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Letters to the Editor: 1-17-2013

CRIMINALIZING SURVIVAL

As I write this I am looking at a ticket a friend, who happens to be homeless, received for using a heating vent in one of our many alleys here to warm his hands. His charge? Criminal trespass 2, which carries a $280 fine. It appears that in the minds of the EPD, homeless people who have died from exposure are much preferable to the sight of one warming his hands in an alley. 

My question to the EPD, Chief Kerns and our ineffective City Council would be this: When did it become a crime to survive, and when does the city end its war against the homeless? As a city who feels appearance is more important than human necessity, and prefers the homeless go hide away from the sight of “normal” citizens, Eugene has shown itself to be a city of vanishing moral and ethical reasoning and should cast off all pretense of being concerned with human rights, dignity and sense of humanity.

It’s time the city and its leaders wake up to the fact that the homeless are not going away. They will not suddenly vanish into thin air. Homelessness will persist and perhaps even worsen. Avoidance of the issue is not the solution. It is time that real effort gets put into dealing with the core issues: mental illness, addiction, an economy only seen as good by the rich, and most of all a lack of concern for other human beings. A system of assistance that also stresses accountability is possible and is a must if we are ever going to begin to correct the situations that create the homeless.

Until then the EPD will continue to punish and ticket those who are doing nothing more than trying to survive. Shame on you Chief Kerns, shame on you City Council and shame on all of you who would demonize and cast out the homeless. You have all made calling Eugene “a human rights city” a laughable matter.

 Eugene Wanderer (Jeremy Lawrence), Eugene

 

TRACY AND TRAVIS

I am writing this letter to tell people about another homeless person’s death. I met Tracy at the Egan Warming Center with her Labrador puppy Travis. Through the course of that season I learned some things about her. I learned that at one time she owned a German shepherd and one day while walking by the river some people startled her and the dog bit someone. The police took the dog, and she was unable to do what they asked to get the dog back, and it was deemed dangerous and killed. 

She was scared that the same thing might happen to Travis because he was a puppy and had puppy traits like jumping up and nipping people. I offered to help her train Travis and we spent five or six sessions together trying different collars and techniques. She was dedicated to her dog and she turned him into a well-trained companion dog that gave her a lot of comfort and a feeling of security while living on the street. 

I had not seen her around town lately and wondered why. Her friend Larry told me about her death last week. She died Oct. 13 from viral meningitis. I hope she got the care she needed at the hospital. Goodbye and I will miss you, Tracy. Thank you to the rest of the un-housed, the churches, the City Council and mayor, the Occupy homeless coalition, and SLEEPS for continuing to work on solving the un-housed problem.

Joann Ernst, Eugene

 

BEYOND THE ‘STREET’

Upper Willamette Street between 29th and 24th perhaps should be visualized not as a through street but to facilitate shopping. Amazon Parkway is the logical throughway for traffic into town down (revising the transition with Pearl of course).

By creating a “parking avenue,” merging private frontage parking with circulation eliminating curbs and driveways, auto, bus, pedestrian and bicycle access could be coordinated and planned into the design of the layout. Traffic volume would be reduced since through traffic would bypass on Amazon as well as accessed from Amazon. Deliveries should access the stores from the streets behind. 

Utilities should be buried underground to reduce visual clutter and trees planted along with other calming green shade features to attract consumers. 

Bike paths, sidewalks and bus transit could flow through the district facilitating access to the various stores in a park-like setting. 

A Willamette commercial district should focus on a multi-mode circulation pattern for destination shoppers by eliminating through traffic. Without that congestion and traffic pressure, more people would be attracted to visit and shop with far less stress.

Mark Murphy, Creswell

 

FILL A BUS!

Our church has a group that supports health care as a human right. We are planning to charter a bus and go to Salem to join others from across Oregon at the rally on the first day of the new legislative session, Monday, Feb. 4. We plan to fill the bus to show our legislators we want comprehensive publicly funded health care for everyone!

A majority of people in our congregation has health care coverage, many of us, Medicare. So why should any of us care if health care is available to everyone? We’ve got ours, right?

But wait, my children are not eligible for Medicare. Neither are my grandchildren. Well, maybe the new Obamacare will take care of them. Or, maybe they won’t get sick. Or, maybe they’ll land a job that provides health care with their employment. Or, maybe if a frog had wings, he wouldn’t go bump when he jumps.

Are you interested in making health care available to all? If so, gather your friends, car pool, take the train, rent a bus on Feb. 4 and come to Salem to support the cause of “Health Care, a Human Right!” Wear a red shirt. If the people led, the leaders will follow! 

The local chapter of Health For All-Oregon meets regularly. See www.hcao.org

Blake English & Deb McGee, Eugene

 

GOD’S COUNTRY

As a young man I left Howard Beach, N.Y., for points unknown. Somewhere in the Northwest I saw my first uncut rain forest. “This is God’s country,” I thought. While still in the Northwest I saw my first large clearcut. I was shocked. As far as I could see in every direction was a Hiroshima-like scene of gray and brown. I’d never seen anything like this. “How in 1970 could we still be doing this?” I thought.

Unfortunately, clearcutting and the transformation of forests to tree farms continues in Oregon and elsewhere. I was shocked to learn Gov. Kitzhaber wants to clearcut federal forests to pay county bills. Under timber company and Lane County pressure a proposed clearcut on publicly owned former O&C railroad lands is in the works. These lands, if reconfigured, would stretch a mile wide from the West Coast to the East Coast with 500 miles still to go. Millions of acres. A lot of trees.

My former hometown, Howard Beach, was flooded by Hurricane Sandy. Cars and boats floated down the streets. My old grade school was damaged. I was reminded of an incident in my fifth grade biology class. Two frogs accidentally left in jars on the radiator were found dead. I asked my teacher, “Why didn’t they jump out?” He said, “Put frogs in hot water they will jump out, but slowly heat the water and they will stay.” He added, “They can’t understand what is happening to them.”

Dr. Kitzhaber should.

Leslie Weinstein, Eugene

 

BETTER SCHOOLS

This is in response to Michele Renee’s letter [“Guns for Teachers?” 12/27] about the state of schools. I agree with your sentiments with regards to the state of our schools and the way we teach our students. 

The school I teach at in Eugene actually meets the criteria you set forth for better public schools. The Network Charter School limits class sizes to 15 middle school and high school students per class. We also have three-hour-long classes where teachers are able to build community with the students. Classes are taught by the organizations Peace Village, MECCA (Materials Exchange for the Community Arts), Nearby Nature, and Le Petit Gourmet. Our students can take classes ranging from peace studies to permaculture to printmaking. Our students cook our breakfasts and lunches under the guidance of a trained chef using whole foods. 

We have students from all over Lane County who make the daily trek to our classes. In this era of increasing class sizes and more limited options for schools, Network Charter School is a true alternative education.

Josh Livie, Eugene

 

SINGING PRAISE

We would like to thank Scott Landfield from Tsunami Books and all of the fine folks who attended the Egan Warming Center fundraising concert on Dec. 22. Scott gave his time, effort and space to help make this event a success. The patrons donated over $800 in cash and two carloads of warm clothing, blankets and more in addition to their attendance on a cold, rainy Saturday evening. Every dollar and all donations were delivered to the St. Vincent de Paul drop-off site on Seneca Road on Dec. 28.

The participation of everyone involved exceeded our expectations and we are very grateful for the generous Eugene community. It is our intent to make this an annual event so we’ll see you again next year on the Winter Solstice!

Sean McGowan, Beth Wood and 14 co-signers of the Caldera Songwriters Group

 

WINE AT THE HULT

As a strong supporter of the recovery community in the Eugene/Springfield area, I was surprised to find myself sitting next to someone drinking a glass of wine during the Dec. 8 performance by the Eugene Concert Choir in the Silva Concert Hall. This is the first time I have had this experience at the Hult Center, and it was not pleasant. To have someone drinking wine, with its overpowering smell, one foot from where I was sitting, was unacceptable.

Serving alcohol and allowing it to be consumed in the lobby seems to work well for everyone. Forcing someone to sit right next to someone drinking does not. In the Eugene/Springfield area, there are an average of 30 AA meetings and five Al-Anon meetings offered each and every day. This is not a small problem to be taken or treated lightly. 

I do not remember ever getting a survey asking me whether I thought this change was a good idea or not. People have plenty of time to enjoy a drink before the beginning of the performance. The response from the Hult Center management was tepid at best. I quote from the letter I received from Jeff Goodyear and Karm Hagedorn: “With the short amount of time available during a typical intermission, letting patrons bring their beverages inside affords them an opportunity to enjoy a drink more slowly without having to quickly gulp it down. We’ve had very good customer feedback on this point as we’ve navigated our way through this change during the past months and have learned that this enhances the whole patron experience for many people which is one of our primary goals.” 

I hope the Hult Center will reconsider this policy. If someone has to grab another drink at intermission, maybe it’s time to start finding a meeting.

Paul Pattison, Eugene

 

WILL BULLETS FLY?

I have a question for all you terrified gun purchasers/worshippers. What will happen when you go where people gather and a balloon pops or a firecracker explodes or a car backfires? Will you all start shooting at each other? You are creating your own self-fulfilling prophesy.

 The NRA proclaims that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” There are no good guys with guns! The police are paid/sworn enforcers with guns. All the others are incredibly ignorant or paranoid or sadistic or worse.

Ramona McCall, Eugene

 

VOICES OF REASON

“We are writing to urge your support for a ban on the domestic manufacture of military-style assault weapons …We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons.” This is from a letter to Congress , May 13, 1994, written and signed by Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan. If this letter was written today, rather than almost 20 years ago, the far right gun supporters would accuse these men of being liberal, gun-grabbing wackos out to destroy the Constitution. The voices of reason can not be heard today because of all the paranoid, child-like screaming tantrums from the far right.

Michael Hinojosa, Drain

 

PROTECT US

Enough is enough. We need to do more to protect our citizens, especially our children, from mass shootings like the one in Newtown, Conn.

And, yes, we need a real ban on semi-automatic assault weapons and on magazines of more than 10 rounds. California’s state assault weapon ban should be the model. I’m pleased to learn that California Sen. Diane Feinstein has announced that on day one of the new Congress, she will introduce a bill similar to the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban signed into law by President Clinton. That life-saving bill was tragically allowed to expire in 2004, despite President Bush’s assurance that he would sign the extension if passed by Congress. Now is the time for President Obama to finally back commonsense actions to prevent gun violence.

While I fully support the right of an individual to have a gun in their home for self-protection, there should be restrictions and limitations on the kinds of weapons we allow in our society. I wholeheartedly support Feinstein’s effort to ban the sale, import, transfer, and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity clips, magazines, and strips. I see no reason for these types of weapons to be in the hands of either law-abiding citizens or criminals because of their high firepower and ability to penetrate body armor which puts everyone at risk. I firmly believe that we must do all that we can to prevent gun violence in America.

It’s not the whole answer. But it’s an important start. As Americans, we know we are better than a country where there are 32 gun murders every day. That is why I ask you to contact Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and strongly urge them to sign on as co-sponsors of Feinstein’s important gun violence prevention bill immediately.

Curtis Taylor, Eugene

 

ARM EVERYBODY

I’m not saying it’s true, just that it could be true: What do the fashion industry and the NRA have in common? Think about it: the NRA wants to arm just about everyone in order for us to be safer, and as noted in the Second Amendment, ready to defend ourselves against the federal government.

But clearly our clothing has not been designed to comfortably haul around the appropriate weaponry. Who wants to attend Christmas parties or bar mitzvahs with an assault weapon tucked in their skirt, pants or cummerbund? I mean, really, that is so 1770s. But the NRA knows darn well we will need clothing designed to accommodate our ordnance. And who benefits? It’s the economy, stupid.

Robert L. Weiss, Eugene

 

WARS AND THE POLICE STATE

The governments of this world’s empires and even poor countries seem to arm with power the most cowardly of their citizens. Not the bravest. It doesn’t take heroes to go armed to the teeth, with body armor and with a gang of fellows to beat up civilians. It takes a person with a need to please someone else even if this act goes against their conscience. The leaders of these “men” who order them to commit atrocities have only a fictional authority given to them by their insecure subordinates.

There is a place for this training, but it should remain dormant and not come out unless a legitimate need arises.

This is not to be understood as a passive stance, a “turn the other cheek” philosophy. Military campaigns for the right reasons, with the correct understanding and with total peace as the aim are justifiable. They are a last resort, not to be taken lightly. My view is also not strictly individualistic. The process of individuation (growth and transformation) can be undergone by everyone before rejoining society as a complete person. This can be done in special retreats, schools or the proverbial “leaving home.”

A quote from the old boy, Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese master composer of the sonnets that make up the Tao Te Ching relates to this: “ Going to a battle field is to be approached as if going to the funeral of relatives. Death is no cause for happiness.”

David Ivan Piccioni, Eugene

 

CREATING KILL ZONES

In light of the recent events, concerned citizens around the country want to see the end of guns. Many people insist that we have spots where guns are not allowed or the elimination of guns all together.

The main problem in these “gun-free zones” is that “bad guys” will get their hands on guns, no matter what the laws allow. In fact, if there were places where these “bad guys” knew that there was little resistance, they would undoubtedly go there to kill. In fact, I suspect that it would be an all-you-can-kill buffet.

However, most people recognize that it is a two-part fix. One major issue is the lack of attention the system gives to people with mental health needs. Many people with mental illnesses go untreated, and when problems go unfixed, they only get worse.

I do not propose a complete ban on guns, but instead strict background checks and the cancellation of assault rifle sales to the public. Because these guns are made with the sole purpose of killing people, they have no place in society. Other types of guns, including pistols and hunting rifles, should still be allowed. Of course, if someone chooses to buy a gun, they should become educated about their gun, including knowing how to operate it, clean it, and store it. Most importantly, they should know when to use it.

 Nathan Aneshansley, Eugene