Archive | Community Voices

Alcohol abuse: fun and games can turn into catastrophe

Posted on 24 October 2012 by admin

 

By Brian Wolf
For the Tribune

 

Years ago, a priest was visiting a ‘Tobacco Road’ North Carolina jail when he was introduced to an elderly prisoner named Joshua.

Recalling the Biblical story of Joshua, who commanded the sun to stand still, the priest smiled and asked the man, “What are you in here for, making the sun stop?”

“No, Father,” replied the prisoner, “for making the moonshine!”

Of course, we can smile at that anecdote, but as we do, let’s remember that for thousands of underage drinkers, the moon will no longer shine as their sun has already set. Sadly for them, alcohol abuse led to an unfortunate and early demise.

Substance abuse by minors has long been a serious problem. Truancy, attention deficit, emotional instability, reckless driving, sexual promiscuity and other damaging traits can all be accentuated by substance abuse.  The long term impact on student achievement, relationships, reputations, futures, wallets and self-images is disastrous.

Hollywood productions frequently attempt to ‘glorify’ the college experience as one long drug and alcohol-soaked romp. However, dazed and confused stupors, skipping classes, failing grades and the ensuing loss of financial aid are hardly good news for college students to write home about.

Proud parents, who once wistfully sent Junior off to college, and sacrificed big bucks to keep him there, are unlikely to be amused by such antics when the college’s academic probation notice arrives in the mail, along with the bills for tuition, textbooks, fees and other school-related expenses.

Some might argue that being in school is a stressful experience and that students need to be able to blow off a little steam occasionally. While there is a kernel of truth behind that statement, today’s educational institutions provide their students with a plethora of opportunities to participate in truly healthy activities designed to enhance their learning experiences while providing a vehicle for a well-rounded education through physical, social, and leadership development. Athletics, community service, journalism, student government, music and drama are but several excellent examples of such good, clean fun.

In closing, I recall the time many years ago when, as a young teacher, I noticed that one my students had fallen asleep, face down at his desk. For kicks and giggles, I decided to play a practical joke on him.

When the school bell rang marking the end the period, I softly told the rest of the students to leave the classroom very quietly. Next, I stood at the door and hushed the incoming students.  My plan was to have the new class surround the youth, then wake him up and watch his reaction as he slowly realized that he was in a totally different class.

When the new class had settled in around him, I went over to his desk, stood about a foot from him and called his name.

Failing to gain his attention, I then shouted his name but still, there was no reaction.

Finally, growing somewhat alarmed, I firmly grasped his shoulders and shook them vigorously in a futile attempt to rouse him from his apparently deep slumber. Instead, he poured out of his desk, and slumped to the floor. His lips were caked with dried saliva and his face reflected a bluish cast.

The building principal, the ambulance and the police soon followed. Thankfully, the student in question survived a dangerous drug overdose that day, but I too learned a valuable lesson. What might appear to be simple fun and games in the beginning can easily turn to catastrophe.  While this is sometimes the case for seemingly harmless pranks, it is all too often tragically so in the case of illicit substance abuse.

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Senior singles dating scam

Posted on 09 October 2012 by admin

By Julie Olson
For the Tribune

JUNCTION CITY – An educated, savvy, senior friend recently found herself in a dangerous senior singles internet dating scam. Embarrassed, she shared that she had done something on line that was incredibly stupid and scary.
Chatting with a man whose picture and profile appealed to her, they began connecting on an intellectual level.
Too soon she gave him her name, email address and other identifying information. When he began using different versions of his name she became suspicious. She Goggled him and discovered he was a registered sex offender with a long criminal history. Frightened, she involved the local police who went to her home, made security check suggestions, agreed to not reveal her name and referred the case to the Eugene police.
Many lonely and isolated seniors are meeting people on the internet. It is important to follow certain guide lines. First and foremost trust your instincts. Share what you are doing with someone else for their opinion.
Follow these safety tips: Remain anonymous until you feel safe, secure your online access information, and use a third party anonymous email address.
Get to know the other person on line before meeting them off line. Be wary of someone who is vague, won‘t answer direct questions or can only meet at odd times. They may not be single, may claim to be recently widowed or have something to hide.
Making a lot of grammatical and spelling errors could be a red flag. Talk on the telephone before meeting them and then only in public. Don‘t ever send money especially by wire transfer.
There are many success stories of people meeting on line. Be cautious. Trust your instincts and you may find someone that you can become friends with or have a lasting serious relationship.

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If you can’t stand the heat . . .

Posted on 03 October 2012 by mlong


By Gary Crum
For the Tribune

Harry Truman famously said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” His message was simple: if you’re going to be in a position to make important decisions, you need to accept the accountability which accompanies that responsibility. Accountability often involves the ‘heat’ of criticism; that’s life in the big city.

I’m a frequent critic of Junction City administrative staff and occasionally, Junction City Council members. My criticism will always be open, direct and hopefully, fair and reasonable. As always, should you feel my comments are inaccurate, untrue or, simply, unfair or unreasonable, please contact me so we can discuss them.

The City Council recently adopted, by a 3-2 vote, ‘local protections’ on three main drainage ditches in the city. This adoption came after considerable discussion by the council and input from community members.

The council received a petition signed by something like two hundred JC residents opposing such inclusion. Not one single Junction City resident or JC community member (folks like me who live outside the city limits but are part of the community) appeared to support the inclusion, or to my knowledge, wrote supporting the inclusion. I think it’s fair to say the approval of the ‘local protection’ was clearly contrary to the wishes of the community. I invite anyone to counter this statement.

A governing body, such as a council, needs a reason; in fact a very good reason to adopt a policy or ordinance which is so clearly contrary to the wishes of the community. May I suggest that the council, in this instance, clearly did not have such a reason. The adoption of the Local Protection benefited absolutely no one and harmed a significant number of Junction City property owners.

Again, I invite any of the Councilors who supported the Local Protection to counter this statement.

One of the affirmative votes came from Councilor Christenson, who presented the case that not placing Local Protection on these drainage ditches would jeopardize the approval of the Junction City CPR (Customized Plan Review) at the county or the Department Land Conservation and Development level. He presented what I term the ‘bogyman’ argument. May I explain: some parents (usually those with limited parenting skills) use the ‘bogyman’ argument to coerce compliance from their children, “If you don’t do what I tell you to do, the bogyman will get you!”

In Mr. Christensen’s case, “If you don’t put these ditches under local protection, the county or surely the DLCD will get you!” May I suggest this is a wretched argument. It presents absolutely no support for the action, and instead, depends on fear as a motivation for decision making.

Those of you who have been present over the three or more years of the CPR process should remember this same ‘bogyman’ argument being presented by Junction City Administrator Clyne to support leaving the Commercial Lands Need proposal out of the Phase I of the CPR.

“If they’re included, the prison will not be built, the DOC will go elsewhere.” “If they’re included, Grainmillers will not build here, they will go elsewhere.” “If they’re included the County Board of Commissioners will not approve the CPR.” “If they’re included, the DLCD will not approve the CPR.” Mr. Clyne’s statements were simply not true.

May I suggest that the arguments presented by Councilor Christensen are just as untrue. Please note, I’m not suggesting he lied. It’s more likely he felt his statements were accurate and no one on the council, the staff or the city’s counsel challenged the accuracy of his statements.

The central theme of his ‘bogyman’ argument was that the council’s possible modification of a planning commission recommendation would jeopardize the DLCD’s approval of the CPR. He stated that because of his great concern for the city he would not vote to exclude these ditches from local protection. Mr. Christensen’s logic is terribly flawed.

First, of course, the planning commission is an advisory commission to the council. By state ordinance and City charter, the council is, to use W’s phrase, ‘the decider.’ The council can accept recommendations as they are presented, reject them entirely or make any modifications they see as appropriate.

This is not breaking news. Councils across the nation follow this precise procedure thousands of times each year. To do otherwise would be neglecting council’s responsibility. Mr. Christensen’s comments displayed an alarming ignorance of this concept. Moreover, the city’s counsel, upon hearing this concern, clearly should have reminded him of the roles of the two bodies and the relationship between the two. She did not do so. This was most unfortunate.

Additionally, it’s important to realize that the city submits the CPR to the county for co-adoption. Then, upon co-adoption the document goes to the DLCD. The CPR is a ‘final product’ from the city. Nowhere in the document does it mention that the council modified a planning commission recommendation or that the planning commission completely rejected a CCPC recommendation (as it did our ill-advised recommendation to adopt the Safe Harbor Wetlands plan). The DLCD studies the ‘final product’ CPR and judges if it would be acceptable to a “reasonable person.” They do not research the three years of process which led to that final product.

I’m not sure where Mr. Christensen got his misinformation, but it’s unfortunate that he based his voting decision on that information rather than studying the particular issues involved in the proposal before him.

It must also be noted that both Mr. Christensen and Mr. Nelson refused to meet with a spokesperson for the property owners concerned with the inclusion of the drainage ditches under local protection.

Perhaps such a conversation would have provided a greater understanding of those citizens’ concerns. At the very least it would have indicated a willingness to study both sides on an important issue. If elected officials don’t have the time to listen to the concerns of citizens, perhaps they don’t have the time to be elected officials.

Effective democracy is not easy; it requires hard work. It requires a willingness to study, to listen to constituents (even those with whom you might disagree. I’d go so far as to say, especially those with whom you might disagree) and spend the time to know those issues you’re going to address.

I found it unfortunate, for example, that one city council member, Mr. Nelson, refused to attend the CCPC meetings (he was an ex officio member) and participate in this key process in developing the CPR. Again, if you don’t have the time to fulfill your obligations as a public official, don’t be one.

I hope the experience relating to this issue will be a wakeup call to Junction City residents and property owners. Your elected public officials make decisions which impact your lives, and it’s your responsibility to elect officials who will meet with constituents, listen to all sides of issues and spend the time to do their job.

Again, I make no apologies for my critical remarks and instead remind you, “If you can’t stand the heat. . .”

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garycrum

The First Amendment

Posted on 21 August 2012 by admin

By Gary Crum
For the Tribune
JUNCTION CITY – I have a deep belief in our First Amendment rights and, as some of my tennis buddies might put it, practice them every chance I get. Over the 41 years we‘ve lived in the Junction City community, I have written more than 100 OpEd pieces and nearly 400 letters to the editor (Register-Guard, Junction City Times, then TriCounty News, TriCounty Tribune and now Tribune-News, the Eugene Weekly and one OpEd piece in the New York Times). As one of those tennis buddies again put it (accurately, if inelegantly) “Crum, you have a really big mouth.” My response? “Guilty, as charged.”
As I write, there are two things that are very important to me: first, I always identify myself as the writer; I have never written anything anonymously and never will. If you‘re ashamed or afraid to identify something as your work, don‘t publish it. Always give others the opportunity to respond to your comments knowing that they are your thoughts. Meaningful discourse can only occur in the context of honest open communication.
Secondly, I always carefully research any factual statements I present to be sure they are true and accurate. I always request readers to contact me if they question the accuracy of such factual information. I don‘t wish to chance the embarrassment and loss of credibility which accompanies inaccurate or untrue statements. If I‘m right on the facts, I will happily document the accuracy for you. If I‘m wrong, I‘ll (though probably not as happily) make a public apology and correction.
Not everyone who reads my submissions is a ‘fan.’ I‘ve been called everything from “really brilliant” to “really stupid”; from a “public servant” to a “public nuisance.” That‘s fine; I don‘t need everyone to agree with me. Diverse opinion is a key element of democracy and the free exchange of ideas and opinions contributes hugely to the greatness of our nation. However, I‘m always a bit upset when I receive anonymous letters attacking my character and loyalty to our country, suggesting I perform physical acts of which I‘m incapable, or on several occasions over the years, actually threatening my well-being.
Perhaps the most satisfying comments come from strangers who, hearing my name at a store, a restaurant or party or whatever, ask, “Are you the Gary Crum from Junction City?” When I reply, “Yes,” they continue, “I always read your letters and OpEds. I don‘t always agree with you, but I respect and appreciate your writing them and they make me think.” Admittedly I‘m getting old and sentimental, but such statements really mean a lot to me.
Recently, like many of you, I received a mailing warning of an effort by Wal-Mart to “sneak into Junction City.” I condemn this mailing as an abuse of those First Amendment Rights we so value.
First, the mailing is anonymous. No one has been willing to acknowledge they represent “Junction City Residents for a Local Economy,” the ghost organization who sent the mailing. The return address is the general address of a 140-unit apartment complex and the management firm was adamant in denying any association with or even knowledge of the mailing. In fact, the on-site manager asked my permission to copy the mailing and expressed significant displeasure that anyone would use the complex address on the mailing (all mail to residents includes the apartment number).
At the Junction City Planning Commission meeting addressed in the mailing, I publicly asked anyone responsible for the mailing to identify themselves so I could ask them questions regarding the mailing. Not surprisingly, no one acknowledged such involvement.
Anonymous mailings are cowardly. If you have a belief or a concern and wish to share it, great, but have the courage to publicly identify yourself as holding and expressing such concern or belief, and accept the accountability which accompanies the expression of ‘factual’ information it might contain. The mailing is riddled with misinformation and untruths. It is a patent attempt to stir-up public sentiment with falsehoods. It is both cowardly and dishonorable.
There‘s absolutely nothing wrong with rabble rousing. I‘ve been accused of that too. Frankly, often the ‘rabble’ (that means all of us) needs to be roused from our complacency. We need to be more aware and involved in decisions which impact our lives. However, it‘s really unfair to rouse others with untruths.
As always, I invite your response. If you wish to discuss the mailing and my assertion that it is cowardly, dishonorable and patently untrue, give me a call (I‘m in the book). If you know the person(s) responsible for the mailing, have them give me a call. I‘d REALLY like to visit with them.
Editor’s note: At the Aug. 16 meeting, the Planning Commission stated it has not  been contacted by, or made plans to contact Wal-Mart and was just as surprised to see the letter as everyone else.

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