of tranquility and justice.

Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate who truly understands this guiding principle. 

Michael T. Hinojosa

Drain

 

REAGAN’S LEGACY

Reading about the scripted Ronald Reagan idolatry brought to mind the story my airline pilot son told me about trying to get clearance to land at National Airport in Washington, D.C. He said that if pilots asked for landing instructions for Reagan National Airport, they could just chase around the sky indefinitely. Reagan was the one who fired all of the traffic controllers when they struck for shorter hours and better working conditions. 

Elena Rae, Eugene