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Home arrow Opinion arrow Letters arrow LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FROM OCTOBER 25 - OCTOBER 30, 2004

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FROM OCTOBER 25 - OCTOBER 30, 2004

Need board we can trust

To the Editor:

I pay taxes, vote, obey the law, read the "Federalist Papers" and consider myself an average voter. Fraud is an unacceptable behavior and so is the situation at the UBESD.

As a professional, I have been connected with fraud audits and budgeting within the government and the private sector for over 30 years.

My experience with wrongdoing falls into basic categories. Those guilty of wrongdoings and are not cooperative are handled through the legal system. Those guilty of actual wrongdoings who are cooperative are handled discretely.

Those not guilty and aware of wrongdoings are written up. Those not guilty who have the responsibility for monitoring are written up and let go for nonperformance of the job.

The concepts above are known as cleaning house. The board is the one group having the charter to clean house. The board is the ultimate watchdog and should be considered the most reliable in responding to fraud.

The UBESD board did not act quickly and was late in performing its public obligation. The EWDC, OSP, auditors, state agencies and the FBI took immediate action when faced with facts.

The board did not demand an immediate investigation a year ago — as these revelations were occurring — and were derelict in the disposition of the public trust placed in them by us, the voters.

Whether they are nice people is not the question before the voters. The voters must have a board governing the UBESD that can be trusted to administer the public's $24 million. They should not be asking, after the fact, for the public's trust. The damage is done and done on their watch.

Board members Anderes, Cason and Starr were responsible to watch over the $701 paid to the ESD from my property taxes. They failed. I'm voting to remove all.

Steven Votaw

La Grande

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Preserve marriage

To the Editor:

Concerning Measure 36:

Oregon statue chapter 106.010 "Marriage is a civil contract entered into in person by males at least 17 years of age and females at least 17 years of age, who are otherwise capable, and solemnized in accordance with ORS 106.150.

ORS 106.020 Prohibited and Void Marriages spells out who cannot marry.

Webster's First Dictionary 1828 defines marriage as "The act of uniting a man and woman for life ... Marriage is a contract both civil and religious by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity and for securing the maintenance and education of children."

Oregon court rulings on homosexual marriage indicated Oregon law would not stand the test of the constitutional equal protection clause because same-sex persons could not marry, i.e., have a civil contract which would entitle them to legal provisions applying to married people.

The Oregon Constitution in article XV miscellaneous section 5: "Property of married woman not subject to debts of husband: registration of separate property. The property and pecuniary rights of every married woman, at the time of marriage or afterwards, acquired by gift, devise or inheritance shall not be subject to the debts or contracts of the husband, and laws shall be passed providing for the registration of the wife's separate property."

This provision specifically applies to a woman, and male marriage is not addressed because neither partner is a woman. A new amendment would have to be passed to address this issue.

Measure 36 requires passage to preserve historical marriage meaning. Marriage is a civil contract. The Legislature, the peoples' representatives, can enact civil contract laws to maintain social order and tranquility.

Steve Donnell

La Grande

______________________________

Leadership at fault?

To the Editor:

Recently there was a letter to the editor in The Observer that was accusatory and uncomplimentary of the sheriff's office and jail staff because they do not support the undersheriff. I have known some of these people personally for many years and they are dedicated, accountable hard-working folks.

Some of these people have expressed to me their concern for their jobs should the undersheriff be elected sheriff.

As a World War II Army officer, I found that when one of my units was not working efficiently, when the men seemed to lack the commitment to do their best, when they were not griping out loud, the problem lay not with the men but with their leaders.

Harmony in the workplace is the result of good leadership — leadership that the personnel can respect and look up to.

Maybe the fault here, the lack of support for the undersheriff, lies with the undersheriff, not with the staff.

Roy Hills

Island City

______________________________

More to marriage

To the Editor:

Conception= one sperm, one egg.

But marriage, what's that all about?

Should it remain exclusively to sanctify potential breeding units, or should it honor the agreement between two people to love, nurture and respect one another for life?

In a society as complicated as ours, marriage involves the legalities surrounding this commitment. These legalities involve earnings, investments, taxes, health, death and inheritance.

A one-man-one-woman marriage definition also carries powerful negative social consequences. Having to live in fear and secrecy over the choice of a life partner restricts opportunities. When that happens society loses the full potential people have to offer it.

Reproduction is not the sole or even a necessary consideration for mutually supportive life-long relationships. I propose that marriage not be limited to one man, one woman.

Vote no on Ballot Measure 36.

Mary McCracken

La Grande

______________________________

Keeping look ‘fresh'

To the Editor:

I was looking over the layout of some recent issues of The Observer, and I just wanted to compliment the arts and entertainment editor for keeping the look of the paper fresh.

There is so much printed media nowadays that it is easy to overlook these elements, but it is what gives a company its identity and makes readers choose the literature.

Keep up the good work.

Jeremy Clark

La Grande

______________________________

Support appreciated

To the Editor:

We appreciate Judy Loudermilk, Fitzgerald Flowers and the rest of the community that put up the beautiful yellow ribbons in downtown La Grande.

The support and concern for our National Guard and other military personnel is so very much appreciated by the troops and their families.

Ken and Gayle Musgrove

La Grande

______________________________

Board failed the test

To the Editor:

There are those who would attempt to minimize the current problems of the UBESD. Chairman Rich Cason has asserted that citizens should get the facts from a reliable source before voting in the recall election. I certainly agree.

UBESD received hundreds of thousands of dollars of state and federal tax money through fraudulent billing. It is also reported that certain individuals received thousands of dollars on fraudulent travel claims, unearned vacation pay and credit card abuse. That money could have and should have gone to serve children who are most in need.

Board members have asserted they were unaware of the existing problems even though those problems were brought to their attention in January 2004. They then confuse micro-management with responsible board oversight. The fraud audit clearly indicates that agency policies were incomplete, out of date, conflicting, not followed or not in existence.

That situation fostered and enabled an agency to embarrass us all. Policy development and enforcement is perhaps the greatest responsibility for any board of directors. It is clear the board failed that test.

Five board members voted to continue the use of credit cards even after abuse was reported. Those same five board members initially voted against the employment of a chief financial officer to bring accountability to the agency. They also approved the frivolous purchase of an airplane and later defended their action.

The criminal investigation, the FBI investigation, the Ethics Commission and the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission reports are still forthcoming. The fraud audit and action by the Oregon Department of Education does not bode well for those reports to justify what has happened.

A copy of the audit can be obtained from UBESD for a minimal cost. Read for yourself and vote your logic.

Ray Stinnett

La Grande

______________________________

Focus on basics

To the Editor:

The statements on your Generations: Youth page on Measure 36 by Mountain View High School students Kelly Boylen, Sean Collette and Jerry Long may have several explanations.

The dumbing down of public education in Oregon and anti-religious bigotry are two possibilities. Or something everyone is guilty of from time to time: speaking without thinking.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free expression thereof; ..."

Too many forget the part between the comma and the semicolon.

Religious faith motivated the founding of our nation. It also motivated the anti-slavery and civil rights movements. It motivates many who build housing for the poor and work to give hope to those in prison. Are the efforts of those who work in AIDS hospices, with the developmentally disabled, or dentists who donate care to the poor illegitimate because of their religious motivation?

Perhaps these students need to focus more on the basics instead of hot-button issues.

Steve Boe

La Grande

______________________________

Wrong man for job

To the Editor:

With a week left before the election, both of the presidential candidates are making a final push to garner votes. But John Kerry is now making claims that reek of desperation as, once again, the polls show the president with a lead.

How could the president, no matter who it was, contaminate this year's flu vaccine made in Great Britain? Kerry says a draft and the privatization of Social Security are on the horizon if Bush is reelected, yet, the only people making those claims are the Democrats and Kerry. The Bush administration has continually denied either would happen.

So what would Kerry do as president? His Web site is short on substance. On Iraq? "Train the Iraqis and make them responsible for their own security, move forward with reconstruction and help establish their own government to run their country." Sounds an awful lot like the Bush plan to me.

He also wants to bring in an international coalition to help. Bush tried that and got over 100 countries to help, but since he didn't get France, Canada, Germany or Russia, he failed in Kerry's eyes.

Kerry's health plan says he will cut premiums by $1,000 per family, give the same health care available to Congressmen to all Americans, and do it without raising taxes. I don't think insurance companies are going to make those kinds of cuts just because Kerry is elected.

What would a Kerry administration mean to Eastern Oregon? In a campaign ad that ran over the summer, Sen. Kerry vowed to end subsidies for farming and logging and return the U.S. to an open world market. That would ruin rural America.

John Kerry is the wrong man at the wrong time in the wrong place.

Ken Kennedy

La Grande

______________________________

Preserve marriage

To the Editor:

When I vote Yes on Measure 36 on the Nov. 2 ballot, I won't see myself as discriminating against people involved in same-sex relationships.

My vote will be a way to affirm the traditional and classical definition of marriage.

The Bible in Genesis 2 describes the first marriage between a man and a woman. God's purpose for bringing Adam and Eve together was for companionship and procreation.

Even Webster's New World Dictionary is clear when it describes marriage as "the relation between a man and woman who have become husband and wife."

I know that in our society men choose to live with men, and women live with women. Call these partnerships or civil unions if you wish, but the word "marriage" should be used to describe men and women who have made a lasting commitment to each other.

If legislators wish to address the rights and privileges of those living in partnerships, then let them study and debate these things.

But let's preserve the word marriage for the purpose it was originally intended.

Dave Stave

La Grande

______________________________

Benefit to Union

To the Editor:

The residents of Union recently received a flyer stuffed in The Observer questioning some past actions made by city officials. Point three has questions that beg answering, such as, what did the city of Union get from having a golf course? How about the jobs and "Well, where is our lemonade?"

The first question is obvious. We have a golf course and not just any golf course but the best one in Northeast Oregon, except for one that is supported by a casino on a reservation.

Also Union has had a high school golf team for the past three years, and residents of Union County have a place to golf without joining a club.

There are about 10 to 15 local people employed by the course. This group is mostly retired fellows not looking to start a new career, also college kids and high school students. The maintenance crews regularly buy lumber, parts and such from local merchants, and there is no dining room at the site, only snacks and drinks.

People have stayed overnight at the hotel just to play golf.

This just scratches the surface, so how about some lemonade?

By the way, my family are golfers; two grandsons have played on the high school team, and one worked at the course several months. My husband is the mechanic — a retired logger, and glad to get out of the snow.

Robin Smith

Union

______________________________

Lacks experience

To the Editor:

At first I was amused at D.J. Lequerica wanting to run for mayor. Now I have to wonder about the group of people who are trying to get this young man elected.

D.J. seems like a nice young man; I like him. His age is not as much a factor in this election as his lack of training or experience. He admitted at the candidates' forum that his only qualifications were that he had grown up in Union and had spent four years in the Air Force.

The people who are trying to get him elected are supporting the incumbents because they have more experience than their opponents. What kind of double-standard is that?

The only council meeting that I ever saw D.J. attend was the one where he interviewed for the vacant seat. At that time Mr. Graham and other supporters did not feel he was qualified to do the job. He has not served on any committees.

He did not attend the Government Fundamentals training. He has never held public office. Even though he had the instructions in his hand, he

wasn't able to figure out how to gather 10 valid signatures so he could be on the ballot. How can he be ready to run a city? After D.J. gets some training and spends some time on a committee I'll vote for him myself.

For this year, however, there are two qualified women running for the office who have the training and skills. Sue Briggs was mayor before. Debbie Clark is very sharp and has new ideas. We need an experienced leader to get Union back on track. I hope voters will look at the qualifications of each candidate and choose one ready to do the job.

Ermal Goucher

Union

______________________________

No for Kerry, U.N.

To the Editor:

I read the letter in The Observer written by Mr. Horn bashing President Bush. He thinks it was all right for Kerry to be a turncoat and visit our enemies. I am a career military veteran of World War II and on through Vietnam. I am not going to say it was right or wrong to have gone into Vietnam, but I and many men obeyed our commander in chief.

Mr. Horn stated that he was in the service. If he was serving in 'Nam as I was when Kerry visited North Vietnam he would not think too highly of Sen. Kerry. He lied before Congress by stating where hundreds of thousands of innocent women have been killed and that most of us over there were nothing but murderers. By his traitorous visit to North Vietnam many more men were killed than would have been. I say that Mr. Kerry was the murderer as many more of our troops were killed because of his visit.

I would much rather serve a commander in chief whose family kept him from serving by their influence than to serve under what I and many veterans classify as a traitor. Mr. Kerry and Jane Fonda should be in prison today.

As for the U.N., we would be better off if we would pull out of that organization where most of the members hate this great nation.

We must keep Mr. Kerry out of the White House. I will support our president, Mr. Bush, all the way.

Victor R. Posvar

La Grande

______________________________

Willing to listen

To the Editor:

I am a third-generation rancher in the Elgin area, and I have had numerous opportunities to work with Colleen MacLeod on issues involving natural resources.

Colleen is always available to listen when an issue arises, and makes decisions based on facts instead of hype and emotion. Her energy and intelligence have gained her leadership positions at the state and national level where she is an advocate for Union county and natural resource industries.

Please join me in re-electing Colleen MacLeod, Union County commissioner.

Gene Hardy

Elgin

______________________________

Tremendous welcome

To the Editor:

Dear EOU friends, and citizens of La Grande, my family and I were recently in town for homecoming and my induction into the EOU Athletic Hall of Fame.

This letter is to let you know you made me feel home again. I saw so many wonderful friends from the university and met many new ones. Also, having arrived several days early I had a chance to visit many of the businesses I did so many years ago.

Everyone in town was incredible to both me and my family. I had people from Ohio, California and Oregon in town and they all were treated so well. What a welcome back.

I look to seeing you again soon.

Jack Lane

Moscow, Idaho

______________________________

Not beneficial to society

To the Editor:

There are valid concerns about the proposed ban on same-sex marriage. The question of discrimination deserves a closer look.

The primary dictionary definition of "discriminate" is "to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on a categorical basis rather than according to actual merit." There is merit to the idea that same-sex marriage is not beneficial to society.

Are there innate differences between men and women that make them complementary life partners? Will the blurring of gender roles have a positive or a negative effect on future generations? Does it or should it matter to us that gay couples have a basic anatomical problem when it comes to procreation? Is it right to ignore the evidence that children do better in homes with a loving mom and dad?

Is it true that what other people choose for a lifestyle affects them only and has no ripple effect on the rest of us? Is mutual love and commitment between two parties the sole criteria for validating a relationship? Considering that the family unit is so foundational to society, the answers to these questions have merit.

The secondary definition of "discriminate" is "to note or observe a difference; to distinguish accurately." In that sense, yes, Measure 36 discriminates. It discriminates in the same way that I discriminate when I'm shopping: I observe differences and distinguish accurately. The Health and Safety people discriminate and lawfully deny rights to unsafe businesses in the interest of our welfare. We all regularly discriminate for good reasons.

On the basis of merit, having observed differences, it is wise to make a distinction about what kind of marriage serves the interest of society. Measure 36 is deserving of careful reasoning and a yes vote.

Vicki Grove

La Grande

______________________________

Lesbians, gays are people too

To the Editor:

I am a 22-year-old woman and a lesbian. I am deeply in love with another woman. She brings light into my life, gives me love, hope and the freedom to be myself.

We take care of each other, love each other. When I am sick, she is there. When I need a hug or a shoulder to cry on, she is there with arms wide open.

One day we would love to be married, maybe even have children. These are our dreams for our future. And we ask you please, please vote no on Measure 36.

Let us share our dreams. We're not asking you to marry us, just let us get married. You don't have to look at us, talk to us or even acknowledge us.

Just let us be us. After all, we — lesbians and gays — are people too.

Trixie Hale

La Grande

______________________________

Tells it like it is

To the Editor:

During the past few weeks there have been several letters in The Observer about who would be the best sheriff for Union County. I'd like to take a minute to talk about a couple of those comments.

We are lucky. Dana Wright and Boyd Rasmussen are both pretty decent folk.

Two people commented about the endorsement of our present Sheriff Steve Oliver of Dana Wright. I don't see the down side of that endorsement. I'd vote for Steve Oliver again if he were running. I'd bet that Wright and Rasmussen would do the same. I have a lot of faith in Oliver's judgment. I believe that he knows both candidates a lot better than any of us.

A second letter stated that Wright admitted "we're losing the war on drugs.'' That tells me that Wright tells it like it is. Waging the war on drugs has never had anything to do with winning it. The war on drugs is a war that will never be won. The drug dog is as good a way to fight it, in a small area, as any other. There are hundreds of reasons why the war on drugs has to be fought. Any expectation that it can ever be won isn't one of them.

The sheriff's job is administrative. This is a job where the experience of writing grants, running a jail, handling jail lawsuits, dealing with employee contracts and county commissioners really counts.

Letters from police officer associations and local police officers tell us which candidate is more popular with them. Wright obviously hasn't spent enough time in the coffee room, with the boys, to get popular.

The sheriff works for the people of this county, not for the La Grande police union.

Bob Lund

La Grande

______________________________

Emotions muddy campaign

To the Editor:

The campaign for city government in Union has been a civilized battle with the focus on issues. Only Hank Rodman has felt it important to throw down the Dean Muchow card, and muddy the waters with an emotional issue.

You can't know the character or the ethics of any person who belonged to TOTAL by their support of one issue any more than you can know the heart of a person in CISU because they supported our city administrator. Neither side lied about their cause. It was a debate over an issue. It's time to walk away like adults and focus on those things we can do to make Union a better place to live.

Dean Muchow is the new police chief in a Southern Oregon city. They investigated the charges and hired him. As for us in Union, we will know in the next few months if there is merit to the charges in his personnel file. The grand jury decides if a case can go to court – they do not decide guilt or innocence.

Dean will have his day in court. Our city spent over $13,000 in legal fees last year, and exhausted this year's legal budget.

We have the right to vote our personal grudges. That won't put the most qualified person in office, and it may create more problems. There are a lot of qualified people on the ballot. I urge you to get a copy of their platform, or call them on the phone before you vote. Look at how they stand on the issues, and see if they know anything about a city budget.

I will be happy to discuss any tough issue you want to ask me about. Please don't let emotional issues impact Union's future.

Debbie Clark

Union

______________________________

Soldier paid ultimate price

To the Editor:

In June of this year, my family received the most devastating news any family could get: our Erik was a casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom.We were and still are devastated.

In Iraq he talked about the good his unit was doing, about how many people were so very thankful to the U.S. for being there, how proud he was of this country for taking an interest in the well-being of people that otherwise would be terminated by their own leader.

He spoke about the possibility of dying; he knew the risks, but he was there by choice. He asked his commanding officer to find a unit so that he could fight this war. He chose to go because he believed in the mission. In an e-mail home he told us that if he were to die over there, the only way it would be in vain would be if we pulled out before the job was completed.

Other families of soldiers in Iraq say their soldiers have said the same thing. We are fighting a war that needs to be fought. Regardless of the lack of weapons of mass destruction, whether or not Iraq was in on the attack of the Twin Towers, this war needed to happen to free people like you and me from Saddam Hussein.

I have never been so proud of anyone in my life as I am of Erik. He knew what he believed in and took a stand. I love every person in our armed forces and wish them a quick and safe return. There will always be a hole in our hearts for Erik. Freedom isn't free.

Erik paid the ultimate price. Keep our soldiers in your thoughts and prayers.Karen Howton

Island City

______________________________

Moral issues at heart of election

To the Editor:

Never have the lines between moral issues been so definitive in any presidential election. Our nation has lost ground. It has been only in the last 50 years that it has escalated to a point of disbelief.

The outcome of this election will decide whether your son or daughter will be taught in public school that homosexuality is an accepted way of life. Your tax dollars will fund all the marriage rights a man and woman would have. We will decide whether it will be possible to have abortions on demand.

Our president has set a course to rid the world of terrorists. This election will decide if we stay on that course or focus on our own problems. I believe if we start something we should finish it, especially when it involves world peace.

We live in a world that believes we should not have to work for anything, that everything should be given to us. Satan is having his way in the minds and lives of us all. Through his cosmic principles of force, greed, selfish ambition and pleasure, our nation has changed. Sin is accepted as the norm. There is no understanding of the horror, shame and evil of sin.

Moralists treat sin as ignorance, misfortune or weakness, rarely as guilt. The human remedy is culture of the mind and body. In the irony of history, the world was never so vile as when pagan culture was at its zenith. It is all about choice. One day there will only be two kingdoms in the world, Satan's kingdom and Immanuel's kingdom; the choice is ours.

Make a commitment to vote and take the time to study the issues. Consider the consequences of your decision and remember every vote counts.

Bill Hansen

La Grande

______________________________

Exceptional young man

To the Editor:

I was pleased by the endorsement in The Observer of Todd Richmond for La Grande City Council.

He is truly an exceptional young man. Todd is a computer wizard, but his job requires him to deal daily with frustrated people who are certain that the sky is falling. He is brilliant in his ability to keep those around him in a positive frame of mind.

Gratefully, that perspective will benefit us all with Todd Richmond serving our city.

Andy Huber

La Grande

______________________________

Support positive candidates

To the Editor:

The candidates for City of Union offices offered uplifting presentations at the candidates' fair on Oct. 5. Union seemed on the way to uniting and being headed to positive approaches.

It is detrimental to bringing Unionites together when TOTAL puts a flyer into The Observer that again reflects negative rehashing of issues by presenting untruths or half-truths on issues. Their statements do not reflect that the government system works.

It takes at least four council votes to pass or fail anything, not two as was asserted.

The golf course has everything to do with sewer effluent discharge from the renovated treatment plant and nothing to do with water rates. It continues to have very positive effects on the business community. For example, people from all over the United States and the world come and stay at our hotel, love visiting the city and playing the challenging golf course that honors the history of the Native American.

It is true when life gave Union lemons, Union people made lemonade. Union can again be a positive player.

Support candidates that are positive and do not have agendas like TOTAL proclaims.

Susan Briggs

Union

______________________________

Strength, passion, knowledge

To the Editor:

Over the past four years I have had the opportunity as a councilman for Elgin to work with our county commissioners. We are fortunate to have proactive leadership that cares so deeply about the quality of life and future for the citizens that they serve.

One of those is Colleen MacLeod, a team player. Although she gives credit to all of those she works with, without her leadership many of the projects she has been involved in would have taken much longer to accomplish or would have failed altogether. Her proactive and involved attitude and willingness to involve those who can help us has helped our community and county to grow in a manner that is solid.

A commissioner's attentions are pulled in many directions and it takes multi-tasking to keep a handle on all the issues affecting Union County. Colleen is such a person. She effectively and successfully works with many organizations and agencies to accomplish the goals of our county.

I have worked with Colleen on economic development projects such as the new Elgin Industrial Park, ground that is in the process of being certified by the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, Elgin EDGE, NEOEDD, Union County Chamber, the Friends of the Joseph Branch, Union County Telecommunications and the Union County Contact Committee, to name just a few.

I have been to many meetings with Colleen and watched her speak on behalf of the citizens of Union County with strength, passion, knowledge and a vision for our future that has gained us the respect and attention of many of our state and federal leaders.

Colleen has earned my respect through her actions on behalf of the community and county, and I urge you to return her to office this November.

Marc W. Stauffer

Elgin

______________________________

Dog presents danger

To the Editor:

I am sure you have all had a neighbor with a dog, who neglects the animal, or perhaps you have been bitten by a wandering dog.

Who do you call when your neighbor's dog is loose and it has already chased you into a house or chased another neighbor's children into a camper or approached your children with its hair standing up on its back and growling, or when that dog's head protrudes over your fence and it is foaming at the mouth or barks all night and all day?

Not our animal control. Recently on a late afternoon, this neglected dog who practically foams at the mouth with teeth bared, broke through his poorly mended fence — once again — and was roaming around, keeping us prisoners of our home.

Having already talked with the owner on numerous occasions without effect, I called for an animal control officer. Unfortunately for the children on this block and myself, I was told that animal control was out until Monday.

Mind you, this is not an isolated incident. It took a couple of hours to get the La Grande Police Department to call us back. What did they do?

Contact the dog owner's parents to put the dog back in the yard. So what do we do when the kids are outside playing and this dog escapes again and bites them? Then do something about it as they lie in the hospital? Does it have to go this far before something is done?

What good is animal control if you cannot get an officer to respond?

Tamera Lannon

La Grande

______________________________

TOTAL control raises concerns

To the Editor:

TOTAL's intention of taking over Union City Council and thus the city government is disturbing. In addition to the questionable ethical behavior of the past year and the close ties with ex-police chief Dean Muchow, it is of concern on several levels.

We have a candidate for mayor who talks about a forensic audit and implies there is a problem with the city's budget, that the entire budget committee and the auditors missed and that only she is privy to.

Another candidate is telling people, untruthfully, that council members are meeting in secret. Another seems to be pretending she has never heard of TOTAL, and yet another has said publicly that he would handle disagreements by calling people out back to duke it out!

Even if he were joking, in the climate in Union, it is not funny.

I have yet to hear from TOTAL one positive idea or plan for Union to heal and move forward. All I hear is a rehashing of everything TOTAL didn't like in the past, plans for audits, investigations and watchdogging.

This is hardly an atmosphere in which city officials and employees can function at their best, or in which positive, forward-looking decisions can be made.

A healthy council should contain diverse independent thinkers capable of reasoned debate. Diversity in perspective sparks ideas and innovative solutions and the ability to make necessary changes. Do we want a council and mayor in lockstep who are more concerned with the agenda of their political action group than what is best for our city? I don't think so.

I support Arlie Gordon for council Position 5, Gary Graham for Position 1 and Dick Alexander — who was wrongly and shamefully recalled — for Position 3 and write-in candidate D.J. Lequerica for mayor.

Barb Gray

Union

______________________________

Decisive and diplomatic

To the Editor:

It's nice to see Colleen MacLeod hobnobbing with politicians in her latest political ad in The Observer: a tender squish from Sen. Gordon Smith, a paternal pat from Greg Walden, a cheesy smile from a well-dressed female pol shoveling the sod with the boys, and a tete-a-tete with Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

This pictorial reminds me of the last commissioner's race and the coattail-clinging by then-challenger John Lamoreau that helped land him in office. I have to question whether Gov. Kulongoski is endorsing Colleen MacLeod and if his picture was used with permission, but as of now, my phone call to the governor's office has not been returned.

This brings me to Jack Johnson, the best candidate for county commissioner. Jack has a strong county-wide reputation. In the recent primary a majority of voters in her own party actually chose Ken Johnson or a write-in candidate over incumbent MacLeod.

I served with Jack Johnson on a city commission. His decisions were well considered. He is decisive, diplomatic, knowledgeable and seeks consensus. He is experienced in public service.

I diverge from Jack's positions only in regard to the Wallowa Union Railroad, which I believe is a boon to Northeast Oregon. Commissioner Macleod came to support the railroad's purchase while former commissioner John Howard took the point and did an exceptional job coordinating Union County's efforts, and he paid the political price for his actions.

I hope that 100 percent of the county's registered voters send in their ballots and choose Jack Johnson for a new decisive, thoughtful, fiscally responsible and experienced voice for the people of Union County.

Then let's have a fair proportion of the board of commissioners' meetings in the evening so we can all attend.

Michael Rosenbaum

La Grande

______________________________

Question Measure 36 claims

To the Editor:

I received a phone call today from a pollster regarding Measure 36.

I was disturbed by this because it seemed to be more of an endorsement advertisement of Measure 36 rather than a true poll. The voice on the phone first asked if I was going to vote in favor of Measure 36, and then proceeded to ask if it would bother me that if Measure 36 were to fail, kindergarteners would be taught about homosexuality.

Being a teacher in an elementary school, I know that human sexuality is not discussed in the classroom until way beyond grade school. I hope that anyone who received this phone call would not really believe that human sexuality is being discussed with

5-year-olds in public schools.

This is why it is so important to get all of the facts before you vote. I am voting against Measure 36 because I believe in marriage, and I believe that God loves all of his children regardless of religion, race or sexuality.

Leslie Graham

Union

______________________________

Applaud Observer stance

To the Editor:

I noticed proponents of Measure 36 protesting outside The Observer recently.

It reminded me to write you, applauding your stand against this measure.

You did the right thing. Interpretations and beliefs regarding marriage are multiple and varied. Many don't believe in it. Amending the Oregon Constitution to accept only one group's exclusive definition of marriage — however culturally embedded — is wrong.

Betsy A. Neeley

La Grande

______________________________

Measure 37 wrong for Oregon

To the Editor:

Measure 37 is contrary to the equal protection and equal privilege clauses of the Oregon Constitution. Only long-time landowners could benefit from this measure passing.

If you purchased property in La Grande or any other city in the county since about 1985 you are subject to the current zoning requirements.

But if your neighbor or his relative has owned his property since before 1960 he wouldn't be subject to any minimum lot size or use restrictions. You are limited to the residential uses allowed today, but your neighbor could convert to any commercial or industrial use he chose without consideration for any impact on you.

On farm and forest land the impacts could be equally dramatic. A longtime landowner could divide property into small parcels, establish conflicting uses, which could have major impacts on neighboring commercial farming or forestry operations.

Oregon's land-use program has evolved over the last 30 years and will continue to change to address new issues and problems, but it has always attempted to apply equal protection and privileges. Measure 37 only benefits a few at the cost to many.

Vote no on Measure 37.

Lorence D. Savage

La Grande

______________________________

ESD board is in denial

To the Editor:

Despite state and federal investigations, reviews by the Oregon Department of Education, the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission and the Ethics Commission, it is business as usual with the Union-Baker Education Service District board.

The thought of the board even discussing the possibility of retaining Ed Schumacher as a consultant is proof enough to the public that the current board is in denial about issues that have been brought to the forefront.

It is apparent that five members of the board do not get it that they have a responsibility to the public to make appropriate changes within the agency as soon as possible.

Now they blame the action of administration on the media and the Education Workforce Development Committee. It indicates they are not listening and taking responsibility. They had the chance months ago to make appropriate decisions. They were given the information and were seen throwing it in the garbage.

An editorial statement by Starr, Wiles and Hansen, indicates they are continuing not to do their homework. When presented with the audit report the vote was 5-2, yet the next statement says, "they were not allowed to read the full report until days later."

Why vote then if you don't feel you had the complete facts? They continue to say this is hurting the student programs. What does siphoning off several million dollars for the personal benefit of administration and board do to the programs for the students? They say they run the programs better than anyone else. Evidently ODE and others don't believe this.

The board continues to have executive sessions and noon meetings that are inaccessible to the public and staff. Are they afraid of what we might find? Business as usual? You bet.

The recall is warranted and changes need to be made immediately. Vote yes on the recall of Anderes, Starr and Cason.

Glenna Sams

La Grande

______________________________

Blurs line between church, state

To the Editor:

Marriage is an institution of both church and state. If you oppose gay marriage on the basis of whatever scripture is holy to you, you are free to decide the matter with others in your place of worship.

I think proponents of this measure have blurred the line between church and state —indeed, the pastor of a local church presented the Yes on 36 perspective at the EOU forum two weeks ago, repeatedly referring to the Bible. Are we becoming the type of fundamentally religious state that we condemn in other parts of the world?

Our state constitution is designed to outline clearly the rights and freedoms that we all enjoy. Measure 36 is perversely aimed to limit and deny civil rights and legal protections to a whole category of people, based on their sexual preference.

Gay marriage has recently become a heated topic of public discussion and should be afforded the opportunity for further debate, not stifled by a ban that effectively restricts our civic discourse.

This is about preserving basic civil rights, however vehemently the voices of bigotry may protest, just as they have before on questions like racial equality and women's rights. The details may be different, but the principles in play are the same.

What matters is whether and how we act on the fear and intolerance most of us have in our hearts. Let's ensure that our state constitution is about granting rights, not taking them away.

Please vote no on Measure 36.

Brett Kelver

La Grande

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