May 04, 2003 11:00 pm

Vigils actually support troops

To the Editor:

For those of us who vigil and march in support of peace, there is always the concern that we be perceived as unpatriotic or worse, not in support of our troops.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. It is exactly our support of those troops that is, in part, why we vigil. It is our concern for their lives and our desperate fear that they might be put in harm's way that drives us to implore those in power to consider other options.

Two of us are mothers of servicemen. We support our sons and every other mother's son who might have to be involved in battle. We also support their right to violence-free lives.

We invite all who would care to share our support, to join us.

You are welcome at our peaceful vigils and marches and at our other functions and means of mutual support.

Pathways to Peace members —

Erin Wolford, Janet Farrell,Juanette Cremin, Julie Farnam,Darilyn Legore, Fuji Kreider,Mary Rose Nichols

Tennis courts not so great

To the Editor:

On Page 2 of the April 4 Observer, the caption of the picture of two high school girls on the tennis courts said, "Last summer the tennis court was resurfaced, providing smooth sailing for players this year."

This statement is far from accurate. What was done last fall was some cracks (only the deepest and widest ones) were filled in, nothing more.

In fact, the repairs weren't even repainted — it's just black asphalt strips on a green court with white lines. There's even disagreement over whether the repairs were an improvement because the cracks are gone or the courts became worse because the surface is more uneven than it was and some of the lines have been obliterated.

No one using those courts would say that they are in good shape.

Tim Hoffnagle

La Grande

Tired old argument repeated

To the Editor:

The Observer's April 10 editorial chose to repeat the tired old argument that introducing self-service gas stations will add to the state's unemployment problem.

I suppose by this logic, we ought to require that people take all their meals in restaurants and be prevented from performing any landscaping and home maintenance projects on their own. Through these interventions, we could maximize the employment opportunities for cooks, servers, gardeners, carpenters and other artisans.

While it is true that allowing self-service will reduce jobs for people employed to pump gas, the resulting reduction in gas prices will release money that can be spent on other goods and services by both buyers and sellers of gasoline.These new expenditures will produce new jobs, so who is to say whether employment will increase or decrease?

A narrow focus on immediately visible effects of regulations or policy is illustrative of a type of bad economics that favors special interests at the expense of the whole, and ultimately results in a waste of resources.

Bill Workman

Logan, Utah (formerly of La Grande)

War unfortunate, but just

To the Editor:

It breaks the hearts of most good people that with war there are injuries and deaths.

It also breaks the hearts of most good people to realize that without this war Saddam Hussein's regime would have brought about many more deaths of innocent people.

Since Hussein seized power in 1979 he committed an unbelievable numbers of crimes against humanity.

In war, Hussein's regime also committed innumerable war crimes. These are documented facts and the time finally came when the world had to realize — like it or not — that a strong military action would be the only way to put an end to this tyrannical dictator's murderous regime.

There are many innocent Iraqis who knew only what Hussein wanted them to know (hating Americans, for one). The British and Americans were determined to help these people realize a better way of life.

I'm praying that Iraq will find good leaders and we'll have support from all over the world in rebuilding their country into hopefully a democracy.

I am thankful America has a strong leader who picked an exceptionally competent group of advisers. President George W. Bush knows how to see things from another's point of view and keeps an open mind as he discusses various matters.

I am proud and thankful for every single one of the soldiers who have fought for freedom in Iraq and proud of all our wonderful soldiers in and out of America who do whatever it takes to help keep America safe and free.

My heart and prayers go out to all the families who have lost loved ones in this unfortunate, but just, war.

Carol Walker


Work to halt abuses of power

To the Editor:

The current debate over conflict of interest within the Bush administration over profits from the destruction and reconstruction of Iraq illustrates an interesting point.

It is impossible for this administration to avoid ethical conflicts between policy decisions and business deals because our current government is big business.

We knew this when we allowed the Supreme Court to elect Bush. So if Vice President Dick Cheney benefits directly through multi-million-dollar federal contracts to Halliburton, or if Condi Rice benefits directly from Chevron's involvement in Iraq's oil economy, it should be no surprise to us.

There are hundreds of other examples as there are hundreds of former industry executives serving in key administration positions.

We should be very concerned about this. President Eisenhower warned us about the dangers of the military-industrial complex (now add media to this).

We have to get control of the excessive Washington influence by a small minority of multi-billionaires. If Congress cannot enact meaningful campaign finance reform, our democratic government will be a thing of the past.

Let's stop paying all our attention to the Iraq war and start looking closer to home at promoting democratic ideals. To that end, comments from State Sen. John Minnis, R-Wood Village, deserve close scrutiny.

Reporting on a bill to prohibit legislators from working as lobbyists, he was quoted as saying that influence and connections are forms of free speech suggesting they should be protected by the U.S. Constitution. Hogwash! When free speech rights are abused to promote unethical business deals, they must rightly be regulated.

If our elected representatives cannot identify and avoid ethical conflicts — and many apparently cannot, then laws must be enacted which will deter such behavior.

Please write your elected representatives today to let them know we cannot stand for such abuses of power.

David Felley

La Grande

It's OK to criticize president

To the Editor:

Are you concerned? Do you feel that if you criticize the president for things that have happened over the past two weeks, that you will be considered by your friends to be unpatriotic or un-American?

Then it should be worth your while to examine the following quotation from an editorial in the Kansas City Star, that was written during World War I. These comments were written by Teddy Roosevelt, who was president of the United States early in the 20th century:

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

It is worth noting that President Roosevelt was much admired during his time, and he is still appreciated by both conservatives and liberals today. If, however, you are a member of this new wave of super-patriots, then you are still free to say, "Aw shucks, that's just the old America."

Don Paul

La Grande

What is victory in Iraq?

To the Editor:

Even though we are entering a tremendously risky period of U.S. occupation in the Middle East, we share profound relief that the most intense fighting may soon be over and that humanitarian efforts can begin in Iraq.

Saddam's military failure is hardly surprising. Given a contest between the U.S. Armed Forces and a country which relies upon materiel that is decades old, it shouldn't be a shock that we won quickly and easily.

We didn't oppose this war because we thought we couldn't win it. We opposed it because "victory" was about so much more than military dominance. We believe that we could have won without war — and that victory now may take years or decades to come — if it comes at all.

So what is victory?

If this war was about ensuring that Iraqis are fed, clothed, healthy and secure, hundreds of thousands are still in serious jeopardy. If this war was about bringing democracy to the Iraqi people, we haven't even begun that project. If it was about removing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, we haven't found any.

If it was about reducing the threat of terrorism, we've done nothing — except perhaps to fan the flames of Muslim fundamentalism. If it was about stabilizing the region, right now there is increased instability. And if it was about bringing the world together to address threats to our security, we've clearly done the opposite. Only if the war was about taking Saddam out of power — and literally nothing else — did the recent events signal victory.

Even a close look at this month's iconic image — the tearing down of a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad's center — reveals that the Iraqis were likely outnumbered by the Americans. Clearly, most of the population is still watching and waiting.

Julie Farnam, Peter Farnam,kye Farnam, Lawson LeGore,Darilyn LeGore, Janet Nedry, Janet Farrell, Fuji Kreider, Marian Goldberg, Tom Strandberg, Lynn Strandberg, Betsy Strandberg, Rosie Strandberg, Susie Strandberg

La Grande

Gambill votes ‘no' or abstains

To the Editor:

I urge citizens to vote for Donna Patterson and Kendall Baxter, co-candidates for a position on the Union Cemetery Maintenance District board. Both are very well qualified for the position.

Donna was instrumental and invaluable in setting up the district's computer system and transferring all the records to electronic format. She continues, on a volunteer basis, to help with updating and finding records, making the records available to all citizens and creating a written history of the cemetery. Both Donna and Kendall have been (and are) active in community affairs, including among other things, volunteer work at the Union Library. Kendall was instrumental in the building of the Union Family Health Center, which provides medical care for our community.

Donna and Kendall have excellent leadership and problem-solving skills and have a history of working responsibly with people, while treating them with respect and consideration and listening to their concerns and suggestions.

In reviewing the voting record of the cemetery board over the past four years, I note that the incumbent for this position, Carman Gambill, has voted "no" or "abstain" on numerous occasions for many proposals and actions.

From this review, and from talking to people who attended the meetings, I have concluded that the majority of her no or abstain votes were mainly obstructive and not based on fact or on any conviction or reasoned argument. This type of behavior wastes everyone's time and creates difficulties in carrying out the business of the cemetery district.

Donna and Kendall will bring to the board intelligent and reasoned decisions. If they vote "no" it will be out of conviction, not to be obstructive or contrary. Their stated goals and philosophy will contribute greatly to the efficient and consistent operation of the cemetery district.

Barbara J. Gray


Voice opinions on use of forests

To the Editor:

The Observer on April 17 stated that Wallowa Forest Products will lay off employees because of a lack of raw materials from public timber sales.

A second article discussed Union County's financial troubles. Both Union and Wallowa counties are suffering from difficult financial times.

These articles were similar because in both situations real people are affected by the actions of groups like the Hells Canyon Preservation Council.

HCPC won a lawsuit to stop or delay logging on a couple of sections of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, claiming the Forest Service didn't look closely enough at lynx habitat.

HCPC and like-minded groups have shut down our nation's forests. Meanwhile fire danger increases, burned trees are left to rot and overpopulated forest stands become diseased. More importantly, the state continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the nation, and schools and police departments are trying to figure out how to do more with less.

This is not to suggest that logging our national forests could solve all our financial ills, but when we are able to harvest a renewable resource new money is created, and money from timber sales has a multiplier effect throughout local economies. More than half of Oregon is publicly owned, yet we have roads and communities that stretch across the entire state. We must be able to manage that public portion to help pay for our infrastructure.

In Eastern Oregon, the people who make up groups like the Hells Canyon Preservation Council are in the minority, but they are well- organized, well-funded and very vocal. It's time the rest of us stood up to voice our opinions. In the meantime, I'm sure our local grocery stores will continue to sell bundles of firewood that come from British Columbia.

Steve Lindley

La Grande

It's time to halt protesting

To the Editor:

I am wondering what the anti-war protesters are protesting now. Saddam is gone, at least from power. The Republican Guard can't be found, the Iraqis who are expressing an opinion are thanking our troops.

There are some who protest the presence of the coalition forces, but when the looting was so bad, these same people were hollering: where are the Americans? They may want the troops out but it is evident they are unable to provide their own security.

The anti-war protesters want us out, but who will take the lead in rebuilding the damaged buildings, the airports? The Iraqis will not be able to until they have a government that will be able to use the oil receipts for rebuilding and humanitarian needs.

The anti-war protesters predicted the deaths of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. There have been a few such deaths and I mourn for those, but our coalition leaders did all they could to avoid those deaths. The protesters also predicted thousands of coalition casualties. I think the number now stands at 115 and as a war veteran I mourn each one of those and grieve with their loved ones.

There were also the protesters in the Congress, who with tears in their eyes and anguish in their voices asked, "How can we afford it?" And when they received the president's war budget request, again they stood at the podiums and asked the same question. Then they increased his budget request by almost one-third.

It is time to stop the protesting and start standing for this nation and our president — whether you like him or not — and start shouting, "God bless our troops. God bless our president. God bless America".

Roy Hills

Island City

Facing supply shortage

To the Editor:

I am a seventh-grader at the La Grande Middle School and the daughter of a teacher. With all of the pay cuts going on, he is facing paycheck cuts, and so are his colleagues, many of them even laid off or fired.

I think it is unnecessary that the Oregon State Lottery is putting millions of dollars toward fish. Why can't they put a couple of million dollars in the school fund? That would help people keep their jobs, and put some money toward the school.

My team at LMS has to raise funds and pay for supplies for us to use at school — markers, glue, calculators, erasers, colored pencils, even paper. We can't even do some projects because we don't have any supplies to do them. Some teachers use their own money for supplies so the students can do a fun project.

The people who are reading this probably had a good education. They probably had unending supplies and many teachers in junior high. They had other decent things that we can't. We are not having the same opportunity of education that you had, and it's not right.

All of my friends agree that maybe to save money in the budget, we could go to school for four days a week instead of five.

I have great respect for the school district, but they need to walk in our shoes for a couple days without supplies and without enough teachers. They need to walk in the educator's shoes with their tiny paychecks. Maybe that will change their minds.

Lindsey Lankford

La Grande

Was community consulted?

To the Editor:

I was very disappointed to see the photo in Wednesday's Observer that showed the dismantling of the roof at Community Stadium.

The pillars were a bit obnoxious to see through while watching football games, but we had some protection from the elements.

Since the name of the facility is "Community Stadium," I wonder who got consulted or what discussion was held outside a few folks at Eastern Oregon University?

I think attending EOU and La Grande High School football games now will be less appealing to many of us.

Curt Howell

La Grande

Dollars for a cure

To the Editor:

I raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the American Diabetes Association.

In a recent shamrock sale fund-raiser, a total of $4,318 was raised for MDA. Every dollar not only benefits those who are afflicted with one of the 40 types of Muscular Dystrophy, but helps researchers to find a cure.

Gary Hartsock

La Grande

Pain under guise of freedom

To the Editor:

Yes we are the "stupor power" of the world, bombing every country that thinks differently and has a leader our leaders hate.

We watch a melodrama on TV of two sickening wars that in the end will never bring peace to the world. There is a new generation of people who are rude and rage when they drive a car and seem to crave violence and have a complex.

Many men and women in the military do not sanction the war; they are just doing their jobs. But how sick can it be to inflict pain and killing on the Iraqi people under the guise of freedom? God won't bless us for it.

Our so-called riches will soon be all gone and every nation in the world will hate us. Most of them already do. Do we want that?

Letha Johns

La Grande

Reservations lost in cyberspace

To the Editor:

In February, I made some motel reservations in Meridian, Idaho, for two different groups. I called the 800 number, made the reservations for Feb. 28 and March 14, and secured the reservations with my credit card.

When we arrived at the motel, they had no record of my reservations for Feb. 28, but they did have my reservations for March 14.

The staff tried diligently to find our reservations. It was decided that the reservations were lost in cyberspace. They got us some very nice rooms at a very reasonable rate, and apologized many times for the mix up.

Two weeks later, I received my MasterCard statement with nearly $216 worth of motel charges from another motel in Meridian. I was very upset, but I knew that it was just a mistake that could be easily fixed with a few pleasant, polite phone calls explaining the situation.

The second motel made it very clear to me that this was my error and that they were unwilling to reverse any of the charges.

In hindsight there were many things that I could have done differently, but there were also things that could have done if they had cared to show mercy to an inexperienced, out-of-town traveler.

The hospitality industry may not want to help you, but I do. Do not give your credit card number out to motels; do not call 800 numbers to make reservations, but instead call the properties directly; and do check on your reservations before you leave home.

Please protect yourselves, or you could lose $216 to the hospitality industry.

Kimberly S. Kennicott

La Grande

Turn sights on island to south

To the Editor:

Gosh, since we are the great liberators, what about that tiny country of Cuba, only 90 miles to the south.

That nasty old dictator they have — old and young drowning in the sea almost every day while swimming to our shores — there must be some old weapons of mass destruction lying around.

Probably not enough oil for our present administration to worry about, but if we could get complete control of their tobacco it would mean more revenue — and those people would be free.

Roger Marin

La Grande

Levy best way to go

To the Editor:

I am a supporter of the Joseph School levy and am hoping that this letter will help more people understand the importance of voting yes when the ballots arrive about May 3.

Having a school in the community is of utmost importance. Business people are often asked to contribute to various school events but we also receive so much in return. Most often the parents and grandparents of the students to whom we donate shop in our stores. This reciprocal arrangement is not only monetary. It is an important part of the interdependency that makes up the fabric of a community.

Another aspect that is sometimes forgotten is that the school is a major employer. Joseph has lost several major employers in the past few years and can't afford to lose another. The people who work in the school make many local purchases that contribute to the stability of local businesses.

Some people feel that merging with Enterprise is the way to go. These folks may not have had the opportunity to examine the issue. For example, merging would add $1 million in property taxes over the next 10 years. It would also reduce the small school funding received from the state by over $800,000. If you want more details on how this works call Rich Graham at the school at 432-7311.

Our daughters graduated from Joseph High School. Joseph teachers are continuing the tradition of quality education. In fact, Joseph students' scores on state tests are significantly above the average. By passing this levy we can save programs, namely art, agriculture, music and full-time kindergarten. Without the levy, these programs will be abandoned or reduced to the point that they are barely effective. The levy is clearly the way to go. Vote yes when the ballots arrive.

Joel Svendsen


Patriotism not issue

To the Editor:

I listened for eight years to the daily bashing and criticizing of President Clinton, and do not recall ever reading a letter to the editor telling them to stop, or that they should support the president. Now I am being told almost daily that I should support and stand up for President Bush. The implication is that not to do so is unpatriotic. God forbid that I disagree with the president's policies and work to replace him in 2004. That makes me unpatriotic?

One letter writer said I should stand up for the president and shout, "God bless our president." During the Clinton years I often heard words shouted about Clinton that were far from a blessing, but I did not hear anyone implying that to do so was unpatriotic.

Since when, in America, is a person who has a different opinion labeled unpatriotic? In the America where I was born and the America that I love, people have the right to think whatever they want about President Bush. They have the right to support him or not support him. Just like when Clinton was president.

Lewis Currie

La Grande

Focus on essentials

To the Editor:

It is amazing to me that the Legislature in Oregon hasn't been able to figure out how to address the fact that Oregon is number one at the top of the list of western states with hungry people.

When Oregonians are losing school time and opportunity, losing medical assistance, losing homes and basic needs go unmet, it is amazing to me that the Legislature wasted time and got paid to repeal a life-saving law — requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets.


Mary Rose Nichols


Joseph schools in danger

To the Editor:

My purpose in writing this letter is to convey the effect local education has had upon myself.

I attribute the opportunities I have today and have had in the past in great part to the education I received at Joseph. I was able to attend a service academy, receive a college degree and currently serve in the Army as a result.

Most people can remember at least one teacher in their past who inspired, challenged or encouraged them to reach a goal.

I can look back to many such teachers in my life, and when I do I realize that my education was not quality solely because of what I learned academically.

These men and women had a profound and lasting influence upon my life in teaching other values such as hard work, discipline, initiative and a love for learning.

When I visit my younger siblings, who are currently in elementary, middle and high school, I realize that the same opportunities I had no longer exist or are in danger of being cut as a result of budget constraints.

It seems to me that now is the perfect opportunity to ensure that quality education remains at Joseph through passage of the Joseph School levy.

2nd Lt. William Baynes

Fort Lewis, Wash.

Let east vote separately

To the Editor:

In the April 24 article in The Observer about using dogs to hunt cougars, there was a quote from Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, stating that this is an emotional issue.

In her own way, she is 100 percent correct. The only problem is that she has no reality of what our emotions are here in Northeast Oregon. We fear for our children waiting for a school bus in the pre-dawn mornings, we fear for our pets, we fear for all our lives while we are enjoying the outdoors in any capacity.

Carolyn Tomei says we are all just trophy hunters wanting to hang a cougar skin on our walls. What we want is a tried and proven way to control cougar populations, which is hunting cougars with dogs.

What she states is true. There have been no documented cougar attacks on humans that resulted in death. Would she like to be responsible for the first ?

Our state is divided between east and west. Obviously the west controls the voting majority. What's wrong with having the east vote on the issues that involve us directly and leave the west out? I would like to see Carolyn and Gov. Ted Kulongoski dress up their children and send them out to a bus stop that has had numerous cougar tracks verified in the immediate area.

Johnny Arnold

La Grande