Eugene Weekly : Letters : 6.11.09


Alan Pittman’s well researched and written cover story (5/28) on funding jails rather than schools is indicative of how our state hasn’t a clue about how to spend our tax dollars.

If, as the Department of Corrections says, 44 percent of prison inmates suffer from a mental illness, why not spend fewer and more beneficial dollars to get these inmates into recovery prior to committing a crime, being arrested and sent to prison? This way costs less and leaves more funds for our children’s education.

Prison operations cost more than pre-prison mental health services. Boosting funds for mental illness services and reducing prison funding makes it possible to reduce crime rates and the need to warehouse mentally ill criminals. If you factor in that most convicts released from prison have no after support services for their mental illness, it only means that they are destined to repeat their criminal experience and cost the state more dollars that can’t be used for education.

Funding mental health gives back far more than it costs.

Terry Arnold, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Eugene


How can County Commissioners Stewart and Dwyer vote for jail beds and their cost of $3,237,695 when we won’t know until July what the state budget will provide? It is irresponsible! Let’s all take a deep breath, be patient and make these important decisions when we have the money in the County treasury.

Cuts in human services and education are already cheating our kids and our elderly, so let’s not risk their small county funding with risky choices now.

I want to thank Commissioners Sorenson, Handy and Fleenor along with the Budget Committee for their careful deliberation of our budget and their wise but long and difficult decision-making process.

Ruth Duemler, Eugene


The Eugene police recently released a report on their use of Tasers, which has some surprises I’d like to share:

First, the police conclude that the primary value of a Taser is not its ability to subdue an aggressive subject but rather that people are terrified of them and upon the threat of being Tased, the vast majority of subjects become highly compliant. Unfortunately, this effect is dependent upon a policy that gives officers broad discretion in the use of Tasers.

Second, based on the data provided, it’s apparent that the Taser will fail more often than not to subdue a subject on the first shot. Therefore, the Taser is only reliably effective when the officer has the luxury of time to shoot a second, third or even a fourth time, something unlikely to exist when faced with an actually aggressive subject.

Third, the data indicates that the use of nonlethal force by the Eugene police has increased 450 percent since Tasers were introduced and predicts that once every officer has a Taser, Tasers will be used on average of once every two days, the vast majority not being lethal force situations.

If the Eugene police only wanted to use Tasers where lethal force would be justified, none could justifiably oppose them. As the recent death by Taser in Salem shows, however, Tasers are lethal. Tasers need to be legally defined as lethal weapons. Until that happens the number of “mysterious” deaths will only continue to rise.

Jeff Gent, Eugene


I have become troubled by an apparent absence of attention paid to personal safety within much of Eugene’s social activist community while protesting.

I see a lot of finger pointing at the EPD for “excessive use of force” on protesters when many, if not all, the incidents could have been avoided by the protesters themselves.

Just as you can’t trust your judgment under the influence of alcohol, you often can’t trust your judgment under the influence of adrenaline.

Ultimately, we are each responsible for our own safety in this life. This doesn’t change when attending a protest. A lot of trouble can be avoided with a little pre-planning and forethought.

If you fear being unjustly arrested or if you fear becoming a victim of police harassment or excessive use of force, think about what you can do, regardless of a police presence, to avoid interacting with the police entirely. 

If my observations are accurate, the police do not respond to people protesting but rather to people who are breaking state and/or city ordinances while protesting. 

The trick is to decide beforehand what your cause is, stick to it and not confuse the issues. The last time I checked, pesticide use has nothing to do with the use of excessive force by police. Choose your protesting methodologies carefully and avoid “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

Remember the immortal words of Pogo, “We have met the enemy and they are us.”

David Pirie, Eugene


We are writing in response to the disappointing news of PeaceHealth’s decision to temporarily close their independent out-of-hospital birthing center run by certified nurse midwives (News Briefs, 5/28). We are in full support of these midwives and the community of women and families they serve. We hope the transition to their new birth center is quick and smooth.

While it may seem that out-of-hospital birth options will no longer be available, we would like to let our community know that there are safe and legal alternative maternity options in Lane County.

There are many homebirth midwives who currently practice in out-of-hospital settings and are trained in normal, healthy pregnancy, birth, postpartum and newborn care. As homebirth midwives we offer regular prenatal visits, continuity of care, childbirth education, complete labor and birth services. We have lab privileges and can order ultrasounds. Our specialties include individualized care, VBAC and waterbirth.

If you would like to learn more about homebirth midwifery and our statewide organization or to contact a local homebirth midwife, please visit

Amanda Moore, midwife, Eugene Area Region of OMC Midwives



Peter DeFazio thinks the county commissioners should spend our Secure Rural Schools money. DeFazio wants to be able to tell his fellow Congressmen that we’re broke and need more money a few years down the line. Apparently, Lane County needs to look as destitute and helpless as possible so we’re more likely to get another handout — kind of like the homeless guy who rips up his only shirt to look more pathetic.

One of the commissioners asked DeFazio how likely it is that those payments will be renewed. DeFazio hemmed and hawed and said he didn’t know because “the crystal ball is hazy.” Maybe DeFazio should look a little closer. Congress has been busy bankrupting this nation with deficit spending, our economy is in a shambles and Moody’s is close to downgrading our debt rating. To rely on the fiscally reckless feds to bail us out is the height of naïveté.

DeFazio also said that any renewal would likely be a fraction of what we’re getting now: from $43 million a year to only $14 million. Wow, that’s really reassuring. Guess we better hurry up and spend it all right now.

DeFazio’s advice is akin to trying to convince somebody in a life raft to jump out and start flailing to better attract attention. But of course there’ll be no guarantees that the rescuers will ever come. Our county commissioners deserve our thanks for realizing that we’re probably on our own and need to keep the life raft inflated.

Mia Nelson, Eugene


The Btk spraying in the Dillard road area likely killed off most if not all butterfly and moth species within the spray area. It will likely take years for these species to recover. Birds and other wildlife that depended on these moths and butterflies for food will struggle to feed new chicks as well as to find for food their own survival.

Now, the best things people and the city could do help these affected wildlife is to plant and protect native host plant species for the butterflies and moths and native fruit producing shrubs for birds. The host plants for butterflies are the specific plant species that the caterpillar or larval stage has evolved to accept as food. This plant could be one specific species and no other. “A Guide to Butterflies of Oregon and Washington” by William Neill describes in detail the host plant species for each butterfly species. For feathered wildlife people can plant and protect native fruit producing shrubs (currants, huckleberry, elderberry, blackcap, salmonberry, etc.) that birds of all sizes can forage upon.

Shannon Wilson, Co-director Ecosystem Advocates, Eugene


In response to Mary Mainenti’s letter “Hard to be a Cop” (5/28), I would only offer a couple of comments and a question. When comparing grocery store clerks to cops, be sure to remember that cops have the legal power for making life and death decisions; clerks do not. Shouldn’t they be held to a higher standard than clerks, or for that matter “hippies and activists”? And the last time I checked, becoming a Eugene police officer was a voluntary act; if the beat is too hard, there are lots of gigs to be had elsewhere.

Jeff Innis, Eugene


I find it hard to excuse the complete ignorance, shoddy journalism and sycophantic pro-police state ramblings of Mary Mainenti (letters, 5/28) espousing how dangerous it is to be a cop in Eugene with terrorists running around the likes of Daniel McGowan. Apart from the overlooked fact that crime has been going down in Eugene for years inversely proportional to funds demanded by police, jails and prison guards, Mainenti did not even bother to read the next sentence in the article she quoted from (June 11, 2007). In the interview with social and environmental activist Daniel McGowan, she would have discovered (to paraphrase Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center) that this was the “first time in U.S. history terrorism enhancement was sought for U.S. citizens charged with property crimes who caused no harm to human life.” The National Lawyers Guild called the terrorism enhancement “an unnecessary and excessive government tactic to discourage free speech.”

The dragnet that was Operation Backfire and the resulting “Green Scare” sent a chill trickling down the spine of the entire environmental movement. More draconian powers were soon added to allow the government to spy on all Americans. Attorney General Gonzalez went on TV using the word “ecoterrorists” to describe the arrestees who were, heretofore, innocent until proven guilty.

Reading further in the same article, Mainenti could have caught a glimpse of the remarkable character evidenced in McGowan, who took full responsibility for his actions as a lookout during the fires but would not point a finger at anyone except himself. No one was hurt in any of the actions, and McGowan said, “We took extreme precautions in these actions so we wouldn’t harm anyone.” At the time of his arrest on December 7, 2005, McGowan was earning a master’s in acupuncture and working at ­ a nonprofit that helps abused women navigate the legal system. McGowan has also worked on counter military recruitment efforts, supporting political prisoners, community organizing coast to coast and facilitating the free markets in his New York neighborhood. His absence has created a hole in the many communities he touched that will never be filled by one person.

A.F. Nash, Eugene


I don’t even know where to begin. There are so many directions to take on the topic of Civic Stadium. I guess a good place to begin is with the past, the present and the future.

Not necessarily the stadium’s past, but mine. I have been going to baseball games with my family at Civic as long as I can remember, as a child and now as a parent. Now that I have children of my own, I look so forward to June, when we can go make new memories and learn more about America’s favorite pastime. The future is part of the past, and the past is part of the future.

If Civic Stadium with its old wood benches and its steep wooden stairs isn’t here for my family, I will feel like a part of America has been taken away.

Please, don’t update the stadium and make it “new” or “improved.” Don’t “update” anything. In fact, the worn-out benches, railings, steps and toilets are what keep the stadium perfect. They also keep the pride of knowing it is an old stadium and not a new one.

Civic Stadium is a great place to take a date, great place to forget the worries of the world and a safe and fun place to take the family — no matter if it’s a mom and dad taking their small children or a son taking his cane-using dad.

It is a wonderful, absolutely not upscale, evening of memories.

Brenda Royce, Springfield


Every day, my commute takes me by the UO basketball stadium under construction. Recently, I have been met by a Delta Sand and Gravel dump truck that is bellowing out thick black smoke causing me to roll up my car windows and shut down my car’s ventilation from taking in outside air. Every gear that these dump trucks change results in a fresh batch of thick black smoke floating east to west down Franklin Boulevard.

Dump trucks would not normally bother me; however, Delta’s trucks appear to be older dump trucks that are probably not well maintained. This would undoubtedly lead to dump trucks appearing more like smoke stacks than utility vehicles.

It was my understanding that the basketball arena was to have minimal environmental impact on the surrounding areas. I don’t think a dump truck that is spewing an unusual amount of black smoke, while not covering their dirt payloads, constitutes minimal environmental impact.

I called Delta on June 2 to express my concerns. Their response was one of absolute silence. I thought my cell phone had disconnected. When I inquired about whether or not someone was on the line, the gentleman stated he would register the complaint. I’m not sure what this means.

Anyway, as a taxpayer, I would hope the city of Eugene is maintaining proper oversight regarding its obligation to ensure this construction has minimal environmental impact. Thank you.

Sam Parker, Eugene


The Lane County charter requires the county to provide a comprehensive level and variety of services for its residents. The County Budget Committee has responsibility for attempting to fund these programs in a prudent and responsible way, given the dirth of revenue currently available. I believe they acted in the best long-range interests of the county by not funding jail beds at the expense of other programs. Commissioners Handy and Sorensen went to the City of Eugene asking for help with funding of Human Services and jail beds and are negotiating with the City to seek a compromise that will allow partial restoration of these services.

The Register-Guard has been remiss in not reporting all of the factual information the Budget Committee used in reaching their decision. The paper and letters to the editor are harshly critical of the commissioners and committee members who voted no. At the same time, their editorial (Saturday, May 23) supports delay of Measure 57. Apparently the Guard wants it both ways. Virulent letters to the editor only invite divisiveness. Let’s work together for solutions that benefit all Lane County citizens.

Pat Reilly, Eugene





Is Don Kahle (6/5 column in R-G) serious about posting the number of people released each day from the county jail on a billboard downtown? 

I checked the website Kahle cited, and saw a couple dozen people had been released in the past 24 hours. Kahle thinks we should broadcast this number and make sure everybody gets good and scared at the idea of dozens of violent criminals being set loose to terrorize the county.

But wait, look at the charges:  DUII, open container and drugs, violation of park and downtown area rules, trespass, failure to appear, burglary, menacing and criminal mischief, contempt of court, theft and shoplifting, public indecency, forgery and identity theft, reckless driving and disorderly conduct. Not a single violent crime in the bunch.   

If this represents a typical day at the Lane County jail, then why did they release that guy who’s accused of rape only three hours into his one-year sentence for assault?  

I can’t agree with the way Kahle and others play to people’s worst fears while pretending that all that matters is the number of jail beds we have or the number of people who are released. 

I’d like more information from the media about which kinds of offenders and released and the reasoning behind these important decisions.  

I don’t understand why a non-violent protester spends 12 days in jail (5/29 R-G) while a violent offender is set free after just three hours.

 Ari Linkton, Springfield


To read some of these letters, one would think that the Lane County Budget Committee doesn’t care about locking up criminals. But I watched the last Budget Committee meeting and heard them say that they do want more jail beds. In fact, I think almost anybody would want more. It’s just a question of what else needs to be cut in order to get them.

The big problem the Budget Committee had was the uncertainty around future funding. They were already into the budget process when they learned the state was considering cuts that would decimate our mental health system, wipe out all services to those with developmental disabilities, and ruin the treatment services for those with drug and alcohol addictions.

So the committee members said, over and over, that although they were comfortable with some new expenses, such as five more deputies, they couldn’t make such a huge addition like the 84 jail beds without information about the state budget. They deserve our praise for wanting to be careful. We have time. There’s no harm in waiting and watching for a bit.

I urge people to please go to and view the video of the May 19 meeting. You’ll find that every one of the 10 Budget Committee members expressed deep concern for both the most vulnerable members of our community and our criminal justice system.

Jeanine Malito, Eugene