Eugene Weekly : Letters : 1.10.08


As a member of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee to finance homelessness and housing programs, I was eager to read your article on homelessness in the Dec. 27 Weekly.

I joined the committee because I see someone with a disability who is desperate for shelter on an almost weekly basis. The last two were elderly women, one in her late 60s and the other in her 80s. They came separately to Lane Independent Living Alliance (LILA) around the holidays. Both women used walkers for mobility. Neither was able to stay at the Mission because of their mobility limitations and other issues related to their disabilities.

Since the Mission is a private religious organization, it is not obligated to offer equal access to people with disabilities. It does a wonderful job of providing shelter to the population it serves. However, people with many kinds of disabilities cannot stay at the Mission and have nowhere else to go.

Other shelters in the county have specific criteria that need to be met before an individual is admitted. Merely being older and/or having a disability or multiple disabilities does not qualify a person for shelter space in this community. Senior and Disabled Services and Adult Protective Services also have pretty stringent limitations on the people they can assist. They were really hit hard by budget cuts a few years ago.

Neither of the women who came to LILA qualify for residential assistance. They would have to get much more disabled first. They both receive Social Security, but it’s not enough cover rent, even if they are able to maintain an independent apartment without a caregiver and other support. Since it was close to the end of the month, both women had spent their Social Security checks trying to stay warm and fed. Medication and personal hygiene weren’t even a consideration. The very basic necessities that give us a sense of security and self worth were not remotely available for these folks.

LILA is nonresidential, but we do what we can. Part of our mission is to advocate for the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities. The rest is to give people with disabilities the skills and support to survive as independently as possible in the community. Seniors with disabilities left out in the cold and wet aren’t likely to survive very well, and I certainly wouldn’t call being homeless in December independent living.

In one case we were able to scrounge up enough donations, some from the Mayor’s Committee members, to temporarily put one woman in a private recovery house, give her some warm clothes (she came to LILA with slippers on bare feet) and work with her on a more permanent solution. After spending an afternoon at LILA while our staff tried to find her a bed, the other woman decided to spend the weekend moving from McDonalds to IHOP to stay alive in the cold.

I understand all the arguments against having a publicly funded shelter. A shelter is hugely expensive to run, and chances are voters won’t agree to fund one. A shelter isn’t a permanent solution to the problem of homelessness. However, I believe Eugene and Springfield can find some way make a little room at the inn for people whose only offense is that they are poor, older and disabled.

Lynne McKinney, LILA Independent Living Services Manager, Eugene



During the hotly debated Measure 36 campaign, many well-intentioned moderate supporters of that measure assured me that they were not bigots. Nor were they interested in denying my partner and me fair legal protections enjoyed by married heterosexuals. Essentially, they had no issue with civil unions; it was “only” marriage to which they objected.

These well-intentioned moderates were reassured by the language used in “Yes on 36” literature targeting uncommitted voters. The pro-36 pamphlets and letters promised that this was not a matter of bigotry, nor did Measure 36 seek to deny equal protections.

Why am I not surprised in the hypocrisy of the outcry that arose from the conservative backers of Measure 36 when our Legislature took action to provide fair and equal legal protections to all Oregon citizens? And why is not surprising that a group from outside our state sought to challenge the legality of Oregon’s initiative process? Aren’t these largely social and political conservatives? Don’t they constantly shout for “states rights”? Why would they appeal to a federal court to overturn the action of a state legislature? Maybe they only want to champion states rights and individual freedoms when such rights and freedoms align with their narrow-minded ethics? Hypocrisy? It begins at home.

Craig Willis, Eugene



I was stopped at a red light at 11th and Chambers when I noticed an unfortunate holding a sign which read “CHANGE NEEDED.” I agreed in the broadest sense of the phrase possible.

Glenn Leonard, Eugene



Reading the past few months’ worth of “ÁAsk A Mexican!”/ “Savage Love”/ meth and sex ads letters, I’ve discovered that I might possibly be the only person in our fair community to not throw in his or her two cents, so here goes:

I think “Savage Love,” “ÁAsk A Mexican!” and those controversial ads are sometimes very effective in achieving what they are trying to achieve, and sometimes not. Pretty much like everything else in your (or, honestly, ANY) newspaper or magazine. If you want to run them, I can’t and won’t stand in your way, and in fact, I say “more power to you.”

But if I could make one suggestion to you — howzabout we take all the letters to the editor debating the merits or horrors of the aforementioned ads and columns, publish them on your website only and then take all those column inches in your print edition and use them for more articles and interviews about local bands, artists, actors, activists and so on? I’d personally love more of your paper to be about, say, “What’s Happening in Eugene” rather than “What’s Happening in Eugene Weekly.”

Wouldn’t we all? Whaddayathink?

Russell Dyball, Eugene



I have lived in the Whiteaker for several years, and I have heard more chainsaws in my neighborhood than I care to hear. The Public Works Department leaves signs on trees denoting their declining health and their potential hazard to the community, followed by their intention to remove said trees. The notice also states, that, “In recognition of the important value to the community of this tree, a replacement tree shall be planted.”

You left this notice on a tree in the Whiteaker Community Garden three years ago, yet you did not replace the tree. In fact, when I replaced the tree for you (with an endangered chestnut variety that I fight to preserve) you dug it up. I suspect that your tree removal policy is based upon convenience rather than social responsibility.

Other examples are the former tree in front of High Street Cafe. Was that removal really necessary? Was there any public discourse on the topic? What gives you the right to remove a commodity in minutes that took decades to grow?

I have some questions for the Public Works Department: Why do you lie to us? You haven’t replaced anything that you have removed. Why do you remove things that I will never be able to enjoy in my lifetime because it is convenient for you to maintain? Did you think that we wouldn’t notice? I hope your karma can handle this because mine wouldn’t.

Davy Ray, Eugene



Dear Ms Yamada and Mr. Sprague: I have some comments regarding your letters to the editor printed on Dec. 20. Gabacho racism is still racism, as is Latino racism is still racism. If either of you read last week’s (12/20) “ÁAsk a Mexican!” with an open and not a “liberal,” bleeding heart-filled mind, you would understand that Arellano is a Mexican nationalist and not the humanitarian, compassionate human rights advocate he so slyly portrays himself to be.

I feel the complaints that I expressed in my Nov. 22 letter are justified with Arellano’s latest tantrum, and therefore, Mr. Sprague, how can you claim “ÁAsk a Mexican!” is “not mean-spirited”? The “liberal” rich fog that your mind is blanketed with is contrary to your asking of readers “be careful not to close your minds too quickly!” You go on to say “mainstream media is a very significant reason why there is not outright revolution in this country.”

I ask you: What is the very significant reason why there is not outright revolution in Mexico? I’ll answer: The flight of tens of millions of poor, uneducated, superstitious people from their homes in Mexico to go to the U.S. Whether entering with our OK or without is not relevant, it’s the fleeing that matters, and also sending billions of dollars back to prop up the illegitimate Mexican government.

That old cliché, “You can’t solve your problems by running away from them” definitely applies here. Though Mexican immigrants’ rights advocates don’t think it applies to them. The greater threat to immigrants from Mexico is NOT the white dominated government of the U.S., it’s the Catholic church. Those with true open minds have already figured it out.

What about personal responsibility? The immigrant advocates also seem to think that it does not apply to the poor immigrants. Everyone needs to take responsibility for themselves; responsibility to improve one’s life, to lift oneself out of poverty, to become educated and use common sense and not live life superstitiously, and not expect others to throw you a lifeline! As for the subdued masses in the U.S., we have subdued ourselves by allowing this shit to continue. We are too easily pleased, lazy and enjoy the good life.

Blame not the media, for the media are a creation by people and run by people. We allowed these people to get the best of us and they are only a few and we are too lazy to stop them.

I haven’t forgotten about you, Ms. Yamada. The appropriate title of your letter should have been, “Don’t Mexicans Get It”? I, as a human being of Dominican parents, know many Mexicans don’t like other Latinos who aren’t Mexican and want a “Mexicans only” access to the U.S., yet you and others want to bury that negative side regardless how true it is. Forty percent of Mexicans are in poverty, 45 percent of Dominicans, and 70 percent of Haitians. Are you a Mexican nationalist advocate? Are you a human rights advocate? You can’t be both. Take another read of Arellano and drop your Mexican Catholic mentality, then you’ll see your eyes were closed all along.

Juana Garcia, Eugene



In response to Matt Watkins’ letter, “Bring Us Together” (and somewhat in regard to Mark Harris’ viewpoint, both Dec. 27), the problem here is the padding provided by political correctness. It’s not just upper middle-class white folk. (There were many sensitive folks of Latin heritage in uproar over Arellano’s column). The problem is those who insist on the cushioning of the art of Correct Politeness. This political art form has slowed to a crawl the United States’ progress at combating its problem with racism.

Humor is our only hope at this point. And people should be made to roll their eyes and squirm. Life is offensive. Eugene is not a place to move to escape who you are and what you can, and probably should, become (strong). Tact should be used, especially in public settings (unlike the guy in blackface at the OSU-Stanford game). But in an “intellectually progressive” weekly, you will be tested. Get used to it. But when you make truly cruel “nigger” and “spic” jokes, you are gay. Gay like Bush. Gay like Hitler. Not gay like Dan Savage.

Todd Zimmerman, Eugene



Regarding one of the most idiotic statements I have heard in awhile: “McDonald’s is one of the worst decimators of our planet and single-handedly contributing to obesity in this country” by Kay Porter (12/27) . I find it “alternately appalling” that someone with any self-discipline or rationality would say such a thing. McDonald’s CEOs do not come to your home, hold you hostage and threaten your life until you eat a cheeseburger and french fries.

We live in America; you have the right to walk away from the deep fried foods.

One more thing, in your description of McDonald’s as being “one of the worst decimators of our planet,” you fail to mention all the wonderful contributions McDonald’s actually has control over. I am sure you have never heard of the Ronald McDonald House. To enlighten you, it is one of the most charitable and supportive organization directed towards families of serious ill children.

Now, I am not saying McDonald’s is the greatest corporation in history, but deeming it responsible for obesity? No way. And for all of our sake, obese people are single handedly contributing to obesity in this country; there is some sensibility.

Kathleen Konrady, Eugene



I was disappointed that EW didn’t cover the Dec. 21 rally against WOPR, the BLM’s plan to clear-cut their old-growth forests in Oregon. I was particularly disappointed because EW has given plenty of coverage to global warming; and the deforestation caused by WOPR would accelerate global warming. Other than running paid ads from groups opposing WOPR, EW‘s major contribution to this issue was an article in September regarding the Rogue River. While WOPR does threaten some particularly beautiful areas, its impact would be felt all over western Oregon in the form of habitat loss, water quality degradation, flooding, and major losses to the recreation and fishing industries. It would also accelerate climate change around the globe by turning 2.6 million acres of old growth into clear cuts.

We can do several things to fight WOPR. First, we need to comment to the BLM by Jan. 11. Comments are important because they will help the environmental lawyers trying to stop WOPR, since their evidence will be restricted to citizen comments. For comment strategies and a link to the BLM, visit

Second, we need to tell our congressional delegation to actively pursue legislation that protects Oregon’s old growth, to seek county payments that are de-coupled from logging, and to come out publicly against WOPR.

Third, we need to give this information to friends outside of Eugene. Since the BLM is a national agency, comments on WOPR will be accepted from around the US.

Please help protect Oregon’s forests.

Carol McBrian, Eugene



I’d like to make a couple of things clear to those so-called immigrants’ rights advocates. First, you’re lying when you say immigrants’ rights; it’s all about “illegal” immigrants rights. Second, there is very little if any, as Ken Neubeck of the Amigo Multicultural Services Center puts it, “anti-immigrant hostility;” there is, however, anger towards “illegal aliens,” those who think they can ignore the requirements to enter this country — legally.

Last I heard, this entire planet is divided into territories and tribes, and all of us have to play by the rules for travel no matter how absurd they may be. Yes, there are supremacists of all colors who hate others. They will always exist and don’t use them as an excuse to promote your self-serving agenda.

Now, on to the “Ask a Doofus” column writer Gustavo Arellano. He claims to “slam people and challenge everything they believe about Mexicans.” He also says he goes after Mexicans who are racist against darker skinned Mexicans. My reading of Arellano’s column is that he spends most of his time slamming people who are not of Mexican heritage. How much time has he spent slamming Mexico’s imprisonment of Guatemalans and El Salvadorans and others who got arrested for being in Mexico “illegally”? According to the Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, Mexico’s human rights commission, there are approximately 800 people from Latin American countries other than Mexico who are in Mexican jails just for being in Mexico “illegally.” That’s a conservative figure.

The dirty little secret in Mexico is that the Mexican government wants the U.S. unskilled labor market for itself. Mexico’s southern border has thousands of troops to “dissuade” non-Mexican migrants from entering their country to get to the U.S.

Arellano and other Mexican nationalists and open border groups want an open border with the U.S. They want all the benefits that legal immigrants and citizens get. They also think they are entitled to U.S. citizenship. Most citizens and legal immigrants don’t think they are entitled. I don’t either. Does that make me and others racists and hate mongers? It does not. I and most others feel the policy of looking the other way when someone crosses the border without permission, and the pressure relief valve which the U.S. has turned into for Mexico, has to change.

Arellano needs to put his energy into encouraging Mexicans to stay and fight for economic and social equality in Mexico. It’s also time to improve the educational system in Mexico. When all of that happens, you can kick the U.S. and its corporations out. Arellano and other “immigrants” rights activists find it easier to criticize and fight the guilt-ridden Anglo-Americans than to criticize and fight the Mexican rich elite and their corrupt puppet government. Some are fighting; they are the poor of Oaxaca and Chiapas. Arellano and others can learn something from them. Time for Gustavo to use his geeky wit for a worthy cause.

Chris Williamson, Eugene



What a nasty ending to the State of the County Address! Bobby Green and his cohorts decided to halt the rotating job of chairmanship and give Faye Stewart another year. Why? Bobby Green , Bill Dwyer and Faye Stewart still can’t believe that their unfair, regressive flat tax was overwhelmingly defeated by the citizens of Lane County. They must still believe that it was a tax that should have passed. Because of this they appear to still hold a grudge against Pete Sorenson and Bill Fleenor for not supporting their tax, and I’m really concerned that this county is in for some difficult times if they can’t work together. Maybe it is time to find new commissioners more in tune with the voters.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene



I’m always a week or so behind in my reading (three weeks if it’s The New Yorker), so I only just saw the swell article by Molly Templeton on “Swift Reads: Cute, weird, funny gift books.” I was glad to see her mention Logorrhea, a book with stories inspired by winners of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

I wanted to let readers know that, in addition to the Portland writer Jay Lake, Eugene writer Leslie What, aka me, also has a story in that anthology, called “Tsuris,” a word that relates to both the 1982 Scripps National Spelling Bee award-winning word “psoriasis” and the biblical disease “tzaraas” (often incorrectly translated as leprosy — and not a Scripps National Spelling Bee award-winning word).

Leslie What, Eugene



The earth is an extension of our bodies. The Forest Service and the liquidating Industry use words like thinning, salvage, stewardship, safety, etc. to mask the fact that it is still extracting the lungs of our planet. Extraction! What comes to mind is the painful pulling of parts from my body. Think of a child being violated over and over again. Do we stop the violator? I hope so, but yet the forests continue to be the victim.

Can America trust the government to obey the law? The record on national forests says no. Only 5 percent of our virgin forests remain. Tim Hermach has and will always be strong in his conviction to save the national forests, defending life and liberty through education. He would never misrepresent studies of any kind, whether due to sloppiness or purposeful cherry picking.

Information in his article comes from USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. “The number of trees killed in the Biscuit fire was highest in the thinned areas we studied, most likely due to slash left after the thinning treatment,” Raymond explains. It saddens me to think that Mr. Nagle, Perry, and Fairbanks would purposely or dishonestly point fingers even if it were due to their sloppiness or purposeful cherry picking to support a point of view.

Johnny VanHerwaarden, Eugene



While much attention has focused on problems with unnecessarily restrictive Eugene city codes that inhibit positive development in our downtown area, very little has been said or done by City Council to update codes that could restrain some of the wild and wooly, directionless infilling taking place in some of our most (formerly) desirable older neighborhoods.

A dramatic example is the Friendly Street neighborhood, specifically the area bordered by 24th and 29th avenues. Although there are a number of well kept homes in the neighborhood, there is also a run of several houses that look like they should be condemned. Broken windows, trash piled high on porches, junk cars and buses permanently occupying driveways, “free” boxes with soggy clothing and bedding left next to sidewalks, a Tyvek-wrapped house seemingly frozen in remodel limbo, street signs missing for years.

And that is nothing compared to the blight of the alleyways. Don’t dare walk the alley between Friendly and Adams from 24th up to 25th Avenue. The pallets piled high as an elephant’s eye are not only an eyesore, but in dry weather they are a fire hazard. Willy-nilly infill has led to homes built right on the alley with tenants forced to park in the mud and muck that has become a thoroughfare for lowlife. Gracing this disaster area is the real icing on the mudpie: a 20-foot high, 30-foot long white-tarp-wrapped sailboat looming over the alley and nearly touching powerlines, negating any privacy adjacent neighbors might have had before this backyard became a dry dock for dead ships (it is only the largest of several boats lining the alley).

This situation might be just another case of urban blight, just an aesthetic wart. But one of the byproducts of this lack of updated building codes has led to what some now call Eugene’s dirty little secret, the problem nobody wants to talk about: the rediverting of water flow because of unrestrained infill.

A friend of mine who has lived in the Friendly neighborhood for 25 years had a bone-dry crawlspace beneath the house until two years ago when the infill activity became almost feverish. When several hundreds of gallons of water started to fill the crawlspace after heavy rains, we knew something dramatic had changed the neighborhood, this time something at an even deeper level than mere aesthetics.

Eugene sorely needs updating of its codes, not just to untie the binding codes that inhibit the lively evolution of its downtown, but new codes that can keep mindless infill from destroying its once lovely, older neighborhoods. Perhaps this will begin with the election of some more proactive city councilors?

B.D.May, Eugene