April 28, 2003 11:00 pm

God is on America's side

To the Editor:

I must enter the discussion of the war and look at the big picture.

I helped a student over the Internet during the year before 9/11. We studied the Middle East, and I learned that the Muslims are the biggest religion in the world. I am a Christian and I wondered when they would be warned of the end of the world.

They came through Abraham. Ishmael was his son, not the son of promise through whom Jesus was born.

We are the richest country in the world. We are here because we wanted religious freedom. We have it, and God has granted us knowledge, peace and prosperity. We took all these things for granted and then 9/11 happened.

I don't believe that the God of the Muslims is the God of the Bible because they have omitted Jesus and without Him we are lost.

I wonder if God didn't use George Bush to punish Saddam Hussein. Saddam was an evil man who was willing to kill his own people. He put himself in the place of God. He reminded me of Og in Deuteronomy 3:3. He was a terror of all surrounding nations known for his violence and cruelty. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword. May he die as he lived. And his sons with him.

I feel this is in part a religious war and it all fits together as end times will. We in the Christian community need to be praying for our troops that God will protect and use them and give the United States wisdom in all we attempt. God is still in control and uses men even when they don't realize they are used.

I can still sing "God Bless America" with all my heart.

P. Shankel


Slaughtering freedom of speech

To the Editor:

The expected arrival of a Kansas church group to protest against the performance of "The Laramie Project" is not just a blatant act of negative morality but should be considered an unjust attack by bigoted naysayers upon the local arts.

Shame on you "reverend" Fred Phelps. I'm not exactly sure what kind of preaching you perform back your way, but here in beautiful Eastern Oregon I think it's safe to say that acceptance and tolerance is the religion. It's a place where you help your fellow man and even if you don't agree with his lifestyle you respect his freedom of choice. That's something that may be hard to understand for a hate-teacher like yourself.

Alas, the one droplet of sympathy I sparingly have towards you is in our governed freedom of speech (even when slaughtered by your harmful and blasphemous use of it) that we all constitute as expression.

I hope you do come to our sweet little town with your sheep brigade. More so, go to the sow and hold your signs and bellow out whatever things drive your decrepit black heart.

Finally, I urge anyone and everyone of all faiths, artistry and believers of peace to show up as well and demonstrate what real humanity looks like. Because, you see, Rev., in your dark dream world you have the right to protest.

Yes, you do have the right to your opinion. Most of all, you have the right to shout aggressive epithets to thin air, because frankly, no one cares.

Enjoy the arts, don't fight them.

Jeremy Clark

La Grande

Don't mess with SAIF

To the Editor:

It never ceases to amaze me how well information can be manipulated in the right hands.

The Observer's editorial on April 10 quoted William Connerly as though he is the god of all financial information.

What do you think about the other opinions from economists and actuaries that say it would be a very bad idea to sell SAIF?

In fact, Richard E. Sherman & Associates a firm that regularly audits insurance companies, states in their opinion that this is the worst possible time to sell an insurance company and that such a sale would likely bring $100-to-$200 million — not $2 billion as projected by Mr. Connerly.

Mr. Connerly, by the way, does not have a background in the insurance industry.

Why do we never hear about the influence that Liberty Northwest has had on these proceedings, or the perennial battle they have waged to get rid of SAIF? Why don't you report on the money they have donated to influential state legislators to push their agenda?

Many of the 206 companies you talked about in your piece only write large business policies. They don't want to hear from the little guy.

Liberty Northwest only writes business in Eastern Oregon through very select independent agents. A small business owner in Oregon can call SAIF directly and ask for insurance. No insurance company on the planet has a specific mission to stimulate business growth in Oregon, except SAIF.

My bill for workers comp insurance through Grocer's Insurance was $4,000 a year; through SAIF, it's less than $1,000. Why would you want to mess with something like that?

Roger Clark, owner

Boulder Market


Spare city's forestry program

To the Editor:

"An initial perception of a community is often based on a feeling about its character. Urban trees play an important part in creating image."

— Jim Geiger, director of communications, Center for Urban Forest Research, USDA Forest Service

Congratulations La Grande! Your city has been recognized by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the Oregon State Forester as a Tree City USA for the 13th year.

The status of being a Tree City USA is an important symbol of the City of La Grande's commitment to tree appreciation and tree care. It is a sign that the community cares about La Grande's livability and recognizes the important contributions that trees make to the city's quality of life.

A thriving urban forest is a legacy all of us can take pride in.

It has come to our attention that the current modest budget — $53,000 — for the La Grande Urban Forestry Program is being considered to be reduced substantially. I encourage you to do what you can to not allow this to happen.

La Grande's trees face tremendous challenges within the built environment. Soil quality, space limitations, as well as water and nutrient availability, are all limiting factors to tree growth in a community Trees will sustain themselves in these conditions only if they are stewarded by people.

The benefits received from trees depend on those trees being healthy. Healthy trees require quality care. Quality care depends on professional management.

With the professional leadership of Brian Kelly, your contracted city forester, the City of La Grande has seen its urban forest grow to be an asset worth $9 million (per recent tree inventory figures).

As a vital component of La Grande's infrastructure, its urban ecosystem, I urge you to consider the value of maintaining such an important asset and to not cut the La Grande Urban Forestry Program budget.

Katie M.K. Kause,

community assistance forester

Oregon Department of Forestry


Sad to see alternative school go

To the Editor:

It saddens me, as I'm sure it does other parents and the students who attend the alternative school that it may have to close its doors.

My son has attended the alternative school for the past two years and has been very successful there.

I attribute a lot of his success to Lin Casciato who has been a godsend for my son as well as for the other students. Casciato takes a very personal interest in each student as an individual and can relate to them. You don't find many teachers who have that skill.

Also my son and the other students get much-needed individual attention there that they would not get in the regular school. The students feel successful and as though they fit in.

It's like a family, all helping each other with their personal problems as well.

It will be such a tragedy for these kids to lose the success they have all worked so hard for.

Without the alternative school, what failures lie ahead for these students?

Budgets need to be cut elsewhere to save our kids' education.

Brenda Lovan

La Grande