Eugene Weekly : Letters : 8.16.07


What are the implications of Alan Pittman’s (8/2) question, “Will Eugene firefighters subsidize Springfield’s urban sprawl in the Gateway Area?” Simple answer: As long as Eugene is the “Gateway to Gateway,” I believe Eugene is getting what it bargained for.

As the former mayor of Springfield, I fought the idea of PeaceHealth moving to our Gateway area from the very beginning. To move 6,000 individuals overall to the urban fringe that is without the infrastructure to handle them is dumb, to say the least. The Eugene policy makers should have allowed PeaceHealth to build on Chad Drive, which was the hospital’s first choice. However, they did not want sprawl in Eugene, but it seemed OK to push sprawl to Springfield.

In addition, part of that bargain, as it turns out, is to allow the McKenzie-Willamette Hospital (or whatever their name will be) to move to an even dumber place — a dead-end road off the most congested off-ramp on Beltline, with even less infrastructure — like in “dumb and dumber.”

I did not ask or encourage any Eugene company, including Symantec, to move to Gateway. And I’m still furious that our small Springfield nonprofit hospital, built by volunteers, was forced to prostitute itself to survive and to abandon my neighborhood in Springfield in order to backfill a bad policy decision made by Eugene. So I answer, “Yes indeed” to Pittman’s question.

Bill Morrisette, Springfield



As a longtime participant in the Oregon Country Fair, I feel badly for Sian Nelson (7/26) that he has not found a niche within the Family festivities for himself. At present I work with two teams within the Fair (the Jill Heiman Vision Fund and the Neighborhood Response Team) and am reaching my hand out to you, Sian, inviting you to meet with me to talk about possible ways you could participate in the 2008 Fair.

Please drop me a note at the Fair office (442 Lawrence St. in Eugene) so that we can talk and see where and how a Fair connection might be made.

We do view ourselves as inclusive rather than exclusive, and I would like to work with you to embrace and actualize your desire to become an active member of this magical experience.

Michael Connelly, Eugene



Thanks for the coverage (8/9) you gave Skinner City Farm (SCF) and the other small, grassroots, decentralized efforts that keep organic materials from going into our landfill. Kudos to the city’s household / grocery store composting programs and the work of our local schools.

Where SCF stands out and can serve as a model is in its usage of human power to move materials and its direct application of compost and worm castings into community gardens. Envision the city of Eugene, perhaps with the Neighborhood Matching Grants Program, initiating a citywide, decentralized, human-powered solution by duplicating the SCF model in each community garden to start and then expanding into neighborhoods throughout the city. The low capital investment in bicycle cargo trailers like SCF uses and the volunteer work force should look good compared to the costs of running a centralized, citywide collection service.

I see SCF and the other efforts as examples of projects that could challenge the status quo, which generally advocates for large scale, expensive solutions. Rather than having trucks take our organic materials out of town (to then bring it back in to sell to us) let’s keep our organic household and restaurant kitchen scraps in our neighborhoods.

Karl Benedek, Eugene



The Student Peace Alliance is currently campaigning for the establishment of a U.S. Department of Peace and Nonviolence. In Oregon we are fortunate that our State Senators Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden have a history of working well together. We at the Student Peace Alliance feel that Oregon has the potential for leading the nation in establishing this revolutionary new dimension of government as a bipartisan movement. It is unfortunate that many of the citizens of this great nation have become disenthralled and have disempowered themselves. As citizens, we must wake up, reengage and begin to steer the ship in a new direction.

The Department of Peace and Nonviolence would act as a compass to guide us. “Conflict is inevitable, combat is a choice.” This quote from Marianne Williamson reminds us that war is a choice. It may seem like an easy solution. Fight them over there so they can’t come here — but when we send our soldiers over there, they are often changed by the experience and bring the war home with them. One of the problems with this type of “get them over there” thinking is that we are all interconnected, and our technology is making it visible. With the Internet and cell phones you can now see how connected we are.

Let us seek new ways for resolving conflict! Let us create a Department of Peace and Nonviolence! Please call our state senators and encourage them to support the Department of Peace legislation and introduce the bill into the Senate. This is Oregon’s opportunity to lead the nation. It is up to us, the citizens, to catalyze the shift. For more information, please check out our website: www.peacealliance.orgPaul Simon, State Coordinator, Student Peace Alliance, Eugene



Apparently, you can provide your enemy with 380 tons of high grade plastic explosives, $9 billion in cash and 110,000 AK-47s and not be tried for treason — if you are the grandson of Prescot Bush, Hitler’s banker.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain



The city could help stimulate downtown development and save money on a new city hall by purchasing either the Symantec/Bon building or the Centre Court building to be remodeled and used as City Hall. The city should avoid the cost of new construction whenever possible, and not provide huge public subsidies to developers.

Randy Gicker, Eugene



I heard about Tommy Makem’s passing on NPR, and it brought up a memory of the first time I heard him play. He and the Clancey Brothers were playing a ’60s Easter Holiday Concert in San Francisco in honor of the Easter Uprising which gave Ireland its freedom. They played to a sold-out concert in the Masonic Lodge, and they took the audience by storm with their music such as “Johnson’s Motor Car.”

Tommy’s wit was also on display when he asked the audience, “What are all you nuns and priests doing in the Masonic Lodge?” Tommy also used his music to keep the issue of Ulster’s freedom before the Irish public. In large part due to his efforts, Ireland, in part at least, is getting freedom for his 4th Green Field. What more could a man ask of his life then th help free his country? We will all have a “Parting Glass” for you, Tommy, my lad!

Dennis Shine , Springfield



You think the “Oil Wars” have been bad? Wait ’til we see the “Corn Wars.” In less than 30 years, minus unforeseeable catastrophic events, the world population will exceed 10 billion people. That means we’ll need a whole lot of farmland solely for biofuels production, the vast majority of which are certainly going to be located in Third World nations where labor is cheap, human rights and environmental controls are nonexistent and Big Business makes all the rules and uses their private militias (AKA military and armed forces) to enforce them.

I can almost see the headlines now: “Chinese troops advance on Kashgar region in bid to expand ethanol farms.” “Exxon/Mobil to buy Con-Agra for a record $12 billion in attempt to reign in bio-fuel production.” “U.S. energy companies lobby Congress for sanctions against Brazil after their government takes over bio-fuel production.” … and on and on and on. See if you can think of some yourself!

Christopher Colin Willow-Oak, Eugene



Greg Norman (8/9) really seems to like his alleged facts when arguing for the execution of feral cats — instead of neutering them — because they kill birds. Let’s look at some more facts. Which species is it that drives the vehicles that kill thousands of birds every day on roads and highways? Humans! Which species is it that has displaced millions of birds with the construction of urban sprawl? Humans! Which species is it that abandons thousands of cats every day, thereby creating the feral cat population in the first place? Humans again! (Do I even need to mention global warming?) The verdict in the matter of bird depredation seems to be clear here. Humans are guilty! What do you think, Mr. Norman — shall we exterminate them, too?

Dave Ryan, Eugene



Like many transplants, I moved to Eugene with the clear choice to do so, about a year and a half ago. I fell in love with the place while visiting my grandchildren, and it hasn’t let me down yet. On a daily basis I relish joggers who wave, construction flaggers who smile and cashiers who ask how I am like they really do want to know!

But an experience last week just hit the home run for me. I hopped into True Value Hardware on Willamette in South Eugene with my overworked ratchet loppers. They just wouldn’t ratchet anymore. Mind you, I didn’t even buy them at True Value, and this was the second time I’d brought them in as misbehaving. The first time, with a sheared-off bolt, two young men put their heads together and fashioned an automotive bolt cut down to the proper length that will probably outlive me. This time I truly didn’t know what was wrong. One of the young men from the previous visit, when I announced that I needed yet another genius to help me, jumped right in.

We both scratched our heads, rubbed our chins, and he spotted the problem — a very small, two-coil spring had shorn off. When he didn’t have a replacement the exact right size, he pulled a paperclip out of his pocket and began to fashion a replacement spring for me by wrapping it around a Philips screwdriver. I was floored. A manager-type gent came by and watched over his shoulder. I was bracing for him to be “advised” not to spend so much time with a customer on what would basically be a non-sale, but he got only encouragement. When I asked what the charge was, he smiled and said, “Come in again.” Whoa.

I bought a new cord for my pole pruner, screening for my porch and a broom and dustpan for my daughter, but was charged nothing for what I actually came in for, which still isn’t the point. The attention I received and the willingness to try to solve my problem is what gained them a very loyal customer.

This is part of the reason I moved to Eugene, and I’m incredibly glad that I did.

Barbara Hall, Eugene



Fred Thompson will take us back to basics. Back to a democratic government where all borders are secure. Using border crossings where people are held accountable, whether they need help to enjoy their vist or keeping those people out who come here taking advantage of all that we citizens hold dear.

Fred Thompson will be a big sigh of relief knowing that the federal government will not be the huge hungry monster that seeks to oppress the state governments, but instead making the federal government a guiding hand for states that wish to pass laws that will work for the people in that state.

Basics: That is what federal government should be, not an “All things to all people.”

Michael & Linda Berry, Coburg



Instead of us dwelling in what we fight against, can we find the courage to dream and believe in what we truly want and commit to one act of gratitude as if we already have it?

Imagine living in a world without war and violence. We only know safety. All have amnesty in spite of our differences. All of humanity having a deep lasting bond of love and trust cementing us as one spirit. Civil liberties? What concern? All have plenty of health care, food and shelter and can hope to grow old like the still standing Appalachian / Pacific Crest forests, harmony and balance between all genders. Plenty of alternative transportation, all breaking gasoline addiction (Hallelujah!). Instead of guns and cars, cool bikes and guitars. No matter what one’s circumstances, no one can steal the paintbrush to one’s imagination. (Tom Petty’s song “Can’t Stop the Sun” comes to mind). Feel, taste, smell, hear and see this world with every fiber of your being!

As a songwriter/artist I not only compose for money and to make my friends happy; I wish to restore a glimmer of light and hope to humankind. Dreaming is our best defense.

Ceila (Starshine) Levine, Eugene



I could not help, after reading Mr. Crowley’s response (8/9) to Mr, Andrews’ letter to the editor (7/26), [but think] that Mr. Crowley doesn’t get it, or is in denial himself, or simply arrogant regarding his own “spiritual” superiority. Mr Andrews simply states facts regarding human genetic behavior now, and from our short evolutionary past. He’s not fearful of Latin Americans or any other ethnic group, and he’s not a pseudo-spiritualist. This is obvious to me after reading his letter and that of Chris Williamson’s from several weeks ago regarding the illegal immigration problem.

If we were not bound by our genes, we could fly like birds, hear like elephants or swim like dolphins. Our limitations are not merely physical but also mental since our degradation of the environment, our continuous killing of one another by the millions, human-caused famine, all sorts of repression, all stem from our mental functions. That, too, is limited by our genes. Mr. Andrews correctly states that most of our actions to this date are negative in nature and that very little in the positive has occurred to this date; otherwise we would not be in the desperate situation that we are in today — and that we need to get to know and live within our limitations, which we are not currently doing.

Mr. Crowley points to Oregon’s Measure 37 as being “super” important, and not illegal immigration. Sorry pal, small potatoes! The environmental degradation has and will continue for quite sometime. The only chance of survival is by some fast human evolution by the way of genetic mutation; otherwise, we’re on a fast track to extinction.

Human beings are not the center of the universe and need to start acting like we aren’t.

Peter Browne, Eugene



What it is about restaurant owners and decorators who put such a premium on style they ignore the noise build-up that occurs with all the glass, steel, wood and hard surfaces?

This month I went with three friends to try out Davis’, the new restaurant at Broadway and Olive. But it was so noisy we realized we couldn’t hear each other and went elsewhere. For the same reason we no longer go to Lucky Noodle. And I have friends who tell me the same is true for them regarding Café Zenon and the new P.F. Chang losing their business.

It is not rocket science. Many restaurants (Kuraya’s, Ambrosia, Ring of Fire, Cafe Soriah, Marché) manage to keep noise levels down to a dull roar. Even new restaurants with lots of glass and and hard surfaces (Thai Basil, Three Square) seem to have figured it out.

Do the owners have a clue of how much business they are losing?

Martin Henner, Eugene



Cheers to the liberals for their half-assed gesture toward ending the war in Iraq. Where would we all be without the Democratic Party’s commitment to acting on the will of the cannon-fodder who make their barely effectual appeasements a possibility? Then again, who would know the difference? At 20 years old, I look to my peers and see a generation that doesn’t seem to mind that it’s already doomed to suffer from the dubious results of our dependency upon warfare in its myriad forms.

Having lived some 15 years of in the drug-saturated pit-hole that continues to be Albany, Ore., among its various mill workers, meth and heroin addicts, I have these modest insights into this national obsession to offer.

This Albany/Corvallis area represents an absolutely delicious cross-section of the warfare culture. Here we have rare metals plants with which to arm ourselves, plenty of high school dropouts (and other indigent mercenaries) with whom to wage our wars without having to suffer the political fallout of drafting white college students and a legion of hopelessly addicted denizens to buy the drugs produced in countries that our leaders decide to incorporate into the global web of the free market (by invading them first, of course). Really, it’s a win-win situation.

Unless you disagree with these acts but still pay the taxes that fund them. Or unless you’re horribly maimed or die fighting them. But who cares about those people? As long as the government isn’t wasting our tax dollars on something peripheral like health care or education.

I hear many elders speak of today’s youth as apathetic and unmotivated to engage society. Like their debt, our elders seem intent on passing even their guilt onto our shoulders. With role models and expectations such as these, who can blame our young people for simply not caring?

Nicolas McGovern, Corvallis



It becomes ever more apparent that the economic elite, the rich capitalists, the military-industrial-media-etc.-complex are happy to risk the global environment, upon which we all depend, in order to insure that they come out in control of what little will be left.

Their version of fighting environmental problems would seem to be reducing population by manipulating other countries and people at home into letting the poor starve from worsening environmental conditions. It’s a matter of “They came for the poorest and I didn’t stand up because I wasn’t the poorest.” Then repeat the same line until even the rich are poor beyond their present imaginings.

I wouldn’t mind so much if I felt the economic elite were also the moral and intellectual elite, if wealth was reasonably proportional to real and potential social contributions, but we’re pretty far from that. The main problem is not so much about conserving and developing green technology as about political will to change on a large scale.

Ultimately though, any who survive will be the poor who are independent of global economics, those who have skills other than manipulating money systems, who are used to stress and know how to adapt and live off the land, to live with nature instead of against it. But how many of us can survive, and for how long, on an increasingly desert planet, and where will it end?

It begins to seem a bit like poker. Maybe our best strategy is to reply to their risky bet with a bigger one, to change the present game before they’re ready, while there’s still something of environmental value left in the global pot.

Dan Robinson, Eugene