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Letters to the Editor: 6-7-2012


A column written by Paul Conte in the May 24 EW expressed concern about the Eugene City Council and professional staff in the way they worked with the proposed Capstone student housing project.

Here is some information that may be helpful: The project was first introduced to the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) Jan. 25. There was a community forum sponsored by DNA and City Club of Eugene March 11 and an open house sponsored by the city March 13. There were numerous meetings with Steve Master and Capstone staff by members of the DNA Steering Committee. Master and Capstone’s Conrad Sick were directly involved in discussions with residents of Olive Plaza. 

City staff was generous with their time as was Mayor Kitty Piercy and Councilor George Brown. I assume that other members of the public were afforded equal opportunity to give input if they asked for it.

All of this took place between Jan. 25 and May 13 when the council approved the project. I believe that public inclusion was welcomed, heard, and respected; I don’t think anyone was shortchanged in the process. 

Another issue raised is the profit that Capstone stands to make on this project. In today’s economy, 9 percent is certainly a healthy profit. But that’s a red herring. Consider this: The city is investing $8.8 million in tax exemptions. The Capstone project is bringing $89 million in new money to Eugene in the form of jobs and taxes (people with jobs pay taxes!). That’s a lot of turnips. This looks like win-win to me.

The DNA Steering Committee voted 6-1 to support the proposal, with reservations. The City Council voted 6-2 in favor of the project. We share responsibility for ensuring as best we can that the project is successful for everyone and that agreements are kept.

Sure, there are disagreements, but the City Council and staff, along with many community members, have worked hard to get the best possible deal for Eugene, and I think they’ve done an admirable job. It’s time to turn off the negativity and move forward.

David Mandelblatt, DNA chairperson



 It’s amazing how often I’m reminded of the joys of calling Eugene my home. This morning was another one of those special times. 

With the sun already up, I fling the golf clubs over the shoulder and embarked on the short walk up to Laurelwood Golf Course (the city’s only and finest golf course). Arriving well before its 8 am opening, my two companions teed off behind the greenskeepers already atop their mowers. No worries, we’ll square away at the pro shop when we turn the corner. What a gem of a view of the south hills and the northeast flank of Spencer Butte hold as we descend the #1 fairway. Despite the quiet we’re not alone this morning: The cart paths are dotted with dog walkers, a jogger or two and the robins hunting for wayward worms.

Now mind you this is not the Laurelweed of old. Steady course improvements over the years have enhanced the drainage features of the old dairy bottomlands, and absent are the fairway white daisies camouflaging your golf ball. Not lost however, is the dawn charm of this precious park valley with its majestic tall firs, rolling hills and the huge statuesque oak (once a twin) midway through hole #7. 

Hackers we are, but skilled enough to know what a treasure we have nestled in our own backyard. Or perhaps it was the two pars and a bogey on #9 that helped emphasize this point? Either way, thank you soooo much, south Eugene.

Rich Heil, Recently retired



Dear EWEB: Please don’t put a smart meter on my house. I already pay for the electricity with my money. Do I have to pay with my health, too?

When I first heard about EWEB’s plan to install wireless smart meters on nearly every house in Eugene I wondered, what’s in it for the people of Eugene? So far, I’ve found only one answer: People will be able to watch second-by-second fluctuations on their meter and adjust their energy usage accordingly. EWEB is promoting smart meters as a green technology that will benefit everyone. But if there’s any truth to that claim, shouldn’t we see clear evidence in places already outfitted with smart meters? 

So far, the millions of smart meters installed in California by PG&E have yielded no environmental benefit. PG&E admitted in their own audit report that “no energy savings could be demonstrated.” In addition, people living in smart-meter equipped houses are reporting health problems including sleep disturbance, headaches, ringing in the ears, heart palpitations and trouble concentrating. Bees, plants and pets may be just as vulnerable to the around-the-clock pulses of radio frequency radiation. 

As more people become aware of this infant technology, more light is shed on the health risks. Smart meters deliver full-body radiation at levels 100 times greater than that of a cell phone. And there’s no off button.

For these reasons, I repeat my plea to EWEB. Please do not put a smart meter on my house, or on the house of anyone you care about!

Brian Bender, Eugene



I agree with the stance that the health hazards smart meters present have not been adequately reviewed (see Slant last week). Another issue that no one mentions is the fact that this technology is one that is rapidly changing. Who has the same computer or cell phone they were using 20 years ago? Think about it. Even the cell phones go out of date more rapidly than computers do!

These smart meters should be way outdated before they will be paid for! And who will EWEB be asking to pay for the upgrades as they become necessary?

Lorna Vinson & Jim Carpenter, Eugene



First Alternative Cooperative in Corvallis is holding its annual voting. If you’re a co-op member, please participate. Ballots will be available at either store if you don’t receive a ballot in the mail by late May. Ballots are due by June 15.

This year the ballot includes an important referendum to set explicit standards for the products containing chocolate that are sold at our store. The reason is the serious problem with child and adult slavery on cacao plantations on Africa’s West Coast.

Former co-op board members, local leaders in the sustainability movement, respected local educators and social justice advocates signed the petition that initiated the slavery chocolate referendum. The passage of this referendum will further define our co-op as a leader in social responsibility for our business community.

However you decide to vote, educate yourself on the referendum and candidates. If you have questions about this referendum on slavery tainted chocolate please call 752-9403 or email famemberspsg@yahoo.com

Will Horman, Corvallis



Really, this is embarrassing. Worse than a get-a-life quest, it was a ghoulish waste of time. It started with a harmless musing. When we moved to Eugene in the ’70s, our next-door neighbors were an elderly couple originally from North Dakota. And it turned out that most in their circle of friends were from North Dakota too.

One day (here’s the ghoulish part), I was looking through The Register-Guard’s obituaries and noticed a lot of those who had passed on were from the Dakotas. My hypothesis: A lot of folks in their 80s living in Eugene came here from North and South Dakota. How many? Well, why not keep track from the obituaries? (Why not? Actually, everyone who knew I was doing it had reasons why not!)

Ignoring their sage advice, from March to August of last year, I tallied the birth state for each person listed. And though I did find out about the Dakotas (N.D. had the 16th most at 1.5 percent and S.D. the 22nd  at 1 percent), gradually the quest morphed into a morbid contest to see what state would show up last.

Only 210 out of 667 (31 percent) came from Oregon. Most who died way too young were Oregonians but a surprising number in their 80s to100s were, too.

California (10 percent) and Washington (5 percent) came next, followed by Illinois (3 percent). Alaska had two obits, Hawaii one, Nevada one,, Wyoming three and Utah three.

After six months I quit tallying but I did keep looking for the three states that still had no obits. Kentucky came pretty quickly but Vermont held out for four more months. Finally, 15 months after the start, the last state appeared. Ironically, it turned out to be the state with the license plate motto: “The First State” — it was the first of the 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution.

So, I suppose that if you moved to the area from Delaware, you could feel like this highly scientific survey could mean that of the next 1,500 or so people you see, you’ll be the last to go. On the other hand, you really ought to find something else to think about. Most likely you’ll want to get a life.

Jim Watson, Eugene



Last week I had occasion to visit friends who live in the 200 block of South 67th Street in Thurston. I was shocked at the speed most people drive from the top to the stop sign. My friend told me this goes on all of the time — I stood there in total amazement. This is a residential area, folks. Kids and dogs and cats are out and about. Summer is coming soon and more kids will be out on skateboards, bicycles, running out in traffic chasing balls, etc. Let’s slow down and enjoy. Please.

Judi Greig Lawson, Dexter



I recently learned KFC is using throw-away paper packaging made from rainforest trees. There is no excuse to trash rainforests, including forests critical to endangered tigers, for chicken buckets.

KFC and Yum! have no sustainability policies to exclude products connected to rainforest destruction, and the company has failed to even answer questions about its sourcing of products such as palm oil, soy and paper products.

Yum! Brands, and the suppliers it buys from, are linked to the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests through Asia Pulp & Paper. According to its own public statements, APP continues to use trees from the rainforests of Indonesia to make paper products. This has to change.

KFC needs to clean up its supply chain and stop pushing endangered wildlife like the Sumatran tigers to the brink of extinction for throw-away, fast-food packaging.

Diana Kekule Bastron, Florence