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Letters in the Editor's Mailbag.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Council agenda limited

The Eugene City Council's agenda-setting policy is unacceptably problematic. About 10 years ago the council meeting agenda was determined by the mayor, council president, vice president and city manager. After being elected, Mayor Jim Torrey empowered himself exclusively by setting the council agenda with the city manager. Subsequently the council enabled somewhat more democratic power-sharing by requiring approval by at least three councilors.

Recently a council majority passed an ill-advised motion by Councilor Scott Meisner which requires the approval of five councilors before a proposed item can be included in the agenda.

The current council agenda-setting requirement for five-vote support is intolerably flawed in two ways:

First, existing agenda-setting protocol hinders collective deliberation of pro and con arguments essential to responsible decision-making about agenda content. Mayor Torrey appropriately observes (Register-Guard, Nov. 17) "I would be concerned about people making a decision without some dialogue and debate."

Second, while majority rule may seem to be democratic in character, the interests of about 37 percent of Eugeneans - constituents of three councilors - may be neglected. The relevance of minority agenda items should be given the benefit of doubt favoring inclusion.

The expression, "liberty and justice for all" should not be an oxymoron. Ignoring parliamentary protocol, Torrey imprudently applied retroactively the recent five-vote requirement to exclude a "whistle blower" agenda item previously approved under the three-vote policy. Apparently the council needs an alert parliamentarian to prevent misuse of mayoral powers.


Church conceals abuse

Extrapolating from positive private school experiences in Chile with Legion of Christ priests, Maria Olivares urges editors to "fill the pages ... with the good deeds of Catholic priests" (letters, Nov. 23). The editors could enumerate priestly good deeds (and those of agnostics, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, atheists and others) but certainly not, as Olivares seems to desire, in place of reporting sexual abuses by priests.

As a victim of sexual abuse by a priest; as a graduate of a Catholic grade school, high school and university; and as a former Catholic college prep-school teacher, I knew many dedicated nuns, priests and brothers deserving of love and respect - but also many who were emotionally and physically abusive, narrow-minded, authoritarian bullies.

For decades, the conspiracy-of-silence policies of the Catholic hierarchy concealed and enabled widespread sexual abuse by paying hush money and reassigning predator-pedophile priests with no warning to their new parishioners. No surprise. Cardinals vow before the Pope "to keep in confidence anything that, if revealed, would cause a scandal or harm to the church."

Teachers or social workers would be prosecuted for such obstruction of justice. But Cardinal Bernard Law, for one example, is not prosecuted, refuses to resign, reneges on a settlement with 86 victims, testifies that as a U.S. citizen and a Vatican citizen he has diplomatic immunity from civil lawsuits, bars a reform group from meeting on church property and reportedly is considering claiming bankruptcy for the Boston Archdiocese.

Taxpayers should not subsidize such lawless, arrogant, high-level institutional corruption; nor should criminal acts, however disturbing, go unreported.


Tax increase is blackmail

It seems as though once again we are being subjected to political blackmail in order to get us to pay more taxes. We are being told we have to approve a temporary tax increase or the state is going to cut public safety, shorten court days (thus the courts will not be prosecuting certain crimes or processing divorces and small claims cases), start releasing criminals and cutting our schools.

When has a temporary tax ever stayed temporary?

Our Legislature would do its normal thing, which would be to make sure it became permanent, because legislators do not know how to live within a budget. In the private sector we do not have raises - or as it is termed in public employment, a "cost of living adjustment" - when business is bad or the economy weakens.

I have not had a raise in more than two years because of the weak economy. The cost of everything has gone up, and I have had to learn to make do with what I have. Why can't our elected officials do that instead of giving themselves raises, cost of living adjustments or both?

It's time they wake up and learn that we cannot afford to give more of what we do not have.


Nation on wrong path

The current administration, together with an ignorant electorate and an acquiescent and moribund Democratic Party, are taking this republic farther and farther away from enlightened world leadership and the party of Abraham Lincoln.

Today we are more interested in incarcerating transgressors than preventing them from performing deeds ranging from the mischievous to the self-destructive. We want to prosecute sick people, while more philosophically inclined countries are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and allow their physician to decide whether a common weed ameliorates their suffering. We continue to sit back and watch possibly well-intentioned but dangerously misled bureaucrats pursue governmental secrecy, all the while reducing our personal privacy.

Big Brother intrudes into our personal decisions, from whether to wear a seat belt to ending with dignity an excruciatingly painful existence.

Laws governing the behavior of powerful, wealthy and extremely influential businesses are ignored or dismantled, leading to an explosion of millionaire miscreants. Think of the neverending, glorious legacy these fools could have attained had they used their office to improve the lot of this biosphere's inhabitants, or the biosphere itself.

What sort of parent inculcates such avariciousness into their offspring? What sort of culture propagates the expenditure of billions waging dubious wars against its enemies, when friends could be bought so much more cheaply with more lasting results?

The future looks grim, but not hopeless.

JOHN DeLEAU Springfield

Good call by DARE

I wanted to commend the DARE program for making a very difficult decision.

On Dec. 6, the local DARE program was to take a group of youths and parents to watch a game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Miami Heat. With the recent arrest of Portland stars Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire, DARE cancelled the plans to attend. I know there were disappointed children in our community, my son being one of them, because of the cancellation. DARE, however, made the right decision by taking a stand that illegal drug use should not be tolerated, whether it involves a professional athlete or not.

I am disappointed in the choices that both Wallace and Stoudamire have made. I am more disappointed for the children in our community who were not be able to watch these talented athletes perform.


City of Springfield Springfield

$34 billion squandered

The Dec. 4 New York Times describes provisions that the oil, gas, mining and ethanol industries are preparing to include in the Bush administration's comprehensive energy bill. The rewards for helping to elect GOP candidates include "$34 billion in tax incentives ... to promote exploration and expansion, develop new technologies, increase the use of ethanol in gasoline, build a natural-gas pipeline in Alaska and limit the liability of the nuclear power industry" - along with a relaxation of pesky environmental restrictions.

The article further states, "Already ... the White House has made two important changes through administrative rule-making ... . One allows aging coal-fired plants and other factories to modernize without necessarily having to install expensive antipollution devices. The other gives local managers more discretion to approve logging and other commercial activities in the nation's 155 national forests."

Let's be clear. Thirty-four billion dollars in tax incentives is taken out of your and my pockets, either by a tax increase now or by deficit spending that passes that cost (plus years of interest) on to our children. This is $34 billion squandered on antiquated energy technologies that harm our health and the environment. This is a $34 billion corporate welfare policy that would make rich people richer. This is a missed $34 billion opportunity to promote healthy, renewable energy sources such as development of wind and solar power.

The Bush administration has no intention of protecting our health or the environment; it is up to we the people to write, call, demonstrate or do whatever it takes to get our concerns on the national agenda. Our children's future depends on us.

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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Dec 7, 2002
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