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Oregon Daily Emerald
Monday, October 17, 2005
EDITOR IN CHIEF
MEGHANN M. CUNIFF
SENIOR NEWS REPORTER
PART-TIME NEWS REPORTERS
SCOTT J. ADAMS
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AARON D ECHATT.AU | ILLUSTRATOR
The prosecutor called the situation
complete dysfunction — a complete
breakdown of the family.
A woman gave birth to a baby girl and
within minutes dropped the child three
stories onto the debris-ridden ground be
low. A year later, this same woman had
a son. Just minutes after his birth, his
mother dropped him the same three sto
ries to follow his sister’s fate. But this
doesn’t even begin to describe the dys
function of this legal case.
Lucila Ventura, 18 years old, is
charged with murder, attempted murder,
child endangerment and so on. She
could face 40 years in prison.
Lucila’s father may face 20 years in
prison for the crimes of aggravated sexu
al assault and endangering the welfare
of a child. It’s no coincidence that both
father and daughter have been charged
with child endangerment: If Lucila’s
statement is true, both of her newborn
children were the result of Jose Julio
Ventura’s systematic sexual abuse.
Prosecutor Edward J. De Fazio is
correct in his use of the term “dysfunc
tion;” however, further statements from
De Fazio indicate that he, as well as the
rest of the legal system, is failing to take
into account the true ramifications of the
case. When De Fazio states that “ (Lucila
Ventura’s mental state) should never
lead to these babies being thrown out
the window, like they were some piece
of garbage,” the lawyer turns a blind eye
to the personal, as well as
societal pressure that led Ms. Ventura to
commit such a heinous act. Indeed, the
Ventura situation provides a concrete ex
ample of how certain national policy —
or lack thereof — can have
indisputable, and often upsetting, influ
ences upon any U.S. family.
No one in either Lucila’s school or
family was apparently aware that the
girl was twice pregnant; a fact which
seriously calls into question Lucila’s
educational situation. We’ll get to the
FURTHER FROM PERFECTION
To begin with, it must be taken into
account that school is mandatory in the
United States, meaning that until the age
of 18 our nation’s children spend an av
erage of six hours a day in an
educational setting most commonly out
side of the home. For those six hours a
day, five days a week and
approximately nine months a year, these
kids are entrusted to the care of their
teachers, their principal, their school.
Government shouid seriously reevaluate
this responsibility of education, when it
was possible for a student’s severe men
tal and physical ailments to go wholly
unnoticed. The possibility that Lucila
was sexually abused since the age of 13
and was never able to come forward to
anyone and explain her situation shows
her school did not do its job.
Of course, in an age where schools
are allocated money based on standard
ized test scores alone, it’s hardly any
wonder that Lucila was able to slip
under the radar. When the government
requires children to be in school, yet
decreases funding for education, a situ
ation emerges where young adults are
veritably forced into an unmonitored,
unsafe lifestyle for a large portion of
their journey into adulthood. If there is
not enough money to provide adequate
counseling and teaching (for the teach
ers and the administration as well as
the students), then the United States
government better be prepared to drop
its requirement of mandatory
attendance in schools.
Or U.S. policy-makers could cordially
remove their heads from their posteriors
and realize that raising good children is
the key to the rise of a great nation. If
children are required to be in school,
then they might as well learn some real
life lessons: how to ask for help, how to
recognize the extremity of their inner
mental state, how to work past a devas
tatingly problematic family situation.
And, speaking of the family, Lucila’s
is an anthropological study on its own:
Recently immigrated, working low
wage jobs, living in an area of extreme
poverty — a class that, like Lucila, con
tinuously slips under the radar. The
United States is still far behind the rest
of the globe in terms of national, bilin
gual proficiency, and American ego
centrism in regards to the idea of inte
grating other languages into our
society will only serve to isolate fami
lies such as the Venturas. Furthermore,
as long as ethnocentrism and racism
remain the skeleton in the U.S. closet,
immigrant families will never be able
to assimilate to this country and attain
good paying jobs as well as they could.
Most importantly, however, is the way
in which Lucila’s family situation, and
later murder charge, represent the im
portance of women’s health and
family planning in creating national
policy. It is scary to think how many oth
er Lucilas may emeige should Bush get
his wish and discourage schools and
health facilities from discussing
important options with women, such
proper methods to use birth control and
when to consider an abortion.
Lucila’s case is not an isolated inci
dent. Her decision to murder is as much
related to her mental state as it is to her
family’s and country’s mental states.
Until the U.S. can get its head in the right
place, we all deserve a plea of insanity.
aslater@ dailyemerald, com
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Measure 3 7
It’s about land. And money. But what is
Measure 37, really?
Measure 37 dictates that owners of proper
ty affected by land-use regulations in Oregon
are owed “just compensation” for the loss of
profits related to the restrictions on how they
use that property. It also allows governing
bodies to exempt land from regulations in or
der to avoid compensating landowners.
Measure 37 applies to land use regulations
already in effect. Thus, many claims for com
pensation are based on hypothetical and of
ten questionable estimates of profit loss.
Although voters approved Measure 37 in
last year’s election, last week, a Marion Coun
ty judge found it unconstitutional.
In her ruling, Marion County Circuit Court
Judge Mary Mertens James rightly explained
that Measure 37 forces the government to
make a difficult choice: It must either com
pensate property owners affected by land re
strictions or give up its power to regulate how
land is used. Either way, landowners win.
Nearby landowners and other taxpayers,
however, often lose.
As demonstrated by plaintiffs’ claims in
this case, Measure 37 has been applied or
may be applied unfairly in some Oregon
counties; some property owners have re
ceived exemptions from land use laws while
others have not. Developing land around a
farm, for example, can adversely affect that
farm’s groundwater quality. Mixing residen
tial housing and farming can also cause ten
sions with dust, noise, pesticide spraying and
Oregon voters nave recognized tnese con
flicts in the past and worked to remedy them.
Oregon began regulating land use in 1973,
and the state has become a model for envi
ronmentally-minded urban growth bound
aries and other planning measures.
Under Measure 37, the desires of land
owners have precedent over the desires of a
government trying to contend with the multi
faceted needs of the environment and city
The measure also forces all citizens to help
compensate landowners with their tax dol
lars, even if those citizens do not receive ben
efits or are negatively affected by Measure 37.
There are some cases in which land restric
tions have prevented landowners from using
their land in practical and responsible ways. It
is certainly unconstitutional that the govern
ment’s power to rule, i.e. make policies which
work toward the greatest good for the great
est number, is compromised by Measure 37.
Moreover, calculating hypothetical lost
profits in today’s currency is a near-impossi
ble task. Without a mechanism to calculate
lost profits, important government policy
stands the very real chance of being over
turned simply to appease landowners.
Oregon is not required to make amends for
laws passed by its government. Sometimes
the government enacts policies that are diffi
cult for individuals to cope with, but allocat
ing monetary compensation for lack of a cop
ing mechanism is no way to run a state.
As Governor Ted Kulongoski said Friday,
“Significant policy changes that alter the very
nature of governmental processes and the
rights of individual citizens must be exam
ined and enacted with thoughtful and careful
Measure 37 is both unconstitutional and
fiscally irresponsible. As this case makes its
way to the Oregon Supreme Court, judges
should follow James’ logic and find this
measure as such.