December 19, 2002 11:00 pm

Credit takes away from funding

To the Editor:

The Observer on Nov. 26 published an editorial in which it praised the new Cultural Trust tax credit as a "... way other than through state funding to help cultural development."

The credit works something like this. You donate an amount up to $500 to a cultural organization.

You may then, in effect, direct the state to make a matching contribution to its new Cultural Development Trust, which would subsequently spend the money on cultural pursuits. The trust would in fact be funded entirely by the state.

True it would not be recorded as an expenditure in the budget, but it would appear as a reduction of revenues, which has the same effect; namely it reduces the amount of money available.

Oregon currently is in a state of financial crisis. It needs to either raise revenues or reduce expenditures.

While we are deciding whether we want to vote in a tax increase or close the prisons, set the inmates free, reduce the number of state police, and shorten the public school year, the new Cultural Trust tax credit requires the state to increase (probably drastically) the amount to be spent on cultural development. Now I have nothing against culture as long as it stays safely on the other side of the room, but the timing certainly leaves something to be desired.

Maybe even we should leave cultural development to the private sector until we've got the resources to get the safety-and-well being-of-the-people stuff covered.

Jon Norem

La Grande

Forest waste part of eco-cycle

To the Editor:

I would like to comment on the biomass plant idea in the business section of The Observer on Nov. 20.

Their argument is that it's a good idea because it uses "waste from the forest" and manages our forests, preventing forest fires. They used that same argument about forest fires and managing our forests in the 1970s and '80s when they were clearcutting everything. This is just another form of greed to ravish our forests. That waste from the forest is there for a reason. It's called an eco-cycle, a circle of life.

That waste on the forest floor provides nourishment not only to the standing timber but also the young seedlings growing up as well. As that waste breaks down it provides insects and grubs for birds, holds in moisture for grasses and mushrooms to grow, provides essential shelter for deer fawns and elk calves. I could go on and on.

It's a vital part of the eco-cycle not just some source for making money. And by the way, forest fires occur in cycles. They follow weather cycles. We're not getting more fires because there's something wrong with our forests; we're having more fires because we're in a dry cycle. It's a natural occurrence.

This plant is a bad idea, especially when we have so many other options being developed that are clean and do not damage the environment, like wind power.

Another bad idea is this super Wal-Mart store. Just track the history of this company, see how many ghost towns these superstores have created. They don't have a trail of lawsuits behind them a mile wide because they "love communities."

Please protect the valley from this type of development.

Michael Brosseau


Funds help CASA training

To the Editor:

Many children in Union County suffer from physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Whether the causes are domestic violence, substance abuse or mental illness, these children are damaged emotionally by what they see and hear causing them to live in fear.

When necessary, these children are removed from their homes for their own protection and wardship is granted to child welfare. These young victims of abuse need someone who can be a powerful voice for them in court concerning their best interest. They need a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer.

As a CASA volunteer I spend time with the children in my assigned cases, visiting them in their foster homes or their own homes, playing games and befriending them. I see smiles on their faces when I walk into the room. The information I gather is shared through a court report with the judge, child welfare caseworker and attorneys on the case.

I appreciate United Way and the support it gives to CASA that is returned to the children in Union County. United Way supports safety for children in our communities. Thank you, United Way, for the generous donation that has allowed CASAs to continue ongoing training each year. Families greatly benefit.

Hats off to United Way for stepping up to bat for children.

Ruth A. Hodge

CASA volunteer

No sour grapes from Hoffnagle

To the Editor:

In response to Kirk Achilles' "Can't pick horses" letter on Nov. 27, I did not detect "sour grapes" in Tim Hoffnagle's Community Comment in the Nov. 21 Observer.

I believe he was merely pointing out what he feels are inconsistencies or problems to be found in our method of electing people to public office. If I recall correctly, Hoffnagle mentioned the possibilty his candidacy might have thrown the election toward one of the other two candidates in a three-way race for a city council position.

That does not sound like sour grapes to me, but rather like an objective look at the local election.

Hoffnagle did use a fallacy of argument (name-calling) when he referred to Greg Smith as a "sleaze-ball"; however he insinuated that Bill Clinton is a sleaze-ball as well. May I assume that Achilles and many of the rest of us would agree that was a fair analysis?

When Mr. Achilles states that Bill Hays and John Lamoreau are the best choices for their positions, it seems he is also using a fallacy, that of stating one's opinion as an absolute. I am sure Hays and Lamoreau should do good work in their new positions, but seriously, shouldn't time tell us whether or not they were the best choices for their jobs?

By calling Tim Hoffnagle "Al Gore," Achilles also resorts to the fallacy of name-calling by his attempt to use the reference to the former vice president to imply that Hoffnagle is a sore loser, or a "sour grapes" guy.

Because there are large numbers of people who did vote for Al Gore in 2000 (more than voted for Bush, if I recall correctly), many people might not automatically connect Gore with "sore loser" anyway.

John Evans Jr.

La Grande

Store roof may fall in

To the Editor:

It has been brought to my attention that our local thrift store for all, the Salvation Army store here in La Grande, is in great need of donations of a caring kind.

It seems that if the fire marshal doesn't close it down due to unfinished construction, the roof may fall because it needs repair.

I see it one way or the other — electrical failure or leaky roof — this building is not going to be there for people to get low-cost or good-will help needed to survive or just get along in this hopefully caring world that we live in.

So if some of our local patrons don't chip in and get some of these issues addressed we will be short one more positive outlet for our valley.

It is the giving time of year. To contact me call 663-8891.

Louis Michaels

La Grande

Citizens continue to give

To the Editor:

I have lived in La Grande for 12 years. I have worked for the La Grande School District for all of that time. We have raised our children here. When people ask me about living in La Grande I can truthfully tell them that it is a great place to live and raise a family. We have a great community.

One of the things that makes any community a great place to live and raise a family is the willingness of its citizens to give of themselves in service to the community.

This past week three businesses proved this once again by volunteering their time and labor to install new playground equipment at Central Elementary School. All of their work was donated.

I have witnessed many other incidents of selfless giving in our community. Some great, some small, but all of them contribute to the wonder of a community like La Grande. I wouldn't live anywhere else.

Bruce Kevan, principal

Central Elementary School

La Grande

Turn to renewable energy

To the Editor:

How can county planners consider a biomass electrical generating plant?

Local mills once ran as if large live trees were in endless supply. Taxes and funding were tied to unsustainable harvest levels. The rich got richer and the locals made wages. Our resource was depleted rather than managed for a sustainable local economy.

Decades of over-harvesting and fire suppression created extreme fire danger and damaged fragile forest soils. Dead biomass now in the forests could be chopped and scattered in place to reduce fire danger and renew the soils. I believe hauling biomass from the forest to be burned in the valley makes no sense economically or ecologically.

Planners should focus on local production of pollution-free renewable energy by turning to our abundant wind, solar and geothermal resources. The county should consider developing the Hot Lake property for wind and geothermal energy generation rather than trucking and burning biomass.

Mary McCracken

La Grande

Atmospheric air inversion enemy

To the Editor:

Recently I was asked to attend an open meeting at the La Grande Middle School to discuss environmental concerns about valley farmers' air pollution from field burning.

I was asked to attend and represent the concerns from farmers, as they thought the environmentalists were attempting to eliminate the burning of grass seed fields. On that night , my main comment was that farmers need to burn the fields (for brevity reasons not described in this letter), but we need to focus on where the air pollution originates.

Atmospheric air inversion can be our worst enemy when we are the polluters. I see no evidence of farmers polluting the air on Dec. 1 in the photo above.

This pollution is of concern as it occurs often, has health dangers attached to it, occurs more often than we are aware, but can be managed. Take a trip up Mount Harris and see for yourself in the near future.

Let's focus on the real problem.

James Erskine

62455 Fruitdale Lane

Article soils priest's reputation

To the Editor:

This letter is written in support of Fr. Jocelyn St. Arnaud who was a priest at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Elgin for many years. Hundreds of people in the Grande Ronde Valley knew and loved him. By his outstanding Christian example and character he changed the lives of countless people for the better, including his accusers.

We the undersigned, both Catholic and non-Catholic, are compelled to point out the irresponsibility of the report in the Nov. 19 Observer regarding the allegations concerning Fr. Jocelyn. This story was presented to the news media by the alleging lawyer before he had filed the complaint in any jurisdiction, and before the church was notified.

By lifting it off the wire and printing it in this manner, you have contributed to defaming the reputation of Fr. Jocelyn. You have also defamed the entire Catholic community in Union County.

You presented information in your story as if it were factual when it is not. You failed to investigate the allegations made, the facts presented, and you failed to talk to anyone in our community about this matter.

Justice requires a presumption of innocence. Not only was this principle completely disregarded, you used sensational tactics to present mere allegations and quotes that were libelous and insulting.

We realize that this story was taken off the wire, but since it is of great local interest, the way in which you presented it was reprehensible.

We wish to state to the community at large our support for the moral integrity of Fr. Jocelyn whose memory we hold very dear, and we pray for the conversion of the hearts of his accusers.

This letter was signed by 88 people. Although we contributed to the writing of it, the thoughts are supported by all who signed.

Their names can be found on The Observer's Web site: www.lagrandeobserver.com.

The two names printed below are merely a formality, as required by The Observer.

Vicki Correll, Joe Garlitz

and 86 others

Let kids go to work for 3 weeks

To the Editor:

Don't ask our good people to vote in January for paying more taxes. Pay more taxes? With the tax load we all have now? I should say not.

Suggest how to use their kids' time when the school year is shortened three weeks. Maybe the kids could work in our valley on some of the farms and pay for music lessons, which will probably be lost in the schools. Some of the stronger kids could work in our forests, which are so much in need of thinning. This could develop muscles and conditioning for sports, which may or may not continue.

Another suggestion would be for all of our deer hunters to keep their rifles well oiled for when they are called upon to form a local posse to help our very small state police force that will soon be left. This is the kind of job we citizens used to do years ago and I see no reason why we can't do the same today.

And when 50 percent of the state prisons close we should be able to take many of those prisoners into our own homes and give them a place to live.

They need friends more than anything else and we can certainly give them that. Many social services will just disappear but we can make do. An extra bottle of iodine in every household will take care of many public health problems.

Holes in our streets and roads can be put up with if we all just drive a little slower. Whatever you do, don't vote for raising my taxes.

Gracious, what a mistake that would be.

Bill Oberteuffer

Island City

Exercise your voting power

To the Editor:

The letter in The Observer by Bert Metcalf on Nov. 23 raised several unanswered questions directed to the Union County Sheriff's Office in regard to the dismissal of Sgt. Chuck Anderson.

Law enforcement personnel should be held to higher standards in regard to law, ethics, integrity and values. When their peers have questioned this trust, they should be investigated aggressively. This has happened in Anderson's case.

Oregon State Police investigated Anderson and found no criminal issues existed. This was not good enough for Sheriff Steve Oliver. Oliver took the allegations to the grand jury. The grand jury found nothing criminal to charge Anderson with. It would seem to others and to me that the six-month period following was to dig up anything that would warrant dismissal.

OK, Mr. Oliver and Mr. Wright, what were the charges that Anderson was accused of that has destroyed a 14-year career?

Sheriff Oliver, are you still sore over one of your employees exercising his right to run for the office of sheriff while being employed under you? Undersheriff Dana Wright, are you running for sheriff in 2004, and is this the way you deal with future competition?

With pending lawsuits, paid administrative leave and any other costly issues that are not disclosed to the taxpayers, this county cannot afford your leadership.

I would hope that the hard-working citizens of this county will exercise their First Amendment rights, and voice their concerns and opinions. If we cannot rectify an injustice now, we certainly have the power of our vote in 2004.

Allen Case

La Grande

Punishment fits crime

To the Editor:

The peaceniks, Joe Leiberman, Al Gore, and CNN, keep worrying whether the Arab world will like us if we go after Saddam Hussein.

Given the fact that dictators are bullies and those Arab nations are run by dictators, I believe the answer to that question is "yes, they will like us better" if we forcibly remove Saddam from a position of power.

Crime and punishment in the Muslim world is handled much along the lines of the "Code of Hammurabi" or "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."

As our mentors in the world of commentary are worried about regard for the feelings of the Muslim nations, how about this for a scenario?

Let us punish the terrorists we catch according to their own way of doing things. Every time we catch enough of them to fill a passenger plane, we could lock a planeload of those folks on an obsolete plane, set it on auto pilot and send them, along with a planeload of fuel, right into the side of one of the revered buildings in their homelands.

That would give their people at home a front-row seat for the time and place these holy warriors meet Allah. Their relatives could cheer in the streets just as they did when our innocent people were blasted through the sides of the World Trade Center.

We could not be accused of disregard for their customs in the way we meted out punishment since this is typical of the way they punish their own.

I know the world community would consider this as unacceptable behavior on our part, but, in my extremist opinion, this would be making the punishment fit the crime and be in accordance with the treatment we could expect if the roles were reversed.

Gary Poole