LETTERS IN THE EDITOR'S MAILBAG.
'Groupthink' is a dangerous trend
Groupthink is a potentially serious threat to our community. It can be defined as the decision-making processes of a relatively small in-group that serve the in-group well in the short run but which, in the long run, inadvertently destroy the institutions upon which the in-group depends for its survival.
Oregon's Public Employees Retirement System may be an example. A relatively small group of professors and administrators can arrange for salaries, benefits and retirement funds that are so generous and good for themselves that the benefits force reductions in teaching services to students and eventual erosion of the educational institution itself.
We see the consequences of groupthink in Europe. Greece, Italy and Spain have borrowed so much money to fund generous benefits to public employees and other projects that the nations are on the brink of bankruptcy. The benefits have been good for the immediate recipients but jeopardize the solvency of the nations upon which those recipients depend for their benefits.
Another example of groupthink might be giving huge tax breaks to real estate developers. Such breaks make building projects financially attractive to investors and contractors in the short run but may not be good for the city budget in the long run.
Groupthink can be promoted by secret meetings to keep contrary, precautionary information off the table. It can be discouraged by having objective representatives of the common good present and influential in meetings where public liability is at stake.
Trading taxation for annexation
I live in the unincorporated River Road area. I would love to annex my home to the city of Eugene and take advantage of its myriad benefits, such as police service, a free library card and the right to vote in city elections.
I am a good, law-abiding citizen, am gainfully employed and will spend money in town. Clearly, it would be to Eugene's benefit to have me as a citizen. Therefore, I will annex on one condition: I want to be exempt from paying city taxes.
No? Then why say yes to tax subsidies for corporations?
Outsourcing work can make sense
I'm not an advocate of big government but I am continually amazed when people fail to recognize when private sector jobs are actually public sector (i.e., government) jobs in disguise.
When someone in the private sector is hired by our government to perform work on the government's behalf, whether it's a contractor hired to repair our roads or a lawyer hired to prosecute cases, their work is paid for by taxes.
If the private sector can provide those services more efficiently and at a higher quality than employees in the public sector can, we should hire the private sector to perform the work.
What if it would be more cost-effective for the public sector to hire employees directly and have those employees perform the work rather than outsource the work to the private sector? That's really the question we should be discussing when we talk about the April 18 article "D.A. seeks city contract work."
We should also not forget that public sector employees pay taxes, and that when government outsources work it means taxes from public sector employees are helping pay for private sector jobs created by the outsourcing.
Keep endorsements off news pages
Newspapers rightly can make political endorsements on their editorial pages. It's something very different when that politicizing is in the news section, as it was on The Register-Guard's front page on April 22.
The editors tried to reinforce their boost for Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson's opponent in the headline under Sorenson's photo by placing quotation marks around the words, "significant accomplishments."
That implies those achievements are merely claims by Sorenson's campaign instead of the reality we have seen during his public service. They are facts, not politics.
The editorial page endorsement - almost a half page - made light of Sorenson's many achievements on behalf of the county when it tossed in a brief acknowledgement of his service at the end of the editorial. Were he a shallow public figure, it would be understandable for the newspaper to urge his ouster. But he has been an outstanding representative of the people; the only shallowness was in the misleading endorsement of his opponent.
What his unproven opponent would do in office is conjecture. What Sorenson's proven independence and commitment to the public has accomplished is a matter of record that should earn him re-election.
Mital would be a good fit at EWEB
I urge my neighbors in Wards 1 and 8 to vote for Steve Mital for Eugene Water & Electric Board commissioner. He's the kind of commissioner EWEB needs - creative, thoughtful, hard-working, caring.
His long list of successes working in sustainability and program development show he is forward-thinking and can get the job done. Just as importantly, he's a great guy - personable, considerate, generous and the type of person who can bring folks together and inspire them to work hard.
Considering all the challenges facing EWEB in the near future - climate change, increasing rates, waterfront redevelopment - Mital has the skills necessary to help keep ahead of those issues.
I'm not the only one who's noticed Mital would be a great fit for EWEB. The Register-Guard, Mayor Kitty Piercy and two other EWEB commissioners have also endorsed him.
Robinson candidacy is a farce
So now we see what passes for honesty in the Robinson household. Art Robinson can't beat Peter DeFazio on his own so his son, Matthew, whose political views are just as conservative as his father's, runs as a Democrat to try and unseat DeFazio in the primary election.
Matthew Robinson may have changed his registration, but he's no Democrat. This is deception, pure and simple. Yet, far from chastising his wayward offspring for lying to the public, his father encourages him, making liars out of both of them.
In his campaign literature, Matthew Robinson has the gall to say about candidates for Congress, "If they are untruthful during elections, how can we trust them in other matters?" Does he mean like lying about one's party affiliation?
Matthew Robinson won't be getting my vote, and he shouldn't get yours, either. Come November, when it's DeFazio against Art Robinson, remember who encouraged his son to lie to try to help him win an election.
Bean would be a superior mayor
I was surprised by The Register-Guard's April 15 editorial recommending Christine Lundberg for Springfield mayor rather than Denise Bean. The editorial said Bean's style resembled that of "mayors in the past, including Bill Morrisette and (Sid) Leiken." My goodness, why look further?
The editorial said if Lundberg is elected, "It seems likely that as Lundberg grows into her new job, she'll become more like the mayor Bean thinks Springfield needs." Hardly a ringing endorsement.
Why elect Lundberg, who, at 60, still needs on-the-job training, when we can elect Bean, who, at 46, is ready to serve Springfield for years to come? She brings good fiscal experience as well as the vision and the energy to help deliver a bright future for Springfield. By the editors' own words, Bean is the preferred candidate. She's the mayor Springfield needs to elect.