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Letters to the Editor: 3-24-2016

A BETTER INVESTMENT

I work with an organization that delivers food to Eugeneans experiencing homelessness, including those who sleep in Washington Jefferson Park. The city of Eugene just spent $67,000 to build fences that push these individuals out of the park. The reasons cited by the city have to do with safety and health hazards. To respond:

• People without housing are at higher risk of becoming victims of theft, assault and sexual violence than those who have shelter. Also, the overpass provides protection from the elements, which reduces the already high risk of health problems such as pneumonia. The fences have made an already unsafe situation for the campers even more dangerous.

• Sure, human waste, garbage and needles have no place in a public park. But with $67,000 to spend, wouldn’t public restrooms, trash cans and sharps containers be better (and cheaper) investments?

This fence project will not make homelessness in Eugene go away. The only thing that will is more shelter. The campers are not in the park by choice. There is literally no other place for them to go, and now that they can’t sleep there anymore, what options do they have left?

Christy Reynolds, Board President, Burrito Brigade, Eugene

 

AN AUTHENTIC EDUCATION

Thank you, EW, for your education issue Feb. 25. In particular, I commend Amy Schneider and Daemion Lee. Amy Schneider’s in-depth coverage of IP 28 is an example of journalism of the highest caliber. In order for our students to flourish and get the attention they deserve, we must hire more staff to reduce class sizes. We need more counselors and nurses to help our students, many of whom are living in poverty. We need to create authentic, project-based assessments and step away from our obsession with expensive high-stakes standardized testing, which Daemion Lee highlighted in his excellent interview with Jesse Hagopian. 

Hagopian and Wayne Au, social justice educators from Washington, recently led a lively discussion on these topics to a crowd of almost 160 people at a Community Alliance for Public Education (CAPE) event held at First Christian Church on March 4. If you missed this, be sure to attend another thought-provoking event about reclaiming public education at 7 pm Monday, March 28, at the UO Ford Alumni Center where David Berliner, author of 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools, will speak. As high-stakes standardized testing season is upon us, remember that public education was not always like this. Once upon a time and not so long ago in classes with an appropriate student-to-teacher ratio, teachers had the freedom to educate our youth using creative, meaningful assessment. Come listen, learn and discuss how we can do better.

Laura Farrelly, Eugene

 

HISTORY OF OPPRESSION

The EW mission includes this phrase: “We provide a voice for the oppressed and dismissed, and support unfettered artistic expression.” Seems like you applied the second part of this rubric but ignored the first, in allowing Ben Ricker’s anti-Springfield hatchet job to appear March 10. With respect to Eugene, Springfield has long been oppressed and dismissed. To make amends, ask Camilla Mortensen to write a story about the many times Eugene business leaders have screwed over Springfield, starting in the 1870s. 

Alice Parman, Eugene

 

TAKING THE COMMONS

Am I the only one who thinks that Eugene’s city planners are trying to do to Kesey Square, and elsewhere, exactly what Ammon Bundy and his lackeys tried to do to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge? Both groups want to take public property and privatize it for “better” uses — that is, more profitable uses, for exploitation by private individuals or corporations. The only difference seems to be that the illegal group carried guns and wrapped itself in a warped notion of patriotism, and the other carries law books and wraps itself in bureaucracy and even more blatantly selfish and dishonest pragmatism. This is not how the public well-being is served; it should not be business as usual on behalf of the already rich.

Michael E. Stamm, Eugene

 

CHASING THE HOMELESS

I read the letter by Vicki Webb March 17 and found myself in 100 percent agreement. Criminalizing the homeless by putting up fences, placing boulders under overpasses where homeless have tried to find shelter from the elements, just shows what a lack of constructive thinking governmental agencies display. If this issue wasn’t so sad, it would almost be humorous. 

Given the image of city, county and state bureaucracies running around chasing the homeless from one area to another — in the vain hope of doing what? If the city spends $250,000 annually to clean up after the homeless, then it’s time to begin seeking creative answers to this problem. Better solutions can be found for the use of taxpayer money. Contracts and check-ins with CAHOOTS, sharps collection sites, mental health services, yes — a CAHOOTS type model can be very effective at filling social service gaps. 

The city has no problem handing out property tax wavers to unnecessary private developers, but when it comes to accountability in leadership with creative ideas to make progress in this livability issue, the only sound I hear is a can kicked down the road, and the taxpayer cash register chiming. Leadership is needed. Please begin to get serious about this subject.

 Terry Steiner, Eugene

 

CARBON EXCHANGE

What might happen if carbon credits were given to everyone, not just corporations? A system that gives every adult citizen the quantity of carbon credits proportional to the carbon release, which we target in our efforts to reduce emissions. Individuals would be able to use, buy, sell or trade credits based on their free market value. Credits would be easily accounted for with utility billings, debit or credit cards, or with special carbon credit cards (carbon currency, a carbon standard). Companies will need to purchase credits from a collective credit pool made available by individuals. Citizens who squander their credits with big vehicles, large homes or jet travel will need to purchase additional credits at the market price, as will industrial users.

I, and others, will no longer be subject to emissions without compensation, and both companies and individuals will have strong market-based incentives to save energy and reduce emissions — hopefully by walking or pedaling. Some individuals may wish to withhold their credits to further reduce environmental harm, which I would do, because helping the environment was a large part of my decision to build and use a Velomobile.

Ed Gunderson, Creswell

 

JUST CLICK BAIT

The editor of EW should apologize for Ben Ricker’s vitriolic diatribe March 10 regarding Springfield’s downtown nightlife. The polemic on one man’s experience on one night was devoid of any journalistic value. No alternative viewpoints were offered — and I know there to be many. The purpose of the article (apparently) was to put to rest “rumors” that Ricker has been hearing. But really the article was nothing more than a vehicle for Ricker’s self-absorbed attempt at mean-spirited wit. 

I find it impossible to reconcile the language, tone and sarcasm in the article with the Eugene Weekly’s mission statement. Rumors the author heard hardly rise to the level of “prevailing wisdom and authority” that EW claims to so boldly question in its mission statement. The characterization of the homeless and “convenience store rats” hardly sounded like a voice of the oppressed and dismissed. The article smacks of being “click bait” designed more to generate web traffic revenue by stirring things up than to provide any useful public discourse. EW can and should do better. The residents of the city of Springfield deserve an apology from the editor.

 Spike Joseph, Springfield

 

OUR DEFINING ISSUE

Thank you for EW’s story on climate change leaders (“Change the World,” March 10). Climate change isn’t just another issue, but is the defining issue of our time. We are already experiencing rising average global temperatures (with local variations), melting ice caps and glaciers, more severe storms and flooding, increasing droughts and wildfires, and shifting ecological and agricultural zones. Absent significant action, coming generations will see these changes accelerate. It is heartening to see local climate leaders pushing for needed changes.

But we also need our elected officials to lead the way, by not just talking the talk but also walking the walk. In the race for Eugene City Council Ward 1, Joshua Skov stands out. For 15 years since co-founding Good Company, he has been helping businesses and government agencies reduce their carbon footprint while saving money. He teaches sustainable business practices at the UO. I am supporting Joshua Skov because Eugene needs his expertise and leadership to translate our Climate Recovery Ordinance aspirational goals into practical actions leading to a community that is better for people, prosperity and the planet.

Rob Zako, Eugene

 

DISPARAGING SPRINGFIELD

I have lived in the Eugene area for 23 years. I went to school at the UO and have been a productive member of this community all 23 years. I own property in both Eugene and Springfield, I have raised a family here, I work in Eugene and live in Springfield. I have read EW on and off for more than two decades. Although I don’t always agree with the opinions, I have always enjoyed some aspect of your publication and found it useful. 

I am utterly disgusted and disappointed that you would run the article “All Quiet on the Eastern Front” March 10. Not only is it short-sighted, harmful and plain asinine to disparage your neighboring city, but it is patently untrue. I will also point out that the article ignores the fact that Eugene has its fair share of dirty strip clubs that are packed on any given night. Writer Ben Ricker may not have enjoyed his time in Springfield, but I suspect it’s because he is a trendy hipster with extremely limited taste. Although the nightlife may be better in the collegiate downtown of Eugene, Springfield’s new downtown businesses boast good food, good atmosphere and high quality entertainment. They certainly don’t deserve Ben’s brand of slander.

Chass Thuresson, Eugene/Springfield 

 

FORESTS & CLIMATE

With so much attention focused on climate change — and rightfully so — it is of utmost importance for us to be paying attention and protecting the forests we have left.

Forests are an essential climate regulator, store massive amounts of carbon and produce clean water and air, as well as provide habitat for critical species, medicine and food.

Forests are continuously threatened here in Oregon. Currently, the Elliot state rainforest is up for privatization and could end up in the hands of big timber. 

Logging has long time been a part of Oregon’s economy, but big timber is wiping out ecosystems at the cost of the future. Too often you hear the argument that logging generates necessary jobs and revenue to pay for essential services, but there will be no future for jobs if we continue to allow entire ecosystems to be wiped out. As for revenue, you have to question this when you realize that in 1999 a law was passed by Gov. John Kitzhaber allowing tax exemption to anyone owning over 5,000 acres of forestland. Who owns that much forestland? Big timber. This is millions of dollars lost annually in revenue.

There is no price tag for clean water and fresh air and a livable future for the generations to come.

It is time for bold action to create jobs in a sustainable, viable future. It is time that all native and intact forests be protected, for regulated selective logging practices in tree plantations, and for a full ban on herbicide and synthetic fertilizer applications. 

We must find another way.

Brennan McGee, Dexter

 

JUNCTION CITY NEXT

Nice job with the cartoon about Springfield March 10. You’ve become the Donald Trump of journalism. Lies and insults are very trendy these days and seem to work with the masses. I’m sure your circulation for that issue was 'uuuuuge! Looking forward to your hit piece on Junction City. Keep up the good work.

Paul Roth, Springfield

 

A UNIQUE SPACE

Broadway Plaza? I enjoy watching a movie at the theater, and then having dinner or a beverage nearby afterwards. You are discussing one of my favorite places in Eugene — so I feel strongly about the current development plans. I am not opposed to a development there, just not the apartment complex proposal. Why?

A large population boom is expected in our community in coming years. Would a community with that many more people appreciate having an open space in central downtown? That is a unique little space. Do all those new people, do our children, not deserve a Broadway Plaza? Is its “best use” to become apartments made possible with our tax money?

Mayor Kitty Piercy has recently spoken out against the “travelers” who seem to occupy Broadway Plaza often. I do not see how adding more people to those already congested couple of blocks resolves anything. Those travelers are not going to disappear — they will sit in front of the new building making an already crowded couple blocks even more crowded. I would not live on that noisy and cramped corner. Would you raise your family on that corner? Even though I love that area I would never want to live there.

The trouble associated with Broadway Plaza is a lack of policing and management. I strongly request we keep Broadway Plaza. Fill it with food carts, vendors, events, etc. Because it is empty does not mean it has no use or value. That square holds a part of this community’s identity, which is something you cannot purchase. 

Ryan Van Deurzen, Eugene

 

CANDIDATE CHOICES

As a 14-year-old high school student, I don’t have a say in politics when it comes to voting, but I’ve been volunteering for the Bernie Sanders campaign. The main reason I’m backing him should be the most important and most discussed issue in politics: climate. Instead, it gets mentioned occasionally in the Dem debates and almost never in the GOP debates. I even wish Bernie talked about it some more. Climate change is the biggest crisis facing humankind. 

The problem is our government and media doesn’t act like it is. The government has been working for large interests (including coal, oil and gas) instead of working for us. If Bernie gets elected, he would first restructure the campaign finance system. This would, hopefully, help politicians and Congress be less influenced by energy and oil interests. Second, Bernie would tax carbon pollution and invest in sustainable energy, creating more jobs. Bernie is the only candidate who wants to ban fracking as well. I truly trust him to stand up to fossil fuel companies. I’m not asking you to vote for him. I just want people to consider climate change more when they are choosing their candidate. Electing someone who doesn’t believe climate change is man-made or serious could risk my generation and many to come.

Alden McWayne, Eugene