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Letters to the Editor 2017-08-17

MATTHEW KNIGHT MONSTROSITY

What is the cost of Matthew Knight Arena (MKA) to the taxpayers of Eugene and Oregon state? 

The MKA is financed by a series of bond measures provided by the city of Eugene and a “Legacy Fund” (Phil Knight’s money). Although Knight pledged $100 million for MKA operating costs, I found zero references to profit. I found nary a reference to the lack of funds that MKA has brought to Eugene in the past seven years.

I wanted to find hard numbers on the cost to the city, budget numbers, anything that would be concrete evidence that the arena is a positive asset. When I searched the University of Oregon’s databank, I found zero budget numbers despite MKA being hailed as a huge economic gain for the university. I found few pieces on projected windfalls and actual revenue; the numbers are dismal in comparison to what was originally predicted.

Looking back, I can see that only 16 games in seven years have been sold out — far fewer than anticipated. Beyond that, MKA employs only 44 people, while MKA sits empty most of the year.

Who is benefiting from the MKA monstrosity? It certainly isn’t the university students, who are expecting a huge tuition hike next year; and it isn’t the city taxpayers.

I looked up Dana Altman’s financial contract, and found that his contract will expand to $23 million by 2023. Judging by extrapolation, I would say that it’s the UO basketball team, the coach and, again, Phil Knight.

But hey, what do I know?

Cindy Wiley, Springfield

 

KINDER STEWARDSHIP

“Slow Wood,” Carl Segerstrom’s Aug. 3 article on Oregon’s resilient forestry movement, captures the newly emerging spirit of stewardship for working forests. The ethos of these visionary foresters rejects the rapacious and extractive model perpetuated by corporate timber companies.

Many of the leaders of an alternative forest business model mentioned in the article are partnering with Beyond Toxics to raise awareness and increase advocacy. Our joint work created a statewide series of Resilient Forestry Tours and town hall meetings.

During our tours, conservationist foresters demonstrate how the Oregon’s outdated Forest Practices Act — which maintains harmful practices of aerial herbicide sprays, clear cutting, slash burning and planting genetically enhanced mono-species — must be shunned as a bygone relic.

Those who attend Beyond Toxics’ forestry tours experience the bio-diversity and beauty of a true resilient working forest — one that works for everyone in Oregon by protecting water, wildlife habitat and climate through carbon sequestration.  

The visionary forester David Eisler, owner of Shady Creek Forest Products just west of Veneta, is co-hosting the fifth in Beyond Toxics’ series of Resilient Forestry Tours 5 pm Wednesday, Aug. 23. Come learn about how healthy forests yield an overabundance of rewards that extractive forestry companies steal from future generations of Oregonians. Call us or visit beyondtoxics.org to reserve your spot.

Beyond Toxics continues to lead a grassroots campaign to overhaul Oregon’s forestry laws and help rural communities stop aerial herbicide assaults. We welcome volunteers and support to bring about a needed transition to eco-healthy forests.

Lisa Arkin, executive director Beyond Toxics, Eugene 

 

NO IDLE PROBLEM

In this time, when we as a progressive state, county and city want to find ways to combat climate change in the simplest ways, I think there is an overlooked educational opportunity that makes a lot of sense to bring into law: Automobile drivers need to be aware that idling an automobile engine is a serious contributor to air pollution and therefore climate change.

The air quality in Southern Lane County/South Willamette Valley often suffers from stagnation. The lack of air movement in summer and winter allows particulate matter to collect at an alarming rate, to the point where in winter Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) halts wood burning in some cities.

The exhaust of automobiles is substantially more harmful to air quality than wood burning, which is bad enough.

The first steps could be taken by government agencies — state, county and city could provide signage in their parking lots. All public agencies would pass ordinances prohibiting idling. There would be a requirement that privately owned businesses provide appropriate signage within a reasonable time. 

The message is simple: forbidding idling car engines with a monetary punitive damage to be decided upon.

The Environmental Defense Fund has an in-depth quantitative report that provides a ton of insight. Beyond that, however, are the prohibitions that major cities, such as Boston and Minneapolis, have enacted with very strict fines to limit air pollution from auto exhaust.

Contacting councilors, commissioners and lawmakers takes time and expense, but the cause is authentic and deserves the effort.

Jeff Simons, Eugene

 

FAILING THE TEST

I am a first year teacher, just out of the UOTeach Program. Students in Oregon face a deluge of standardized tests starting in the third grade. Every year, numerous hours of instruction time are dedicated to test prep and testing. It is estimated that standardized tests cost upwards of $27 million per year in Oregon. The cost to students is much greater.

Due to testing, 4J Schools have limited time and money for physical education, music and art. Teachers struggle to squeeze science and social studies into their schedules. Funding for targeted interventions is limited and always uncertain.

This means students with the highest reading and math needs may not receive the individualized help they need to meet academic goals.

The current focus on testing is a huge disadvantage to our youth. Students should have a well-rounded education in which they explore science, social studies, art, music and physical education.

Education is more than just reading and math. Testing has dulled the classroom experience by removing the fun from learning. 

It is my job to somehow take a fixed schedule and squeeze in everything that has been removed due to testing. This is to ensure that my students have the opportunity to find out what they’re good at.

School should be a place full of experiences that lead to students to love learning. Testing does just the opposite.

Reneé Henderson, Eugene

 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Louise and I have been missing some of our favorite aspects of summer in Eugene: Where’s the Bike Brigade, those fun-loving lit-up pedalers who used to roar through the neighborhood, often ending up at Skinner Butte Park (where they once did a midnight fashion show on the playground bridge)? Where are the fire dancers who entertained with their practicing down at the end of Lawrence Street?  

And, of course, where are the Skinner Butte eagles, which for the first time since their appearance in 2007 did not nest and raise young on the butte this year?

On a different note, where is my buddy Steve, who was a regular panhandler for two years at the corner of 6th and High, on the north edge of the Good Times parking lot? I gave him a warm coat back in December, and he greatly appreciated it. If anybody knows why he disappeared this spring, will you let me know? 541-687-1023.

Jeff Harrison, Eugene