Natural Resistance: Facing the Evidence: A proposal for local policy on scientific evidence. Part II.
Viewpoint: Yes to Baseball: It's essential to the soul.
Living Out: Spud Love: It takes times to melt into it.
Letters: EW readers sound off.
Imagine you have been sued for contaminating your neighbor's well with pesticides. You're in court, and you bring evidence to show your innocence. For instance, there is no trace of the pesticides in your soil. Aquifer water for wells flows toward your property from your neighbor's, not vice-versa. You have photographs of your neighbor applying chemicals on her property. Neighbors testify that you have often spoken of your organic garden. But the court rules in your neighbor's favor, without even mentioning any of your evidence. You don't believe that's good process.
Now consider that a gravel company wants to mine gravel in prime farmland surrounded by family farms. The local county government can't permit the mine if it will deprive surrounding farmers of water. The gravel company says they'll maintain well water by pumping water that would flow into the mining pit back into the surrounding ground. They also say they'll help get a replacement well if a farmer loses water.
Imagine you're a civil engineering professor. You see the company's water pumping plan and you realize it doesn't make sense. You send information to the county staff, for instance: 1) The one pumping test the company did on the proposed gravel mine site showed a lot of water flowing out -- more than the company is estimating. 2) No pumping system like the one proposed has ever been shown to maintain surrounding well water levels. 3) A replacement well may not be possible, and, if it were, it would have to so far from the failed well that the farmer's costs would significantly increase.
But the county staff tells the county commissioners that the gravel mine won't significantly affect surrounding farmers' water or costs. The staff doesn't ever explain why the evidence you submitted isn't more accurate than the gravel company's. The staff doesn't describe the two sets of evidence. It's as if you never sent in your scientific evidence.
That's not good process, but it's the process being used by Lane County staffpersons Thom Lanfear and his supervisor Kent Howe with evidence on groundwater loss, dust damage, flooding, and whether the site even has enough good gravel to meet state law for a gravel mine. There should be a policy that requires county staff to show they have understood and competently considered scientific evidence relevant to a decision with real world consequences before they make recommendations for commissioners' decisions. County staff shouldn't automatically accept all evidence from all professors, self-styled scientists, or citizens as accurate or relevant. But they should have to indicate why they think the information is or is not accurate or relevant. Local government should not be able to simply ignore evidence. It's not good government process.
Federal rules under the National Environmental Policy Act require federal agencies to acknowledge and either use or explain their rejection of evidence that is submitted by the public during a comment process on federal proposals. It's a good process, because it means you won't be wasting your time if you spend hours reading government and industry documents and then you carefully explain, using information and documentation, why the government or industry is not being accurate. Your information must be taken seriously.
We need a Lane County and Eugene City policy about response to evidence submitted during public comment processes. The policy should require those submitting evidence to include a clear, plain-language summary, and to provide documentation and access to data critical to their clear argument. And the policy should require that staff show they understood the evidence, and why they are or are not accepting and using it. When conflicting evidence comes in, e.g., from a gravel company and a scientist independent of gravel money, the staff should indicate why one set of evidence and not the conflicting evidence is being relied upon.
In the coming months, I and several other scientists and advocates of good government will be approaching your Lane County commissioners and Eugene city councilors with a policy proposal about scientific evidence. We want to make sure you won't be ignored when you bring good evidence -- even if it is evidence your government would rather not face
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Yes to Baseball
It's essential to the soul.
"Nothing from nothing means nothing --"
-- Billy Preston
This old Billy Preston line came to mind as I read the group e-mail sent last week by a Babe Ruth Baseball parent informing me that in my home town, Eugene, allegedly all Eugene 4J School District high school principals except one (North Eugene's Peter Tromba) had preliminarily agreed to eliminate the boys baseball and girls softball programs as part of the district's cost-cutting measures. Isn't it bad enough that secondary class size can exceed three dozen students, that programs are being slashed left and right, that many of our best and brightest teachers work through the spring not knowing if they'll have a job next fall? And now they want to axe baseball?
That night, keyed up, I keyed off a letter to Supt. George Russell and all 4J School Board members. Russell and board members Mike Fox and Virgina Thompson responded in similar tone:
"I agree with the value of sports to high school students. I played baseball and basketball myself and know that it contributed greatly to my staying in high school and being able to go on to college--" "-- 4J's budget is driven by what 4J gets from the Oregon Legislative Assembly -- I suggest you send your comments to Gov. Kitzhaber, your state legislators, the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House --" "-- potentially an $8 million or higher shortfall is projected for next year, reducing our budget by 5 percent and possibly eliminating 65 teaching positions and laying off 100 people --"
I recognize the untenable position they have been put in. We live in a state where rapid decline in school funding has us dangerously approaching the Mississippi Line (no disrespect intended). This is the line analogous to the "Mendoza Line" in baseball, a term used to describe those hitters unable to maintain an average above .200. When I returned to school to get my teacher's degree in 1981, Mississippi was often cited as the worst example of educational funding and the illustrations as to the effects of such funding were stark, dark and disturbing.
In the beginning of a new century with yet another new "education president" in office, with a liberal, pro-education governor, a state lottery intended to support education, and living in a university town that is unabashedly pro-education begs the question: How did we get here? Or more importantly, how do we get out of here? If not baseball, what else will have to be drawn and quartered to satisfy the budget lords? How do we get back to building more schools and fewer prisons rather than the other way around?
I have been an educator for more than 20 years and a baseball player for twice that long. I teach, I coach, I play and I bleed baseball. In my letter to the school board I posed the question "How baseball?", meaning: How does one conceive of cutting our most traditional sport? How does the fourth largest school system in the Northwest eliminate baseball from it's schools? It's blasphemous to even suggest such a thing.
Today I'm not interested in hearing all the arguments of how the privatization of sports may, in the long run, be a better and more efficient way to satisfy the athletic interests of kids because I'm not buying it. I'm coming from a soul place. Baseball is essential to the American soul. If there are to be any athletics funded in our schools, baseball must be one of them. When given the choice to say yes or no to baseball we must say yes, over and over again. Let's practice saying it in front of our mirrors, say it aloud as we drive in our cars, say it to others who we pass on the street, put it on our screen savers and message machines, display it in the windows of our homes, on the bumpers of our cars, wear it on our chests, tattoo it on our bodies if necessary. For baseball is the confluence where culture, community and athletics meet. As pastoral and democratic a pursuit as any American pastime. Simply put, we must say yes to such things.
So before the meetings begin and the letters are written, before the politicians throw up their hands, before a single microphone is spoken into, before this thing is pitted against that thing, before all the advocates of all the programs that also shouldn't be contracted state their case (all justifiably so) let's understand this: Around here, we say yes to baseball. To do otherwise is, well, simply un-American.
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It takes times to melt into it.
I wasn't looking for love. Having a fling was fine, but nothing long-term for me, thanks. My "Forever" relationships had always ended in ugly scenes and late-night door slamming. Who would want that to last till the end of time?
My real "Love Forever" came disguised as your run-of-the-mill, crotch-throbbing attraction. We'd known each other socially for years, but no sparks. Exactly one month before our first night together, the future love of my life interviewed me about my trip to Gay Lobby Day on the radio show she hosted. I was nervous, she was cool, competent, a woman in charge.
I couldn't take my eyes off those chubby little fingers diddling the console knobs. During a break she took off her headphones. "You're shy aren't you?" Wonga wonga!
Something got me about her seeing the tender inner self behind my out 'n proud persona. I drove away from the radio station vowing she'd be my next fling. Only for the sex, of course.
I invited her to stuff envelopes at the non-profit where I volunteered. She had a meeting. I asked her if she wanted to go to the Pride rally. She was fixing her sink. A movie? She had a dentist appointment. Finally, one night at a potluck she announced "I've got a free pair of concert tickets, anybody want to go?"
"I will!" I was too gaga to notice her trepidation. I tried to make a good impression in my vintage Hawaiian shirt, a poor choice for the chilly auditorium's metal seats. I scooted my chair toward her, hoping for some body heat. Was it my imagination, or did she scoot away? I scooted again. So did she. During the standing ovation I sidled closer. She stepped into the aisle.
It was pouring rain when the concert let out. We had to run across the parking lot to her truck. I hoped she'd put her warm arm around me or at least lay one of those pudgy little paws on my thigh. I wanted to connect, win her over, get in her pants. When a huge RV passed us I said, "Ah, that's my fantasy -- drive out to the boonies in a big camper and have loud sex."
Silence. She didn't say a word for the whole 45-minute drive home. I made myself wait a week to call her up. "Hi, I just harvested my potatoes. Want to come over for dinner?"
"Sure, that sounds exciting."
Potatoes? Exciting? This from the chair scooter? Maybe she finally ran out of excuses. Maybe she had a thing for spuds. We ate our baked potatoes. She was relaxed, warm, funny. Why hadn't I ever noticed those huge blue eyes?
"Another potato?" I asked.
After dinner, we took a walk, held hands, talked, laughed. We hugged good-night at my gate. Full body press. The next night we went to a GALA dance. We made out in the car and went home to my place. We shared a whole year of sleep-overs before I started using the word "Love." Even longer before "Forever" passed my lips. On our first six-month-a-versary, she gave me a card asking "Wanna try for another six months?" I hit the roof.
"Quit future tripping. Don't lay any expectations on me!"
The moment I changed is hard to pinpoint. Maybe it was when my old dog died and my sweetie stepped up to the number one loyal companion spot. Maybe it was weathering tough times without turning on each other that let me relax into love. Or maybe it just kept being good, so I stayed. After 14 years, even I will admit this isn't a fling. And the love keeps unfolding -- like one of those party-favor balls you unravel slowly so you don't miss any of the little prizes tucked between the layers. Who wouldn't want it to last forever?
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Yet another American tragedy is currently in the making -- the threat is not from abroad this time, but from our own local officials. The proposed West Eugene Parkway will devastate vital wetlands despite measures that were designed to protect this critical habitat forever. More than $11 million of Land, Water and Conservation Funds (LWCF) have been used to provide protection of this diminishing ecosystem.
In addition to supporting numerous species of flora and fauna, wetlands serve as an important filtration system for groundwater entering the underground aquifer. Paving these wetlands after protection has been granted establishes a dangerous precedent for our nation. It particularly seems ironic that Eugene, a community that treasures the environment, would violate a policy designed to steward a precious ecosystem in perpetuity. Claims of mitigation -- creating "new" wetlands in exchange for those destroyed -- are ludicrous at best. One only needs to drive west of Veneta to see the roadside ditches that are examples of mitigated wetlands. Please join other concerned citizens at the public hearing at 6 pm Wednesday, Feb. 20 at City Hall to voice your ideas about sensible decisions that support a livable community. Indeed, homeland security begins in our own backyard.
Lane County Commissioner Cindy Weeldreyer's contribution to a time capsule to be opened in 150 years was God's Little Instruction Book for Leaders. I almost squirted morning coffee through my nose when I read what she inscribed in the book: "My prayer is that Lane County, Oregon, is still Eden-like." Since I'm familiar with Weeldreyer's anti-environmental and anti-public interest voting record, I find it difficult to swallow such blatant deception and pious hypocrisy.
Weeldreyer has, despite the program's lack of cost effectiveness, voted for spraying toxic roadside chemicals, for building on prime forest land, for destroying wetlands, for paving rich farmland, for endangering the River Road area aquifer, for allowing cell towers to grow like mushrooms, for extending Springfield's corporate welfare programs, for handing over $200,000 to County Coach for "road improvements," for continuing without restriction the $45 million tax giveaway to Hynix, for refusing to consider replacing the county's discredited punch-card ballot system, for allowing law enforcement officials to keep seized property without criminal conviction, etc.
Financed by clearcutters, proponents of urban sprawl, realtors, land speculators, and corporate welfare recipients, her votes are certainly understandable.
Less understandable are her illogical Register-Guard guest editorials in which she parades her extremist religious beliefs in opposing reproductive choice and the right of choice in ending life humanely. Does she think that these issues are official county business?
Perhaps endless strip malls, a theocratic government, and polluted land, air and water are her idea of Eden. They're certainly not mine.
To the community: I am writing to thank you. As many of you know, on Dec. 11, thieves broke into my space, Hands On Rhythm and Drum School and took all my hand drums. I have been dealing with insurance and security issues ever since and have come to find out that Eugene is a hotbed for theft from cars, homes, and offices. Many of you have endured this experience as well, and it was a sad realization for me -- my heart goes out to all of you.
The outpouring of sympathy, concern, and support from so many in the Eugene community since this break-in has made it impossible for me to dwell on the negative implications. I have had countless people tell me how sorry they are for my misfortune. I have had total strangers calling and drop by the school to donate and lend drums. The media decided this was newsworthy, businesses sent money and donated services, and last weekend musicians volunteered their talents to play at a benefit, that raised $2,245. And still the checks and notes are arriving daily from kind individuals wanting to help!
Yes, love does conquer hate. People of Eugene, I am proud to declare that you have cured this cynical ex-New Yorker with your generous heart, and I am better for it. I will never be the same, and I am eternally grateful.
LCC'S QUIET HEROES
I would like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts regarding the current LCC faculty contract negotiations. I am fortunate to be part of LCC. I would like to remind the community that decisions made in the next few weeks will determine what kind of atmosphere will remain at Lane for many years to come.
Long hours are commonplace amongst faculty I know at LCC. It is not uncommon to come in early and see most of the faculty here, stay late and they are still here. Many work during breaks and during the summer. They do this without asking for compensation because there is work to be done. Lane faculty and staff know the meaning of hard, dedicated work, and they wouldn't want it any other way. I don't hear many complaining about the hard work. No one is asking for the moon, just fair pay for a job well done and a decent wage to keep up with the cost of living.
In any budget there are priorities. How money is spent clearly reflects those priorities. When money is tight you have to make tough choices. The faculty members I work with at LCC are essential to this college and the community as a whole. A faculty whose needs aren't being met cannot meet the needs of the community or the students. I urge the LCC administration to reach a fair settlement quickly so that good will can be maintained between faculty and the administration.
Ruth Bichsel, Ph.D.,
Praise be to every deity I know and don't know -- Red Meat is back! And with a poo-poo joke to start! Thanks, EW, I needed that. With all the heavy debates around soft porn, the dumbing-down of our fair city, pollution, ad nauseum, there ain't nuttin' like a good poo-poo joke to give me a truly satisfying barrel laugh. Keep 'em comin'!
As I sit in the school office writing my monthly check for grocery scrip, my 5-year-old daughter asks me, "Why don' t the schools have enough money?" Answering children' s questions requires cutting to the very essence of things. I think about the bigger houses, bigger cars, and things like computers, VCRs, and mountain bikes that my parents' generation never had. "Because people would rather spend their money on their own stuff," I answer her sadly.
Benton Elliott' s letter (1/31) calling for public school tuition to balance our state budget crisis is missing some important points. We parents already do pay "tuition" in the form of fees for things that used to be free: school supplies, field trips, guest speakers, etc. We also pay "tuition" in the form of fund-raising, which amounted to over $55,000 last year at my daughter' s school and also pays for things that used to be free: music teachers, PE teachers, new books for the library, etc. In addition, parents pay "tuition" by volunteering their time.
All of this "tuition" is already based loosely on the parents' ability to pay, since some families pay much more than others. But such a system creates inequities between public schools, as those in wealthier neighborhoods can raise much more money. Institutionalizing such a system would just make the inequities worse.
All of us adults had the choice of a free public education when we were kids, so isn't it only fair that we pay the taxes required to give the next generation the same opportunity?
FLY YOUR OWN FLAG
It's clear now that the need for a federal government has worn itself out. Our state's dependence on this monstrosity is a hindrance despite the claims that it is vital.
Take a look at your pay stub. How much of your money goes to the state you live in, where you see the impact of funds, and how much goes to the invisible empire? Does it seem a little out of balance? Would the state of Oregon not find itself better off if we collectively agreed that until the feds yank their tops from their bottoms, we will keep our money here and maintain the high living standard that we all need? Or is that a little crazy?
What, no feds? But then who would maintain the drug war? Who would veto our laws? Who would spend all our money on stimulus packages for the same people that are ripping us off? Who would lie to us to make us feel better? Who would accuse us of being un-American? Who would allow our humanity to degrade to the point that we only exist to feed the image of growth, while the infrastructure crumbles?
How did it get to this point? Have we all been asleep? I feel like there is a parasite inside me that is roving around, looking for new places to roost in my psyche. The last few months I saw so many flags that I wanted to puke. But now are starting to disappear. Freedom is worth being proud of, but that flag is a symbol of oppression. True freedom is the right to fly your own flag of your own design without fear.
LET US SPAY
As a veterinarian I spend hours each week working and volunteering to spay/neuter companion animals. Last Thursday four of the five cats I spayed were in heat. Another sobering reminder that thousands of litters of beautiful, homeless kittens will soon be flooding our already overcrowded and under-funded shelters.
This is the time of year when we, as a community, can save thousands of lives, dollars, and hours simply by being responsible. We just have to change a few bad habits.
First, if you have a cat (or any pet) be sure it is spayed/neutered. Do not wait! If you cannot afford it, ask a friend, or contact a veterinary clinic, Greenhill Humane Society, or LCARA to get information on low-cost options or assistance groups. Remember, caring for a litter costs much more than spay/neuter surgery.
Second, if you can, donate some time or money to help local groups that provide funding for spay/neuter programs. They desperately need any help you can give.
Finally, stop believing and promoting "old wive's tales." Going through heat or having a litter does not make an animal "better behaved." Spaying/neutering does not cause obesity, but overfeeding does. Have children experience the "miracle of birth" with a nature program. Then take them to tour a local shelter. Teach them responsible animal guardianship. While there, consider adopting a new friend.
Let us be proactive this year and prevent the needless killing of thousands. All life is precious. We can do it -- one spay at a time.
Dr. Roberta L. Boyden, DVM
There is a perspective to a university's foreign language requirement overlooked in Jessica Pyne's article (1/24) on sign language. She mentions only gaining familiarity with other cultures and providing insights into one's own language.
Liberal arts universities have a mission of educating students in academic disciplines. If chemists, mathematicians, psychologists, philosophers and programmers know only English, then we are cut off from discoveries, research and scholarship in many other countries.
We can't expect students to master all of the languages of the world, but if each student masters at least one other language, then our ability to share in the knowledge from other countries will be promoted. This is a legitimate objective of an academic institution.
Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush have gushed endlessly about how wonderful and moral their crusades/jihads are but the truth is quite clear: They are both immoral piles of shit who warp religion, government and common sense with barbaric bombing. I apologize for insulting the organic secretions of the animal kingdom. The creations of the kingdom are preferable to the secretions of the violent KING DOMES.
There is no such thing as an innocent nation or other violent group. In order for any nation or other group to have enemies it must have done something bad to people somewhere in the world. The more killing a nation does or sponsors the more enemies it will have. Even covert killings and tortures eventually become known and contribute to our stash of enemies. The killings are real and seem endless and they are hazardous to all of us. No person fully endowed with common sense and goodness can support any religion, government or group which indulges in barbaric bombing. Stop, think, do good, survive. And maybe the Earth's biosphere will survive too.
SAME OLD WORLD
"Everything is different after Sept. 11." This mantra is repeated loudly and often by the president and his administration. After listening to the State of the Union address I have come to a different conclusion. A more apt saying is "The more things change the more they stay the same."
The president is manipulating and exploiting Sept. 11 to promote an old, right wing agenda. The countries that form the new "axis of evil", Iraq, Iran and North Korea, have been in the cross hairs of the right way before Sept. 11. Now they have become legitimate targets in the "war on terrorism."
By identifying "tens of thousands of dangerous killers spread throughout the world like ticking bombs", George W. is using a [tried and true] method of scaring the public into support for an increase in military spending. President Reagan used the threat of the "evil empire" and "commie under every bed" effectively in dramatically increasing the "defense" spending in the '0s. Today Bush is using the "terrorist threat" to increase the Pentagon budget by $120 billion by 2007 -- the biggest increase since Reagan.
Big business, president's biggest fan, has always wanted a free hand at pillaging world resources and unfettered access to world markets. In the post-Sept. 11 world they are assured of the backing of our military; all in the name of "war on terrorism."
The time has come for Americans to resist militarism and the drive for world domination in the name of fighting terror.
CHILDREN OF PALESTINE
We, of course, had the lost generation with F. Scott Fitzgerald and his crew of expatriates; and we had a lost generation when the beatniks grabbed hold of the cultural/creative reins in the '50s. But these two lost generations are nothing compared to the children we are on the verge of losing in Palestine and the effect it will have on the history of the world. The people of Israel, the U.S. and Europe need to wake up and recognize that by no means can we afford to lose this generation. This is where the true battle is now and its outcome will determine the next 50 years. It is a battle for the hearts and minds of these children and they need our help and aid more than ever. Can they be un-brainwashed?
Israel cannot be expected to solve this problem. This region needs U.N. supervision and Palestine, the nation, truly needs to be born. We owe it to the children of Palestine and, without a doubt, we owe it to the children of Israel. Special U.N. Convention of Israel/Palestine now!
WORTHY OF THE TITLE
In response to Bruce Schennum (1/24): You are correct, The Keystone has won awards more than once for Best Service. You are also correct that our coffee and water are self-service, (although we do not use Thermos pots for our coffee, and the coffee and water are both centrally located).
As you stated that it has been a while since you have eaten at the Keystone I wonder why it is important to you to attempt to have the readers of the Weekly view it in a negative light?
It is obvious to me and the Keystone clientele that you, in fact, have not been here for a very long time if you had to wait one and a half hours to be served lunch and had to get your own silverware and napkins.
We invite you to come enjoy breakfast, or lunch, at the Keystone anytime. Hopefully the next letter you feel the need to write will be based on what it is now versus what has been who knows how many years ago.
Who knows, perhaps you'll be so impressed you'll vote the Keystone as providing the best service next time around.
In the meantime, keep your sense of humor. And no, we don't take plastic.
Gail M. Brown
Manager, Keystone Cafe
Mike Eyesteur and the UO Housing Department finally admit that they intend to remove the 10 blocks of historic neighborhood at Moss, Columbia and Villard Streets. The Register-Guard and The Emerald are covering a story the Housing Department dreads having to talk about. By admitting that they consider the 112 homes as "temporary", and that they are busy evicting low income GTF families, they run the risk of the rest of this town inviting itself into their decision.
The Moss Street neighborhood exists now as a safe, low-income nodal neighborhood due to its 100-year historic review. Just across Moss Street are vast empty lots they could build on. Sure, build a new day care center -- but don't crush families and a great neighborhood in the process.
BRING ME WORMS
After reading the letter (1/31) suggesting that parents pay tuition for or privatize our public school system, I had to respond.
No matter how you look at it, charging students or their parents money for education is reversing the evolution of our species. A famous philosopher made this analogy: "If a mother bird said to her babies, 'Bring me some worms and then I will teach you to fly!' That would pretty much be the end of least that particular species of bird."
How about this suggestion: To help fund our schools, maybe we should end corporate welfare. Government subsidies to huge multi-national corporations consume so much taxpayer money that the true costs of goods and services are not even reflected correctly in our economy! And now, under NAFTA's Chapter 11, corporations are collecting billions of dollars for lawsuits claiming environmental or state/federal regulations hurt their profits. These so-called tribunals meet privately and are closed to the public. Not even the U.S. Supreme Court can overturn their outcome. Your legislators are not allowed in either.
Our public schools could have used the billions used to bail out the airlines, or the billions going to Bristol-Meyers-Squibb for every factory they open in Puerto Rico.
The list is endless. Anyone who thinks these greedy swine need the money more than our schools is obviously the product of the American education system. And they probably think we live in a democracy too.
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