Eugene Weekly : Letters : 10.25.07


There’s not much I can add to Chuck Gerard’s positive profile (10/4) of retired White Bird Clinic Coordinator Bob Dritz. He’s a Eugene icon deserving of all the recognition and accolades tossed his way. White Bird can do more with a service dollar than any agency in town, bar none, and there are a lot of excellent social service agencies in Eugene and Springfield.

Other people with positions like Bob’s had titles like director, or executive director, or program manager, but at White Bird the guy in charge had the simple and benign title of coordinator.

I worked for many years at Lane County Mental Health, serving some of the same folks White Bird does. More than once I found myself in conflict with colleagues when we discussed how scarce service dollars should be allocated. Mental Health had a say in how much money White Bird got each year to carry out its 24-hour crisis response system — especially between 5 pm and 8 am when Mental Health was closed. In lean years (well, they’re all lean years, but some are leaner than others), cutting the contract to White Bird was always on the table. But, under Bob’s guidance, The Bird always survived, thankfully.

Many of the folks White Bird works with are those who want nothing to do with the government, which means avoiding Lane County programs, even though we might have had the help they needed. White Bird is often the best alternative and, given what it can do with a dollar, probably serves two or three people for every one served by other agencies.

There will always be a role for a White Bird in any community. Public mental health programs like that operated by Lane County — and companion programs like White Bird — are the dumping ground for people rejected by other agencies because they don’t meet strict eligibility criteria. When other agencies called me looking for services for someone, I was supposed to ask, “What’s the diagnosis?” Once, when I asked a White Bird worker that question, the answer was, “Twenty years of hard living.” I couldn’t find that diagnostic label in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association — and I don’t recall if I was able to help that particular individual. But I’m quite certain that, in a clinic coordinated by Bob Dritz, the man got the help he needed even if he didn’t get it from the government.

Gary Cornelius, Eugene



Eric Stillwell (letters, 10/4) misses the point with the looming downtown calamity before voters, as did the majority of members on the West Broadway Advisory Committee (WBAC).

The additional $40 million in urban renewal district funds Eugene voters are being asked to approve is just the tip of the iceberg. This shell game is stacking up over $69 million of public monies to subsidize a private developer’s guaranteed 13 percent profit. The lack of fiscal discipline from the majority of WBAC members in making recommendations gives cover for the developer to drive the cost of this boondoggle for taxpayers even higher. Meanwhile, $87 million would be diverted from schools and other essential government services over the length of this funding scheme.

Yes, we should do something downtown — something sensible. Eugene has the funds and the ability to develop downtown without any increase of the spending limit or extension of the Urban Renewal District ending date. The city has proposals for several projects that would build 106 housing units, with 5,000 sq. ft. of retail space on the Sears pit site; reclaim the historic Centre Court and Washburne Buildings; and redevelop the Aster pit site. That combination of projects can be developed with currently available funds and without amending the Downtown Urban Renewal Plan.

This approach is within our budget, provides downtown housing, protects local merchants, reclaims historic assets and makes good sense. Join me in voting no on 20-134.

Rob Handy, West Broadway Advisory Committee



Responding to Sue Kupka (10/11), I do apologize to any and all persons that I inadvertently annoyed with my exuberant dancing at the Oct. 2 Jethro Tull concert. I was simply carried away by thrill of seeing the great, incomparable Ian Anderson, Dave Barre, Duoane Perry, et al from my front-row center seat. I was simply unable just to sit still the entire time. Yes I did make a couple sashays up the aisle, but those only lasted a fraction of the total show time.

Yes the security did let me get away with a little bit more than the average, but I really did try not to push them too far. Yes, I did do a unique style of dancing in my seat, but I thought my legs in the air were preferable to my whole body blocking more of the view of the people behind me.

I do take exception to one point specifically, your assertion that I was not wearing any underwear: I was wearing a pair of pantyhose, a thong bikini, plus a pair of fishnets over the top. I was also wearing a bra/slip.

Judging from the overwhelming majority of the responses that I heard from various men and women during the intermission and after the show, I was their heroine of the night. No one expressed or vocalized dismay or ire, on the contrary they greeted me with big smiles and high fives. If anyone had complained, I am the type of person that would have listened to them and modified my behavior. So Sue Kupka, I apologize again, but as Oscar Wilde once said, The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

P.S. I may be a hoyden, but I am not a “ho”!

Catherine Swanson, Springfield, aka The Lady in Red



I agree something needs to happen downtown. Two years ago, the city of Eugene was ready to sign a contract with Thomas Kemper, the K in KWG, to build 106 housing units with retail space in the Sears pit, and with Beam to refurbish the Centre Court and Washburn Buildings. Those projects were affordable without raising the urban renewal district by $40 million.

If the proponents of Measure 20-134 think this big and expensive approach to redeveloping two blocks downtown is such a great idea, why don’t they give it to the voters in the form of a bond measure? It would be straightforward where the money is coming from — our property taxes. I think many people supporting 20-134 would vote against the measure if they thought that their property taxes would be increased.

Proponents argue 20-134 won’t raise taxes; opponents say funds will be diverted from education, city and county services, which will result in these services having to rely on bond measures or tax levies that do raise our property taxes, and if voters don’t approve the bond or levy the services will suffer even deeper cuts.

Our urban renewal district is 39 years old. It is not wise to extend it yet again another 23 years, especially when the economy is in such bad shape. In order for urban renewal to work without taking money away from schools and services, it needs to have an end. Otherwise it becomes a continuous siphon.

Kathleen Leonard, Eugene



In your Sept. 27 issue, a letter writer complains about what he says are “DANGER signs” about cougars posted at Mount Pisgah Arboretum. He misquotes the signs as saying “Don’t walk alone or a cougar will kill and eat you! … Run!” I wish he had read the signs before writing.

After our site manager, Tom LoCascio (who has lived on site for over 25 years), found six deer killed by cougars this winter and several staff and volunteers had actually seen a cougar, the Site Committee decided we should warn the public about its presence. The Board of Directors agreed. However, rather than wishing to scare people away, everyone’s greatest concern was how to post the information without unnecessarily alarming our visitors.

Fortunately, our Executive Director Pete Barrell found the attractive brochure produced by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife entitled “Oregon is Cougar Country: Guidelines for Living with Cougars” which we have posted. It has lovely pictures of these beautiful animals and useful information. In particular it advises keeping pets on leash and children within sight. In the unlikely event you encounter a cougar it notes the animal will usually go away, but you should never run away.

No one on the committee or board expressed any personal fear of these animals. In particular, years ago, I prospected alone one whole summer in an area with numerous cougar tracks, kills and even dens, without any concern. We did worry about unleashed dogs and running children.

Theodore W. Palmer, Chair Site Committee Of Mount Pisgah Arboretum



Eugene can no longer afford the luxury of an urban renewal district. Besides diverting $3.85 million in property taxes away from the city, county and local education districts, it has another more real effect. Last year the City of Eugene spent about $2.75 million providing government services (police, fire and library) to the residents of downtown Eugene and the businesses that support them. Because of the urban renewal district, only $233,484 in property tax revenue was available to pay for those services. The $2.52 million short fall was paid for out of other city revenues, mainly the property taxes paid on non-urban renewal properties and reduced services.

The proposed downtown development will only make the situation worse; the 681 people we can expect to occupy the 300 proposed housing units will increase the shortfall by another $873,355. And with the proposed extension of the district these revenue shortfalls will continue for the next 23 years.

In the upcoming election we are being asked to approve an increase in the local gasoline tax to raise about $2 million to pay for much-needed street repairs. We needed to pass a special levy to operate the new library. Yet because of urban renewal we had the money to redo downtown, not once, not twice, but now three times. It is time we end this costly diversion of needed tax dollars. The first step is to defeat 20-134.

As to downtown, put a complete, finished, detailed proposal together that protects existing downtown businesses, with solid numbers and bond financing, and put it to a vote. If it is good enough, it will pass.

David Hinkley, Eugene



I strongly support revitalizing our downtown. I favor an approach that is fiscally responsible, reflects local values and helps make our downtown unique to Eugene.

Over the past 40 years Eugene’s downtown has suffered other attempts at urban renewal. If, instead, the old buildings had been retained and adapted to accommodate local merchants and eateries and if urban renewal money had been spent to help bring high density affordable housing to downtown, we wouldn’t be attempting to use the same ill-fated approach that got us into the current mess to try to get us out of it. Yet, once again, we are being told that we can only compete with malls by turning a central part of our downtown into one.

Downtowns in places like Ashland and Corvallis are successful largely because they did not go through urban renewal. Their charming older buildings accommodate humanly scaled storefronts, allowing a variety of distinctive shops, eateries and entertainment venues to take root and flourish. Towns such as these are popular with locals and tourists because they are special places, not because they have the same corporate chain stores and formula restaurants found everywhere else.

We already have three large, prosperous malls in the Eugene area. We only have one downtown. Let’s revitalize it by helping to reclaim its local authenticity. This will bring more people and more business to downtown much more effectively and at a much lower cost than the radical and costly approach before us now.

Gavin McComas, Eugene



I must respond to the nature of your “Cornucopia of Crap and Gold” review in the latest “visual arts” story (10/18) by Chuck Adams, a mean, arrogant, demented description of the 15th Annual Springfield Mayor’s Art Show.

I reviewed and observed from previous ramblings by Adams that he pretentiously pretends to judge whether or not art contains “humanity” or not. He looked at the show but didn’t “see” it. Adams claims a lifeless photograph of a dead deer’s head has more warmth and humanity than an award winning, beautiful painting of a child drawing dinosaurs. Further, he claims the children’s work in the show has more creative energy than the adults’. Not much objectivity or insight for your readers.

Adams is obviously not an artist, falsely stating the Salon des Refusé is “free,” for example, and he shows no respect or appreciation for the 252 pieces in the Springfield Mayor’s Art Show. We at the Emerald Art Center honor and show all levels of work (emerging artists through professionals) in our gallery, turning 5th and Main in Springfield into “The Artists’ Corner.” I challenge the readers to see the exhibit for themselves and see whose “Cornucopia of Crap” lacks humanity.

Fan of the show,

Guy Weese, 1st Vice President Emerald Art Center



I’m just curious. How many of you so opposed to revitalizing downtown actually work, live or play there on a regular basis? My husband and I live and play, and someday hope to work in downtown Eugene. We love Eugene. We especially love downtown Eugene. We’ve lived downtown going on five years now. We shop, play or eat in downtown as much as we possibly can. We love being less than a 5-minute walk from the river and numerous parks. We love being next to world-class restaurants and lovely shops. We love being able to buy organic produce and attend Saturday Market every weekend. We love not having to drive a car, but when we do drive, we love being able to park in the convenient city parking. We love the arts and cultural opportunities. We love being close to government and public services.

We also “love” watching the weeds grow in the pit next to the Centre Court building in the spring and the rainwater fill up the pit where the Sears building used to be in the winter. As we walk by the empty buildings we imagine the condos and apartments above new storefronts that we could be living and working and shopping in, if they only existed. We imagine being able to raise our children in the downtown, small footprint, community oriented lifestyle we want to give them — a little piece of city nestled in the middle of the natural wonder that is the Willamette Valley — without having to move to Portland like so many of our 30-something, professional friends have done.

The good things about downtown Eugene will not disappear with revitalization, because the people that make Eugene so amazing will want to stay and live and work and play there.

Kimberly Harper-Kennedy, Eugene



Will Nagy’s Oct. 18 letter touched a long-dormant nerve, and I salute his admirable outlook. My advice? Pay no heed to the arrogant latter-day hippie woman encountered at the McDonald Theatre’s concert honoring the Grateful Dead. She is merely the flip side of the archconservative fundamentalist right-winger.

When the hippie movement first surfaced, we of the Kerouac beatnik era were not quite the establishment, but we were rapidly becoming passé. All the same, I was delighted with the hippies and flower children, their social revolution, humanism, progressive thinking, “doing your own thing.” After a time, though, they passed the once-distrusted 30 mark and themselves became the establishment, with their own unprecedented rules of conformity. Hairstyle, dress code and behavior were rigorously prescribed. Oh, yes, do your own thing, but beware if it’s not the same as my thing.

Apropos, I really enjoy the jamming Saturday Market drummers in the Morse Courthouse Square. But I harbor a wicked fantasy of waltzing into the group with my djembe or shekere flaunting a traditional short, tapered-neck haircut, business suit, Windsor-knotted tie and an attaché case to carry my claves, maracas and agogos. I chicken out but, in all fairness, I believe they would be totally accepting beyond, at most, a gentle, sidelong rolling of the eyes.

Now in my 70s, I like to quote the unknown wag who said, “Sexagenarians are in their sexy years, but septuagenarians are in the septic age.” In my septic opinion, the bottom line of all debate, more so the hate-mongering woman in question than Mr. Nagy: “I am better than you are.”

Jim Wood, Eugene



It’s happening again: People in our forest valleys are getting sick from timber companies’ fall herbicide poison. We have documented 655,572 acres of Oregon forestland sprayed this year. At this level of saturation, human contact with poisons is not accidental; it is inevitable.

We call on the EPA and our elected officials to protect us, and the timber companies to stop this madness.

Forestland Dwellers, Lynn Bowers, Robin Winfree, Rural Eugene



Local government interference stifles development in downtown Eugene. The constant meddling by local bureaucrats has disrupted the balance of the downtown real estate market. Through the use of subsidies and promises of subsidies, prices have climbed to a point that requires subsidies in order to make projects pencil out. It’s time to break this vicious cycle and vote no on measure 20-134, the newest $40 million subsidy.

The cheerleaders for measure 20-134 falsely claim that it will not raise taxes or cost you anything. Horse pucky! The developers are asking for a 10 year tax exemption for all residential portions of this proposal, which means for 10 years the rest of us will be paying for all the services, schools and roads that are provided to the 400 new residences for free. Remember the Broadway Place apartments at Broadway and Charnelton? Those apartments still pay zero property taxes.

Please join me in voting no on measure 20-134.

Paul Cauthorn, Eugene



Voting Yes on Measure 49 is one of the most important decisions we can make for our children’s future. We can continue exploiting the present at the expense of the future, but it’s time we decide to stop. It’s time we decide to give. Measure 49 will help us do that. It will slow the paving over of farmland, the misuse of water rights and the cutting of forestland that Measure 37 guarantees. It will fix the worst errors that Measure 37 allows.

Measure 49 will stop us from turning ourselves into the land-use nightmares that cities like Los Angeles and Phoenix have become. It will stop subdivisions, big-box stores, strip malls and elite resorts in remote or environmentally unsound areas. When cheap oil inevitably turns into expensive oil, what will our children do with our bad land-use decisions? When farmland is paved over, where will they go to grow food? So vote to give to your children, so they may enjoy, and may also preserve, the rich environment that we have. Vote Yes on Measure 49.

Debra Higbee, Eugene



I, too, heard Sherry Turkle’s UO talk (“Robot Companions,” news story, 10/18) about technology’s negative effects on all of us. She mainly discussed the sad, unhealthy landscape which envelops society, and which is now much worse than she expected 20 years ago. The erosion of face-to-face relationships and direct experience, the transfer of emotional ties to the proliferating machines that take us further from the earth with each passing day.

But I was even more strongly struck by the utter cynicism — to me — that was her fundamental message. She spoke of “putting technology in its place,” but ended by saying that all this deepening anti-humanness is “the price we have to pay.” She has embraced every new step of the technoculture, and made it plain that she will never not accept its supposed inevitability.

One doesn’t become a famous part of the cyber-elite any other way. I find this an abhorrent cop-out.

John Zerzan, Eugene



A letter from Loren M. Mohler Oct. 11 seems a tad confused. It asks the reader to consider how a $40 million public park across from the library would revitalize “me and my experience of downtown”? That number is completely misleading; the cost of a park would be just a fraction of that amount. Preliminary research on a quarter-block park with interactive fountain produced estimates of $200,000 or less for grading and landscaping. A fountain the size of the Salmon Springs fountain on the Portland waterfront (60 feet in diameter) cost just $1 million. A somewhat smaller fountain, 40 to 50 feet in diameter, would cost about $750,000. So, a quarter-block park, with fountain, could be built for about $1 million total, not including purchase of the land, and a half-block park could be built for about $1.5 million. Let’s get our facts right.

Thomas Lincoln, Lincoln Design, Springfield



I did a double-take when reading (9/27 cover story) about the BLM’s proposal to gut the heart out of the roadless country above the Wild Rogue with a clearcutting proposal. Is this the same Wild Rogue south of us that people from around the world come to float, fish and become awe-inspired by? I think the BLM’s meds must be a little off. And it is tough to fathom why Rep. DeFazio would blink twice at a proposal that would safeguard this area as wilderness forever. Why endure 10 years of “we need wilderness” from whining enviros while the Rogue’s native fish runs are plummeting and its forests are about to transition into stump fields? The time to act is now.

John Maxwell, Goshen



Greetings! Here’s a compromise idea re: what to build across from the Eugene Public Library. A park, on the roof of a one-story building, which has street-level stores, java haunts to granola shops, facing Olive Street, 10th Avenue and Charnelton Street. The first floor interior could have an inner green-spaces courtyard and access ramps to a below ground parking garage much like the library’s. The excavation work for such a garage is already half-done. (Of course, having a downtown public pool is an alternative.)

On the rooftop’s park, tables and chairs surrounded by plants and small trees in raised-beds, ivy growing on 8-foot high wind-blocking wooden lattice work — all accessed during library hours and for special events.

No doubt two or three small cart vendors would love to get a contract for such a rooftop park.

So, what do you think? Is it evident to you that any urban renewal work must be environmentally responsible and contribute to lessening, not increasing, the effects of global warming?

Charles F. Thielman, Eugene



There’s a very fundamental reason to vote no on Measure 50. This law amends the Oregon Constitution, saying it’s OK to single out one group of people to pay a tax.

The proponents of this measure say it’s for the kids, and it’s against smoking. Well, if you’re for the kids, pass a law that’s equitable and spreads the tax evenly across the entire population. Take your share of the responsibility. If you want people to stop smoking, you aren’t going to do it by increasing the price. The Oregon Legislature knows this. Truly addicted smokers aren’t going to stop, and the Legislature doesn’t really want them to. Over half the price of a pack of cigarettes is already tax. What would the state do without that revenue? They don’t really want smokers to go away. They just want more money, just like a drug pusher who’s profiting from stuff they don’t approve of!

Vote no on Measure 50. It’s un-American to single out a group of people to pay a tax. And it’s un-American to build taxes into a constitution! There’s better ways to help kids get healthcare. If you’re for the kids, step up to the plate and say, “I’ll help.” Your first word should be NO on Measure 50.

Len Goforth, Springfield



Look at the downtown furniture store on Willamette, Scan Design, an inside-and-out perfectly good building. The building south of it also looks sound and substantial. Can you imagine a bulldozer smashing it all? But that is what our city government is supporting by asking a developer to give us an instant downtown, his kind of downtown, on nearly two blocks along West Broadway.

It really hurts me to think about that. Many years of throwaway society have resulted in today’s precarious state of the environment. We cannot afford to continue it. I strongly believe in sustainability and will vote no on measure 20-134

We all want to revitalize downtown and we can start immediately doing it by developing the Sears and Aster pits with commercial on street level and housing above. We have local talent to do it and the city has the money for it without increasing the urban renewal fund. A good explanation on how this fund works and how it affects our taxes can be found on page 38 in the City’s Voters’ Pamphlet.

Lora Byxbe, Eugene



Waiting, waiting, I am sitting here ready to negotiate a new contract with the management of Safeway, Fred Meyer and Albertsons. This is the 17th meeting with the employers.

Members of UFCW Local 555 are only asking for a decent health and welfare package, a decent wage package and other minor benefit changes. So far management has asked for 48 take-aways from our current contract and as of July until now they have not given us their economic package or even talked about economics.

This has been going on since February with no new contract. Yet we are still out working hard for our employers and the community. Management continues to try to take away what we already have.

Wages and benefits have been stagnant for more than three years. We are only asking for a small piece of the pie from management. Cost of living has gone up, health care has gone up, but our wages have not! All these corporations are making record profits and CEOs are making record salaries, but where is our piece of the pie?

We only want what is fair to pay our bills and raise our families. Where is our piece of the pie?

Mac McDonald, Junction City



Frohnmayer and UO Housing Director Mike Eyster would have us believe that elected lawmakers in Salem are to blame for the insidious and infamous dorms and approximately $150 million of deferred maintenance that has accumulated on campus. The current eroded campus is a result of years of their mismanagement. Instead of letting these two people finish their personal strategic missions to transform and significantly expand the UO into a sprawling private research facility, it’s time forcibly to send them into retirement.

Their schemes might have worked in the late ’90s but the rise of the Internet means data on these good old boys’ “visions” travels more quickly, making it easier to hold them accountable. The tired and outdated Frohnmayer, now more than ever, is banking on people and media to “Just Do It” and buy into sports hype instead of stopping to consider any details or any of the UO’s past actions or planned future demolitions.

Zachary Vishanoff, Eugene



Hardly a day goes by without media mention of the crisis of global warming and the dire predictions of catastrophe, yet few of us are willing to make the changes in our personal life that might make the difference.

My own meager attempt to create awareness of the unwarranted waste of energy is in the chilly temperatures of public places. Markets, restaurants, theaters and concert halls have put their thermostat in the 60-degree range! Many times during the past summer I have spoken to managers of these establishments about raising thermostats to a comfortable level. Many managers, especially the young people, who are often in charge of these establishments, tell me that the thermostats can’t be changed. Fortunately, there are some wonderful restaurants, usually locally owned mom-and-pop places, which are more aware of costs and therefore keep temperatures at a comfortable level.

One of the best kept secrets of Eugene/Springfield is that buses to a dozen destinations run until late evening, making it possible to travel comfortably and safely to many arts, movies, concerts, etc. With the air in downtown Eugene becoming more unhealthy, perhaps folks will consider the bus as a convenient and conscious attempt to alleviate pollution.

I hope that we can make it possible to reduce our carbon footprint on this beautiful part of the world and get serious about making personal commitments.

Phyllis Kesner, Eugene