November 28, 2002 11:00 pm

‘Homeland Security' goes too far

To the Editor:

"Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as ‘a virtual, centralized grand database'."

—William Safire, describing the Homeland Security bill that just passed in the House of Representatives (New York Times, Nov. 14)

The House just passed HR 4757, dubbed as "Our Lady of Peace Act." I am appalled that the House would approve such sweeping anti-freedom, anti-privacy legislation and call it "Homeland Defense."

The bill will require states to turn over volumes of records to the FBI for use with Instantcheck. The records would include any state record that would show if a person is prohibited from owning a gun. This will include mental health records, tax records, and even employment records.

It would also include people who have committed minor offenses of domestic violence. And domestic violence has many different definitions around the country, including, but not limited to, spanking your children.

This bill is nothing more than a vast Orwellian scheme to database every move Americans make.

If this legislation is approved by the Senate, in its present form, the forces of terror will have truly won and civil rights will be a thing of the past.

Doug Batten


Remember heart of Christmas

To the Editor:

I just got home from seeing the movie "The Santa Clause 2." I adore Christmastime movies. It was a very sweet holiday movie about Santa Claus.

At the end of this very endearing movie, Santa was proposing to the future Mrs. Claus. He told her that there was no pressure to say yes, but that if she didn't say yes, there would be no more Christmas. I thought how sad that would be if it were true.

Christmas goes so far beyond the commercial holiday that is represented by Santa Claus, decorated trees, pretty lights, holiday parties and gifts, "The Nutcracker," and other traditional holiday activities.

I enjoy all of these aforementioned items. I decorate my house every year in blue and white lights. I love walking downtown to look at the beautifully decorated stores — have you seen Good Things yet? — driving around town to look at the lights, shopping for Christmas gifts, attending holiday programs and singing Christmas carols.

But if it all went away forever this year, I would still have a Christmas each year. Because the real heart of Christmas is that moment in the quietness of winter when we stop to remember that a virgin brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:7). That was the night when God became a man. He left the comforts of heaven to come to earth to show us the way to live a perfect life in a sinful world.

Would you please take a moment during this busy, joyous, fun-filled holiday season to remember the heart of Christmas.

Kimberly Kennicott

La Grande

Mary, Joseph run into trouble

To the Editor:

What if Jesus was born today in a manger in the state of Oregon? The Children's Services Division would have had a field day.

The babe in the manger would have been swooped up by the CSD and put out for adoption.

Mary and Joseph probably would be put in jail for child abuse.

Their donkey transportation would be confiscated and sold to help pay for their arrest.

When Jesus gets older and understands what happened, he probably will look up to God in heaven and say, "Please forgive them for they know not what they have done.''

Beverly Carman


Why advertise ‘no room'?

To the Editor:

I thought the purpose of the Union County Chamber of Commerce was to lead in the development of business opportunities in Union County.

If ever there were words to dispute this premise they were found in the October edition of the Chamber Times, which is the public mouthpiece of the local group.

On Page 5, under the heading "Economic Development News," Joel Frank expounds the following: "At this time, if a large company wanted to purchase acreage for a plant that would employ 10 or more with family-wage jobs, we would be unable to accommodate that request."

I question the truth of this statement, and even if it were true, the advertising of such negative comments in the Chamber Times certainly does not fit economic development. Any company looking for a home is not going to bother researching a community that publicly says there's no room here.

Come on, chamber. Let's make positive comments. The negative approach is perhaps why the Del Monte plant in La Grande has stood empty for years with a "for sale" sign. It surely could house 10 or more employees and provide something for our kids to do.

Anyone for a supper-train ride to Wallowa Lake? Or would you rather play golf in Union?

David Arnott


People pitch in for MDA fund-raiser

To the Editor:

I am grateful to the many businesses and individuals of Union and Wallowa counties and in Washington state for their continued help and support of my Muscular Dystrophy Association fund-raisers.

This past summer I was able to raise $1,476.70.

All monies generated from this fund-raiser were sent priority mail with a return receipt Monday to Jana Worthington, director, and Vicky Gould, health care services coordinator at the area MDA office in Spokane.

Gary Hartsock

La Grande

Keep traffic moving

To the Editor:

I totally disagree with The Observer's assessment of the need for a four-way stop at the corner of 12th Street and Gekeler Lane in its Nov. 18 editorial.

I drive through that intersection four times a day (morning, noon and evening rush hours) and have never encountered a situation that would suggest the need for a four-way stop.

If by your suggestion, an ODOT analysis is needed there, then one would also be needed at the corners of 12th and Washington and Fourth and Gekeler.

I cannot imagine citizens accepting having to stop on Washington and on Gekeler at those intersections either.

On the whole, Gekeler needs to remain the through way and not subdivided by stops.

Tim Fromwiller

1908 Linda Lane

Time to investigate

To the Editor:

The news article on Nov. 20 regarding the firing of Union County Sheriff Sgt. Chuck Anderson brings up several questions.

Why did it take six months of investigation, during which the taxpayers were paying Anderson's wages, before the only thing they could accuse him of was a minor personnel violation?

I have seen murder investigations that did not take that long. It appears something fishy is going on in the sheriff's department. Any competent personnel manager should be able to find some mistake that an employee of more than 10 years has made.

My understanding is that Undersheriff Dana Wright handles the sheriff's office personnel matters for Sheriff Steve Oliver. Wright's mishandling of personnel matters appears to be costing taxpayers money.

I am referring to the Deloris Pooley multi-million dollar lawsuit now going on, the mishandling of the accusations of assault by a deputy on his children, an accusation of sexual harassment against Wright by a former female deputy and now the persecution of Sgt. Anderson with another lawsuit possible.

Do we need an undersheriff anyway? Looks to me like all he does is make mistakes that the taxpayers must pay for.

Maybe it is time for the county to bring in the Oregon Attorney General's office for a full investigation of the sheriff administration.

Bert Metcalf