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"Guest Viewpoint"

At a recent panel discussion, local politicians and service provider representatives addressed the pressing need for community services for the mentally ill. Unfortunately, the Legislature chose to direct human service funding to institutional care rather than community-based programs. The soon to be completed State Mental Hospital between Eugene and Junction City is the result of that funding priority decision. 

After several years and over 3,000 miles of searching, last week it was confirmed that our famed OR-7 is no longer a lone gray wolf. Not only has OR-7 found a mate, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced he has fathered at least two pups — the first wolf pups in southern Oregon in decades. Many wolf advocates and OR-7 fans missed the irony in the agency’s announcement. 

New architectural drawings reveal a beautiful, renovated field and grandstand with massive old-growth structural timbers — capturing the vision shared by civic leaders and Works Progress Administration who in 1938 designed and built Civic Stadium for public use.

I have just returned from a celebration of Christmas presented by the Eugene Cascade Chorus. As I write this column, the echo of the words “Let there be peace on Earth” lingers in my mind. If there is anything I could wish for this tired old world, it would be that sentiment.

The stakes are high for Oregonian families in the 2014 elections, and Democrats throughout the state are ready to use cutting-edge, grassroots campaign tools to win the close races in November.

For almost 20 years now I have been participating in a personal boycott of professional spectator sports, electing to watch only amateur college sporting events, particularly those that represent the school from which I graduated. But recently, I have decided to refrain from viewing some of the university-based athletic team sports that represent even my own alma mater, specifically the sports that offer multiple scholarships to out-of-state recruits in order to potentially win championships rather than educate our local youth. 

As an environmental studies major at the UO I’ve gotten very used to discussing issues of injustice and land degradation through a scholarly/ objective lens; however, I had never drawn these connections back to myself and how they affect me as an Oregonian. Never would I have imagined that a trip out to interview a community affected by pesticide drift — a predominantly middle class, white conservative community in Gold Beach — would connect directly to the working-class Latino-immigrant farmer community I grew up with in the Rogue Valley.

University of Oregon students voted recently to urge the UO Foundation to divest its fossil fuel stocks. The vote to divest — which prevailed with yes votes of roughly 73 percent — should spur the foundation to sell the fossil fuel stocks that reportedly make up roughly 1 percent of the foundation’s holdings. 

On April 26, 1986, in Pripyat, Ukraine, Chernobyl Reactor #4 suffered a power increase, which caused the whole plant to burn. On the night of the incident, Chernobyl's staff ran a safety drill. An automatic shutdown was supposed to happen in case of low water levels. But operators, who lacked proper training, blocked the automatic shutdown mechanism, because they thought the shutdown would abort the test. The coolant started boiling in the reactor, and reactor power slowly increased, which caused Reactor #4 to explode.

I’m looking at two memos that I wrote in July of 1991 when I worked for Congressman Peter DeFazio as a natural resource policy advisor. The memos were written on two consecutive days to reflect two meetings, one with the timber industry and the other with the environmental community. Earlier that year, all timber harvests on federal forests were halted by a federal court injunction. Thousands of jobs were at risk and the economies for many rural communities were in limbo. The two meetings were to determine if any form of compromise legislation was possible and what level of support we could expect from either side in the controversy.

Pete Sorenson

 et al.

We were talking several times over the past few months about the U.S. government's spying on the German leaders and on how most Americans associate their country with freedom. Commissioner Sorenson visited our sister county, St. Wendel in the Saarland (a German state in southwest Germany) in 2006. Because of this relationship Sorenson has some familiarity with Germans and their public policy. The German side of this relationship has also responded: our German local government counterpart visited Lane County in 2009. President Obama, who held a rally in Berlin in 2008 while campaigning for the presidency, was, in 2008 and 2009 very popular in Germany, both among leaders and the German people.

We decided that we have unique perspectives on this national relationship. So, we collaborated on this short article about spying on the American people and spying by the U.S. government on Germany's leaders.

There are signs everywhere that the modern dream of hyper-individualism, unlimited growth and consumption, is coming to an end. Its pathologies are overwhelming our future. To maintain this dream, we are told by our nation’s military leaders to expect perpetual war for at least three generations. To maintain this dream, our governments are increasingly controlled by corporations which are given constitutional rights at the same time that the rights of natural people are restricted and denied.

Parents want to trust the schools where they send their children. Teachers, like myself, want to trust the learning criteria set before us by the state. And I believe most of us want to trust our government to make the best decisions possible for the children of our nation. The problem in trusting the newly implemented Common Core Standards and Assessments is that there are too many unanswered questions for it to feel safe on any of these levels. By themselves, standards are great and teachers strive to reach them. Unfortunately, many problems are introduced when working with the standards and assessments contained in the Common Core. Here are three questions that come to mind about Common Core in our schools.

Friends of the late Janet Wentworth will gather from noon until 2 pm Sunday, April 6, at the Eugene Family YMCA, 2055 Patterson Street. All are welcome to that time of remembering Janet who died on March 6, 2014, a month shy of the 69th anniversary of her birth.

As Eugene looks for ways to avoid serious service cuts, the Revenue Committee struggles to identify timely, equitable and politically acceptable taxes to generate the necessary revenue. We have ample representation from the business community, but we lack vocal representation from disadvantaged segments of our community. This opens us to the risk that our recommendations will fall heavily on those least able to afford it. While business is the ox that pulls the cart of government, it is working families that keep that ox fed. Moving forward requires that we navigate a thicket of legal limits to give the City Council recommendations that put the interest of the community first.

Comments by EW in the Feb. 6 issue about the “new economy” criticize Lane County and local communities for spending time and money to lure large companies to create jobs and tax revenues. EW goes on to reinforce the commonly held myth that these companies are only here to get the cash and tax breaks and leave as soon as they are exhausted. Once again, Sony and Hynix are used as examples to perpetuate the myth. In neither case is it true. 

Part of my Eugene Experience is mentioning observances of famous birthdays, like Martin and Malcolm, and getting the response: “Martin who?” or “Malcolm who?” Even mentioning Angela’s work on the prison-industrial complex, and the school-to-prison pipeline, and people saying “Angela who?” Black History Month grew from Carter Woodson’s Negro History Week, which was situated to encompass two birthdays, Lincoln and Douglass, so we would always remember the contradictions of America, who actually freed us and wanted us free, and who took the credit for freeing us, but didn’t actually want us living free, alongside him: a sentiment Oregon’s founding fathers could well relate to. 

The International Energy Agency released its annual World Energy Outlook on Nov. 12, 2013. Annually each November, the agency provides a status report and offers its forecast of petroleum supplies over the next 20-25 years. The IEA forecast this year is pessimistic.

CAPE stands for Community Alliance for Public Education. CAPE’s goals are to build community around public education and to promote vibrant, honest dialogue that encourages students, families, teachers and community members to work together for a public education that benefits all. I got involved in CAPE last year because I believe my primary role as an educator is to ensure that what happens in the classroom is best for all children. In an education climate in which many teachers are fearful of speaking up, I found support in CAPE to begin using my voice to advocate for students.

On Nov. 27, EW’s Slant profiled the “Environmental Scorecard” of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. EW drew attention to “the relatively high scores racked up by state reps and senators in our part of the valley.” Unfortunately, OLCV was grading on a curve to make Democrats in Salem look better than they are.

Last week the Eugene/Springfield area held various events to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Students spent the days leading up to the celebration creating poems and artwork in their classrooms. They read stories and did assignments that described how Martin Luther King Jr. has influenced and inspired them.  In Springfield the MLK march made its way through downtown ending at Springfield High School. We gathered to see the student’s artwork, hear music and celebrate together as a community. The crowd walked together listening to the beautiful sounds of drumming and singing, by just one man at the march. He sang “Freedom” and other civil rights march music from the 1960s. Like many years before, it was a truly powerful and moving experience.

When I pointed out to EW that Sen. Ron Wyden’s recently released O&C forestlands bill (SB 1784) includes a “land exchange” loophole (Sec. 117) big enough to drive public wilderness and old-growth forests into private hands, Seneca Sawmill’s general manager Todd Payne objected. Payne says that Seneca “does not consume old-growth timber in any of its manufacturing facilities,” and my “implication” that it does “is just a continuation of the ‘fear-based’ messaging by environmental organizations as they know they can’t stand behind the truth.”

The fate of Civic Stadium is unlikely to be decided in 2014. Yes, the members of the 4J School Board are committed to “disposing” of the structure as soon as they possibly can — they consider it a distraction from their mission. But, whether they choose to accept the offer of Kroger (Fred Meyer), the Y or the city of Eugene, it will almost certainly be a year or more before we know how the site will be used. The reasons differ for each of the bidders.

Recently, a new transplant to Eugene asked me why people are so emotional about Civic Stadium. What follows is my note to my new friend, Austin. I don’t know when you moved to Eugene but my guess is that it was after Civic Stadium was wrapped in mothballs and allowed to decay.