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Byline: The Register-Guard

PERS funding is a financial sinkhole

Regarding Kathi Wiederhold's May 22 letter asking us not to blame the Public Employees Retirement System for taking such a large percentage of school tax dollars: I do blame PERS, because the legislation was written just for them.

Now it appears, at least at this point, that not much thought was given to how to fund the system, which costs more every year. It's become a no-win situation for teachers, schools and taxpayers, a deep hole that will become even deeper over the years.

The recent release of four Lane Community College teachers was necessary, LCC administrators said, because, "We simply cannot afford the PERS costs, our only options were to let teachers go."

That appears to be the direction we're going, and at first glance it seems to be the only choice unless we raise property taxes every year to cover the PERS costs.

Now that it's become a huge sinkhole, Wiederhold further stated that "we all need to own this problem."

Really? I was never asked to participate in any discussion, nor was any input requested of any taxpayer group that I'm aware of, so why do we need to "own" any part of the problem?

I now feel I have no option but to vote "no" on school money measures because I know most of the tax dollars won't go to improve our schools or help students but to cover PERS' current costs and future increases. And that's truly sad.

Dick A. Walker


Commissioners' vote was 'stupid'

I'm shocked, disappointed and disgusted with the four ignorant Lane County commissioners after reading about their refusal Tuesday to follow state law, specifically Senate Bill 941 ("Lane refuses gun 'mandate' ").

In 1968, I was a campaign worker at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. As Sen. Robert F. Kennedy moved toward the ballroom where I stood, he was gunned down. Just like his brother John. Just like Martin Luther King Jr.

That night I made gun control my top political priority.

To live in Lane County 47 years later and witness local politicians stubbornly and stupidly refuse to help make our county safer for our children, students, friends and family is unacceptable.

We need to vote them off the island.

Michele Postal


Paid sick leave would aid women

I'm pleased to see progress on a statewide paid sick leave policy ("Deal on sick leave law may be close in Salem," May 27).

Women make up nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers, the vast majority of whom receive no paid sick days. The Legislature has the power to take major steps toward eliminating health disparities and increasing economic opportunities for women and working families in Oregon.

At Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, we know women's health and economic well-being go hand in hand. That's why we're working to ensure that women and their families have access to affordable birth control. It just makes basic economic sense.

The wide availability of birth control has been an enormous benefit for countless women and their families - enabling them to support themselves financially, complete their education and plan their families to have children when they're ready. But we can do much more.

Nichi Masters Linder

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon


Smoking ban would be shortsighted

A public outdoor smoking ban in downtown Eugene and in city parks sounds great - on the surface. We're all aware of the adverse health effects of cigarettes - but beneath the veneer of the "pro-health" campaign is an insidious form of classism, one that would disproportionately target homeless residents who are already at the mercy of our local police.

Meanwhile, those with money would be able to find refuge in the comfort of their homes and vehicles.

For people on the streets, cigarettes are an appetite suppressant. Homeless people smoke because they're self- medicating against hunger. Many smoke for short-term stress relief. Compared to the risks they face, from hypothermia to malnutrition to being assaulted, outdoor smoking should be the least of our concerns.

Giving authorities another tool to further oppress those who already experience more than enough harassment would be a waste of taxpayer money and outright shameful. If we truly care about the health of our community, we'll spend our time and money on keeping people from dying on the streets instead of writing more citations.

City Councilor Mike Clark recently said, "When we talk about creating a smoke-free downtown, it's not to create a healthy downtown. It's to stop some from being offended, and I don't think that's the job of the City Council."

I couldn't agree more.

Terra Williams


Jenner didn't belong on front page

Putting the Bruce Jenner update on the June 2 front page was a bad decision ("Bruce Jenner no more: 'Call me Caitlyn' "). I'm very open-minded, but his picture as a woman, and the accompanying story, weren't worthy of the front page.

We tolerate the unworthy celebrity updates just below the comics. I've been a lifetime subscriber and I want to enjoy the newspaper for years to come.

Please stay on the high road with high-quality articles.

Bill Schrieber


Forest Service deserves more credit

Bob Doppelt's May 28 column summarized Jim Furnish's new book and the culture of the U.S. Forest Service. He presented a characterization that was not flattering ("Forest Service is slow to change, but must embrace climate role"). During my career I worked as a forester, and I have a different perspective.

Yes, for a long time the Forest Service had, and in some cases may still have, a timber-harvest emphasis, but blaming the agency for controlling the decisions is misleading. The administration, Congress, agency management, state and county leaders, political groups, interest groups and the public all help shape harvest decisions.

The federal government is a bureaucracy. It's slow to change, by design. To expect otherwise is unrealistic. But humans are also slow to change.

Take climate change, for example. Let's have a show of hands: Who agrees that moving quickly and saving more trees would have a big positive impact and the proposed solutions would be effective?

OK, who agrees we're just getting started, change will be slow in coming and there will be many difficult adjustments that will have to be made?

There's been a paradigm shift, and the Forest Service mission has changed. The majority of its personnel are dedicated professionals working hard to manage our natural resources, which I believe they can effectively do.

We should give credit to those who are working in a complex environment, on controversial issues, dealing with groups of divergent interests.

Richard Kelly


Why the delay on stadium project?

I recently walked to the University of Oregon and watched the new women's softball fields being rebuilt, at a cost of $10 million.

I've read that the renovation of Eugene's Civic Stadium is going to cost $4.5 million, but so far I haven't seen any work being done on the stadium.

Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot about all the meetings, meetings and more meetings - and more talk - still to come on the stadium project.

To me, it's rather simple: You either have the money - or you don't.

Kelly Lindley

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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jun 4, 2015
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