DON’T DERAIL THIS PROJECT
It’s not every day in Eugene that the mayor and six city councilors are on the same page. It should be a cause for celebration: our elected representatives working together to get things done for Eugene!
On Monday night (8/13), the City Council voted 6-2 to raise the debt ceiling for Eugene’s downtown urban renewal district (URD). This effort was supported by Mayor Kitty Piercy, who also deserves a great deal of credit for reaching out across a broad spectrum of community interests to advance efforts and encourage public input on the redevelopment of West Broadway in downtown Eugene.
As a member of the West Broadway Advisory Committee (WBAC), I would like to join the mayor in asking fellow citizens to resist efforts to derail this redevelopment effort. People constantly tell me they are frustrated by the gridlock and split decisions coming from our city council. On this occasion we actually have the mayor and a super majority who favor moving forward with efforts to revitalize downtown Eugene.
Many people consider this a positive improvement in civic discourse. People are tired of negativity. It’s time to have some faith in our elected representatives and give them credit for making an honest effort to serve the public interest. In this case, they do deserve our support.
The decision to raise the URD debt limit does not obligate the city to spend a single dime on West Broadway. It does not raise taxes. It does not limit public debate or public input. In fact, the public is encouraged to participate in the process. Check the city website for details on meetings.
The early West Broadway conceptual proposals submitted by developers Beam and KWG are extremely preliminary concepts — they are nowhere close to certain. There are no final agreements, no concrete proposals. Nothing is written in stone, contrary to what you may hear or read about the project. The public input process is still ongoing. Many diverse voices are being heard. This is the time to engage the discussion, not cut short the process.
The WBAC won’t make its final recommendations to the council until September, and the mayor and council have pledged to seek on-going public input every step of the way. The city has made no commitment to any amount of public investment dollars (from federal grants and loans) which may or may not be used to help finance utility upgrades, parking, affordable housing subsidies, open spaces or other elements of the redevelopment effort that would serve the public interest. These investments should not be considered subsidies to big, rich developers. Public investment in infrastructure and affordable housing subsidies have been an essential component in attracting and implementing successful urban redevelopment in cities across the county. Why should Eugene be the only exception?
The developers are proposing to invest more than $200 million in Eugene to provide a rich diversity of new housing and retail that will help breath new vitality into West Broadway. They have committed to hiring local workers and creating jobs in Eugene. Let’s not short-circuit the public discussion before we’ve even had a chance to see what the developers ultimately propose.
Eric A. Stillwell, West Broadway Advisory Committee
BETTER THAN BULLETS
The EW‘s continued opposition to any form of effective law enforcement disturbs me. I’ve been a prosecutor and defense attorney for nine years, trained military and law enforcement personnel in the use of force and have reviewed innumerable incidents involving the use of force by law enforcement. Tasers fill a critical gap in the use of force spectrum.
In my experience, cops don’t overuse Tasers in response to non-deadly force. Instead, they often use a Taser when they should be using deadly force to counter deadly force. Using a Taser often effectively ends resistance to arrest with minimal injury to the suspect. It’s certainly less permanent than a gunshot wound, and it’s also less likely to cause injury than a nightstick and is more specific than pepper spray.
Do Tasers kill people? Indisputably! All forms of force can cause death. Taser deaths are extremely infrequent, however. Do police misuse Tasers? Of course! Humans all make mistakes. Use of force policies matter, and the proposed guidelines could use some work. It was not correct to say that nothing prohibits the use of Tasers to interrogate suspects. The mere threat would constitute felony coercion.
There’s a wrongheaded sense that Tasers are somehow “unsporting.” Cops have the right to be safe in their workplace. They should use non-deadly force when the alternative is to risk injury to themselves, injury to third parties or greater injury to the suspect. There is no “right to resist arrest.”
Marty Wilde, Albany
WHY PRINT HATE MAIL?
My wonderment began with your republication of [Garrett] Hongo’s racist monologue a couple years ago. I wondered why you would do such a thing. I thought that possibly you were motivated by a kind of “white guilt,” similar to that which must have kept Bobby Green locally elected. Or maybe it is just a sense of mischief? But with your publication of Lon Miller’s ugly attack (7/19) on Sally Sheklow, I am finally baffled.
Do you really think it somehow productive to publish hate mail? Do you consider it somehow part of a “dialogue”? These are genuinely questions I don’t understand. Clearly you don’t just publish any and everything? And come to think of it, Ms. Sheklow’s seeming insistence that every last thing in life and on Earth be seen through a lens of sexual preference can come off as carping or confrontational, too. Perhaps you could make some sort of statement of editorial policy or philosophy? Especially in regard to the opinion columns and letters desk. Please and thank you.
EDITOR’S NOTE: What gets printed is always a judgement call. We certainly don’t print all letters, but occasionally we’ll print a provocative letter or story to remind our readers of the attitudes and perspectives that persist in our community.
SLOW DOWN FAST
Oh so many letters lately about who has a right to use the roads, trails, sidewalks and open spaces. Cell phone talking SUV drivers, lawbreaking bicyclists, jaywalkers, unleashed dogs, bird-eating cats, sheep-munching cougars, slugs sliming, worms wiggling, nutrias scampering and raccoons romping. Lions, tigers and bears vs. planes, trains and automobiles, Oh my!
Personally I bike, drive and walk, have a dog, ride Amtrak and the EmX bus and four cats allow me to live in their home along with my lovely wife. I don’t own an SUV, cell phone or any sheep, for full disclosure’s sake.
For me it is all about sharing, peacefully coexisting, being respectful of those around me (animals included) and trying to slow down a bit. Simplifying my life and slowing down always seems to make life much more pleasant. It allows me to reconnect to nature, greet my neighbors, be in the moment and even lower my blood pressure. I am amazed at just how much more I can see, hear, smell and feel when I choose to bike instead of drive or even better to walk instead of bike. On the other hand, all hurrying seems to get me is frustration, having to redo mistakes, speeding tickets and generally not enjoying the journey.
So I am attempting to slow my pace, trying to joyfully share my surroundings and trying to have compassion and understanding when others around me seem to be having one of those days because I know I have some myself.
Tim Boyden, Eugene
It was sad to see EW editorialize against democratic decisions regarding plans to bulldoze part of downtown and subsidize new chain stores and condos (Slant, 8/16). EW condemned plans for a ballot initiative (i.e. democracy) to ask the taxpayers if they want to give this boondoggle $50 million — almost $400 from each citizen. The unfolding real estate crash shows it is nuts to promise more corporate welfare for development speculators — we could build a covered Farmers’ Market, new parks, improve bus service and restore school services for less money.
It was nice to see EW‘s cover story that college football is not really academics. Watching mass events involving extreme competition for territory teaches passive acceptance of automated warfare. Perhaps the UO football department could be spun off as a separate corporation, keeping academics and industrial pseudo-sports separate.
Football is such a state religion in this country that it’s even used as an indicator of presidential selections. From 1936 to 2000, when the Washington Redskins team won the game before the “election,” the president or his successor was re-elected. When the Redskins lost the game before the “election,” then the president or his successor was defeated. The odds of this being chance (17 times in a row) is less than one in 100,000. The U.S. presidential election is decided before votes are cast, and the rigging of the football game is an inside joke for the financial elites. More details are at www.oilempire.us/elections.html
Mark Robinowitz, Eugene
EDITOR’S NOTE: For the record, what we said in Slant last week regarding the proposed public-private partnership downtown was, “Let’s gather more information before we as a community decide to kill it.”
WHAT A WASTE
I suspect that most EW readers feel similarly validated when an article appears that mirrors their own views. Such was abundantly clear to me in reading Jim Earl’s piece last week, “Weird About Sports.”
My personal feelings and analysis regarding the NASCAR phenomenon mesh with his athletics overview, as these two cultural “observances” have much in common.
The big picture for me, and the most basic reaction I have, is summed up as: “What a waste!
Is there any way our culture could harness all that emotion, passion, fervor, loyalty, commitment and monetary/natural resources, redirecting it towards creating a more sane and sustainable society? I suppose awareness of the dysfunctional disconnect would be the first step.
M. Boyd Wilcox, Eugene
NASTY LETTERS COMING
Thank you, Jim Earl (cover story, 8/16), for your well thought out, well presented insights and opinions on football (and other sports BS) at the local university. I suspect you will have many supporters for your point of view.
Just a few years ago I wrote the editor of this paper protesting the Ducks Illustrated supplement in the Weekly then — the fall of 2003 or 2004. I compared the football mentality to the war mentality (people supporting an invasion of Iraq). Mine was an emotional outcry based on an event of violence between football players and another student who committed suicide after their altercation. There followed some ugly letters in EW addressed toward me personally. Others wrote in to support my point of view. And the editor of EW actually read my letter to the Eugene City Club as an example of controversial letters to the editor. (I just happened to tune in that evening on KLCC.)
It is personally gratifiying to read that other sensible, educated, intellectual and artistic types may not say much about what they are thinking and feeling about the relationship of football to higher education, but perhaps they don’t think football (brutal sport) is actually educational. I am not alone. Thanks again, Jim Earl. You might guess that I was an English major.
Be prepared to get nasty letters. Them football fans don’t take criticism very well.
Mitzi Linn, Eugene
Regardless of what egghead Jim Earl believes about college football (9/16), on Saturday, Sept. 1, there will be 55,000 raucous fans at Autzen Stadium cheering for their beloved Ducks.
These are the same taxpayers and tuition payers who have employed Mr. Earl for all of these years, though apparently not learning from him that competition is bad, sports are for dummies, crowds are scary, noise is wicked and pursuit of anything other than cranial enhancement is, well, unexplainable.
I would suggest that the UO not use Earl in their solicitations for donors. While his bookish nature and disdain for popular culture may play well with the other eggheads, it does not play well with the people that the UO — athletics and academics — relies on to keep the money coming in. In fact, you wonder why people like Earl even choose to teach at schools with big sports programs. I am convinced that some people simply need to feel critical or superior or both.
We Duck fans are blessed with a sports program that does something absolutely incredible — it pays for itself! In fact it does more than that. The success of the UO athletic program brings donor money to the academic programs. Phil and Penny Knight are perfect examples although I bet the good professors don’t spend a lot of time thanking them. Bad Nike!
I know a lot of EW readers will hate to see Earl retire almost as much as they hate to see businesses make money or Eugene grow. Life is tough. Go Ducks!
Randy Kolb, Eugene
THE GREAT POODLE CHASE
We just moved here at the end of June. On the evening of July 13 we went to downtown Eugene to a concert. Our two dogs, Puddy and Bob, slept in the back seat of the car, which is something they have done hundreds of times with no problems. Upon returning to the car several hours later, we discovered our poodle, Bob, had somehow gotten out of the car. I turned on my phone to call 911 and discovered a message from a nice person telling me they had our dog.
This lovely couple brought Bob to us. He had been running down 13th Ave. in heavy traffic with 20 people trying to catch him. He ran all of the way to the fairgrounds where an angel (disguised as a security guard) cornered him. Bob proceeded to bite him several times, but the man maintained a calm demeanor and held Bob for this wonderful couple, who then kept him and nursed him until they could find us. He was pretty roughed up; he had a fat lip and a lost tooth, but was otherwise OK.
The couple, who worked for several hours chasing and then taking care of our dog, would not tell us their names. They just kept mentioning the fairground’s security guard and how much they appreciated him.
I wish to thank the kind couple and security guard for being so thoughtful and caring. And thank you, Eugene citizens, for trying to catch Bob and carefully veering him away from cars. What a testament to the type of people we have here. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Sally Storm, Eugene
It is very ironic that this society imposes severe prison terms on a group of young people who committed a crime for the benefit of our environment but turns around and honors an “eco-maniac.” A new state park recently opened west of Portland and was dedicated to the memory of Loran La Sells “Stub” Stewart, whose logging empire changed the face of the Northwest. The idea of even acknowledging him is a slap in the face for all the generations of people who are denied the opportunity to experience an intact forest.
There is nothing decent or honorable about destroying an ancient eco-system, which this man played a major role in doing so. “Ol Stub,” in my opinion, is the true epitome of an eco-terrorist. Stub Stewart and his ilk, both past and present, completely wiped out over a million years of Gaia’s loving creation for personal gain.
The magnitude of the atrocity that Stewart and his fellow money hungry lunatics committed against the ancient forest is beyond any other human disaster since the deforestation of what is now the Middle East 6,000 years ago. Stewart’s horrendous acts of eco-rape will be frowned down upon by future generations. For Mr. Stewart, his fate is now sealed, for he will answer to Karma. Unfortunately, the rest of us will be paying for his crimes for eons to come.
Wyona Wolf, Cottage Grove
MESSING WITH SALLY
When I first read Lon Miller’s letter (7/19) to Sally Sheklow, I got my East Coast Irish up and thought, “Hey, that poopyhead is messing with my Sally.” My friend, my favorite local activist, writer, zany gardener and comic. I feel proud, possessive and protective of my locals.
Then I tried my West Coast more enlightened response. What compassionate, uniting statement could I make to convince Lon M. that my way is the right way? I veered so quickly into smug superiority that I abandoned that route. Kumbaya dammit, yes. Kumbaya nanny nanny boo boo, no.
So I accessed my stoic Midwestern decade. I debated freedom of expression vs. hate speech in my ambivalent ambidextrous Libran/Gemini bisexual/bifocaled/bicyclist head (motto: On the other hand …).
My Minnesota self says, “Free speech, ya, for sure, but we’re all neighbors here. Let’s be kind. We may need each other someday.” Count on the Minnesotans to bring me back to bridge building.
How many other EW writers experience the level of virulent words and accusations that Sally Sheklow does in response her column on lesbian life? How many other writers have their words about their everyday relationship with their partner twisted into something sexual and deviant (two separate things, much of the time)?
Let’s and thank Sally for her courage, honesty and chutzpah. In a land where homophobia is alive and well, she’s way braver than she should have to be.
The worst sound in response to the letter about Sally would have been the sound of people taking one step back and leaving her out there alone. I’m glad to see so many responses. Let’s all take a step forward and stand beside her and next to every queer who takes unknown chances just so we can get over our homophobia and learn about their lives.
The day will come when it’s not even “they.” We’ll all be good neighbors. Why not?
Thank you, Sally! You inspire me and give me the courage to speak out. I’ve got your back.
Lon, would you like to come over for dinner? I make a pretty good hot dish. I’ll get your back too. You betcha.
Ruby Colette, Eugene
TASERS ARE LETHAL
Oregon Department of Corrections is taking comments until Aug. 25 on a proposed rule change which would permit the use of electronic weapons, commonly called Tasers, in our prisons. These devices shoot out barbed darts which hook into flesh and, connected by thin wires, deliver bursts of electricity up to 50,000 volts, and can be fired repeatedly. They are often called non-lethal but in fact several hundred deaths have been attributed to their use.
The purpose of their proposed use by corrections officers would be to compel compliance of resisting inmates, but I think this is a very bad idea. Typically, non-cooperative inmates are already handcuffed and/or in restraints whenever they are moved or “handled” by prison staff. If things are so bad that electronic weapons are now desired, there is a more fundamental problem that won’t be solved by having Tasers. The climate of fear, of “us vs. them,” is extreme in the prison culture and this will only worsen it.. Whatever argument might be made for community police to have these weapons, it is a slippery slope to give them to guards in charge of already captive people. Can’t we be smarter?
It seems to me that corrections officers are rather like the dog catchers of society, doing a tough job that needs to be done but is repugnant to most. Because of this I think they tend to close up ranks when there are incidents, and the degree of transparency is even less than with the police on the outside, another reason not to add Tasers to the mix.
I am in favor of the DOC providing much more training and support for staff in order to attract the highest caliber of candidates possible, and this should include both the pragmatic and deep values-based curriculum. Presently there is very little staff development time, due to the bricks and mortar emphasis of the DOC budget — ultimately mandated by us the voters!
I think about these issues a lot because I have a family member in prison and hear things that are hard to bear. I hope folks will email comments to the DOC director (email@example.com) and rules coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org). Be sure to reference Division 013, Use of Force.
Marina McShane, Eugene
The Homeless Animals’ Lifeline Organization would like to clarify points made in the July 19 Greenhill article:
What can we do for animals in this community to fix “the problem”? Demand Greenhill stop the killing by adopting the no-kill philosophy (no killing of adoptable or treatable animals) and replace unwilling staff with progressive people who aren’t afraid to care.
The letters Ms. Prince mentioned are not “wrong.” Saying so insults the volunteers who have written about the heartbreaking situations they have personally witnessed.
Several dogs’ weight loss has been documented with pictures. Volunteers brought in food for dogs they described as “walking skeletons.” (Greenhill didn’t voluntarily adjust feeding). If animals are stressed and losing weight, a “humane” society shouldn’t have to be humiliated into feeding more often or placing animals into foster care.
The Oregon Animal Neglect statute requires care sufficient to preserve health and well-being and enough food to allow for normal growth or maintenance of body weight.
Volunteers, foster people and staff are thrown out for asking questions, making suggestions or disagreeing with Greenhill.
PetPoint provides an Access download each month of all activity. Greenhill has been able to provide information on Second Chance animals for many months with this database.
Compassion fatigue/burnout exists in all shelters that run on the outdated shelter model as Greenhill does. As with similar conditions, denial is very strong in all those afflicted.
If you have had a negative experience with Greenhill we would like to hear from you. Please join HALO (email@example.com). Make a difference for the animals!
Tamara Barnes — Eugene, Deb McNamara — Dexter, Ben Jorgensen — Springfield, Kathy Norris — Junction City
Greenhill Humane Society has been in existence for many years, and there have been many changes and improvements. They receive animals by appointment and do their best to get them into new homes.
Animals turned over to Greenhill come from all backgrounds. They may be the best-loved and socialized darling of an elderly person who can no longer care for the pet, and the family brings to to GHS. Or it may be the litter of kittens, thrown away, starving and covered in fleas, that someone rescued and is nursing back to health. Some survive, and some don’t. Feline leukemia, distemper, failure to thrive in kittens and parvo in puppies all take their share of lives, leaving the strong. Dogs that have been abused, starved, beaten, or bred for viciousness can sometimes be rehabilitated. Sadly, sometimes they can’t.
Without Greenhill Humane Society, where would these animals go?
I would encourage anyone interested in what goes on at Greenhill to go out and ask. There are many opportunities for those wanting to volunteer, and training is available. There are also some educational classes.
A wonderful addition to Greenhill is the on-site spay/neuter clinic, so all animals adopted out are altered before going to their new homes. They have also opened the clinic to some of the rescue groups in the area, which has made a great difference for those of us trying to make things better for the animals.
And in your own neighborhood, make sure the animals are altered. If a neighbor can’t afford it and you can, do so.
If we all work together, we can make the Eugene and Lane County truly animal-friendly.
Janetta Overholser, Cottage Grove