Eugene Weekly : Letters : 6.28.07


Sometimes change comes about because people are bored and dissatisfied with themselves and their lives. They live somewhere for a long time, and one day someone says, “I am tired of looking at that statue of Colonel Pickwick on the town square. Why don’t we replace it with a newer, contemporary artwork like the people over in Alphaville just sired?” And then a lot of people look at the old Colonel, and they can see it. And they say, “John Wisebody is right!” And so, they hire a famous N.Y. art name to create something, and then, when it’s done, they look at it and go “ahh.” But five or 10 years later, they feel empty and depressed again because the problem with their lives wasn’t out there; it was internal.

This is the whole basis of our culture: compulsive, addictive consumption. Our theory of economics and its need for constant growth feeds our disease.

When I read Jerry Diethelm’s article (6/14) about changing downtown Eugene, I waded through childhood reminiscences about the good old downtowns to get to the phrase conveying the real message (and, guess what, it’s about — money): “[to construct] a new kind of downtown, one that developers can help us build.”

In Lincoln County, there are now 800 houses on the market because developers, in their greed, came in and overbuilt. USA Today rated this area of the coast as the #1 resort traffic jam in America. But still the development keeps coming. After many years of rejections and set-backs, a company has finally gotten approval and started on a development right next to the Girl Scout Camp that will be the largest in the town.

Northwest Portland reminds me a lot of the way my old home, Berkeley, used to be: laid back, home for artists, intellectuals, the unusuals. But developers have been buying up all the cheaper, ordinary properties, tearing them down and erecting skyscraper million-dollar condos. Where the energy used to be calm and human-contact-producing, it is now busy, over-crowded, frenetic. Both of these examples were created in the name of “city planning.” But the real reason was to make a bunch more money for a bunch of people who have enough money already.

And change always has consequences that are not foreseen. Building better roads causes more people to feel they need more cars, which then gluts the freeways.

If you walk around downtown Eugene, you can see that it’s not a ghost town like many of our bigger cities. There are lots of people walking around, a lot of good shops and a lot of organizations promoting good activities. You can experience that the energy of this area is a good and positive, just the way it used to be in Berkeley and NW Portland. Compared to most places in this country today, there is no problem here. Therefore, there is no reason to solve it.

Abe Frankel, Eugene



Terrorism: Instilling in us (the general population) an overwhelming fear (terror) of speaking our minds.

Gethin Lynes, Dexter



In the June 14 Slant, EW mentions the feature editorial in the R-G by EPD Officer Erik Humphrey, who criticizes the City Council, defends the city manager and calls for citywide council elections. On June 1, 1997, Mayor Jim Torrey, a proponent of citywide council elections and a strong city manager form of government, sat in his car and watched while Eugene police tortured protesters in violation of international law (Amnesty International 8/21/97) with pepper spray. The city manager let the cops investigate the police from other agencies, and the cops got away with it.

In the aftermath of the Magaña-Lara case, sympathetic police consultants were brought in by the city manager, and no one was held accountable even though numerous cops were aware of the complaints against the two sexual predators and did not respond appropriately. Under the city manager, the cops got away with it.

Erik Humphrey bemoans the appointment of the police auditor and citizen review board under the oversight of the City Council. Perhaps Humphrey is worried that without the protection that a city manager can provide to the police, citizens will be emboldened to come forward and report the extrajudicial beatings, drug use and other crimes committed by cops that occur in every community.

Randy Gicker, Eugene



I am writing in response to Jason Torres-Morrow’s letter (6/14) regarding the lack of good burrito joints in town and his fantastic idea for the “America Wrap.” I completely agree with Mr. Torres-Morrow’s thoughts on the quality of local burritos with just one exception: Burrito Girl! I work on West 11th on the very west end of town. Burrito Girl is not just the best burrito in Eugene but the only decent food to be had at this end of town. I think the Weekly should do a story on the lady from El Salvador and her incredible burritos. She also provides her customers with home-made salsa so hot they’ll be breathing fire from both ends.

Dave Dixon, Walton


On Wednesday, June 13, a Eugene police officer was a surprise guest at preschool story time at the library. The preschoolers were shown police tools: pepper spray, handcuffs, a club and a gun. The children were told how police use these tools for bad guys. Are pepper spray, clubs and guns tools? Do police use hammers and nail guns? My 3-year-old asked me. Does pepper spray help people who are lost?

Do we want children to think of weapons as tools? Do we want our children to believe in the shallow dichotomy of good guy/bad guy?

My son came home and demonstrated how someone is put in handcuffs. The day before, he didn’t know what handcuffs or guns were. Why does a 3-year-old need to know them and how they are used? Why is it considered appropriate for an officer to bring his or her weapons into a public library in the first place? I am outraged at the developmentally inappropriate content of the presentation. I am disturbed at the lack of announcement and parental consent on the part of the EPD and the library.

Furthermore, this police program is to be presented in area schools and other public events. If any of this concerns you, I hope you will let your library, schools and local public officials know.

Marie Anderson, Eugene



Another caricature has upset another defender of one of the world’s “great” organized religions. Cameron Hubbe (“Poking Fun At Nuns,” 6/14) feels we should simply ignore the negative aspects of “Catholic culture” and “put our attention on what is positive.”

Until billionaire CEO Benedictus XVI, his upper management team of Vatican cardinals and his minions of bishops, priests and nuns move their policies and attire into the 21st century, they will continue to be derided. Most of us would not tolerate the following statements coming from any other group. So why should we tolerate these dogmas coming from those who claim a direct line to a “kind and loving” god?

On June 13, 2007, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, accused Amnesty International of turning its back on its mission. He proposed that Catholics stop donating to this human rights group because of its new policy advocating abortion rights for women if they had been raped, a victim of incest or faced health risks (The Guardian, 6/14).

In opening the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean (5/13/07), the “infallible” Benedictus XVI completely ignored the death and destruction caused by European missionaries, slave traders and gold-seekers by saying “Christ is the Saviour for whom they were silently longing.” And “the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbian cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture.”

“In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law or vote for it.” (Cardinal Ratzinger, now CEO Benedictus XVI, to U.S. Catholic bishops in Denver, June 2004).

“There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account, for example, in the consignment of children to adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or coaches, and in military recruitment.” (Cardinal Ratzinger in a letter to Catholic bishops, July 1992.)

“To see a solution to the problem of [AIDS] infection by promoting the use of prophylactics would be to embark on a way not only insufficiently reliable from the technical point of view, but also and above all, unacceptable from the moral aspect.” (Cardinal Ratzinger in a 1988 interview).

“Anyone who tries to preach the faith amid people involved in modern life and thought can really feel like a clown.” (Ratzinger in Introduction to Christianity, 1969).


Robert Simms, Corvallis



I became aware of a worrisome gardening problem on my place. The massive gasoline clouds on River Road, from tons of cars every day, are killing all my trees, bushes and shrubbery.

If you have a place on River Road and wonder why your lawns, trees, bushes and flowers are dying or acting strangely, you should sue the city of Eugene for killing all your greenery. They pour tons of car gasoline fumes into your place every day, making every single growing thing sick. The pollution is so thick you can see it on leaves.

Just imagine what the insides of your lungs are like. Incidentally, this is exactly what happened to the city of Detroit — huge traffic congestion killed the whole business region.

Great planning on River Road, city planners!! You really managed to fuck up the daily commute, kill the air and bring congestion to a standstill, all because of the mess. Detroit is calling.

D.H. Bucher, Eugene



I hope everyone saw the June 15 R-G article “Bird Populations Down.” On June 16 The Oregonian had a similar article and identified the leading cause to be house cats. The extinction of 40 species of birds has been attributed to cats. There are many studies from universities on this topic, and with the new Audubon figures it’s not a debatable issue. Portland’s Audubon Care Center says cats are the main cause of maimed birds turned in for medical attention. In 40 years in Oregon we have decimated 60 percent of the Brewers blackbird, 79 percent of the Rufus hummingbird, 27 percent of the Western meadowlark, the snowy plover [and] the list goes on.

Any person peddling the Fern Ridge Bike Path can see that cats outnumber nutria in the Amazon Creek. In my discussions with cat lovers, I have found most to be militantly against keeping cats indoors but this must change. I see cats as the new American sacred cow and expect a fight similar to banning smoking in public places.

The no-kill movement must be leaders in teaching people to keep cats indoors. They must come up with an answer for feral cats, which greatly outnumber cat lovers, if they are ever to broaden their support. J.R. Yeager in San Francisco, who started the trap, neuter and release program, is now against this technique, and you can read his hard earned opinion at Keeping your cat indoors can be one of the most effective think-globally-act-locally actions you can take.

Greg Norman, Eugene



I have seen the recent letters about Greenhill Humane Society, and I would like to comment on my experience with them. For the most part, I found the staff (management in particular) uninterested in doing everything possible to find all animals their “forever home,” as their website proudly states.

I asked them if they were unable to find my surrendered pet a home, would they call me before they euthanized? I was informed, to my surprise, the answer is no! I was assured this was not an unusual practice. I wonder if there are others who have had this kind of experience there or, even worse, been told they would get a call and didn’t.

I called the shelters in Corvallis, Redmond, Medford, Roseburg and Portland. I found that each of these humane societies will call the previous owner prior to euthanizing an animal. Why won’t Greenhill?

Needless to say, I didn’t leave my pet at Greenhill. I will not be calling on them again for assistance, nor will I be donating any additional money to them until this narrow-minded policy and the policy makers change.

Samantha Norton, Eugene



In response to Bev Jorgensen’s letter May 31, let me explain why I believe euthanasia is the kindest gift to a dog or cat unwanted and unloved.

Every day in the U.S., tens of thousands of puppies and kittens are born, and there will never be enough homes for all these animals. Shelters are stuck with the heart-wrenching job of dealing with unwanted animals. Euthanasia is a reality because of people who abandon animals, refuse to sterilize their animals and patronize pet shops and breeders instead of adopting stray animals or animals from shelters.

Some people wonder why “surplus” animals can’t simply live in shelters instead of being killed. Even if government-sponsored and private shelters had the resources to house the millions of homeless animals born in the U.S. each year (and they don’t), “no-kill” shelters do not provide a solution to the problem of animal-companion homelessness. Dogs, cats and other animal companions need much more than food, water and a cage or pen. They also need lots of loving care, regular and sustained companionship, respect for their individuality and the opportunity to run and play. As difficult as it may be for us to accept, euthanasia (when carried out by veterinarians or trained shelter professionals with a painless intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital) is often the most compassionate and dignified way for unwanted animals to leave an uncaring world.

may also be useful for additional information. Thank you for caring enough to write a letter about this.

Curtis Taylor, Eugene



With Eugene’s proposed gas tax increase come howls of protest from those station owners whose prices will be uncompetitive with gas stations outside Eugene and from customers who are stressed about paying so much already. Reasonable enough, except that such taxes will be the least of their worries if fuel prices continue to double every five years as they have so far. If you don’t expect gas to cost $5 a gallon in a couple years, you just haven’t been paying attention or are rich enough not to care.

Most vehicles on the road today will probably be recycled long before they wear out simply because they will be too expensive to drive. At least there will be more parking and less road wear and tear. And with scrap metal prices up, you might want to sell your SUV while you can still get a few bucks per ton for it. The next generation of smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient cars won’t be cheap either since the automakers will need to make their profits off them and recoup their belated investments in hybrids and electrics if they aren’t bankrupt first.

With gas in Canada already over $5 a gallon and China and India buying up “our oil” in the Middle East, the question really is: What will you drive when gas is $5.95? Give or take a few cents of taxes.

Mark Murphy, Creswell



I like to chew Wrigley’s spearmint gum when I work. It helps me think, relaxes me and soothes my stomach. I bought a pack last week and noticed it said “Better Mint Taste” on its package. Wrigley has been selling the same spearmint gum since 1893. I started chewing some and immediately spit it out because of a bad chemical taste. I looked at the list of ingredients and there it was: aspartame. My favorite gum had finally been laced with this poison. Now most sugar-free gums sold have this poisonous artificial sweetener added.

Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by the G.D. Searle company. They could not get FDA approval for its new artificial sweetener until they hired Don Rumsfeld as CEO. Rumsfeld used his political clout and “called in his markers” to achieve FDA approval for aspartame, better known by its trade name NutraSweet.

Independent studies have proved conclusively that aspartame is a neurotoxic, carcinogenic and highly addictive drug now lacing over 9,000 products. Rumsfeld received a $12 million dollar bonus.

I silently put up with rocket fuel in my lettuce, E. coli in my spinach, growth hormones in my milk, toxic plastic in my cat food and antifreeze in my toothpaste, but I have to scream bloody murder when the only good gum remaining has been poisoned by “Better Mint Taste.”

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain



Regarding “Biking a Better Eugene” (cover story 5/24): With eight miles of new bike lanes down Main Street of Springfield, the new bike safety corridor being built sometime later this year in Glenwood and the new EmX buses, the city of Springfield is moving alternative transportation at a much quicker pace than Eugene.

When I called the bicycle people with the city of Eugene about a month ago when Mayor Kitty Piercy suggested that bicyclists do, I was verbally told that they weren’t all that interested in the input from longtime Eugene bicyclists. That they wanted to hear input from people who were novice bicycle riders instead of people who have ridden the streets of Eugene for 15 to 20 years.

What better way is there to ignore the calls for the repair of the dangerous disrepaired bicycle lanes and paths, calls for new bicycle only streets (like 12th and Alder) and pedestrian bridges over dangerous and congested intersections (like what is needed on Franklin and Onyx)?

It’s the same do-nothing attitude, not just from the city bureaucrats but also from the bicycle business community, until too many bicyclists die or the city gets sued, that irks me the most.

Suggestion: When someone like myself who really cares about our community calls to get involved and provide input, take them seriously and don’t blow us off.

Shannon Wilson, Eugene



What a hoot! Convicted domestic terrorist Chelsea Gerlach accuses the Bush administration of “name calling” and says that “it certainly is not going to stop me from working for peaceful, sustainable change in society.”

The sustainable change we need is for Chelsea and her cohorts to stop setting fires as a means of intimidation.

Now her sister describes her as “kind, compassionate.” Well, the kind and compassionate people I know don’t use arson to force their views on everyone else.

Chelsea’s sister goes on to ask if the terror label will be used against those who use legal means to protest the government. No, it will not.

The terror label is appropriate for those who use violence to force their views on others. Burning things down is violent be it a ski resort, a lumber mill or a Planned Parenthood facility. Human death need not occur for an act to be terrorism.

And here’s a little tip for those who feel that they can’t get their point across by participating in “the system.” Your failure to achieve your goals is very likely a reflection that your views are in the minority. That’s life. Get over yourself.

Randy Kolb, Eugene



The Bible does not say, “go forth, metastasize and smother the Earth.” Nor does it command us to keep female cats, turn them out when they are in heat, take them back to have their kittens, then turn the kittens out to roam the neighborhood in search of food and shelter, and to breed freely. Yet we have a family here in our neighborhood that is doing just that. They have, apparently, several breeding females, which each produce one or two litters a year. The kittens are turned out to roam the neighborhood when they are six or eight months old.

The neighbors are all getting sick of this behavior. Those people refuse to stop turning out kittens. There have been at least a dozen this year. Orange tigers, various colors of shorthaired kittens with fluffy tails and probably others that I haven’t recognized.

Those people are clearly psychotic. The neighbors don’t know what to do. We can’t afford to neuter and feed all those cats. We don’t want to take them to animal control to be destroyed, but what else can we do? The kittens become feral within a year or two. Right now, they are trying to get into any house they can because they think they belong in houses. They are right, but they can’t all find houses.

I don’t think the authorities care. They will tell you that dumping cats is not illegal. It should be illegal. There should be a heavy fine, say $1,000, for each kitten or cat turned out or dumped. Better yet, $1,000 for the first kitten, $2,000 for the second, $3,000 for the third, $4,000 plus jail for the fourth, and so on.

The only way for us to rid ourselves of this problem is to drive out those people that are causing the problem. Any suggestions are welcome.

Ann Tattersall, Eugene



The House recently passed a bill requiring motor vehicle drivers to maintain a “safe distance” while passing cyclists on Oregon’s roads. Proponents contend that this law will improve safety for cyclists. Who could argue with such noble legislation? Here’s an idea to further improve cyclists’ safety: How about enacting legislation that requires cyclists using public roadways to adhere to the same laws applicable to motor vehicles, such as obeying traffic lights, stop signs and right of way rules? Oh wait, this legislation already exists. Nearly every motor vehicle law does apply to cyclists (see ORS 814.400). Why, then, do so many cyclists break these laws — the laws designed for their safety — and then turn around and complain about how dangerous it is for them on our public roads?

Debbie Gedeon, Eugene



Catherine Mish’s letter (6/21) about Greenhill was extremely distressing to me and my staff. It is disheartening that Ms. Mish did not choose to take advantage of Greenhill’s “open door” policy encouraging volunteers to ask questions at any time about the decisions we make at the shelter. Had she done so, every effort would have been made to address the concerns she expressed in her letter.

The letter left many of us at Greenhill confused. It eluded to five dogs that had been recently euthanized. However, after reviewing our records, we cannot find a situation that matches those allegations. Five dogs were recently transferred out of our kennel to a shelter in Portland, where we felt they had a better chance of finding a “forever home.” This is a common practice, and animals are routinely transferred in and out of Greenhill to maximize the number of adopters they are exposed to. If these are the dogs our volunteer was referring to, it saddens us that she assumed the worst. I have attempted to contact Ms. Mish, but she has not returned my calls.

Greenhill does not euthanize healthy, adoptable animals. Euthanasia decisions are never made based on space issues or time limits. As long as an animal is healthy and happy here, he/she will continue to wait for a family. We do euthanize animals that are aggressive or dangerous and animals that are ill beyond our capacity to treat them.

Greenhill has a policy of complete and honest disclosure, and we have always believed in telling the truth even when it is hard to hear. Anyone who has questions about an animal is encouraged to contact me directly.

Johnni Prince, Executive Director, Greenhill Humane Society