January 28, 2003 11:00 pm

Dozens crowd around elk

To the Editor:

Here's a nagging question that likely has a good answer: Why is it someone can't build on property because it might disturb wintering elk but someone else can haul dozens of people to within 10 yards of them off and on all day long on some days during the winter feeding season with no claimed harmful effects?

I can't help but think an occupied house with its consistent presence and familiar people, would be less disrupting than the off-and-on comings and goings of strangers and horses and everything that that activity entails.

Is there a reasonable answer to denying one and approving the other?

Dan Thompson


Legislators must do their job

To the Editor:

Did you know that in 1981 Oregonians paid an income tax of 10 percent?

Did you know that in 1982 Oregon had a budget crisis? Here is the information that I acquired from the Oregon Department of Revenue.

In 1981 our income tax was 10 percent. In 1982, '83 and '84, the surtax raised it to 10.8 percent. In '85 and '86 it went back to 10 percent. In 1987 it went to 9 percent, where we are currently.

Yes, the 1982 Legislative Assembly had the intestinal fortitude backed by the governor to implement a surtax for three years.

Did you know that in overall taxes we pay less than 43 other states?

Did you know that on Jan. 1, 1996, PERS state employees went to a tier 2? That is 41 percent of the current work force that have earned only 0.82 percent of the money going into PERS in the last six years. That is less than 1 percent, and these folks will never receive the lavish retirements that Oregonians are upset about.

My spouse and I will be voting for Measure 28 and hope the cuts to so many programs and jobs will not happen. We also hope the Legislative Assembly will finally step forward and do its job.

Keith Jordan


Martin Sheen, get real

To the Editor:

I have this to say to the peace protesters:

Whether you like it or not, we are at war. You do not seem to realize, we have been attacked and our enemies are not going to rest until they are either defeated, or we are.

If we wait for the next major assault on our nation before we do anything, it may be too late.

Right now we have the option of choosing when and where to fight them.

If we wait for the option to be theirs, we may suffer an atomic attack on a major city and (or) atomic blackmail, or worse.

Martin Sheen and you others of the fantasy world, you need to realize this is not a script. Get real!

If Osama is alive, protesters, he thanks you. You are one of the best things he has going for him.

Gary Poole


Terrorists on run

To the Editor:

Julie Farnam in her Jan. 15 letter writes that wars are fought primarily by the poor, while the wealthy reap the benefits.

She urges alternatives to military action in Iraq. As I recall, she and others also spoke out against the use of our military might in Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9-11.

The benefits of hunting down and killing terrorists in their haven would pale in contrast with the destruction we would inflict on innocents.

Yes, innocents have suffered in Afghanistan, but many more terrorists have been exterminated. Others are on the run, their power to kill greatly reduced. And one half of the entire Afghan population, that's millions of poor women and girls, have been liberated from a brutally oppressive regime.

Professional women are free once again to practice law, to provide medical care, to teach. Young girls may actually attend school. Does this not count for something? I believe it does. Our use of force can and does oftentimes help the oppressed and downtrodden, whether in 1943 or in 2003.

Lyle Schwarz

La Grande

Stuck with our budget

To the Editor:

If Measure 28 fails, and we end up cutting programs and services such as police protection, fire coverage, and help for the elderly, I don't see how that balances out.

We would create a further shortfall by losing the tax revenue from those items being cut.

If I made $90,000 a year and took a 5 percent cut in pay, then I could easily afford it. But what about people on a low, fixed income maybe making $700-$800 per month?

With insurance premiums, medicine, hospital stays and law suit settlements continuing to spiral, how does anyone keep up?

I think there are a lot of frills that could be trimmed to help. If the home budget fails, we are stuck with it. Then we have to rearrange priorities. So I wonder what is the next problem we have to bail out?

Jerry Bradshaw

Island City

Wonderful opportunity

To the Editor:

The 4-H Survival Camp was one of the greatest opportunities for young people that I have seen or heard of in a long time.

Many courses seem to be offered on wilderness survival but how many people live in the wilderness.

Many of these students never go into the wilderness again. But every student has to face the every-day challenges of life and many are not prepared. The demands that we face each day seem to be more difficult as time passes.

So I'd like to say thank you to the OSU Extension Service and pray that there will be even more opportunities for such training.

Rebecca Ross

La Grande

Informative coverage

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my appreciation for the informative coverage provided by The Observer regarding Measure 28. I have found the articles recently published to be well-written and informative. The articles have helped inform my vote on the issue.

Thank you to you and your staff.

Jim Sheehy


Someone's hiding

To the Editor:

In reply to former governor John Kitzhaber's column in the Jan. 11 Observer, "Measure 28 will help Oregon get back on track," may I make a few observations?

He mentions the key to economic recovery lies in better education. The cuts that were made of $700 million, and scheduled additional $200 million, these have deprived education. Does this seem to contradict his observation as to economic recovery?

The education system should be in great shape as the lottery was promoted as the great saving force for education. Who is hiding behind the lottery mask?

As to the 2002 leadership summit held by real-world managers from Oregon, I would prefer down-to-earth managers to build a world-class system of education. What does the mask of the real-world people look like? Seems a mask is to hide behind so as not to be identified.

A mask is often used for creating a scary effect. This has been extremely well orchestrated with the threat of cuts to education, social services, public services, human services, public safety, the correctional system, law enforcement and the less fortunate. Does blackmail use a mask?

Under many of these programs people are becoming so dependent on government planning and handouts that individuals feel threatened almost to panic if anyone suggests that we turn back from what is socialism and reach out toward the success formula of the past based on individual freedom.

We have the ability to remove that mask of dependability and face the truth that we can and will be responsible for ourselves and our families. We have the most generous nation on earth, and giving from the heart works, not being forced to give a handout. It's time to recognize the mask of socialism within Measure 28. Vote no.

Rita Moore

La Grande

Living under socialism

To the Editor:

Measure 28 is of interest because it is so divisive. By just this vote it will show how socialistic Oregon has become.

The purpose of this measure is the forceful taking of property — money — from rightful owners so government can bestow free and unearned benefits upon others.

Paraphrasing Webster, socialism is a system under which the means of production and distribution are controlled by society or the community rather than private individuals, with the public sharing the products — a policy of wealth distribution.

A socialist is an advocate or supporter of socialism. Therefore, one who talks like a socialist, acts like a socialist and votes like a socialist, is by definition a socialist. Is the tax issue, then, really too little money, or too many socialists?

Under our system individuals are encouraged, even forced, to rely upon the state, rather than family, church, civil organizations and their own initiative for basic needs including education, food, housing and health care. The lure of free services and the popularity of politicians who promise free services are what drive the trend toward an ever-increasing welfare state. This, unless checked, will continue until welfare demands exceed the producers' ability to pay and the state will become financially bankrupt.

Reasonable people realize that government cannot always grow. Perhaps it is time for those who look to the state for free services to begin looking elsewhere. Does this economic slump not call into question the maintainability of a welfare state?

Is it not time to reduce the free services so that essential and legitimate functions of government can be maintained at an effective level? Webster and Measure 28 will indicate where each of us, and our government officials, stand in the grand political scheme of things.

Jasper H. Coombes


Hold water rates down

To the Editor:

The North Powder City Council voted to increase the water rates another $5 a month. Now is the time for the citizens of North Powder to work together to keep our water rates down.

Our city council can't do it by itself. We all need to use less water to help keep the power bills down. We need to start a citizens' water committee to help the council keep our rates down.

We have a high number of low-income senior citizens in our town. Are we putting a hardship on our low-income senior citizens on a low, fixed income? What will they have to cut out if our water rates keep going up?

If we all work together, we can keep our town affordable for all to live in. Water and sewer can't support our town. We need to find out what our overhead expenses are for our city and help fix the problems.

Let's all get together and work to help our city. Let's all get involved and attend the meetings.

Lee and Bonnie Ferguson

North Powder

Show baby compassion

To the Editor:

The pro-abortionists are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade this year.

No matter how they deny it, they are stopping a beating heart and snuffing out the life of a human being, so it is murder.

Here is an appropriate story on the topic:

A child was on a 9-month journey from conception to birth when he fell into the hands of a mother and an abortionist who tried to rob him of his life. He was burned with saltwater and torn from his means of nutrition and left on a counter in an abortion clinic to die.

A female priest walked by and said this was just a symptom of a much larger social problem; she walked down the hall to assure the mother that she had the right to choose whether or not to remain pregnant.

A chaplain walked by, looked in the room where the child lay gasping for breath, and noted by the clock on the wall he was late for a staff meeting.

A housekeeper came by, noticed the child struggling for life and felt compassion for him. She administered infant CPR and put salve on his burns. She took him to the safe home of a fellow Christian who believed in the sanctity of life. She paid for the medical expenses, found an adoptive home and assured the adoption parents she was available to help.

Which of these three was the neighbor to the one who got robbed?

Would you say, "the one who had mercy on him?"

Then do as Jesus said, "Go and do likewise."

Leonard Morse,

La Grande

Support kids, seniors

To the Editor:

I volunteer for our local Head Start in La Grande and have done so for two years. This wonderful place will be $70,000 in debt this coming year if Measure 28 does not pass.

Although limited financially, the staff is putting forth a wonderful service for our youth. The head teacher has stated that she is willing to take a pay cut to keep our children learning and growing. Even at that, Eastern Oregon will possibly lose the Head Start program in Halfway. This would be a tragedy.

Go down and spend some time at any Head Start and see first-hand joy at the beginning of a child's life. I also help seniors in our community as they are mostly forgotten in our busy lives and they also will be even more forgotten and left out if we don't vote yes on Measure 28 on Jan. 28.

A small donation from one given in kindness can keep some joy within our world for all. Our community is the heart for those who will be our future and for those who have given us what we have now, a great country for all.

Louis H. Michaels

La Grande

Mark ballot, send it in

To the Editor:

A short time ago the debate was whether or not to return the tax kicker to the taxpayer.

Now we are broke. Every day the media is full of hand-wringing bureaucrats declaring the damage that the budget cuts will do to the services they provide.

The state police will be forced to make drastic cuts that will leave the people without any protection. There will, however, be no reduction in the game-officer force. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, even though they only receive 10 percent of their budget from tax revenues, will be crippled.

Firefighters hired will not be trained until after July 1, leading us to believe that our forests will be at risk. They only vaguely concede that the main fire season does not actually start until later anyway.

How about the Public Employees Retirement System? Now here's a dandy. It seems that the majority of the directors of this retirement program were or are beneficiaries to the fund. Is there a question of conflict of interest here?

I could go on forever. I have not even touched on schools, roads, bridges, social services, prisons — the list is long. They all need us to cough up another $9.50 a month and maybe, just maybe, we will be able to squeak by.

Maybe it is time to take a look at the big picture. Are the people we elect capable of the leadership responsibility we have placed with them?

In the meantime I hope everyone who is eligible will return their ballots. I don't care if you favor or oppose a tax raise. That is your responsibility to decide. I only ask that you take your share of leadership and mark your ballot and send it in.

John Coote

Island City

Don't be bullied by media

To the Editor:

Thank you Dick Mason and The Observer for finally having a feature on the front page Wednesday presenting Measure 28's other side — other than the three to four front-page, scare-tactic articles recently published.

I was beginning to question The Observer's apparent one-sided slanted view of reporting this measure.

We moved back to rural Eastern Oregon from the beautiful state south of us (which my wife called a "temporary residence"). From that experience, there is no such thing as a temporary tax. Ask any Californian who lived through the temporary sales tax increase following the San Francisco earthquake. Legislators tried to extend that additional income as long as possible. Ask any Californian who must endure the lengthy traffic jams at any of the toll bridges?

Weren't those taxes temporary also — until the bridges were paid for? Those bridges were paid years ago. Now it simply pays for additional toll-takers and their fringe benefits.

By the way, what is the cost in distributing this special election ballot? Printing and mailing; 37 cents to mail each ballot in; lobbyists who support either for or against this measure?

Couldn't money have been saved by combining this one measure with the other items we voted on in November?

Yes, there are concerns. Yes, there are problems. Yes, there needs to be solutions. But I feel simply funneling additional monies from citizens should be the ultimate last resort.

Until I hear that the majority of legislators are looking at all possible means of controlling the budget and not just simply resorting to scare tactics, I will have to vote no on Measure 28.

Don't be bullied into the frenzy the media is trying to present through its various scare tactics.

I encourage you to read and study both sides of the issues and vote accordingly.

David Riley


Can we learn from the past?

To the Editor:

Do we believe Saddam Hussein killed a village of his own people?

Do we believe he would not do the same to other people?

There were some who believed that of Adolf Hitler.

Buck Hayden

La Grande

Struggling people at risk

To the Editor:

I agree that the state should be held accountable for the money it spends.

I agree that there probably is some waste in state government, but I cannot agree that we should force the state to mend its ways by cutting services to those who are unable to help themselves: seniors, the disabled, the addicted, the mentally ill, children.

Folks who are struggling with incomes too low to provide the basic needs of food, housing, heat, electricity and health care are at risk for abuse and depression. Those struggling with addictions, the mentally ill and those who abuse others need the support of professionals.

Do we really want to cut their support and allow their problems to hurt our community? Parents who deal with addictions or mental illness are not always able to take care of their children properly. Children who have poor health, caused by poor nutrition, lack of medical or dental care, lack of prenatal care, do not come to school ready to learn.

If there has been trauma in their lives, they are not ready to learn. Starting school this way puts them at risk for failure. Kids who fail in school are at higher risk for dropping out and getting into trouble. These things are not good for communities and do not attract businesses to build a better economy.

I believe a better idea is to pass Measure 28 and avoid the cuts that may really hurt all of us. Then more of us need to write our representatives and let them know how we want our money spent. More of us need to vote in each election to keep the legislators who do as we ask and vote out those who do not.

Karol Maier

Island City

Measure 28 unnecessary

To the Editor:

People called into Portland radio talk-show host Lars Larson and asked questions about Measure 28.

Here are the answers he provided, confirmed by state legislators.

1. The tax is retroactive. You will be taxed on income that you have already earned, had taxes withheld from and spent.

2. The tax isn't necessary. Legislative leaders and the governor admit that there are ways to avoid hurting schools, old people and police.

3. Measure 28 would give Oregon the highest income tax in America, when Oregon has the highest unemployment in America.

4. Oregon spends more on schools than Washington and California. A major part of school costs that is running out of control is PERS.

5. The double majority does not apply to this tax measure. Double majority only applies to property tax increases.

6. Measure 28 will throw the governor's budget $700 million in the red. If you pass 28, it supports spending that is not contained in the governor's budget.

They will be back, asking for more taxes in July, or threatening more cuts to services.

Doug Turnidge


Keep readers informed

To the Editor:

I too believe "small communities need healthy downtowns" (Jan. 16 Observer editorial), and am encouraged to hear of this priority in La Grande.

Our family moved here three years ago from a small Wyoming town for a number of reasons. La Grande is a beautiful, healthy, and relatively crime-free locale. Eastern Oregon University is a progressive, versatile college (with diverse and caring professors) where I can complete my education.

For our teen-age daughter, the community and schools offer plenty of socialization, without big-city concerns.

We chose La Grande because we saw it as the ideal family community. Over the past three years we have watched many changes in the downtown area — some good, some not so good.

I have great hopes for La Grande. I am committed to patronizing local and downtown services as much as possible.

My greatest frustration, however, is lack of information. I hope The Observer will consider running a comprehensive series about proposed downtown and local development. It is especially important in tight economic times for citizens to hear details regarding progressive initiatives.

When I see a lot of empty or shifting spaces I immediately assume raised rents or failed finances are behind the change. I assume this because too many downtown areas have died, because they were priced out of existence by speculators. I hope this is not happening in our downtown.

If I were personally being forced (economically) to make decisions regarding the welfare of my family and our future, I would be particularly concerned about the stability of my community.

Change can be great — if it comes from foresight and hope. If, as the editorial implies, there are great and progressive things happening behind council doors in La Grande, I implore you to share this vision with your citizens.

Catherine Hefferan-Hays

La Grande

California: another planet

To the Editor:

My husband, George, and I are traveling this month in our motor home through California to Presidio, Texas, to join a tour group to go into Mexico. One stop we will make is in Yuma, Ariz, for a Union County RV reunion.

Every time I go to the same place that I have been before, I notice something that I hadn't noticed previously. I made a list of some unique aspects about California:

1. California has an entry booth at the border. I have been in several states, and so far, California is the only one which stops all vehicles that come into it.

2. There is a shark petting zoo along the northern coast.

3. There are many Spanish names of towns and streets. (Sacramento, Trinidad, Del Norte, San Jose, Castella, Del Loma, Chico, to name only a few.)

4. The redwoods, very beautiful.

5 There are emergency call boxes along the highways. People can stop, pick up the receiver and be directly connected to a 911 dispatcher.

6. Some roadside distances are marked in both miles and kilometers.

7. The signs along the freeways with the drawing of the shape of the state don't show the eastern part of the state. Instead, a bear painting covers the whole eastern section of the outline.

8. Olive groves.

9. Rice fields.

10. The Sierra Mountains, snowcapped and also very beautiful.

11. The valley between the coastal range mountains and the Sierra Mountains is much wider than the Willamette Valley in Oregon between the coastal range and the Cascade Range.

12. Earthquakes, although we haven't experienced one yet.

13. The price of diesel here is about 15 cents per gallon higher than in all of the other states we have been in.

I'm just sure that California is another planet.

Lucy Gilchrist (on the road)

La Grande