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Letters to the Editor: 4-26-2012


As an involved citizen over the last 10 years and more, I’ve had the honor of working with many of our local elected officials.

A few hard-working electeds — Betty Taylor, Pete Sorenson, Kitty Piercy and Rob Handy —  have provided a cornerstone of almost everything we’ve succeeded in for the public interest of Eugene and Lane County.

Representing Southeast Neighbors, Friends of Eugene and other community and nonprofit perspectives since 1999 has repeatedly put me in a position me to witness first-hand the immense, often-unseen contributions that our most reliable local leaders make day in and day out.

Whether in broad collaboration or in activist campaigns, making progress around Lane County for livability and shared prosperity would be near impossible without the amazing courage, stamina and real self-sacrifice of these special friends and neighbors.

From saving taxpayer dollars through right-sizing the Coburg I-5 intersection project, to protecting public health, to continuing the patient, solid work of incremental rebuilding in downtown Eugene via public-private partnerships, our cornerstone leaders work hard to help Eugene and Lane County realize the best of ourselves as a community.

Please don’t be distracted by empty political calls of change for its own sake. The change we need is change for the better, and some of our electeds are already in there — not just putting out fancy words — but doing the everyday, hard-knocks, blue-collar work of pulling together to build fairness and lasting value.

Please join me in supporting Betty Taylor, Pete Sorenson, Kitty Piercy and Rob Handy.

Kevin Matthews, Editor, ArchitectureWeek, Eugene



Newspaper characterizations of Andy Stahl don’t match his actions or affiliations. The R-G characterizes Stahl as a “progressive” (3/9), a “liberal” (3/25), and says it “might be difficult to distinguish Stahl from Sorenson.” The R-G mentions Stahl’s reputation as an environmentalist (1/11). Well, that was history. Andy is a very different person these days. 

He once did yeoman work with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund during the struggle to stop old-growth habitat destruction, and fought excessive logging in the Coast Range that caused an unusually high frequency of landslides. That was more than 20 years ago.

Today, to facilitate the industrial logging of 1.5 million acres of federal forest, Andy supports delivering 1.5 million acres of federal public forest to the timber industry disguised as county funding, eliminating all environmental laws on that 1.5 million acres. 

Liberals and progressives support environmental protection and do not advocate for the nullification of environmental laws. Liberals and progressives are not board members of right-wing anti-government-planning advocacy groups. Andy Stahl is a board member of the right-wing Thoreau Institute and contributes articles for their website (see http://ti.org/board.html). Examples of Thoreau Institute funders include the Sarah Mellon Scaife Foundation, a foundation financed by the Mellon industrial, oil and banking fortune and the Charles G. Koch Foundation. 

Andy is using his history to obfuscate the public’s impressions of him. There is no confusing him with Pete Sorenson, for his recent actions tell the true story: Andy is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Susan Applegate, Yoncalla



Why should we believe that Pat Farr would carry out his duties as a county commissioner when he is proposing to bail out as city councilor after only one year into a four-year commitment? Have all the city’s problems been solved? I seem to remember the earlier Farr assuring constituents he would be a city councilor for the long haul. This contradiction does not engender great trust. The incumbent, Rob Handy, is by far the best choice.

Ramona McCall, Eugene



Steve Mital has been my neighbor for the past seven years and I have no doubt, as EWEB commissioner for Wards 1 & 8, he will be a major asset to the board. Steve is passionate about clean water and a strong advocate for our sole source: the McKenzie River. He understands the impact of rising utility rates on families like mine and his own, and the importance of support for low-income families. I have my concerns regarding the smart meters, and feel that Steve will effectively address the pros and cons.

Steve’s background in program management, policy development and environmental studies, as well as his current position as director of sustainability at UO, will be an invaluable asset to EWEB; and his ability to listen, research and ask important questions makes him an informed, prepared and thoughtful decision maker. Steve’s commitment to his family, living a modest lifestyle mindful of the environment, and his knowledge of the ramifications of climate change, are evident in his daily interactions and in the care he takes of his own small piece of land. He bikes to work most days.

 Knowing Steve as I do, it’s no surprise that he has endorsements from Mayor Kitty Piercy and the R-G. If elected, I know he will be as dedicated to his position as EWEB commissioner as he is to his family, neighborhood, city, and the environment. Steve Mital is a perfect fit for the job of EWEB commissioner.

Carole Biondello, Eugene



Peter Sorenson stands up for the children in our community.  Last year, I chaired the Strong Schools, Strong Eugene campaign to raise additional funds to support our 4J schools. County Commissioner Pete Sorenson was a strong supporter of that effort.  He knows that we needs strong schools that give all children the opportunity to excel and worked to make that happen. 

Sorenson spoke out in favor of the effort to raise additional funds and voted for it. I applaud Sorenson’s dedicated service on the Lane County Commission and his commitment to our children. I support him for another term on the commission.

Hillary Johnson, Eugene



When I bought a home in the River Road area, I factored into my decision that Rob Handy was a neighborhood advocate. I had seen him in action at neighborhood meetings and at meetings involving larger county issues. I was impressed. When he asked me to be the treasurer of his 2008 campaign for county commissioner, I could only intuit that he was a man of honesty and integrity. After the campaign and his successful election, I knew he embodied those qualities. After reading the tiny print and sifting through the innuendo these past four years, I still know he is a man of honesty and integrity, still tireless and hardworking.

When I faced the daunting prospect of a cell phone tower being built in my Veneta area neighborhood, only one county commissioner (not my own) did not marginalize my efforts to see the county effect a countywide telecommunications ordinance. That commissioner was Pete Sorenson. That first measure of support and success taught me that everyone can make a difference. Thank you, Commissioner Sorenson.

Both Commissioners Handy and Sorenson deserve the votes of their constituents (of whom I am not one). 

Mona Linstromberg, Tidewater



I have known Pete Sorenson for many decades personally and in his capacity as a community leader and public official. He has always been a dedicated and trustworthy public servant. I was surprised to read about the lawsuit instigated against him and fellow Commissioner Rob Handy by political opponents lead by a Republican former county commissioner and by wealthy conservative lumber interests.

The ruling on the case by a Coos County judge was certainly an innovative interpretation of the Oregon Open Meetings Law. I am very familiar with this law because I have served as chair of two local public bodies. The ruling does not conform to my understanding of the law or the understanding of other legal experts. It probably would have been overturned if it had been appealed.

To my surprise, it seems that there are some who want to pull the rug from under Pete and support his opponent based on this controversial ruling. Pete’s many years of service and commitment to progressive ideals is being completely disregarded. Why are we being urged to vote against an experienced incumbent with a long history of service based on charges concocted by his opponents who want to remove him from office? A vote against Pete assures the success of these opponents in their endeavors.

We need the assertive and progressive voice of Sorenson on a board dominated by a super-conservative majority. We don’t need someone who wants to “get along.” Let us keep Pete on the board.

Munir Katul, Eugene



Thank you for your excellent article about the DeFazio forest plan (4/12). An important part of the history of Oregon’s logging industry can be called “disaster management.” Due to events known as the Columbus Day Storm, the Ox Bow Burn and the Tillamook Fire, techniques and practices we use today came to be standard in times of great calamity. By matching the volumes generated by disaster we become a symptom, not a remedy.

It is rare for any business to be able to pay their landscapers with yard clippings, yet many businesses recognize the value, and spend great sums to keep up appearances. Someone in the company has to decide the proper balance. Modern corporate loggers have established a professionally accepted way of doing business that assumes humans will replace fire and wind.

When a road that has forever been a path is considered as a highway, it is appropriate to take stock of “why do I want to go there?”

Jim Guthrie, Eugene



We, the people of the 99 percent, have a great advocate in Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson. He has stood with us both in the proposals he has authored and supported and in the witnessing by showing up on street corners where we have demonstrated for social justice.

It is true that people are greatly defined by their enemies, and we have seen how much effort his detractors did put into the now discredited attempt to bring him down. He and Rob Handy stood firm and won.

Pete has the knowledge of government and the determination we will need to be an effective voice in the upcoming County Commission. Give your support to Sorenson for Lane County Commissioner. He will be your dedicated public servant where it matters.

Len Hockley, Eugene



The UO’s corporate law is renown. The corporation I refer to is the one that took over what was once a public institution. First order of business: Break the union. Separate the faculty from the professors, saying the latter type of employees lack a “community of interest” and are “too disparate” to be part of the new union that has moved into the new company store. Once put upon an ivory tower now reduced to unwanted desperadoes, the seekers of truth will be resigned to the streets. The new sheriff in town will teach the faculty what they need to know and how to teach. 

If Big is my brother I can only hope one of us is adopted. 

Vince Loving, Eugene




Congressman Peter DeFazio is a prime sponsor of proposed federal legislation that transfers the use of 1.5 million acres of federal forests to an O&C Timber Trust. The ground remains nominally in federal hands, but that “ownership” is illusory.

 Section 212 (a)(2) of his legislation says "actions on the O&C Trust lands shall be deemed to involve no federal agency action or federal discretionary involvement or control.” With this language, DeFazio nullifies key federal environmental laws: the Endangered Species Act, the National Forest Management Act, and the management directive known as the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) in particular.

The NWFP created a series of inter-connected older-tree reserves, arranged to provide connecting habitat. Now, DeFazio disconnects those reserves, impoverishes the landscape, water and species, puts a knife in the heart of the NWFP, and returns us to the ugly days of the timber wars.

DeFazio’s plan greatly diminishes riparian protections, and the resulting warmed/silted water will cause a decline in salmon, steelhead and other aquatic life. Other species — owls, murrelets — are similarly imperiled. Herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers will see heavy use, as is common on private lands.

In the guise of income to counties, DeFazio proposes to deliver a huge (2,343 square miles) chunk of public timber to industry to be managed as private forest land, with only some of the income going to the O&C counties.

As in the late 1980s, we again face federal lands logging without the essential restraints of federal environmental laws.

Just say “no!” to DeFazio!

Tom Giesen, Eugene



Thanks to rebroadcasting of City Club of Eugene events, I had a chance to hear the debate between candidates for South Eugene county commissioner.

I listened with an open mind, and I think it would be easy for other listeners to hear and recognize the contrasts. Pete Sorenson's tone was sincere and humble. By contrast, Andy Stahl's tone was arrogant and condescending On any given topic, Sorenson was deeply informed, while Stahl was self promoting.

Stahl's answers lacked detail, except on the subject of forest legislation. He favors increased logging to pay for county government. 

From Sorenson, I learned something with every answer. I learned, for example that the majority of commissioners (not Pete or Rob Handy), had endorsed giving away water rights on the McKenzie River without a public hearing. And when a board majority voted to abolish the Human Rights Commission, Pete voted no.

Stahl was like a broken record. He kept saying that if elected he'd get along better with the board majority. However, that would not be an appropriate voice for the values of many residents in the South Eugene district.

Emily Fox, Eugene



At long last south Eugeneans have a capable environmentalist progressive alternative to elect as our county commissioner — Andy Stahl. It is time for a change.

Lane County’s budget has been in a crisis/cutting mode during Pete Sorenson’s entire tenure and without significant problem-solving leadership on his part. Sorenson did take initiative to try budgeting for personal assistants; but for services that the rest of us rely on, Sorenson seems to cross his fingers and hope the feds will come through with the money. After all these years in office, now that Deschutes County has led the way and he’s got an opponent nipping at his heels, Sorenson has come out in favor of a split property tax to fund rural public safety.

By contrast, Stahl is a problem-solver dedicated to effective and transparent public service. In his career, Andy has demonstrated leadership in protecting Oregon’s public lands and forests. As a volunteer, Andy has demonstrated leadership in protecting Oregon’s children. Currently Andy is working with Rep. Peter DeFazio to develop a creative legislative plan to protect our irreplaceable old-growth forests while providing timber-related jobs in second growth forests. The plan isn’t perfect, but it’s a model for the type of action that is sorely needed today to move Lane County forward.

I urge you to join me in voting for Stahl for commissioner.

Candace Shorack, Eugene



Thank you for your excellent article about the DeFazio forest plan (4/12). An important part of the history of Oregon's logging industry can be called "disaster management." Due to events known as the Columbus Day Storm, the Ox Bow Burn and the Tillamook Fire, techniques and practices we use today came to be standard in times of great calamity. By matching the volumes generated by disaster we become a symptom not a remedy.

It is rare for any business to be able to pay their landscapers with yard clippings, yet many businesses recognize the value, and spend great sums to keep up appearances. Someone in the company has to decide the proper balance. Modern corporate loggers have established a professionally accepted way of doing business that assumes humans will replace fire and wind.

When a road that has forever been a path is considered as a highway, it is appropriate to take stock of "why do I want to go there?"

Jim Guthrie, Eugene



 When I read the Slant article about Rush Limbaugh (3/15) I totally agreed with it and I did expect rebuttals the next week defending Limbaugh. You just don’t get it do you? The statement that most of Rush’s followers were older white males who have misogynistic and racist views is not only true but it also speaks about some in the Tea Party and about some in our Congress, where the old, outdated cronies (mostly white men) want to hold on to the way things “used to be.”

Well, the times they are a changing. Women and people of color are not asking but rather demanding equality. To suggest that no one is calling out the left TV personalities? Well, the left is by the most part inclusive. They respect women, they respect people of color, and respect the gay and lesbian community. 

Limbaugh called a woman a “slut” who was testifying in Congress to keep Planned Parenthood. Why would you defend someone who on a regular basis says racist, sexist, misogynist and downright hateful things? There are many members of Congress who disrespect our president and say no to anything he represents. It makes me wonder if some people are still upset that we have a black man for president. 

 I know there are many old, white males who are open, loving and inclusive, but this wasn’t written about them. You know who you are and where you stand, and if the shoe fits wear it. 

 Diane DeVillers, Eugene



In reference to “Leaf Blowers Suck” (letters, 4/5), we agree all the way! Semi trucks also suck. They're loud, can't drive worth a damn, and are all pollution and shit. Let's ban them too! Who's with us?

Max & Jessye Reams, Eugene



I just moved to Eugene from Denver about a month ago to live with family because I could not make ends meet by myself. Going to school and working part-time while taking care of a baby just wasn't working. 

Since being here I have noticed the very large homeless population and a large number of people who seem very well off. I know there will always be rich people and poor people, but I want to know what's really being done to create growth in Eugene or in the state of Oregon as a whole? I see the guys standing outside the library asking people to sign their papers in the name of growth. Why are there so few openings at large stores?

Everywhere I go in the downtown area to hand out my resume I get told "we mostly hire family and close friends." It seems like the only company doing mass hiring is wanting you to sell things to friends and family and if you don't meet their demand, they fire you! 

What's being to done to get families a safe place to live that doesn't have weekly rates? Who is going to help the group of homeless teens that hang out downtown gain skills to be a success and not a pest asking for hand out? Who is going to help a single mother find a job and not mooch off of welfare? Next time you go out to get your $5 coffee or get your nails done or take your sweetheart out for a date, take a look around you. If you open your eyes you might see the gap between the rich and the poor getting wider. 

Why are the people of Eugene OK with a pregnant 15-year-old girl sleeping in a playground? 

Jessye Reams, Eugene



State of Oregon considers Native American mascot ban, a formidable task to say the least. But if you really want a challenge try getting the football team from Washington, D.C., to change theirs. I consider Philadelphia my home team but would support changing our mascot to the Tweety Birds as a show of solidarity. 

Vince Loving, Eugene



We are victims of our mass media, particularly the network TV news.

You wonder why we are a country of mostly dumbed-down people? Any prime time network news on TV will show you on any evening. Last week, for example, one network spent its first 10 minutes talking about the death of Dick Clark. Who? Of course, the dancing DJ of TV for some 30 years. He definitely should have been mentioned — for 10 seconds. Our network talking heads are nothing more than stooges without judgment.

Then we get an extended review of how our troops have embarrassed themselves in Middle East incidents, the current one about their being seen as Afghan troops display portions of human bodies. The question is: what are we doing in Afghanistan, not how is it we appear in embarrassing photos, including the peeing of our soldiers on dead bodies. A lot of our poor kids in the military are very young. Youth does not excuse their behavior. But what are we to expect when we send them to other countries to maim and murder? That turns out to be their job, and they are hired by you and me.

Then a shift of gears: an interminable report on winners of the big jackpot. No wonder Europeans who observe us are ashamed for us.

Network TV news is embarrassing. But it knows what most Americans want, so it gives it to us in sickening doses.

   George Beres, Eugene



At 11:47 am April 10 dynamite blasting occurred on the top of Parvin Butte. There has been boring equipment on top of the butte for weeks and the equipment was removed a few days ago.

The blast was so strong that it shook the house and rattled the windows. This was done without notifying residents in the surrounding area except for a few neighbors on Harolds Road.

My wife was in the barn feeding our horses and she said she felt the blast through the barn floor. The barn floor is dirt. She was lucky that the horses did not spook and trample her to death. One can only wonder what the blasts will do to our house foundations.

The Demers/Mcdougals showed total disregard for the well-being and safety of the residents of the Dexter/Lost Valley area. They must be stopped but the people that are entrusted to look out for the residents of this county seem to be paralyzed and cannot or will not help this community. Where does the buck stop?

 Arlen Markus, Dexter



With continued talks scheduled in May, I encourage our members of Congress to support diplomacy with Iran, not pass new legislation that could sabotage it. I hope Rep. Peter DeFazio, will cosponsor H.R. 4173, which calls for robust, sustained and comprehensive diplomacy with Iran. And I hope my Sens. Merkley and Wyden will oppose S.Res. 380, which pressures the administration to abandon diplomacy and push toward war.

In this 21st century we should be ending the use of weapons to settle differences. War destroys countries, cultures and people, and creates a vicious cycle of the injured seeking revenge, benefiting only the arms dealers. Too many women and children have been killed and mutilated. Too many of our men and women have come home with head injuries and amputated limbs. It is time to promote dialogue and co-operation as a way to ease conflict between nations. It is time to still the voices of those who benefit from destruction.

Joann Henderson, Florence