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Letters to the Editor: 11-8-2012

TAKE DOWN THE SIGNS

Now that the election is finally over, I hope that we can once again remember that we are all Americans. Citizens of the United States of America. A bitter few will nurture their resentments and bias, but the rest of us will take down the political signs and get back to rebuilding our economy and moving our nation and our community forward. We, the people have spoken. Voting is the most patriotic thing most of us will ever do. Democracy is a messy business. But respect and tolerance and cooperation is what made this country great. Not hate. 

Mark Murphy, Creswell

 

TOO MUCH UGLY

Ten minutes of deliberation decided the fate of the Courthouse Garden block. Unbelievable! I do thank Judge Hogan for bringing us this outstanding architectural designed building to Eugene. I also thank Judge Aiken, Ann Bettman and the UO students for their important community garden. 

Doesn’t anyone at City Hall understand how important this block is? It has been discussed as part of the planning for the Great Street — but not during the 10- minute deliberation. With the East Coast and Midwestern drastic weather problems our promotion of growing food with students might be a much better use of the block than another credit union. At least we had two councilors, Betty Taylor and George Brown, who spoke up for more time to make a city-changing decision. 

No design suggestions were discussed and the only drawing showed a four-story building with a large parking lot. Maybe it is time to have an Eugene Beautiful Design Board. Too much ugly stuff happens.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene

 

LAZY SOLUTION

We have been told as EWEB customers that the proposed 2013 rate increases are necessary to make up for a shortfall in demand. EWEB maintains that the downturn in the economy has led people to use less water and power resulting in less income for the utility. The proposed solution to this is to make the cost of basic services (the flat fee charged every month regardless of usage) even more expensive.

To me this seems very counter-intuitive. Doesn’t logic dictate that an increase in the basic cost would lead to an even greater reduction in demand as people try harder to use less water and power? How can EWEB be confident that income generated by this rate increase will be more than the income lost in a further shrinking demand? I know that an 8 percent increase in the cost of power and a 20 to 30 percent increase in the cost of water will certainly make me think twice before I turn on the faucet or hit the light switch.

Furthermore, every month EWEB includes pamphlets on energy and water saving tips with the utility bill, and has an entire section of their website devoted to ways in which customers can save money by using less power and water. Apparently EWEB encourages this behavior, so it seems a little hypocritical that they use decreased demand as one of the reasons to raise rates. 

I think EWEB’s management needs to be more creative with their budgeting instead of just lazily proposing across-the-board rate hikes as a solution. 

 Perry Blakeley, Eugene

 

SMOKE KILLS KIDS

One of my Eugene friends just sent me a copy of EW’s Aug. 30 edition with the cover story about the two Eugene organizations, StoveTeam International and Aprovecho Research Center, that develop stoves for use in developing countries. She knows of my interest in such stoves because I am a Peace Corps volunteer in rural South Africa.

Here the problem is not so much the open fires of Central America or African refugee camps as it is ordinary wood-burning cook stoves, much like your grandmother probably used in the ’30s to cook family dinners. Here it’s common for a kitchen to be set up in a separate building — a mud hut or perhaps a yurt-like structure called a rondaval that is usually made of mud or cinderblocks and has a grass roof. And very poor ventilation.

Just as it is in America, rural African kitchens often are gathering places for families to socialize and get caught up on the day’s events while mom makes dinner. All the while, all in the room are sucking down large quantities of cook smoke from the stove. The women and children are most affected because they spend the most time there — many hours a day. According to StoveTeam, more children under the age of 5 die of respiratory illnesses than die of malaria and AIDS combined. It’s the leading cause of death in young children in developing countries. People spend 20 hours a week gathering firewood for cookstoves and fires — and depleting the forests.

I’m exploring the possibility of bringing a stove project to villages in my part of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, but building a stove factory from the ground up in a rural area in a developing country is a monumental project, as StoveTeam and Aprovecho can attest. They deserve well-earned recognition and support for their efforts.

Gary Cornelius, Peace Corps Volunteer

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

 

LEGAL SLEEPING

I agree that the new county park caretaker program is a wonderful step in the right direction. Helping make our parks safer for everyone is a great goal, and a way to provide a legal place to sleep for a few people. However, as anyone in any social service agency in town will tell you, it is simply not enough to meet the immediate and dire need for legal places to sleep for people who have no homes. Many don’t even have a car to sleep in. 

Even if we were to expand this program to include all the city parks that could benefit from a caretaker (and wouldn’t it be nice to have clean open restrooms in the parks all the time?), it would still be a drop in the bucket. While over 2,000 were counted as homeless during the one night count last year, over 10,000 who accessed social services indicated that they were or had been homeless at some point during the year. Over 700 homeless children attended 4J schools last year. Without safe places to sleep, people can do nothing else to better their lives.

If we cannot provide a safe, dry place to sleep for everyone who needs it, then we must find ways of getting out of the way of people providing for themselves. No more police and court time wasted levying fines that don’t get paid. No more citations for life-sustaining activities!

Sabra Marcroft, Eugene

 

RENAME OUR COUNTY

Lane County is named after Joseph Lane, vice-presidential candidate for the pro-slavery South, the Confederacy, back in the mid-1800s. He and many of his like-spirited friends later moved to this area; many more racists migrated here during the Great Depression. Word is, many of their grandchildren are doing a good job of reversing that heritage. Would they support a renaming of Lane County? Those most supportive of one’s courage to change are often equally willing. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center (www.splcenter.org) tracks hate groups nationwide and has found 15 such groups that are now active in Oregon. Hate crimes have occurred here. 

Given that those consumed with racial hate are often equally misogynistic, is it surprising Lane County has high rates of domestic abuse, that its number of children placed in protective foster care is among the very highest, proportionate to population, in the U.S.? 

Eugene is very much a part of Lane County. There is much terra-firma available for planting the seeds of healing. Would an effort to give this county a more apt name bring together a large and diverse circle of citizens, who could then underline their commitment by helping to solve the many other problems affecting this county? O, look, there are scads of dedicated volunteers already accomplishing good works here! And they sure could use your help.

 Charles F. Thielman, Eugene

 

BEYOND JAZZ

As we all know, jazz musicians do not make a lot of money at it. Virtually all jazz musicians are forced to hold day jobs, maintain non-artisitc careers, or give tons of lessons in order to supplement an art form that struggles to sell itself to wide enough audiences. The idea of health care is even more of a stretch for these performing artists, and many musicians are caught without this essential protection.

When I heard this week about one such instance of a musician needing financial support for a health issue, this idea was born in me. I want to “pass a hat” to provide one beloved musician-member of our community with a little assistance in a time of great need and worry.

It’s clearly one thing to pay the cover price to hear music, and certainly quite another to consider the needs of these gifted, hard-working artists in their real lives. Unfortunately, real life sometimes rears its unforgiving head, and we are forced to take extraordinary means to “help a brother out.”

So I am setting up this little fund called “Beyond Jazz” as “the hat,” and I am asking supportive people I know to toss a bill into the hat.

While the medical bills for the needed procedures can reach into the thousands of dollars, I’m hoping the hundreds we may raise will act to help in the healing on some palpable level. I have found that one of the hardest things about getting sick is feeling completely alone with the struggle, isolated. Who knows, perhaps whatever gift we can amass can alleviate a great deal of the pain and anxiety that hopefully will be for a very temporary period. I know our community will benefit from the caring and the giving.

I will set up an account at Oregon Community Credit Union this week. You can write checks to “Beyond Jazz.” All collections and all payments will be fully disclosed to those who participate without being asked. Names of donors will be fully protected unless otherwise stipulated. On behalf of our worthy friend and the entire jazz community. Thanks for your consideration.

Robert Sposato, Eugene 

 

OUR NATION’S MISTAKES

The essay by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (printed in The Register-Guard Oct. 26) pointed out that the European countries whose economies have been hardest hit by the worldwide Great Recession happen to be the countries that have most enthusiastically embraced the same economic philosophy (often called “supply-side economics” or “trickle-down economics“) that has totally dominated the U.S. for the past third of a century. This got me to think about the history of this economic philosophy in the U.S. during the past century and how it has affected our nation.

 About 90 years ago, the Harding/Coolidge administrations pushed and passed a program of tax cuts and deregulation which created a huge economic bubble called the Roaring Twenties. When that bubble collapsed in 1929, President Hoover decided, based on his business experience, that the best way to deal with the financial crises was to reduce spending and balance the budget, which transformed the financial crises of 1929-30 into the Great Depression.

 When FDR took office, he tried a new approach, most prominently centered around putting people to work on lots of public works projects; and the U.S. economy began to climb very slowly out of the Depression. Then, in early 1936, Roosevelt caved in to the demands of Congress and changed course, cutting way back on federal spending in order to reduce the national debt, which caused the recovery to disintegrate and the U.S. was plunged back into the Great Depression, which lasted until World War II. The war forced the government to spend lots of money to build and purchase all manner of weaponry and supplies to fight Germany and Japan; pulling the U.S. Economy out of depression and into a huge economic expansion that lasted (in fits and starts) into the 1970s.

 In the early 1980s, President Reagan pushed and passed a program of tax cuts and deregulation that created an economic bubble (sometimes called morning in America) that burst half a dozen years later with the Savings and Loan Crises, plunging the country into a recession which lasted into the 1990s.

 About 10 years ago, George W. Bush pushed and passed a program of tax cuts and deregulation that created an economic bubble (called the Housing Bubble) which burst in late 2008, leaving us here in the Great Recession, out of which we are now slowly climbing.

 So it seems to me that currently, our country is once again in an economic situation that parallels 1936. Does it seem that way to you, too? Is there any chance that the U.S. will learn from its past mistakes?

 Roger C. Kahane, Cottage Grove

 

WE HAD ‘NO KILL’

Curtis Taylor doesn’t understand that Lane County Animal Services had already gained No Kill status for the last several years without him even realizing it! Until July 1, LCAS, under the Lane County’s Save Adoptable and Treatable Animals mandate, saved 93 percent of dogs and 88 percent of cats in their shelter. Because of progressive thinking commissioners, great leadership, dedicated staff, volunteers and rescue groups, LCAS went in four years from a kill shelter to statistics that matched many outstanding national No Kill shelters. The community supported it. And if an animal was deemed unadoptable and there were no more resources, then yes, he was euthanized in a respectful and compassionate manner.

Because of the county’s and city’s shortsightedness, their disregard for what was a national success story, their lack of budgeting skills and disrespect for our community’s homeless pets, they decided to privatize.

One of the mandate’s components was transparency. There is no transparency now. The community wants to know what happens to their homeless pets. LCAS had disposition reports, available to the public, on every animal that came through the shelter. Why can’t or won’t Greenhill? That is what this debate is about, not whether or not we want No Kill. We had it and want it back!

Molly Sargent

Member, LCAS Advisory Committee

Pleasant Hill

 

MEATING CLIMATE CHANGE

Frankenstorm Sandy is one more dramatic demonstration that climate change and its extreme weather patterns are now part of our future. Although we’re unlikely to reverse climate change, we can still mitigate its effects by reducing our driving, our energy use, and our meat consumption.

Yes, meat consumption. A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat consumption accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that it may be closer to 50 percent.

Carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport, and slaughter animals and to refrigerate their carcasses. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

We have the power of reducing the devastating effects of climate change every time we eat. Our local supermarket offers a rich variety of soy-based lunch “meats,” hotdogs, veggie burgers, soy and nut-based dairy products (including cheese and ice cream), and an ample selection of traditional vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts. Product lists, easy recipes, and transition tips are available at www.livevegan.org

Edward Newland, Eugene

 

HALF-A-LOAF DEMOCRATS

 I no longer believe I have any power to change the velocity and direction of events in my own country, much less the world. The Democratic Party has played a major part in this with its 40-year program of abandoning the unions and the goals of humanism for a fall-back position of politically running on the single platform of this tacit threat — “We are the lesser of two evils”— while all the while outwardly tepidly voicing protests at the diminishing of human rights while inwardly always supporting the kind of military-corporate agenda that turns every nation that follows it into the same nation. 

The Democratic Party has exhausted my belief people of good will awaken and prevail in the end. Remember. Calling half a loaf a victory as a policy becomes crumbs in the End.

Leo Rivers, Cottage Grove

 

STRANGLING US

We must take back our community from the federal stranglehold, i.e. the Commerce Clause, preemption, and Dillon’s Rule. The world trade organizations, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and other special interest groups have made it impossible for democracy to exist anymore in the U.S. In our Constitution it says basically that if any part of it does not serve the people, that that part shall be null and void. 

It’s horrible — the fast pillaging of our environment going on right now. We, as a community and as parents of the following generations have a moral duty to try to preserve what is good and stand up to what is not good, like the coal trains coming through, for example. 

Cindy Biles, Eugene 

 

FORCED TO LIVE

 A woman should have complete accessibility to have an abortion, under any circumstance, whether it be because of rape or because of choice. The child may be an entity in itself, but that entity is completely dependent on the mother, therefore the mother should be given the right to choose, without restrictions.

 The act to criminalize abortion is obscene. It is justified by stating that the child has a right to live and pursue happiness, but a baby is unable to pursue or accomplish anything on its own without the mother (or a substitute’s) assistance until years after birth. 

Other parties argue that the child was a miracle and was born out of sacredness, but that is a matter of perspective and opinion. Under special circumstances, if a mother has no financial structure to support herself, let alone a child, and she is forced to birth the child, the child will most likely be forced into a life of struggling and living under a complex thinking that that child is different. Some might say that adoption is an exceptional option to take, but under these circumstances, the child is not being given the right to live, he/she is being forced to live.

 The regulations that people are proposing are also ridiculous. Making an exception to rape victims, or complications of birth, may be trying to help the individual and their special circumstances, but is only glorifying them and giving women an excuse for an abortion. This means that if we make an exception stating that only raped women can get abortions, there will be an enormous spike in accused “rapes.”

Nathyn Edson, North Eugene High School