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Letters to the Editor: 3-15-2012

PUT BACK THE BENCHES

I walk West Broadway several times a week. It should be a hub of commerce and activity. Instead it is in a sad state. 

Ideally city planners would recognize this situation and make some attempt at remediation. Instead, the city seems intent on regressing. On my most recent stroll through downtown last week, I noticed that the nice benches formerly surrounding the corner of Broadway and Olive had been removed and replaced with bike racks. Now I am all for biking. I bike everywhere when the weather is agreeable. But that stretch of Broadway already has plenty of bikeracks. What’s more, the new bike racks appear unusable, since they directly abut nearby concrete planter boxes roughly 3 inches away, not enough room for any bike. A row of similarly useless bike racks has been installed along the curved berm opposite Kesey Plaza.

The chief purpose of the new racks seems to be to deprive “undesirables” of any resting spot. This effort is completely misguided. Removing benches makes downtown less inviting, not just to “undesirables” but to everyone. This runs counter to the best interests of downtown, which needs more people downtown, not fewer. 

The key to a healthy downtown is a populous diversity of all ages, backgrounds, classes and interests. That is the trait of every healthy downtown in America. Public benches can facilitate that populous diversity. Their removal retards it.

Please reinstall the benches.

Jane Jacobs, Eugene


TRUE LEADERSHIP

I am writing this letter to encourage people who work for a living to vote for Rob Handy for commissioner of Lane County. Handy has been a friend of working men and women in Lane County and is not afraid of taking the tough stands that are needed in today’s dire economic times. 

Recently Handy proposed cutting the salaries of county employees who make $90,000 or more by 15 percent to create some meaningful savings to help with the budget deficit. This would have generated a savings of $1 million — a significant and substantial cut. When Handy made this proposal he was accused by other board members and the county administrator of “class warfare.” How can people making $90,000 per year suggest it is class warfare when they are being asked to take some cuts, but it is not class warfare when the front line workers are having to make huge concessions in their medical plans which affects not only those workers but also the quality of life for their families?

In some European and Asian countries leadership in corporations and government is defined by leaders taking the same proportional cuts that the front line workers are asked to take. The times do not need symbolic acts as proposed by some commissioners like Jay Bozievich who proposed cutting $40,000 from the commissioners’ expense accounts used for travel, postage and the like. It is time for true leadership as proposed by Handy. 

Gary L. Lyle, Springfield


BUDGET-BUSTING IDEAS

The headline on professor Gordon Lafer’s article on faculty unions (3/1) couldn’t have been more true. I wholeheartedly agree. There is class warfare, the haves are stealing from the have-nots. 

 We are witnessing a disgraceful time in modern American history in which an entire class of indentured servants is being created. President Obama signed into law a requirement that young people who have defaulted on their student loans be forced to give 15 percent of their income to creditors for the next 20 years of their lives. 

More young people than ever before are defaulting because higher education salaries and tuition have outpaced inflation for the last 20 years. Professors are getting richer while students are getting poorer. 

Lafer bemoans the cost accounting of the UO but mentions not one word about how his budget-busting ideas are going to be paid for. Presumably, he wants the rest of society to “buck up” and be more productive, yet abhors the idea of the best and brightest doing exactly that. 

Who among us has not had an inspirational professor in a large lecture hall setting? Conversely, having intimate “one to one” with a poor professor (after most of the students dropped the class) can hardly be construed as “intellectual.” 

Did any of the union organizers ask that entire class of people who are going to have those monumental student loans tied to their necks which they would prefer? Larger class sizes? Or living under a bridge the rest of their lives?

Rick Wilmath, Veneta

EDITOR’S NOTE: Obama’s new student loan rules only apply to federal loans, lower the cap and provide for loan forgiveness over time. See The New York Times explanation at http://wkly.ws/17u


PRINT HIS NAME

I agree that people in the community should be encouraged to come forth and run for public office (Slant, 3/8). Let’s make that path easier for them by at least printing the names of Betty Taylor’s opponents. I happen to know that Juan Carlos Valle is eminently qualified and has done much for local government in the past. Let’s honor him by at least printing his name instead of just referring to him as an “opponent.”

Gary Apsel, Eugene


STEADFAST ADVOCATE

I’m glad that we have Commissioner Pete Sorenson as our South Eugene commissioner. He has a multi-year, consistent dedication to a comprehensive list of progressive issues that reflects our district. Pete’s steadfast advocacy for issues like public education at all levels, environmental protection, long-term economic development and social services is very important to me, a mother of 2-year old.

I know that Sorenson’s views aren’t in the three-member majority right now, but I think our voice is still best represented by the experienced and committed Pete Sorenson, as we work to build to a progressive majority on the board.

Ann Kneeland, Eugene attorney


ECONOMIC TYRANTS

Is there a never ending well of bad ideas or is it that society is maintained for the benefit of the rich, the ultra rich in particular? Now we read of uncovered, toxin-spewing coal trains coming through Eugene and ultimately through burning, creating even more climate chaos (EW cover story, 1/19).

And the saddest part is that many people will just resign themselves to this travesty.

If there’s any doubt that we live in a plutocracy witness two examples right here in Lane County.

First is the carving up of Parvin Butte. The judge has decided that through quarry extraction, land rights trump the preservation of a community and the environment. Co-owners the Demers and McDougals also have plans to divert a sizable portion of McKenzie River water.

Second is the Seneca biomass generator, owned by Aaron Jones who used “green” federal dollars to help build it, and just as critics predicted is now polluting low-income west Eugene neighborhoods.

These are but small-fry economic tyrants. I don’t care if it’s George Soros or the Koch brothers, when an individual has that much money they have a undue influence on politics, people’s lives and the environment.

The Occupy movement may be the last chance have a viable planet for future generations. I urge you to support it anyway you can.

“We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both,” said Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

Scott Fife, Eugene


HEARTS & MINDS

I have been involved with Occupying the Heart and Mind since its conception amidst the original encampments. During the final moments of our last gathering at the Washington/Jefferson Occupation I watched a single acorn fall into the center of our silent meditation/prayer circle. I took it as an omen and brought it home to my alter. Now, as the Equinox approaches, along with the 25th gathering of Occupying the Heart and Mind, the call has come to plant this seed, a symbol of our vitality and future strength from the trees that once formed the basis of a gift economy within our bio-region.

Regardless of our names and affiliations, those of us who have come together to create a transformation of global consciousness will only continue to dig our roots deeper as we reach toward the light, nurtured by the love and support we hold for one another in our hearts and minds.

Please come join us in celebration from 2 to 4 pm Saturday, March 17, at the Occupy Headquarters, 7th and Polk. After an hour of silent meditation/prayer, there will be a sharing circle, followed by a brief planting ceremony. If you feel so called, you are invited to bring a handful of sacred earth and/or holy water, as an offering to the earth that sustains us. You may also choose to bring something for the alter. Dress warm and please RSVP, if possible at “Occupying the Heart and Mind” on Facebook.

Nathaniel Nordin-Tuininga, Eugene


KEEP LIBRARY HOURS

I have just learned that some of the major budget cuts that are going to be made will include reducing the Bethel and Sheldon branch library hours to 24 hours a week. This is cutting hours to half or more of what they are at present. 

This is a huge disappointment. I realize libraries are a privilege for community members to enjoy, though I am sure our property taxes do include covering these expenses. It seems like a foolish move on the city’s part. My family personally visits the Bethel branch four, five, even six days a week, checking out books, picking up holds, attending special events. We ride our bikes there, cutting our carbon footprint, and enjoying aerobic activity that allows us to be less of a health burden upon society, and I know we are not alone. The local branches provide for so many people of all ages and levels in ways that other city services cannot compare. 

I would ask people to go to the city of Eugene Budget Committee website and email committee members and let your thoughts be known. To continue to cut library hours will only result in undermining our local community. If we aren’t careful, before we know it, they may decide to close them altogether, and what a loss that would be. Shame on them. Shame on us. 

Rebecca W. Jaquette, Eugene


ERODING BENEFITS

I have been a union member all my working life and have recently retired. I am still a member of the Oregon AFSCME Retirees Chapter 75. We got our charter just two years ago and already represent 200 members statewide. We also have a Eugene Chapter that meets at 11:30 am every first Monday of every month at the AFSCME Labor Center, 7th and Charnelton.

I am proud to say that we voted this month to join the Health Care for All Oregon Coalition supporting the Oregon Single Payer Campaign.

While we are retired, we still must pay for our health care until we are Medicare eligible. There are literally thousands of Oregon public employees who cannot afford to retire until they are 65, because of extreme health insurance payments. 

We all remember fighting to maintain decent health insurance coverage for our families during our days of employment. However, each contract bargaining would bring higher costs, an erosion of benefits and less coverage.

This trend will only continue until we change it. The unnecessary cost for those who can pay it and the unnecessary suffering for those who cannot afford to have health insurance must stop. 

It is time for unions to use their organizational skills and abilities to change from a health insurance system to a health care system. It is time for all of us to have direct health care.

Insurance companies do not heal or care for the sick. Health care providers do. We do not need corporations profiting off our illnesses. We need direct care.

We, AFSCME retirees, have taken the first small step to change the system. Please join with us to make health care a human right for all of Oregon. For more information, see http://wkly.ws/17v and www.hcao.org

Lou Sinniger, AFSCME Executive Board member, Elmira 


JOE’S THEORY

I have a friend, Joe who’s into conspiracy theories. I’ve never been into them myself, I’m from Missouri, the Show Me State, but lately, after watching the GOP attempt to pick their next leader I began to realize that they never wanted to win the last election.

After the Bush administration dug us a very, very deep pit ( two wars) one that would take four to eight years to climb from, the GOP not wanting to deal with the problem they had created, chose the scapegoat. We’ll run someone who can’t win. Enter John McCain and the clown Sara Palin.

We lose but it buys us time to work on the next election and prevent any legislative programs that would help the present situation. Just say no to everything.

After attempting to prevent the Obama administration from achieving any of their goals, the GOP sees an opening. They know that in two to three more years everything will turn around.

They’ll be in power just in time to start another war in Iran or Pakistan, take your pick. We will have full employment in the military and the military-industrial complex we were warned about.

So I guess I’ve gone over to my friend Joe’s conspiracy side and have to agree thing aren’t always what they seem.

Philip Dietz, Springfield


NO LOVE, JUST SEX

You have to hand it to that future bloated corpse and noted autocoprophiliac, Rush Limbaugh — and just in time for International Woman’s Day.

Imagine, a guy who never once in his entire life had sex without having to pay for it calling all women who use the pill “sluts.”

I know, all you ditto-heads out there are saying “But wait a minute now, he was a married man!” What? Do you think that any of his four wives (three of whom he met in internet “chat rooms”) married him for his suave good looks and pleasing personality? And can you even imagine the alimony he is paying? You think that is “free” sex?

And also notice, Rush never uses the word “Love” and sex in the same sentence. In his bitter little world, the idea that mutual attraction and tender feelings could engender an intense and rewarding emotional response that manifests itself physically is an alien concept. Rush has never made love, Rush has just had sex.

And, in case you didn’t notice, he also opened up a public door to his private sex life by all but demanding that his (imagined) enemy record a video sex-tape for him (no doubt to hone those fine master debating skills of his). At least we now know where he gets his jollies.

He’s like those guys in singles bars who can’t even score at closing time, and who say that all the women who rebuff him must perforce be lesbians. Like them, he hates women because women don’t like him. 

We are left with only two conclusions: either he is, despite his enormous wealth, incredibly repulsive, or he just keeps hitting on lesbians.

Jamie Selko, Eugene






SHARING INFORMATION

I strongly feel that members of a community have a responsibility to give back or to contribute to that community in some way. I am writing to try and bring attention to the ways that online social media forums can be used to support causes and/or organizations on a local or even a global level.

I currently have over 1,200 contacts or “friends” on my social networking forum of choice and I actively share community awareness posts and use the application “Causes” in order to raise awareness and sometimes even money for programs and issues that I believe in. However, you do not have to have so many person al contacts in order to have a positive affect or in order to spread awareness.

I am currently a low-income resident of Lane County and I have never donated financial assistance to an organization, but I often donate some of my time and that’s all I am asking other online social media sites to do.

 It is as easy as taking a minute to add your signature to a petition or even looking for a fundraising event or a clothing drive in your local newspaper and then posting about it online and asking your friends to re-post or “share” the information.

Some online social networking sites have earned themselves a reputation for being used for the sole purposes of meeting the opposite sex or for gossiping. Let’s all take a minute to use them as an opportunity to do something a little more positive.

Gretchen Davis, Eugene