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Letters 11/23-11/30


Poor Driving Etiquette

Election season is here, and that tends to generate a lot of political "talking point" letters. But having just returned from Okinawa, where all things—including driving—are polite and mannerly, I wish to address a different topic: driving etiquette.

We usually like to think of ourselves, here in Oregon, as pretty nice people. We hold doors, say please and thank you at restaurants, are kind to dogs, give bicyclists plenty of room, and stop traffic whenever anyone wants to cross. But there is one area in which we seem to be falling short: passing lane etiquette.

I mean, we all are used to that 20 percent of drivers that chronically tailgate. It's surprising that tailgaters don't understand that tailgating is not only dangerous, but purposeless, as it just causes the lead driver to "double down" on their acute speed limit observance. And then we also seem to have a different 20 percent of drivers who just can't seem to efficiently negotiate a single lane roundabout. I'm referring to the "timid" drivers who just can't seem to "hit the gas" when there is a decent opportunity, and just sit there, frozen like a deer in the headlights. All it takes is a casual glance left, maybe a slight wave of the hand as a casual "thanks," and then a quick merge. Now, of course, we also have our share of those aggressive roundabout drivers who love to speed up after entering the roundabout, thereby disallowing anyone from merging and thereby infringing on their busy schedule. You know the type: Gotta get somewhere five minutes away ASAP.

But, personally, I'm more confused by the infamous Oregon "passing lane dufus." This is the driver that holds up traffic while the road is just two-lane and then SPEEDS UP when they enter one of our periodic passing lanes. What are they thinking? That they are somehow entitled to demonstrate an obvious driving discourtesy that clearly represents bad driving etiquette? And almost as annoying are the passing cars, that clog the left passing lane and just sort of putz along, allowing them to just manage to squeeze by the slower vehicle by the end of the passing zone, such that no other drivers can also pass.

And of course, the worst offenders are the anti-social jerks who speed up on a two-lane road when you try and pass. Are they drunks, frustrated Indy 500 daydreamers, or just type-A personality misfits?

And while I'm on the topic, why, oh why, does anyone litter in our beautiful state, or any state, for that matter? Go to Japan, and THERE IS NO LITTER. What is it about drivers—or passengers—that seem to be unable to find an appropriate trash receptacle? Incredibly low IQ? A gross under appreciation for earth's pristine natural landscapes? Perhaps supreme laziness? Whatever, it's just very disappointing, because it's totally within our power, as a population, to correct. Unlike political posturing, for which there is no apparent solution. Ever.

So, Bendies, please drive courteously, and demonstrate good general driving manners, and particularly thoughtful passing lane etiquette.

And for heaven's sake, please don't litter.

—Geoff Hance

Central Oregon Fire Management

The cost of wildfire suppression in the U.S. has exploded with over $2 billion spent suppressing fires in 2015. Fire management reform is necessary to counter the perverse financial incentive that motivates fire managers, no more so than in central Oregon. Central Oregon Fire Management "Service" (COFMS) is a needless bureaucracy created when ego-driven fire managers from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) could not coordinate and collaborate in the public's best interest. COFMS fire managers turned fire management into an entitlement program whose main beneficiaries are COFMS's fire managers in that financial benefits are channeled to a few COFMS welfare fire managers while the costs are dispersed over all taxpayers. An organization's purpose is understood from its behavior, not its rhetoric or mission statement. COFMS's behavior, pretentious and self-righteous, manipulates the public's fear of fire, masking COFMS's reality as a cog in the billion-dollar fire industrial complex. COFMS serves itself and disserves the taxpayers, while managers that do the real work of land management are overworked and understaffed. Forest supervisors, district rangers, and BLM managers enable this behavior. It's time to end entitled fire management and the welfare fire culture of COFMS. Dissolve COFMS and make fire managers from BLM and Forest Service do their job. The unofficial motto of COFMS welfare fire managers is, "Fight fire aggressively, having provided for overtime first." We deserve better. The hard-working citizens of central Oregon don't share the COFMS blank check; they just get to write it.

—Gabriel Cortez

Malheur & Standing Rock

The Department of Justice has been missing in action in both of these debacles. Possibly our civil servants are behind closed doors researching the meaning of "justice."

The silence of politicians has been deafening.

Media coverage of the Malheur Aggressors was extensive in Oregon and even received international attention.

Media coverage of the Peaceful Protectors and the war being waged against them has been abysmal. The exception is the courageous expose at Standing Rock by renowned Democracy Now journalist, Amy Goodman, leading to her arrest. The initial charge against Amy was changed to "inciting a riot" after she returned to North Dakota to appear in court. Both charges were dismissed. Amy's arrest poses serious concerns about Freedom of the Press in what is purported to be a democratic society.

Fascism is the collusion of government, corporations, the military/police state and media to smash the democratic rights of people.

Genocide, slavery, racism, ecocide, a militarized police state and corporate dominance have paved a Trail of Tears toward fascism.

The occupation of the Malheur by White Men with Guns and the repression of the unarmed Protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux challenge us to consider our collective values. Do we want to live in a democratic society based on The Bill of Rights and The Declaration of Human Rights with justice for all or do we want to continue down the Trail of Tears toward fascism?

The Standing Rock Sioux, the poorest of the poor, have broken the Sound of Silence and Fear of Action by standing up against incredible repression to protect water, land, air, sacred spiritual sites and what remains of their culture after centuries of oppression and genocide.

The courageous actions of the Standing Rock Sioux and fellow activists from around the world deserve our greatest respect and support.

—Sue Bastian

Sue: Perhaps now more than ever we at the Source Weekly are proud to be a locally-owned, independent media outlet, believing fully in First Amendment protections for all. Thank you for continuing to exercise the rights afforded to you under its doctrines, and for supporting the rights of the water protectors at Standing Rock.

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