Eugene Weekly : Letters : 9.27.07


I recommend reading the Sept. 23 New York Times article “At Many Homes, More Profit and Less Nursing” by Charles Duhigg. It lays out what is likely to be an overwhelming long-term care crises for baby boomers if nursing homes are their only solution.

However, I would like to discuss the crisis situation in Oregon and closer to my home in Lane County. Of the 429 licensed assisted living and residential care facilities in Oregon, a lower cost solution than nursing homes, only 25 percent of them take Medicaid clients. The situation will only get worse as more facilities are shifting away from Medicaid clients as their spots become vacant — private-pay clients are so much more profitable.

The highest level of need for Medicaid rate schedule for a senior or disabled person in a residential care facility in Lane County is $2,163.70 per month — less than half the cost of nursing homes), Adult foster homes and assisted living facilities are both in that range. Oregon Project Independence (OPI) is our cheapest and best solution for keeping seniors and the disabled in their own homes.

According to the Oregon Department of Human Services’ March, 2007 Long-Term Care Report, in 2005, the average daily rate charged for nursing home care, without Medicaid or Medicare assistance, in Eugene was $163 a day – almost $4,900 per month or $58,680 a year. Nursing homes received more than $75 billion last year from taxpayer programs like Medicare and Medicaid and are by far our most expensive long-term care option. In 20 to 30 years, when many of today’s boomers need long-term care services, these costs may well have doubled or tripled as a result of inflation – 85 years of age is our fasted growing age group.

As chair of the Senate Interim Committee on Senior and Disabled Services, my priority is to find viable cost solutions for these serious problems before we are completely overwhelmed. Our first meeting, open to the public, is Thursday, Oct. 4 at 8:30 am in Hearing Room B in the Capitol in Salem.

Bill Morrisette, State Senator, District 6



Allie Grasgreen’s Oregon Daily Emerald (ODE) article (“University Cleared to Use Eminent Domain for Arena,” 9/17) touches on the definition of public interest.

Greg Bolt’s article in The Register-Guard (“Arena Clears Land Hurdle,” 9/7) reports on this issue as well. He writes, “UO officials argued that the arena project provides public benefits that justify eminent domain.” Some “public benefits” included “$200 million into the economy” and, once the arena is completed, “to area businesses.” Additionally, Bolt reports that the arena “furthers the UO’s academic interest because it will allow the UO to tear down McArthur Court and use the site for an academic building.”

Of course, what comes immediately to mind is, why not just renovate McArthur Court and build the proposed academic building on the site currently slated for a new basketball arena?

What is largely kept out of the picture is how the potential of tearing down McArthur Court will affect the culture, identity and community of the UO and, as well, Eugene. Considering the cultural, identity and community impact this building has had on these communities — the memories and character this building has created for eight decades, one is left wondering how a projected $200 million into the overall economy will serve the public good of the UO, Eugene, and perhaps Oregon.

Noting that once complete, the arena will “provide further benefits to area businesses,” one also has to wonder: Where will the “$200 million into the economy” go? Given the amount of Nike involvement in UO athletics (e.g., advertising, public relations, and merchandizing), it is not difficult to see where this $200 million will go.

Mike O’Brien’s ODE article (“Building Projects Make Campus Safer, More Up-to-Date,” 9/17) and Tim Christie’s R-G article (“Railroad Depot Speeds into History Books,” 9/7) give testimony that historic buildings, though not profitable, still serve their purpose. Similar cases could be made for McArthur Court, Michigan’s “Big House,” and Chicago’s Wrigley Field — all at least 80 years old. As for examples of college basketball arenas still in use, there are the Palestra (University of Pennsylvania, 1927), Williams Arena (University of Minnesota, 1927) and Cameron Indoor Stadium (Duke, 1940).

Given the historical contexts of these arenas, stadiums and ballparks within the community they exist, along with everything else mentioned above and the cited articles, the case has to be made: Is preserving a valuable historic basketball arena, letting the local businessman keep his location and established business, and building the proposed academic building on land already acquired serving the public interest?

One also has to look as who is pushing for the new basketball arena. ODE has reported many times about Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny contributing significantly, if not all, to buy out Bill Moos, his predecessor. Given Kilkenney’s previous experience as a businessman and as a longtime Ducks booster and friend of Nike Chairman Phil Knight— and Knight’s influence over Frohnmayer — it doesn’t come as any surprise that this new arena is being pushed for so drastically by these three individuals, particularly when the profit potential of a new arena is thrown into the picture.

Jonathan O. Bowers, Eugene



To all those proposing a park in the old Sears building pit:

Eugene has parks. It’s hard to go three blocks in some areas of town without running into one. And many of the areas of town that aren’t a park look like one anyway. Natural beauty is a part of what makes Eugene such a nice place to live.

Two things that Eugene also has are gaping holes right in the center of town and a money problem in city government. Our schools, public safety and social services are underfunded, and our roads are crumbling. We need the center of our city to be a stronger source of tax revenue.

Until someone can show me how a park is going to help alleviate these problems, I will be opposed to it. Is money the most important thing in civic planning? No. Should developers be allowed to run roughshod over our city? Of course not. But trust me, if they don’t build in the center of our city, they’ll build on the edges, and sprawl is far worse than some national chains springing up in our downtown. And if we kick them out of Eugene, there are plenty of other towns nearby that will welcome them.

Let’s support our City Council in moving toward their plans for downtown.

William Kennedy,Eugene



I love the meth ads! Make it as ugly as it really is for those folks doing it and those of us living around it.

Michelle Holman, Deadwood



Alan Zelenka’s advocacy in favor of eminent domain for Dave Frohnmayer’s proposed expansion of campus and replacement of Mac Court is having an increasingly detrimental effect on the Fairmount neighborhood. Councilor Zelenka’s willingness to publicly support the massive, yet-to-be-determined UO expansion and land acquisition scheme warrants a recall effort. The UO has not disclosed the scope of their eminent domain intentions and future development plans, leaving citizens no choice but to gather signatures leading to a recall election of Alan Zelenka.

Eminent domain abuse has run rampant across the country, and it should not be abused in Eugene. Citizens who would like more information about the upcoming effort to recall Councilor Zelenka can email or call 868-5122.

Eric Eiden, Eugene



Though the use of Tasers might have its place, only police officers who can be trusted to use adequate self-control and are willing to witness against fellow officers when required should be able to use these weapons. Most of all, it should require that our police chief and mayor respond to complaints against their officers in a manner that would keep the officers under control.

Unfortunately, Eugene cops have not demonstrated that they can be trusted either to show restraint with their weapons or to tell the truth about their fellow officers’ behavior when complaints are filed against them. Based upon their history of abuse and lying for one another, we should not have any confidence that Tasers will be used properly or that complaints about their misuse will be handled properly.

The current practice whereby complaints against the police department are passed on to an auditor or committee will remain totally worthless unless these people are given the authority to properly investigate the complaint, judge whether the complaint has merit and recommend corrective action.

Wayne Pierce, Eugene



OK, so I’m not going to bother to explain exactly why Eugene needs a downtown park and public open space for meeting people, reading library books and relaxing (besides the LTD bus station, of course) because in my mind, it’s just a non-issue. I mean, do I really have to explain how much good it would do the city if there were a park downtown? No, because we all already know it. (Well, at least some of us.)

On Sunday I will be leaving to travel in Europe for two months. I hope while I am enjoying its famous parks that the city of Eugene will do something great for its downtown area by bringing in some green, creating a place to gather and not fostering the need for even more cars. Please don’t follow the UO’s lead, which is currently raping the campus by cutting down large trees and destroying a favorite large open grass space to create none other than — a parking lot.

P.S. I am a 21-year-old college student, and I vote, pay my taxes, ride my bike and care about the future of this city. Isn’t it time that the “older and wiser” people in charge care about it too?

Sarah Thorpe, Eugene



We’d like to thank Sara Brickner for her mention of our tribal fusion belly dance troupe, Luminessah, in the EW guide to the Eugene Celebration (9/6). After reading the last sentence she wrote, however, we feel the need to clarify the intentions of our dance (“depending on your sexual preference, you’re either hypnotized by the seductive power of undulating bodies in bikini tops, or you’re wondering how you too, can learn to shake it like that”).

This is a spiritual dance to be shared and enjoyed by everyone, not a sexual dance. The movements of our dance invoke sacred elements, tell ancient stories and create blessings. The undulation movement Ms. Brickner speaks of represents the sacred ritual of birth. And the unique costumes reflect just as much of our spiritual intentions as the dance, as well as the many cultural influences we welcome into our circle. For example, the “bikini tops” Ms. Brickner mentioned are actually in many cases traditional Indian cholis or professional dance tops that we’ve spent much time and effort creating.

We respect others’ perceptions of this art form but too often find ourselves fighting strongly judgmental stereotypes. We do not speak for other dancers nor do we wish to represent all belly dancers. We are glad to have this opportunity to share our perspective of this performance art. In Luminessah we simply dance for joy, sisterhood and spirit.

The women of Luminessah, Jeannie Anderson, Ali Armstrong, Lila McDaniel, LeeAnn Myers



Last night (9/18) I had my first WOW Hall experience. Since the day I purchased our tickets I had an uneasy feeling about the assistance, if any I would receive, being a, dread I say, “disabled” individual. I was preparing for the, “You look fine” accusation, or “No, if we help you we’ll have to help everyone.” I have gotten those responses and so much more for so many years; it gets tiring.

I was prepared to pull out my red, white, and blue card and show a few scars, if needed. But the staff at the WOW Hall was very kind and accommodating, made sure I had a place to sit and helped me downstairs for a cold Fat Tire before the show.

No questions asked. A welcome relief, as that evening was a particularly pain filled one for me. Thank you WOW Hall, you have fine individuals there!

The show: Todd Rundgren. My companion asked why I like this man so much. I told her to, “Listen, you will see.” Todd expresses himself so well. I feel his intelligence and see his humanity. I admire his sense of humor, politics and religion, his musical expression and prowess as a true artist.

Age 44 next month, I have been waiting since I was about 18 (when I lived near Chicago and saw Utopia) to see Todd again. Thankfully, the cash fell into place at the right time and there was no need to travel more than 30 miles. Money and miles: Two extremely difficult things in my life. My companion and I had a great time! Thank you Todd and crew! I hope you know how fantastic you are.

The crowd, I estimate, 100, more or less. At least 95 percent 40 and over would be my guess. A different kind of folk, we are: Todd fans. It seemed that Todd had touched each of us in such a way as to feel that we were not going to a “concert”; we were meeting with a longtime friend.

Linda Rawlings, Creswell



Life is not safe. Don’t be stupid.

There are about 300 million people in this country. Over the last 100 years, something like 20 fatalities from cougars have been reported. And yet we have DANGER signs at Mount Pisgah. “‘Don’t walk alone or a cougar will kill and eat you! They’re probably watching you right now! Run!”

At Spencer Butte, it’s “Stay away from the rocks or a rattlesnake will swallow you whole! Fear their toxic venom!”

Not really, but that is the gist of these warning signs. People are easily frightened, apparently. I’ve been on Spencer Butte at least 500 times, and I’ve seen rattlers twice. Does that mean I’ll never get bit? No, but it means my chances are very, very slim.

Same goes for you. Be as cautious as you want, but it’s the height of presumption to live like there is a predator behind every tree in the woods, waiting just for you. Sunny days outdoors overall are benign and one of the greatest simple pleasures. Strangers, in general, will do you no harm. In small doses, the wild is as safe as it gets. I don’t get how rational people can presume any different.

Tim Kronberger, Eugene



In 1989, The Oregonian refused to print allegations made by AIDS activists that Oregon Republican Sen. Mark Hatfield was gay even though the Seattle Post-Intelligencer printed the story. The recent outing of Republican Sen. Larry Craig represents progress.

The Idaho Statesman spent months investigating Craig. Newspapers previously “respected the privacy” of closeted anti-gay hypocrites.

For example, the outing of Assistant Defense Secretary Pete Williams, now of NBC News, was not reported during the Gulf War in 1991 despite military policies against gay people. Vice President Dick Cheney, then serving as defense secretary, ignored the security risk of blackmail and blocked further press coverage.

Outing is effective. The Oregonian reported Hatfield’s change of mind on an anti-gay measure just two days after gay activists threatened to out him again.

More outing history is in two carefully vetted books: Straight News by Edward Alwood and Queer in America by Michelangelo Signorile.

Thomas Kraemer, Corvallis



In its Sept. 20 “Slant” column on the Northwest Survey and Data Services (NSDS) poll on Eugene’s $40 million November ballot measure, EW confuses a “push poll” with “message testing” which, according to the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), is very different, ethically and scientifically.

Even Wikipedia says: “A push poll is a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. In a push poll, large numbers of respondents are contacted, and little or no effort is made to collect and analyze response data. Instead, the push poll is a form of telemarketing masquerading as a poll. Push polls are generally viewed as a form of negative campaigning. The term is also sometimes used inaccurately to refer to legitimate polls which test political messages, some of which may be negative.”

But for readers who want a more authoritative statement, all they have to do is go to, you’ll find a more elaborate, scholarly version of the same distinction between push polls and message testing – and clear criteria for defining legitimate surveys.

Your sources, with all due respect to them and to EW, misrepresent the survey’s questions. How do your sources back their claims? What evidence do they have that the NSDS survey was a “push poll,” and what definition or criteria are they using? For EW to claim NSDS asked leading questions on the basis of assertions from two sources without providing some sense of how they backed their claims seems problematic, to say the least.

I understand the “Slant” column consists of “rumor-chasing notes.” But in this case, EW failed to catch up with the rumor to examine it adequately.

According to NSDS President Steve Johnson, “Testing messages, in particular when they are on both sides, is not push polling. In addition, all of the questions the Weekly attributes to the poll are inaccurate — we asked none of them. The survey was not a form of negative campaigning or an attempt to campaign for or against the measure. And of course the results were analyzed in detail. Finally, as is standard practice in social scientific survey research, all telephone interviewers read from the same script and were not allowed to deviate from it and were directly supervised at all times.”

Most of my fellow NSDS interviewers and I have extensive training and experience in elite interviewing. NSDS wouldn’t be worth its salt as a social scientific survey research organization, and as interviewers we wouldn’t have self-respect, if we conducted push polls or did not meet the standards of excellence in, and abide by the code of ethics for, social scientific survey research. Aside from engaging citizens in issues of public interest in the surveys we conduct, some politically charged like Eugene’s $40 million November ballot measure, meeting such standards is a part of what makes this kind of work meaningful.

Sam Porter, Eugene



Dear upper-class woman who has probably never worked in the service industry: I, and my many friends who do work in the industry that you so rudely snubbed in “Servers are Whiny” (8/30) are appalled by your complete and utter lack of appreciation and respect for our jobs! The “tone of peevish entitlement” you speak of comes from the many woes and disappointments felt by servers who stumble into the misfortune to have to serve the likes of you!

You could not say that tips are included in the price of meals, for we the servers see none of that money. We are a subculture of people dependent on those meager little tips. If you honestly think a single mother of three can support her family on a measly $7.80 an hour, you are sadly mistaken, for that is hardly a “family wage.” It is also not enough for a college student paying the exorbitant prices for books, tuition, rent, transportation, food, etc.

Most of the servers I know are dependant on government programs such as food stamps and take the bus to work every day because they cannot afford a car. Practically none of us are insured and live with in constant fear of that one day when you have no choice but to see a doctor, get a tooth filled, need glasses, get pregnant — the list goes on!

Whether you like it or not, 15 to 20 percent is expected by all servers and every cent is greatly appreciated! No matter what is going on in our lives, we put a smile on our faces, quickly adhere to your every need and try to our best to make your dining experience a great one. You may not appreciate us, but we are hardworking people just trying to make it through like the rest of you.

Little or no tip is a huge slap in the face whether you are a 16-year-old working after school, a college student trying to make ends meet, a parent trying to put clothes on their children’s backs and food on the table, a part-timer just looking for a little extra spending money or a retiree looking for something to keep them busy.

No matter what, everyone has bills, mortgages, loans, taxes, expenses and emergencies and it’s your tips that allow us to stay afloat! So think again before you skimp out on the stressed out, over-worked, tired-looking waitress that you’ve had run all over the restaurant looking for your sugar substitute while trying to wait on 10 other tables at the same time while having to answer phones while sitting new customers while dodging unattended children. She’s working hard to earn your money and deserves to be paid accordingly.

Tricia Flegal, Eugene