LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FOR OCTOBER 14 - 19, 2002
BPA gives ranches to tribes
To the Editor:
Are you aware that the Bonneville Power Administration has purchased several ranches in Wheeler, Grant, Wallowa and Umatilla counties and deeded them to the Confederated Tribes?
This takes this land off the tax roles. Just because the land tax is erased from the roles, the taxes required are still imposed overall. So guess who gets to make up the difference? You and I.
One of the articles in the "Confederated Umatilla Journal" on page 4 reads "BPA considering more rate increases to cure deficit." This article states that BPA supplies small-electricity producers back-up power.
These producers are asking BPA to keep a lid on rate hikes as it tries to erase a projected $1 billion deficit.
Why, if BPA has that kind of deficit, did it just recently purchase the Forest Ranch in Prairie City, 4,295 acres, for $3.9 million and also the Middle Fork portion of the Oxbow Ranch in 2001 and donate these lands to the Confederated Tribes?
How long can we as taxpayers keep supporting this kind of welfare situation? Our government has allowed the American Indians to receive every conceivable handout from free hunting and fishing to grants and now we as taxpayers are also buying them ranch lands.
Don't you think we should stop these unjustified events? Write or e-mail your members of Congress.
What happened to rail grant?
To the Editor:
The comments of Malin Doles of Summerville in Sept. 20 Observer regarding the Joseph rail line make a good case for the I'm Agen It Club, which kills any venture undertaken to improve the desirability and economics of our part of the world.
The Tom Thumb engine, which lost a race with a horse, had a blower fail that provided draft for boiler five in the engine during the race. The horse could as easily have broken a leg.
Doles says "it is estimated that less than 2 percent of the tourist lines started in this country actually survive." Who is the authority for this
He says that Bowman Trucking "carries about five truckloads of wood products per day out of Wallowa County." Bowman's five loads are wood chips, and they are carried over a road provided by U.S. taxpayers. Nothing is said about furnishing the logs or the disposition of the finished product in that estimation of $600 per day of income.
In 2000 there were meetings in Elgin to try to con ODOT and the parks department out of the major part of $1.5 million to make a footpath and a bicycle path. The Observer stated on Sept. 2, 2000, that the "state had received a $1.2 million grant toward purchasing the line."
I attended those meetings and don't remember anyone cataloging the expense or income expected.
I was in the travel business for a number of years. Whenever a trip was offered that included an entertaining train ride, such as the Skunk Line in California, it was a sell-out. I need reservations for the Mount Hood Railroad in Hood River, or my out-of-state guests and I don't go.
One might opine that no enterprises established with a negative approach will succeed.
The Observer would do its readers a big favor if it would investigate and report on what happened to that $1.2 million grant from the state.
Support local United Way
To the Editor:
In the midst of all the memorials, budget crises and political scandals, it is often hard to remember what is going on in our own community.
Unfortunately, Union County is no different than everywhere else in the world; crime and abuse are deeply rooted here, too. Many families have been victimized by domestic and sexual abuse and are suffering because of it.
The Union County Victim Assistance Program works very closely with these families to provide them with the resources they need to move into a healthier future.
One of the many important agencies that work closely with us is Shelter From the Storm. Their staff works hard to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault reach safety, and the shelter provides emergency housing, counseling services, personal advocacy, a 24-hour crisis hot line and much, much more.
We make referrals to Shelter From the Storm regularly and are confident that clients are treated with respect and compassion. The shelter's advocates are well trained and work tirelessly to try to keep families safe and healthy. Shelter From the Storm is definitely a very important community partner in our county. Like many service organizations, Shelter From the Storm receives funding from the United Way. In light of all that is happening with our state finances, it is important for us all to support our local United Way.
You can be sure that your donations are going to local programs helping local families, supporting your community and helping provide year-round services to those in need.
We believe that we all have a responsibility to the community where we live and work. One of the ways that we fulfill that responsibility is by contributing to United Way.
Keep Willow center open
To the Editor:
I've heard that the recycling facility on Willow Street is to be closed. I surely wish it could be kept open. We live out of town and do not use garbage service because our animals and a burning barrel help dispose of many things.
However, we recycle many things. The Willow Street Center is convenient, clean, keeps many items separated and is out in the open and nice to use.
My main concern is that I've heard the new facility is very smelly and not at all a pleasant place to go. This may be only rumor as I haven't been there yet.
Sometimes, progress is not always better.
Give us label information
To the Editor:
The Oct. 1 Observer had an article stating that the agricultural industry has given almost $4.6 million so far to fight Measure 27. (Measure 27 requires that genetically engineered food be labeled as such.)
The bulk of the money comes from CropLife International of Brussels, Belgium, representing chemical companies such as Monsanto, Dow and DuPont. Other contributors include big food corporations like Kellogg, General Mills, Procter and Gamble, Hershey, PepisCo, and Sara Lee. Hardly what we would normally think of as the "agricultural industry."
The big corporations controlling much of our food supply seem unwilling to tell us what is in the food they are selling. They are even spending millions of dollars to keep me from knowing. This worries me. I am sure that it is not the consumers' best interests they have in mind. What are they trying so hard to hide that I should know? What are they so worried about? I am sure it is not the cost of adding a couple of words to the label.
If I have learned anything this past year it is that large corporations and those who control them cannot always be trusted that they do not have the consumers' or even their own workers' interests in mind. They are too often motivated by personal greed.
In studying this issue I also was told that our local Chamber of Commerce was opposed to Measure 27. The local business owners are siding with CropLife International of Belgium over the interests of the citizens of this community and their right to know.
As a consumer I want to know what is in the food I buy. It should be accurately and clearly labeled. Measure 27 requires those corporations who label food products to do just that.
Voting yes on Measure 27 merely gives us the information we have the right to know about the food we buy.
Is company blowing smoke?
To the Editor:
In regards to the Sept. 18 article in The Observer about Fleetwood RV and its need for more employees I would like to tell my story.
A friend and I went to Fleetwood to fill out job applications. We were told to call and set up appointments with Terry Fischer. That was more than four weeks ago. For a month we called Mr. Fischer regularly to make appointments and all either one of us got was silence.
On Sept. 26 I was finally able to reach Mr. Fischer by telephone. He told me that things were slow at Fleetwood, and he was only hiring replacements. I asked him would it still be worth my time to come in for an interview since I live at Meacham and work in Hermiston, and he told me it would.
So I went to Fleetwood to meet with Mr. Fischer and he was not there. I was told that he would be back in a half hour. When I called back he was still not there. After an hour I called one last time and was told that Mr. Fischer had returned and left me the message that he had no openings and to call back some other time.
This broken agreement cost me a day's wages. Who am I to him? Just a name with a voice. Well, maybe now Mr. Fischer will hear me. I was willing to work hard for that company. I have an exceptional work history with a degree in civil engineering and want to continue living in the area where my family resides.
Based on my experience, I would ask does Fleetwood really need employees or are they just blowing smoke and asking for sympathy from the community?
Dallas W. Sullivan
4-H gives kids strong boost
To the Editor:
I have been involved in the 4-H program for seven years, showing horses and a dog. At 17, I am now in my final participatory year.
I have become more involved in teaching younger 4-H members and I have gained real insight into the influence that 4-H has on kids.
I have watched young introverts blossom into amazing leaders and 10-year-olds take on responsibilities that most people twice their age struggle with.
I have also realized that 4-H has kept countless teenagers out of trouble by giving us direction. 4-H has this effect by creating the opportunity for us to teach, learn from and lead other kids.
4-H teaches life skills. The responsibility of showing and caring for animals brought me to an understanding of winning and losing and even life and death when I was very young. 4-H kids become more selfless, accountable and compassionate because an animal's needs must be put before their own. When kids sell their livestock at the fair, most of them cry.
My experience in 4-H has influenced me to the point that I cannot really fathom who I would have been without the experience. The leadership, responsibility and enjoyment that I have gained from the program is so important to me. But what makes 4-H special is not the programs but the people and animals behind it.
I am grateful for all that I have learned, the friends I have made, the animals I have loved and the adults who care and make it happen.
Howard getting results
To the Editor:
Union County is fortunate to have three very good county commissioners. As a commissioner from Tillamook County and a former legislator, I have had the opportunity to work with commissioners from all over the state. Few meet the caliber of your three commissioners.
Commissioner John Howard is running for re-election and deserves your support. He has been very active in developing and pushing for the Healthy Forest Initiative for Wildfire Prevention and Stronger Communities. He is well known by many of the western governors and many members of Congress for his ability to work toward a consensus on complex issues.
Already more than 5.9 million acres of public and private land have burned this year, an area the size of New Hampshire. Hundreds of communities have been affected by these wildfires. America's public lands have undergone radical changes over the past century due to the suppression of fires and a lack of active forest and rangeland management.
John Howard is working to reduce the number of overlapping environmental reviews and needless administrative obstacles. He is working to produce a balanced conservation strategy in the Pacific Northwest that reflects the needs of both local communities and the environment.
His leadership is producing real results that will benefit all of us. He has earned your support for re-election
Tillamook County commissioner
Good things will happen
To the Editor:
Business is his business and that is why we endorse John Lamoreau for county commissioner. His proven business leadership is needed to develop a solid business plan for Union County.
John has done that in the private sector by being the administrator of Grande Ronde Retirement Residence for 12 years. He knows how to work with budgets, consumers and priorities. Farmers, timberworkers and local business people know we need more than just politics as usual. John Lamoreau will put local business interests first. Ask him! He will tell you where he stands.
People are his business and that is another reason we support John Lamoreau. John serves on the Oregon Task Force on Senior and Disabled Services. He practices the golden rule by his care and respect for people with disabilities and for our honored senior citizens.
He understands both the personal issues of the individuals and the complicated support and funding systems. He knows how to work with people. Talk to him. He will listen.
Young people are his business and that is demonstrated clearly by his close family ties and his countless hours of volunteering. Salvation Army, CASA, youth exchange programs and local sports have all been blessed with John's service and dedication to a good cause.
John Lamoreau wants to make public safety a priority to protect our families. Watch him. He shows he cares.
John Lamoreau is intelligent, has solid business experience and will bring fresh ideas to solve old problems. Vote for him. He will make good things happen!
Dave and Zee Koza
How much does it cost?
To the Editor:
I would like to exercise my right to petition my congressman. This is the right of every citizen.
In an opinion page piece I wrote for The Observer a few months ago, I described my trip to Washington, D.C., and a very dissatisfying experience. I ended up in the Senate Cafeteria with an assistant to an aide for Sen. Gordon Smith. The aide did not know anything about the issue. She took virtually no notes.
I expressed concern about my opinions and ideas reaching Sen. Gordon Smith, and, if so, how they could have been expressed in any coherent fashion by the uninterested assistant.
It was very disappointing. Yet I still wish to have my opinions heard, as is the right of every citizen.
Probably Enron Corporation and other corporations who contributed handsomely have had many hearings with Smith personally. So I wonder, if I contributed to his campaign, would I have been heard? I could afford about $25. I wonder, would that be enough to make a difference?
How much money would it take to facilitate my right to be heard? Perhaps a contribution of $100, or maybe $500, or $1,000 or more? I don't have a lot of money so I would like to know how much he wants. I don't want to spend too much, or worse, not enough.
Perhaps Smith could establish a contribution scale with rates for individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations.
Larger businesses probably already know how much to contribute to get the results they want. Anyway, I'm a practical man and would like a response from Smith so I can know how much it costs to be heard.
Goldstein performs well
To the Editor:
I support Joel Goldstein for re-election to the La Grande City Council.
Having attended numerous city council meetings during his term, I have observed his performance. In my opinion, the residents of this community would be best served by re-electing him into position No. 6 on the council. Goldstein is fair and impartial, and a man who truly represents our best interests.
For example, he has been supportive of La Grande's urban forestry program, which has received statewide recognition. Many of our residents have enjoyed the benefits and beauty of all the new trees growing in our community. This is just one instance of Joel's commitment to doing what is best for all of us.
As you consider your vote in the Nov. election, remember what Joel Goldstein has done for you.
Making mockery of elections
To the Editor:
There has been much concern over the past few years about low voter turnout, and what I am about to say is not to excuse that.
In New Jersey, a senator falling behind in the polls decided to drop out of the race although New Jersey voting law says he can't do that because the time has expired for dropping out or entering a race for public office.
The New Jersey Supreme Court rules that the law of the state may be ignored. After all, laws are made to be broken, are they not? The U.S. Supreme Court says: right on, mind not what the law says, although that same Supreme Court told the Florida Supreme Court that Florida had to abide by the certification date of Florida law which certified President Bush as the victor in the 2000 Florida presidential race.
Now, today, another senate candidate in another state is dropping out because he is running behind in the polls, which will allow some candidate more acceptable to the voters to enter the race. Again never mind what the state election laws say.
This, to me, is making a mockery out of elections, candidates, parties and courts. No wonder people don't much give a hoot about elections, they apparently don't mean much anyway so why bother?
And, yesterday I received a book, the state calls it a pamphlet, with page after page of measures disgusting.
By the way, our governor was one of 18 Democratic governors who refused to sign the pledge to keep the words "under God" in our nation's Pledge of Allegiance.
Maybe we should be saying "God help America." I will vote and I hope you will also.
Outraged with NRA cartoon
To the Editor:
The cartoon on the Oct. 14 opinion page was utterly outrageous and offensive. The cartoon compares NRA members with the as yet unapprehended serial killer near Washington D.C.
Comparing a serial killer or terrorist with NRA members really shows where some of our national media heads are. These media people fit right into the terrorists' belief that the United States is in disarray.
I am disappointed and outraged that the cartoonist would draw such a cartoon, it would be syndicated and The Observer or any paper would publish it. The Observer can do better.
Labeling gives better choices
To the Editor:
A local community group, Oregon Rural Action (ORA), has sponsored forums on several issues that have raised concerns for me. Since misinformation is often fed to consumers from big companies that profit from questionable practices, I appreciate having a local group looking into these issues.
ORA is actively promoting Ballot Measure 27, which requires labeling genetically engineered food in stores, but not restaurants. Large, out-of-state companies like Monsanto have spent $4.6 million so far to oppose this measure. They are researching, producing, and marketing these questionable foods, but have found that many international markets such as Europe, Australia, and Japan now limit genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and require food labeling.
Bio-tech companies already sell GMO foods in the United States but are afraid that we'll stop buying them if they're labeled. That's why they're paying for all those TV ads and glossy letters you may be getting in the mail. Polls confirm that consumers here are concerned about eating engineered foods and want the choices that labeling would facilitate.
Shoppers shouldn't have to hunt for organic products, which are limited in our area and often more expensive, to avoid unnatural foods with added bacteria, antibiotics and genes. Labeling can give us better choices, raise awareness, and pressure producers to keep our food clean and safe.
Companies change labels often enough (we constantly see "New & Improved" or "Reduced Salt" or "Fat Free") that no one will go out of business simply because they have to put GMO information on labels. In fact, if Oregon leads the way in labeling and producing GMO-free products that other countries and consumers want to buy, it will add to our export capability.
Measure 27 is about our right to know what's in our food. Learn the facts and vote YES.
Goldstein represents us well
To the Editor:
Joel Goldstein is a faithful servant of this community and I heartily endorse his bid for a second term on the city council. Joel cares about the things that matter to me: a safe community with enrichment opportunities for children and families.
In a four-year period we've seen significant community enhancements: the addition of a splash pool, the Sk8 Park, added ball fields, the Mobile Fun Unit and the expanded summer recreation programs.
Thanks to the trust and support of our current city council and staff we've moved forward by providing healthy alternatives for children and families.
Joel is an advocate for these kinds of programs and has demonstrated his commitment to making them a reality. He brings a unique set of skills to the council. As a trained mediator he is skilled in listening and questioning. He seeks to understand issues prior to making decisions and he welcomes divergent opinions. Joel advocates for positions that are reasonable and fair.
Joel Goldstein has represented us well for the past four years. We need to retain this valuable asset working for us on the city council.
Funds help shelter mission
To the Editor:
Shelter From the Storm offers a wide array of service to victims and their families. One of the more extensive services is the emergency shelter house.
The safe-house offers victims of domestic violence and sexual assault a confidential, safe, clean place to stay where they can receive services, agency referrals, legal assistance, counseling, etc. While in the shelter, a victim has the opportunity to develop the tools needed to create and maintain a safe environment for herself and her children.
Advocates are available to the shelter residents 24 hours a day. While many shelter intakes occur during the day, many occur at odd hours of the night.
While the safe-house is funded by several sources, a primary source is United Way. Without the consistent support of United Way, Shelter From the Storm would be greatly hindered in its efforts to provide safe housing options to domestic violence victims. United Way funds help make it possible for our agency to offer extensive shelter assistance to our clients. The impact is tremendous.
Thank you, United Way, for helping us in our mission to create a violence-free society. Your support is invaluable.
Shelter From the Storm
Howard vacillates on issues
To the Editor:
My campaign for county commissioner has had many interesting moments. The best came with the two dozen young people who have gone door-to-door with me, as we walked this county.
The most difficult part of the campaign has been trying to understand exactly where my opponent, John Howard, stands on various issues.
Two years ago he supported a 5-cent-a-gallon increase on gasoline. This election year he states he is against any increases in taxes.
People have told me they like him because he is pro-life. He is published in a state survey as being pro-choice. At the beginning of the campaign he indicated he was not against the Wal-Mart superstore. At the end of the campaign he states he doesn't want to see it come.
A published voters' guide asked him if he favors taxpayers keeping the tax kicker. They quote his response as being "unclear."
I have questioned some of his positions. At a recent debate, when asked about family wage jobs and what a family wage is, he replied "$25,000 a year." I disagreed. Two teenagers working full-time at a fast-food restaurant at a minimum wage, together, make more than $25,000 a year.
I have been open about my views. I oppose the proposed cuts to our sheriff's department. I question the railroad purchase from a business perspective and am concerned our county tax dollars can be used for it with a vote from the commissioners. I believe we need to adequately fund our road department.
If elected I will let people know where I stand on issues while at the same time be open to learning about different perspectives. I will not promise miracles, but I will promise to bring a business mind and a fresh new perspective to our county government.
Elect Howard as commissioner
To the Editor:
We proudly endorse John Howard for Union County commissioner.
John has worked for the betterment of farmers and mills to try to keep the economy strong in this county. He has also been interested in our youth, working for better programs in sports and recreation and schools.
John Howard is the man for Union County commissioner.
Bryce and Pearl Miller
We cannot ignore Saddam
To the Editor:
Ted Kramer's column in the Oct. 11 Observer on the economy vs. the proposed war on Iraq is badly in need of a rebuttal. I am surprised that a journalist has such a narrow view of the real threat to America's well-being.
He wasn't around during the Great Depression or World War II, but there are books out there. Even if he didn't read any of them, surely he
hasn't forgotten what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
If he paid more attention to the lessons of history he would realize that depressions and recessions have come and gone. Somehow we have survived them all and bounced back with most of our constitutional freedoms intact.
America's economy was a basket case with 25 percent unemployment just before we went to war against Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo. If we had used Kramer's reasoning we would now be saluting a flag with a swastika or a rising sun instead of the stars and stripes.
To ignore Saddam Hussein would be a terrible mistake. America has been labeled the "Great Satan" by Islamic terrorists and the only way we can teach them a lesson is with our military might. Now that we have subdued the Taliban in Afghanistan, Iraq is the linchpin of Mideastern terrorism. Once Saddam is removed, the other dominoes will fall.
It won't be easy and it will take a large measure of courage, sacrifice and a big bite out of our treasury, but America is up to the task in spite of all the peace rallies and anti-war editorials by newspaper editors at home and abroad.
This, of course, is the opinion of a patriotic, depression baby and WWII veteran who has paid attention to history.
E.H. Van Blaricom
Help children longing for rainbows
To the Editor:
There were tears shed outside the courtroom today as the adoptive parents and the court appointed special advocate said their emotional goodbyes after the final hearing. For this CASA it had been a hard two years with many court hearings, agency meetings and investigative activities.
She spent more than 350 hours in fulfilling the CASA role of bringing protection and stability to this child victim of neglect and abuse.
Last week this same volunteer was invited to a foster home for a going-away party for another of her assigned children. A new family was the rainbow for this child who had spent the last six months longing to be adopted. The volunteer played a significant part in the working out of the plans for this child.
The CASA program's 90 volunteers monitor 50 other children in Union County on their pathways to stability and permanency. CASAs believe that every child should have a safe, nurturing home, and work diligently to have it happen.
But it comes with a financial cost. Who funds the minimal expense for this state-mandated program? United Way is a generous supporter of CASA. United Way funding comes from people like you, people who care about children, who cringe to think of children being abused and neglected, who want to do something to protect children.
Without the funding from United Way, volunteer recruitment, training and supervision would suffer. Children needing a CASA would remain on the waiting list.
For these children-victims of abuse longing for their rainbows, I ask that you support United Way. Make a difference for a child by financially supporting the CASA program through United Way.
Doris Eakin, executive director CASA