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Letters to the Editor: 4-21-2016

VOTE ON CITY HALL

We now have a proposed new city hall planned for the next 100 years. It looks like a breadbox surrounded by windows — and is earthquake proof.

The estimated price is about $25 million.
We need to think “outside the box.” We need an advisory vote on the November ballot to authorize spending $10 million to purchase the current EWEB building. This vote would indirectly approve the selling of the EWEB building by the commissioners for $10 million. 

We EWEB customers own that building. It’s all been paid for by us. EWEB will be putting it up for sale or rent in the future. We need to keep that property as public property, with a view across the river over our central park.

EWEB could reduce some of its bonded debt with that $10 million, or it might use the money to help pay for a second water source. It might even consider expanding its fiber optics operation downtown — presently much desired by the Eugene City Council. Using this building as a city hall would greatly increase the value of the surrounding property currently being planned for sale.

The 100-year view from this new city hall is magnificent — right here in River City. Gone is the proposed view over the parking lots at the present site. That, to me, is good 100-year planning.

Bob Cassidy, Eugene

 

LEGAL EVICTION

"No-cause" eviction is legal. I am homeless as a result.

Days before Christmas my landlord told me to move out, knowing I had no place to go. Pleas from myself and family were to no avail. Christmas cards arrived, but not all for me. I went to court in hope of reprieve. No lawyer would hear my plea, at any cost. My rent was paid in full.

My landlord gained many of my prized possessions. Is this legal? Yes.

“No cause” eviction has resulted in hardship beyond measure. I know. I have witnessed the judge say, “There is nothing I can do.” I am homeless and feel helpless. Please endeavor to alter this absurd law.

My partner and I have been struggling to find affordable housing for over three weeks now. We have discovered many of our temporary neighbors are in similar circumstances. We are all wondering where we will go when all of the motels demand our departure in order to make room for the folks who need a place to enjoy their stay during the Olympic trials. 

My advice to the law enforcement folks is this: Take down the fences, install sanitation.

H.J. Iak, Eugene

 

PROFESSIONAL FORESTER

I retain a lawyer when I need legal advice. I ask a financial advisor when I want financial advice. When I need an expert to explain options for my forest, I bring in a professional forester. 

A quick check of the Society of American Foresters website (safnet.org/certifiedforest/index.cfm) reveals a list of 28 consulting foresters in Oregon, several in the Eugene area. These are professionals who understand the complexities of forest ownership, management, financial value, emotional appeal and attachment that many people have for their property. 

A professional forester can help define goals and develop a plan to achieve them, explain regulatory and legal requirement, assess the values of the forest — environmental, societal, economic, personal, emotional — and manage and administer a harvest contract and market the wood appropriately.

The benefits are usually many in the end to accept up front a modest cost for expert advice, whether it be legal, financial or forestry. Your April 7 story, “Timber Theft,” illustrates three good examples where a forester may have added value. 

Kevin S. McElwee, Springfield

 

SAFE ROADSIDES AND WATERS

In response to “Spraying Roadsides with Herbicides” from your April 7 issue, I want to express my concern about the possible return of said practices. 

I was a member of Lane County’s Health Advisory Committee when we initiated the “Last Resort Policy.” As a whole, the committee recommended this policy and hoped it would last into perpetuity. It strikes me that if the Vegetation Management Plan (VMP) conflicted with the Last Resort policy (LRP), then the VMP should be revised to match the LRP, not the way it’s being decided now.

A comment is indicated as rejoinder to the “crews have rolled ankles, have made contact with poison oak, been stung by bees and nearly hit by passing cars” suggesting that “Lane County plans to apply herbicides to tree trunks with a paintbrush.” Please clarify for me how that would eliminate the dangers the crew has already experienced with the current management policy or how it would have any cost reduction?

My preference is that no herbicides or pesticides be used, considering the current methods are actually working. And if that is not possible, I hope that any use of herbicides is approached with extreme caution, and when it is proven that it truly is a last resort, i.e., that no other approach has or will work. 

Let’s keep our roadsides, waters and planet safe.

Bev Hollander, Eugene

 

LIGHTEN UP

  I have often noticed how eager Eugeneans are to be offended. After reading through all the mail about Ben Ricker’s cartoon [3/10], I see Springfielders have picked up the habit, too.

What many failed to see was the cartoon’s intended satire. I knew it was a joke because it was way over the top. I also predicted the response to it. Downtown Springfield has improved, and lampooning its low rent image was a reminder of how much has changed.

Instead of whining and complaining, it’s time to reach out and promote the city in a positive, proactive way. As Katelyn Chaffin pointed out in her letter, the downtown hub has much to offer. Not to mention Mount Pisgah, Dorris Ranch and the wave-pool attractions nearby. 

EW has traditionally focused on Eugene while ignoring Springfield, and until recently there has been little effort to bridge the differences between the two. Now with development, Springfield is becoming more noticeable.

EW does not need to apologize for the parody, Springfielders, like Eugeneans need to lighten up.

Alisa McLaughlin, Eugene

 

DR. FRANKENSTEIN

When Montana State paleontologist Jack Horner recently spoke at the University of Oregon it was as though Dr. Frankenstein himself had arrived on campus.

Horner spoke of his efforts to “reverse engineer” a dinosaur. That is, to genetically manipulate a chicken — an evolutionary descendant of dinosaurs — so that the resulting animal will, in some way, physically resemble a dinosaur. This may involve attempting to add a long tail, altering the shape of the skull, changing the skeletal structure of the limbs and on and on. 

The guiding idea is that if evolution could trace a path from velociraptor to modern chicken, then humanity should be able chart a course in the reverse direction from chicken back to raptor.

Of course, the great sin of Dr. Frankenstein was hubris and an unexamined assumption that, for him, nothing is off limits or could ever be prohibited. But Horner’s macabre endeavors transgress on the sacred; they are an insult to the living world. 

If nothing else, respect for animals must bar treating them as a mere assemblage of component parts and desirable features to be rearranged and manipulated for one’s amusement or curiosity.  

Ian Smith, Eugene

 

UNOFFICIAL SATURDAY MARKET

What’s going on with the people who set up their booths across the street from the Saturday Market in Wayne Morris Free Speech Plaza? I heard that Saturday Market is trying to get them removed. For what reason? I know I would rather them have a safe place to try to make money selling things instead of pan handling everywhere downtown and in the market. 

Many of them cannot afford to have a special booth at the market, where everything they make is judged by a committee, or buy a special canopy. This includes the little old lady who is just trying to make enough money selling her crafts so she can make enough money to go to Kansas to see her dying brother, or the disabled man who has a small table with crystals just trying to make enough for food for the week. 

When I walked by there this Saturday (April 9) a police officer was telling the artists that if they set up next week, they would be fined or possibly go to jail. How does the city expect people whose only income is selling their crafts to pay a $1,000 ticket if they can’t sell their goods to make the money to pay the ticket? 

After talking to some of the artists about what was going on, many of them said they set up at the plaza because other venues that might be affordable simply don’t get enough traffic or that the people who try to go to those venues cannot even make enough money to pay for the fee of setting up at them. 

Some of the artists in the courtyard have been there for more than 15 years and never been told they have to leave, and have never caused a problem, so why make them leave now? 

Elizabeth Denzer, Lorane

EDITOR'S NOTE: EPD tells EW the $1,000 fine is for smoking weed in public.

 

EATING SUSTAINABLY

With the 47th annual observance of Earth Day just around the corner, this is a great time to explore more effective ways of slowing climate change and conserving Earth’s natural resources for future generations.

A 2010 UN report charged animal agriculture with 19 percent of manmade greenhouse gases — more than all transport — and recommended a global shift to a vegan diet. A subsequent World Watch study placed that
contribution closer to 50 percent. Meat and dairy production also dumps more water pollutants than all other human activities combined. It is the driving force in global deforestation and wildlife habitat destruction.

Last fall, England’s prestigious Chatham House declared that reducing meat consumption is critical to achieving global climate goals. A report from Oxford University found that global adoption of a vegan diet would reduce greenhouse emissions by two-thirds. The 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recommended reduced meat consumption and an environmentally sustainable diet.

Just as we replace fossil fuels by wind, solar and other sustainable energy sources, we must replace animal foods with the more sustainable vegetables, fruits and grains. Being mindful of this can help us make better choices at the supermarket.

Elijah Hennison, Eugene

 

CHAMPION OF PUBLIC INTEREST

The South Willamette Special Area Zone is a high-density, pro-development Trojan Horse disguised in attractive “green” language to fool the unwary. The attempt to destroy affordable homes and walkable residential neighborhoods using the double-talk that increasing density will produce affordability is the old “we have to destroy it to save it” scam. 

Wake up, Eugene, the “powers that be” downtown have plans to bring this Trojan Horse to 15 other Eugene neighborhoods.

Emily Semple is the only Ward 1 candidate for City Council speaking out in opposition to SW-SAZ and against MUPTE, the 10-year tax break for developers.

Emily’s opponents brag about their wide support among the influential players downtown. One, Mr. Greenwashing, can slickly argue that "sustainable" means anything whatsoever. The other offers selling points appealing to a low-attention-span voter.

Do not be fooled by candidates sailing under false green-environmental-public interest flags. Their only interest is feeding at the trough downtown, where powerful development interests reward their foot soldiers.

Know Emily Semple by the endorsement of George Brown and Bonny Bettman McCornack, both longtime champions of the public interest in Ward 1. 

Ron Bevirt, Eugene

 

HERBICIDE DEBATE

A little fact checking by the author would have revealed the inaccuracy of John Sundquist’s quote that “Lane County is the only county that has a policy prohibiting the use of herbicide to control roadside vegetation in the state.” 

The wording of the current code 15.500 (2) states: “The county shall use non-herbicidal control methods, including prevention, as its preferred tools for roadside vegetation management. Permitted herbicides shall be used only as a last resort when other options have been proven ineffective.” 

Following passage of the current code, the BCC passed a moratorium on the use of herbicides and the county has not used herbicides, as noted in the article. Mr. Sundquist’s “harsher criticism” is so generic and vague that it is useless, and if he was willing to be more than an armchair critic he could have attended any of the public meetings of the task force but apparently didn’t. 

I am sure if the proposed changes move forward, Mr. Sundquist and others will have ample opportunity to provide constructive, meaningful comments.

J. Blake, Eugene

 

WIG HAS A PLAN

I’m 25. Young people usually avoid politics because it’s rigged or we feel powerless. Chris Wig’s focus on tenant rights got me excited. No-cause evictions hit young people every day, and Wig is the only candidate taking that seriously.

Poor people under the barrel of a 30-day eviction notice don’t have time to find a new place or extra cash for a huge rent increase. Wig says tenant issues often cause homelessness, forcing families to couch-surf or go completely homeless.

Wig is the only candidate with a plan to help us — I checked. It’s the model Portland just passed: a 90-day notice requirement for no-cause evictions and any rent hike over 5 percent. Giving tenants 90 days offers us enough time to put our humpty-dumpty lives back together again. It takes time to adjust, to uproot and replant.

We were no-cause evicted last fall. It was hell just to pack, save and find a reasonably-priced rental near bus lines in only 30 days. I can’t imagine families managing that — many don’t.

Chris Wig listens to us and is presenting our stories to the City Council right now, which is why I’m voting for him to be our City Councilor in Ward 1.

Ben Torres, Eugene

 

IS OREGON ABOARD?

President Obama mercifully commuted the sentences of 61 drug offenders who would not be in prison under today’s federal drug laws (R-G March 31, p. A3) — 248 commutations is more than the previous six presidents, yet a small drop from the bucket considering 250,000 souls held under rigid mandatory sentences in federal prisons. 

This symbolic gesture scarcely addresses our “big government on autopilot,” considering an embarrassing world record 2 million plus U.S. Gulag Archipelago and its exorbitant ($30,000 plus per year per inmate!) costs. 

Mr. Holvek and Prozanski supported Oregon’s 2013-14 legislation making mandatory sentences flexible, which might stop our overcrowded prisons from growing. Yet Oregon continues imprisoning more per capita than any other country!

Many Republicans, Libertarians and liberal Democrats are in agreement that bills like the bipartisan Sentencing Reform Act (S. 2123, Title I & House 3713) and the Corrections Reform & Recidivism Reduction Act (S. 2123 Title II, HR. 759) should all reach the floor of Congress for a vote. Obama promises to sign this legislation.

Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Peter DeFazio had not joined Ron Wyden or their bipartisan colleagues in signing on to cosponsor these bills when I reached them on March 15. Some Republicans in our dysfunctional Congress, particularly majority leaders McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan, might not even read these bills, let alone bring them out of committee for votes! 

One hopes our Oregon delegation agrees with the small steps this legislation takes in the right direction. Thanks, Mr. Wyden! Are you aboard, Jeff and Peter?

Ethen Perkins, Eugene

 

VOLUNTEERS FOR AMERICA

When the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, and when big business threatens a state with economic sanctions because it doesn’t agree with its laws, it is a sure sign that our government has failed. The Constitution is based on deism, as opposed to feudal monarchies. The only candidate who stands for these ideals, freedom from the oppression of the new monarchs and their manipulation of the economy is: May I have the envelope please? Bernie Sanders!

Volunteers for Bernie meet 12:30 pm Saturdays at 2809 Friendly Street. 

Vince Loving, Eugene

 

WIG SHOWS SOLIDARITY

My labor union, SEIU 503, has endorsed Chris Wig for Eugene City Council, Ward 1.

Chris Wig returned our detailed questionnaire. We liked his written answers. A group of local SEIU members of our political action committee then sat down with Wig to discuss policy issues of concern to SEIU.

Following that meeting, we knew Wig will be a strong advocate for working families and labor union members when he is elected to City Council.

During spring and summer last year, SEIU-classified workers at the UO were grateful when Wig supported our contract negotiations by repeatedly showing up at actions and events. Wig even contacted state legislators, asking them to take action to help UO classified workers!

Chris Wig has the experience, knowledge and energy to strengthen community coalitions of citizens that will show up and speak out at City Council meetings, especially on issues such as affordable housing, paid sick leave and raising the minimum wage.

When reviewing your ballot prior to the May 17 election, SEIU 503 urges residents in Ward 1 to vote for Chris Wig. He clearly demonstrates solidarity with improving the lives of working families.

James Jacobson, Eugene

 

HONOR TO JOURNALISM

I’ve observed journalism in Eugene for four decades. Whatever its occasional faults, it has had individuals who have reminded us of how valuable good journalism can be for a community.

High on the list is retired columnist  Don Bishoff of The Register-Guard.  But no one has symbolized the greatest merit of the profession better than Ted Taylor, now retiring after 17 years as editor of Eugene Weekly.

We can have confidence his successor, Camilla Mortensen, will maintain his high level. Yet when a future history of journalism in Eugene is written, no one will be more significant than Ted.

We owe him gratitude for his creativity and courage.

George Beres, Eugene