Letters to the Editor 2017-12-21


There seems to be a perception among local politicians that the homeless and their advocates don’t appreciate the tiny pitiful efforts of local governments to provide emergency homeless shelter.

That’s not true. We do appreciate their tiny pitiful efforts; we just know that they’re tiny and pitiful.

The Eugene City Council and the Lane County Board of Commissioners favor what they call “pilot projects” — car camps, rest stops, etc. — kept as small as possible and never significantly expanded, even though they work.

They’re responding not to the desperate need for emergency shelter but the desire of middle-class single-family home suburbanites to keep poor people out of “their” neighborhoods.

At the Dec. 11 City Council work session, Emily Semple, to her credit, asked the rest of the council how many more will die on the streets before the city provides enough shelter. The tiny pitiful response was to use a city email list to try to get more volunteers for the overwhelmed Egan Warming Centers.

Lynn Porter, Homeless Action, Eugene 


Can the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) fulfill its mission of protecting public health by implementing current proposals to “streamline” emission regulations, grant exemptions and reduce pollution standards in Oakridge?

Doesn’t LRAPA’s mission to protect public health overrule enabling large industry to increase pollution to the people’s air? For 10 years I have been perplexed how LRAPA allows Lane County’s largest polluters like International Paper’s biomass incinerator (EWEB’s “Green Power”) and Kingsford Briquet operations to spew more than 3,000 tons of particulates, 2,000 tons of nitrous oxide and 1,500 tons of sulfur dioxide per year without requiring these huge polluters to reduce emissions.

LRAPA has quantifiable annual estimates of the deaths and respiratory diseases these toxins cause. Restricting the use of firewood to heat homes on “red” air days is understandable, but allowing huge polluters to foul the people’s air during “red” days is a double standard.  

With the proposed relaxing of Oakridge’s air emission standards, it seems LRAPA, LRAPA board member Jay Bozievich and the mayor of Oakridge have teamed up to accommodate Mr. King’s (King Estate Winery) plans to open up a hard-rock gravel mine about a mile east of city limits.

LRAPA staff report states, “Without the new area designations, it will be nearly impossible for businesses to obtain a permit to construct new sources of air pollution in these areas.”

Citizens should demand a delay of proposed changes by Dec. 29 and at the Jan. 11 LRAPA board meeting. LRAPA’s board minutes for October, November and December are not posted.

Shannon Wilson, Eugene


Another near-life-threatening crash as an SUV turned right across the bike lane on 18th while my daughter and I returned home from school. That is the way most cyclists are killed in an urban environment. It’s similar to a car swerving from the passing lane to an exit off the highway, except I’ve seldom seen that happen.  

The bike lane, I guess, isn’t really seen as a lane for traffic. The people on it are not really worthy of a place on the road. They are an inconvenience and relegated to the side.

Our vulnerability, even the loss of our lives, is of little consequence. We’d barely register as we fall under the wheels of an SUV that might never see rougher roads. 

Every cyclist I know has experienced this sensation — that his or her life has been imperiled. It happens to us weekly. Bi-monthly. Often, we are actually killed.

Bicyclists are killed or seriously injured proportionally more than any other road user. As more people cycle, this statistic will continue to rise. 

I hope when I’m run over, or my daughter is, that the driver is made an example and goes to jail for a long time. I hope there is a lawsuit against the city. There is a precedent for such lawsuits.

We must raise the consequence for killing and imperiling cyclists. The time for treating bicyclists as a nuisance must end. We need safe and equal infrastructure. We are equal human beings with equal rights to the road.  

Otis Haschemeyer, Eugene



Why does the city of Eugene allow promotion of Christianity in a large banner that stretches over the public right-of-way that is downtown W. 11th Avenue? The city staffers I talked to seemed to suggest that “freedom of speech” required the city to allow any messaging anyone cared to pay for. 

Really? There are other rights and prohibitions to be found in the Oregon and U.S. constitutions. One prohibition prohibits government from promoting a “state religion.”

Do you see other religions hanging promotions over our public rights-of-way? The city is complicit in this promotion of a single religion to the exclusion of others. Maybe other religious or irreligious people in our community have more common sense or decency or grace than those who chose to proselytize in the “public square”. Maybe some of them are afraid.

Humans are as irrational as they are rational. The farther they are from oppression or neediness, the more complacent they are. I talked to a number of people who were complacent about this little issue. And bless their hearts! They were mostly gracious to me, and I’m glad they aren’t oppressed or needy. But many people in our diverse community are oppressed and needy, and afraid of responding — especially in the holiday season.

More generally, one of the reasons so many of us get upset with each other right along is because we in this country have the wit and the wealth and the opportunity to do so much better for each other than we ever seem to manage to do. 

If we are a “Christian” enclave, then bring back the giant backlit Skinner’s Butte cross. If we are a diverse, welcoming community, then the city must cease offering partisan messaging on public property. 

At our best, we are so much better than this situation suggests. 

John Parrott, Eugene

Editor’s note: See EW’s story about the banner 1/5 “Religious Banner Downtown Raises Ire.”


Last August, at his Eugene town hall, I asked Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley why he refused to oppose the Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline and export terminal.

I mentioned that the project included harm to 32 endangered species, crossed 400 waterways and rivers, threatened 300 rural Oregonians with eminent domain for private profits, and that the planned terminal, in a tsunami and earthquake subduction zone, would become the largest air polluter of greenhouse gases in Oregon.

Merkley’s response rang hollow. He stated he’d made a commitment to remain neutral/open to the project 10 years ago, and even though he had learned “a lot” about the harms of methane (liquid natural gas), he felt he should honor his previous stance. I was very disappointed.

I knew Merkley opposed the Keystone XL pipeline and that he’d introduced the “Keep It In The Ground” bill in the Senate.

Last week, Merkley published a guest opinion in the Medford paper (Mail Tribune, 12/7) where he stated his opposition to the project. His reasoning included reality! Even though it would bring temporary jobs to Coos County, the environmental impacts were too big to be ignored!

I applaud an elected representative who listens to the concerns of his constituents and learns from them. I applaud an elected official who is paying attention to science, especially as it relates to our survival.

Merkley is well on his way to becoming a climate champion of the people. The environmental community and activists committed to stopping this pipeline and export project have Merkley’s back, and we encourage him to lead boldly.

Debra McGee, Eugene


Re: “Mr. Jones Goes To Washington,” (Slant, 12/14): Doug Jones’ Alabama win was not a “stunning defeat of Trumpism.” It was a narrow liberal victory over a despicable lout who still managed to get nearly 50 percent of the vote.

If Jones interprets this as a mandate to push his far left agenda in the U.S. Senate, he is sadly mistaken and will not see a second term.

Jerry Ritter, Springfield