July 14, 2002 11:00 pm

Check out mega-store

To the Editor:

The Observer's headlines on May 31, "Wal-Mart confirms plans for new store," brought a chill to my heart. I'm a writer and have been doing an investigative report on the way Wal-Mart has been affecting communities across America.

I first became aware of Wal-Mart through its commercials, which touted the fact that it was a place that was helping the community and, best of all, was buying American and we could feel that we were supporting the American worker. Sadly, I discovered this to be false.

Those wishing to see the results of Wal-Mart mega-greed should look no further than Ontario, where a family-run grocery chain as well as many other businesses are no more. Wal-Mart is now free to raise its prices to whatever it wants.

Wal-Mart is now the world's biggest corporation, having passed Exxon-Mobil for the top slot. It hauls off a stunning $220 billion a year from "We the People'' — more in revenue than the entire GDP of several countries combined.

Wal-Mart cultivates an "aw-shucks, we're-just-folks-from-Arkansas" image of neighborly small-town shopkeepers trying to sell stuff cheaply to you and yours. Behind its soft homespun ads, however, is what one union leader calls "this devouring beast" of a corporation that ruthlessly stomps on workers, neighborhoods, competitors and suppliers.

Of the 10 richest people in the world, five are Waltons — the ruling family of the Wal-Mart empire. S. Robson Walton was ranked by London's "Rich List 2001" as the wealthiest human on the planet, having sacked up more than $65 billion in personal wealth and topping Bill Gates.

A recent documentary, "Store Wars'' (PBS Frontline), has a lot more details.

For more information, write to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Victor Forsythe

La Grande

Drill own fuel supply

To the Editor:

I have written to U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., to share my concern about one of the most important things the United States needs to do. It needs to become energy self-sufficient.

The House already approved this, and now it is up to the Senate to see that it is accomplished.

I own a Suburban SUV which gets less than 20 miles per gallon. If I drive 20,000 miles a year, I use 1,000 gallons of fuel a year.

Before I retired from the U.S. Air Force I used to take an F-4 jet fighter out for a 45-minute flight and used 5,000 gallons of fuel. That is a five-year supply for my Suburban, used up in 45 minutes. My point is that it takes a lot of fuel to fight a war.

When the United States is involved in a war, such as we are now, I do not understand how we can continue to count on our potential enemies to supply us with the necessary fuel.

If we do not start drilling and come up with our own fuel supply, we won't be able to whip Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein or anyone else.

The Alaska pipeline from Prudhoe Bay has already proven what can be done without hurting the environment. The people of Alaska are in favor of more drilling. My wife and I have driven along the pipeline, and it certainly has not hurt the wildlife in our opinion.

John W. Richards

La Grande

Will of people too often ignored

To the Editor:

I have seen in the news media that Oregon voter turnout in this primary is one of the lowest ever despite repeated public service announcements telling people their vote counts.

I recall a political candidate who in 2000 repeatedly said the same thing. Then immediately after his official defeat, he did a complete turn-around and made a hypocrite of himself, willfully seeking to overturn the will of the voters through judicial action.

He was more or less saying, "Regardless of how you voted, I am the winner whether you like it or not.'' That candidate of course was former Vice President Al Gore. Unfortunately, he wasn't the first and he won't be the last to do so.

Is it truly any wonder to government or the general news media why voter apathy is at an all-time high considering the growing number of cases where a voter-approved candidate or measure has been struck down by a judge's gavel. This is an abomination of democracy, yet it is allowed to happen, generating discouragement in citizens by the hundreds.

Why should I vote when it does not amount to anything? This is what the average citizens thinks.

I have voted and will always encourage others to do so given the fact that too many good people have fought and died so that we may enjoy this simple, yet precious, privilege that sets us apart from other nations. But as long as anyone seeks and succeeds in overturning the collective will of the public, voter apathy will continue to be generated like never before.

Ron R. Fischer


Kindness made trip for couple

To the Editor:

On a trip to Oregon last week, we had our faith in the goodness of people fortified.

We inadvertently locked our keys in the rental car at a vista point near Tollgate.

With no one around we approached a couple who were picnicking near a pond.

They immediately put us at ease, called Oregon AAA using their cell phone, gave us a soda and waited the near hour and a half until help arrived.

We want Lloyd and Tauna Grondin of Pendleton to know how much we appreciated their help and kind concern. They set the tone for our whole trip, which was filled with wonderful people start to finish.

The tow truck driver, Ron Groves, was expert and quickly got our car open and ready to go again and the Carlsons of Elgin, who were up there walking their dog, called my sister in Joseph to let her know we would be delayed.

But you know — we weren't delayed long, and the only thanks the Grondins wanted was for us to pass the goodness along and help someone else in need. We will.

Duane and Caroline Rueb

Newcastle, Calif.

Hard work, dedication appreciated

To the Editor:

I have lived in the Grande Ronde Valley for 24- plus years.

On June 6 I experienced an event that prompted me to write a letter to the editor and let Swanee Hermann know that her rendition of "Snow White" was much appreciated.

Parents and grandparents take their children to dance class 45 minutes one day a week and to finally see all this hard work and dedication come together was time well spent.

So thank you again, teacher Swannee.

Terry and Sadie Everidge

La Grande

Be patriotic, respect flag

To the Editor:

What a great picture on the front page of The Observer last Saturday. I'm referring to the formation of members of High Valley Post 4060, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States of America, who are presenting the flag of our great nation and flags honoring those missing in action or held as prisoners of war defending our great nation, our own Oregon state flag and the flag of VFW Post 4060.

On looking a bit deeper into the picture, I wonder what happened to all the patriotic pride that was so noticeable a few short months ago.

I don't have eagle eyes but I can see 14 spectators. Sorry, make that 13. One man is approaching the hotel steps like he doesn't know there is a flag or a parade within 100 miles.

Of the other 13, not one is standing at attention. In fact, some are not even standing. Men have not removed their headgear and put their right hands over their hearts. Women are not holding their right hands over their hearts.

Oh, excuse me, one woman has her hands behind her, I don't know where her heart is.

If I have stepped on a few toes, so be it. I honestly say I do not know anyone in that picture except the men in the formation, all of whom are members of High Valley Post 4060, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States of America.

Parades are nice and enjoyable to old and young alike. The American flag leading a parade should be shown proper respect as it passes by.

All able-bodied persons should stand at attention. Of those not in uniform, men and boys remove headgear and place their right hands over their hearts; women and girls place their right hands over their hearts.

This nation means so much to so many that it is a shame not to show our patriotic pride whenever and however we can.

Bryce "Doc" Miller


Help prioritize spending

To the Editor:

I write to you today seeking your guidance and input. As you know, the state of Oregon is facing an $850 million budget shortfall and Gov. Kitzhaber has reconvened the Legislature for a third special session.

Many options are being proposed. They include additional budget cuts and program reductions; utilizing existing revenues; raising the cigarette tax; going back to you, the voter, with a revised Rainy Day Fund for schools; and implementing only a portion of President Bush's Economic Stimulus Package.

While I am optimistic about the future, I realize the economic and social realities that we face. Our local economy is struggling, job creation is down, and families are using pure ingenuity to make ends meet. Main Street is holding on through perseverance. Our schools are physically deteriorating, and our children are being asked to achieve more with less support. Perhaps most concerning is the fact that society is not keeping its promise to senior citizens.

In the past, I have contended that Oregon needs to manage its budget the same way you and I do. The state should prioritize its spending, eliminate waste, invest for the future and always keep in mind who is paying the bill.

I know in the upcoming special session, we can develop a responsible budget if we have the wherewithal to do it. Now is not the time for political posturing or campaign rhetoric. In the coming days I will need to hear from you. Please contact me directly and share your thoughts on how Oregon should prioritize its spending, eliminate waste and balance the budget.

The Oregon House of Representatives is a citizen legislature. Your participation does make a difference. Please take the liberty to participate in the process by contacting me at 541-676-5154 or P.O. Box 219, Heppner 97836. My e-mail address is This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Working together, we can accomplish great things for our communities and the state of Oregon.

Rep. Greg Smith

Oregon House of Representatives

Decision seen as biased

To the Editor:

This year at the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show a perfectly legal lamb was disqualified for too short a tail.

A lamb's tail must be able to be lifted with a pencil to be legal. Not only could this be done easily, but an X-ray was taken showing more than two joints and the lamb was still not allowed to be shown.

The members and families of 4-H, this club is to help our children learn to be fair, honest and ethical.

Instead of disqualifying this lamb so your children would have a better chance of winning, why not keep your unfair and biased judging to yourself and allow the lamb to be shown?

This way this child would have something to show for all the time and hard work and some money back from the purchase of the animal.

Who are the children now?

Kelly Towne


Discriminatory tax

To the Editor:

I am writing in protest of the proposed added cigarette tax.

This is unfair and discriminatory.

Our state representatives would have us believe that they are hoping the high price will make more people stop this unhealthy habit.

But tell me, what happens if enough DO quit and the revenue drops?

Where will they go for the added revenue then?

Watch out chocolate lovers; beware licorice eaters; beware eaters of high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt foods!

Why, the possibilities for our representatives' philanthropic attitude toward our health are endless!

Please write or call your representatives and protest this highly discriminatory tax.

Barbara J. Gray