Eugene Weekly : Letters : 9.13.07


The mayor’s (West Broadway) Advisory Committee, from the beginning, has forced a preconceived and ill-conceived plan for West Broadway development onto an unsuspecting public. And despite Mayor Piercy’s public statements that the review of the project is intended to be a “transparent” process, it has been anything but. Public input has been ignored, stifled, resisted, exluded and preempted.

While publicly the committee has been very self-congratulatory, indicating in the press that they are concerned about public benefits, privately they have moved to squelch, muzzle and ignore valid proposals that actually have the public in mind as opposed to those with a vested interest in the West Broadway area. For instance, a proposed interactive public fountain was conveniently “forgotten” to be included on the agenda at public workshops and never made it onto the committee’s draft proposals. They simply refused to discuss it.

Similarly, the committee’s position on “open space” is limited to wide sidewalks and private courtyards, ignoring urban park alternatives while advocating unnecessary, costly parking garages. Wednesday (9/5) night was the last straw: The Committee refused to either discuss or allow into their final proposal open space alternatives by committee member and CPA representative Rob Handy. There is no reason why Eugene shouldn’t have the kinds of green space public amenities now enjoyed by towns such as Olympia, Vancouver (Wash.), Colorado Springs, Portland and even Hillsboro.

It’s time to end the kind of provincial, limited thinking that has caused every urban renewal project to date to fail. The design of cities should be trusted to architects, city planners and designers, not bean counters.

Thomas Lincoln, Springfield


I probably shouldn’t be spending my time and energy writing about Mark Gillem’s positively spot-on idea for revitalizing Downtown Eugene (8/30 and 9/6 Viewpoints). But it is a start, and Plan B isn’t going anywhere. (Plan B: Wear tight-fitting camisoles that read, “DO THE PARK THING ACROSS FROM THE LIBRARY!” around town in hopes of being asked, “What’s the park thing?”)

My theory is that there is not as much time as we’d like to believe there is to decide what shall be done regarding this “downtown revitalization thing.” Here’s the truth. We, Eugene, have $105 million in the bank, waiting, impatiently, like a 3-year-old, “to GO!” If we don’t start paying attention, the impatient $105 million that wants to go may just go away from, instead of to, Eugene. Why give the impatient millions to those whose goal it is to “take the money and run” when we could give the money to Eugeneans whose goal it is to stay here and spend it in Eugene?

City Hall has nearly pleaded with us to speak up and tell them what we want them to do with the redevelopment funds. They are as willing as we are to err on the side of caution, being as change-shy as the next Eugenean to do anything in light of past failed attempts to revitalize downtown. They are patient. We are patient. But the money and the money grabbers are not. We can have this lovely thing. We can get rid of that old Sears pit. All we have to do is inform City Hall what we want.

If you haven’t already, go down to the library, walk out, and imagine a city park actually being there. Then inform the only person whose opinion matters to you (you) what you think. I bet you, too, start thinking about getting T-shirts that read: DO THE PARK THING. But first, please write City Hall requesting Mark Gillem’s Library Park, then get the T-shirts made. That way, the shirts can just read “Thank you!” and we can all wear them at each other for years to come.

Can’t wait to see us there.

Loren M. Mohler, Eugene



James Johnston’s interesting article (cover story, 8/30) on the plight of the coastal forests and the BLM’s latest logging proposal focuses understandably on damage to environment and endangered species. Unfortunately, federal forest management agencies have become artful at dodging these crucial issues through pseudo-science, administrative exclusion and budget train wrecks. The public relations pitch, offered by timber industry and friends for increasing BLM logging, is that the new plan will cut less timber than what is grown. This definition of sustainability, so-called “sustained yield,” where tree growth equals or exceeds timber harvest is, as they know, mandated on federal forestlands.

Oregon’s old forests have been methodically liquidated to the twisted tune of this mythical mantra, one that justifies logging slow growing old trees by “balancing” growth against rapidly growing young ones. Any unbiased forester would question how biomass growth in cubic feet fairly compares to mature timber growth in board feet. Will seedlings replace 200-year-old trees in 60 years or even three times as long?

In this “sustained yield” ploy, projected growth of “replacement” trees is typically computer modeled rather than measured against actual performance, resulting in huge overestimates. As an example, predicted north coast tree growth failed to materialize due to unforeseen predation by Swiss needle cast, an endemic fungus rampaging through Doug fir monocultures at epidemic levels. Bloated future growth predictions justified logging too much mature timber in the present, which is how the north coast was shamelessly overcut.

Federal sustained yield models for logging old-growth forests are also skewed by overestimating old-growth acres or relaxing definitions to include maturing timber stands of suitable size but lacking classic age, density and structure. By puffing up the total volume, more volume can be “sustainably” extracted. Have BLM’s “old-growth” acres been field checked by unbiased foresters? Do agency yield models consider climate warming, increased fires and pathogens due to drought and slash, or soil productivity losses?

Along with bemoaning forest environments and suing over endangered species, groups anxious to discredit the BLM logging plan should attack their sustained yield model on its own lack of merit.

Roy Keene, Eugene



It is no accident that the war against Iraq has turned into a disaster of biblical proportions. That was the plan.

It is no accident that Hurricane Katrina was manipulated into a massive ethnic cleansing operation that continues to this day. That was the plan. That’s what FEMA does.

It is no accident that an Iraq War contractor has been chosen to lead the development of downtown Eugene. The same grand larceny will be committed here as has been committed in Iraq. The Pentagon has deep pockets. Do we? Do you think the rich will pay the bill? Are you kidding?

The Eugene School District failed to meet payroll this month. They are trying to cut benefits for school staff (secretaries, custodians, librarians) while simultaneously increasing benefits for administrators (principals, vice principals, superintendent.) Not meeting payroll will be blamed on the greedy custodians and secretaries, but the only pay increase in sight is going to the highest paid employees. This is no accident, either. That was the plan.

Stealing from the poor is a crime against nature. Destroying a country in order to gain wealth and power is a crime against nature. It is also a crime for which the penalty in law is life in prison. Ethnic cleansing is a crime against nature and also a crime for which the penalty in law is life in prison.

Will the victims of the school district’s power grab stand up for their rights or allow themselves to be robbed and impoverished? Will the citizens of Eugene stand up against the selling of our downtown to a Wall Street war profiteer or allow our city and parks to be destroyed for the profit of a few?

Ann Tattersall, Eugene



It took a lot of courage to print Nancy Willard’s Viewpoint (8/30) on school choice. Her dark vision of the world will no doubt draw more responses in defense of Eugene’s remarkable system than you can possibly read, let alone publish.

We live in a city in which parents can choose which school to support so long as there’s room and so long as the parents provide transportation. Seventy percent of the parents who opt out of their neighborhood schools do so to use another “regular” school; only 30 percent use alternative schools. Why do any of them do this? Nancy neither knows nor cares. Of the 11 paragraphs in her editorial, seven focused entirely on how to allocate real estate, which is hardly the real issue.

The real issue, left between Willard’s lines, is that when parents choose an alternative school’s higher scores and/or different philosophy, families with a greater academic or holistic focus thereby congregate. This, to Willard, is “segregation.”

Well, it’s not segregation, of course. The word evokes a minority suffering at the hands of a majority, and the regular schoolers are a substantial majority. When a majority suffers at the hands of a minority, that’s called “elitism.” But is it elitism here?

Go find parents who prefers their neighborhood school and ask them about it. They care about grades, of course, but not more than their child being able to walk to school. They appreciate teaching a world consciousness but not at the expense of a local consciousness. College is cool, but it’s not the end of the world if their kid doesn’t go. They’re confident that their children will grow up happy, healthy and at least as successful as they are. And they’re right.

Will they end up working for the kids attending alternative schools? Probably. Does this mean that they’ll be less proud, have more divorces or die sooner? You know it doesn’t.

This is neither segregation nor elitism. This is choice.

When I told some friends out of state recently that there are people in Eugene whose solution to some schools getting higher grades is to do away with those schools, they laughed.

Maybe it wasn’t courage that prompted you to print Nancy’s editorial, but your sense of humor?

Steve Downey, Eugene



A C-130 military transport plane leaving Baghdad airport Aug. 30, carrying Sens. Martinez, Shelby and Inhofe and Congressman Cramer, had to take evasive maneuvers to avoid being shot down from terrorist missiles and rocket fire.

Sen. James M. Inhofe says terrorists’ attempt to shoot down the C-130 military transport plane carrying him and other lawmakers demonstrated the progress of the U.S. military campaign.

If Sen. Inhofe thinks this is progress, they must be serving some pretty high octane pro-surge Kool-Aid over there.

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain



In response to William Porter’s letter (“Biodiesel Kills,” 8/30), I believe the writer to be somewhat misinformed. It sounds to me like he might be getting bioethanol and biodiesel confused as bioethanol is derived primarily from corn, while biodiesel is derived from vegetable oil. While it’s true some ethanol or methanol is used during the conversion process to turn vegetable oil into biodiesel, the main component of biodiesel is vegetable oil. The oil can be derived from many sources, including used cooking oil, but from what I understand the largest source of oil for biodiesel is soy beans. According to biodiesel emissions compared with conventional diesel have 67 percent less unburned hydrocarbons, 48 percent less carbon monoxide, 47 percent less particulate matter, 100 percent less sulfates and just slightly higher NOx’s (10 percent).

I’d recommend Porter get his facts straight before insisting on the ignorance of others. To compare a VW TDI beetle that probably gets 45 mpg running on biodiesel to a Hummer running conventional gas and getting, what, 10 mpg, is, needless to say, ridiculous.

On a further note, biodiesel can be grown and produced right here in Oregon.

I know people who make it in their garage from grease collected at local restaurants that would otherwise end up in the landfill. So manufacturing and distribution costs compared to those of conventional diesel, derived from fossil fuel pumped from thousands of feet below the ground in the Middle East or Venezuela or wherever, shipped around the world and heavily processed, is also ridiculous. Biodiesel is not problem-free, and it might not be the end all answer to our dependence on fossil fuels, but it’s not a bad alternative, and I applaud those folks with the biodiesel bumper stickers.

Ben Nielsen, Corvallis



My hope was that the R-G story on Phil Knight’s $100 million pledge would praise the Knights for donating that sum to the financial aid office at the UO for student scholarships. The $100 million could be used to establish the “Oregon Education Legacy Fund” to build, maintain and expand Eugene and/or statewide academic programs, as well as to hire more professional staff. Or maybe even that sum could be used to support Oregon’s foster children, health research and health care, people with disabilities, local nonprofit organizations, the homeless, etc.

But, what was I thinking? Of course the Knights are able to spend their own money any way they want.

Now, there will soon be the Knight Daily Newspaper, the Knight Basketball Arena, the City of Knight and of course the State of Knight.

Patricia M. Dawson, Eugene



Although I agree with the sentiments of those who like to use the 21st century buzzword “sustainability,” I ask them all: Get a thesaurus, people! Come up a few new words or phrases, please! JEEzuz …

Glenn Leonard, Eugene



Pete Sorenson framed the problem before Lane County — regarding looming cuts in federal funding for counties with federal acreage vs. increased timber cutting — well in his recent R-G op-ed piece. On one hand, egregious, unacceptable cuts in county services; on the other, increased logging. If logging were increased to provide timber receipts that we did historically, it would be totally unsustainable, plus it would also probably include cutting old growth. Which way do we go? Neither way!

We need to think outside the box, connect the dots and create a new paradigm. The nurturing, growth and protection of living trees has considerable value in these times of global warming — trees are one of the most effective atmosphere scrubbers that exist. According to a recent study by the UN Committee on Climate Change, one acre of old growth can sequester 1,000 tons of carbon emissions per month, compared to 100 tons by second growth plantation forests. All plant life absorbs carbon dioxide, but trees are the champs.

I propose the Carbon Reduction Investment Initiative, stating that the Congress and president must be persuaded, educated and convinced that there is more value in a live, breathing tree than in a dead one.

I further propose that the federal government invest revenues to counties with federal lands within their borders at a comparative rate to past payments at their maximum for the perpetual stewardship of this great resource as a form of carbon credits rather than by timber receipts for cutting, and that counties who receive these investment funds be charged with applying them to historical uses, i.e. schools, public safety and roads and bridges. Additional funds must be secured to train workers and carry out this important work.

Where might the money come from? The Forest Service and BLM built all the roads and other infrastructures for large timber companies at taxpayer expense over the last half century so that they could make a profit. Redirect the funds from road building to restoring the forests.

Our Oregon delegation, with support from our local officials, could craft a proposal that they could sell to the nation and on Capitol Hill. We and future generations need the trees!

Denny Guehler, Eugene



Last week (8/30) you had an incredible article by James Johnston on the coastal range logging situation. I do not see any response in the current issue (9/6) and am surprised. Perhaps it is too soon.

My home is in Yachats, and I drive often to Eugene through the coastal range and pass the visible clearcut landscape. I have also flown over in a small plane and witnessed the hidden scarred landscape. It is devastating, and we must take steps to protect what is left.

I hope the lack of response was only due to timing and that people will read that article and write letters, make phone calls and send emails. It is more important than most people realize.

Thank you for doing such a fine job of reporting.

Rheychol Paris, Yachats