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Letters in the Editor's Mailbag.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Investigate failures

Congress is currently debating whether to investigate the failure of our nation's intelligence community regarding the events of Sept. 11. President Bush proclaims that such an investigations is unwarranted and that the federal government didn't have specific information regarding the use of planes as weapons of war.

Interestingly, Yossef Bodansky, in his 1999 book "Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America," wrote that as long ago as 1995 associates of bin Laden were planning "to strike CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., with a light aircraft loaded with powerful explosives." Bodansky also wrote that "(a)nother plan the network was working on envisaged blowing up 11 American airliners simultaneously as they were approaching U.S. airports."

What makes this information even more troubling is the recent press reports that the FBI and CIA knew that individuals linked to bin Laden were in the United States training to fly commercial airliners. If our intelligence community failed to recognize the importance of those individual's learning to fly commercial jets, then all American's should feel a little less safe.

President Bush is wrong. We need to not only investigate the failures of our intelligence community regarding Sept. 11, but we also need to fire those who are responsible.


Parkway nourishes core

Killing the West Eugene Parkway could intensify development on the urban fringe and weaken the downtown. For the heart of the city to pump vitality into the community, arteries are required to keep it nourished and functional. If the circulation system becomes clogged with congestion, regeneration of the core will be inhibited. Growth may be restricted to the periphery, where connections to the surroundings are intact.

Avoiding the parkway will choke off intersections of our street system and strangle life from the city's core. Nearly 2 million more people are expected to live in the Willamette Valley in 50 years. We cannot pack everyone into compact infill. Commuting will increase. Growth will continue and traffic is going to multiply, no matter how successful our schemes for public transportation or demand management. We are fooling ourselves if we expect increased congestion to moderate our travel behavior. Guilt is not likely to get us out of our cars, either. We know what we want.

Stated not only at the polls, we vote our true travel preferences every day at the fuel pump. We like driving our cars. We need solutions that recognize that reality. Not building the West Eugene Parkway will result in greater fuel consumption, increased air emissions and more delay from congestion. Failure to keep pace will not inhibit activity at the fringe as much as erode vitality at the core. While not perfect, it is clearly the best option we have.

SCOTT E. OLSON Springfield

Examine segregation

Proponents of the all-girl public schools, now including the Bush administration, say gender segregation takes girls' minds off of clothes, dating, sex and other trivial pursuits. But attention to the opposite sex is an ordinary part of growing up, and is surely not absent in all-girl enrollees. The real difference is the low priority the girls put on boys, compared to themselves and their work.

Girls apparently become much more insecure when they attend school with boys who, on average, demand and receive more classroom time, behave more aggressively and competitively and often demean and objectify their female peers. So, is male dominance a biological imperative that we need to work around, or is it a (partly) cultural problem that segregation is somehow supposed to solve?

I bring up the nature/nurture debate because segregationists also emphasize differences in male and female brains. Applying fashionable sociobiology to public policy can be dangerous, as history shows. Not only has separate usually meant unequal, but scientists have usually based their views of gender differences on conventional wisdom as much as hard facts. We need to pay close attention to the science behind these claims, not just parrot intriguing conclusions that we hear on the news.

We should also be wary of "gender profiling," of treating a diverse group of individuals as though they all conform to some average type. Open discussion of sexism and patriarchy, skepticism toward scientific claims, and attention to individual differences are key components of any gender-specific school reform.


Consider big picture

Since returning to Eugene after 30 years elsewhere, it has become apparent to me that city planning has lost the integrated, big-picture focus that seemed to prevail in the late 1960s and early '70s.

Suppose City Hall had been relocated to the west side of downtown, near the new library, where the city already owns land, and the federal government built on the City Hall site near its existing structure. This would have been more convenient for the feds. The city core, especially on the west side, would have benefited from more pedestrian and commercial activity.

This might also have kept PeaceHealth downtown. I suspect the downtown area's image played a major role in its relocation goals, and that it would have been very happy to relocate to the old cannery site near the river. Hospitals see themselves as high-tech medical organizations, deservedly located in pleasing natural settings, and not as inner city dwelling public servants.

Consider also the west side highway issue. Why not just connect Sixth and Seventh avenues to Belt Line Road instead of Green Hill Road, and finish Belt Line as a divided highway to West 11th Avenue? This would avoid most environmental problems, cost less and get through traffic off West 11th. Most of the land involved is already zoned industrial or commercial, with some parcels already vacant and for sale. It might even be possible to use Roosevelt Boulevard as one side of a divided highway to Belt Line.

I hope that the pending relocation of the downtown fire and police stations will be considered in a broader context than just the needs of these two agencies. Research demonstrates that urban growth and health is as much a function of enhancing interconnectedness as it is meeting the idiosyncratic needs of each party.


Make core attractive

While I applaud Spectrum's decision to house a technical support center in the Kaufman Building on Broadway, I must question David Kelly's understanding of the move as providing "an important anchor for the west end of downtown" (Register-Guard, May 17). Traditionally, an "anchor tenant" is a retail store, the presence of which serves as a magnet to draw shoppers into an area. The Kaufman building, in its present incarnation, is anything but a magnet.

While having 500 people working at the site is certainly better than having the building empty, a tech support center - or any business other than a retail site attracting walk-in clientele - creates a negative space in what should be an attractive business area. With the windows blacked out and the doors locked and security-sealed, the Kaufman building is an ominous and forbidding structure, the functional equivalent of placing a maximum security prison next to a playroom, a restaurant and a bookstore. Those stores may be available to the prison workers, but they are not attractive to anyone who does not have to be there.

Kelly and others continue to equate "bodies" with "business," as if the number of people in an area, irrespective of any other factor, must needs be seen as a measure of business success. For the downtown area to become and to remain vital, it must not only be functional but attractive as well. Kelly would do well to walk a block or so west of Kaufman's on Broadway, to see how development could and should be done.


White oak better choice

President Dave Frohnmayer planted a pin oak tree on the University of Oregon campus May 16 to celebrate University Day and the university's 125th anniversary. While I applaud the tree planting and appreciate daily the beauty of our campus, with magnificent trees representing over 500 species, I lament the particular choice of a pin oak.

The newly planted pin oak is the logical choice for its particular location (it replaces one pin oak that died in an allee of pin oaks in front of Lawrence Hall), but it falls far short of inspiring "pride, passion, promise" as the commemorative plaque proclaims. Pin oak is native to the eastern United States and grows in poorly drained alluvial soils. How much local pride does that inspire? A much better choice would have been to plant an Oregon white oak in a suitable location on campus.

Oregon white oak is a native tree, at home in the Willamette Valley. It is handsome, majestic, long-lived and increasingly rare as its native habitat disappears. If I am not mistaken, the two original trees on the university campus are Oregon white oaks. Thankfully, they remain today.

What better symbol for our 125th anniversary than a beautiful tree: one that is unique to Oregon, that may be a challenge to get started and that is slow to reach maturity - but is in harmony with its surroundings, is interconnected with the local fauna, inspires awe and will continue to do so for many hundreds of years. An Oregon white oak would provide a link to the past, a sense of place and a bridge to the future.

Perhaps there is still time to plant an Oregon white oak as part of the 125th celebration. If not, then I hope the university will make a more enlightened choice for a tree to celebrate its 150th anniversary.



The Register-Guard welcomes letters on topics of general interest. Our length limit is 250 words; all letters are subject to condensation. Writers are limited to one letter per calendar month. Because of the volume of mail, not all letters can be printed. Letters must be signed with the writer's full name. An address and daytime telephone number are needed for verification purposes; this information will not be published or released. Mail letters to Mailbag, P.O. Box 10188, Eugene, OR 97440-2188 Fax: 338-2828 E-mail:
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:May 23, 2002
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