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Letters to the Editor: 3-1-2012


How can the city of Eugene waste its time debating a downtown exclusion zone for people while turkeys are running amok? Yes, at the corner of Broadway and Willamette, less than three blocks from City Hall, turkeys took over the sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to go out of their way to avoid them.

The problem was not just the presence of turkeys. No, it’s much worse! It’s what they were doing. Though I blush as I write this, you must know. They were defecating on the streets! And worse yet, the males were displaying in public, an act of overt sexual behavior! Even the turkey hens retreated in dismay at the unwanted provocations.

But you must know, that, nature being nature, one day a hen will not shy away. Is City Council really prepared for turkeys fornicating in front of banks, title companies and law offices?

Can you imagine what will happen to Eugene’s image if word gets out that turkeys have taken over downtown? People like Stephen Colbert will mock our slogan, “Eugene, a Great City for Arts and Outdoors,” replacing it with “Eugene, a Great Place for Nutria and Turkeys.” How embarrassing!

I am also deeply concerned — worried sick, in fact — that the streets of downtown Eugene are no longer safe. Turkeys have a reputation for being aggressive, especially during mating season. What will it take to secure the streets and protect the citizenry — a severe peck on the thighs of a city councilor?

Now, please tell me again, why is it that City Council is trying to exclude people from downtown?

John Hofer, Eugene



Rep. Val Hoyle (D) won her first election with the endorsement of current city councilor and previous state representative Pat Farr (R). Farr is running against stalwart Democrat Rob Handy in the upcoming County Commission election, and it seems that Hoyle’s known dislike for Handy and Sorenson (perhaps because they are strong, uncompromising, and outspoken progressives who fight for what we believe is right) may be a factor in her scathing comments and attacks against the “process.” 

Pete and Rob don’t just fight for what I believe is right; they honor and support the values of the Democratic Party of Lane County, which is why we endorsed the two candidates almost unanimously. It’s election time, and we strong progressives will stand by the near-unanimous endorsements of Sorenson, Handy and a slew of local Democrats running in Springfield and Eugene. We will stand by the values of our party, and cannot be fooled by the personal vendetta of a disgruntled state representative.

Ben Torres, Eugene



After attending the most recent Eugene Symphony Orchestra concert, I realized how much I was still seething from music critic Tom Madoff’s condescending comparison between the former conductor, Giancarlo Guerrero, and the current conductor, Danail Rachev, which appeared in the R-G. Frankly, I was worried that no one else would hire Guerrero away. I was overjoyed to be proven wrong and wish him success.

I have attended symphony concerts since the symphony’s founding. I claim only one collegiate music appreciation course and admit to ears that may be unable to discriminate the “color” with which Madoff says the symphony occasionally played under Guerrero but has not, so far, under Rachev.

Manoff also criticizes Rachev for using a score, whereas Guerrero did not. That’s equivalent to my complaining that one conductor negotiates the path between the violins to the podium like an ox, while the other does so with dignity. Arguably, neither entrance style has that much to do with the music. There is an important distinction between memorizing a score and understanding the music. Rachev understands and leads the symphony with inspiration, not intimidation.

During Thursday evening’s concert, I watched Rachev conducting the third movement of Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony. The score was on the podium, but he wasn’t turning pages. Instead, he was helping the Eugene Symphony play this beautiful movement with passion and precision. It was another one of those moments I cherish with Rachev on the podium. It is good to experience them again.

Howard Bonnett, Eugene



Why is the state of Oregon willing to do business with people who don’t pay their taxes and don’t obey the laws, at the expense of the community of Dexter? The noise from the mine at Parvin Butte, recently given the go-ahead by Lane County, is shattering to my senses and my well-being. Dexter had a taste of what it will be like last year when Lost Creek Rock Products, LLC, began removing the mountain. They mined late on summer nights, on weekends and even holidays when most of us are home — never allowing a moments rest in our once peaceful valley. 

I am stunned at the decision by Lane County to not even require a site review to mine, therefore disallowing input from those most impacted. Lost Creek Rock Products, LLC, can legally invade our aural space at any time, in any manner. 

I live one quarter mile from the site and when they were digging and scraping at the mountain I had to be indoors with music playing loudly so I wasn’t assaulted by the noise. No more relaxing on the deck at the end of the day. Mining noise is repeatedly jarring and I am unnerved by it. Do health issues bear no weight in these decisions? Stress kills and I will be put on a stress test for the rest of my life. Meanwhile Demers and the McDougals will walk away with their pockets full. What is wrong with this picture?

Sherrie Sims, Dexter

Editor’s note: See News Briefs this week for an update



Exile is a cruel and unusual punishment that Eugene unconstitutionally imposes on people with no money and no place to go. By ignoring the fact that having little or no income plagues many of our citizens (including quite a few who are sentenced criminals who governments release from jail with no money and no income), Eugene has created a problem that fear-mongers are trying to expand. If Eugene doesn’t want real criminals in the community, find a way to keep them in jail. 

Most homeless citizens are not “criminals,” even if you arrest them when they have to “illegally” camp in community- owned parks, sit while homeless in the downtown, live in vehicles, or “criminally” trespass on private property for shelter. What a waste of police and court funds!

Homeless people are our citizens, neighbors and families. They are not to be criminalized nor exiled. Until there is a safe, legal place for the extremely poor to be in Eugene, they must hide, and then you hunt them down as criminals.

Perhaps you could put a spin on exclusion: exclude evictors, fear-mongers, those who ignore art, those who pollute our natural areas, stigmatizers, greedy businesses, intolerant persons and those wearing expensive suits and ties.

I like what the city did to the fear-mongering councilman, fencing him into his own yard where he will not be so dangerous to poor and homeless citizens in our community. I hope he stays safely there.

Jerry Smith, Eugene



I agree with Martha Sherwoood’s letter (2/16) objecting to gifting outside developers tax breaks to build high-end student housing downtown. I’m sure there is more information to be had on the particulars but I have watched a glut of expensive housing being built around the UO for a transient student population over the past five-plus years, and I applaud the other new grand additions we are proudly welcoming in our city core. But I’ve have yet to hear any urban renewal concepts to bring housing opportunities for the medium/low income needs. Even Portland has committed a percentage of its new riverfront apartment housing to mixed income.

Ten years ago I wrote a letter to “”bring housing downtown.” I’ve attended many a meeting on redesigning downtown. I’ve chatted with city planners, presented papers from the Brookings Institute on urban planning. Cities all over the country are reinventing themselves to breathe life back into their lifeless cores. To be a successful working vision all cultural and income levels need to be included. I know of many “boomers” who have downsized and are looking to find a “sustainable” lifestyle as a townie. Can we not create affordable senior housing to add some yin for the student yang that’s being built?

 Martha Snyder, Eugene



I am an active precinct committee person for the Democratic Party of Lane County who voted to endorse Pete Sorenson — as well as Handy, Piercy, George Brown and others — at the DPLC meeting Feb. 16. I received a letter over a month prior, a letter still stuck to my refrigerator, informing me of the new endorsement process and encouraging me to bring candidates to endorse.

I was surprised to see Val Hoyle lambaste Sorenson, saying he “manipulate[d]” the endorsement process (R-G 2/18), even though we all were informed by mail more than a month ahead of time and we almost uniformly endorsed Sorenson, a powerhouse progressive.

The process was established, well known and smoothly executed. This is plainly shown by the fact that Hoyle had time to draft a letter read at the meeting voicing her opposition to the endorsement process.

Hoyle’s indignation at the “process,” then, appears to be little more than a thinly veiled attack on Sorenson, who was merely one of a number of candidates we endorsed that night.

Campaign Services Chair Kevin Cronin is heavily involved in the DPLC. His commitment to changing the endorsement process (a commitment he has had since I met him more than a year ago) and his position as Sorenson’s campaign manager are coincidental. Cronin was in two places at two different times, but the implication that he abused his position to unfairly advantage Sorenson disregards all other endorsements we made and connects dots that are, in reality, not connected.

Steven Coatsworth, Eugene



I read The Lorax many times as a kid and when I heard it was being made into a movie I was happy that such a positive message about environmental protection geared to kids was going to be released. Then the other day I was watching the news and a commercial for the car company Mazda came on. Guess which movie was being used to advertise the car? The Lorax. A book about how all the “truffula trees” were destroyed by “smogulous smoke” is being used to sell cars. Am I the only person who thinks this is wrong? I suggest you do not go see this movie. Stay home and read the book to your kid. There is no new message in this movie that can’t be received from the book, and clearly whoever is responsible for the film doesn’t care about the real message.

Heather Jones, Eugene



Last Wednesday a remarkably brave American reporter, Marie Colvin, was killed in Syria. She had already lost an eye doing war reporting from Sri Lanka. Targeted by Assad’s forces, she fell alongside a young French photojournalist. Online are videos of their bodies lying in rubble, riddled with shrapnel. 

On the same Wednesday, an Indiana Republican, Bob Morris, accused the Girl Scouts of America of supporting homosexuality and abortion. Even some Republicans took a tiny step back from that. Well, if nothing else, the news items allow one the luxury of comparison: two lives, two paths, two results, two stories. One alive and busily lying; the other dead and a hero, dying. Who will be better remembered?

It’s a pity that we must live with daily embarrassments such as Bob Morris. He and his fellow Republicans can so easily poke their faces into the news and make us cringe. In the videos, Marie Colvin’s face is covered with rubble. How ironic that her silence speaks so much louder than all of the Republican shouting I’ve heard this year, since what is said by them is as ignorant and shameless, as pandering and cowardly, as Colvin herself was brave, sincere and — more than anything — a fighter for the deadly and difficult tasks requiring the real risks. I doubt Republicans will ponder much about her — she’s not their type. And talk is cheap. It’s so much easier to slander Girl Scouts and boxed cookies. The dying Colvin trumps their nonsense a thousandfold.

Tom Erwin, Veneta



 It’s hard to tolerate the redundant lunacy of network TV newscasters who repeat the neo-con belief that war with Iran is inevitable. Even if Israel tries to pull us into such warfare, we must avoid it. Iran is no threat to us here even when it gets a bomb, if it ever does. But a preemptive or false flag attack on Iran by Israel would result in short-range Iranian ballistic missiles striking our Middle East military bases and warships that float in waters where they do not belong. 

 If we persist in supporting such Israeli aggression, U.S. casualty lists would zoom into the thousands on the first day -— even if the television pundits ignore that reality. The question we must answer is: How much does the Israel lobby pay our legislators to get them to sacrifice more American lives?

George Beres, Eugene



I wish the Muppets were my patients! In response to Doug and Robin Quirkes’ comment (letters 2/2), I don’t object to the nipples, penises and vulvas themselves, but to the way that they were displayed in the Body World’s and the Brain exhibit, considering the absence of, or reconfiguration of, other body parts. I was appalled by the fact that human bodies were being used for art, and then profited by. I assume that the people who donated their bodies thought more about the possible educational aspect of their donation, rather than thinking that they might be chopped up and arranged into strange forms with questionable educational value. 

The displays hinted at sexuality by pointing to one system of the body, which they were supposedly informing us about, while drawing attention to our sexy parts. The nipples in question were left intact, while the rest of the breasts were deprived of the skin. The vulva I’m thinking of was on a supine body, legs slightly open, while the focus was supposed to be on something else. The amputation of penises would be objectionable if it was done solely for censorship, and their prominence in every male body was unnecessary, considering that the face and other body parts were taken away. 

The exhibit itself was supposed to be focused on the brain, but there were very few examples of strange brains. Working with brain-injured individuals (not Muppets) I was hoping to see more injured brains to ponder, not strange human remains essentially turned to plastic and maneuvered for our amusement. 

Brandy Gordon, R.N., Eugene



The vast and widening gulf between America’s über-rich and everyone else is without question the dominant issue thus far this election cycle. And that is as it should be, and remain. Ours has become a rags-to-rags, riches-to-riches society; we don’t all go up or down together anymore.

People who’ve worked hard are unemployed. People who’ve studied hard are unable to find good jobs. Millions of working families are watching their children’s horizon’s collapse, watching their American dream sail away. That so many who’ve played by the rules are barely making ends meet is the best evidence of American not living up to her ideals.

Mitt Romney’s wealth, and the means — job cremator, not job creator — by which he accumulated it and then squirreled it away offshore is a legitimate election issue when the gap between this nation’s miserably poor and thrivingly rich is as wide as Romney’s pockets are deep, and when our threadbare societal safety net is ripping apart under the weight of millions cast into it by the purposeful policy choices of his party over several decades at all levels of government.

“Class warfare,” some will respond, but why is it class warfare to advocate a fair contribution from the rich, but not when it comes to cutting basic services to the poor?

Todd Huffman, Eugene



A thought question in reference to the civilians killed by U.S. drones overseas: If Mexican drug and arms dealers escape in SUVs across the border into Texas. And the Mexican police send helicopters north into U.S. airspace and use 50 caliber guns to blow them away on the freeway — but also kill a few U.S. citizens in their automobiles. Then how many dead U.S. citizens would constitute “not ... a great number of civilian casualties,” a number to which President Obama has referred would be acceptable in overseas innocent civilian drone casualties?

Leo Rivers, Cottage Grove



Oregon is on the cusp of major reforms to its health care system. One of the key changes is the introduction of Coordinate Care Organizations (CCOs).

CCOs are designed to reduce barriers and increase quality for patients seeking health care services by coordinating services at a local level. CCOs will create an environment where all providers involved in an individual’s care have access to the information necessary to insure that services are not duplicated. This is expected to lead to significant cost savings and increased patient satisfaction.

In October of 2011, the State of Oregon conducted several well-attended community meetings to understand the needs and expectations of Oregon’s health care consumers and providers. The most common theme to emerge was the need to provide care to the whole person, not just their particular illness. It was thought essential to include a whole host of services and providers, including those provided by Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners.

CAM providers are proven to be uniquely able to focus on overall health and wellness, while also treating an individual’s specific health care needs. Through training and experience, CAM practitioners recognize that a patient’s medical concerns may have deeper causes that would be overlooked through simple treatment of symptoms. In addition, studies have routinely shown that Complementary and Alternative Medicine costs less and often results in more satisfied patients.

In Oregon, and the United States as a whole, use of CAM services is growing. At the same time, more and more health care consumers are relying on their chiropractors and nturopathic physicians for primary care services. In leading the nation in health care reform, Oregon has the unique opportunity to recognize and foster these innovative and successful relationships. Doing so will undoubtedly produce much needed cost savings and, more importantly, healthier citizens.

Jamie Sewell, Beaverton



Last Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period preceding Easter when Christians would abstain from meat and dairy products in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of reflection before launching his ministry. 

Devout Christians who still observe meatless Lent help reduce chronic diseases, environmental degradation and animal abuse. In the past four decades, dozens of medical reports have linked consumption of animal products with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer, and other killer diseases. A 2007 U.N. report named meat production as the largest source of greenhouse gases and water pollution. Undercover investigations have documented animals being raised for food under abject conditions of caging, crowding, deprivation, drugging, mutilation and manhandling.

Lent offers a superb opportunity to honor Jesus’ powerful message of compassion and love for all living beings. To stop subsidizing disease, devastation and cruelty. To choose a wholesome nonviolent diet of vegetables, fruits and grains and a vast array of meat and dairy alternatives. It’s a diet mandated in Genesis 1-29 and observed in the Garden of Eden.  Entering “vegetarian lent” in your favorite search engine provides ample tips and recipes.

Elijah Hennison, Eugene