Eugene Weekly : Letters : 11.21.07


Contrary to Isabell Norman’s Nov. 9 letter, defeating Measure 134 actually said “hello” to meaningful downtown development. I just returned from Ft. Collins, Colo., a town close in size to Eugene and home of Colorado State University. I found a vibrant and active downtown filled with locally owned restaurants, bars, boutiques, antique stores, etc. — all thriving without the aid of big-city developers and national chains. Ft. Collins did not require large-scale plans, motivated by huge tax breaks, to create an environment that appeals to their citizens.

Eugene has made numerous mistakes in the past, rushing to transform the downtown area into … who knows what, to serve who knows what purposes. This city has all the creative resources necessary to develop our own downtown environment, suited to our own needs. What we need is good central coordination and tax incentives for “local” entrepreneurs that will provide support until people are drawn back into the center of the city for food, entertainment, shopping, etc.

That famous line, “If you build it, they will come,” holds true here. Yes, it will take time, but slow development will not be as disruptive, will provide more local input and will allow more selective and healthy growth of our city.

Neal Miller, Eugene




On Saturday, Nov. 10, I was innocently biking on Willamette (going south between 24th and 29th) when I was accosted by a woman in a huge black SUV telling me to “get the fuck out of the road.” I am so sick of this behavior. Before you verbally attack an innocent cyclist, why don’t you educate yourself on the rules that you and your hideous gas-guzzling SUV are breaking.

When there is not a bike lane in Eugene, bikers are allowed a full lane. Not half of a lane. Not a third of a lane. Not a teeny portion all the way to the right of a lane filled with potholes, twigs and rocks. A full lane. So give us our lane.

It’s your fault I am stubbornly biking, anyway. I am trying to counteract the detrimental effects your vehicle has on my environment.

So how about you “get the fuck” out of your car and start making a difference.

Christelle Munnelly, Eugene



It’s not the cookies that made me fat, or the steaks that gave me a heart attack — it was my “lifestyle of eating.” How idiotic does that sound? About as idiotic as saying it’s not the meth that ruins people’s teeth, it’s the “lifestyle.” Chris Fanshier’s letter (11/8) concerned me: While on the way to said eateries, was this person walking, driving or biking with their eyes CLOSED? I see a lot of those scarred, decrepit women cowering in dark corners, all over town. Maybe they’re easier to ignore in person than in print.

This month, I have been four years clean and sober. And I’ll tell you, I don’t give a rat’s patoot if it was technically the “chemical makeup” of meth or the lifestyle that destroyed my teeth, neurons and part of my soul. I just know it’s expensive, time-consuming and frightening trying to heal, to get them back.

If these ads are grossing people out, they’re doing their job. Shine some light on those scratches, scabs, dying eyes and dark corners — maybe we can keep more folks out of them.

Thank you for running these ads, and I hope you continue them.

Sarah Stevens, Eugene



As an ecologist with 15 years experience restoring forestlands, I find Tim Hermach’s “one size fits all” views on thinning as misguided as industry’s.

In his Nov. 8 Viewpoint, Hermach says the forest can take care of itself. In the wet forests west of the Cascades, this argument has merit. Logging these rain-drenched forests to reduce fire hazard is a dubious objective.

In the dry pine forests of Oregon’s east side, a completely different situation exists: 100 plus years of fire suppression and logging the biggest trees has left a tangle of small trees many times denser than a century earlier. Old growth trees are being choked out by this unnatural ingrowth and, as a result, are at high mortality risk from beetle epidemics and wildfire.

These fires burn much hotter and more destructively than the historic frequent, low severity fires that removed small trees in favor of larger ones. The recent Davis Fire near Davis Lake is a stark example of this catastrophic effect.

Nearly all the old pines were killed, soils were cooked and essential habitat was lost, and industry enjoyed a salvage logging bonanza. No informed person physically reviewing this kind of burn would characterize this fire as “natural.”

In the dry forest, preserving native ecosystems requires prudent understory thinning and use of prescribed fire to restore ecosystem function. Without this kind of active management, the stage is set for dysfunction and more destructive fires.

Hermach’s uninformed blanket rejection of thinning as a forest restoration tool does the struggling dry forests of the West a great disfavor.

Darin Stringer, Integrated Resource Management, Eugene



Regarding the failure of the recent downtown renewal measure: It’s clear that the city elected officials and staff are out of touch with the citizens on this one. While I agree that apathy, anti-tax sentiment and other factors all played a part in this failure, I’d like to add one more for consideration: Perhaps downtown does not need to be fixed.

Based on my experiences downtown, the real problem is simple fear. Many suburbanites assume that downtown is a den of iniquity populated by dope dealers and thugs. This may be true to some extent, but it’s not relevant. I’ve been offered drugs in downtown Seattle, Santa Cruz and Portland’s Washington Park Zoo; I’ve been threatened with random violence in downtown San Francisco. None of these areas can be considered wastelands, as so many people seem to think of downtown Eugene. The difference is that in those cities, people just accept some of this as part of life, and get on with their business.

Of course downtown does need some physical renovation. The site of the former Western Office Exchange building (which some folks insist on calling the former Sears building) is an obvious eyesore as are the Willamette pit and the abandoned Connor/Woolley buildings. But each of these are the result of renewal efforts gone awry. If these problems are fixed, and if downtown were then left to evolve on its own, I think we’d eventually have an entertainment district to rival that of any similarly sized city in the country.

Jim Johnson, Eugene



This letter is in response to the Nov. 8 letters by Peter Howland (“Crude Propaganda”) and Chris Fanshier (“Toss My Cookies”). Of course the meth ads are gross and disgusting because meth is a gross and disgusting drug. A little revulsion of your appetite while you choose on your own to thumb through a highly opinionated free newspaper is a very small price to pay in the grand scheme of the positive benefits of grossing out people stupid enough to consider doing meth.

Anyone whose ever lived by tweaker neighbors and has been victimized by their gross and disgusting criminal behavior knows exactly what I’m saying. EW published a letter by Eugene resident Davy Ray a while back (12/8/05) called “Demon Meth” where he said it perfectly about meth addicts: “They subject their children to houses of ridiculously toxic chemicals to cook the stuff. And in some extreme cases they wander down the street naked masturbating in January after tweaking for days (yeah, that actually happened here in Eugene).”

Thank you, EW, for printing full colored psycho crank-skank poster girls. Thank you, EW, for grossing the living shit out of all you naïve, insulated people. There is nothing disingenuous nor misleading about the lifestyle of methamphetamines, and you can’t distinguish much between the “lifestyle fostered by it” and the drug itself. The only positive benefits are maybe the temporary expediency of being an exploited, workaholic, high turnover rated, low-wage slave in the fast food industry, where ironically consumer-cultured idiots routinely “stop in for a quick bite somewhere” rather than patiently prepare their own meals.

Karl V. Langstramm, Eugene



On National Public Radio a representative for Broadway producers called the striking members of IATSE One, the stagehands’ union, “grinches” for ruining everyone’s holiday theater experience by walking out. Why is it that whenever workers strike, the powers that be feel the need to cast aspersions? Far from being the Grinch, unions fight to get their workers a living wage and decent benefits. IATSE Local 675 has fought to ensure that I get the wages I deserve for the skilled work I perform at the Hult Center. That money stays here in the community.

Right now the real grinches — employers at Albertsons, Fred Meyer and Safeway — are threatening to steal Christmas from grocery workers. They are rolling back health care coverage, expecting employees to work on Christmas and giving only a 75-cent increase in pay over five years. The union (UFCW 555) is asking customers to tell store managers that we, who live and work in the community and spend our money at their stores, expect a fair contract for the people who handle our food.

Please support our local grocery workers!

A support rally is planned for Wednesday, Nov. 28, from 5 to 6:30 pm at Safeway on the corner of 18th and Oak streets in Eugene. Let’s tell them Cindy Loo Who says “No!” to benefit rollbacks and take-aways!

Sue Dockstader, Eugene



Read with interest Jim McChesney’s letter (11/8) about whether John Frohnmayer’s independent candidacy will act as a “spoiler” in the Senate race. I couldn’t see anything in his “unless you” statements that I would dissent from, yet none of it addresses the question of whether Frohnmayer will end up being a spoiler.

That question rests on recognizing that our electoral system makes any kind of strong candidate outside of the two major parties a spoiler. Whoever gets the most votes wins; therefore, a third candidate splits the potential votes for whichever candidate is closest to him or her.

The solution is not strong independent or third party candidates; it is changing the electoral system. Instant runoff voting would solve the spoiler problem, reduce the influence of money on elections, improve the quality of campaigns and have other beneficial effects. Go to www.irvoregon.orgto see how to help bring this about.

Alan F. Zundel, Eugene



Six lies most Republicans tell themselves:

• Racism has nothing to do with Southern states voting Republican.

• Police shoot to stop, not to kill.

• The U.S. doesn’t torture.

• Saddam had something to do with 9/11.

• Human behavior has nothing to do with climate change/global warming.

• Republicans are fiscal conservatives.

Their delusion makes sense when you consider that they want to return to America to what it was before Teddy Roosevelt was president. Grover Norquist, a Republican strategist, said something to this effect as well as wanting government to be “small enough to drown in a bathtub.” Basically, they want to undo the progress of the 20th century.

If you liked the 19th century, you’ll love the Republican vision of the future.

We all can get to have our say about this next year. Vote!

Charles Dalton, Eugene



Rep. Peter DeFazio is attempting to persuade the chairs of the House Armed Forces Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Select Intelligence Committee to hold oversight hearings on the Cheney/Bush plans to attack Iran. We can support this effort by calling his office and offering our agreement. We can also call the offices of the rest of the Oregon congressional delegation and ask them to sign the letter requesting the hearings.

We can call the offices of the committee chairs themselves and request hearings. We can call Sen. Wyden’s office and urge him to do the same thing in the Senate. (A copy of the DeFazio/Lee/Kucinich letter requesting hearings can be found in Democracy Rising, U.S., Oct. 15)

We must get Congress to take the lead in framing this issue. If the Cheney/Bush team spins an attack on Iran as necessary to support our troops in Iraq, then it’s a done deal. Even a progressive such as Rep. DeFazio might have to vote for it as he has voted to fund the occupation of Iraq.

Jere C. Rosemeyer, Eugene



U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schulz (D-Fla) voiced baffling imagery in opposing impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney when she was a guest on Air America Radio, Nov. 9. She claimed impeachment hearings would “block out the sun,” diverting time from worthier issues. Has the good congresswoman from the Sunshine State not noticed our country has been in ever-darkening solar eclipse starting on Day One of the Bush-Cheney regime?

She also claimed that impeachment is not a high priority of the American people. The Judiciary Committee, tasked with determining the merits of impeachment hearings, is comprised of dozens of congressfolk, a very long list. I’ve spoken with virtually dozens of congrssfolk’s aides who tell me over and over again they are being swamped with calls demanding impeachment … period.

Patriotic Americans know that we must take a strong stand so that future “leaders,” regardless of party, will not usurp their power at the expense of our democracy, our Constitution, our nation’s treasure, our soldiers (who are our nation’s treasure), our privacy and untold innocents.

Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121, ask for Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and request open public hearings for the impeachment of Dick Cheney. Junior to follow.

Carol Berg-Caldwell, Eugene



I understand Michael Kelm’s viewpoint (“Offsetting the Benefits”) regarding the difficulty in being energy efficient in a 4,000 sq. ft. McMansion style home. However, I think he’s incorrect on the biodiesel equation. He refers to the “converter” needed for biodiesel. Unless someone is using straight raw veggie oil that isn’t transesterified (say that 10 times fast, or just say processed for short), this isn’t needed. A diesel car doesn’t need any conversion to visit a retail biodiesel station. For cars manufactured prior to 1993, new fuel lines are needed after six to 12 months ($50 for parts, or around $200 to have a mechanic install them), since natural rubber fuel lines were used. Nowadays, cars are made with synthetic rubber fuel lines. You may also need to change your fuel filter a couple of times as all the build up left by regular diesel is being cleaned out of the engine.

In Eugene, we are lucky enough to have Sequential Biofuels (with a great new gas station off I-5 that I actually look forward to visiting). Currently, the B-5 blend (a 5 percent biodiesel blend), B-20 and B-99 blends use already processed waste veggie oil from Kettle Chips in Salem. That’s right, a waste product not drilled out of the ground, from 70 miles away. That’s a pretty good efficiency rating for fuel in my book. Check out for more info. However, I couldn’t agree with Kelm more that driving less is the most effective way to reduce your transportation footprint.

Ali Gartlan, Eugene



I’m appalled that you’re actually printing the column, “¡Ask a Mexican!” Strangely, last week’s issue even had printed in bold letters on the cover “STEREOTYPE FREE!”

I had to re-open the Weekly a few times just to make sure I hadn’t dreamed the whole thing up!

How can a community that prides itself on its progressive, open attitudes even think of running this utterly tasteless column that does nothing to build others up? Please drop it immediately and apologize to our Latin American neighbors.

And as for those full-page meth ads. If run them you must, I challenge you to include in each issue a full-page image equally beautiful and inspiring.

For the time being, I might just skip directly to the event listings.

Rachael Wassenaar, Eugene


Look up and you’ll notice the puffy clouds and baby blue sky painted on the entire ceiling of Cappella Market down on Willamette. As I was leaving the store today, I looked back at the ceiling, and I saw something right out of my childhood: a dreamy image of how things were supposed to be, at least from the viewpoint of a 4-year-old. One of the employees pointed out the hint of a sunrise, a pink glow among the clouds, on the curved ceiling above the meat market.

It would be nice if all the world were like that, puffy white clouds in a blue sky, the sun about to rise into a glorious day. For some of us, the world indeed must seem that way. Unfortunately, it’s hard not to notice all the homeless people wandering around town, who experience life as not-so-good.

Silly me. I thought that I could avoid the homeless, with their beat-up cardboard signs asking for donations, by locating in south Eugene off West Amazon Drive. How wrong I was. I soon found out that a migration route extends down to this area as well, apparently all the way from the Eugene Mission and the “hobo hotels” among the twisted trails along the south side of Skinner Butte.

The manager of our apartment complex informed me that a homeless person had been sleeping in the Eugene Mission’s red newspaper and magazine collection box at the edge of our property. With a sturdy lid that protects against the rain, one of the big recycling boxes seems to be a great place to snooze when you don’t have a place to live. Another kind of “hobo hotel.”

There’s a lovely park on Hilyard, near where I live. Unfortunately, it’s a place where I wouldn’t want kids playing, especially at night. It’s not well lit in places, and has become a nesting ground for homeless people and underage kids who want to get plastered on alcohol.

It is unfortunate that our country seems to value oil company profits and corporate empire over the welfare of its own citizens. It’s shameful, really, that anyone ends up homeless or has to steal or scrounge through Dumpsters or sell drugs to survive. A number of countries, like Denmark and Germany, provide substantial support to the unemployed and needy.

You know what I’ll be looking at the next time I shop at Cappella Market. Drop on by and look up at the expanse of clouds and blue sky painted on the ceiling of their store on south Willamette. It’s inspiring, a peaceful vision, and a hint of how life could be for all of us.

Chris Pawling, Eugene