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Letters to the Editor: 2-2-2012

COAL TRAIN FREE

Thanks for your cover story (1/19) on the coal trains coming soon to dozens of Northwest communities. I wanted to alert you that there’s more that residents can do than to merely plead with their local politicians to pass nonbinding resolutions. They can instead follow the lead of the group Coal-Free-Bellingham.org, which just launched a local ballot initiative campaign.

Bellingham, Wash., is the newest addition to the more than 150 mostly East Coast communities that are learning how to exercise their inherent right of local self-governance by passing community rights-based legally binding ordinances. These communities in six states have banned corporate fracking, corporate agriculture, corporate mining, corporate water extraction for bottling and corporate sewage sludge dumping on farmlands. You can review the actual ordinances at celdf.org

I work full-time on building this community rights movement across Oregon and would love to return to Eugene soon to help your community to jump on board this new-paradigm campaign.

Imagine if we could pass this same ordinance in towns along each of the rail lines the coal corporations plan to use! Wouldn’t that be exciting?

It’s time we the people stopped pleading with our politicians and started exercising our right to govern ourselves. We live in a corporate state. Let’s acknowledge this fact and start acting accordingly.

I urge EW to write a follow-up story on Bellingham’s legally groundbreaking efforts, so that all local residents here can learn more about this extraordinary new rights-based movement. More info at PaulCienfuegos.com

Paul Cienfuegos, Portland

 

IMPROPER POLICE

OK, so a federal judge and jury says officer Bill Solesbee violated the rights of and used excessive force upon Josh Schlossberg. But Chief Pete Kerns and his internal investigation ruled Solesbee acted properly! Who can we believe? Not Kerns, the former supervisor of rapist Roger Magana. Not Solesbee, notorious for instigating the Ian Van Ornum incident. Not his Taser-happy sidekick Judd Warden, or our town’s own renegade duo, federal agent Rob Hart and officer Jim McBride. This untrustworthy police department repeatedly makes Eugene liable for its illegal actions and ought to be disbanded and investigated. We have the constitutional right and moral obligation to instead form a community militia to competently defend Eugene ourselves and throw these cynic brutes off the public payroll. 

Michael McFadden, Eugene

 

ALTERNATE FILM REVIEWS

Ideally, moviegoers would make choices about what movies to see based upon the opinions of more than one person, but given busy lives sometimes a glance at how many stars a movie receives in the EW is the deciding factor. While critics should certainly give their honest opinions about the movies they review, I’d like to suggest that alongside its “stars,” the EW publish the average ratings of other critics and viewers, especially in instances in which the EW reviewer’s rating is very much at odds with these averages. 

Rick Levin’s one-star review (1/19) of Shame contrasted sharply with an average critic rating of 7.4 out 10 (based on 159 reviews) and an average audience rating of 3.9 out of 5 (based on over 10,000 viewer ratings, see rottentomatoes.com). The EW wields significant power over the health of Eugene’s beloved Bijou and should wield this power more responsibly. Oh, and Sissy was played by Carey Mulligan, not Carey Sullivan (as erroneously stated in Levin’s review).

Also, in response to nurse Brandy Gordon’s letter (1/19) regarding OMSI’s Body Worlds exhibit, she “went there to learn about anatomy,” but objected to “nipples, penises, and vulvas left intact.” Who are her patients, the Muppets?

Doug & Robin Quirke, Eugene

 

SORENSON SUPPORT

I’m not a Lane County resident any longer, but I lived in Pleasant Hill in Lane County between 1989 and 2003. I’m writing to point something out about the work of Commissioner Pete Sorenson.

He played a significant national role in the effort to “decouple” federal forest payment dollars from logging on National Forests and forest lands managed by the BLM. He testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Forests and Public Lands, pointing out that county government cannot tax the federal lands and that payments to counties, in lieu of their taxing the federal lands, should be made not on the basis of logging those lands but from other sources. 

This effort, called decoupling, is a national conservation effort. Not only did Sorenson testify at the congressional hearings on this, but that legislation was signed into law by President Clinton in October 2000. For his work in support of this legislation, he was invited and did witness the president signing the law in the Oval Office. He was the only county commissioner in the nation who both testified on the legislation and followed it through to signing.

I now live in southwest Oregon, where the process of decoupling has been especially helpful in turning down the heat in the “timber wars.” As a consequence I am reminded that Lane County has a national leader in Sorenson. I’m glad he’s there and he has my support.

Rich Fairbanks, Jacksonville

 

COAL VS. PASSENGERS

Will the coal trains be sharing the tracks with Amtrak thereby reducing Amtrak service quality and encouraging riders to go to their cars?

Glenn Heiserman, Eugene

 

NUDE YOGA: A HISTORY

EW’s Jan. 9 Slant column said that “flexible minds want to know” how nude yoga is one of the rating criteria for Eugene being the 22nd gayest city in America according to a Jan. 9 The Advocate magazine article.

Perhaps it comes from The Advocate’s four-decade-long archives. In the 1970s, nude yoga became common in gay hippie communities from Eugene to San Francisco. Nude yoga was practiced by the famous UO journalism graduate Randy Shilts, whose first job was at The Advocate, which at the time was a national biweekly gay newspaper. In 1982, Shilts moved on to The San Francisco Chronicle — he became a famous reporter and author of several books that were made into major motion pictures before he died of AIDS.

The poet Allen Ginsberg and other authors of the book Queer Dharma mixed nude yoga with Buddhism. Photos of men in nude yoga spiritual positions appear on the cover of this book, edited by Winston Leyland and published by his Gay Sunshine Press of San Francisco in 1988.

I doubt The Advocate has the resources to fact check it because they are struggling financially, similar to most other print magazines.

Thomas Kraemer, Corvallis 

 

MISSING THE POINT

In response to Rob Spooner’s “Absurd Numbers” letter (1/19) I have to reply that generalizing numbers can prove virtually any point you wish to make, for the right or the left. When you generalize as you do in your letter, it only proves that you are trying to spin a message to your side of the debate. 

You completely missed the point of Bob Cassady’s original letter (12/22). Sure, Johnston may have been exaggerating the numbers, but that’s what happens when one generalizes. So let’s get specific. 

I make about $32,000 gross, netting about $28,000 per year. I have been working for the same company for more than 10 years and have not received a raise over the last seven years. Given the rate of inflation, I am now making less than when I started 11 years ago. 

Let’s look at the Republican front-runner Willard Mittens Romney. He regularly speaks publicly for $300,000 a speech, more than 10 times my net salary. If he gives 10 speeches a year, that’s 100 times my annual salary. This does not include the $15 million he annually grosses from investments (468 times my annual net salary).

Mitt effectively pays a smaller tax rate than I do, so for every dollar I earn, Mitt is earning at least $100 not counting his income from tax differed assets and investments tucked away in the Caribbean. It would take me 36 years to earn what a typical CEO or CFO makes annually.

When you handicap a population’s earning ability, you are handicapping their ability to spend money. 

Jonathan Seraphim, Eugene

 

ROBERTS’ LEGACY LIVES ON

Two years ago the U.S. Congress declared every Jan. 23 to be “Ed Roberts Day.” The work Ed did and the life he lived had many parallels with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Both were inspirational speakers and models for Civil Rights. Both helped guide systemic change and lasting direct benefit to many millions.

In 1962, as James Meredith was escorted through hostile mobs to attend the University of Mississippi, my brother Ed was moving his wheelchair and iron lung into UC-Berkeley. He was the first person with severe disabilities to attend UC-Berkeley. His academic, personal and subsequent political success opened the door (and installed curb-cuts and accessible architecture) for millions with disabilities to follow him out of institutional warehousing and hopelessness into a new world, one full of personal choice.

He died 17 years ago. I miss him dearly and am so proud of his legacy. Although the push against prejudice remains ever necessary, the gains made towards equality will never be abandoned.

One barrier to equality today for all of us is our “fee for service” medical industry, particularly onerous for those who are poor, unemployed and disabled. We in Oregon have a calling and opportunity to transform our state health industry (ultimately federal) into a system in which every human has a right to health care.

If you would like to learn more and join in our social and political push for universal health care, join us at the Peer Support Club, 990 Oak St., a program of Lane Independent Living Alliance (www.lilaoregon.org) here in Eugene.

Mark Roberts, Eugene

 

AN ACT OF KINDNESS

To the man who bought my groceries for me when I lost my money this week (1/20), I was so grateful for your kindness in a moment of panic. This kind of selflessness for a stranger shows that you are a considerate, generous human being. In a world that seems to be inundated by corporate greed and narcissism, it’s nice to know that there are still kind-hearted, good people out there.

Lil Frey, Eugene

 

INVALUABLE POOL

A great big thank-you to the anonymous donor who sent $25,000 to the Tamarack Pool. I know I speak for many when I say we depend upon this resource to live our daily lives. The pain relief the Tamarack Pool provides is something I have not been able to find anywhere else. Having a saltwater facility that is open to even the most disabled is invaluable.

It was heartwarming to see all the babies in the pool on Saturday happily swimming in the warm water, and the swim lesson board is filling up. It is because of your support, and the support of many others, that the doors remain open.

If you have never visited Tamarack Pool, you should. You will find a community who cares and supports each other. It is a truly a wonderful place.

Leni Bader, Eugene

 

HELP FOR SCHOOLS

In 2011 Eugene public schools made about $22 million in cuts. Schools were closed, teachers were fired, programs were slashed and more kids were packed into fewer classrooms. And we ain’t done yet! 

Over the next four years, 4J predicts budget gaps of more than $50 million. There’s no reason to believe that the state or federal government will do anything to provide significant economic assistance to schools, and the economy shows no signs of recovery. However, there is hope.

The Occupy movement has helped raise awareness of America’s vast economic inequality. More people are beginning to understand that the system has been rigged to benefit those at the top at the expense of the 99 percent. We know that the rich have been doing fantastically well for decades while working people have been getting hammered. Even as the Great Recession (which was made possible by financial deregulation) devastates ordinary Americans, those at the top continue to rake it in.

If we’re going to avoid making more massive cuts to public education — the bedrock of democracy — we’re going to have to act locally. Fortunately, our City Council has the ability to put a funding measure targeting the wealthy and super wealthy to a vote. Poll after poll shows that the people are ready to support it. The question is: Does the City Council have the moral fortitude to make it happen?

Joshua Welch, Eugene

 

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?

The 99 percent complain that they have no representation. That’s because they keep electing the 1 percent to office!

Jerry Ritter, Springfield

 

 

GMO CONTAMINATION

I hoped for change, but one of the best examples of “crony capitalism” was Obama appointing Monsanto’s vice president and chief lobbyist Michael Taylor to the job of FDA food safety czar. Talk about the fox guarding the hen house! Under Taylor’s watch, cows were injected with engineered growth hormones and he rejected any attempts to label milk that was contaminated with these hormones. Only public outcry allowed dairies to label their milk growth hormone free. 

Taylor is also responsible for the introduction of genetically modified organisms into our food chain. Currently more than 70 percent of all processed food in America is contaminated with GMOs. Monsanto is now developing plants that can be sprayed with Agent Orange, because weeds have now become immune to their biggest selling herbicide, Roundup. 

Is it a any coincidence that multiple cronic illnesses and allergy-related emergency visits have doubled since GMOs were unleashed upon us? The FDA claims that they are safe even though they have not tested them. The only way the public can fight back is to support bills requiring labels that identify GMO contaminated foods. Urge your Oregon leaders to fast track HB 3346, before 100 percent of our food has been tainted.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain

 

BIG BUCKS FOR WAR

At a time when budgets are tight, and programs and services in our community are being cut back, the Pentagon budget keeps getting bigger. 

The secretary of defense announced Jan. 26 that he plans to slow the rate of growth for the Pentagon budget, but even under this proposal in 10 years the Pentagon budget would still be bigger than it is today.

Over the last decade, the Pentagon budget has grown by 100 percent. Some of that growth was to pay for the wars, but a lot of it went right into the Pentagon budget. Right now, we are all having to cut back. The Pentagon should have to as well.

Saren Nelson, Corvallis

EDITOR’S NOTE: We received numerous letters on this topic with similar wording, apparently from a website-based letter writing campaign. This was the first that came in.

 

WOOING HEARTS & MINDS

What an epic battle. Bachman. Cain. Santorum. Paul. Romney. Gingrich. Perry. The pathos. The drama. The strife. The accusations. The counter-charges. The passion. Wouldn’t Abe Lincoln be proud of his party?

Remember there is a lot at stake here. These candidates struggle for nothing less than winning the hearts and minds of the heartless and mindless. 

And the battle rages on.

Dawn Lesley, Eugene

 

KEEP IT CIVIL

Unlike letter writer Ann Tattersall (web letters, 1/26), I am thrilled to see that Pete Sorenson has not one, but two challengers in this years race for Lane County Commission District 3. Both Andy Stahl and Kieran Walsh have announced their candidacy for the position, the first to challenge Sorenson since his election in 1996. The voters of this district, myself included, deserve a choice on the ballot. And we deserve to make that choice based on an intelligent discussion of the issues, not based on inflammatory rhetoric such as Tattersall presented. 

Because this is a three-way, nonpartisan race, it is likely to continue into the fall. Let’s all try to keep the discussion civil and focused on the issues. 

Lonnie McCulloch, Eugene

 

DUMPING MEAT ON KIDS

I was delighted to read the new USDA guidelines requiring schools to serve meals with twice as many fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. The guidelines were mandated by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act signed by President Obama in December 2010 and will go into effect with the next school year.

The new guidelines offer a welcome change from USDA’s tradition of using the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for meat and dairy surpluses. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of American children are consuming excess fat, only 15 percent eat recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, and one-third have become overweight or obese. These early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. 

In recent years, Hawaii, California, New York, and Florida legislatures asked their schools to offer daily vegetarian options, and most school districts now do. The Baltimore public school system offers its 80,000 students a complete weekly break from meat. 

Parents should continue to insist on healthful, plant-based school meals, snacks and vending machine items. They can consult www.fns.usda.gov/cnd or www.healthyschoollunches.org or www.vrg.org/family

Edward Newland, Eugene