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Guest Viewpoint

October 2, 2014

Why should I have to pay taxes for primary elections when I can’t vote in them? I’m registered with a minor party — not the Democrats nor the Republicans. Members of the Working Families Party, like me, and members of the Pacific Green Party, the Libertarian and others have to pay the bill for the two major parties’ closed primaries. So do independent voters not registered with any party. 

September 18, 2014

The speculation of Scotland as a sovereign state has brought up questions about the future: its economy, military, and standing amongst international organizations, to only name a few. In a sentence, the argument of the pro-independence side can be succinctly summarized to: Scotland is better off on its own.

September 11, 2014

Eugene is a beautiful, sleepy town, a place where, to quote Garrison Keillor on his recent Prairie Home Companion rebroadcast, “People are more concerned with living well than getting ahead.” The city is many things: eco-activists fed on local organics flourishing alongside a swoosh-tattooed sports empire of sparkle and grandeur, a town whose seeming ’60s Bohemianism is often driven by trustafarii dollars from L.A. and the Bay Area. 

September 11, 2014

The airlines now pack their planes so tightly that the only reasons I fly anymore are to watch fights over reclining seats or to get my clothes pressed.

September 4, 2014

Remodel our neglected City Hall for less than $15 million and you get: 

• The entire 75,000 square foot structure refurbished, spruced up and brought up to modern earthquake and insulation standards. 

• The iconic round City Council Chambers and art work saved. 

• Some 35,000 square feet of office space ready for move-in, with another approximately 40,000 square feet of shell space available for future development as city offices.

August 20, 2014

Along Seavey Loop Road winding all the way to Hwy. 58, “Stop Seavey Loop Industrial Zone” signs have cropped up over the past few weeks on almost every property. The two-lane blacktop runs through floodplain rich in farmland and natural areas nurtured by the Coast Fork of the Willamette River and Oxley Slough and overseen by Mount Pisgah rising gently in the east.

August 13, 2014

My “sex education” classes always failed me.

“Your privates are gonna get bigger and you’re gonna start smelling bad,” one of the teachers said during my fifth-grade sex-ed class. At the end, the teachers provided us with a stick of deodorant — thanks, Mr. Johnson.  

In middle school, health classes were more of a “you-need-to-exercise-or-you-will-get-fat-you-pathetic-pear-shape” than about sex at all. 

August 6, 2014

It’s summer, and that means rites-of-passage time when I do workshops for African-American related youth on preventing addiction and problems related to sexuality, whether or not you’re under the influence. I combine 21st-century knowledge with 25th-Dynasty wisdom, i.e. African Old School. It’s about keeping your spirits, your wits and your body safe, as well as safeguarding those around you. 

July 30, 2014

The average constitution worldwide only lasts 19 years and Thomas Jefferson suggested we re-write our Constitution every 25 years. Perhaps it is time that we re-write ours. How would you change the Constitution if you could craft a new one?

Article V of the Constitution outlines how to amend (modify) the document. It consists of two steps: proposal and ratification. It is just as hard to amend the Constitution as it is to convene a constitutional convention and re-write the entire document.

July 23, 2014

While much ink has already been spilled over the City Council’s proposed paid sick time policy, it’s important that our community is debating actual facts and applying appropriate context to the matter. I would like to clarify some key points.

July 16, 2014

Seen as a progressive and a civil libertarian, Sen. Ron Wyden has become the “Golden Boy” of the Democrats and risen to a position of great power within the Senate.

As the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee — think taxes — Wyden is the most powerful Senate member outside of Majority Leader. To illustrate the importance, he has raised $1.7 million in campaign funds so far during this election cycle, a record for him, and did this during a non-campaign year.

July 9, 2014

In an urban growth boundary expansion, the city of Springfield is studying location of a 362-acre industrial zone on Seavey Loop. This plan threatens farms, businesses, residences, property values, species, public recreation, sustainable development and a way of life at the gateway to Mount Pisgah. 

July 9, 2014

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. 

June 19, 2014

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. 

June 12, 2014

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.

June 12, 2014

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.

I know that we are not privy to all the information that is behind the decision to continue sending troops to Afghanistan, but I, like many others, am very sorry this terrible war has to continue.

June 12, 2014

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.

 Our state Legislature is facing an increasingly extreme and socially conservative field of Republican candidates this year. In three Republican primaries, out-of-state conservatives and groups like Oregon Right to Life ensured victory for far-right candidates who mimic Republicans in Congress with their shutdown politics and hyper-partisanship.

June 5, 2014

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. 

 

May 8, 2014

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.

May 1, 2014

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. 

May 1, 2014

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. 

April 24, 2014

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.

April 21, 2014

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.

April 17, 2014

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.