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Observer 11/24/14

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Home arrow Opinion arrow Our View arrow HARE WILL HELP PEOPLE OF IRAQ

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HARE WILL HELP PEOPLE OF IRAQ

Wes Hare, La Grande's city manager, has a rare opportunity to help the people of Iraq and be a goodwill ambassador for the United States in the process.

Hare has been asked by the International City and County Management Association to be a city adviser in Iraq for six months beginning in September, but first he must obtain permission from the La Grande City Council.

Everyone should know by now that the United States' role in Iraq goes beyond sending thousands of troops into the country. The top priority of the military has been to remove Saddam Hussein and bring peace and security to Iraq. Secondary missions are to help the Iraqi people set up a new government and improve their economy.

Hare, who has been on international assignments in the past, has been an effective city manager in La Grande. He will bring his years of experience to help the people of Iraq, as he put it, get used to a kind of government they've not experienced before.

Hare's term in Iraq should not extend beyond six months. La Grande is facing many important projects and decisions, related to redevelopment of the Bohnenkamp property downtown, the building of a new library a few blocks away and Wal-Mart's desire to gain the necessary permits to construct a supercenter across from its store on Island Avenue.

Hare, and the other U.S. citizens helping Iraq, should keep in mind, too, that the needs and desires of the Iraqi people must be paramount. The mission should not be to impose a specific, U.S.-copycat government system on Iraq, but be there to advise and assist Iraqis in establishing a government that is compatible with their values and culture.

The city council should give Hare the leave he's requested. Rebuilding Iraq involves much more than soldiers. It involves U.S. civilians helping Iraqi citizens improve their lives. It will be good for Hare to contribute to this.

City's prominent lady

There she is — standing tall and proud in downtown La Grande's Max Square. Cast Iron Mary, the newly installed bronze statue in the pocket park at Fourth Street and Adams Avenue, does not stand for any lofty ideals such as life and liberty or the contributions made by veterans or the city's founders.

Cast Iron Mary is the likeness of a statue and drinking fountain that was put up in

La Grande in 1904 with a temperance theme. She was destroyed in 1922 when a motorist, reportedly a bootlegger, crashed his vehicle into her.

While not historically significant, Mary is interesting. An interpretive plaque needs to be installed soon to explain to curious onlookers why this lady has been given such a prominent place in the town's square.

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