Eugene Weekly : Letters : 4.2.09


I moved to Eugene about a year ago. I used to live in Santa Cruz, Calif., in a beautiful condo 10 minutes from the beach. Every night I would listen to the sea lions barking and give thanks for the incredibly clean ocean air. I owned my own lucrative business.  

About a year ago, the California Department of Agriculture (CDA) decided to use a pesticide called Checkmate to fumigate the entire Monterey Bay area to “eradicate” the light brown apple moth. This included the city of Santa Cruz. Six hundred people became ill; my friends had the “flu” for months; I lost the ability to walk, speak and sleep. I lost every stitch of clothing, my home and my business, as it had all been contaminated with what I was assured over and over again by the CDA was a harmless mixture of moth pheromone and other inactive ingredients. 

After an emergency move to Eugene. I thought I had made it to safety until I was informed a few weeks ago that the Oregon Department of Agriculture is planning a similar spray with Btk on April 28. I don’t have the resources to move again this time. I don’t know that my health can take another hit, as I have been slowly recovering over this past year. I don’t know that I believed the ODA representative Barry Bai when he assured me over and over how safe Btk was when I spoke to him over the phone. I don’t want to continue being a lab rat for the ODA.

If anyone out there feels the same, please contact the ODA and ask them to wait on the plan to spray until we can be positive of our safety or there is a safety net in place in case we become ill after the spray, i.e. medical care, chemical clean-up, lost wages compensation, etc. Also contact or to see how we can come together to take care of the situation to the benefit of everyone.

Anne Forster, Eugene



While reading Patty Luniewski’s letter deploring Eugene’s one-way streets as archaic, I was struck by two things. First, she mentions that such a system makes it “harder for pedestrians and children.” Harder to do what? Last time I checked, the sidewalks of Eugene aren’t one-way, and it’s much easier to come to a crosswalk and only have to worry about cars approaching from one direction. 

Second, the idea that having a downtown area dominated by one-way streets is somehow de-charming, well that’s just plain silly. I grew up in Philadelphia, right downtown, and most of our streets were (and still are) one-way. Whenever I would take the train up to New York and visit Manhattan I was again surrounded by one-way streets. Perhaps if I had driven the 90 miles to New York City and been stuck in a car all day, I would’ve been a little put off by all those one-way streets, but I believe Luniewski has missed the main point: The best way to get around in a city is to walk. 

The idea that all these one-way streets are frustrating is only evident if you’re in a vehicle. Is it really charming to be able to race around a city in your car, looking for parking spots? No. My family didn’t have a car the entire time I lived in Philadelphia. Why not? Because a city is meant to be walked, not driven. The charm of a city comes from its people, its architecture and its restaurants. The best way to appreciate all of these facets is to take them in slowly, charmingly, strolling through neighborhoods.

Matt Emrich, Cottage Grove



Thanks for the cover story in EW (3/12) about the local music scene. It was inspirational. I agree, we need to stick together as a scene and help each other out. I think every band in this town needs to band together and help each other out instead of being so competitive. After all, we aren’t LA. That’s why I moved here from SoCal. There is just something in the air. Thank you for inspiring us!

Sonny McNeillie, Sonny and the Moonlighters



Reading Camilla Mortensen’s Feb. 5 cover story “Hog Wild,” one might get an impression that neither logging equipment nor the impact of millions of humans is the biggest threat to rural Oregon and the rest of the country. No, it’s the wild pig. Looks like they might soon make the National Security list and we will have to call another war on those new terrorists, just like the ones that we have on drugs and al-Qaida. Would never call it on parasitic bankers on Wall Street although they and not bin Laden have brought this country to its knees.

Here in North America, we are way beyond the native species paradigm and the feral pigs are by no means an exception. 

Wild pigs have roamed Europe’s forests and fields for thousands of years and somehow they have not managed to wallow and snorkle the continent into oblivion. To the contrary, in many instances they are strictly protected. Wild boar meat is a very sought after, tasty and healthy food alternative to factory farms. But obviously that would be heresy for lobbyists of the meat industry. They are always appropriate-to-the-situation scientific experts of any field and, with the help of articles like “Hog Wild,” they’re turning people’s brains into water.

Adam Uminski, Noti



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, Cascadia’s Ecosystem Advocates, Eugene



Don Giovanni? Frankenstein. I re-member my first experience of this opera. It was magical to say the least. So it’s very sad to see what stage director Fabrizio Melano has done with this masterpiece.

Eugene Opera’s tight budget, along with Melano’s “interesting idea,” has created an abomination. Woman-beating, pistol-waving violence, splashed with pathetic swing-dance comic relief, is tastelessly grafted into Mozart’s classic.

A tip of the hat to the talented voices, and a strong wag of the finger to the ones responsible for their misuse. And for any who disagree, beware of the emperor’s new clothes.

Ken Wages, Eugene



There’s no economic crisis?  I’m gonna guess that Chris Penders’ idea (letters, 3/19) of economic crisis is not having enough money to score an eighth. He must figure there is no crisis because he has obviously been smoking something. Most people realize that when retirees are seeing their nest eggs wiped out and millions are losing their jobs and/or homes, there is a crisis. 

He’s either a stoned slacker with nothing to lose or a dopey student who doesn’t have a clue how all of this is going to affect him. He needs to go back to his bong and chill while the grownups try to deal with the mess the last generation of slackers left him.

Rick Staggenborg, Coos Bay



Almost 10 months ago, I was in a fatal car vs. bicycle crash in downtown Eugene. The bicyclist, David Minor, did not survive. I have been dealing with this tragedy every day since. I even tried to get a new law passed: mandatory helmets for all ages. The state chickened out because of the negative attention that it was getting. 

Now the state of Oregon is thinking of allowing a new law to come into effect stating that bicyclist do not have to stop at stop signs and flashing yellow lights. Are the politicians in Oregon stupid or what? Do they want more people to go through what David’s family and I have had to go through in the last 10 months? More people will end up injured or dead if this law passes. And I would not wish what I’ve had to go through on my worst enemy. I thought that our politicians wanted to save lives, not end them. 

I think the rules need to actually be enforced, all streets should have at least one bike lane and we need to make our streets safe for everyone in the community. 

I believe that this (proposed) law needs to be abolished. Our politicians need to do whatever is possible to save people. The consequences after an accident like the one I had will live with all parties involved for the rest of their lives. And their lives, like mine and those of the Minor family, will forever be changed.  

Latasha Williams, Eugene




Efforts to “jump start” the economy assume it’s like a car with a low battery. But our old clunker economy has more fundamental problems. We need different means of transportation, and workers whose labor “fuels” it need debt relief and more jobs at higher wages in order to spend. An economy running on ever-increasing credit is one huge Ponzi scheme, and that’s what Treasury and the Fed are trying to revive.

When we recovered from past recessions, we also had abundant natural resources. With cheap oil now substantially gone and the Old Economy threatening the biosphere itself (breathable air, drinkable water, arable land), it’s both futile and unwise to attempt a “jump start.” We need an economy restructured as if people and the Earth matter, not billions to rebuild highways and tax breaks to buy cars and trucks nobody wants anymore. 

The bulk of the government’s effort ignores these problems. Instead, the Treasury gave AIG $183 billion to pay off financial speculators on the winning side of financial gambles. The flap about bonuses is a red herring to distract attention from the real scams.

Obama’s proposed budget is progressive; the “bailouts” are not. We should stop throwing trillions we don’t have, but will borrow if we can, at Wall Street. The big banks should be examined by the FDIC and as appropriate, not subsidized but nationalized, at least temporarily. And we both should and must abandon our imperialist wars. We just can’t afford them anymore. 

Robert Roth, Eugene



I agree with the administration that law enforcement needs additional resources to help fight gun violence in Mexico and here at home, but this problem can not be solved just by spending more money. We need to address the fact that weak, nearly nonexistent, American gun laws make it too easy for Mexican gun traffickers and other dangerous people to get American guns. 

It makes little sense to spend millions to try to intercept cars with their trunks loaded with guns before they get to Mexico, while doing nothing to prevent the guns from being loaded into those cars and trunks in the first place. It makes little sense to allow traffickers to buy truckloads of assault weapons in Texas and Arizona, and then spend hundreds of millions of dollars to try to find these guns before they cross the border.

We should enact stronger laws like extending Brady background checks to all sales at gun shows, limiting large volume sales of guns that fuel trafficking, giving federal law enforcement greater legal authority to crack down on corrupt gun dealers, banning military-style weapons that have become the tools of the trade for the drug cartels, and repealing the Tiahrt Amendments that make enforcement of current gun laws more difficult.

It is good to credit the courage of the Mexican government for taking on the drug gangs. Now we need our elected officials to show some courage themselves by standing up to the gun lobby and passing the gun laws the American people and our friends to the South so desperately need.

Curtis Taylor, Eugene



I am heartened by the passion and anger the public is showing regarding the million dollar bonuses for current and former employees of AIG. Whenever the mainstream pundits exclaim “get over it,” bells start ringing in my head. The best message President Obama gave in his inaugural address was the need for citizens to serve and sacrifice. In order to get ourselves out of the economic and environmental crisis we are embroiled in, we all need to give up the extras in our lives, create an economy that doesn’t rape the earth and its inhabitants, and give to those who are less fortunate. 

When the AIG bonuses were offered, every single recipient should have refused to take them. The fact that they took the money shows their arrogance. It seems they believe “only the little people” should make sacrifices. These people are the epitome of selfish and we should be outraged. CEOs have been making up to 400 times the average worker, up from 40 times. It’s about time we all stand up in protest! 

A good way to empower our communities is to do banking with local credit unions that only make regional and truly sustainable, earth-friendly investments. Also, buy as local as possible. Together we can get through these challenging times.

Pam Driscoll, Dexter



A massive National Cancer Institute study in a recent Archives of Internal Medicine corroborates dozens of earlier findings linking meat consumption with premature deaths and reaffirms the role of lifestyle in determining our life expectancy.

The 10-year study of 545,653 Americans found that those consuming the equivalent of a small hamburger were 33 percent more likely to die, mostly from heart disease and cancer, than those who ate the least meat.

Last October, a study of 16,000 people in 52 countries, published by the American Heart Association, found that a “western” diet of meat, fried foods, and salty snacks raised the risk of heart attacks by 35 percent. Conversely, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduced heart attack risk by 30 percent. A 24-year study of 88,517 female nurses, published in last April’s Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who ate lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, reduced their risk of heart attack and stroke by 24 and 18 percent, respectively. 

A landmark review of 7,000 diet and health reports, released in the fall of 2007 by the World Cancer Research Fund, found a “convincing” link between consumption of meat and an elevated risk of colon cancer, as well as a “likely” link with cancers of the lung, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, prostate, and uterus. 

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly we condemn regulatory authorities for traces of toxins in our food or water, while ignoring the much larger dietary health threat of animal products.

Edward Newland, Eugene



Every night when I lie down I see the most fantastic pictures that I want to paint, sometimes colors sometimes muted shades, sometimes just shapes, sometimes whole scenes and concepts.

When I sleep I have such intricate dreams and I wish I could create something tangible out of them. I wish I could sculpt or collage or assemble trash into delicate beauty.

Then I wake up and have to go to school or work or to pay bills or to gather change to try to feed myself or find a way to just make it by.

Then throughout the day I hear world news, I see horrifying images of death and torture, and hear sad stories about governments failing citizens because of bureaucracy, and about people failing people because of false gods, and about sad, war-torn countries and horrible capitalist schemes.

And then I think that we could be so beautiful, we could be so creative — well, I mean to say we are those things — god, we are such strange creatures, we have ingenuity and passion, but it’s stifled when we work 40-plus hours a week, when we go to church and hear about “bad” ideas and how we are “bad” people for thinking certain things, when we have to scrape by our teeth to pay credit card companies. And we don’t even have health care.

So I observe what we do here and what is it? We just sit and drink ourselves fucking blind like ignorant fucking asses rather than examine our minds and our environments. We sit and watch TV rather than writing a book, and we drink alcohol every night rather than nourishing our bodies.

Then I get so … just fed up, ya know? Because it’s so hard to be positive. I feel immeasurable creativity inside of me, and it’s so typical to say, but you know … I’m so down.

Athena Wisotsky, Eugene and around