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Home arrow Opinion arrow Letters arrow LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FROM OCTOBER 4 - OCTOBER 9, 2004



Kerry will address concerns

To the Editor:

In a report on CNBC recently about the recall of Vioxx, a drug sold in the U.S. by a major pharmaceutical company, it was mentioned that prescription drugs from five of the largest American drug companies are manufactured in India.

They are planning to increase research and development there also, because it is cheaper. Yet our current president would not sign a bill to allow Americans to buy their prescriptions in another country. Any bill must benefit all ages, not just Medicare recipients.

Republican and Democratic governors have taken steps to aid in purchases in Canada. The argument that other countries have unsafe drugs, although our companies produce drugs in Ireland, Malaysia , India, etc. is a contradiction.

The cost of drugs affects all of us. It is one of the major reasons health insurance is so much more expensive, and co-pays have risen. Most employers have had to increase the amount that employees must pay or drop insurance coverage altogether.

As Republican Governor Pawlenty said, "This idea that the rest of the world gets a free ride and the American consumer gets the privilege of subsidizing the starving Swiss and the downtrodden German consumer is just no longer acceptable." We must "get the government out of our pockets" by it subsidizing the rich drug companies at our expense.

Please vote for John Kerry, not a socialized medicine supporter, but someone who has a plan to assist existing elements of our medical coverage.

What George Bush says he's going to do sure shows what he hasn't done. He doesn't seem to pay attention and have the determination to work on the concerns of Americans.

Elinor Riley



Above and beyond

To the Editor:

It was with interest that I read articles in The Observer Sept. 1 and 2 concerning W.C. Construction and the asbestos violation at Orchard Homes in Milton-Freewater.

As the owner's representative on this project, I wondered why the reporter for this article did not feel an obligation to contact me for comment on this situation. We were the ones that were responsible for and paid for the abatement of the asbestos.

In my opinion these two articles unfairly judged the performance of W.C. Construction. As soon as W.C. officials were aware of the asbestos threat they immediately closed down the work, secured the affected apartments and secured the removed materials.

They then called DEQ and the abatement company. Milton-Freewater city officials were also notified of the situation. They then called me. I can only applaud W.C. Construction's actions.

Once the asbestos was accidentally disturbed, the contractor could rightly have closed down the work and left the project. They would then call me and from that point the problem would have been mine to deal with. As it was, by the time I reached the site, all asbestos locations and materials had been secured and the abatement officials were already starting their process of cleaning up.

W.C. Construction went over and beyond their contracted responsibility in rectifying this situation. They saw a problem and immediately reacted to correct it. There was no attempt to hide the problem or mislead the owners or DEQ.

As far as the fine is concerned, it is my understanding that the $6,000 is the minimum amount that can be levied by DEQ. Apparently the DEQ officials recognized the conscientious manner in which W.C. Construction reacted.

Bruce K. Kohler


The Neel Management Team, Inc.


Wright has same qualities

To the Editor:

Thank you, Sheriff Oliver, for 12 years of outstanding service. You have been a wonderful, caring and competent sheriff. Your bravery in the shootout and capture of the most wanted man in Tennessee saved our valley from a very scary criminal. We need to look for that in our next sheriff.

The only one that has the ability to keep a cool head and maintain professionalism would be Dana Wright with 17 years of experience. His Web site www.thewrightsheriff.com lists his many goals, education and work experience. One can see at a glance he is the only choice. His kindness, his compassion and his level-headed thinking are a bonus.

He will continue the good work of Sheriff Oliver; he will be accessible to us and will make the most of our tax dollars in protecting our families.

One has to question some of the sheriff department's employees who would have you vote for Boyd. Do they really have the public's concern in mind or are they running their own agenda? Why would they want to vote for someone with fewer qualifications and years of duty?

My vote is for the best candidate, Dana Wright.

Nell Locken

La Grande


Tax cuts help the rich

To the Editor:

Even if my opinion does not matter to Republicans, I believe that George W. Bush is trying to get water out of a dry well with a hole in the bucket. The bank is broke.

It is true his tax cuts will help the rich and put the burden on those who have raised their families and have no dependents, and on the single people.

And about abortion: it seems OK to Bush for a fetus to be born and grow to be a youth and then be sent to war to be killed. Isn't that special?

The genocide is clear to me, and certainly not acts of a real Christian or being so respectable in life. The terrorists are in the White House.

Letha Johns

La Grande


Recall goes too far

To the Editor:

I read in The Observer Oct. 1 that over 2,600 people in Union and Baker counties signed petitions to recall Rich Cason, chairman of the UBESD, and several hundred others signed petitions to recall board members Don Starr and Kelly Anderes.

These petitioners are forcing the expenditure of an undetermined thousands of dollars for an extra election when they could have waited until these folks' terms of office had expired and then elected some other misguided folks to donate their time to the thankless job.

It's a good bet that most of the people who signed those petitions don't even know Rich Cason. He can't have offended all of them and if one of them doesn't like him it's probably because he sold them a horse they didn't like. The only crime he is guilty of is donating his free time to serve as chairman of the board for this past year.

Reading the article in the paper, one gets the idea that these board members are guilty of fraudulent mismanagement of the affairs of the UBESD.

The board does not do the managing. They hire people to manage and to serve as financial officer. Those are the ones who have written the alleged fraudulent reports and written the alleged wrongful payments to contractors, etc. Not the members of the board.

If there has been an error of judgment in hiring poor managers, then the entire board is guilty of that error, not just three members.

A recall election should be used to get rid of someone who has committed a heinous crime, not an unpaid public servant who can be replaced at the next regular election.

Howard Bailey

La Grande


Good people damaged

To the Editor:

As the vultures descend on the ESD, I must say what has been on my heart from the beginning. Some good people's lives are going to be forever damaged by what has happened.

I am sick for those whom I know to be good people, in particular, Ed Schumacher, Rich Cason, Don Starr and Kelly Anderes — but that doesn't count, does it?

I do not defend fraud, nor do I believe it can ever be treated lightly. However, personal vendettas are regrettable. When we go back to the beginning, we will see that a woman scorned — in fact, two women scorned — was much of the basis of this movement. Oh yes, and that darned airplane. But we live by the ends justifying the means.

It's my opinion that many large-budget organizations overseen by volunteer boards could not withstand the microscopic focus of forensic accounting. In fact, I wonder if Mr. Ulrey or Mr. Rowell would welcome such examination of their districts.

These aren't just the capable auditors school districts employ on a regular basis. Good administrators do not micro-manage those whom they supervise. Having worked for Ed Schumacher for a number of years, I know that he is an honest man, one who has great compassion for people. Kids are the highest priority for him.

He trusts the people he hires or supervises. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of that trust. At that point, I suppose the trusting nature becomes a fault.

I'm not defending fraudulent practices, but I am defending the good people caught in the machinery of this debacle. These are volunteers who might never volunteer again. I'm sick that it has come to this.

My compliments to Cove's independent-thinking residents who resisted the mean-spirited actions of the recall campaign.

Evelyn Spikes



Airplane remains mistake

To the Editor:

UBESD board members Mr. Cason and Mr. Starr have repeatedly praised the lease of an airplane for $140,000 and are now claiming there has been increased productivity as a result of the airplane.

The airplane was a serious mistake but it did open the agency to the ongoing investigation, which was a blessing in disguise.

The airplane is a Maul, which is a 4-passenger bush plane, not a good cross-country plane.

It is IFR-equipped while neither of the pilots were instrument rated, and as a result the cost for the IFR equipment was a total waste of $20,000 to $25,000.

Lyle Mann presented a report at the September board meeting where he attempted to show the airplane had increased employee productivity. The report failed to show what this extra productivity was used for, since there were no staff reductions due to the claimed extra productivity. So where's the savings?

In the productivity calculations and cost savings projected in the report they forgot to include depreciation, pro-rated cost for the annual maintenance and future engine rebuilds.

The real issue is that we have to pay the employee salaries regardless of how they travel and unless there is a tangible reduction in costs elsewhere then there is no savings. If we eliminate the salaries from the productivity report, the airplane cost the UBESD $107.98 per flight hour.

When board members are responsible to their charge we win. When board members fail in their oversight we lose. It is at this point we must take remedial action.

Dennis Wilkinson

La Grande


Deputy backs Wright

To the Editor:

I am a deputy sheriff with the Union County Sheriff's Office. For the past 12 years I have worked under Dana Wright and I have worked with Boyd Rasmussen for almost that long.

I highly respect both individuals as they are both very hard workers and they competently discharge their duties.

After obtaining administrative experience, I feel Boyd Rasmussen would make a good sheriff at some future date. Right now Dana Wright has a vision for the sheriff's office that will benefit the citizens of Union County and he has the experience and administrative skills to make that vision a reality.

I have always found Dana to be very approachable with any problems and concerns that I had, and I have found him to be easy to work for. For these reasons Dana Wright has the support of myself and others in the sheriff's office. We urge you to support him in his bid to be Sheriff of Union County.

Jim Voelz

La Grande


Advocate for Union County

To the Editor:

I am casting my vote to re-elect Colleen MacLeod Union County Commissioner.

Colleen has earned my respect over the last 20 years as an unflagging advocate for Union County, a successful tourism director, a willing volunteer, an astute business woman and a diligent and dedicated County Commissioner.

Colleen's ability to work with people, whether individually, in business or in government, and the relationships she has built as our county commissioner are important assets to all of us in Union County.

Her knowledge and point of view as an owner of a small business is invaluable in forming policies and goals that affect our economic health.

Please make sure to cast your ballot and when you do, please join me in re-electing Colleen MacLeod.

Julie Hickerson

La Grande


Heart-warming story

To the Editor:

What a refreshing story about corn, potatoes and thoughtful neighbors in the portraits section of The Observer's weekend edition.

Barbara Harris' generosity provided an opportunity for so many to share and make a contribution to others. Mardi Ford focused on the good people and a few of the many kind acts in our community, and diverted our thoughts, though briefly, away from negative issues and the contentious political scene.

Doyle Slater

La Grande


Marriage about creating life

Regarding Ballot Measure 36, the question is not one of discrimination against homosexuals but what we choose to be for, and to notice the differences between heterosexual and homosexual unions.

Most everyone can agree that there is a possibility of love and affection in both arrangements and a desire for life-long commitments. We can legitimize civil unions and give homosexuals the civil rights they desire and at the same time remember that marriage between a man and a woman has the ability to create new life.

That is the difference. This is not to say that heterosexual marriages that do not create new life are any less valid.

Of course there are families with homosexual parents who parent their children well and who have the capability to value and nurture them as well as a heterosexual family. The integrity of those family units is not the question. The question is do we want to say that we acknowledge that conceiving new life is in and of itself something uniquely different and sacred?

There are other issues that get tied-up with this one. Some people feel so strongly about over-population that somehow, each child is less important because there are too many. However, the real reason that we can no longer see this miracle is that we have sanctioned the killing of babies in the womb. This legalization has anesthetized our ability to make obvious distinctions.

The miracle of creating life makes marriage between a man and woman profoundly different than a homosexual union, which is mechanical and not generative. If we relegate marriage to the realm of mere affection, we are declaring that creating life is not a miracle. We are not voting against homosexuals, we are voting about the sacredness of life. The distinction is important.

Vicki Correll



Difference in experience

To the Editor:

Many of the letters to the editor regarding the sheriff's race have recommended visiting the candidates' Web sites. We have done that and found that one thing was blatantly obvious: the difference in experience is enormous.

Based on experience alone Dana Wright is by far the better candidate. He has spent 17 years in both corrections and patrol, gaining his executive certification in each, which provides him with a well-rounded, practical experience to draw from.

He has spent the last 12 years as an administrator, gaining valuable experience in the government budget process, wisely using grant funds to provide deputies with the most up-to-date equipment possible, and dealing with labor issues and contract negotiations.

Boyd Rasmussen is only 32 years old and has only his 8 1/2 years as a full-time patrol deputy to offer. Granted, he has two years experience on the Drug Task Force and is a drug recognition expert and Union County does have a drug problem. But as the sheriff, should we have someone who can tell if someone is high on meth or pot or one who can look at the budget and know if expenses are exceeding revenues, while giving us the most bang for our tax dollars as possible?

In our opinion, any good officer can be trained to recognize someone on drugs, but only a certain few have the experience, knowledge and ability to run the sheriff's office.

We have also found Dana's integrity and credibility to be above reproach, another desirable quality in a sheriff. That's why we are voting for Dana Wright as the next sheriff of Union County. Please join us in a vote for experience and honesty as our next sheriff.

Joy Rasmussen, Island City

Dennis Rasmussen, Cove


Bush no friend of environment

To the Editor:

Those who care deeply about what is happening in our environment and the future of our planet should be aware of the dismal record of the current administration on all environmental issues.

With our planet having the hottest 10 years in recorded history, the McCain-Lieberman bill S139/HR is gaining bipartisan support for its mandatory program to cut global warming pollution before it results in hotter heat waves, longer droughts, increased wildfires and dangerous coastal flooding.

But it is having difficulty getting passed, in part, due to the lack of strong presidential leadership in this area.

A bill, H.R.6, that would hand out billions of our tax dollars to grant energy companies, establish oil and gas development as the dominant use of our western wildlands and build a new generation of risky nuclear power plants in our communities is dangerously close to passing.

The election coming up soon is one to think really carefully about. The war in Iraq, terrorism, the economy and health care are important issues as are many others. I don't believe our president has dealt well with any of these issues. But I have not seen much emphasis on environmental concerns in any of the media. In my opinion, all the other concerns won't matter if our generation and future generations are left with an environmental wasteland.

I believe that George W. Bush is the worst environmental president we have ever had and that four more years would have a disastrous effect on all aspects of environmental concerns.

If you care about these concerns at all please consider voting for the Kerry-Edwards ticket.We owe it to future generations to be good stewards of our planet Earth.

Mary Helen Garoutte

La Grande


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