WALKER’S BLIND SPOT
Vicki Walker plans to log state forests. Walker (state senator, 7th District) spoke about her plans for the 2009 legislative session on Jan. 8 at a North Eugene High public meeting. She has positioned herself on committees in order to provide revenue to education by logging Oregon’s state forests. She said she wants to cut ‘em, plant ‘em and cut ‘em again. When asked by a colleague if she would leave nothing, she said she wouldn’t cut the tree in his backyard. She said the environmentalists wouldn’t like it but she wants to use all of Oregon’s natural resources.
Sad to see a bright, accomplished person with such a blind spot — the education senator with an educational deficit. Is she really a person who doesn’t understand that forests are not natural resources (just for human exploitation) but natural ecosystems that make life on Earth possible? So if one cares about children and their future, why would one so carelessly desecrate their environment?
Maybe she’s using the trees-don’t-vote-or-contribute-to-her-campaign strategy. It’s the all-too-common political coward’s strategy. It’s too dangerous to make the case to tax the rich (like we used to do), because the rich will use their money to defeat you. Looks like it’s up to us tree-huggers, some of whom did contribute to and vote for her, to let her know she has a bad idea. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan Nelson, Crow
PARK THE RVS
The recent news on the struggles of the local RV manufacturing industry reminds me of a suggestion at a forum on the future of transportation at Harris Hall. A person asked the panel if it would be possible to retro-fit the RV industry to make rail cars. This is the type of innovation that could keep people working. For every billion dollars spent on the rail industry, an estimated 30,000 jobs are created. We also have the former Hynix plant, which could be turned into a solar panel manufacturing plant.
The truth is, with the recession, peak oil, climate crisis, pollution, population growth and species extinctions, we have to change our way of life. One large component to change is transportation. We need comprehensive mass transit systems rather than building more roads for individuals’ vehicles. The days of “homes on wheels” is screeching to a halt and the sooner the industry understands this the better. The consumer culture cannot continue. The recession is not going to go away soon. We will more than likely see many businesses close that offer items of extravagance. Mass transit, farming, energy conservation, alternative energy, (universal) health care and truly sustainable forestry are the sectors that will endure.
Keep in mind what Gandhi said: “There is enough for everyone’s need, not everyone’s greed.”
Take a walk in an old-growth forest rather than a shopping mall to help get your priorities straight.
Pam Driscoll, Dexter
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
Approximately three years ago (2/2/06), EW published an excellent news article about a far-reaching and speculative UO/city of Eugene real estate development scheme. It was written by Alan Pittman, and the title was, “UO Eyes Franklin: Consultant’s Proposal Would Mean Big Buildings.” For reasons that are very unclear, the Weekly has provided no updates on the implementation of the redevelopment proposal for Fairmount called the Farkas Report. UO Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny donated $1.5 million to create the report. The “urban village” envisioned by the report has a price tag of more than a billion dollars, and it looks quite risky. I am going to list some of the most important and revealing excerpts from Pittman’s article here:
• The UO may buy up and perhaps condemn property along Franklin for a grandiose redevelopment scheme that would line the boulevard with buildings up to nine stories tall, if it follows the recommendations of its development consultant. Consultant Abe Farkas, the former director of Eugene’s planning department, recommended that the UO aggressively pursue redevelopment of Franklin into an urban “university village” with a new basketball arena, parking garages, a hotel and convention and mixed-use retail/housing buildings.
• The expansion could dramatically change the mission and role of the UO in the community from a public education institution to a major developer of private commercial real estate.
• The study did not include a market analysis of whether such intense
development in the area would make financial sense. The study also did not evaluate to what degree Franklin development could compete with efforts to redevelop downtown.
EW needs to follow up on Pittman’s 2006 investigative work and keep the public up to date about the urban village scheme in Fairmount. I have posted six videos at YouTube on the issue, which can be found by using the search at the YouTube site with keywords: Nike University of Oregon.
Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene
Besides a ban on Styrofoam containers (cover story, 12/31), we can use a durable plastic alternative made from sugar cane and grass that is 100 percent biodegradable.
There are several manufacturers of items such as “clamshell” containers, cups, straws, spoons, forks and food handler’s gloves. The conscientious Adam Bernstein has been using them at Adam’s Place for years (call Sysco Food Service of Portland).
We can insist that our deli, bakery and café managers utilize these items. Even if they are slightly more expensive at the moment, eventually they will order the better alternative.
Warren S. Anderson, Eugene
NO IMPULSE CONTROL
Many people think the crooks who have stolen all of the money should go to jail. Most politicians and the media think we should just “move on” and let the crooks keep the money they stole.
Instead of sending the crooks to jail or giving them “get out of jail” cards, I think we should be compassionate. The crooks who stole — and are still stealing — all of the money need help.
They are kleptomaniacs. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines kleptomania as an impulse control disorder characterized by a recurrent failure to resist stealing. They can’t help themselves.
The Pentagon crooks, the military contractor crooks and the U.S. and Iraqi government crooks in Baghdad can’t help stealing hundreds of billions of dollars.
Help is needed for the real estate agents who made billions on crazily overpriced houses and the bankers who made the loans they knew would never be repaid, then offloaded them to mortgage security bundlers who sold them to other investment brokers who also knew they were worthless. Everybody stole money at each step of the pyramid.
The Wall Street banks who invented “collateralized debt obligations” and “credit default swaps” were masking their illness. Federal regulators who looked the other way for a price were hiding their kleptomania. Rating agencies like Moody’s declared the bogus mortgages as credit-worthy as they stole billions.
Obviously we need to borrow billions of dollars from the Chinese in order to provide help for the kleptomaniacs who run our country.
Roscoe Caron, Eugene
Hey! Whatever you are paying for “How to Be Happy,” it’s too much. Way too much.
Ken Warren, Eugene
I was buying groceries the other day and choosing a hummus spread when I suddenly realized that I don’t want to buy Emerald Valley products anymore if Monterey Gourmet Foods, the new owner, goes forward with the plan to end production in Eugene. I went home and sent an email to the company, easy to do with a “contact us” link on the Web site, and told them of my decision. Consumer boycott is a powerful tool that gets corporate attention. I encourage others to take a stand for local jobs and to contact Monterey Gourmet Foods.
Lee De Veau, Eugene
U.S. ROLE IN GAZA
The Israeli bombing and shelling of the Gaza Strip continues into its third week, while the U.S. turns a blind eye. According to a Jan. 12 U.N. report, since Dec. 27, more than 900 Gazans have been killed, of whom 42 percent were women and children. Another 4,000 have been wounded, of whom 49 percent are women and children. Some 30,000 have been displaced, and 500,000 are without water. On the Israeli side, four have died, and 250 have been wounded from Hamas rocket attacks since Dec. 27.
The U.S. government should show concern for all civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian, who are caught in this conflict, and should call on all parties to cease attacks on civilians. While acknowledging that Hamas is responsible for attacks on Israeli civilians, the U.S. government should not ignore Israel’s disproportionate response and the policies that have brought the Gaza Strip to the brink of humanitarian disaster. While Israel has the right and the duty to protect its citizens, it must do so in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law. The U.S. should also cease military transfers to Israel and should investigate if any U.S. weapons were used in attacks on civilians. I respectfully call on our legislators and our citizens to end their silence and speak up for human rights and respect for international law in the Middle East.
Karen Kennedy, Eugene
LESS OF THE SAME, PLEASE
Until our recent snowstorm and a game of Trivial Pursuit, I never knew what architecture really was.
Apparently architecture is the mother of all arts. Funny, our local Frank Lloyd Wright, Otto Poticha, recently has made quite a stir with his comments about our new pedestrian bridge to Gateway Mall.
Now, I’m not sure about how much architecture there really is on a bridge, but that’s another debate. When I see that tall spire with its cables supporting the precast decks, all I see is a big dollar sign. There are many questions, like why didn’t we spend less for a typical bridge that supports off-ramp signs and keeps people and vehicles safe? Or, why not a tunnel? The bridge to me seems to lack a long-term vision. The bridge generally seems to serve a residential area to the Gateway Mall — a mall that has as many empty storefronts as the Eugene downtown mall.
We do have some really grand architecture, like the new “green” U.S. courthouse, which looks more like an opera house rip-off that should be in downtown Portland. The UO has a number of fine examples of recent unique architecture like the new School of Music and the School of Education, currently under construction, which I believe was designed by out-of-town architects.
After reading the local AIA awards newsletter, I was left wondering about the state of local architecture. The newsletter seemed like a giant ad promotion for a self-serving, select group of local architects.
One has to wonder about our local architectural vision. Having worked with a number of local architects on a lot of various projects for the past nine years, I see a lot of the same designs and features over and over rearranged and repackaged for new projects. For example, the new mini-mall on Coburg Road has striking similarities to the new Market of Choice at the Woodfield Station at 29th & Willamette. The new Niketown store at Oakway Center has the same bell tower feature as the new bank under construction on Division Avenue near River Road. Not a lot of vision there.
I encourage Poticha to take a look around town and in the mirror and report back to us on local architecture.
I look forward with tremendous anticipation for your next architectural proclamation.
Paul Griffiths, Eugene
STRATEGY OF DISPLACEMENT
On Nov. 4, Israel broke the Gaza cease-fire with a series of attacks killing six Palestinians. Again this December an Israeli drone fired a missile toward a group of Gazan children, killing two boys (blowing one to bits) and injuring two others. These provoked the largely impotent retaliation now used to justify Israel’s newest war crimes in their 60 years of nakba — the unrelenting, brutal dispossession of Palestinians including many massacres, ethnically cleansed villages and more than four million U.N.-registered refugees to date.
In 2006, Israel blocked Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the U.N.-appointed head of a fact-finding mission, from investigating the killing of 19 Palestinians in Gaza. Also recently denied Gaza entry was Jewish-American Richard Falk, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Palestinian territories. Falk said the civilian population in Gaza was “being collectively punished by policies that amount to a crime against humanity.” He proposed that the international court “determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law.”
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions director Jeff Halper, on the first boat-lift breaking Israel’s siege on Gaza, describes how Israel’s “warehousing” of Palestinians reflects an on-going strategy of nishul, Hebrew for displacement. Halper’s “Matrix of Control” analysis reveals how Israel progressively “wipes Palestine off the map.”
Skeptical? Read Halper’s An Israeli in Palestine, Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel, and Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Want to help? See the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation (www.endtheoccupation.org), International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (www.ijsn.net) and www.FreeGaza.org
Mariah Leung, Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Eugene