LETTERS IN THE EDITOR'S MAILBAG.
South Eugene grateful for support
South Eugene High School lost two of its brightest stars on Feb. 5 when a rogue wave claimed the lives of Connor Ausland and Jack Harnsongkram. These fine young men were serving their community by raising thousands of dollars for Children's Miracle Network. This tragedy rocks our very foundation as we struggle to make sense of this devastating loss.
We take strength from the families of Jack and Connor, who have expressed how important it is that we all learn from what these two friends stood for. They not only were bright and hardworking, but they loved to make others smile and sought to include those who otherwise might be left out.
I am deeply moved to see how our students and staff have been touched by these two lives and how they have wrapped their arms and hearts around each other.
Nothing ever will replace their loss, but Connor's and Jack's spirits have bonded with ours and as such will strengthen our community forever. We already have seen this in the far-reaching support that our high school received from other schools and individuals throughout the Eugene-Springfield area and beyond.
We wish to express our most sincere appreciation for the cards, flowers and food that literally have nourished our bodies and lifted our spirits. Many professionals have offered to provide our students with timely assistance. Students from other schools visited with ours, bringing gifts and heartfelt condolences.
Truly, we feel blessed to be living and working in such a caring community.
Randy Bernstein, principal
South Eugene High School
Story images were too strong
Some things are better left unsaid, or at the very least should come with a warning notice such as one sees on television prior to shows that contain "images that may be disturbing to the viewer." On Feb. 11, The Register-Guard spoke the unspeakable by writing the unwritable, and it neglected to warn the reader in advance of its intention to do so.
It is one thing to tell the story of a child abuse trial (Angela McAnulty's) in progress, and quite another to do so in a manner that assaults the reader with such force as to make her vomit into her Cheerios. That the jurors and others present in the courtroom have had to endure brutal images of this sort in the selfless course of public service is their unfortunate duty. That the public at large would be subjected to these raw details without any warning is obscene.
If this were intended to startle the general consciousness into action against child abuse, there might be a smidgeon of understanding. If the intention was sensationalizing these distressing events in order to sell more newspapers, shame on The Register-Guard.
I have seen footage of Auschwitz that was less disturbing than the images I read of that day, images that will haunt me forever.
The best commissioner: Stewart
Phyllis Barkhurst did a great job bashing Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart in her Feb. 10 letter. She basically called him lazy and listed many things he doesn't do. I've thought about it, and I also would like to note a few things that he doesn't do.
Commissioner Stewart doesn't hold secret "book club" meetings with the intent of pushing through his own budget agenda while excluding other commissioners or their budget committee appointees who may disagree with him. He never has been sued and had his testimony called "not credible" by the presiding judge. "Not credible" sounds an awful lot like "liar."
He never has cited budget woes in voting against the restoration of 84 beds to the jail while, at the same budget meeting, voting to add unnecessary assistants to his own staff. That would be severely hypocritical.
Finally, Stewart never has delayed the appointment of a new sheriff simply to score political points and attempt to make the new board majority look bad.
It is my opinion that Stewart is the best commissioner that Lane County has had in recent years. That should be taken with a grain of salt, however. With Rob Handy, Pete Sorenson and Bill Fleenor controlling the board over the last couple of years, being the best Lane County commissioner has been much like being the best bullfighter in Alaska. The competition just hasn't been that tough.
Bush sought Middle East democracy
I had an interesting conversation the other day with someone of liberal persuasion. While discussing the events happening in Tunisia and Egypt, I mentioned that at the beginning of the Iraq war, amid all the talk of weapons of mass destruction, a futuristic message little heard by the left was delivered by, yes, President George W. Bush.
He told us that liberating Iraq would plant the seed of democracy in the region, and that seed would grow and spread when the masses get a glimpse of the taste of freedom.
We are now seeing the fruit from that seed, as oppressed people all over the Arab world are standing up to the totalitarian regimes they have suffered under for so long.
It was interesting to watch the reaction from a Bush-hating liberal when I suggested this. At first, the person's normally cheery face turned into an "I just ate something sour" look. During the next few seconds of silence, I could sense this person was reaching way down inside to find a platitude from the past that could be used to discount my theory.
All the person could come up with was "Bush didn't do it." Over the next several minutes, it was interesting to watch this person struggle with the concept that I could be right, that Bush was right. So, Bush gave liberals a learning moment.
Instead of bowing down to brutal dictators and becoming an international laughing stock as President Obama has done, we should be standing up to these thugs and continuing the spread of democracy that was planted by (I know liberals hate this) George W. Bush.
Attackers won't divulge funding
On Feb. 9, The Register-Guard published a story headlined "County meeting limits sought." The article described the wall of secrecy around the financing of the suit against Commissioners Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy for violating open meetings law.
Really. I'm not kidding.
The folks who criticized Sorenson and Handy for secrecy are being secretive in who financed their attacks against two of the most progressive and effective leaders we have. Clearly, the only principle at stake for them was their desire to destroy political foes; they're showing us that the principle of openness is not really important to them.
And yesterday, I heard a city staffer say they are all looking closely at city policy and their e-mail habits because "open meeting and quorum laws suddenly don't mean what everyone thought they meant."
It's all so disappointing. The idea here is to work together to bring a shared vision of our community to life. I want our elected leaders to work to make this a better place to live and not be afraid to be creative, to have conversations or be afraid of sneak attacks by people with a hidden agenda.
All of us deserve better than that.
Protecting owls, but not fish
Somewhere along the line I missed a very important decision regarding fish and wildlife, and I don't know how I let it slip by.
I am totally confused as to why barred owls have to be killed for the purpose of preserving spotted owls, but sea lions and seals cannot be killed even though they are eating salmon, sturgeon, steelhead and many other fish species.
Sea lions have decimated so much of the brood stock of sturgeon that the fishing season will be cut short, or possibly eliminated.
It is no small wonder that people do not trust government bureaucracies.