Eugene Weekly : Letters : 5.22.08


The problem of power is how … to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public. — Robert F. Kennedy

Lane County commissioners receive a salary of $72,000 per year, and with staff and benefits their cost is probably well over $100,000 per year. This is costing us, the taxpayers, more than half a million dollars per year for this commission. After years they still seem to have only two solutions for the county’s financial problem: Cut services or impose additional taxes on the lower and middle income taxpayers.

In the 1973-75 budget cycle, corporations paid 18.5 percent of all income taxes. In the 2005-07 budget cycle, corporations are expected to pay just 4.6 percent of Oregon’s income taxes. It is projected by 2009-11, corporations are expected to pay 4.4 percent of Oregon income taxes.

In 1999 House Bill 3575 was stealthily passed, granting forest owners of more than 5,000 acres another unearned scoop of tax relief by gradually abolishing their timber harvest taxes. The affect, reported in The Oregonian, costs the state education fund $58 million. Last year, it is estimated that we lost a total of somewhere between $100,000 to $200,000. And then there is the special property tax relief estimated to amount in the billions!

With the above thoughts in mind, the commissioners need to represent the “people” and urge our state and federal representatives to right this wrong. Urge them to return to “fair” taxation! And if they cannot become creative for the half a million dollars that we pay them each year, then they should also cut the board of commission from five to three. Let’s be fair!

Ron Davis, Cottage Grove



I just had some woman who identified herself as a volunteer and a “classroom teacher” phone on behalf of Sen. Clinton to pitch for my support. When I said that I wasn’t sure yet that and that I truly hadn’t decided, she proceed to piss all over Obama to make me see how Clinton would be the better choice. When I told her that this behavior of hers was not helping her cause, she tried pissing on Obama a little more.

I told her that I had the ballot on my desk and that she’d decided this for me; I was voting for Obama. She proceeded to try to lay guilt trips on me about how it was all my decision and “Well, I hope you can live with your decision!” shortly before she hung up on me.

Jeezus, you’d think they’d train people that are volunteering NOT to be obnoxious twits (or maybe some other vowel). Without her help, I would’ve probably gone with Clinton, but not after this. I really did just complete my ballot for Obama simply because the volunteer was so distasteful.

John Hedtke, Eugene



I wasn’t aware there was a “tornado in a Mason jar” controversy about the American Apparel ads in your paper until I read the letter to the editor in your May 8 edition. I don’t know if this latest ad is the same as an earlier one, but it is hilariously funny for someone who recently moved here from the High Plains.

The poor model’s pose is classic Nebraska skunk! A recommended position when one is suffering from severe abdominal cramps due to an oversupply of intestinal gas.

The image brings to mind one of my grandmother’s old sayings: “Fools’ names and fools’ faces, often seen in public places.”

I hope the poor girl is feeling better

Morgan Songi, Eugene



Michael Crane’s “Awful Writing” letter (5/8) criticizing Sally Sheklow was itself awfully low, for he must have flunked Writing 101. Sheklow is great at catching and holding readers’ attention through her catchy unorthodox writing style. Sheklow is no Maureen Dowd, but she knows how to get and hold the attention of readers and make them glad or mad depending on their beliefs and lifestyles. It wasn’t her best piece, but one cannot write a best piece every time. Give her some slack, and she will snap right back; just don’t put your hand anywhere near her mouth!

Bob Saxton, Eugene



I sometimes wonder how Eugene Weekly would smear candidates or professionals in the business and development fields if the word “sprawl” was removed from the English language. However, I needn’t worry. Knowing the Weekly, it would surely find a way.

Roxie Cuellar, Yachats



When I was an adolescent growing up in that nearly nostalgic bygone era of the 1990s, I lived with my mother in Albany, and her only stable source of income was the child support money my father sent her every month. A good deal of that money usually ended up at the Mountain of Foolish Spirits (other wise known as Spirit Mountain Casino). Every month she would spend whatever amount she could get away with spending at the wretched place. Usually it was after she’d been badgered into paying the monthly bills, but one night in 1997 I came home to the motel we lived at (our third motel since getting kicked out of our third apartment complex) to find the office light on the phone blinking. Turns out that the management wanted to know where the hell was last week’s rent. I told them that mom had shown up at school telling me she’d paid some bills and was off to Salem to “study for her food handlers card.”

The food handlers card bit was a lie I’d heard often enough before to know what was really up. She’d made another journey to the Mountain of Foolish Spirits and left me to the wolves. I spent that evening on the street until almost midnight when a friend’s parents talked me into reporting myself abandoned.

I can’t imagine for a single instant that I am the only kid that had such hardships befall them because of gambloholic parents and the institutions that help relieve them of currency better spent on bills and food.

Since moving back to Eugene last year, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing buses with bold, garish ads emblazoned on the sides. In just this past month however, a sickening sight has started to become all too common, LTD completely covered with advertisements for the Mountain of Foolish Spirits. I find this to be fucking revolting! I don’t even want to hear the B.S. of people who’d say “Oh, that kind of advertisement doesn’t really work.” Of course it does. Why the hell do you think companies keep doing it? Even one mother or father seeing one of those painted jezebel buses and getting the itch to go blow some money on the false hopes of striking it rich is too much.

I have some questions for the LTD administrators: How much money are you getting paid to whore out your buses? Is it enough to help you sleep at night? More importantly, how much money do you think you’re inspiring parents to spend there instead of on their children?

Greg Basore, Eugene



Deb Huntley (“Eugene Not Exempt,” 5/15), you must be off your rocker. Maya Angelou and John Grisham are “very wise writers”?, the DNC and Obama have “tried everything short of hog-tying” the presumptive losing Democratic candidate? Wesley Clark is considered a feather in Hillary Clinton’s cap? Oh, goodness. Worst of all, you chalk up your candidate’s lack of support by young, intelligent people — a dead giveaway in itself — to some massive corporate conspiracy. I’m sorry; that’s just plain ridiculous.

First of all, John Grisham is a lawyer-cum-hack and artistic shill who cranks out ready-made screenplays that truck in obviousness and easy morality. Maya Angelou is a second-rate poet of spiritual platitudes who has an incredible knack, as The Nation‘s Alexander Cockburn pointed out, for always being in the wrong place at the right time — for instance, showing up regularly in the corrupt, Clinton-run White House of the ’90s. And Wesley Clark is just a gibbering moron. I’d rather be endorsed by a circus clown than this trio of Tweedle-Dee, Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle-Dumber.

I suspect that Clinton’s relative lack of support among young, educated people has more to do with the hangover cynicism generated by a Bill Clinton presidency that came out of the gates reneging on campaign promises and then proceeded to sell out every liberal idea it professed in order to get elected.

Young, intelligent people likely see that Hillary, similar to her husband, is possessed by the same indiscriminating ambition that allows her to sew fear (remember that LBJ-like “3 am telephone call” threat), barely disguised racist assertions and then, finally, faux-fellow-feeling in order to one-up Obama, who for his part has tried to rise above the obscene crap of the American electoral process.

Please, Ms. Huntley, go back to your Rainmakers and Caged Birds, and leave the political analysis to people who aren’t duped by the rote truisms and paranoid delusions of your brand of liberalism. Let them hogtie the pig.

Rick Levin, Eugene



In response to Jared McKinney’s letter (5/1): There are plenty of other reasons to boycott Olympics and not buy “made in China”.

China support the most despotic dictatorship in the world — North Korea. China provides weapons of death and destruction all over the world. China is doing everything it can to destroy Israel, and supports dictators all over the world.

China has started an arms race in the Far East, which Russia has already joined. China’s record on ALL human rights. China’s illegal activities in Africa and the Western Hemisphere: spying, bribing, etc.

And the list goes on and on.

And China is able to finance all of the above with our money!

Even though it won’t make any difference to the success or failure of China’s Olympics. The vast majority of those attending the Olympics will be Asian.

Frank Skipton, Springfield



Cutesy-poo Eric Miller (“RIP, Moses,” EW Letters 5/8/08) enjoyed writing “Will someone please go get the gun out of Charlton Heston’s hands now?” reminding me that the widow Heston is still mourning for those used-to-be warm hands attached to a man who left a legacy of achievements as a decorated war veteran (WWII, B-12 pilot) and was also the receiver of both national and international awards.

I am left to wonder at the life of the crass Miller and what it is that he has achieved even in a parallel age-related comparison.

Perhaps he is part of the local “Million Moms March” (they are not, and have never been a million moms) gun Nazi anti-rights bunch — that would explain the thoughtless hate that made it into print.

Dan Moore, Springfield



Having been a SMART volunteer for many years, I know how vital the school coordinators are to the success of the program. They work doggedly for little more than minimum wage because they know how important it is for children to become proficient in reading. The recent decision by SMART to transition the coordinators’ positions from paid to volunteer is a slap in the face to those individuals, and will leave them with little choice but to seek employment elsewhere.

The decision would at least be understandable if SMART were severely strapped for funds, but that is not the case. As of June 30, 2007, SMART has net assets of $4 million and spent more than $750,000 on fundraising in one year alone. Although SMART’s chief financial officer would not disclose the salary and benefits of the newly hired executive director, the latest figures available to the public seem to indicate that SMART’s top four positions average over $70,000 in salary and benefits, whereas the average school coordinator makes less than $4,000 and receives no benefits.

According to the SMART newsletter, it takes $300 to fund one child. With coordinator receiving a fraction of the, book costs being one-tenth of it, and readers being volunteers, just how is the bulk of that $300 being spent?

The policy makers of SMART are kidding themselves if they think their program will not be dramatically affected when experienced coordinators are replaced by novice volunteers.

They would be wise to reverse their decision.

Ken Raymen, Springfield



To the Shedd Institute’s instructors, staff and students: We always knew this day would come. I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent with you the last two years. Thank you to the students and their families for letting me share in your musical successes and future plans; you were by far the most rewarding part of the job. Believe it or not, I will miss spending evenings with all of you. Good luck in your future musical endeavors and life learning. I hope to see you in other settings around Eugene in the coming months.

Rachel Phariss, Eugene



In his letter (5/8) describing the ways that Paradise City Café is a green business, Norman Lent says, “My greatest green commitment is in reducing soy as much as possible.” Lent then explains that planting of soy causes deforestation. This argument contains a serious error. It is important to realize that all this soy being grown is to feed livestock, not people. When plants are fed to animals whose flesh, milk or eggs will be eaten, the amount of animal food produced is far less than the amount of plant food fed to the animals. The feed-to-meat ratio varies depending on species and location, but on average it is 4:1. About 80 percent of the crops grown in the U.S. are grown as livestock feed.

Therefore, the way to protect the rainforest is not to avoid soy, but to avoid animal foods. More than 90 percent of all Amazon rainforest land cleared has been cleared for meat production.

Animal agriculture is the world’s largest source of water pollution, emits two-thirds of the world’s acid rain causing ammonia, contributes more to global warming than anything else and uses huge amounts of water and energy (half the water and one third the petroleum in the U.S.). The negative impact of animal agriculture on the environment cannot be overstated.

Mr. Lent could best demonstrate his commitment to the environment by serving up only plant-based foods. Now that would truly be green.

Nettie Schwager, Corvallis



The Bush administration has not yet managed to provoke war with Iran, but its attempts may be escalating. Andrew Cockburn reports that Bush has signed a secret “finding” authorizing a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that may include assassinating targeted officials, aiding militant groups hostile to Iran, and destabilizing Syria. Members of the congressional intelligence committees reportedly approved $300 million to fund such actions ( 5/2).

If true, this report is deeply disturbing. There is no plausible justification for attacking Iran. The Bush administration continues to ignore the maxim that “when you’re in a deep hole, you should stop digging.” Instead, it has insisted on humiliating preconditions for negotiations. It has refused to approach Iran with respect, to offer security guarantees, or to take regime change off the table. Now it has reportedly authorized a broad range of dangerously provocative and morally indefensible actions.

Iran’s inflammatory rhetoric certainly does not help. But threatening military action strengthens the hand of hard-liners and makes life more difficult for Iranian democrats and reformers, who have pleaded in vain for an end to U.S. provocations. Iran does not have nuclear weapons and has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which permits plutonium enrichment. It would be inexcusable to provoke anotherwar, one likely to produce regional conflagration and humanitarian disaster — and especially without even attempting sustained, direct negotiations without preconditions.

For more information, see and Targeting Iran, David Barsamian’s book with Noam Chomsky, Ervand Abrahamian and Nahid Mozaffari.

Robert Roth, Eugene



Anyone who has ever had their wallet stolen or absentmindedly misplaced knows the great vulnerability and stomach-sinking anxiety of it all. Not only is personal information at risk with the threat of identity theft, but entire accounts can be cleaned out in less than an hour.

Perhaps the real damage comes when one realizes the headache and financial hit of replacing state-issued IDs, passports, and bus passes. It is no small endeavor to send away for birth certificates to prove citizenship and then to stand in line for hours at governmental agencies, waiting a turn to explain the situation. To add insult to injury, the victim must then pay for all replacements and pray that they don’t get pulled over in the meantime.

When I discovered that my wallet had mysteriously disappeared this morning, the unnerved panic set in. I canceled bank cards, filed police reports and closed accounts. The real surprise came when my phone rang. A woman had found my wallet in a parking lot and wanted to return it. My belief in humanity’s honesty and kindness has been reaffirmed. My warmest thanks goes out to Nina Sanchez.

I am delighted to know that some of you are left.

T.D. Turner, Eugene