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Letters to the Editor: 4-19-2012

LANE PEACE SYMPOSIUM

Democracy in the U.S. is in danger. Corporations have been elevated to a status above natural people. Over the last 125 years, through a series of decisions, the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are persons with constitutional rights. The end game of these rulings is two-fold. The first is to limit the ability of democratically elected representatives to pass legislation to protect the general welfare of their constituents. Every time a constitutional right is granted to corporations there is a corresponding loss of citizen power. The second is to replace the role of people in government with the influence of corporations. 

Corporate managed democracy in the U.S. is the joining together of Wall Street finance capital and the military industrial complex in the politics of empire. Wall Street loans money to the U.S. government, which deficit spends to finance military production and war. Perpetual war brings profits for all involved. The social welfare gains of the 20th century are casualties. Unemployment rises, homes are foreclosed and inequality reaches historic levels. Health care, education and social services are defunded and the prescription offered by corporate managed democracy is privatization.

What can be done? Two recent movements offer hope. The Occupy movement has identified the corporate controlled military industrial/finance complex as the culprit and the Move to Amend movement has identified corporate constitutional rights as the vehicle used to create corporate managed democracy. Both are working to build broad scale social movements focused on challenging corporate rule and creating people powered democracy. 

On April 20-21, the Lane Peace Center’s fifth annual Peace Symposium/Democracy Convergence is bringing the best of our nation’s grassroots democracy activist to LCC. These include David Barsamian of Alternative Radio, David Cobb of Move to Amend, Ms. George Friday of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Ben Manski of the Liberty Tree Foundation for Democratic Revolution, Max Rameau of Take Back the Land, and David West of the Potawatomi Nation. Day One will be a series of keynote talks and day two a series of workshops on organizing to create democratic social movements. The symposium is free and you are invited to attend. For information and registration go to: www.lanecc.edu/peacecenter or e-mail peacecenter@lanecc.edu

Stan Taylor, Ph.D., Lane Peace Center

 

THE PLAN WON’T WORK

The April 12 cover story about the Stahl-DeFazio forest plan was enlightening about its potential environmental consequences and political considerations. But if the idea is to replace the huge federal timber receipt payments to the O&C counties that peaked in the early 1990s, it seems to me that the more critical problem with the plan is that it won’t work. 

The federal government never paid the counties based on the acreage or board footage that was cut on the O&C lands; it shared with the counties the revenue it gained from selling the timber to the forest product industry, and that is also the Stahl-DeFazio concept. Problem is, by the mid 1980s when the massive federal cutting began, there were 2.1 million new single-family homes being built each year. That declined slightly over the ‘80s, but rebounded to the peak of 2.2 million homes in early 2005. Timber is purchased to make lumber. Lumber must be sold to make money, and its sale price is based on demand. At the end of 2011 there were about 700,000 housing starts in the U.S., and so far in 2012 it appears there will be even fewer. That means that, at best, timber sold from the O&C forests would command a price of no more than a third of the prices paid at the peak of O&C payments to the counties; and in those days, the harvest included valuable old growth. 

At those prices, in order to replace the county revenue from the good old days, the “trust” would have to cut down all of the timber in the “management” half in about five years, and then there would be no revenue stream for decades to come. So what is the point?

David C. Force, Eugene attorney

 

BEN LINDER’S LEGACY

April 28 marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Ben Linder, a mechanical engineer from Portland who in 1983 went to Nicaragua to work on hydroelectric projects that today provide energy to the community, schools, clinics and campesinos. While working on a small dam in the remote northern region of San José de Bocay, performing the miracle of transforming “water into light,” Ben and two other Nicaraguan co-workers were killed by Contra forces armed and paid for by the U.S. government.

In 1984, I had the opportunity to meet Ben in Nicaragua while I was at the national university. Ben, like myself, was one of many thousands of young volunteers from the U.S. and other parts of the world who wanted to witness and contribute to the rebuilding process in Nicaragua following the triumph of the Sandinista revolution over the repressive Somoza dictatorship. It was a time of amazing hope, dreams and struggle; it was a time of unnecessary war, pain and suffering.

When I met him I was moved (and a little jealous) by his enthusiasm as he described the work he was doing and how truly happy he was in Nicaragua. I was intrigued by the simplicity and perfection of his work and the difference it could make in the lives of poor farmers who were trapped in a war zone. Both Ben and I were deeply opposed to U.S. policy, yet Ben had a unique ability to rise above that and dedicate himself to improve the lives of the poor. Ben was not trying to be a hero; he sincerely wanted to make a difference in making the world a better place. 

Ben gave his knowledge, energy, humor and love to Nicaragua and the world — let us follow his example and celebrate the life and mission of Ben Linder. Please join us at 4:30 pm Friday, April 27, in Gerlinger Lounge at UO followed by a reception in the Ben Linder Room in the EMU.

Bryan Moore, Eugene

 

MAKING WAVES

Much thanks to Jen Tonneson and concurring Oregon State Marine Board members for doing the right thing. It is entirely appropriate to renew the ban on gas motorboating at Waldo Lake. The elitist claim that the ban deprives some their “equal opportunity” is a farcical yet appalling everyday example of their zero sum thinking. A motorboat is clearly not the only, nor an equal way to enjoy the Waldo Lake area. There are many other motor-friendly lakes and reservoirs nearby where people can make a wake to their hearts content. 

Neither the scions of Stewart or anybody else are entitled to endanger and disturb Waldo’s rare ecology and pleasant tranquility in order to feel equal in public access. I like kayaking the clear blue deeps there, but what I cherish is the quiet stillness, and I respect others’ access to that. Maybe someone can volunteer to take clan Stewart on their “family picnic” in a rowboat and introduce them to some of the amazing trails around the lake that they might like, too. 

Mike McFadden, Eugene

 

SLANT’S SMEAR JOB

I get it that the Slant is slanted, but sometimes it leans too far and falls on its face. Like last week’s revelation (4/5) that the best man at Andy Stahl’s wedding was Randy O’Toole, who used to work for some outfit that once took money from the Koch Brothers. Or something like that. 

I’ve seen better smear jobs. O’Toole wrote Reforming the Forest Service, which made the case for banning old-growth logging because it cost the taxpayers too much money. While the Kochs were poisoning polar bears for fun and profit, Andy was suing the Forest Service to save the spotted owl. I don’t think this was part of a right-wing conspiracy, but if it was, sign me up for some more of the same. 

Slant is down on Andy because he’s running against Pete Sorenson. Pete has represented South Eugene on the Lane County Commission for 15 years and the Slant likes what it knows. 

Full disclosure: I used to work for Andy at Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. We’re not best buddies or anything, and I don’t even live in Eugene anymore. But here’s what I know about Andy: He’s not afraid of a fight. My favorite memory of Andy was when he sued to have Mark Rey, the timber industry lobbyist Bush put in charge of the Forest Service, thrown in jail. 

He’s also not afraid of compromise and collaboration. He paid me to travel out to Eastern Oregon and work with mill owners on timber sales that balanced job creation and environmental protection. 

Andy worked long hours. He was impatient with orthodoxy. He insisted on results. He paid decently and gave me health care. He let me bring my dog to the office. Slant should give him a second look. He’s an interesting guy, and let’s be brutally honest here: Slant needs new material. Usually Slant is boring as hell. 

James Johnston, Corvallis

 

BASELESS COMPLAINT

 It’s time for local voters to get through the fog clouding the most contentious local race in the upcoming May election. That’s the contest between Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson and his opponent, Andy Stahl.

 Sorenson is still being hammered for allegedly violating the Open Meetings Law for meeting with other commissioners privately to discuss political issues. There’s little or no basis for that complaint. What Sorenson (and others) did is common practice among elected officials.

As a former newspaper journalist, I covered politics for many year, from city councils to Congress. I hardly ever met an official who didn’t meet with colleagues to discuss and debate issues. That’s how democracy works.

Sorenson has an outstanding record as a public servant, covering many years as an Oregon state senator and a county commissioner. He also had experience as a legislative assistant in Congress. It would be hard to replace that level of accomplishment.

 As a progressive legislator, he has been a leader in protecting the environment, supporting family wage jobs and getting the most bang for the public buck. His opponent in the May election, Stahl, is reputable. But his experience in the public arena is limited, and he has been associated with known conservatives.

There’s only one choice that will serve the public interest — Pete Sorenson.

 Arnold Ismach, Eugene

 

COVERED COAL

Let’s be accurate and realistic. The statement in Camilla Mortensen’s News Brief: “Coal, Coal, Go Away” (4/5) that “The Port of Coos Bay’s coal export proposal ... would require open-car coal trains” is flat-out false. The port wants to export coal and bring badly needed jobs to the south coast. They are not requiring open cars. Stopping coal trains (interstate commerce) is quite impossible on a local level. Requiring coal train cars passing through our communities to be covered or otherwise prevented from spreading coal dust is doable. 

Stefan Ostrach, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good point. The proposal doesn’t require open cars, but containing coal dust on trains is very expensive and rarely done. See www.coaltrainfacts.org 

 

APPEASEMENT STRATEGY

South Eugene progressive and independent voters should see through Andy Stahl’s attempt to capitalize on what was nothing less than a deliberate and concerted effort by the right to silence a strong, honest, effective leader and advocate, our South Eugene Commissioner Pete Sorenson. 

What’s disappointing is that Stahl’s challenge is opportunistic. He promises to get along with a system that just spent the last year trying to destroy the career of the man he wants to replace. Count me among those who are tired of the rancor and political bickering, but Stahl’s “get along” appeasement strategy has little hope of success. South Eugene voters interested in sensible, fair, government, promoting smart economic, social and environmental policies should see through the “time for a change” rhetoric and stand with their tested and proven commissioner and return Pete to office. 

Alan Leiman, Eugene

 

O'TOOLE’S AWARDS

The Weekly’s gossip section, Slant (4/5), made insinuations against Lane commissioner candidate Andy Stahl due to Stahl’s long-time friendship with a former Eugenean, Randal O’Toole. 

EW fails to mention that O’Toole is the recipient of the Oregon Environmental Council’s Neuberger Award for Service to the Conservation Movement and the Oregon Natural Resources Council’s (now Oregon Wild) David Simon Award for Vision.

What did O’Toole do to merit these accolades? As an economist, he helped expose environmentally destructive below-cost timber sale programs on our national forests. This logging not only damaged our land and water quality, but as O’Toole pointed out repeatedly and successfully, the timber sold for less than the tax dollars spent preparing and administering the sales. O’Toole’s 1988 book, Reforming the Forest Service, showed that most national forest controversies result from a skewed budget process that rewards Forest Service managers for losing tax dollars on environmentally destructive activities.

I can well understand why Stahl was proud to have O’Toole serve as best man at his wedding 30 years ago. Stahl will make an excellent commissioner for Lane County. He is willing to listen to and learn from smart people on all sides of challenging issues.

Anae Rosenberg, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Those two awards were given to O'Toole more than 30 years ago, in 1978 and 1981.

 

CALI VS. OREGON

I don’t mean to pick on Ian Korn for his letter (“California Bashin’,” 4/12), but I always find it to be ironic (and humorous) when people come to Eugene and then complain that the place is “growing” or “changing.” I mean … hello. And the Cali versus Oregon issue: From an historic perspective California and Oregon have always been on different ideological paths. For instance, we had Tom McCall as governor when Cali had Ronald Reagan — both were Republicans but McCall created the nation’s first bottle deposit bill, created urban growth boundaries to protect farm land, cleaned up the Willamette (which was pretty much an open sewer for industrial waste before he was governor) and he made the ocean beaches and beach access a public right. While Reagan was sending the storm troopers into UC-Berkley, McCall hosted a Woodstock-style rock concert. 

In California many beaches are still posted “No Trespassing.” I’ve even had dogs sent after me while trying to enjoy a beach in Cali. And count the number of orchards that have been replaced by “Junk in the Box’s” between Palo Alto and Sunnyvale. But getting back to the development issue: I think what Ian is reminding us of, is that we need to get back to our Oregonian ideological roots, (ideals) that may have been diluted by the influx of Californians into Oregon. Just saying.

Mark Barbour

Eugene

 

BEYOND POINTLESS

In regards to “Leaf-Blowers Suck,” yes, leaf blowers really suck! Especially when dealing with wet debris, which seems beyond pointless. This hatred also includes getting struck on a few occasions by flying debris from this machine while riding my bike down the Amazon path. All the while the operator seems to be indifferent about it. Every sunny day is ruined by their noise pollution.

 Jennifer Kellin, Eugene

 

 

HONORING CHRIS KILCULLEN

April 22 will mark one year since the death of our good friend and police officer, Chris Kilcullen. The days following his death were filled with shock and grief, while we prepared for a memorial service befitting an officer of his character. His family, friends and coworkers have, over the intervening weeks and months, sought to process his tragic and senseless loss. Some healing is made possible in large part by the good will, well wishes and very tangible care of individuals and businesses, City departments, the UO, our partner fire and police agencies and personnel.

It is important in times of unimaginable difficulties to ask oneself not only what happened and why, but what can I do now. How one answers this, the actions one takes, and the dignity and grace with how one proceeds is the measure of one’s character. In this regard, I have watched with awe Chris’ family, including his wife, Kristie, and his father, John, respond with compassion, grace and grit as they forge a path that honors Chris and cares for others. It is a path that ensures Chris’ love for the community and people’s safety will be projected into our future. We are so grateful for their fortitude, their kindness despite their own grief, and their brave leadership.

From the women and men of the Eugene Police Department please accept our most heartfelt gratitude to those who have done so much to remember Officer Chris Kilcullen.

Pete Kerns, Eugene police chief

EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter came in just after we went to press this week.

 

DIVERTING WAR TAXES

Once again my taxes withheld are less than my taxes owed for 2011, giving me the opportunity to resist some of that money as a protest to my government’s continued international military aggression.

This year I owe $2,506 in federal taxes. $2,283 has already been withheld from my earnings and given to the IRS. I owe an additional $223 but will not be paying it. If federal taxes went to life-affirming things I would be happy to pay all that I owe and more. For example, our country could provide a free and appropriate education to all young people between the ages of 3 and 25, including a bachelor’s degree or other post secondary education. We could provide food, a place to live and free health care to all who need it. All who need free drug, alcohol, gambling and sex addiction treatment could have it provided for them. Our land, water and air could be cleaned up and protected. Global warming could be reversed and alternative energy provided. All people living in this county could be treated with respect and granted the same freedoms.

Instead of programs that affirm life, over half our taxes are going towards killing people in wars. Our taxes are breeding ill will through out the world. If our country had not spent so much money on killing people through wars the financial crisis we are in could have been averted. I can’t condone war by paying for it. I have redirected the $223 that I owe into life affirming programs here in Oregon. I will be giving money to Habitat for Humanity, Womenspace, Shelter Care, Planned Parenthood, Amigos Multicultural Services, Nature Conservancy, Family School, Food for Lane County and the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Council.

 Susan P. Barnhart, Eugene

 

BREAKING AN UNJUST LAW

As a Jewish woman who read that German citizens pretended they didn’t see concentration camps, or explained that they were following orders during World War II, it is not possible for me to support with my tax dollars what we are doing in Afghanistan and elsewhere and not speak out. 

Since we still have not established a Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund, I have chosen to redirect part of my federal tax debt to organizations working for women’s health, peace and justice, and children’s education, endeavors that we could better fund on a national level if we weren’t wasting money on “defense.”

In the tradition of Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr., I am willing to break an unjust law to call attention to a greater one.

Jain Elliott, Eugene

 

SAVING THE WILD ROGUE

On a recent backpacking trip down the lower Rogue River, I was able to appreciate the proposed wilderness on my solo adventure for three days. Camping and hiking in the proposed wilderness area without seeing another person seemed to be a rarity only enjoyed in the off-season.

It is clear this area is a thriving recreational hub for backpackers, day hikers and boaters, fishermen and the outdoor industry, but it is certainly more than that. Un-harvested wilderness, healthy tributaries, and thriving wildlife habitat exists without human interference.

It is unclear why an area like this isn’t already permanently protected. Allowing logging or mining in the area may prove to be a short-term solution, but what happens when the creeks are polluted, the salmon runs die off, and tourists don’t want to camp next to destroyed landscapes? Moreover, outdoor equipment providers, rafting companies, small business, and the hospitality industry rely on this intact and iconic landscape for their prosperity.

 I commend the Oregon congressional delegation for getting the Wild Rogue Wilderness bill this far, now it must be pushed across the finish line to protect it forever.

 Andrew Van Dellen, Reno, Nevada

 

ENOUGH WAR

It was 71 years ago (1941), that a proud and militaristic nation decided to make a “preemptive strike” against another country which it saw as threatening and intruding into its area of influence. The objective was simple and clear, to destroy or immobilize a mighty fleet of warships.

Today another proud and militaristic nation is threatening to make a “preemptive strike” against another country which it sees as threatening and intruding into its area of influence. Its objective too is simple, to destroy a developing industry which could lead to development of a nuclear weapon.

And today, still another great militaristic nation is being egged and urged on by irresponsible politicians using election year demagoguery to support or join that preemptive strike.

A preemptive strike, sortie or “surgical strike” are euphemisms which belie the seriousness, the destruction, the deaths that occur. Seventy one years ago President Roosevelt called that preemptive strike “a cowardly unprovoked attack, an act of war.” He called on Congress to declare a state of war in response to that preemptive attack. Millions lost their lives in that war. Thousands starved to death as their economies were in shambles. 

Have we not had enough war? We’ve been in constant war or military action since that fatal preemptive strike. There were once 15 countries that had nuclear weapons; Israel has 200, India 75, China almost 200. Rogue states? North Korea and Pakistan have had the bomb for years. No one has used them. Except us.

Denounce acts of war.

Richard Leinaweaver, Eugene

 

OTHER SOLUTIONS

Recent news reports regarding problems with and attempts to control opiate drug prescriptions are timely. In Oregon and elsewhere, overdoses of these drugs are becoming more common. Doctors who prescribe too much of these drugs and patients who abuse them are increasingly under the spotlight.

One safe strategy to help combat these problems, as well as save health care dollars, was not even mentioned: medical marijuana. In 2011, Compassion Center, a Eugene-based nonprofit that runs a medical marijuana clinic, found in a survey of our patients that 66 percent of those responding had used medical marijuana to quit or decrease their use of pain medications. (Others reported using it to quit alcohol, tobacco, street drugs and other pharmaceuticals.)

Marijuana is a safe drug; side effects are minimal and no human deaths have ever been attributed to its use. Pain specialists and other doctors need to educate themselves regarding the value of medical marijuana for pain control, particularly as it regards reducing the harm caused by opiate drugs. More and more studies are showing that it is an effective and less harmful substitute for some or all of the pharmaceutical drugs that doctors are now prescribing.

It’s time to look at other solutions than the ones that Big Pharma is offering us. They are what caused this problem in the first place.

Cheryl K. Smith, executive director, Compassion Center, Eugene 

 

STRIP SEARCH ABSURDITIES

The conservative majority of the supreme court decided that strip-searches never violate the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. It’s interesting that in writing the majority opinion Justice Kennedy describes a strip search in every detail, down to squatting and coughing with the anus observed, but somehow couldn’t bring himself to include that females must squat to expose the vagina (noted in the minority opinion). 

The majority decided that a strip search would not be unreasonable even in the case of a woman detained because her kids were not wearing seatbelts, or in the case of a woman detained because she failed to have an audible bell on her bicycle, or when a nun was arrested at a peaceful protest and was subjected to a strip-searched. WTF! I can guarantee you that if you bring a woman into custody because her kids aren’t wearing seat belts, there’s nothing in her anus or vagina you need to worry about! That’s beyond unreasonable, it’s absurd! 

Jack Van Dusen, Eugene

 

CHANGE OLD LEADERSHIP

Chico Schwall’s description of WOW Hall’s problems (letters, 4/5) sound just like a much, much bigger organization that I belong to. And the only long term permanent solution for both is — term limits for all elected positions.

Frank Skipton, Springfield

 

THEY’RE ALL LIBERALS

The essay by Michael Rooke-Ley (4/5) about men and especially an alarming number of younger men being attracted by objectivist philosophy and politics was spot on from the left-wing, party liberal position. Party liberals, the conservatives on the right wing and the progressives the left — all of them are liberals because they follow the philosophical outlook of John Locke. Conservatives of his day believed in the divine right of kings, so nobody was free from the tethers of the mythology and inconsistent moral and ethical structure of the Abrahamic traditions and the warlords who enforced that structure. 

Objectivists, no matter how bad you don’t like it liberals, are accurate, they do the work that the right wing economic conservatives steal and publish as policy, that has the aesthetic and rigor of a quilted cat. 

I believe the Pauls are interesting — like watching a drunk start a fight. Objectivists/libertarians(minarchists) and anarchists believe liberty can’t be maintained by force (police and military), that it is natural for people to prosper when not coerced and allowed to freely associate and the burdens of myth and violence have twisted humanity’s potential. Unfortunately, they have been rejected out of hand by the left and tricked by the right, so they are where those who are increasingly politically marginalized go — usually to chat on-line about Greek philosophy, economics, finance, currency, history, morality and ethics. Not much locker room humor. In fact it’s a dry world and that’s how those men like it because modern neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism don’t have the math on their sides and they are soaked to the bone in debt that your children will be working off. 

Why bear children into manacles, just to eek out retirement a tired, suburban stud horse?

Donovan Worland, Eugene

 

NO CHANGE IN SIGHT

Michael Rooke-Ley’s article (4/5) about political consciousness as regards the libertarians was interesting. He makes a lot of valid points about the appeal of these views and some really good points about community. I have to point out, though, that I think he is completely missing the point when it comes to Ron Paul. Ron Paul had a rally recently at UCLA and 10,000 people attended, most of them young. RP’s popularity is not about all that libertarian stuff, it’s about War and Spending. Yes, with capitals. If Obama or Romney are elected, they will just continue with both as Bush did before. There will be no change.

Surely, Mr Rook-Ley, a law professor himself, has noticed that constitutional law professor Obama, has turned out to be slightly different than promised? I campaigned and voted for him and feel totally betrayed. Obama is worse than Bush, because there are more wars and more spending than ever. And the Constitution and our rights? Forget about it. Romney will be the same. Both are puppets of the banker elite.

Ron Paul is not popular cause we wanna pay less taxes, have a smaller government, and smoke dope after work. Ron Paul is popular because of his stance on the Wars, and his stance on Spending. If we don’t eliminate the first, and reign in the second, we are finished as a nation, and will go the way of all empires down through history.

The banker-controlled mainstream media (EW?) would have us believe Ron Paul and his ideas are finished in this election. Not so.

Jim Showker, Eugene