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Letters to the Editor 2-28-2013

SUCK IT UP, SOUTH

I am writing regarding the article titled, “Teachers concerned over 3x5 schedule” (2/21). My student attends Churchill High School where the 3x5 schedule is already in effect as of fall 2012. Sources tell me that the district was originally going to start the program at South Eugene High, but everyone there put up too much of a fuss. Teachers and students did not welcome the 3x5 schedule at Churchill this year, but they stepped up to the plate and implemented it. Am I suggesting that the South community are a bunch of whiners? Absolutely.

As a member of this community for the past 15 years, I am accustomed to hearing how South is best at everything, from sports, to scholastics, to parent support. I feel that Churchill staff, students and parents are to be commended for making the best of the situation they were given by the district. I would like to say one thing to the South community, “Suck it up, South.” There, I said it. It felt great.

Pamela McMahon, Eugene

 

FUND THE SERVICES

The city of Eugene has a budget deficit of more than $6 million. We can debate the causes of this deficit, and who is to blame for it, but right now there’s a host of services that will be reduced, or eliminated, if the city doesn’t generate money to continue funding them. Voters will decide on a May 21 ballot what happens to these services. 

Services to be eliminated, if my understanding is correct, include but are not limited to the Buckley House sobering station; the Looking Glass Station 7 youth shelter; and St. Vincent de Paul’s homeless parking program. Services to be reduced, by as much as 50 percent, include the CAHOOTS mobile crisis intervention program. Public libraries and pools, as well as fire department services, will be reduced or eliminated entirely.

What is especially obscene about the list of impacted services is that some of them, such as Buckley and CAHOOTS, are cost-saving resources that divert people away from expensive and dwindling 911, jail and hospital services. Other programs, such as a shelter for homeless kids or swimming programs for elderly people, hardly warrant a defense.

These are programs we need to keep. Our city will suffer without them, and the consequences will be grave. I’m willing to hear any suggestions for how we might collectively deal with our many problems. But right now the citizens of Eugene have a choice: Fund the services or don’t. I will vote to save the services.

JP Scott, Eugene

 

MORE BONNY

She’s back! Bonny Bettman McCornack’s breakdown (hopefully to be updated) on the city’s financial situation (column, 2/7), shows that her return is to be welcomed and her insights to be thought about. I’m looking forward to more of her commentary.

Don French, Eugene

 

HARRISON’S LEGACY

I met Gil Harrison at Maude Kerns Art Center in 1968. He was among the many talented artists who learned or taught their craft there. Many of us are now aging and will disappear from sight and memory. What won’t go away, though, is our art. That’s how cultures live on: by what the artists leave behind. Gil was a focused but funny and gentle-hearted, crazy New Yorker. He has left us all beautiful memories of himself in his pottery. RIP, my friend.

Annie Kayner, Eugene

 

TWEAKING THE AVATARS

At first blush, Marilyn Hedtke’s recent letter [2/21] about EWEB’s new paperless billing security icons might seem like one of those “only in Eugene” moments. Who would have thought that choosing a security image of an astronaut or a farmer would generate criticism about gender diversity or cultural insensitivity?

 And in fact, KUBRA, the company EWEB contracted with to provide an online “paperless” e-billing option for customers, says such criticism of its “avatars” is unique among the hundreds of other utilities and companies it provides similar services to.

 But this is a case where “only in Eugene” has produced a positive result, not just locally but globally. Even before Ms. Hedtke’s letter appeared in the Weekly, EWEB and KUBRA were already working to change some of the “avatars” that may (or may not) be objectionable. KUBRA says it is making the change for everyone it serves across the U.S. and Canada who has this optional online security feature. This change is the result of a handful of EWEB customers who contacted us directly soon after the new system went live in early February.

 EWEB has a strong commitment to diversity, and we are proud of our efforts over the past several years to create a workforce that reflects our community’s diversity. We also have successfully incorporated diversity into the photos, images and other visual messages of EWEB brochures, newsletters and other intentional communications. We appreciate some of our customer-owners raising concerns about the security icons, and we appreciate KUBRA’s quick response.

 That said, EWEB’s new e-billing system has been a huge success. The new system is much more customer friendly than the old, clunky process. As of last Friday, nearly 12,000 customers have signed up. It is a great way to save our resources (no more paper bill), make billing easier and — yes — reduce the utility’s costs.

 Mark Freeman, EWEB customer service manager

 

A CHANCE TO FLOURISH

 I sincerely hope the support for charter schools will continue to grow. I attend Network Charter School and I understand the need for unique and hands on learning experiences.

I am constantly hearing false stereotypes and representations of charter schools, and I tell everyone who wants to know about the pros of alternative learning. My school has been helpful in keeping me on track to graduation. I know that if I had continued in my public school I would be far from achieving my graduation requirements. While the majority of students need the curriculum and teachings offered in public schools, there are some who need a different option. I am one of those kids, and I am proud to say that my life has turned around greatly due to NCS. I agree completely with the Viewpoint “System Enhancers” [2/14] and I hope dearly that Oregon Chief Education Officer Rudy Crew will see how beneficial a school like mine can be.

We offer the minority a place where they will have the chance to flourish, a place where they will be accepted.

 Osianna Cornell, Eugene

 

FIXING THE CITY

Notes for Eugene city planners:

1. Parking downtown has grown challenging over the past year. Please bring back the meters.

2. The fabric of any downtown depends on active street corners. Most buildings in Eugene have corners that do not engage the surrounding public space. All future construction downtown should consider a building’s corners and attempt to activate them.

3. Before revamping South Willamette, attention should be given to the short section of one-way traffic between 19th and 20th avenues. This one-way section serves no purpose and impedes northbound traffic. Please switch to two-directional traffic to conform with the rest of Willamette.

4. Someone has been stealing High Street signs near downtown. Probably college kids. Please change street name to something less inviting, like Hig Street or Purple Street.

Blake Andrews, Eugene

 

BOONDOGGLE

The Eugene School District is going to waste $100,000 to teach principals how to teach the teachers. When I got my certificate in 1990 I was taught how to identify students’ misunderstanding of the rules of mathematics. Teachers are required to continue their graduate education to maintain their license and pay for it. Why not apply the same requirement for principals and use the money to hire more teachers? Principals could even hire their own teachers to tutor them, thus keeping the money in the local community. 

Vince Loving, Eugene

 

INVITATION TO ELAW

Living in the shadow of Parvin Butte, I found it ironic that Eugene is hosting the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide annual meeting and conferences [plus the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference this weekend]. This comes shortly after the folks in Dexter heard their latest appeal denied by the state. No county or state official has addressed the environmental, social and public health and safety issues involved in blasting and crushing a mountain into gravel in the middle of an established community, and within yards of Lost Creek, anadromous fish habitat.

Maybe if the delegates to the meetings get a little restless and want to take a field trip they could troop on out here to Dexter and take a look at our own unmitigated environmental debacle. We could certainly use some environmental heroes about now.

Phil Robbins, Dexter

 

 

RURAL WARZONE

Open letter to Peter DeFazio: Are you still a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA)? What is your position on gun control?

It has been three weeks since I emailed you and called your office. They assured me you would respond, but you have not yet done so.

Because I live in rural Lane County, I do suffer intrusions of gunfire on occasion. One day this summer a couple carloads of guys decided to share with us their “fun with guns.” For the first time in my 25 years here, we became a warzone for semi-automatics.

Peter, I can assure you that not all rural residents love their guns and oppose strong gun controls. Local gun owners mainly shoot rifles on their own property. These guys were probably your very own Eugene/Springfield good ol’ boys.

Jan Nelson, Crow

 

 

FAIR TAXING

The City Council and County Commission just voted to widen the gap even more between the rich and poor in our community. A few hundred more dollars in charges for the thousands of neighbors living in poverty will be very difficult. A regressive flat tax, and that is what these city and county fees are, hurts too many. 

The same $120 annual city flat tax added to the $100 plus more in new special county and city taxes will cause more foreclosures and more people on the street. I have had citizens tell me they had to move because of a $10 monthly increase in rent. Don’t the city and county elected representatives understand the unfairness of flat taxation where the poor and the rich have the same tax? I would encourage everyone to contact their representative and educate them. I know our community needs more money and a fairer progressive tax that has citizens pay according to their ability to pay helps everyone. 

Ruth Duemler, Eugene