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Letters to the Editor: 3-31-2016

DONE WITH HIDING

The fencing of places where homeless people camp isn’t really about trash. If it was, the city would be providing trashcans and portable potties at locations all over Eugene, along with a lot more managed shelter. Instead it spends money on services that people have to walk to, carrying all of their possessions, and policing to keep them from camping.

What the fences are really about is trying to force the homeless to hide, to be invisible, so their very existence doesn’t offend the middle class and give the lie to the American way of life. The talk about trash is meant to justify this and demonize the homeless — to portray them as trash. 

As activists, we need to understand the difference between protest and resistance. Protest is useful in focusing public attention on a problem, but it doesn’t make those in power do anything. Protest may, in fact, provide a useful social safety valve for people to vent while allowing the politicians and the middle-class folks who elect them to continue business as usual. Resistance, on the other hand, creates a cost for business-as-usual that makes it more difficult to continue doing it. It inflicts pain and is much harder to ignore. 

As a resistance response to the fencing, I suggest that activists publicly designate the fenced areas as dumps for homeless trash and feces, and encourage the homeless to use them to deposit their waste. Create a real problem that the authorities cannot ignore, a cost to business as usual. Tell the community that we are done with hiding and we don’t recognize their authority.

 Lynn Porter, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Eugene Weekly does not condone pooping as a form of protest.

 

HONEST AND RESPECTFUL

As a children’s advocate for many years, I am 100-percent supporting Lucy Vinis for mayor. She has a very impressive track record in children and youth issues, and she founded Youth Visions, a nonprofit film festival for high school students. In addition, Vinis has a background in business, social services, agriculture and environmental issues. She is incredibly well-rounded, smart and committed to Eugene.

I have seen her out in the community, and she is a great listener to all points of view. But she also will tell it to you straight, and not just what you may want to hear. In other words, Lucy is honest and very respectful — which is very refreshing.

I also have been unhappy with Mike Clark’s opposition to important city services, including being the only city councilor to oppose the improvements to the library. Lucy Vinis is much more civic-minded. She will make a great mayor.

 Joy Marshall, Eugene

 

TAKING THE LOW ROAD

The editor of EW’s March 17 front-page attack on Mike Clark is indicative of what is wrong with the U.S. and especially Eugene politics today: the lack of civil public discourse with others who may not agree with your point of view. Clark was apparently correct in his decision to not meet with you, as the article makes it clear your goal was to impinge his character, not enlighten the public. 

Clark has represented my ward for 10 years and I have always found him thoughtful in his considerations of issues, respectful in his word choice and dedicated to public service. Clark is also one of the rarest in public service. He is a self-employed small businessman and does not have the luxury of being retired or drawing a salary and benefits from a public entity like every other councilor and the mayor.

If one also considers EW’s prior attack on Springfield’s nightlife and citizens it is easy to conclude the editors have a certain lack of respect for their fellow man. As editor you are certainly allowed to continue on the low road you have chosen, but I would hope the majority of your subscribers have better character, and I am sure your mother taught you better.

Bob Macherione, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our cover headline “Don’t Let a Loser Win” did not indicate who the “loser” might be. We left that judgment call to our readers after studying the mayoral profiles.

 

SEMPLE IS SOLID

I am really excited to see that Emily Semple will be running for Eugene City Council in Ward 1. I have been concerned about how Eugene will balance development with anticipated growth. I am very impressed with some of the positions and ideas that she has put forward.

The issue of a potential expansion of the urban growth boundary [UGB] has always been controversial. Semple has made a very good point that we need to be even more cautious about possible expansions of the UGB because climate change has made the farmland surrounding our urban areas even more valuable as resources.

She has some other good ideas, such as exploring the idea of free public transportation, as Corvallis does, but her major point is that the entire community needs to be involved in these decisions. The recent controversy over the zoning changes on South Willamette have shown how important it is that decisions not be made by city staff in an autocratic and unaccountable manner.

Lee DeVeau, Eugene

 

MORE ENDORSEMENTS

In the Slant for Feb. 25, the Weekly failed to add a few other endorsements made by the Democratic Party of Lane County (DPLC). A very important endorsement was for Pete Sorenson, who represents the South Eugene district in Lane County. He’s been a county commissioner for 19 years, always adhering to the progressive values of most Lane County residents. 

While it may have been a unanimous decision for DPLC to endorse Sorenson, it’s vital to keep the one progressive on the board running a government that serves more than 360,000 people, has a budget of more than $450 million per year, and employs 1,300 people. Sorenson has made it clear that his job is to return the Board of Commissioners to its progressive values by working with other progressive candidates to help get them elected to the board.

It takes two commissioners to get a motion seconded and start a conversation, and by continuing to have Sorenson and working to elect Tony McCown in the North Eugene District (also endorsed by DPLC), Lane County can begin to have those progressive values back on the Board of Commissioners. 

Ryan Kounovsky, Campaign manager,  Pete Sorenson reelection campaign

 

DON’T BE SHEEPISH

Are you unhappy with Gov. Kate Brown signing a bill to stop protecting Oregon wolves? When you vote this election, write in “Wolf OR-7” for governor. Tell your friends!

Ralph Wombat, Eugene

 

WASTED SPACE

The March 10 article and artwork about Springfield’s nightlife were a perfect match, completely worthless. It’s wasting space like this that dooms the print media. Just think of all the great cannabis ads you could have put in that space.

Frank Moran, Corvallis

 

GET TO KNOW LUCY

I must take a moment to give a hearty “thumbs up” to Lucy Vinis, who is running for mayor of Eugene. Vinis has worked on behalf of the Eugene community for nearly 25 years through her professional career and many volunteer activities; she has an excellent skill set to lead Eugene into the future. Honesty and sincerity are at her core. She gets my vote.

I have known Lucy for years. We first met when our sons became friends and we volunteered in local schools. Most recently our paths crossed again when Lucy was development director for ShelterCare, where I have been an active fundraiser. It was a pleasure to be reminded of her style: having compassion for others, understanding the community’s needs, having intelligence to make a successful plan for important goals and a dedication to doing the job right. Lucy’s leadership style will be an asset for Eugene.

Lucy has a personal passion for helping people, the drive to envision projects to promote community growth, the personal skills to collaborate and lead others, and the experience to work within organizations and lead others toward the path to success.

Lucy Vinis gets my vote and I would encourage others to get to know her!

Sandy Caughron, Eugene 

 

TOO GOOD FOR RICKER

As a small business owner in downtown Springfield, I am extremely disappointed in your March 10 article titled “All Quiet on the Eastern Front” by Ben Ricker. Born and raised in this area, I’ve been involved in our community for more than 27 years.

I live in Eugene but choose to run my business in downtown Springfield. I chose Springfield because it is an up-and-coming area that is full of life, history and extremely hard-working individuals who strive to make this city wonderful. In the last three years I have not only seen my business double, but I have also seen the general foot traffic multiply. 

We may not yet have the nightlife that Eugene does, but surely if Ben visited more than the 7-11 and strip clubs he would see there is vibrant life on the east side of the river after all. I invite him to come on a Saturday morning and check out The MotherShip Salon or The Washburne Café. Visit our farmer’s market Sprout!, have dinner at Plank Town and then check out a painting class at Vino and Vango. He’ll see a much different side. 

His article may have been meant as satire or “art,” but for the people who remember Springfield as it used to be it only confirms their outdated negative opinion and deepens the divide. Taken from your mission statement: "As informed citizens, we carry a responsibility for community leadership." I'd say he missed that mission by a mile.

Ben, try coming back and taking a second look; then rewrite your piece with an apology. Though if your taste in beer is any indication of your likes and dislikes, we may just be too good for you.

Katelyn Chaffin, Eugene

 

SMART & EXPERIENCED

Thank you for the comprehensive cover story March 24 on Hillary Clinton supporters in the Eugene-Springfield area.

There is no doubt among us that Hillary is the smartest and most experienced candidate in either party. She’d be an amazing president and she has big plans for our future. She believes it’s time to act on raising wages and reforming our immigration system. She believes it’s time to change our gun laws and make health care and education more affordable. She believes it’s time to make sure that all people are an equal part of our political process and our communities, regardless of your gender, race, creed or sexual orientation.

While some on the Republican side spew divisiveness and hate, we’re ready for an America where everyone can reach his full potential, no matter where you come from, what you look like or who you love.

That’s why we’re fighting alongside Hillary to win the Democratic nomination, win the White House and truly change our nation’s history forever.

For more on local grassroots activities, please join us in the “Lane County Democrats for Hillary!” Facebook group and visit HillaryClinton.com for additional campaign opportunities.

Curtis Taylor, Eugene

 

POOR PLUG FOR HILL

What a disappointing March 24 article about Hillary Clinton. You state that she has been criticized for voting for the war in Iraq, yet don’t require that her supporters respond to that issue. Is this the same newspaper that so adamantly opposed the war back in 2002? Foreign policy is considered Clinton’s strength, but the war in Iraq was a huge disaster that she supported, and she continues to support regime change elsewhere.

Your author also failed to address the real facts of Clinton’s ties to Wall Street, her past support for the bankruptcy bill that hurt consumers and her reliance on big donations. The article was a one-sided, poorly disguised plug for Clinton.

Most disappointing is the patronizing attitude of the pro-Clinton supporters toward those who support Bernie Sanders, and the author’s failure to confront them with actual facts about the senator’s long history of effectiveness in the U.S. Senate.

 I am sorry to see the Weekly join The New York Times and others in the Bernie Blackout. I hope to read a well-researched piece soon about both candidates.

Kathryn Tassinari, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our cover story on Bernie Sanders was Feb. 18.

 

GREAT PORTRAIT

Wow! What an amazing portrait by Jeremy Okai Davis of Hillary Clinton for the March 24 issue. It almost, but not quite, makes me want to vote for her. Maybe you could have him do a portrait of Bernie? I hope I can see more of his artwork! 

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

CARBON-FREE BIRDING?

I would like to respond to the mean-spirited and completely unfair bashing of Noah Strycker by Phil Henderson in Letters March 10. We are birders ourselves and were fortunate to meet this extremely nice young man on his return from his birding adventures.

Strycker makes a living writing books about birds. This obviously requires that he has experiences to write about; and, like most everyone that makes a living, it requires travel by car, plane, train, bus, etc., all not “carbon-free.”

As for “carbon-free” birding, I assume you have one or more of the following things: bicycle, backpack, water bottle, binoculars, shoes, clothes, jacket, etc. All of them not “carbon-free.” The road you ride your bike on? Not carbon-free. Your existence on this planet? Not carbon-free.

Get off your high horse, Mr. Henderson. If you want to minimize your use of CO2 producing fuel, fine; but that isn’t going to save this planet. If you really want to make a difference, you should be out there lobbying for nuclear power plants, the only current, cost-effective technology that could both fuel our cities (almost carbon-free) and remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Dena Fowler, Cottage Grove

 

WE NEED TO WAKE UP

Heard on NPR March 20: “Over the last five years, as the Cuban economy has opened up to private enterprise, the inequality in Cuban society has increased to the point that the tensions are of concern to the Cuban government.”

Five years! Imagine what it would be like after a couple hundred years. Oh wait, that’s what we are living! Privatization leads to inequality, as the have-nots work for the haves who use their profits to get farther ahead and gain more power over the have-nots.

Fast-forward 200 years and we have global capitalism, exploiting the have-nots of the world, threatening virtually all aspects of life on earth, for the benefit of a handful of already-have-it-alls. In my view, the even bigger problem is that our entire society is a dependent beneficiary of this exploitation. If the average American uses 40 times the energy of the average third world person, then America is 40 times more responsible for all the oil spills, nuclear waste, coal pollution, climate chaos, etc., that our lifestyle generates.

Yet we continue to see ourselves as the good, normal people, whose way of life everyone else should continue to aspire to, and the majority of Americans have no intention of actually changing their lifestyles for the sake of someone else’s catastrophe.

How huge a disaster will it take to wake us up? Fukushima didn’t do it. Nor did the gulf oil spill or hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Not even the illegal oil war inflicted in our name on the people of Iraq has broken through our collective denial. I shudder to think what will.

Rick Moser, Eugene

 

REPUBLICAN EXTREMES

Never has the underlying philosophy of the Republican Party been so nakedly displayed for what it is: extreme, divisive and hateful. The radical right is angry and armed. These people want to burn the house down rather than invest in it.

Instead of focusing on the systemic racism and underfunding of human needs — of $800 billion tax cuts for people who destroyed the economy — they focus racist energy on illegal immigrants. Of course that is not all. The extremists who have captured a large interest in the Republican Party thrive on evangelical Christianity, whose hypocrisy to Jesus’ beliefs, hold tolerance for diversity and respect for human rights so low as to be obscured. Who is surprised when a belligerent, egomaniacal, vulgar man captures the imagination of so many people?

Republican policy misses the mark in nearly every way. It disinvests in people, the environment, health, education, clean energy, housing, food, and shifts the wealth of the nation (even more) towards the most powerful people and institutions. On a moral level the party is repugnant. The religious intolerance, homophobia and xenophobia that social conservatism so ardently represents violates common standards of nonviolence and respect for others, as well as the constitutional separation of church and state.

The true test of our democracy, what gives us resilience over generations, is our ability to defeat these extreme elements of violence, and maintain civilized culture which deals with problems, like climate change, instead of sweeping them under the rug.

Julia Glick, Corvallis

 

CONFRONT HATRED

Silence is not a virtue in the face of hate and bigotry. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”

We are now faced with such a moment as a nation when it comes to Donald Trump. When a voice arises seeking to degrade and insult others and regularly utters racial and bigoted slurs against people, a failure to directly confront this type of hate-filled speech is fraught with danger. We ignore at our peril an appeal that plays on people’s emotions and prejudices rather than their rational side. This type of appeal is the weapon of the demagogue, and is the calling card of those who divide people and set citizens against each other.

Recent examples of this behavior were Gov. George Wallace and before him Sen. Joseph McCarthy. This cancerous bullying and shaming, abhorrent and vindictive behavior must be confronted and called out. 

The core of our nation is love and compassion. A nation rises or falls on its level of cooperation and caring, not on denying dignity and concern for its citizens in need. 

I strongly reject the hurtful, insulting and dismissive speech of Trump. I affirm the dignity and worth of all our citizens and those seeking to live in our country. We may disagree with each other in public discourse, but we must always act toward others with love and goodwill.

Christopher Michaels, Eugene

 

PEOPLE POWER

People’s voices make a difference. Since my last letter Feb. 25 asking our representatives to support the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, much has happened. There are now 107 members of the House co-sponsoring this bill, 25 added since that letter. On the Senate side, 14 senators cosponsoring, three added since the letter.

The latest cosponsors in the House and the Senate came after a group of young people (ages 18-30) were lobbying in Washington, D.C., for the Reach Act. RESULTS (see results.org) organized these young people, helping them learn to speak powerfully and take action on this important matter. The Real Change program is open for applications to begin the program this summer (see results.org/realchange).

Isn’t it great to live in a democracy?

Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Wash.