Eugene Weekly : Letters : 10.11.07


This proposed spending increase of $40 million to Eugene’s Downtown Urban Renewal District comes from diverting your tax dollars away from schools and government services to subsidize private developers. The Urban Renewal District currently has $4.6 million available without increasing the spending limit.

When Amendment 20-134 is defeated, there will still be more than $29 million in cash, subsidies and tax breaks to proceed with downtown development.

According to the plan’s report, the proposed increase will be funded by reducing revenue to the following government agencies: Eugene School District 4J, Lane ESD, Lane Community College, City of Eugene and Lane County.

Revenue reductions to these agencies will total $86,940,000 (yes, that’s millions!) over the next 23 years if the plan amendment is not defeated. Where do you think schools and governments will get the money to make up such significant losses?

Proponents claim the $40 million increase won’t affect your taxes. But voters know better and are all too familiar with the way government has tried to replace lost revenue with gas taxes, Public Safety income taxes, operating levies and bond measures. When those attempts fail, services are cut.

As state, county and city elected representatives, we have made budget decisions that were painfully difficult because they required gut-wrenching prioritization. If your government will not prioritize its expenditures in a fiscally responsible manner, then it is up to voters to exercise fiscal discipline by voting no on 20-134.

The private developer is requiring a guaranteed 13 percent profit from the city, but there are no guarantees the $40 million subsidy will provide public benefits such as new family-wage jobs, ensuring area wage standards or keeping a level playing field for local businesses.

This downtown development proposal does not justify such an excessive public subsidy. There is no evidence to verify that this tax giveaway will produce any material benefit to Eugene’s downtown or taxpayers. There is evidence that it will produce a substantial funding deficit.

As elected representatives, we cannot, in good conscience, support new revenue sources or service cuts unless we stand up and oppose unjustified tax giveaways. Please vote no on the Urban Renewal Plan Amendment 20-134.

State Rep. Paul Holvey,
Lane County Commissioner Peter Sorenson,
Eugene City Councilor Bonny Bettman



Regarding the cover story of your Sept. 27 issue pitting loggers vs. recreationists, my question as a reader is, why can’t we all coexist on public lands? Why can’t we have multiple use of lands for recreation, for harvesting of a renewable resource and for tax bases and revenues for public services? Why does it have to be an either/or situation as your article suggests?

The reality is that people who work in the timber industry also recreate on Oregon rivers — as well as work on Oregon public lands. It is not fair for recreationists to force those Oregonians who make their living using a renewable resource like timber off public lands. And yet this is what the rafters, recreationists and fishing special interest groups in your article suggest. They suggest that the land should only be available for recreation.

We have already set aside many wild areas in Oregon that are protected as wilderness areas, many of which are in the Rogue River Wilderness Area. The question is how much of our tax base can we continue to set aside for non-multiple use while our communities suffer the loss of timber receipts for local economies and public services. It is very shortsighted of those in the recreational industry to be so selfish as to expect other Oregonians to suffer so only they can have access to recreate on public lands.

Suzanne L. Penegor, Eugene



Let’s not forget those theater artists whose work enhances (hopefully!) the more palpable work of the actors and playwrights, namely designers! Having just made this request in public to longtime Register-Guard theater critic Dorothy Velasco, it is fair to also make the request to the Weekly‘s Suzi Steffen.

I appreciate Steffen’s thoughtful critiques. We’re lucky to have such an articulate (though sometimes unconventional) writer engaging in a candid public dialogue about live theater. And it may seem petty to take issue with Steffen’s Oct. 4 review of The Pillowman, which begins and ends by commanding readers to “go see this play.” But she could go beyond recognizing a “set that combines simplicity and flexibility along with a sound design that perfectly fits the play” and name the artists responsible for these important production elements — Amy Dunn and Daniel Thomas. Their work, along with the work of lighting designer Janet Rose and costume designer Sarah Gahagan, is an important part of why audiences should go see this play.

Given space limitations, it is unreasonable to ask that all contributing artists receive recognition in each review. And, thankfully, Steffen usually foregoes extensive discussion of plot in order to save space for thoughtful and revealing analysis of the text and the production. But critics and audiences as well as playwrights, actors and directors need to remember that many unseen hands go into making good theater captivating.

Craig Willis, Artistic Director, Lord Leebrick Theatre Company



I am discouraged by the EW campaign to stop major improvements in the downtown area. A great city deserves a thriving downtown. A good mix of people, residences and businesses can accomplish this. As it is, I know of no one in the greater Eugene area who darkens the doors of the businesses downtown. That is except for their teenagers, who are attracted by the drug scene on West Broadway.

I like the convenience of living downtown, but I don’t like having to drive or bus elsewhere for major supplies. We have a chance now to change the city center to a place that will attract both tourists, local residents and yes, businesses, which will provide jobs and benefits.

Kess Hottle, Eugene



Sam Porter criticized the Weekly (9/27) for confusing “push poll” with “message testing” that was done on the downtown development issue. I was one of those tested.

Sure, it’s always a matter of how you define the terms, but this five minute survey started with “How do you intend to vote?” and was follow with a series of statements about the things that these downtown taxes have accomplished in the downtown area. After each statement the question was asked, “Would this affect the way you would vote on this issue?” And after the survey, I was asked, “How do you intend to vote now?”

I don’t know the exact definition of “push poll.” It’s a new term. But I think that that survey qualifies as a “push poll,” under the guise of conducting a survey.

Why didn’t they just ask how I intended to vote — and why? I think I know the answer.

Bob Cassidy, Eugene



The EW recently ran an article (9/27) highlighting Jethro Tull and their performance at the Hult Center. I was delighted at having scored tickets, thanks to my local radio station (yay KZEL!).

The concert began and the “Lady in Red,” as everyone unaffectionately came to know her, occasionally flailed her body in her first row seat, highlighted by the stage lights. Oh wait, no!! — She has begun parading up and down the aisles and in front of the stage in a very cabaret-style short bright red dress.

Oh well, isn’t that interesting now?! She’s sitting in her seat with her legs pedaling in the air in her short bright red dress.

Finally, the song everyone has been waiting for — “Aqualung”! The Lady in Red is up out of her seat again. She’s now bending over on the stage, shaking and shimmying her hips, and whaddyaknow, she’s wearing no underwear. Isn’t that special? Well obviously the boys in the band need to be treated also: Now she’s bending over her seat with her butt to the band, grinding her hips again.

So, to the Hult security who sat there calmly watching this ongoing exhibition: Shame on you for allowing one person to subject a sold-out audience to one person’s desperate need for attention. As entranced as I was with the wonderfully talented Ian Anderson, it was nearly impossible to ignore this disorderly person who should have been escorted out of the venue during the first set when she began her highly annoying antics.

And to The Lady In Red: Shame on you for being so self-centered to think we all wanted to watch YOU. To satisfy your desperate need for attention, you should have stayed home, put on your old Jethro Tull vinyls, and invited people to your living room who wanted (?) to see your “show.”

I like to have a good time as well as the next person, but there’s a time and place for everything, and Lady in Red and Hult Center — you guys really blew it.

Sue Kupka, Eugene



Responding to Tricia Flegal (9/27) on the subject of tips for wait staff: While I understand that many servers work hard to give good service, I also have experienced an “entitlement” attitude among some. The fact that servers now receive minimum wage has definitely altered my tipping. Whereas before I would typically give 15 percent (for 20 percent they would need to walk on water) for good service, now I will give 10 percent. I’m assuming that the cost of raising the pay of servers to minimum wage level has been factored into the cost of my meal.

I don’t feel this is unfair to anyone, but simple economics. If an average server does three tables in an hour and the average check is say $25, then my math shows an hourly income of $15 (wage plus tips), not exactly poverty level for Eugene. Ms. Flegal mentioned servers doing 10 tables at once; well, you can do the math for that as well.

Jeff Innis, Eugene



I moved here to Oregon very recently with many beliefs and values firmly in place, including a vague notion that at some point in the future I would probably be one of those Eugeneans in handcuffs for defending forests as mentioned by Camilla Mortensen in “Timber vs. Tourism” (cover story, 9/27). But being new to the area, I am hopelessly uninformed about the problems and politics specific to here.

Although I was initially hesitant to engage such an intense article when all I wanted was to see this weekend’s drink specials, Mortensen provided a quick 101 to both a specific problem (Rogue River logging) and the problematic history leading up to it (O&C Lands, etc.). As a newcomer, this article gave me an excellent jumping off point for further research and involvement.

It is hard to know what questions to ask when you don’t know the basic structure of an issue. All I had before was a gut feeling about the wrongness of messing with forests, and now I have some insight into the complexity of the issue. I commend this article, and I hope that future writers will continue to take into account the fact that not everyone knows all the nuances — or acronyms — of a current problem.

Thanks very much.

Aurora Hudson, Eugene



Why did Vanessa Salvia waste all of our time by spending half an article (9/27) on informing us of her personal, very subjective experience with what Jethro Tull means to her? But wait — it gets better. She then completes the article with a left-handed compliment in a very resigned manner. It indicates absolutely no musical insight by the author. This is journalism?

This is a classic example of Ian Anderson’s favorite lyrical topic: The “critics” who fall over themselves to tell everyone how absolutely awful this act is without any understanding of the field they supposedly cover. Vanessa, check out the lyrics to “Only Solitaire” — that is, if you can pry it outta yer dad’s hands.

And stick to previewing and/or reviewing acts you truly understand. The ones all about funny hairdos, various body arts and lifestyle-oriented fuzztone wallpaper.

Glenn Leonard, Eugene



I have been a jeweler selling my work at the 5th Street Public Market since 1979. As a long term part of the Market, I understand a lot about its history. The mural that Chuck Adams described so negatively in his article (“Murals, Murals, Everywhere!,” 9/6) is actually portraying the history of the Market. I find it not only a beautiful, fanciful and completely original work of art, but I also think it is one of the best murals in Eugene.

The “goateed man” is Wayne, who was a market attendant for many years. The people sitting around the tables are the owners and staff at the time the mural was painted. The “kid with elvish ears” is the son of Malcom Rubin, our operations director. The “randomly appearing faces” are images of Norvy Fogolstrom and his wife, who were the original owners and developers of the market.

As a tenant, I got a lot of enjoyment watching Connie Huston create this mural over a two-month period. Perhaps if Adams had a better understanding of what he was looking at he would have a deeper appreciation of it.

Robin Mix, Eugene



Do we really want the smokers to be paying for our children’s health care? Smokers are the bad guys now: addicted, dirty, disgusting — we know who the bad guys and gals are in movies now because they smoke.

Shouldn’t we all be paying for our children’s health, for the future? On the other hand, when folks ask me why I still smoke, I can tell them, “Hey — I’m doing it for the kids.”

AJ Moses, Eugene



Your letter “Creeping Paranoia,” dated Sept. 27, regarding exaggerated fear of cougars, at Mount Pisgah was most disturbing. The stats the writer used were also misleading.

The fact is cougars very rarely attack humans in the wilderness, but when a cougar finds itself bold enough to hold territory where humans frequent, the likelihood of attack goes up dramatically. Of the 20 fatalities the writer spoke of over the last 100 years, most of the dead were children. The idea of being for or against hunting cougars is moot when you are thinking of your child’s safety.

When you are far from the city, and in the woods, the chances of being attacked by a cougar are nil, but when cougar are living near humans, the statistical odds go up. I don’t know about the writer’s concern with his kids in the woods near town, but when it comes to my children and grandchildren having their throat torn out by a mountain lion, I think his bravado is bullshit and irresponsible.

Those who want to advocate protection for cougars should advocate protecting their reputation. Heed the warnings at the Wave Pool in Springfield and at Mount Pisgah. Use common sense and don’t let yourself or a loved one become a statistic, for if they do, you can bet the hunt will be on in this county and many others.

H. Patrick Clancy, Eugene



Did Suzi Steffen see the same play I did? Her version of Body of Water by the Willamette Repertory Theater is not the one I saw and it is certainly not the version seen by Dorothy Velasco, the esteemed playwright and reviewer for The Register-Guard. I saw a compelling and risky production about the tenuous nature of reality. The playwright, actors and director all made what were obviously conscious choices about how best to disorient the audience, examine the layers of personality and explore the limits of memory.

Velasco urges thinking theater-goers: “Don’t miss this one.” Like her, I haven’t finished thinking about the play yet. Not many Eugene theater productions leave the audience thinking and talking long after the lights have gone down. My hat is off to Kirk Boyd and his excellent cast.

Holly Knight, Eugene



MRAPs: The mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles. I can only hope they work as well as the IRSS, the insect repulsion sun screen defense. If it is as scary as the connotations I get from the acronym IRSS, it might just work. It seems a waste of $50 billion since Bush promises that we will have won by the time they are built and it won’t be necessary, to quote Joe Biden, “to send to our front lines.” What front lines? We don’t even have a front circle. Maybe the whole thing is just a front.

Vince Loving, Eugene



Thanks to EW for co-sponsoring the radio public forum on Oct. 3 debating Ballot Measure 20-134.

Fear and loathing have been a constant theme in the public input regarding the West Broadway redevelopment. Several residents and local business people complained that undesirable elements are degrading the neighborhood and forcing out business in the area. The most frequent argument against developing a park or other open space has been that it would only provide more opportunities for the criminals, derelicts and addicts to hang out.

Let’s not confuse the issues. Development of new stores, offices, workshops, housing and parks will not make the problems of crime and the homeless disappear. Citizens and city government need to face up to these issues and deal with them directly.

David Saul, Eugene



After reading Chad Gooch’s letter “Attn: Wildlife Lovers” (9/6), I was appalled and saddened at the ignorance of Mr. Gooch’s letter. It was written in the true and pathetic fashion of a misinformed individual trying to justify a practice that is morally wrong and unnecessary. To start, is there really such thing as “responsible hunting”? Who is this “responsible hunting” actually safe and healthy for? I can tell you who it’s not safe and healthy for — the beautifully majestic large game and predators we are blessed with in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.

The “huge sums of money” generated by hunting, as Gooch claims, do not benefit the wildlife whatsoever but actually go towards preparing these hunting grounds for future slaughter by making many of these areas more accessible and better for the hunters, not the hunted. This includes research to determine how many large game animals can be killed before the extinction threshold is breached. I would say that the animals are the last beneficiaries in this kind of research.

Hunting does nothing at all to promote or encourage a healthy population but in fact deteriorates the genetic fitness of the reproductive population. Which animals are virtually always targeted? It’s not the weak or sick individuals, but the biggest, strongest and healthiest individuals.

Mr. Gooch goes on to state that “modern conservation practices through hunting are the reason we have healthy wildlife populations in the U.S.” He’s kidding, right?

Large game was living and surviving long before our precious species interfered and destroyed their habitat. They will survive and prevail if we appreciate them from a distance.

AJ Fisher, Eugene



This week I heard a Buddhist monk speak about the violence towards monks who were protesting in the country formerly known as Burma. The monk was asked what we in the rest of the world could do to help. The monk suggested we each look inside ourselves at what we each are at war with — at the violence within our own hearts — and that would make a world of difference.

“Yes,” said the journalist, “but what can we DO?”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but facing myself and my mistakes is a lifetime of work. It’s frustrating, scary and humiliating. I strive to turn the humiliation into humility and then humor, but I still find myself hurting people in the name of trying to get people to stop hurting each other.

I don’t advocate navel-gazing in place of activism, but neither do I want to try to create social change while unaware of my own fucked up intentions.

Since a car accident in 1999, I have gone from middle-class business owner and homeowner to someone living below the poverty line with chronic pain and PTSD. Even on the worst days, I can see it’s the second best thing to ever happen to me (first was my kids). I had to face and still face my classism and shame about poverty and disability. And my stripped-down life is dearer and richer than anything I could have imagined while trying to be middle class.

I have lots of time to think about my life and what I could do to make the world a better place. I’m inspired by that monk to believe that if we face ourselves with compassion and make our own mistakes right, we will begin to treat each other better day to day. What a powerful way to create peace — by striving to treat each person in our lives as an equal!

I remember sitting in class in grade school and being overwhelmed by a desire to stand up and say, “Why can’t we all just be nice to each other?” I was aware of what would happen on the playground if I did, so I stayed silent. But that naïve child inside me still wants to exhort us all, “Please, please, be good to each other!”

Ruby Colette, Eugene



Every now and then a band of wild turkeys passes by and over my neighborhood. This morning, while I was watching a foraging family of these beautiful birds, an unleashed border collie raced right at them, narrowly undershooting the awkwardly elevating adults. The only thing preventing what would in nature be considered a “clean kill” was the training this doggie received and thus responded to. I watched in amazement as the scene — which nearly ended up in blood and feathers flying — was turned into a display of self-discipline by another nearly wild creature. Fate was trumped by the supervision of an adult human. This same technique also works with kids most of the time. The key word here is supervision. It works most of the time when we humans choose to employ it.

Dan Dubach, Eugene



I have the perfect solution for the war in Iraq. Since the private contractors now outnumber our troops, let’s just make all of our military a private corporation. Give everyone in America $1,000 worth of stock in let’s call it The Prescot Bush Hessian Memorial Army Corporation. Register the corp. in an offshore account, eliminating any taxes. And since they would be a private army, they could be like Blackwater and not subject to any laws of war. Plus you could eliminate all the money spent on vet health care. A win-win solution for all stockholders. Like the Hessians, you could use people in prison and any illegal aliens that we catch. Since all Americans would profit, nobody would protest as our private army secured the world’s remaining resources for the benefit of our children’s future.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain



I’m a little perturbed by all the hardliners who are against Measure 49 because it’s not “perfect.” Is it perfect that I’m forced to pay for a war I’ve been against since before it began? Is it perfect that the federal government gets to systematically dismantle the rules that have protected the irreplaceable oldgrowth and wild places of Oregon without our input? Is M49 perfect? It’s perfect for me because it is NOW. A perfect solution three years from now doesn’t work for me. As anyone who has lived in Oregon since the start of Measure 37 can see, three years can cut down a lot of trees, bulldoze a lot of roads and build a lot of houses.

I’ve heard over and over, “They won’t build more houses because the market can’t sustain it.” How’s that working out? More and more developments, farther and farther away from people’s work and shopping, thus more and more gasoline and pollution to get people where they want to go. We need a solution NOW. If it’s not perfect for you, vote yes to stop the big-time-developer gluttony now, and then put your money where your mouth is and come up with a “perfect” solution for later.

Rozelle Burcher, Fall Creek



As I was sorting through once but no longer used items in an effort to downsize, I found an old bumper sticker: “Don’t Californicate Oregon.”

It reminded me of the good old pre-Measure 37 days when land-use regulation and quality of life mattered to Oregonians. And of a good old governor, Tom — Visit, But Don’t Move Here! — McCall, who cared enough to protect what had been special about our state.

People flee California and other overdeveloped states to escape the crowds and sprawl and traffic and pollution that they have been regulation-free to create. With Measure 37 and the end of land-use oversight in Oregon, these folks are now able to re-create their nightmare right here in our river cities.

Downsize or upsize? You can vote for Measure 49 to restore some degree of land-use sanity in our state. Or you can join the de-regulation emigrés when they see what Measure 37 has wrought here and turn around at the border. You’ll recognize their bumper stickers: “Don’t Oregonize California.”

Benton Elliott, Eugene



I read William Porter’s letter (8/30) about biodiesel with interest. This sort of disinformation seems to be making the rounds. I’ve read almost the exact same words on conservative blogs and have to wonder who is behind these bogus “talking points.”

Some of what Mr. Porter wrote may indeed apply to corn-based ethanol, which has a disturbingly strong lobby in Washington. Biodiesel isn’t made from corn.

Hopefully the “middle class liberal elite” Porter is addressing do educate themselves. An educated person would know that it’s low corn prices, not high ones, that have encouraged dumping U.S. corn on “poor people all over the world,” driving their indigenous farmers out of business and into desperation and forcing many to illegally cross our borders.

Most of the biodiesel I use is made from restaurant waste oil, which would otherwise be treated as toxic waste and dumped. The carbon it releases when burned was absorbed from the atmosphere only last year, meaning there is little net gain in atmospheric CO2. This is a key difference from the “nasty and disgusting gas” Mr. Porter burns in his eco-friendly Hummer. Fossil fuels release carbon that has been sequestered for millions of years.

Biodiesel can also be made from algae grown with nonpotable water on unproductive lands, and probably soon will be, a really exciting development.

In the meantime, individuals, co-ops or neighbors so inclined can get together and make their own biodiesel processors and make fuel from waste oil for about 60 cents a gallon. I’ve done it, and it isn’t that hard.

It’s true that we need to change the way we live and not drive so much. Merely replacing fossil fuels with biofuels isn’t going to save our asses. But biodiesel is clearly a step in the right direction.

Rob Nelson, Santa Rosa, Calif.



The correct question to be asking ourselves is no longer, “How can we revitalize downtown?”

The correct questions are:

1) How will a $40 million public park across from the Library revitalize me and my experience of downtown as: a library card holder, a shopper, a shopkeeper, a nonprofit, a symphony-goer, a Saturday Market/Tuesday Market/Eugene Celebrator, an art-walker, a gallery owner, a leasing agent or real estate agent, a diner, a dreamer, an employee downtown who sometimes prefers a bag lunch and a stroll to patronizing one of downtown’s many fine eateries?

2) How will $105 million in additional parking, yet another Borders and a private park revitalize me and my experience of downtown? (In this $105 million revitalization scenario, none of us gets to laptop lunch in the “anti-public park” unless we own or rent an attached, multi-user housing unit.)

Compare your answers.

Now write the Mayor’s West Broadway Advisory Committee, c/o City Hall. Demand (nicely, of course) that City Hall spend our revitalization money building Library Park. Parking lots attract cars. Parks attract people. People have money, which they enjoy exhausting. Cars have exhausts, which, for the most part, are killing everything.

Communicate while we still have Mayor Piercy listening. Let’s do this while we get to. Then, let’s do another cool thing as soon as it’s done. Ya know how and why we will do that? Because we will have, when the park is done, about $70 million in the bank, after interest, to play with.

Don’t be late! Don’t be late!

Loren M. Mohler, Eugene