Eugene Weekly : Letters : 1.17.08


I’d just like to point out that this article (cover story, 1/10) doesn’t provide any tangible evidence about why a streetcar system would be a good fit for Eugene. Quoting city councilors who have less information about the EmX expansion project than the very committee (West Eugene EmX Expansion Corridor Committee) that I participate on is hardly authoritative information.

The reporter did a disservice to the community in failing to fact-check any of the assertions made by Councilors Bettman and Taylor as well as failing to fact check information passed to the Weekly by a special interest group advocating for streetcars. Additionally the connection that the “reporter” makes between the Bush administration and BRT is inappropriate and wrong. LTD has many reasons for supporting and advocating for BRT; none of those are represented in this article.

The bottom line is that polarizing this issue is not going to make Eugene a better place to live. Eugene residents will only succeed in losing precious federal dollars and the chance to take a proactive approach at facing already dire transportation problems. If you want a cogent example of what bickering and inaction will do to solve a problem, look no further than Eugene’s downtown.

Shame on you for perpetuating lies. Let’s hope the rest of Eugene can see that this article is shill piece for a special interest group.

Micah Sardell, Eugene



So, the UO is preparing to spend $200 million on a new basketball stadium on Franklin Boulevard. What will be the environmental impact both during construction and during games?

How will construction affect the new EmX bus line that is a few feet away? What did the construction of the EmX line cost Eugene citizens? How much of that fine neighborhood will be torn down? Will alcohol use be allowed in the new stadium’s parking lot before, during and after games?

Will there be adequate policing, especially to deter drunk drivers from racing through the remaining neighborhood? Have there been any lawsuits brought by victims of accidents caused by drunk drivers spilling from the Autzen Stadium parking lot? Not yet?

Will this proposed new stadium adhere to the green recommendations made by the Mayors’ Climate Change Conference and adopted by Eugene’s City Council? Could that $200 million be better used to reduce the UO campus’ large carbon footprint? Are there on-campus environmental organizations fighting against new stadium construction?

Charles F. Thielman, Eugene



A caricature of Pacifica Forum addressed to a local editor has elicited from 15 PF attendants the caveat that persons seeking accurate information about PF would better attend it than rely on letters to editors. The caveat has in turn elicited a report (news story, 12/20) that purports to narrate what took place at four PF sessions.

The undersigned PF attendants regard the four-part report as in turn so caricatured that they repeat: All who seek accurate information about PF, particularly the alleged shouting that goes on there, would better rely on attending PF rather than on press reports.

Beginning Jan. 11, PF will meet at 4 pm Fridays in the Walnut Room next to the post office on the 13th Avenue side of the EMU on campus.

Dawn Coslow, Maggie Murphy
Davic Murphy, Ronna Boucher
Paul Reynolds, Albert Leinbach
Wilson McKenzie, Orval Etter



Once again, EW has given Nancy Willard (Viewpoint, 1/3) a platform to vent her unfounded claims concerning the inequality and unfairness of our alternative school system. For those of you unfamiliar with this system, Eugene has several alternative schools dispersed throughout the city. Until recently, admission to these schools was conducted by lottery so that everyone had an equal chance of being admitted. That changed in the past couple of years, and now some students are given preferential treatment due to their parents’ lack of income.

The alternative schools, particularly our three language schools, are well known and highly regarded all over the country. In fact, representatives of other school districts come to Eugene to try to learn about our alternative school system.

For some inexplicable reason, Willard has chosen the destruction of this great system as her personal goal. What she doesn’t realize, and what is quite obvious to even the casual observer, is that getting rid of our alternative school system will cause our public schools to become more segregated and less diverse. By requiring students to attend schools located in their neighborhoods, kids from rich neighborhoods will go to school with other rich kids from their neighborhood, and poor kids will go to school with other poor kids from their neighborhood. Instead, the alternative school system allows rich and poor kids to go to the same schools, and isn’t that what diversity is all about?

Finally, I would appreciate it if EW would stop giving Willard half pages at a time to express her bizarre opinions. Having a few initials after her name and being the 1985 S.L.U.G. Queen are hardly credentials for getting so much ink.

Dave Taube, Eugene



A half dozen of us retired third and fourth generation Oregonians scattered over Oregon and northern California for a variety of hunting opportunities the last couple of months. This brought us together with family, old friends, ranchers and several wildlife professionals. These meeting caused us to revisit Camilla Mortensen’s July 19 article “Cougar Kill.”

While we thought the article was fair, and we found no distortions, there were some omissions as pointed out by ODFW’s Ron Anglin’s response. We filed the article away and waited for the fallout.

None of us have encountered any of the “threats to human safety” that theprotectionist folks claim ODFW uses to “scare” people with. But in our recent travels we have been witness to and shown documented predation on not only wildlife but plenty of domestic pets and livestock. And we found this was the real reason ODFW sought clarification from the Attorney General’s Office to allow “agents with hounds” to aid in cougar management.

Those of you who don’t live in a bubble may find reading The Beast in the Garden by NPR’s science reporter David Baron interesting if not thought provoking. We found similarities in what was happening in Boulder, Colo., leading up the death of a young man by a cougar, and what is actually going on here in Lane County. Try a follow up read, Cougar Attacks by Kathy Etling. These books may help explain why it may be wise to post trail heads with the cautions that some of you have noted.

All this aside, we have a document from California’s Department of Fish and Game, “Mountain Lion Depredation Statistics Summary,” showing kill permits issued from 1972 through 2006. Some of you may want to avert your eyes, but they killed 2,190 mountain lions through those years, a couple of which attacked people.

David Walp, Springfield



I just got finished reading Kitty Piercy’s State of the City speech and listening to the video online, and I’ve got to say it was nothing less than inspiring. I’m certain I wasn’t the only one who was inspired by Piercy’s speech, but I’m also sure that there are others who don’t think she advocated for doing enough.

I was home in Eugene for a couple of weeks over Christmas break from school here at Utah State University. The whole time I was home I simply drank in all that is Eugene — from Smith Family to Holiday Market to LEAD’s teen center and a protest against possible war with Iran. What an amazing place Eugene is. Then I’m struck with the ongoing difficulties with getting downtown to be a vital place, and I get frustrated.

While everyone who is butting heads over what to do with downtown Eugene is only trying to do what is best for a city they love, sometimes I think people loose perspective. I live in Logan, Utah right now — right behind a bustling downtown. The differences are so stark between Logan and Eugene, and it makes me wonder how a bunch of conservatives can make this happen, but a city known for its liberal stances can’t fix its downtown. Sometimes people in Eugene lose perspective — forget the blessings they are surrounded by every day. Logan is a lovely place, and my Mormon friends couldn’t be nicer — but I’m a peace and justice activist whose heart beats to a Eugene beat, not Logan one.

Maybe it’s time for a bit of a compromise in downtown. Take your blessings, count them, and instead of protest, think about what would be good for everyone in town — maybe some of those righty developer types have some answers that could help. If you work with those righty developer types, all you lefties can teach them about sustainable building, getting vinyl out of buildings and all sorts of other good stuff. It would be good not for Eugene, but also everyone involved — bridge a divided city and let the world see it thriving.

M. Brooke Robertshaw, Logan, Utah



Concerning Ryan Conrad’s letter to the editor (12/27): I read his letter with a tears in my eyes. I didn’t know that cycling was on the decline. As a dedicated cyclist, I never knew what was happening. Just this afternoon, I went over to the Eugene Public Library and looked at all the bicycles parked there in the rain. Now I realize that all those bicycles have been abandoned. I saw cyclists riding in the rain. Those cyclists must not know yet that cycling is finished.

The cycling craze must have been terrible for the driving public. They do not have to worry anymore now that cycling is history. I personally want to apologize to every motorist who ever witnessed a cyclist running a stop sign. It must have been terrible for guys like Ryan Conrad in his two tons of steel to be threatened by marauding cyclists. Now the ex-cycling community understands that motorists never ever break the law and are morally superior.

I personally have seen the error of my cycling ways. Tomorrow, I am going to buy myself a big gas-powered pickup truck. This truck will be the fastest vehicle on the road with high command seating. It has it has been very cold lately, so my truck will generate a lot of CO2 and warm up Eugene. I too will join the joyous flow of traffic around Eugene.

Lee Norris, Eugene



In her description of possible scenarios regarding Eastside Alternative, Nancy Willard (1/3) continually emphasizes that the school is “highly segregated and elitist.” What she fails to consider are the changes that would inevitably occur as Eastside and other alternative schools relocate to new neighborhoods and involve new families.

Schools have the potential to evolve and improve when innovation and flexibility are encouraged. The conscious and deep scrutiny by the district and by the schools themselves has already contributed to change in programs.

Hillside modified its program in response to the report from the Alternative School Review Committee and invigorated its curriculum in substantial and creative ways. Unfortunately, that school will be closed at the end of the year. Family School continually refers to its current population of students and families to include and respond to their needs. The program at Eastside, too, has evolved over the years.

Let’s continue to examine why alternative schools have been so popular and successful for more than two decades. Let’s encourage creative innovation, rather than maintain the narrow view that alternative schools are simply elite sanctuaries. Let’s examine factors that have led to economically unbalanced enrollment in alternative schools (i.e. lack of free transportation and outreach, clustering of alternative and charter schools, etc.) and carefully address those issues. None of the alternative schools expects or requires a specific, homogeneous population.

The goal we all share is the development of outstanding, innovative, responsive schools. It would be great if Nancy Willard engaged in promoting the successful aspects of alternative schools. Persevering on the view that schools are static institutions inhibits us from generating new and better programs that are accessible to all families.

Judy Volem, Eugene



Eastside Elementary is indeed a school on the move. As an Eastside parent, I see this as a positive step in the growth of this unique learning community. Every day at Eastside, children are given opportunities for hands-on applied learning and come together in multi-age settings, where they solve problems, discuss social issues, foster their creative spirits, and are inspired to love learning. Eastside provides a flexible model where each student’s needs can be individually addressed.

Fortunately, Eastside is here to stay. The district’s review team determined that Eastside’s instructional model is distinctive and its learning strategies provide an excellent education for all children. In an effort to make Eastside’s education more available to a wider community, the school district has provided additional resources to enhance our ability to support the families and children of diverse backgrounds and skill levels.

And while we are not yet sure where Eastside will be located this fall, Superintendent Russell told the Eastside community that he would keep Eastside in south Eugene and would support the development of a kindergarten program at Eastside beginning in fall 2009.

School visitation time is near. I invite everyone to visit Eastside, learn more about our exciting program and meet Eastside parents and teachers, who work together as a team to create a learning community bursting with energy, enthusiasm, love and joy.

Margie Kelly, Eastside Site Council parent member



My comments on three bicycle-related letters (12/27):

In response to the person encouraging cyclists not to take up a full lane because it provokes “road rage,” this person has obviously not cycled down the Willamette Street death-trap from 24th to 29th, where if you don’t take over a full lane, cars will pass within inches. A recent amendment to Oregon law (ORS 811.485) makes it illegal for a vehicle to pass a cyclist without allowing for safe distance of at least 3 feet. By cycling on Willamette and not taking over a full lane, you encourage cars to illegally pass while endangering your own life. And if legally taking over a lane causes “road rage” in a motorist, how is that my problem?

To the person who thinks those with kids or who “lead busy lives” can’t ride bikes: Parents can (and do) cycle to school with their kids: on separate bikes, on adult-child tandem bikes or in trailers (

And it’s insulting to suggest that people who ride bikes for transportation don’t have to “accomplish multiple tasks every day.”

In response to Dave Roth’s fairytale letter about how things are near-perfect for bikes in Eugene: It’s hilarious that the transportation planner for the city, the very person whose JOB is to make streets safer for bikes, thinks things are fine as they are and there’s little work to be done (by him).

This coming from a city whose idea of improving bike safety consists of painting pictures of bicycles on a few random streets around town.

Michelle D’Amico, Eugene



I would like thank the powers that are supposed to fund the road and bridge infrastructure. I think we have every chance of winning the pot-hole slalom event in the next Olympics. I suggest we give a no bid contract to the Mickey Mouse Construction and Design Co. They guarantee the lowest prices on all your spanning needs whether crossing a river or a pedestrian dance way. Act now and get their double cross two for the price of one special. By eliminating the middle span, I mean, man, we can pass the savings on to you. Remember our motto:

“There will be no cracks left behind as far as the eye can see.”

Vince Loving, Eugene



I am sure that many progressive EW readers are shocked at the gullibility of so many of our fellow citizens for buying President Bush’s war justifications for what is obviously about greed and power. Yet you equally uncritically buy Nancy Willard’s claim (1/3) that her war against alternative schools is because she cares about poor families. Her behavior is so mean-spirited and abusive that she was banned from entering the Adams School building.

Abusing the alternative schools is a cowardly, insensitive way to deal with the real culprits — underfunding of our schools and the need for better parenting skills in some of our needier families. Alternative and neighborhood schools coexisted peacefully for decades until the school district stood by and allowed Willard to poison the atmosphere.

Others picked this up, and suddenly alternative and neighborhood schools can no longer coexist. Cruel, but brilliant. Whether one views the alternative school families as elitist, these are real people with real feelings. They have been treated insensitively and people have gotten hurt. Was this necessary?

Now Willard is turning her attention on screwing the charter schools. As a charter school parent, I’ve been expecting this for years. That’s why she not so subtly suggested kicking one of the charter schools out of the Willard building and replacing it with Eastside. Please wake up, Eugene. Willard’s agenda has nothing to do with children’s welfare!

Ken Rosemarin. Eugene



Your article “Kicker Costs are Hidden” (1/3) pushes people in the wrong direction for understanding the finances of Oregon.

Fact: 33 percent of all taxes go to pay for PERS. That means every government budget for schools, etc, pays 33 percent of it’s budget on average to PERS. Lane County owes approximately $100 million and the Springfield School District owes $62.5 million. The state is paying $270 million in interest to support PERS. The 2007 Report from Moody’s verifies that net tax supported debt is up more than 300 percent in the last 5 years.

Getting some of our money back is evil? The PERS debt at the local levels could have been offset by forward contracting or hedging, which was verified by State Economist Michael Kennedy. They chose not to [do] that, and instead they shifted that cost off to the children and their families. The same with Lane County. They also failed to forward their gas costs; a loss of $5 million for each entity, once again financial incompetence shifted to the taxpayer and their families.

If you’re going to make a statement about slashing money for schools, health care, and other vital services, you need to understand the real costs. The abolition of private property means tyranny. Government wage rates are an average of 40 percent than the private sector; their benefits; 60 percent higher than the private sector.

Schools: There are two-year waiting lines for children to attend private schools. Most people do not want their children to attend government schools. What happened to the rights of those have a different view of what is right for their own children? You sound like another “glue-sniffer,” socialist/communist for government tyranny, which is the major form of greed and selfishness, not the “kicker-refund” people.

Fred Starkey, Springfield


I just became aware that illegal aliens can get driver’s licenses, live, work, anywhere in the U.S., and get over the borders easily, while I, a native born American, can no longer travel from one state to another with American driver’s ID that is only a few months too old. Oh, even though I have Medicare cards, health insurance benefit cards, local bank accounts and Visa debit cards.

Amazingly, only a few years ago, in a major U.S. city, foreign students on expired visas, whom I lived with, had jobs, and immigration never looked for them. They disappeared into America. I need to learn from my foreign alien friends, I guess, because now I am the foreign outsider in my own land.

D.H. Bucher, Eugene