Eugene Weekly : Letters : 3.12.09


Easy mathematics.

 The proposal to upgrade City Hall seismically and mechanically is for $5 million. It would assure that present police facilities will be safe. So, no need at this time to build a new $17 million police station. That is one of the reasons that I with a majority of Eugeneans have voted against it, three times!

But here comes the city manager, ignoring citizens’ preferences, and proposes to use $17 million of city reserves to build a new police station. He got some councilors and even the major to agree with this.

Those reserves should support popular community services (library, Hult Center, parks and open spaces) and not be at the disposal of a city manager.

Another big question for me is the location of that new building.
 Where would it be placed? I would like to see a professional master plan for downtown Eugene, one that we and future generations can follow. How would the EWEB site for a new City Hall fit into that?

Lora Byxbe, Eugene


I remember the 1981-1984 recession in Lane County. The Agri-Pac cannery in downtown Eugene had a handful of openings. Lines at the fairgrounds to apply circled the building. Mills closed. The ones surviving busted the unions. “Not accepting applications” signs were a big seller. There were 2 million fewer people in Oregon and thousands moved away. Bummer. 

If you got unemployment, you had to file in line and go to the office to claim a week’s benefits. About an hour in line. Jobs planting trees had warnings to be fit or don’t bother. Food stamps came in a booklet of script in denominations like cash. The jobs you could find paid the $3.35 minimum wage. Only Manpower and Kelly Girl offered temp jobs.

Despite the dreary winters, we still had great summers. And Wendy Ray and Uncle Fuzzie gave us a fun, innocent AM radio show mornings on KUGN. Sean Hannity was in troubled youth detention and Dr. Laura Schlessinger was shacking up with Bill Balance from his L.A. call-in radio show.

Greg Hume, Creswell


Opinions expressed in some recent letters seem to be based on misinformation being spread by the Oregon Toxics Alliance, which is renowned for misrepresentation. At a recent community meeting concerning the proposed spraying of Btk for gypsy moths in southeast Eugene, the local leader of OTA introduced herself as “an associate professor at UO.”  She once taught dance there, but was let go some years ago.  She has no current association with any university.

She introduced a speaker this way: “Dr. Tom Kerns has come down from Portland to discuss the medical aspects of Btk.”  The intention was clearly to suggest that Kerns is a medical doctor; he has a Ph.D. in philosophy.

The OTA website includes provocative statements such as “The application of harmful chemicals over public areas without our permission is a violation of our human rights.”  Btk is a biological insecticide, not chemical. Even the base of the spray, the liquid into which the Btk is mixed, is organic. When ODA first used Bt for the 1980s gypsy moth outbreak, the idea came from organic gardeners, who were then pretty much the only ones using Bt.

Scientific research and the preponderance of anecdotal evidence from all Oregon spray projects — including south Eugene near Crest School six years ago, and the major project throughout Lane County in the mid-’80s — attests to the lack of human harm or environmental impact from the aerial spraying of Btk.

The 2008 catch — seven moths scattered around a large area —probably represents a population of hundreds of moths which, if not quickly eradicated, will spread far beyond that area this year.  If no spray occurs now, an even larger area will be sprayed in the future — or we will probably see the deciduous trees in the Amazon Headwaters forest die within the next five years. Anyone who doesn’t understand the damage gypsy moths can cause should talk to folks from back East who have seen forests defoliated and destroyed.

The OTA might bristle at the comparison, but their entire protest is like the Bushes (senior and junior) arguing that we face no real threat from global warming — a position based more on ideology than science.

Jeff Harrison, Eugene

EDITOR’S NOTE: Following publication of this letter, Oregon Toxics Alliance challenged several of Harrison’s statements. OTA says Executive Director Lisa Arkin has never introduced herself as an assistant professor at the UO, and she was not “let go” from UO. She resigned after a federal lawsuit settlement in which she was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor. Tom Kerns is not from Portland, but rather Yachats, and he’s considered an international expert on Btk and the ethics of aerial pesticide spraying.


I am not clear as to the criteria used by the Oregon Legislature in deciding what to fund and what not to fund. For instance, they have chosen NOT to fund Oregon Project Independence which allows seniors to stay in their homes rather than go on Medicaid, which is much more expensive to taxpayers, and less convenient to seniors as well.

Another example I found confusing is cutting funding for Oregon’s 17 community colleges in the face of an average of 15 percent increase in enrollment in credit classes. Unemployed people facing the fact that they may need training or upgrading their skills are turning to community colleges to provide their workforce development. Any investment in community has been shown by means of cost/benefit studies to have a return far in excess of  investment. I would assume the same to be true of Oregon’s universities as well.

The members of the Legislature have been elected to be wise stewards of our tax money. 

G. Dennis Shine, Springfield


I’m ashamed that I live in Springfield, ashamed that I ride LTD buses. I’m ashamed of the Eugene “green” community. What a big mistake that I moved here, a place where no one attends council meetings and the government has adopted a “slash and burn,” “damn the trees” and “show me the money and we’ll bend over for you” policy when it comes to local development projects. I think the city planners and council must be high on meth. That’s the only reason I can find for their crazed mentality. 

Now, LTD has jumped on board. Are they sharing the same meth stash? Out of the clear blue, or so it seems, they pull a number of 286 trees out of their asses that “need” to be cut in order for their precious EmX to be built. Just in time so nothing can be done to change it. Bullshit! Most of those trees need not be butchered for the buses to run speedily. 

The place that needs dedicated lanes is Gateway Street, but the council shot that down, due to pressure from the flea-bag businesses worried about a drop in profits. They forgot, however, the foot and bus traffic that would increase from the EmX. These cats are totally enslaved by the car! 

Scuttlebutt has it the Eugene-based “greens” knew for some time the details of the upcoming butchery in Springfield. They decided to let the slaughter happen. Shame on you! Fuck the Eugene “greens,” fuck Springfield and LTD and its EmX boondoggle! Stop LTD’s waste of money and all future EmX projects! Time to have the LTD board elected and held responsible! 

Lou Andrews, Springfiled (agghh!)


Please consider all the people that it takes to take care of those affluent part-time residents (see Slant, 3/5), from yacht-sitters to prep cooks; and the tens of thousands of tourists who are not rich; and all of the children of the service class and their teachers and bus drivers; and the fact that ten $10 million houses bring the average price way up and counters all of the small homes, organic farms, hippies in buses, and apartments. 

My guess is that you haven’t been there, or don’t have friends who live there and work hard and could use a hospital. Don’t be so quick to judge; your slant is getting very predictable. 

Bob Tozer, Eugene


As the AmeriCorps member at Sexual Assault Support Services I was thrilled by Mariam Wahed’s Viewpoint in the Jan. 29 issue.. I have spent the last six months presenting sexual assault and healthy relationship information to youth in Lane County. Each time I deliver a presentation I am met by passionate adolescents who have grown accustomed to vague and unsatisfactory information about sex. 

This fall SASS will be launching a teen peer education program focusing on issues of healthy sexuality. I envision this team utilizing interactive theater, art and other creative methods to engage and educate their peers in a fun, inspiring way. It is my dream that the program be teen-propelled and address their needs and ideas as raised by them — not by me, not by a school board, not by a city council, but by the members themselves — because I believe that it is youth who know best what their education and development is lacking. This is a call out to any teen interested in working with me to create a youth program that will address some of the concerns raised in Ms. Wahed’s article. I want your feedback. 

I applaud Ms. Wahed for her gumption in bringing light to these important issues. At SASS we recognize our need to better accommodate the youth of Eugene. To Mariam Wahed and all the other teens in the community, thank you for your pro-active approach. You have our attention. SASS is all ears. 

Maggie Minnich, SASS, Eugene


There is a middle ground between drug prohibition and blanket legalization. Switzerland’s heroin maintenance program has been shown to reduce disease, death and crime among chronic users. Providing addicts with standardized doses in a clinical setting eliminates many of the problems associated with heroin use. The success of the Swiss program has inspired pilot heroin maintenance projects in Canada, Germany, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands. If expanded, prescription heroin maintenance would deprive organized crime of a core client base. This would render illegal heroin trafficking unprofitable and spare future generations addiction.

Marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol, only without the ubiquitous advertising. Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as marijuana distribution is controlled by organized crime, consumers of the most popular illicit drug will continue to come into contact with sellers of addictive drugs like meth. Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol, it makes no sense to waste tax
dollars on failed policies that finance organized crime and facilitate hard drug use. Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the children are more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe, MPA , Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy 




While Senate Bill 667 may have been withdrawn this past week, its subject will continue to be debated in the Legislature and in public for years to come. SB 667, the ban on pit bull terriers, brings understandable emotional responses from those who have heard of, or experienced attacks by pit bulls. This particular bill would have not only banned pit bulls from the state, but also have banned any dogs that have “an appearance and physical characteristics that substantially conform to the breed standards of the United Kennel Club for a Staffordshire bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier as those standards existed on Jan. 1, 2009.” 

I do not argue that dog owners should be held accountable for their crimes. I find it absolutely reprehensible that Starr, while acting on the interest of a constituent, would use his time in the Legislature in such a wasteful fashion. This Legislature has thousands of children, unemployed, homeless and elderly awaiting their decisions on stimulus and budget spending. Starr should stop wasting his time on rogue pit bulls and focus on the decay of the society that is raising these dogs. 

Perhaps in Hillsboro, where Starr is from, there are no veterans freezing to death in local parks, or criminals being released from jails and raping, robbing, and murdering constituents. Perhaps the numbers of unemployed people who are losing their homes are somehow magically altered in his special area of Oregon.

 I am a resident of Lane County, where all of these things are occurring on a daily basis. Instead of possible dog attacks, as I walk through the main streets of Eugene, I am more worried about the people who are freezing to death with empty bellies. I work with fragile people who are going to be irrevocably harmed by the budget cuts. I fear becoming unemployed and losing my home. I fear my daughter being raped and robbed, or possibly killed by a gunman in her high school. If I were being attacked, I certainly would not be honed in on the dog type, but looking for the owner. The greater question is would that owner take action and act responsibly?

Shame on you, Sen. Starr. Go back to your committees and come up with a way that most Oregonians can be benefited. Save their livelihoods and keep their streets safer from people, not breeds of dogs. 

Kimberly Summerhays-Morgan, Eugene


George Deutsch, with no experience in science, was a Bush appointee to NASA. A bit player in a larger operation, he aided in science censoring and disinformation. Deutsch resigned in 2006 when it came to light he had lied about having a degree from Texas A&M. Chris Mooney’s book The Republican War on Science untangles the neocon doublespeak taglines “sound science” and “junk science.” 

Climate scientist James Hansen says, “On climate, the public has been misinformed and not informed.” The time delay in planetary heating also veils the peril. “What has become clear from the science is we cannot burn all of the fossil fuels without creating a very different planet,” Hansen states in “A Call to Action on Global Warming,” his presentation at the March 2 protest at the coal power plant in Washington, D.C.

Planet heating in response to the CO2 level of 387 parts per million — increasing 2.2 a year — confronts us all with probable aridification of the soil and the permanent loss of the sea’s plankton. Earth, scientist and futurist James Lovelock states, is “likely to shudder, then move over to a new stable state, fit for a different and more amenable biota.” “Above all we do not want to trigger the jump to a new but unwanted stable climate.” 

Tree Aid President Sir Crispin Tickell warns us, “There have been some 30 urban civilisations before our own. All eventually crashed.” “Human activities have the potential to switch the Earth’s system to alternative modes of operation that may prove irreversible and less hospitable to humans and other life.”

Daniel Burdick, Springfield


Thank you for your incredibly craven and self-serving knee-jerk opposition to the stimulus package currently making its way through Congress. You have shown in glaring detail just how little the good of the country means to you. As we slide closer to complete economic meltdown, you are content to voice your “concerns,” extract concessions from the Democrats, and then vote against the bill anyway. Well done!

This level of idiocy is exactly why we voters have kicked you to the curb. If you didn’t own the majority of the media outlets, you could never get away with it. People overwhelmingly voted for change, and you offer the same tired political games while actual people are losing their houses and jobs. 

FDR’s New Deal was only accepted by the ruling class when it became clear that their choices were to accept the reforms, or face full scale citizen revolt. We are near that level of frustration again, and I will be happy to throw a brick in your honor when you manage to finally destroy our economy. 

Jonathan Knight, Eugene



After feeding and protecting the already abundant incomes of the ultra-wealthy for the past eight years, the Republicans in our Congress and Senate are doing everything in their power to keep President Obama from helping Americans who need it most. They are completely willing to risk the well-being of our country simply to hold on to power, regardless that their economic principles have totally failed. The majority Republican legislators eagerly funded an unnecessary trillion-dollar military action against a sovereign country, but cannot seem to tolerate a bill that promotes job creation and increases education opportunities.

Despite the magnanimous efforts by our president, they have broken the olive branch extended to them via their rejection. I can only imagine their attacks on Democrats if the tables were turned. It is my sincere hope that the public is now acutely wise to the opposition’s tactics

It is incumbent upon all of us, but especially the reasonable Republicans and Independents who voted for “change” to follow up on our votes. We must continue to contact as many Republican legislators as possible to remind them of the resounding message given to them by those they are supposed to represent.

 President Obama’s Reinvestment and Recovery Act is just a start in repairing the severe damage inflicted by our prior administration. Our country needs the jobs, the assistance for the unemployed, and the movement towards energy independence that this bill provides.

Rita Babauta Kiley, Eugene


I am writing to encourage the readers of EW to support the No Action alternative in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Ely Energy Center.

The Ely Energy Center would emit 10.6 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, combusting coal mined in the Powder River Basin to serve energy demands in the American Southwest.

Although the Draft EIS claims that the Ely Energy Center would use technologies that would reduce emissions and increase efficiency, such technologies will do nothing to address the great need for immediate phase out of coal fired power plants.

This proposal comes at a time when we desperately need to be transitioning away from “business as usual” energy dependency and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Climate scientist Dr. James Hansen recently stated that burning existing coal reserves would lead to catastrophic global warming, and that we must not approve additional outdated coal-fired power plants.

Now is the time to embark on a clean energy future, in which we reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels back to below 350 parts per million, as leading scientist tell us we must to avoid dangerously destabilizing our climate system. New coal-fired power plants have no future in this cleaner, brighter future.

I urge you to contact the BLM and share your support of the No Action alternative and begin immediately to phase out the use of coal.

Don Naggiar, Monmouth/Eugene 


Perhaps at age 70 I am waxing too nostalgic, but I remember clearly when Sam Rayburn and Tip O’Neil wielded tough congressional control with incredibly consummate political skills that kept Republicans at bay for years. Their sagacious leadership profoundly shaped policy for generations.

Now for the first time Democrats have an equal opportunity to re-shape policy for a long time — hopefully. But congressional leadership is not up to the task, in my opinion. Speaker Pelosi, who appears too prickly partisan in all matters, seems to lack her forbears’ stalwart but amiable partisanship, legislative shrewdness, and skilful alliance building.

 Republicans as a minority party are formidable, disciplined adversaries. They are keenly adept at political knife fighting, and can cut and slash the Democrat Party’s image in a micro-second. The speaker’s clumsiness by allowing several proposals such as the irrelevant contraception funding come forward become Republicans talking points that at worst has invited derision and laughing. 

Meanwhile the Republican minority leadership snapped their Caucus into 100 percent opposition to the HR1 that’s blindsided the House and has damaged, I believe, the opportunity for a really powerful sweeping comprehensive act that would fully thwart this huge economic crisis. As many economists, left and right, have argued, even $800 billion may not be enough.

 Republicans are exceedingly clever at controlling public debate, are able to stay on message, and are very clever to deliver media punch lines to significantly influence political perceptions. Pelosi and her leadership colleagues’ skills to make salient political points pale by comparison — assuming they tried. Perhaps its her personality — she appears so brittle and unyielding. She needs to take a page from Secretary Clinton’s campaign playbook — remember her Pennsylvania campaign where she took a shot of whiskey and beer chaser with the guys, and loosened up? Remember Tip and Reagan?

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham derided Speaker Pelosi of having shut out any Republican input during the House run up to HR-1. Of course whether that’s true or not is beside the point for almost everything in political reality is 90 percent perception. That a Senator would castigate a House member, particularly its leader, so disrespectfully is astonishing, and a bit frightening. Graham’s behavior going unadmonished indicates that Democrats are unable to control the debate. It would appear that in this crucial moment Democrats even with their Congressional majority can’t or don’t know how to wield power. After all politics as a blood sport; time for Democrats to buy some big knives — and use ’em!

What I’m saying is that as a Democrat who looks to the House for implementing sound policy that especially rebuts the old Republican economic trickle-down nostrums us middle class folk have suffered from far too long, I would hope for some other Democrat as House speaker.

Todd Messinger, Eugene