The Shorenstein’s and Mid-Market; U.N. Commission on Women; More on De-Funding of OSPIRG …

by on March 2, 2011

To the Editor:

I couldn’t agree more with your column on Mid-Market. Glad to see Shorenstein Co. and others are finally stepping up. Steve Jones could not find “any problems” west of 7th Street? Got to be kidding; take that walk any day of the week, and you’ll see the problems aplenty.

Wayne Friday
San Francisco

To the Editor:

This description of what is going on at the UN regarding women is very interesting and well done. Good job, Rebecca Norlander. I will be interested in your further observations.

Seena Frost
Watsonville, CA

To the Editor:

Your article contains many misleading or incorrect statements about the OSPIRG funding situation at the University of Oregon. First of all, the administration has no part in deciding funding. All funds for OSPIRG came directly through student fees (not tuition) and were therefore decided by the elected members of the ASUO. That elected body decided to stop funding OSPIRG, due to the lack of any concrete benefits provided to students.

In essence, OSPIRG received money from the students that then went to the state PIRG to fund lobbyists in Salem. Our student funds must be used to fund programs with concrete benefits, and funding lobbyists does not fit that description. It would be funny to watch the outrage from publications such as this if the ASUO started providing funding to FreedomWorks or the Tea Party Patriots, though there would undoubtedly be many “activist” and “community service” opportunities afforded by said funding.

Also, the fraternities and sororities determine elections disproportionately because they have the best get-out-the-vote networks, not because of some vast plot to keep Nike a prominent force on campus by eliminating OSPIRG. Amelie Rousseau is a sorority member but supports OSPIRG, so your conspiracy theory fails on its own terms upon a quick inspection of the claims. Nike has been and always will be a huge presence on campus, regardless of the presence or absence of OSPIRG.

Though the Commentator may be conservative, I know from personal experience that it is not some vast right-wing plot aiming to eliminate all liberals from the U of O. They simply don’t want over $100,000 of student money being spent on an obviously partisan group that doesn’t directly serve the interests of students. If students want to get involved in lobbying or want to donate to state or national PIRG groups, they are welcome to spend their own time and money.

Lawrence Hill
Eugene, OR

To the Editor:

Thank you for completely misrepresenting the Oregon Commentator and OSPIRG by writing a piece that does not consider a single fact about OSPIRG, is based on your ideals, and confuses two completely separate issues. The de-funding of OSPIRG, CALPIRG is not at all similar to what is happening in Wisconsin.

As a staff writer for the Commentator, I can say you’ve completely misinformed your readers about who we are. You have knowingly twisted the words of our mission statement for gain in your article. I will give you that the choice of ‘war of ideas’ is not the best of cliches, however if you look at the social context when our publication was founded (1985), you might understand why a publication that BEGAN as a conservative (read: Republican) magazine would choose that.

This article also chose to misrepresent the content of the OC; instead of listing the very LIBERAL people we had interviews with in our Interview Issue, you listed the two (of 8) interviews we had that spoke with conservative members of the community. I also conducted an interview with Eugene mayor Kitty Piercy which will be run in a later issue. The Commentator is not a far-right magazine, in fact I think you’d be hard pressed to find more than a couple writers for the magazine that would identify as such. While our magazine does tend to be more conservative in its view, please do not lump our publication in with the mindless, unintelligent drivel that comes from the Republican Party; anyone who takes the time to read an issue with quickly see that is not the case.

After misrepresenting the OC, you then failed too give any information on why anyone would oppose OSPIRG. Sure, the article mentioned that there was opposition, but that opposition was lumped together and labeled “far-right anti-activist anti-liberal agenda,” which is misinformation of the highest order. The reasons that we, the Commentator oppose OSPIRG is not because of their issues or their agenda. We oppose them because of the way they fund their organization, because of the unclear and unstated way in which student dollars leave campus to fund unclear activities in Portland(ia) and Salem.

I will repeat, we do not oppose OSPIRG because they are Liberal, or because they are activists. We oppose OSPIRG because we believe they are a poor, unaccountable use of student monies. In the past, while seeking re-funding OSPIRG has been reluctant to unwilling to submit a line-item budget of the past year to the ASUO ACFC. Instead they asked that senators give them $117,000 and turn a blind eye to where a single dollar of that money goes. Opposing OSPIRG, as an ASUO Senator, is not far-right nor anti-activist (they fund 3 other student groups advocate for student interests in Salem), it is simply holding to the code of ethics that binds the senators to protecting our student money.

Again, the Oregon Commentator would oppose OSPIRG even if they were lobbying for far-right (and I would do so with even more passion as I am personally left-of-center). Please realize that this situation is not akin to the situation in Wisconsin, where teachers RIGHTS are being challenged because of political leanings. The Governor of Wisconsin is making these cuts because he has a right-wing bias against unions and for the rich. He gave $67 billion in tax-cuts to Wisconsin’s upper-class and is compensation for that deficit by reducing revenue from the people that support the longevity and future of his state.

What Walker is doing in his state is stripping people of their rights, their livelihood and ruining the future of his state’s children for political gain. To equate that to the OC’s opposition to OSPIRG is incorrect, at best, and at the worst, you are demonizing your opposition for political gain amongst your readers. Please realize that you have grossly misinformed your readers on this topic regarding the OC, OSPIRG and the entire situation around their pursuit to receive funding from ASUO after 3 years without it.

Joe Crawford
Eugene, OR

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