Eugene Weekly : Letters : 3.26.09


As a member of the Eugene Police Commission (writing here on my own), I listened to testimony from medical marijuana users and proponents during hearings on medical marijuana police policy. Folks made it undeniably clear that this plant is their medicine, that its properties significantly improve their lives and that they all learn to function in the world with this medicine in their systems.

Companies have been dealing for years with employees’ medical conditions. Policies balancing the needs of both employer and employee have been worked out by individuals and in collective bargaining. Companies can and should be clear how they define the word “impaired” and provide tests for fitness for duty. This is the way to resolve work place safety or performance issues for each individual, with consideration of their job responsibilities and prescription level.

Rep. Shaufler asks, “Do you want your claims adjuster to have marijuana in his system?” If the people are doing their job well and appropriately adjust my claim, I don’t care what prescription they are taking. Every Oregon employer is required to employ workers who use prescription drugs, and to accommodate their workers’ medical needs as best they can, safety permitting. America doesn’t discriminate against people fighting chronic pain, appetite loss or back spasms; we work together to make their lives better. And if they can do the job they are paid to do safely, America should just say, “Yes, now get to work!”

Tim Mueller, Eugene


In your short Slant piece (3/19) on the incoming UO president Richard Lariviere you raise a series of questions about what his thoughts may be concerning a number of issues facing the university. Such questions were addressed by Lariviere at two open fora attended by many UO and local community members during his recent campus visit. 

In case you missed these opportunities, there will be another chance to ask him questions at the public forum currently being planned during his next visit to campus on April 8-10. I’m sure he will give you the sort of straight answers that have impressed many UO staff, students and faculty.

Paul van Donkelaar, University Senate president


While I appreciate irony as much as anyone, when irony merges with intent to become hypocrisy, my amusement quickly fades. Eugene is a city filled with memorials to the activists of the past. We have free speech plazas named after Sen. Wayne Morse and Ken Kesey, neither of whom would keep quiet about the troubled times in which they lived. We have a street and a school honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who paid the ultimate price for the change he sought. And less than two months ago, the downtown LTD station was dedicated to the memory of Rosa Parks, whose courage in the face of oppression continues to inspire us all.

It would seem to me incredibly ironic if, in a city so enamored with past proponents of free speech and civil disobedience, the current generation of activists in Eugene was suddenly struck dumb and rendered incapable of protest by some mysterious force. But when the silence arises out of the oppressive tactics of police officers employed by the same city government that commissioned these monuments, I find the hypocrisy too much to bear. 

It must be cold comfort to activists such as Ian van Ornum and Josh Schlossberg to know that their brutal treatment at the hands of the EPD may someday be memorialized by future denizens of our city.

Michael L. Quillin, Eugene


In response to the cover story about Eugene’s music scene (3/12), I would like to mention Eugene’s potent noise scene. Even though you can’t dance to it and it has no melody, noise and related experimental improv has a small but dedicated following here in Eugene. Names like Chemically Restrained, I Died, Hobby Knife, View and the Estrangers are little known outside of their circle of noise-artist friends and on internet noise boards. 

Noise is a catch-all genre that can include elements of metal, ambient and electronica; it can be ethereal and subtle but also can be screaming harsh walls of sound. It can run the gamut instrumentally from standard electric guitars plus effects pedals to medical equipment and even children’s electronic toys. 

There are at least a dozen noise artists in Eugene who play out occasionally at such venues as Samurai Duck, New Zone gallery and DIVA. In fact, DIVA has been the host of the Eugene Noise Fest since 2005, which has featured two to three days of noise enthusiasts from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. So next time you hear about a “noise show,” come check it out and bring your own earplugs.

In order to build this scene there need to be more venues willing to host noise acts, perhaps as warm-ups for metal or improv jazz acts. Venues need to take a chance, which I know is asking a lot in these tough times. Galleries are good venues for noise, but folks pretty much have to “pay to play” as there are fees for the use of gallery space.

Hobby Knife aka Marilyn Kent, Eugene


Wow, I wish my dad was EW’s director of sales and marketing. Maybe my shitty little band can get their picture in his paper twice in a month, too! GFY!

Jeff Albertson, Springfield


I started to listen to a recent broadcast of KLCC’s “Sunday at Noon” program (3/22) concerning the decline of print media readership both locally and nationwide, then turned it off in disgust after about a half hour because I realized there was only one point of view being presented: that of the establishment press. 

While Paul Neville of The Register-Guard and UO journalism professor Scott Maier were there barking for corporate news, Ted Taylor, editor of Eugene Weekly and arguably one of the best alternative voices in the region, was noticeably missing from the cozy little confab. Had he, or another Weekly representative, been invited, but couldn’t or wouldn’t show? No information, one way or another … but that’s pretty characteristic of “reporting” these days in the Chamber of Commerce house organs we call the mainstream media, which is one of several reasons why so many of us have dropped the R(A)G and others of its ilk. 

And is should also be noted that Ted’s absence didn’t stop the pair from slamming his contention that the Weekly’s circulation had risen while the Guard’s had fallen, without giving him the courtesy of a response to their weak reasoning why it was inaccurate to compare the two. Now it’s possible he did call in during the last half of the program and defend his position, but by then I was gone. Just like I’ve been gone from the R-G for years. 

Bill Smee, Springfield

EDITOR’S NOTE: EW was not invited to participate in the panel. For the record, it is tricky to compare the circulations of a paid daily and a free weekly. However, according to the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, the R-G has lost 12,600 weekday subscribers in the past 10 years. During that same time, EW has increased its free distribution by about 10,000 papers, and about 95 percent of those papers are picked up.


Recent EW articles (2/26, 1/22) about plans to widen I-5  included errors.

Title 23, U.S. Code, mandates that the Federal Highway Administration has the authority to approve boondoggles such as the widened I-5 Willamette bridge, the $4.2 billion Columbia River crossing between Portland and Vancouver, Wash., and other federal aid highways — they are not local initiatives requiring City Council approval.

Lane County and the cities of Eugene and Springfield are united in supporting about a billion dollars in highway expansions in our metro area. These projects include widening Beltline ($250 million), Route 126 in Springfield ($200 million), I-5 Beltline interchange ($175 million), I-5 Willamette bridge and Franklin interchange ($200 million?) and I-5 from I-105 to Route 58 ($100 million).

Gov. Kulongoski wants $18 billion for “modernization,” more than half for Portland area highways. These projects have bipartisan support from politicians who claim concern for climate change while funding highway expansions.

Climate change is not the primary issue for the I-5 widening approvals. Federal transportation law requires that planners consider the traffic demand 20 years in the future. Since we are past peak oil, the continent-wide rush to build more bypasses, wider bridges, outer beltways and NAFTA superhighways will not be needed.

No U.S. community has cut plans for more highways because of peak oil and climate change.

Local, regional and national highway plans are detailed at and

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene


I’ve been a practicing musician in this area for a little over 10 years. I think there are a couple of things we can do to make our scene big, the biggest and most important being emphasis on songwriting and in specific, writing singles. A lot of local bands, mine included, are very self-indulgent when it comes to songwriting (although I think I’m getting better at this).

The single needs to be studied by local bands and songwriters. Singles are what drive record/CD sales. They are why people will go to see a band: to hear that “one” song. Crafting a single is incredibly hard, thus the need for study. Bono in the most recent Rolling Stone states that rock has abandoned the 45 (or the single) and that hip hop and modern R/B have taken it over.

The whole Nirvana thing was driven by one single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Pearl Jam had “Jeremy.” Why wasn’t Mudhoney huge? No singles. Both of those songs had certain elements which are essential: short, catchy choruses, variable dynamics, decent singing.

Why were the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies so huge? Timing and a first rate single “Zoot Suit Riot,” Why didn’t the Rock and Roll Soldiers make a dent? No singles.

There are a bunch of studios around here, and if they put out a single special ($50-$70) for one song, I bet you a lot of bands would jump on it. Heck, the Weekly or the Ticket (or both, gasp, in collaboration) could have a singles contest. The winners could have their single heard on KWVA, KRVM, KLCC, KDUK, KZEL.

Two disc manufacturers sell bulk CDs (100 count) for $75-$80. You record that one song and sell it for $1 apiece. You can make a small profit.

If we can steer or encourage the bands out there, and I don’t care what genre, rock, punk, metal, country, folk, to start writing singles for people to enjoy, we can make this scene huge.

Hopefully when my band puts out our new record, I’ll have some darn catchy singles.

Robert Jacobs, Eugene


In response to the letter March 12 from Jeff Harrison regarding the Btk spraying for gypsy moths: I think there is a major problem with his claims for the safety of the spray. It may be true that the chemical carrier for the bacteria is classified as organic, but that is hardly evidence of its safety. Because of trade secret exemptions permitted under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), manufacturers are permitted to withhold the composition of the “inert” ingredients.

But last year I was informed by an Oregon Tilth farm inspector that many of the “organic” biological insecticides also contain “inert” surfactants that pose a new type of health risk. Known collectively as alkylphenol polyethoxylates (APEs), these chemicals and their degradation byproducts are known endocrine disrupting chemicals, which mimic or interfere with hormonal signaling in a wide variety of organisms, including all vertebrates and some invertebrates. 

Foray 48, the proposed spray, is believed to contain Plyac, an APE. Even though these chemicals are included in the EPA’s 4B list of approved chemicals for use in organic agriculture, their presence on the list was based on science that is now known to be inadequate for examining outcomes due to endocrine disruption.

Over the last decade and a half, a great deal of scientific evidence has emerged in the environmental health literature demonstrating that APEs are powerful endocrine disrupters. Because they are also used as surfactants in detergents, they are frequently present in the effluent of wastewater treatment facilities. In England, researchers have found that these chemicals are causing widespread feminization of male fish downstream from these facilities, in some cases causing complete sex-reversal.

In 1996, in response to the book Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival, Congress mandated that the EPA was to begin a program to study these chemicals, and to report in 2000 on methods to screen the roughly 100,000 chemicals in commerce for their endocrine disrupting potential. Little progress has been made over the last 13 years. Interference from the Bush administration, industry and the inherent complexity of the problem have effectively derailed the process.

Consequently, I dispute the claim that there is adequate scientific evidence for the safety of these sprays. There is a lack of evidence in humans due to the lack of proper studies, but that is not the same thing as scientific evidence of a lack of an effect. If I were a pregnant woman in the spray zone, I would be extremely concerned about the potential risks to my child. And for seven moths?

Christine Johnson, Corvallis


I am the past director of the Northwest Cougar Action Trust. We are the group that originally started the initiative to stop the hounding of bears and cougars, like two decades ago.

I am very serious about shutting down the whole Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. They are truly the archetypal “good old boys” club — and they think they can do whatever they want. But they have blown it with hunters and non-hunters alike.

They deserve to be shut down. The fish and wildlife of this state would at least stand some chance of staying alive if ODFW stopped all hunting. Period. And the state is still killing off our salmon with their lethally documented fish hatcheries! We have had enough! This cougar killing has got to stop!

Cat Koehn, Fall Creek


I was in Eugene in September to see the UO with my daughter. I was sad to see the town of Eugene de-charmed by all one-way streets (or almost all). I looked at the town around the university — I thought this must have been charming in the ’50s and before. But practically every street had been turned into a one-way street during that time when a lot of cities seemed to go mad doing this. Was it the late ’50s or ’60s? 

Every time I see an environment like this it is frantic and a racetrack. To get to a destination, you have to circle in on it and make a lot of turns. It’s harder for pedestrians and children. I think the goal was to speed up traffic, but that’s sure a dubious goal. It goes against nature to only be able to go one way on a thoroughfare. You want to go back and forth. To and fro.

Think about it. Compare some city you’ve been in where most of the streets are two-way. Compare how you feel walking, biking or driving. Then decide if all one-way streets are a good idea, like Eugene.

Patsy Luniewski, Cupertino, Calif.


In reviewing emails, letters and letters to the editor it appears there is some confusion regarding my position on public safety and the spending of Secure Rural School funds. I want to make it clear that public safety is my number one concern! Our public safety system is failing! I want the Board of Commissioners to approve spending the federal money on opening at least 84 new jail beds and to commit to maintaining the current level of public safety service in light of potential state funding cuts. 

My position on public safety hasn’t changed and won’t. In the last four years I’ve worked on every effort in our county to improve public safety (proposed safety district, ballot measures, reauthorization of federal funding and lobbying for new safety programs). I have been successful in past efforts that added a property crimes detective and four resident deputies to help respond to calls in rural Lane County.

I will continue working to improve public safety. However, please recognize I’m one member of five and any Board action requires three positive votes to approve an action. 

Faye Stewart, East Lane County Commissioner, Cottage Grove


When the city manager defies the wishes of Eugene voters, essentially taking our money to build a new police station, it’s criminal. Jon Ruiz must honor what the majority of Eugene voters decided not once, not twice, but three times: not to build a new police station. If Jon Ruiz is not able to respect the wishes of Eugene citizens and taxpayers, then, he must resign. It’s not OK for any city official to have so much power where it’s more destructive to the community. One needs to ask themself who actually benefits from such a new structure.

Meanwhile, people are dying out in our streets and thousands of people and children are homeless in Eugene with hundred of buildings, homes and apartments remaining empty. This is a crime! The homeless need to be living in all empty buildings. 

Our millions of dollars must remain in our city’s reserves to be used for essential life and human needs such as our schools, parks, libraries and not cut salaries or hours of any city employee. 

The citizens of Eugene have spoken three times, and it’s a waste of time and energy for everyone to proceed with an initiative/recall. It’s time for the city manager, mayor and City Council to respect and abide by the wishes of its citizens. 

Planet Glassberg, Eugene


Since we are in a recession like the early 1980s when the Eugene Celebration began, why not return to the time when the Celebration was free?

Everyone in Eugene is invited, and the city picks up the tab. Maybe the Eugene police will work for free as a way of saying “thank you” for the new police building.

Chris Pender, Eugene




I am an emerging artist who just had my first gallery show and I wanted to thank the people at Fenario Gallery for making it such a wonderful experience. Working with each of you guys was a pleasure and I appreciate your knowledge, professionalism and kind attitudes. I also appreciate your sense of community and support for the arts. I had a blast at the show and experienced nothing but positive vibes all night! 

Thanks for believing in me and my art, and giving me a chance to share with others some abstract expressions of Zen bliss. Mad props to Brent, Braxton, Hank, Chloe, Lionel and Jesse — love you guys!

Mark Flores, Eugene


Every month in Lane County, approximately 50,000 hypodermic needles are distributed through the HIV Alliance’s SANA Needle Exchange program; Lane County Public Health distributes another 3,000 clean needles. This has resulted in a reduction of the spread of diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. These programs constitute a fraction of the costs that will be passed on to taxpayers for outreach programs, counseling and medical treatment if uninsured injecting drug users contract these diseases. However, the cost savings to taxpayers is only one aspect of this issue.

An argument in opposition to funding exchange programs has been that providing clean needles promotes the unhealthy practice of illegal drug use and other drug related activity. Department of Human Services statistics reveal that this is not true. Hepatitis C, which can survive inside a needle for weeks, can lead to chronic liver disease. Although advances are being made in the treatment of HIV and AIDS, this is still a devastating disease. Support of needle exchange programs demonstrates that the health and safety of the addict, and his or her children are of the utmost importance to our community.

Dave Whitaker, Eugene


In response to Michael E. Hoekstra’s letter to the editor (3/5), I am more distraught by his view of the people of Eugene than he of his apparent “Lack of Paczek.” I am truly baffled. In the failed quest to find a traditional, customary dish from a “forward thinking and open minded” bakery, he questions Eugene’s reputation of progressiveness. I admit, I have no idea what paczek is (the dish in question), but personally, but the notion of exploring a “forward thinking and open minded” bakery for a traditional treat seems illogical, especially in Eugene.

As a new member to this community, perhaps Eugene is more progressive than originally presumed, particularly if personal standards of “progressive” seem to be amiss in this culture. And while Michael is “outraged that in such a liberal minded area the traditions and customs of [his] heritage are grossly ignored and thusly underrepresented,” he is more than welcome to return from whence he came; in fact, I’ll help him pack. We already have enough “neighbors” from the state to the south importing their ideals of how things should be in Oregon, we don’t need more if it. 

Ethan McCoy, Eugene


The Oregon Toxic Alliance did a disservice to the public at their latest Town Hall Meeting about a plan to spray Bt for gypsy moths in south Eugene. Information presented was skewed supporting ideology over science.

Gypsy moths have killed tens of thousands of acres of forest on the East Coast and could pose a serious threat to us. Bt is a fungus used by many organic farmers effecting only young caterpillars and avoiding butterflies in non-caterpillar life stages, other insects and animals. It has been supported by environmentalists and the organic movement as an organic alternative to chemical pesticides.

At the meeting a statement was read from the Bt label that agricultural workers should avoid the area four hours after application; they excluded that non-agricultural applications have no wait time. Agricultural workers spending extensive time in a spray zone have special rules. 

A statement was read from botanist Ethan Perkins identifying possible negative effects of Bt on the Fenders butterfly, but left out was his conclusion to move forward with gypsy moth control measures because a moth outbreak poises a greater danger to the endangered butterfly than the Bt. A New Zealand study they repeatedly site is criticized by peer review for having major flaws. Their experts were a doctor of philosophy and a homeopathic practitioner while three medical doctors familiar with Bt were available for comment but not brought in. 

Additionally an email was sent out stating that California classifies Bt as toxic, but state officials proved otherwise and California is currently using Bt on its gypsy moth problem in Ojai.

Not presented were letters in support of the spraying by the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, and the Nature Conservancy.

The OTA has done a disservice to the organic, environmental, and non-toxic movements, and hinders everyone’s efforts to move beyond chemical pesticides and to preserve our natural environment. 

Greg Norman, Eugene


I don’t see the big deal about Madoff and his Ponzi scheme. I think a lot of people see it as the kind of thing that happens often on Wall Street, though usually in a smaller way. Madoff, like a lot of others, bet on the economy continuing to grow. His investors bet on him continuing to bring in money, and they didn’t much care how. The fact that the money wasn’t real made little difference to them, until it wasn’t there anymore. When you bet on money schemes and manipulations rather than real social contributions, “You have to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.”

And by the way, isn’t insider trading just a matter of thinking you know more about the workings of a company than other investors, which is pretty much the basis of all stock market transactions?

Dan Robinson, Eugene 


Fifty days after President Barack Obama took office, we’ve seen his administration take significant steps to pursue Arab-Israeli peace.

President Obama made good on his campaign promise to make dealing with this issue a priority, as demonstrated by the calls he made to Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert on his first full day in office. 

Obama named George Mitchell, the architect of the peace accord in Northern Ireland, to serve as his special envoy for Middle East peace.

President Obama ended the Bush administration’s stubborn refusal to engage with Syria diplomatically. Two senior Obama administration officials have just returned from a visit to Damascus.

This is a truly promising start. President Obama’s actions speak of a determination to seriously deal with the challenge of Arab-Israeli peacemaking. He deserves our support and encouragement.

Kimberly Sue Lewis, Eugene


There is much being said about bike helmets recently, and I would like to counter some misperceptions with research findings. In many cities in The Netherlands, where I am from, bike trips represent more than half of all trips made, while in bike-friendly Eugene it is only about 5 percent. With virtually nobody wearing a helmet in the Netherlands, the bike fatality rate is only one fifth of the U.S. rate. 

Some research actually indicates that cars pass closer when bikers wear a helmet, increasing the risk of getting hit by a car. Bike helmets are ineffective in preventing head injuries when cars are involved because they are too light (they are designed for other, non-car impacts).

Ironically, car drivers who get involved in non-bike related accidents have almost the same chance to get head injuries as bikers, but nobody is suggesting that car drivers should wear helmets. Australia mandated bike helmets, leading to no decrease in fatalities but an almost 50 percent decrease in ridership! International data show that the risk of fatal bike accidents per country strongly increases with the percentage of bicyclists wearing helmets. Even if this might not be a directly causal relationship, it makes clear that society’s marginalization of bicycle transportation is a main factor. 

It is very clear to me that we have to find the solution in educating the drivers and not in blaming the victims! My personal opinion is that wearing a helmet continues to marginalize bikers, and that is why I choose not to wear one.

Arjen Hoekstra, Eugene