Eugene Weekly : Letters : 2.26.09

Saving is Good

I am writing this in response to an article in that other paper here in Eugene way back on Feb. 2 titled “Consumers’ New Found Thrift Little Help To Economy.” Instead of asking what is wrong with people saving money and being frugal, just perhaps we should be asking ourselves what is wrong with an economic system based on constant growth and spending, which we call progress. Isn’t it finally time to step back from the abyss and take a real look at what we are doing with and to the earth and all of its blessings? Does anyone actually still believe this is all based upon reality or is at all sustainable? Is it not obvious how many things in our so called economy are propped up with subsidies, whether it is airplane travel, our car culture or big agriculture etc…. perhaps our scale of things is out of whack.

I understand it is scary, such full scale change, but I think we are fooling ourselves if we continue to prop up old ways that have failed for what appears to be good reason. Much of what our society has been doing is simply not sustainable. It has only seemed to be sustainable by being propped up on the backs of less fortunate folks elsewhere, using up and trashing our natural resources with no concern for the future and by money changers shifting things around in their Ponzi schemes.

From where I sit, it is the people beginning to save, who are making appropriate steps back towards sanity! It is everything else I wonder about. As they say, strange days indeed. Simple living, being closer connected to food, shelter and a warm place to sleep might be better goals than lots of automated gizmos and polluting toys. A smaller footprint on the earth, a closer connection to nature and a more locally oriented economy may make more sense. 

Tim Boyden, Eugene

Environmental Madness

This past week I have been shocked by the amount of proposed destruction throughout every corner of the state. 

In southern Oregon the BLM is moving forward plans to destroy more than 25,000 acres of ancient forest. 

Here in Eugene Seneca sawmill proposes to poison our air in Eugene with 28 tons of particulates and 38 tons of sulfur dioxide per year from a so called “renewable” energy tree burning power plant. Here in Springfield, a mile from my house across from LCC along I-5, a new rock crusher manufacturing facility is proposed. This new facility will spew another 40 tons of VOC and 38 tons of particulates per year.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture just announced plans to aerial spray a poison that will kill all moth and butterfly larvae in the Dillard road area.

ODOT announces plans to spend $42 million to widen more highways and freeways instead of just fixing infrastructure that is literally falling apart.

I LOL. Is the whole world completely insane?  Where are the voices of caution and reason? Where are our so-called leaders to reign in the madness?

Shannon Wilson, Eugene

Homeless & Cop Shop

Thank you for linking the proposed new cop shop to the homeless situation in Eugene!  I have been harping on this to City Council for years.  The money they have squirreled away is CDBG money, and they spent tens of thousands of dollars on an outside PR firm to sell the idea by holding community forums and focus groups, all very skillfully presented as if the new building was already a fact, and the city generously wanted to get community input on what it should look like, and where it should be located.  Meanwhile, back in reality, the city allocated $70,000 for a “Blue Ribbon” Committee on Homelessness that ultimately did nothing but ask for more money to continue to think about the issue.  

What really galls me is that when I first arrived in Eugene in 2001, I was appointed to the Human Rights Commission, and watched City Council members and staff break their arms patting each other on the back for the city’s “diversity” and “commitment to human rights.”  Indeed, our city code offers very broad protections for people beyond what is provided by state or federal law.  But these protections do not apply to the homeless, who are codified in police jargon as “transients” or “vagrants.”  In our “diverse” town, the only shelter available for the majority of the homeless is a well-intentioned but faith-based shelter funded with no public money and therefore exempt from the protections against discrimination that a publicly funded shelter would have. 

I told Mayor Piercy that I would not support one penny of public money going toward a fancy new building for the cops or any other city staff until the city first built a publicly funded shelter for the homeless that provided the same human rights protections that all other citizens of Eugene enjoy.  I meant it.

Melissa Mona, Eugene

Health Chasm

I read the letter concerning the organization Volunteers in Medicine with bemusement. After failing to get OHP or into the Oregon Medical Insurance Pool, I inquired about the Bridges program at
Sacred Heart and was informed I had too much income to qualify for it. When I called VIM about their services, I was informed that my income was too low. That’s right: I was too poor to qualify for their assistance because I wasn’t working and my income was more than 300 percent below the
poverty level.

I didn’t fall through a crack. I fell into a chasm when it comes to health care affordability. I recognize these organizations’ attempts to help those who can’t afford medical insurance, but with more people losing their jobs and getting poorer they will be out of reach for many more citizens.

A. McLaughlin, Eugene

Won’t Pay for WAR

This year I owe $474 in federal taxes. If federal taxes went to life affirming things, I would be happy to pay all that I owed and more. For example, our country could provide a free and appropriate education to all young people between the ages of 3 and 25, including a bachelor’s degree or other post secondary education.  We could provide food, a place to live and free health care to all who need it. All who need free drug, alcohol, gambling and sex addiction treatment could have it provided for them. Our land, water and air could be cleaned up and protected. Global warming could be reversed and alternative energy provided. All people living in this county could be treated with respect and granted the same freedoms.

Instead of programs that affirm life, over half our taxes are going towards killing people in wars. Our taxes are breeding ill will through this country and the world. If our country had not spent so much money on killing people through wars, the financial crisis we are in could have been averted. I can’t condone war by paying for it. I have redirected the $474 I owe into life affirming programs here in Oregon.

Susan P. Barnhart, Eugene



One Huge Ponzi 

Efforts to “jump start” the economy assume that, like a car whose battery has run down, it can start up and run as before. However, the Old Economy was a clunker falling apart.  Millions of jobs have disappeared, while wages have fallen for 30 years behind levels needed to support what the culture considered a quality lifestyle and the economy needed as aggregate demand. So people bought homes, cars, educations and more, on credit. Expecting the economy to run indefinitely on ever-increasing credit made it one huge Ponzi scheme, by definition unsustainable. The economy can’t possibly revive without, at the least, more jobs at higher wages, debt relief and the abandonment of imperialist wars. 

But when the U.S. economy recovered from past recessions, we had abundant natural resources — not only cheap oil but air, water and soil. Now, with natural resources like oil substantially depleted and the Old Economy threatening the means of life (e.g., overfishing the oceans) and the biosphere itself (e.g., breathable air, drinkable water, arable land), it’s not only futile but unwise to expect a “jump start” to work. The creation of more jobs at higher wages requires an economy restructured as if people mattered, not billions to rebuild highways and tax breaks to buy cars and trucks that have no future. 

And we should stop throwing trillions — which we don’t have but will have to borrow — at Wall Street. The big banks should be examined by the FDIC and, as necessary, not subsidized but nationalized.

Robert Roth, Eugene

Dump Trash Tax

In regards to the proposed garbage hauler surcharge, imposing some kind of road repair tax may be necessary. However, this one is not very fair.  People or businesses that self haul will put more wear on the public streets and won’t contribute a dollar; this includes about 8 percent of the Eugene residence.  

This tax also taxes the Lane County Solid Waste user fee which is built into the garbage rates. Double taxation? Manufacturing, construction, grocery and retail will be hit especially hard. The normal Lane County dump fee for their loads is $65 per ton. With the proposed tax it will jump to $71.50 per ton, costing most businesses $70 to $140 more per week.  It seems like putting a 10 percent road use tax on the 6 percent license fee that is also included in our garbage rates, is double taxation.

Another disadvantage could be that customers won’t pay the surcharge. In Eugene, people have a tendency to run up a past due bill with one hauler and then simply switch garbage haulers once their service is discontinued, thus creating more cost for the haulers to remove and deliver new equipment.  

We realize the streets have been neglected for years while we build roundabouts and expand our bike trail system. However, encumbering seven different garbage companies with this taxing system does not seem as fair or efficient as the way the city of Eugene collects its storm water fees with a single utility that every Eugene resident has to use. Or perhaps, another 1 or 2 cent per gallon tax for gas may be more palatable, now that gas prices are below $4 a gallon. Or maybe we should wait until this ever expanding depression reverses. We have had 31 business shut their doors in the last 60 days. 

Scott Bales, Royal Refuse

Jesus, Cannabis 

Cannabis acceptance is a walk through fear. After fear, love is all there is. Jesus and cannabis and me. What a combination.

Joseph Canfield, Springfield


Big Look Task Force 

I couldn’t agree more with Jerry Deithelm’s analysis of the Big Look Task Force’s political process.

There is precedent for this kind of activity in Oregon.  Go back to Gov. Goldschmidt’s workers’ compensation “reform” and the concession bargaining that organized labor was forced into at Mahonia Hall in the late 1980s.  We still do not have an open political process on this issue due to the  Management Labor Advisory group who must approve all workers’ compensation legislation or Gov. Kulongoski will veto it.  Remember, he was Goldschmidt’s right hand man on workers’ comp at the time.  We have one of the most draconian systems now nationwide.  

The game and some of the players are the same.  Beware any group that is formed to find a “compromise solution” to an issue on behalf of “the people.”  This time they are just taking more time.  I would expect a similar outcome if we are not vigilant.  

Nyla L. Jebousek, Newport


Market of TV Choice

If the Market of Choice TV was typically tuned to a news show and on Election Day they chose to change the channel to The Food Network, I could better understand Lisa Hammack’s disappointment at not being able to watch the inauguration there. 

MC has customers with many viewpoints and others may have wanted to get away from news as they drank their morning coffee. To change the station to accommodate one person on one day may seem like a reasonable request to that person. But what about the next time someone came in and wanted to watch a sports event or a science program or another news event.

I’m sorry Ms. Hammack missed viewing the inauguration, but the MC TV seems more like an ambiance feature than a source of current events, and The Food Network is a good choice from that perspective. I hope people will not expect retailers to be all things to all people as they conduct business and try to consider all of their customers in doing so.

Annetta Forrer, Eugene

Theater for David

I just read that the new David Minor Theater opened and am very excited to go there. I’m impressed with the very low admission cost and look forward to supporting a locally owned (and cool) little theater — so much better than the usual price-gouging, mainstream theaters. And I get to drink beer! 

I will also go in honor of David Minor, the local bicyclist who very sadly lost his life on 13th and Willamette in June ’08. Although I didn’t know him personally, he was a fellow Eugenean, someone who shared many of my dreams and aspirations of helping make Eugene and the world a better place.

I hope that more Eugeneans, especially as we move headlong into this recession, will support our local businesses and truly have a concept of what it means to everyone involved. I may pay a buck or two more for an item (although many times it’s the same price) at a local business than a national chain, but it’s worth it to me—not only am I supporting fellow Eugeneans, but the money I spend stays in our local economy. And it just plain makes me feel good! I cannot express how warm and fuzzy I felt at the Holiday Market this year with all of its peaceful offerings and smiling faces. 

Let’s hear it for local Eugene in 2009!

Sheree Walters, Eugene

Revoke NAFTA

At the presentation “Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants,” writer and photojournalist David Bacon explored an informative, comprehensive look at connections between trade agreements and immigration.

However, I thought his answer of what should be demanded of elected officials was lacking. He said citizens should make concrete demands rather than just “immigrant rights now,” suggesting issuing green cards, reuniting families, etc.

REVOKE NAFTA NOW! is the one solution myself and multitudes in the three countries (U.S., Canada, Mexico) affected by the North American Free Trade Agreement agree on. No trying to fix or reform it; 15 years have proven disastrous for everyone but the ruling elites.

May 1st, when folks are marching for a humane policy toward immigrants, there will be a backlash, especially with Oregon’s finances and employment rates. While some of the counter protesters’ concerns are racist, xenophobic worries about the intrusion of Latin culture into “America,” many realize what the implications of NAFTA have been and are in agreement about it’s demise. In the presidential election, respected candidates — Republican Ron Paul, Libertarian Bob Barr, Green Cynthia McKinney and Democrat Dennis Kucinich — called for an end to NAFTA.

The Zapatistas had it right! 

Scott Fife, Eugene

Diethelm Socialism

How on earth can Jerry Diethelm talk about land use without at least a bow in the direction of private property?  Did socialism take over in Oregon while I wasn’t looking?

Jerry Kershner, Eugene

Take Back the Bailout

To those still upset about the $700 billion taxpayer bailout of U.S. banks, it’s not too late to do something about it.

$214 million of our taxes have gone to “bail out” Umpqua Bank ­ whose executives admitted they didn’t need the money, but would take it to “increase our footprint.”  Bringing us Umpqua’s latest round of “hip” advertising.

The ads (and cute tree logo) suggest we “save paper.” Ironically, Umpqua’s chairman of the board is none other than Allyn Ford, owner of Roseburg Forest Products and the most powerful timber baron in Oregon.  Ford’s primitive style of slash-and-spray (de)forestry is to blame for horizon-to-horizon clearcuts, poisoned families, polluted drinking water, landslides, dead salmon and tons of global warming gases. Over the past decade, Ford has ignored requests to adopt responsible forestry practices to set a new model for Oregon’s backward timber industry.

It’s clear we need to speak to Ford in a language he understands: cold hard cash. Please encourage friends and family — and businesses you shop at or work for — to send Allyn Ford a message with your money by withdrawing all accounts from (St)Umpqua Bank.  $214 million worth sounds like a nice round number to me.

Josh Schlossberg, Eugene

Wastewater Waste

The Eugene-Springfield MWMC is asking to sell a $100 million bond for ratepayers to foot the bill for their poor management. Eugene-Springfield’s waste-water system was developed in the 1980s when no one knew about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions or cared about energy conservation. The Eugene-Springfield water pollution control facility employs what is called secondary clarification and chemical treatment before discharging waste into the Willamette or land application of sludge. Secondary clarification has been abandoned the world over as too energy-intensive, expensive and hazardous. Particularly in the European Union where many countries strictly regulate greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater treatment.   

The gold standard in wastewater for the past 150 years has been London, England, where they employ slow sand filtration instead of secondary clarification and chemical treatment. This process uses far less energy for pumping and wastewater is separated through layers of sand and comes out clean enough to drink. Eugene-Springfield could have been converted to slow sand filtration and given Eugene-Springfield a world-class wastewater system for far less than the $87 million already spent on the 2004 Facilities Plan. Now the MWMC is asking for another $100 million to keep going in the wrong direction. 

Warren Weisman, Eugene