August 03, 2003 11:00 pm

Quota not so wonderful

To the Editor:

In response to the July 11 letter from D. Dominguez, pretend you are a young person from Mississippi, one of the nation's poorest states.

You are white and living in poverty so bad that you have no running water, no indoor plumbing, which is not that uncommon in many American towns.

You have struggled all your life and tried to do well in school. Despite your disadvantages, you make good grades and hope against hope that you will be able to attend college. You take all the tests and score very well, but you find out that someone else took your spot, someone of color. This is because the school you applied to has a legally acceptable quota system.

The laws in place now are there for the benefit of the school, not the less fortunate as Dominguez seems to think. It is a fact that many colleges are afforded special government monetary incentives for recruiting more minorities. The school in question has admitted that they continue this practice so the school will be "diverse."

Diversity is a wonderful thing, don't get me wrong, but a quota system is not, and that is exactly what this is, it is prejudice in reverse.

As for the premise that because you are poor, or from a Third World country you do not have the same advantages as everyone else, you need to take a look around. Schools offer computer access to all students. Art museums, science fairs and sound advice are all readily available to anyone willing to partake.

We as a country go out of our way to accommodate less fortunate, non-English-speaking disadvantaged people, and I hope that continues. But the playing field is getting a little lopsided again. Being politically correct is no excuse for any kind of discrimination.

Rebecca Lester

La Grande

Don't rush to adjourn

To the Editor:

Thirty-four state representatives and 15 state senators have pledged to vote no on adjournment of the 2003 Oregon legislative session until a long-term solution to school funding is passed by the Legislature.

During the next few weeks there will be considerable pressure to balance the state budget and go home.

Going home without a long-term funding solution for our schools is not acceptable.

The public will support those legislators who have made the pledge. Oregonians are frustrated and want an end to the two-year cycle of legislators cutting services and borrowing funds in order to balance the state budget.

The budgets, in the end, fail to meet the needs and expectations of Oregonians. This is especially true when it comes to funding education.

The credibility and support of Oregon's legislative process will continue to deteriorate if the 2003 Legislature fails to answer the need for adequate long-term, stable funding for schools.

Oregon's tax system was not designed to generate general fund revenue to pay 70 percent of the cost of K-12 schools. This is, however, the reality we live with due to the impact of Ballot Measure 5, passed by the voters in 1990. The measure put a cap on local property tax rates.

The OSEA, which represents 20,000 school secretaries, custodians, bus drivers and other education support professionals and certified staff in Oregon, strongly believes the public is ready to hear the truth about the inadequacy of the state's general fund and will embrace solutions that fully address the issue.

As pressure mounts to end the session, pledge signers must fill the hall of the Capitol with the clear and consistent message: "No solution, no adjournment."

Ed Edwards,

director of government relations

Oregon School Employees Assn.


EOU might finally understand

To the Editor:

The Observer's July 8 analysis of the Eastern Oregon University food-service controversy was superficial, erroneous, and misleading. No one is painting the university snobbish. No one is surprised that the university faculty buys flowers and eats out at local restaurants.

The fact is that unless the university revamps its exclusionary review methods for awarding food contracts, this contract will never be awarded to a local or even a statewide Oregon-based bidder. The assumption that a list of university clients is the only indicator of ability is invalid.

The CEO of Grande Cuisine was already performing the duties necessary to fulfill the contract. That is a fact.

If The Observer chooses to paint supporters of local commerce and Grande Cuisine as part of some "vast chicken wing conspiracy" out to smear the university with barbecue sauce, so be it, but it is wrong again. Citizens must speak out when changes in public administration policy are necessary.

The Observer's opinion is naive. Its suggested solution "to get experience in high school food service" will not satisfy the university requirement as it is now written. We already had built an elementary food service program from scratch in a Beaverton school. That experience was disregarded.

This is not about experience or ability, it is about the university's incomplete evaluation method. A provision for experience other than "university experience" must be included in the process.

This issue is not about personalities, it is about process. Even universities must be able to learn from their mistakes. The Observer should better understand the specifics of the issue and refrain from sophomoric accusations.

This contract will not be rebid for five to seven years. It is a lost opportunity.

Maybe in the year 2010, EOU will understand that local is better.

Rich Zinzer


Care home unsatisfactory

To the Editor:

My husband, David, went to a local nursing home in September and stayed until recently. On the second day of his stay I found him lying on the floor. He had fallen out of his wheelchair.

My sons and I did a lot of his care ourselves, changing his sheets, lifting him, brushing his teeth and hair, helping him wash. The residents were allowed only two showers a week no matter what happened to them. The smell of urine and feces lingered.

The food was terrible. How can anyone expect the elderly to eat hamburgers, hotdogs and fries for dinner?

I had many complaints and the home made many promises. I went to Senior Services twice and they investigated, but never enough to get anything done.

Oregon law says that nursing homes need one CNA for every 10 residents on the day shift, one for 15 residents in the afternoon, and one for 25 on the night shift. That law has to change if we want good care.

I cared for David for 22 years, with MS, a ruptured bowel, prostate cancer, a broken hip and a pacemaker. Putting him in a nursing home was the biggest mistake I made, but with a ruptured disk in my back we didn't have a choice.

On June 2, I called 911. In the emergency room he was found to have pneumonia and a urinary tract infection. I took him home on June 6. It took the local pharmacy four days to get his medication straightened out.

I know we need nursing homes but we need quality care. According to an article in the Sept. 30 issue of U.S. News and World Report, $92 billion was spent on nursing homes in 2001. We need to be concerned about how that money is being spent.

Betty J. Walker

La Grande

Home support appreciated

To the Editor:

I am an active-duty soldier in the United States Army currently serving in Baghdad, Iraq.

I have been here for a few months serving my country.

My family has been sending The Observer so I know what is going on at home. Things are still the same as when I was last home except for one thing.

The support for the military men and women around the area has skyrocketed for the better.

I would like to say "thank you" for your prayers and thoughts in this time of conflict.

I know I speak for everyone in the Armed Forces. It means a lot to us knowing that our communities support us.

Spc. Anthony Bingham

4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery

Youth groups come through

To the Editor:

In the daily news we read so much of troubled youth and the scenarios that develop from lives focused on destruction rather than building.

We are blessed to live in a community that invests in the lives of our youth through church life, education, sports and civic organizations.

As recipients of the honorable endeavors of youth groups, we are grateful to the National Honor Society of Imbler High School and the Faith in Action youth of the Presbyterian Church.The generous donations of money have enabled Neighbor to Neighbor to minister to many community residents who might otherwise have had to do without necessities or services.

The results of the giving spirits of these youth groups bring tribute to the reputation of our valley's youth population. We congratulate these wonderful ladies and gentlemen for their hard work and diligence, and appreciate their donations.

Wanita Butcher and the board of Neighbor to Neighbor Ministries

La Grande