December 21, 2003 11:00 pm

Citizens' trust betrayed

To the Editor:

To refute The Observer's sophomoric editorial disinformation on Dec. 2, it is not "case closed" in Union.

I am still concerned, as are most Union residents, about what appears to be a shameless vendetta by using a position of power against an employee for no other reason than vengeance.

I believe the self-serving city administrator, Bill Searles, had over a period of time been conducting an unethical persecution of our former police chief, Dean Muchow, who was the most professionally capable peace officer this town has ever had. Muchow is well-versed in safety procedures and city law and ordinances and always treated others fairly and respectfully.

In his campaign to destroy Muchow's career, I believe Searles used false allegations, vague hearsay and trivial complaints of Muchow's subordinates in an unsuccessful effort to gather sufficient cause to dismiss him. So instead, he actively promoted bias against Muchow by, in my opinion, violating Union's policies and procedures.

Muchow finally had to take sick leave to recover from the pressure-related stress which finally resulted in his resignation.

To accomplish this, it appears that Searles recruited Muchow's patrolmen to his cause, divided our city council and staff while ignoring the fact that early on, the city council had specifically instructed Searles to follow and obey the city's policies and procedures — which in itself is sufficient cause to order Searles' suspension and dismissal.

It is incumbent upon Union's citizens, who appreciate Dean Muchow's caring professionalism and honest character, to respond politically to the former chief being dry-gulched by "weasels turned loose in the hen house."

The council must understand that we the voting public will not stand still for what we perceive to be a callous betrayal of our trust.

Jim Bovard


Billing questioned

To the Editor:

Are the taxpayers of Baker and Union counties being billed illegally?

I question the legality of the Blue Mountain Translator District's authority to bill taxpayers a $100 service charge when a taxpayer cannot even receive the district's translator signal, or receives adequate regional television from another source — satellite TV.

Before billing taxpayers ORS 354.690 clearly states in section 3: "The district shall prepare a verified report which shall disclose that the property has been physically inspected and that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the property is intentionally receiving and using the signal."

According to Dennis Spence, chairman of the board for the Blue Mountain Translator District, they do not have enough qualified personnel to physically inspect each taxpayer's property. So this inspection is not done and a verified report not filled out. I believe Oregon state law is being violated and Baker and Union county taxpayers are being illegally billed.

I suggest that any taxpayers who think that they are being illegally billed should read this statute and make their own decision whether to seek legal assistance to get their tax money refunded.

You can get a copy of the statute at the public library in volume 8, pages 460 and 461 under the heading of "Education, Culture, TV, Radio Translator Districts."

Contact the Blue Mountain Translator District at P.O. Box 901, La Grande, or call 800-886-7169 or 963-7347.

Raymond Green

Baker City

Using toys of power

To the Editor:

Take care, you merchants of death and destruction, so eager to attack today's chosen Axis of Evil.

Remember that yesterday's axes of evil now fill our homes and garages with what has become our daily necessities of life.

Those all-too-familiar merchants of conflict are incapable of speech unless accompanied by closed fists and minds. They are always anxious to wield their latest toys of power and total devastation.

Forever hailed by those patriots of the prevailing politics who eagerly await orders for their highly profitable wares of war are those who shamelessly grow fat on the sacrifices of others. One day peace will reign and sweep away the countless gutters filled with nameless body parts and cleanse the puddles awash with the patriotic blood from so many of the world's innocent inhabitants.

Only then will the bells of freedom from tyranny once again ring out loud and clear over fertile fields and peaceful valleys. Only then will newfound friends the world over hold hands that embrace kindred hearts and souls, and humbly echo the sacred songs of peace on earth, together with "Merry Christmas."

William F. Dougherty


Towns have charm

To the Editor:

David Arnott in his Nov. 26 letter mentioned my name twice. I would like to respond.

Mr. Arnott seems to completely miss the point of my Nov. 5 letter. Of course people don't drive here just to shop in a small store. But they do come here to visit small towns with their main streets and quaint little shops.

They love the small-town charm here. Yes, they have small stores in large cities everywhere. But it's not even close to the same thing. You can't compare them like that. Baker City and Joseph are examples, like La Grande, attractive for their charm and historic beauty.

My letter made two points: first, how a Wal-Mart superstore could impact our community. A superstore could have a very negative effect on the downtown and surrounding area. That's real risky.

Second, we could destroy the very thing that attracts people here in the first place. Whether you are for or against the store, the health and image of Adams Avenue affects everyone, including Island City.

All the other places he mentioned to visit are also small businesses that depend on tourist dollars to survive. Hunters also add to those dollars. These nearby towns plan and guard their development very carefully, and so should we.

They know what they have, and they want to keep it. The attraction is main streets, small stores, museums, bronze foundries, train rides, art galleries, wildlife, whatever.

It's all connected in this whole area. It's the history, charm, and scenery these things offer that's so very important to protect. Let's embrace that, not another chain store.

Happy holidays.

Michael Brosseau


Harassment policy

To the Editor:

An iron curtain has fallen around the City of Union. Our comrades on the city council have issued a Citizen's Action Form.

In short, City Hall wants its citizens to report violations of its codes and ordinances in writing. We are to inform on each other if we see or think we see a code violation.

As it stands, City Hall wants us to act as their eyes and inform on our neighbors. It seems to me that this is the job of our public works employees. They are out and about every day.

Once a citizen reports such an infraction, who enforces it? Not our inept police department. Maybe City Hall itself. Who?

Where will it stop? We are talking about infractions, not crimes. We all should report crimes. The Citizen's Action Form is just a policy that allows citizens to harass each other.

Gerald L. Dudley


ODS studied project

To the Editor:

I appreciated the article on the ODS/La Grande Public Library that ran in the Dec. 9 Observer, but I would like to clarify some points.

It was ODS that first approached the city and Eastern Oregon University about the possibility of a dental hygiene school in downtown La Grande.

They undertook a very thorough analysis of the project and, in the end, determined that such a project would be successful. As a result, about a month ago, the ODS Board of Directors gave final approval to proceed with the project.

If the city council gives final approval at its January meeting, the city will then need to raise $750,000, mostly through grant-writing, to help with this project. I believe we can reach that goal.

Finally, as the article makes clear, the La Grande Public Library is also part of this project.

A separate fundraising campaign may also be undertaken to help with enhancing that community facility.

Colleen F. Johnson, mayor

City of La Grande

Rushed to move cars

To the Editor:

La Grande merchants want us to shop in downtown La Grande, but parking presents a real problem.

1. There are no disability parking places in the downtown area.

2. Courtesy permits for special occasions, visitors or business discretion are not available.

The ladies of our Nile Club met at the La Grande Masonic Hall for a rushed Christmas party. It was rushed because we were so conscious of the two-hour parking limitation. After the party, it would have been natural for a bunch of us to pop into Good Things for a special Christmas purchase or hit the sale at Penney's, but we were in a rush to move our cars.

We're sure we look quite fetching in our capes and rollers dashing out from the beauty college to move our cars in the middle of a perm, for fear of being caught by the parking gestapo. The city no longer allows the beauty college permission to hand out temporary parking stickers.

3. If one shops more than two hours, one will most likely get a ticket. Let's face it — at retirement age shopping is more leisurely than it used to be and the two-hour limit just isn't for us.

Yes, we can get tickets reduced, but one must drive in to La Grande from Cove, Union, Elgin, etc. — it's hardly worth the effort.

This is why, if we live in Cove, Union or Elgin, we shop at home first.

Then, for expanded shopping, Bi-Mart, Wal-Mart and the mall are attractive to us because of the parking. Or we save up our shopping items until we leave the Grande Ronde Valley — go east, go west, hit the malls, where parking is not a problem.

La Grande merchants need to understand there is a problem and have the opportunity to do something about it.

Donna Patterson, Union Jerry Lou Gerber, La Grande Doris Rhodes, Summerville Sharon Vermillion, Island City Barbara Endicott, Cove