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Byline: The Register-Guard

Bettman speaks truth to power

Compared to The Register-Guard's fretting over Eugene City Councilor Bonny Bettman, the recent fawning over PR practitioner Jenny Ulum is a good lesson.

The Register-Guard editorialized that Bettman is a "high-maintenance" councilor - as though her expectation of city staff responsiveness is unrealistic, even somehow bothersome. Yet the newspaper does not fault Ulum's expectation that it will pay attention to any piece of spun public-relations fabric her firm generates. Ulum is uncritically lauded in The Register-Guard for exactly the same kind of intelligence, drive and persistence that Bettman displays in public several times a week, sometimes to the paper's disapproval.

Have any recent letter-writers critical of Bettman ever had a conversation with her? She's often stated her policy "to talk to anyone" and is listed on government page 66 of our phone directory. Try reaching Ulum to discuss strategy involving Connor-Woolley properties, Whole Foods or Jim Torrey. Would she take your call and care to listen?

Beneath the nine men listed atop The Register-Guard editorial page, the paper's mission statement notes that "A newspaper is a citizen of its community." The Register-Guard seems to favor those who are highly paid to influence citizens over those who are paid a pittance to serve them.

The best thing the newspaper could do for its readers would be to hire Bettman as an investigative reporter or political columnist when her council tenure ends. She speaks truth to power, rather than micromanaging opinions from the powerful.



Where is free speech defense?

I've waited for the firestorm regarding The Insurgent to die down for a while now. I've read an opinion by Bill O'Reilly and many from, as it seems, half of Eugene-Springfield.

They've been slamming The Insurgent and calling for everything from cessation of funds to the paper to expulsion of the paper's staff. But I've not seen one single person support The Insurgent in any real vein.

Why? I can understand that the cartoons offended people; that much has been clearly demonstrated. I fail to understand, however, why people seem to not consider The Insurgent covered by the First Amendment to the Constitution. You know, that thing we like to call freedom of speech.

If the cartoons offend you, you have every right to not look at them and even to complain about them, but it is also the right of the staff of The Insurgent to publish them. The day we cease to value our freedom of speech is the day we lose it, don't forget that.



Stop logging in roadless areas

Nothing better demonstrates the need to end commercial logging on our public lands than the U.S. Forest Service's recent decision to open up Oregon's last roadless forests to clear-cut logging. This sacrilege proves that unless we keep our national forests completely off limits to taxpayer-subsidized corporate extraction, the timber barons will find a loophole large enough to drive their logging trucks through.

Clearly, none of the current protections are enough when the largest unprotected roadless area remaining in Oregon (bordering the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in the Biscuit Fire area) is on the chopping block, and one of the last healthy salmon runs in the Coast Range - Indigo Creek - is threatened with landslides and massive siltation.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski has already sent a letter to the Forest Service opposing these roadless area sales - albeit without any media attention. Yet Sen. Ron Wyden (431-0229 in Eugene) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (465-6732 in Eugene) - both of whom claim to be pro-environment - have yet to do the same, despite assurances from their staff that a letter has already been written, just not sent. Meanwhile, it's been two months since that promise and the June auction date of these sales is rapidly approaching.

Please urge the supposedly "green" Wyden and DeFazio to keep their promise and send out the letter immediately! Also remind them that the only effective way to get any real protection for our public lands is to end the taxpayer-subsidized corporate destruction of our forests!



Castillo's remarks ring hollow

On May 31, The Register-Guard ran an advertisement, masquerading as a Mailbag letter, written by Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo.

In her letter, Castillo wrote about working together and ensuring "that our young people receive the very best in educational opportunities." She also wrote about our children achieving "greater academic and social success." Castillo wrote that more work must be done "to boost student achievement, increase diploma requirements and prepare more young people for their future."

Castillo's telling us that she supports academia. In reality, however, she is the one person in the entire state of Oregon who has the power to veto the Oregon School Activities Association redistricting proposal, yet she has chosen to sit on the sidelines while the Eugene, Medford and Salem school districts waste hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars fighting this insane proposal.

The OSAA redistricting proposal is counter to the goals that Castillo mentions in her letter. Could someone please tell me how driving 170 miles each way to play in a mid-week athletic competition fosters any of the goals that she mentions?

I sincerely hope that the people of Eugene don't accept the bone that Castillo has thrown us, but instead read the final sentence of her letter: "What can we do together, to ensure that we prepare every child for a successful future." Overturning the OSAA redistricting proposal would show us that Castillo means what she says.



Gas tax hike is best strategy

The editorial "An empty CAFE" (Register-Guard, May 30) advocates a top-down, supply-based approach to improved vehicle fuel economy. The history of the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standard and its loopholes question that strategy.

In the 1970s when gas prices soared, demand for small cars was great, with selling prices often above MSRP. Actual fleet fuel economy outpaced the CAFE standards some years. From the mid-1980s until about 2001, fuel prices became increasingly cheaper and vehicle demand swung dramatically to trucks and SUVs, which have a lower CAFE standard.

Manufacturers resorted to tricks to help meet fleet averages: through loopholes, the Subaru Outback and Chrysler PT Cruiser are classified as light trucks in order to help their manufacturers meet the CAFE standards. In Europe, where fuel is running at $6 to $7 a gallon, average vehicle economy is about 50 percent greater, the automobile industry is on track to deliver a total reduction in CO2 output, and there is no CAFE or its gas-guzzler penalties.

Europe's attitude is: If you can afford to fuel a 9 m.p.g. Ferrari or Hummer, help yourself. Phasing in a federal fuel tax that would raise and keep prices to about $5 a gallon, with the money collected going to renewable energy research and development, would make a much more dramatic difference in average fuel economy and moving us towards energy independence than tweaking the CAFE.



Punishment should fit crime

"Juan Lara freed from prison two years early" reads the headline (Register-Guard, May 31). It should have been "Another corrupt cop gets off easy."

Meanwhile, a dozen or so people accused of property damage sit in jail or on strict house arrest, facing the rest of their lives in prison because their actions hypothetically might have, could have, would have, harmed somebody. Only they didn't. But people who do deliberately cause harm all too often get off with little punishment, such as Officer Lara.

I don't support so-called eco-terrorism, but the sentences they're threatening to give these people are more criminal than anything they're accused of doing. Let the punishment fit the crime. Property crimes are serious, but they don't warrant life sentences.



Court undermined free speech

The Supreme Court decided wrong.

That is a stout statement but one that must be shouted. The court decided that it is permissible for the government to punish a public employee who attempts to notify his superiors that a law has been broken. Specifically, it allows the government to order employees to tone down internal communication regarding official misconduct and to punish those employees when they fail to meet an unwritten standard of political speech. You may still report misconduct. But if someone does not like how you say it, you can be punished.

In other words: If you are surrounded by corruption, don't rock the boat. The high court has set a de facto standard that authorizes official corruption at every level.

The court's opinion tells us, incorrectly, that the law is less important than observing the prevailing culture in the workplace, even for district attorneys and cops. We here in Eugene have seen where such an attitude leads, when the culture includes high tolerance for corruption. Weeks ago Federal Magistrate Judge Tom Coffin lambasted the Eugene Police Department for its unforgivable institutional failure to follow up on complaints against Officers Juan Lara and Roger Magana for a litany of misconduct.

I find it ironic that Lara should have been released the same day that the court handed down its ill-considered and politically-motivated opinion. We need a new amendment that guarantees free speech. This one is broken.



Money squandered on Iraq war

This war in Iraq is costing so very much. I have not heard a single soldier injured or on their way to tour who says this is the wrong thing to do. The bravery to say and do what soldiers must do brings me to tears.

How many times does it have to be said that Iraq was not connected to Sept. 11? That there were no weapons of mass destruction? What there was, was oil.

We are so deep in debt with the pursuit of this war; I don't see how we can recover in our lifetime. We could have spent that money on education, highways, technology, medical research, land management and conservation. Instead of advancing the evolution of humanity, we have slapped down all our dollars to kill each other.

Our country is no longer at the forefront of technological advancement, or advancing the human race, because we are being led by men who exploit fear and promote suffering.


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Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jun 10, 2006
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