August 11, 2002 11:00 pm

Oliver true peace officer

To the Editor:

I feel compelled to inform Union County residents about the excellent, fair and just service that your sheriff, Stephen Oliver, provided to my husband and me.

On a cold day in January 2000, we went to the sheriff's office to request his assistance in standing by while we broke into our only rental. Previously our renters had been evicted.

The time was passed but they had changed the locks and not provided a key. Not only did Sheriff Oliver willingly come to stand by to keep the peace, but assisted with having some vehicles tagged for removal that had been left there, and assisted their dog that hadn't made the trip with the people when they left. Kudos to your La Grande parking enforcement and animal control officers also.

During the time Mr. Oliver was there, the former renters showed up, both sides were angry and his presence definitely assisted in keeping the peace.

We recently requested Mr. Oliver's assistance to testify in court as an independent observer to the conditions of the property he observed while there. He willingly and accurately did so.

I don't believe he had to do any of the above, but his assistance both times is very much appreciated.

Although I hope we never again need his assistance, we know he will serve with fairness and in a just and professional manner.

Betty Robertson

Medical Springs

Driver helps at Minam

To the Editor:

On July 18 we were returning from Wallowa Lake towing our fifth-wheel trailer when the left rear tire blew on our truck.

This occurred on the steep, winding road coming up from Minam in a place where we could not pull completely off the road.

A driver from Norco stopped to help us. Unfortunately, we did not get his name. He changed the tire for us, checked the brakes since the tire fragments had damaged the brake lines, and then followed us all the way to La Grande.

Norco's very helpful driver was a godsend for us. He generously helped us on a hot day in a dangerous situation and always will be remembered by us.

Roger Inman

Baker City

Grateful for help

To the Editor:

We are grateful to the people and organizations in Wallowa County and the surrounding areas that were so helpful during the July 18 flood at Camp Wallowa.

As bad as it was, the challenges we now face could have been a lot worse. The effect of the support and assistance from so many people during the times of uncertainty that afternoon and evening are immeasurable.

It is impossible to list all of those who were involved in helping our participants and staff. Many were just doing their jobs and are anonymous.

But they know who they are and we hope they understand how much we appreciate all they did.

We do want to mention the volunteers from the Red Cross, the Joseph Community Center, emergency services, Sheriff Fred Steen, Undersheriff Steve Rogers and all the law enforcement personnel, Don Holum and the search and rescue teams.

In addition to their prompt action, the morale boosts these and others provided helped in so many ways.

We are proud to be a part of Wallowa County and Northeastern Oregon, and we look forward to many more years of great scouting and community involvement.

Mark Griffin

Bob Frix

Kennewick, Wash.

Not discriminating

To the Editor:

I would like to let people know that the 4-H association does not discriminate in any way.

I have two children and two grandchildren who show sheep at both EOLS and the Union County Fair. They work very hard all year round.

I raise sheep and I sell sheep to the local participants. This year I didn't have enough lambs ready for EOLS so we went out of the area to get them.

My children and grandchildren were not punished for having sheep from out of the area.

They work very hard and are proud to come home with a red or blue ribbon. The 4-H association sets rules and regulations to teach the children to compete fairly.

I don't feel that these rules and regulations are out of line. For the people who don't know, Alicia Lane was not the only child disqualified for the tail rule. I have been involved in 4-H and FFA for many years and I have never seen them treat a child unfairly.

To go around the rules and regulations the association sets would be unfair. It does not teach the child good sportsmanship.

I feel Carole Smith is doing an excellent job in the role she has assumed. Carole, keep up the good work.

This week is the fair. The kids have worked hard and are really looking forward to it. Let's not spoil it for them with petty, childish grudges.

The show must go on.

Pat Boothman

La Grande

Excluding God

To the Editor:

Tim Hoffnagle, in his letter to The Observer on July 19, makes some errors.

There is no reference in the Pledge of Allegiance to a Christian God in the phrase "under God."

There is no pledge that all could sincerely recite without reservations.

Is there really "liberty and justice for all," and are some of us freer and less bound than others?

It is not true that one can be a good citizen "no matter what your religious beliefs happen to be." Is the cult of Kali acceptable? How about Satanism or the Central American Indian religions that call for the sacrifice of virgins?

Those who choose not to obey the Christian God condemn themselves to Hell. We are all under God whether we like it or not. If that fact offends, then take it up with the creator of that fact, the Christian God.

If Hoffnagle will defend to the death the rights of an atheist to abstain from prayer, will he also defend the rights of a Christian to pray?

The ideals of our country, under God, are based on the founders' collective notion of which basic principles, when applied, produce the most productive and pacific polity.

To exclude God is to exclude morality and mutual obligation. Because, if we are nothing more than accidental collections of subatomic particles then we have no claim to rights and no authority to establish anything, including social boundaries and moral law.

For the inclinations of one accident have no more or less quality or compulsion than another.

Only when we see the truth, that we are children of God, his creations and therefore with obligations to him and to one another, is there a basis for the pledge.

Al Sowins


Wallowa Church of Christ

Out with sour grapes

To the Editor:

I read with interest the comments of Rep. Mark Hass (D-Raleigh Hills) promoting his proposed Revolving Door Act intended to restrict retiring legislators from becoming lobbyists.

Placement of his article "Cool off first" was hardly justified in the column "Capitol Comment." His was clearly a personal and possibly partisan indictment of Speaker Mark Simmons.

He noted that more than 20 former legislators lobbied the 2001 legislature.

Is this so wrong? Their effectiveness and value comes from Legislature knowledge, acquired skills and integrity, and recency of experience.

To delay use of this expertise and networking certainly detracts from the value of a lobbyist.

Efforts of lobbyists are best balanced by strong legislators, whose activities and deliberations should benefit Oregonians, not primarily parties and not self-interest or ingratiation.

There is strong evidence, from the three chaotic special sessions to achieve a balanced budget, that the repairs should be directed toward the Legislature, not the lobbyists.

This delay and uncertainty with the budget, again deferring a legislative function to the governor and to the people, is shameful.

Oregon's system for initiatives — a good idea gone awry —reflects and provides additional evidence of public skepticism toward their legislators.

This too can and should be fixed to strengthen our legislative system.

Mr. Hass would do well to throw away his sour grapes and provide leadership in curtailing divisive partisan bickering and promoting collaboration toward serving Oregonians.

Doyle Slater

La Grande

Enviros get their way

To the Editor:

It looks as though the environmentalists have gotten their way.

Look at all the dead and dying timber we won't have to worry about any more, and all the weeds and bugs burnt to a crisp.

Maybe they should put someone at the top of a burnt tree in the middle of a burned forest to proclaim, "Look what I helped do."

Let them tree-sit some of those stumps. The few trees that were going to be logged because of bug-kill or disease do not even begin to compare to the hundreds of thousands of acres of trees, most of them healthy, that are now gone forever.

Most of these so-called environmentalists have never or will never set foot in the forest. I know a person from back East who belonged to the Sierra Club.

When she came to Oregon and saw the trees and forests she realized the garbage she was being fed by them.

She immediately quit the club.

Many of these environmentalists fall into two categories: people who don't work — they spend all their time protesting — or people who have no interest in the forest at all.

They donate money so they have a tax write-off at the end of the year.

Let's stand up and say enough is enough. Let's take back our forests and manage them the way they should be.

L. Boettcher


Worse than LSD, pot

To the Editor:

Everyone talks about the horribleness of taking drugs, while the most deadly drug of all is legal.

All you've got to do is put your money up and you have access to a drug more horrible than LSD, cocaine, smack, crank and pot. Any drug you can think of cannot hold a candle to BOOZE.

Why not just legalize everything: it couldn't be much worse.

C. Bauer

La Grande

Fueling a conflict

To the Editor:

Regarding Hal Salwasser's guest column in the July 27 Observer, appealing for an acceptance of logging as a needed management tool for forest health: Hal is dean of the College of Forestry at OSU.

Although his background in forestry and biology are solid, he misses the main point, which is economic.

That is: We know how to do things better than we can afford to.

Making a thinning operation pay without taking out your good trees is often impossible.

Competition in the global market is probably decades away from the kind of rule of law that would allow us to institute and enforce a global forest practices act.

Such an act is the only thing that has any hope of preventing many of the global competitors from avoiding many of the long- range costs of sustainable forestry.

Consequently, in the near future, the market cannot be counted on to make thinning projects affordable.

And until we have the critical mass of stable governments around the world that is pre-requisite for such global cooperation, we are going to have to subsidize what we know is good for the forest.

I wish someone of Hal Salwasser's credentials would spend his time lobbying Congress rather than fueling a conflict that has no hope of getting us any closer to being able to save one forest element without sacrificing another.

David Waln


Watering down principles

To the Editor:

The arguments concerning the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance ignore some of the principles upon which this nation was founded.

The role of divine providence was clearly recognized by our founding fathers. Our recent heavy emphasis on freedom without the restraint of "under God" has allowed excesses to flourish.

A nation has to define what it stands for and this is impossible if the objections of every minority are allowed to water down the principles on which our country was founded. Although the founders of this nation were opposed to the establishment of a state religion, they never denied the need for the guidance of a divine being.

Clearly this was not the God of a specific religion, but it was the recognition that our freedom was subject to certain moral laws.

The problem is that God has been used by a number of unscrupulous individuals to cover a multitude of sins. Torture, murder, child abuse and financial scams are but a few.

Freedom of religion and freedom of speech do not give us the right to inflict harm on other beings.

The phrase "under God" reminds us of the moral restriction. It is the spirit of the phrase that counts.

The mere recitation of the pledge doesn't make us better patriots; the understanding of its meaning does.

We need to concentrate on what unites us, and not on what divides us. Legalistic minds have been trying to tear apart almost every aspect of our culture.

We are not perfect, but over 200 years ago we got together to form a more perfect union; let's continue do do so by being mindful of moral restraint and our moral obligations. "One nation under God" is simply a reminder.

Johannes Spronk

La Grande