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Home arrow Opinion arrow Letters arrow LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FROM JULY 19 TO JULY 24, 2004



Need to settle differences

To the Editor:

The dispute between Union County Circuit Court Judge Phil Mendiguren and District Attorney Martin Birnbaum threatens the very fabric of our county's criminal justice system. A good working relationship between these two professionals is critical. Mendiguren is the county's senior judge and Birnbaum was recently re-elected to continue serving as district attorney.

Mendiguren found Birnbaum in contempt of court June 18 after Birnbaum allegedly failed to give the judge his cell phone number during a noon recess in a manslaughter trial. That afternoon the judge ordered the district attorney to jail. Birnbaum now plans to appeal the judge's contempt citation, further delaying a resolution to this dispute.

An end to the conflict that divides these two men needs to come about quickly. Citizens in our valley need every assurance that their criminal justice system is well and working properly.

Mendiguren and Birnbaum should meet soon to iron out their differences and announce to the public what they have decided.

Dave Stave

La Grande

Drivers not aware of bicyclists

To the Editor:

In response to your June 17 editorial concerning bicyclists using city streets and roads, I would submit that most of us who ride bicycles are aware that traffic laws apply to us. The problem is that many drivers do not seem to be aware that bicyclists have a right to use the streets, or they don't care. As a result, us bicycle commuters often do what we feel we have to do to reach our destination without being run down by a two-ton SUV.

If this necessitates riding on sidewalks, riding against automobile traffic on the side of the street, or using crosswalks to cross at traffic signals, we do it.

I ride my bike to work daily in Redmond, and have to cross Highway 97 in doing so. Normally I try to stay in what passes for a bike lane and ride on my side of the street. I have tried joining the regular traffic flow at a major intersection, only to be refused right of way, honked at, cursed at, and flipped off by impatient motorists.

With no steel cage to protect me, I have gone back to pushing the button for the "walk" signal and using the 3 seconds it allows me to cross before it starts flashing "don't walk.'' Even in the crosswalk you have to watch yourself — people turning right on a red light or left on a green would just as soon run you over as they make eye contact and scowl.

In conclusion, I would like to say that until you have put yourself on a bicycle and faced the traffic on the streets, don't fault bicyclists for their actions. I am reasonably certain that during my daily commute I observe drivers committing far more traffic infractions and endangering many more people than I do.

Gary Clayton

Redmond (former La Grande resident)

Protest interim appointment

To the Editor:

A group of Union citizens will participate in a demonstration at 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 20 in front of Union City Hall.

The group will be calling attention to the decision of the Union City Council on July 12 to appoint recalled councilor Jack Zimmerman as interim city administrator.

Most of the protesters will be members of TOTAL, but some will not have any affiliation with the group. There is great concern among citizens that the four council members who voted to appoint Mr. Zimmerman seemed to have conspired to agree on the course of action before the meeting. The councilors did not consider any other candidate for the position.

The four councilors also overlooked the precedent set in 2000 when Mayor Thomas and one council member took over the responsibilities of city administrator due to the illness of Leonard Almquist.

The group is concerned that the vote of their city council has ignored their wishes that Mr. Zimmerman not be part of the administration of the city, and has negated their lawful recall vote.

This will be a peaceful demonstration of no confidence in the current city council, and the group will be distributing information regarding its concerns.

Debbie Clark


Program helps troops, families

To the Editor:

Around the nation and around the world more than 2 million deployed military personnel and hospitalized veterans struggle with the hardships associated with being far from home.

Unfortunately, the cost of long distance telephone calls can create a severe strain on a slender military packet or the depleted finances of an older veteran.

Launched in 1996, Operation Uplink is an innovative program that provides free, pre-paid phone cards to active duty military personnel and hospitalized veterans. Through the support of the VFW, its auxiliaries and various corporate sponsors, Operation Uplink has already distributed over 4 million phone cards representing billions of minutes of phone time.

We have been informed that phone cards will soon be made available to those serving in the military with the recently deployed group from Eastern Oregon. The local VFW post and its auxiliary have donated to Operation Uplink and are pleased to be part of this meaningful program.

Gary and Nancy Bruch

La Grande

Community pulls together

To the Editor:

I graduated from La Grande High School and have been a longtime resident of Pendleton. My husband is part of the 3rd Bat. 116th Cav. that was deployed July 2 to Fort Bliss, Texas, for training and eventually to Iraq.

For months our family has been preparing ourselves for this deployment. It is difficult to express the amount of stress and anxiety we have experienced. Being parents of seven children we looked for support from our community.

We are very thankful for all of our family and friends who have stepped forward to help us. We sincerely thank you for your prayers, meals and support. God bless all of you. You have warmed our hearts and are helping us through a difficult time.

At the same time, we wondered where the city of Pendleton's patriotism was? Where were the outward signs supporting our troops, like yellow ribbons or American flags? On June 30 our family was very honored to go to La Grande to the battalion send-off.

What a sight to see. There was not a part of La Grande that did not have a yellow ribbon or the American flag proudly displayed. The community of La Grande pulled together and prepared lunch for 350 soldiers and their families.

Later that day our family gathered at Foley Station where a gentleman from

La Grande generously paid our ticket. We were also confronted by people on the street pledging their support and prayers.

Hats off to the community of La Grande. Thank you for such a welcomed show of patriotism and support.

Jimmie Kay Thorne


Pray for troops

To the Editor:

I would like to comment on the June 30 ceremony for the deployment of the 3-116 Cavalry.

My husband and I appreciated the honest, considerate, personal and sincere speech given by Gov. Kulongoski. The whole ceremony was very good.

We have a 28-year-old son, married less than a year, who will be off to Iraq with the cavalry. As we send our troops abroad it is with a sadness knowing how much we love them and will miss them with our whole hearts. Young children will be without their mothers or fathers, spouses without spouses. Yet our hearts can take pride in our troops who are giving their all to serve our country.

Whether you agree with what we are doing in Iraq or not, please be vigilant in praying daily for every soldier represented at the deployment ceremony. I am trusting Our Lord to bring them all home.

Our son is a strong Christian, serving God wherever he goes. Our prayers are for his protection every day. Our prayers are for every son and daughter to have the same protection.

Emmett and Mary Smith


Donation benefits families

To the Editor:

In mid-May the La Grande Armory received a letter from a local group of anonymous citizens. These concerned individuals had taken up a collection on behalf of the soldiers of HHC 3-116th, and enclosed with the letter was $300.

Please let us extend our sincere thanks.

As our soldiers continue their training in preparation for their mission in Iraq, the Family Readiness Program will be working with soldiers' families and tending to their needs. The mission of the Family Readiness Program is to provide assistance and support when military families are separated from loved ones.

If you would like to support the Family Readiness Program please contact the

La Grande Armory.

Again we thank those anonymous individuals who sent the letter of support. It is our pleasure to serve and protect the rights of our citizens.

Pam Maliwauki

La Grande

Slap to Union voters

To the Editor:

Both the disregard for the tenets of our city charter and the arrogance exhibited by Union City Council in choosing an interim city administrator is unbelievable.

Our charter clearly allows for our existing mayor to act as administrator until a qualified administrator is hired. A city charter is just as important to a city as a constitution is to a nation and any attempt to breach or circumvent either must be considered equally heinous.

Particularly repugnant is the obvious cronyism displayed in placing Zimmerman in Bill Searles' vacated position for all the wrong reasons.

Consider that an unqualified Zimmerman is still a very tight component of Union's power clique, just as much as when he was recalled because of his participation in the vicious treatment of our former police chief, Dean Muchow.

We demonstrated by an overwhelming vote that Zimmerman was not a welcome part of our city government, so why did the evil clique conspire to place him in our face when the vacated administrative seat is clearly the mayor's responsibility?

I submit that it is a matter of blatant arrogance displayed by Graham and his cohort to place Zimmerman back into a government we voted him out of. It is a slap in the Union voter's face by the power clique to demonstrate they are still in command, contrary to our legitimate wish to be free of incompetent individuals with a need to exact revenge for the recall of a clique member.

My admonition to my fellow citizens is to stay watchful and be ready in November to replace the evilly arrogant incumbents with a responsible council that will accept the fact that they are in place only by the will of Union's voters and so are answerable to us for their actions.

Jim Bovard


Charter provides process

To the Editor:

What are we going to do?

At the last Union City Council meeting the Four-to-Two club — Gary Graham, Barbara Gray, Arlie Gordon and Brett Baxter — voted to appoint Jack Zimmerman to be pro-tem city administrator without calling for applications or other volunteers. This was obviously decided before coming to the legal meeting.

The city charter provides for the mayor to be the presiding executive in this interim but he was put down and not considered. Instead they put in someone who was recalled by the voters this spring.

How can we allow this to happen? We need your help to make some big changes. This was just to show us that they are in control as they have stated before in public meeting. "We are up here and we will do as we want. You people are not going to tell us what to do.''

In this same vein, several hundred signatures were presented to the council to reinstate Dean Muchow as chief of police as he has the best background for the job. The city administrator who resigned stated under oath that there were no charges against Muchow for which he should be fired. This was the same man who put Muchow under suspension and later testified to have him replaced, forced him to resign and then did everything to keep him from being hired anywhere.

This in my opinion is criminal.

Betty Bronson


Reason for mounted patrols

To the Editor:

It has come to my attention that many people are advocating the dissolution of mounted police patrols — given grounds being the presence of horse dung on streets and sidewalks.

Mounted police are a tried, proven and most effective tool of law enforcement. Just as much now — more so even — as it was over 100 years ago, and I don't mean just riding in parades.

It is a proven fact that the mere presence of a horse, and an officer who knows how to use one, is a deterrent on trouble-makers and gives officers an edge, especially in matters of crowd control and running down suspects fleeing on foot. Mounted police promote positive relations with citizens, especially children who are drawn to these beautiful, well trained animals.

Above all else, a horse-person is traditionally a symbol of rugged individualism and the embodiment of that ideal. Idealism and individualism are two things feared, and their destruction is sought by tyrants and wannabe tyrants, a footstep of the boot of subjugation and oppression over the collective public.

Tyranny knows no ethnic lines, and horse-people come from all walks of life, city or rural, police officers, recreationists, ranchers, farmers, hunters, fishermen — the list goes on. Today the police, tomorrow the public?

In conclusion, for all our high-tech, let us never forsake the old ways entirely. They always take on a whole new meaning when the electricity goes off, or when the gasoline dries up.

Ron R. Fischer


Nation losing morals

To the Editor:

A vote for a Democrat is a vote for George Soros, the great currency speculator who made a billion dollars in one day from Britain right off the British taxpayer's back.

He made good money in Russia, maybe the greatest social robbery in human history (Rep Jim Leach, R-Iowa) when the Clintons were in the White House, add another gate Russiagate. That ended when Bush got in.

Soros and the Democrats seemingly have similar goals — anti-family, anti-God, anti-America, anti-Bush. He has had great success in other countries with his ruthlessness changing regimes. He has the money, he has the know-how, he has spent years laying the groundwork even in our schools.

Soros has given $30 million and will give more to help the Democrats with their propaganda to kick Bush out. Along with other liberals pushing the religion of secularism, our nation is losing its morals, decency, the feeling for right and wrong which a child gets from a family, church, school, our leaders.

This is where we got the shameful prisoner abuse in Iraq, not lack of military training or supervision — Clinton and Gore were our leaders when these soldiers were growing up; snipers; the shooting and killing of fellow students at Columbine school; the killing of his family by a 14-year-old boy in New Mexico. And we can expect more.

There are over 12 pages in the May NewsMax on George Soros. Everyone who loves America should read this, Democrats and Republicans. It should be required reading for conservatives.

Charles McCarver


World more dangerous

To the Editor:

In her column in the Observer of July 10 Linda Chavez said the Democrats' only strategy is to paint Bush as a demon.

Bush is demonizing himself. He went to war with 130,000 troops, when military commanders wanted 300,000.

He claims a link between Saddam and al-Qaida, when the 9/11 Commission did not find this to be true. What has been accomplished that increases the security of America?

The Republican Guard shed their uniforms in order to fight another day, which they are doing now. The regular Iraqi Army was dismissed, producing thousands of dissidents.

Bin laden does not have to breach U.S. shores to inflict havoc on us, he merely needs to pick off a few Americans when the opportunity offers itself. We have now lost slightly less than an average of two GIs every day since the war started, around 900, and two-thirds of that number since the president announced: mission accomplished.

A massive intelligence failure? This doesn't wash either. Germany would not join us in the invasion because their intelligence did not substantiate the existence of WMD; neither would France, Russia, Turkey or Canada.

We are engaged in a battle we cannot win, with no way to withdraw. And yet Bush plans spending cuts for veterans. The VA suffered a one billion dollar budget reduction. This is in addition to the seven planned hospital closures. There are planned fee and co-payment increases and prosthetic cuts.

The president has proclaimed that Saddam needed to be removed because he had the means to produce weapon of mass destruction. Saddam did have the means, but then so have at least 100 nations.

The administration does not understand the world it faces. Security has been weakened, and the world is a more dangerous place.

Willis Friton

La Grande

Saddam was threat

To the Editor:

The guest column by Michael Kane, the editor and general manager of the Hermiston Herald, makes me wonder if there is any newspaper that is not oriented toward the liberal point of view.

He says he has watched all the news about Iraq to the point where it sickens him, and mentions the number of casualties "since the president told us major combat had ended.'' That last little phrase has become more tiresome and nauseating than about any other part of the biased reporting.

Mr. Kane says that al-Qaida is more widespread now than ever. Given the fact that some of their cells existed in practically every country on the planet before we went into Afghanistan, he must mean that bin Laden has spread his influence to Mars. That is about the only way al-Qaida could have become more widespread.

The odd thing about the view that there were "no weapons of mass destruction" is that some Iraqis, who are in a position to know, say there were and still believe there are such weapons there. The nerve gas artillery round the Saddam loyalists tried to detonate recently surely was not the only round left from the stockpile they "do not have" and did not account for from before the first gulf war. It was established as fact that they did have such weapons. Since no weapons — in bulk — were found and such weapons did exist, and no evidence exists to show they were destroyed, it is prudent to assume that they are still hidden somewhere in Iraq waiting for our liberal press to help the loyalists gain power by causing us to withdraw.

Mr. Kane said, "(Saddam) surely knew if he attacked us in any way he and his country would be obliterated." No, I don't think he thought any thing of the sort — not if he attacked with the same methods used by all other Muslim terrorists using the rabidly religious in suicide attacks. He bragged about financing such people. So tell us, Mr. Kane, why it is that he wasn't, and would not be, a threat.

Gary Poole


Tone down rhetoric

To the Editor:

Enough of this hogwash from TOTAL and their myrmidons. Union is a great place to live, and caring citizens need to keep it that way.

It is a sad state of affairs that our country, and now our city is subject to the shrill and unconsidered opinions of people like Michael Moore and TOTAL. Making claims that are unsubstantiated, or based on only part of the truth, is not the way Americans traditionally resolve disagreement. Name calling, vitriolic language and ignorance are not components of reasonable dialog. Wednesday's letters from Mr. Bovard and Ms. Bronson contain such ill-informed descriptions.

In regard to the matter of the interim city administrator, the current mayor removed himself from consideration for the post, there is no conspiracy on the part of the city council, and the ex-chief of police was not treated viciously.

Before we descend to their level of bickering some facts must be established. The duly elected city council of the City of Union has made a temporary appointment, based on precedent, in order to keep daily business of the city running until a permanent replacement can be hired. This is a volunteer position. For his efforts Mr. Zimmerman, who is my father, has received anonymous threats, had his vehicle vandalized and faced the type of hate-filled commentary reflected in the letters to the editor.

Another fact is that ex-police chief Muchow resigned voluntarily, requiring a gag order to be imposed on the city so that his reasons cannot come to light. In the course of executing his duty as he sees it, Mr. Zimmerman was, in fact, duly recalled from the council. During that action our family was threatened; rumors, innuendo, and outright lies were spread, some right here in the letters to the editor.

I refuse to be polarized in national politics. I also refuse to let rumor-mongers polarize the politics of our fair city. All citizens need to tone down the rhetoric and actually listen to the facts, then have a rational discussion about the issues. That is the American way.

Joe Zimmerman



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