Editorial : The Oregonian Goes South
Living Out: Deep Water Amazon is just right.
Letters: EW readers sound off.
It's always a contest between The Register-Guard and The Oregonian for which paper has the most out-of-touch editoral writers, but the prize this week goes to The Sunday Oregonian for Doug Bate's absurd commentary on Eugene titled "When Business Goes South."
Bates' analysis of Eugene's economy would be laughable except that it sounds credible and will be accepted by many as fact. Bates, a former reporter and managing editor at the R-G (1969-89), should know better than to write authoritatively on a topic he obviously knows little about. It's The Oregonian's policy to correct erroneous information in news stories, and we hope that policy is enforced in its staff commentary writing as well.
|Implying that the UO has an anti-business impact on Eugene is ridiculous. UO is certainly one of the strongest draws as far as recruiting businesses and people to Eugene.|
Bates' main contention is that "slow-growthers" have created an economic disaster in Eugene, forcing businesses out of our downtown, sending our hospital to Springfield and alienating our high-tech employer, Hynix. Bates cautions the same thing can happen in Portland.
Here are a few of the misleading and naive contentions in the commentary:
Ç Bates writes that Eugene' downtown mall was "widely blamed for driving Sears, Wards, Pennys, the Bon Marché and dozens of other retailers out of downtown." This is pure fantasy. It was the construction of Valley River Center and Gateway that sucked business out of downtown. The business community helped build the pedestrian mall, but later found that strip malls and shopping centers were more profitable.
Ç Bates says a "prime example" of the City Council's anti-business attitude was the 1999 vote to condemn Hyundai for "alleged" discriminatory hiring practices, and says "the company displayed little loyalty to Eugene when it laid off most of its 800 employees …" In fact, Hyundai was found guilty of these practices in a court of law, and the lay-offs had nothing to do with retaliation, but everything to do with the global computer chip economy.
Ç He writes that "The owners of Sacred Heart Medical Center, exasperated with Eugene's municipal bureaucracy, have given up a long and contentious attempt to expand operations in the city." The more accurate scenario is that PeaceHealth had wanted to build a sprawling suburban campus for years and squabbles with the city were just an excuse to abandon downtown. PeaceHealth was already busy loaning money to developer John Musumeci to acquire the Springfield site. Bates also fails to note that a new Sacred Heart in Springfield is not a done deal, and that PeaceHealth is embroiled in a federal lawsuit charging unfair competition.
Ç Bates suggests that the Planning Commission's vote against the West Eugene Parkway reflected commissioners' residential connection to the UO campus. In fact, the commissioners simply recognized that WEP will likely never be built because it's illegal and facing insurmountable court challenges. And implying that the UO has an anti-business impact on Eugene is ridiculous. UO is certainly one of the strongest draws as far as recruiting businesses and people to Eugene. One problem today is that the local business community does not work more closely with the UO and that UO does not have more influence. We would be better served if it did.
Ç The firing of City Manager Vicki Elmer in 1998 was also on Bates' agenda, saying the city "sacked her for, among other perceived weaknesses, being insufficiently open to Eugene's minority communities." Who's feeding him this tripe? Elmer was hired to shake up an entrenched city government and her downfall was perhaps being too strong, too good at it. Threatened city staffers used minorities, along with the clueless R-G, to run Elmer out of town.
Ç Bates quotes Mayor Torrey saying the Gang of 9's "tactics were shrewd, ethical and highly successful," but it is doubtful that The Oregonian would have run Gang of 9 cartoons. They were disgraceful and irresponsible attacks on some council members, in the worst tradition of political cartooning, fueled by large amounts of cash from pro-sprawl developers.
All things considered, Bates didn't talk to nearly enough people before writing his commentary, and his editors obviously didn't question his facts or his simplistic conclusions. In journalism, as in many fields of endeavor, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. We hope The Oregonian sets the record straight. — TJT
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Amazon is just right.
Maybe it's the heat. I don't know what's happened to me. I used to be a radiant, powerful Amazon warrior. I trained in martial arts, ran 10Ks and marched on Washington. Now I barely have the pep to spend half an hour with Pat and Vanna.
It's not like I don't have good role models. Even my own sweetie works out. She's been doing water aerobics and loves flaunting her new-found buffitude. Other than squeezing her bulging biceps — one of my wifely duties — I haven't shared much in her resurgent athleticism.
My little jockette was eager to turn me on to her fountain of youth. I tried it once, but I can't stand indoor pools. I grew up in Southern California where they keep their pools outside, which makes sense to me. But here in the Northwest, where you need pontoons on your shoes nine months of the year, indoor pools are the norm. Where is the health benefit in snorting chlorine fumes and scudding around on athlete's foot fungus in a dank shower stall? It wasn't until sweetie's deep-water class moved to an outdoor pool that I could refuse her no longer.
The new place is clean and bright and out in the open. To my surprise, I'm now happily spending my afternoons toning my glutes and obliques in our town's new municipal aquatic facility, which by no unappreciated coincidence is called "Amazon Pool." (Somebody should tell the Chamber of Commerce that lesbian tourists flock to our town just to get their picture taken under that sign.)
One session of splashing around in my Aqua Jogger belt and I'm already hooked. I love bobbing merrily in all that turquoise water under the sunny sky. Not only do I get a good workout, but I also get to see my adorable bride in a swimsuit — well worth the price of admission.
And yet, my eyes do stray from my beloved now and then. With all those spandexed bodies parading around, I admit that from time to time my attention is not dedicated to the one I love. Today, during our warm-up laps I notice an intriguing tattoo on a new shoulder in class. I casually float over for a closer look. Right away I realize that I am not wearing my glasses and that people look a lot different when they're wet. Tattoo Woman turns out to be an old acquaintance. There's something disconcerting about being caught staring at the tattoo of a person you actually know. It's too late to pretend that while I was doing my side-to-side shoot-throughs I inadvertently drifted two inches from her decorated deltoid. I have to say something.
Most eyes are on the instructor as she demonstrates the wide-tire-legs-paddle-wheel-arms exercise from the ladder. The keenest conversation opener I can manage is, "What's new?"
Tattoo Woman proceeds to tell me the whole saga of how she and her boyfriend had to get married because her workplace doesn't provide partner benefits to unmarried heterosexuals, only to same-sex couples. Maybe she mistakes the water droplets on my face for sympathy tears. I'm not up for turning my happy leisure activity into a political flare up over heterosexist discrimination. Granted, it's cool that her employer recognizes that same sex couples can't legally marry, but what I wouldn't give for an insurance company to recognize my marriage.
What's the big deal with benefits, anyway? Tattoo Woman's partner deserves benefits, just like we all do. Everyone should be entitled to health care coverage regardless of who or whether they've married. But water aerobics is supposed to be healthy fun. Must I think about bigotry while I'm doing my sit-kicks?
Tattoo Woman glides away and I go back to admiring my sweetie's adept ab crunches. I feel good that I am strong enough to keep up, but I'm reminded that even though we're all flouncing around in the same pool, not everyone gets "liberty and justice for all." I suppose some of us will always struggle for more than just keeping our heads above water.
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I love Eugene. I love her abundant bicycle paths, beautiful parks and flower gardens. Something is always in bloom, and drivers here actually respect bicyclists (that's weird).
I love all the yummy places to eat and the fine health food stores. Pizza Pipeline rules. And there's the Bijou, a funky little theater with great art flicks.
The university has a great outdoor recreation program — God bless our rivers.
Saturday Market is fun — organic veggies, cool vendors, good music and beautiful drum circles: a real high. Art Walk is a blast, and Eugene has a good bus system, though I hear it has been recently cut.
And there's music, music all over — lots of music and music festivals. Lots of beautiful people.
I love Eugene. Please enjoy these things, ride your bicycles and walk more. Smell flowers and respect the diversity, creativity, tolerance and social awareness that inspired them.
Yeah, and somebody please fix Jupiter.
Oregon, once again, is out front! Health Care For All-Oregon has filed 98,001 signatures to place the Oregon Comprehensive Health Care Finance Act on the November ballot.
We have the exciting opportunity to change the course of history, in Oregon and the entire country. The people's elected representatives, many unable to break the chains of the special interests that financed their respective campaigns, have allowed the health care delivery system to disintegrate to the great detriment of an increasingly larger portion of Oregon residents.
Some 470,000 Oregonians have no health insurance including 70,000 children. Many more are under-insured. The situation continues to worsen with the weak economy and double-digit increases in the cost of health insurance. In the U.S., we spend twice as much per capita on health care as any other country. This includes over $309 billion annually on paperwork in insurance companies, hospitals and doctors' offices — at least half of which could be saved through single-payer health care. This type of savings is a major part of what will make the Oregon Comprehensive Health Care Finance Act work.
This is the most important vote you will ever cast. Don't base it on condensed ballot titles and summaries, or negative sound bites paid for by millions of your dollars spent by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to defeat this measure. Vote "yes" for this long overdue change in our health care system. Learn more at www.hcao.org
Lane County Chair,
Health Care For All-Oregon
Next time you do an article on Glenwood (6/13), try and come up with some solid, respectable citizens, would ya? I mean, thank God you have Mrs. Westover in there as a saving grace. But that's some real riffraff you've got decorating your cover.
(From the) Greater Glenwood Citizens Committee for Respectability and Good Looks.
On July 9, Young George was quoted in the daily fishwrap as saying "Sometimes things aren't exactly black and white when it comes to accounting procedures." This was his response to doubts of his honesty in the Harken swindle. I am reminded of a quote that was old when I was young — "Figures don't lie, but liars do figures."
Today's "respected leaders" seem incapable of shame when it comes to massive dishonesty. I make the motion they be sandpapered until they're gone. Do I hear a second?
James L. Whetstine
I attended the Bach Mass in B Minor performance tonight (6/28), my first concert at the Hult Center, and I was very much impressed. I was not impressed, however, when during the Agnus Dei (my favorite part of the piece and one of the most intimate sections), there was a barrage of noise from the audience. Not one, not two, but 15 coughs. That's right, I counted 15.
Now, I don't want to be a total grump. But I'd like to suggest that anyone attending intimate concerts come prepared with Ludens, Ricola or some other cough drop of choice. It was quite distracting and pretty much destroyed the mood that the orchestra and soloists worked so hard to achieve.
Remember, when you go to see a show, your enjoyment of that performance depends on everyone else as much as their enjoyment depends upon you.
It isn't suprising that Eugene isn't interested in following Seattle's lead ("Ungreen Green", 7/11). The pro-industry forces in city government here are much more powerful proportionally than in Seattle. We have a dearth of industry to provide funding for our big-city perks and a group of plutocrats — Hizzoner Jim Torrey the most obvious — who wants to promote it and who are very effective in diverting dissent into harmless channels.
Diversity means nothing when you can't agree on anything.
Since our West Lane County Commissioner (Morrison) voted against it and publicly denounced the decision to grant the Board of Commissioners a pay increase, I would like to respectfully suggest that she either refuse to accept the pay increase or — better yet — donate her increase to a charitable cause, such as the Siuslaw Area Women's Center. That would certainly show us that she stands behind what she espouses.
OF THE VOTERS?
Councilor Meisner's basis for voting for the West Eugene Parkway (WEP) project relied upon what he considered his legal obligation to "honor the wishes of Eugene voters," even though the councilor was aware the voters were bombarded by fraudulent statements promising the "money was there," when, in fact, that problem conflicts with statements by ODOT. Meisner even ignored the fact that his own constituency had voted 3 to 1 against the proposal. What a strange style of representation!
Then there is Councilor Farr, who has always claimed his district is "most affected" by the WEP, when, in fact, the Bethel-Danebo transportation system is not affected at all. I wonder if Farr has ever told his constituents the road leading into Eugene will be a two-lane highway and will remain two lanes for close to the next 20 years, cluttering their section of Beltline Road with an additonal on-grade intersection. And along with Mayor Torrey are Councilors Nathanson and Pape, who seem not to understand that it's not necessary to build across the wetlands.
In reading the hundreds of pages of information written relative to the proposed project, one particular statement by ODOT Commissioner Randy Pape stood out in regard to the necessity of building through the wetlands. He said if the council did not move forward, the state would: 1) "move the funding to other projects;" 2) "designate West 11th west of Beltline an expressway to protect its function for through-traffic;" 3) "initiate Stage 3 of the Beltline project from Royal to West 11th; 4) "once that project was completed, ODOT would move on to other project areas in the state and would not be involved in funding road projects east of Beltline." Obviously, #1 and #2 were threats designed to intimidate our subservient mayor and some timid councilors.
But #2 is proof that ODOT is capable of avoiding the wetlands just as our forefathers avoided the wetlands close to 100 years ago. Number 3 shows it is possible to complete Beltline as planned more than 40 years ago.
So, if ODOT can avoid the wetlands, provide a limited access highway into Eugene, complete Beltline Road and, at the same time, save multi-millions of tax dollars by eliminating unnecessary highway construction and overpass costs, why can't Eugene's "leaders" demand such a common sense approach?
Is it because the proponents cannot find a politically acceptable way to satisfy their beloved industrial land developer's WEP dream?
Even if the offensive words "under God" were removed, the Pledge of Allegiance would still be reprehensible. It is a generalized, undefined, unlimited oath of loyalty, which cannot be ethically meaningful or legally binding. (Notice the resemblance to an undeclared, global, perpetual war of terror?)
When an oath is declared (to tell the truth or defend the Constitution) some specificity is required for an informed and intended decision to make that pledge.
Even then, such a promise is not infinite. For example, a soldier who has sworn his duty cannot be compelled to commit an atrocity.
The Pledge of Allegiance is oxymoronic. It ends with a proclamation that vaguely glorifies liberty and justice, but the pledge begins with a proclamation that is anathema to liberty and justice: swearing fealty to symbol rather than meaning and giving honor to nation rather than ethic.
Anyone who recites this pledge is, knowingly or obliviously, either a slave or a liar. Requiring teachers to lead a daily/weekly convocation ritual among the youngest children required to attend is (totalitarian brainwashing? cultural tyranny)? Until the pledge is abolished from most public settings, it would be helpful for parents to teach their children to wait outside any classroom until the ritual is over and then attend class to learn critical thinking.
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