December 28, 2003 11:00 pm

Many people show support

To the Editor:

A couple weeks ago I had a long fall at Phillips Reservoir.

I had made a bad decision to climb up the back side of the dam where the spillway is.

Well I'm 44 years old, and trying to act like a teenager ended up with my right foot being detached; it could have cost my life. I owe the quick response of the Baker City and Sumpter fire and rescue. I'm also grateful to the Life Flight nurse who comforted me on my way to Boise.

In Boise, an orthopedic doctor reattached my foot and the staff doctors all did a great job saving my life.

Then there were all the friends who drove all the way to Boise to spend 15 minutes by my side to show they cared and all the people in the community who stopped my brother just to ask how I was doing.

In giving thanks, all I can do is start with God and then work my way through the rest.

Pat McDonald

La Grande

Show patriotism between wars

To the Editor:

I am sorry that I created a misunderstanding with Mad Max in his letter to The Observer Dec. 5 about my relationship to our flag.

As a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout I learned to fold the American flag properly as we took it down from the only flagpole where it flew over our camp each day. I had respect for that flag and still do.

Recently, however, I questioned why there was such a huge blossoming of flags when we went to war. I was told that it was an expression of patriotism.

I would like to see more patriotism expressed between wars.

I would like to see more of our citizens vote in elections and study what they are voting about. I would like to hear less complaining about paying taxes and more help on budget committees to decide where to spend the money.

I would like to see better attendance at school board and city council meetings. There are so many ways we can be more patriotic than just waving a flag, but they take time and effort. It doesn't take much effort to fasten a flag to your car.

In answer to Mad Max Steven Fund's question, "Whose flag would you rather use?" I will say that we fly a world flag at our house. Its message is that we are brothers the world over and that we must learn to listen to each other. There will always be problems but we don't need to solve them by fighting.

I belong to Educators for Social Responsibility and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, two organizations dedicated to peaceful problem-solving. I also subscribe to the principles of the Earth Charter, a world-wide document that deals with values and principles for a sustainable future.

Bill Oberteuffer

Island City

Stop waste of game

To the Editor:

This is in answer to the letter in the Oct. 20 Observer from a Wallowa resident stating that Indians are not abusing hunting rights.

The following is taken directly from Chapter 5, Section 34 of the Fish and Wildlife Code:

(a) No person shall needlessly waste, after killing or wounding any wildlife or so mutilate any wildlife that its species sex or size cannot be determined.

(b) Waste includes the deterioration of the fur pelts, or of those portions of wildlife normally utilized for human consumption, to the point where it is no longer fit for such use.

If they are people "of great integrity and honor," then why are they allowed trophy hunting and wasting game? When one family last year killed over 46 animals, this is no longer for subsistence. And when asked why, they responded "because we can."

No one is trying to take away Indians' fishing and hunting rights, just trying to stop the waste of game before we have no game left.

If they can take 51 percent of our wildlife, then how long will it be before there will be no game left? Why can't the Indians control their hunt numbers and abide by the wording of the treaty?

The hunting rights reserved in the treaty were: "the privilege to hunt in common with the citizens of United States on unclaimed lands through the ceded territories and in usual and accustomed areas."

Today this allows members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation enrolled under sections A and B to exercise their rights on public lands where hunting is permitted.

They may not trespass on private lands and they are subject to seasons and bag restrictions imposed by their wildlife committee which in reality means no restrictions at all.

Glenda Christian


Keiko isolated from fans

To the Editor:

Word from the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation is, "With little warning, Keiko beached himself and died in the early evening local time."

So far, everyone who has contacted me has said they believe Keiko died of a broken heart. I agree. He was not living the life he wanted — interacting with people.

Last summer thousands of people visited Keiko. Because of this, Keiko's keepers posted a 24-hour guard and put up orange ropes with "no access" signs along the shore in an effort to break the connection between Keiko and his human admirers.

During this time, reports from fans visiting Keiko included, "He was floating in shallow water next to a small boat that was tied to a very short pier. We observed Keiko for about 45 minutes. He barely moved during that time. It was a very depressing sight. He looked very lonely." Another said, Keiko "was just lying next to the boat ... and he just swam around a little. ..."

Keiko believed his purpose was to open people's hearts and to teach them about love and loving animals. He did an amazing job and touched the hearts of millions.

Please let our loss of Keiko be a lesson to listen to the animals as individuals and honor what they want — not what we think they should want.

For Keiko's complete story, please link to www.animalmessenger.com/petition.htm.

Signing his petition is still important as I will send the signatures and comments to The Free Willy Keiko Foundation and The Humane Society of the United States. Hopefully, they will be more willing to listen to the animals in the future.

My thanks to everyone who supported Keiko over the past several years.

Bonnie Norton


Retail needs spaces

To the Editor:

This is in response to the Dec. 13 letter from Donna Patterson and the other ladies from the outlying communities of the Grande Ronde Valley who were complaining about the parking situation in downtown La Grande.

I own a downtown business, Cyclesports on Depot Street, and I would gladly support an extended time limit for parking in the downtown core area if my business neighbors would not abuse that privilege.

From my front counter, I can see 10 parking spaces. At almost any time on any given day as many as nine of those spaces will be taken by business owners and/or their employees.

If it weren't so sad it would be almost comical watching them play the parking game trying to outsmart the parking enforcement lady.

They watch to see when she comes around and puts the chalk mark on their tires. They then time it so they can shuffle their cars into different parking spaces before she comes back two hours later and writes them a ticket.

Those of us in retail depend on walk-in customers. It's just plain stupid to take up all the parking that a potential customer might have been able to use, especially when the city provides permitted parking a block away.

A new parking offender has surfaced. Many financial businesses have fairly recently taken over former retail locations.

These businesses don't rely on walk-in customers and some of them just plain do not care if they take up most of the parking spots that their retail neighbors so desperately need.

So, to Donna and friends, I would gladly support anything that would make it easier and more convenient for you to shop downtown, but for it to work all downtown businesses would need to get behind it and do their part.

Mark Larson

La Grande

Mechanic stays at it

To the Editor:

In this age of cynicism, when it seems popular to grouse about everything, I wanted to share a positive experience.

I took my car in to Joe. My Mazda appeared to have a relatively normal problem, so Joe replaced the timing belt.

I got the car back and it worked fine as long as the weather was warm. When it got cold, the car would not start in the morning.

I took it back. He worked on it. It warmed up. The car was fine. It got cold. The car wouldn't start. I started getting hot. I even yelled at Joe.

He handled my temper professionally and courteously. He kept at it. It turned out to be a very weird problem. It needed shims. Joe made his own.

He got killed, time-wise, on my car, but would not quit until he fixed the problem. I did not get charged for the extra time.

I do not give the name of the shop, because I am not plugging anything. I just wanted to write and say that I am constantly reassured that there are many conscientious, honorable people in La Grande.

Tony Blake

La Grande

Burden dumped on teachers

To the Editor:

Well, Kevin Mannix has done it again.

He came up with the brilliant idea to balance the state budget using the paychecks of teachers and state workers instead of a surtax on everyone.

What a way to go, Mr. Mannix. I thought all along you were against more taxes period, while all the time you just wanted to dump the extra tax burden on our overworked school teachers and state workers.

Or don't you understand, that by freezing the pay and bonuses for teachers and state workers you are in essence making them pay the taxes to balance the budget?

I guess it is all right with you to force our employees to pay more taxes. After all they make too much money and at the same time it lets you and your selfish buddies off the hook. Is that it?

In my view, all citizens of the state should help support our educational system and other necessary services.

It is really hard for me to believe how low the Republican leadership of this state can stoop.

Maybe you ought to consider going to another state and look for a village that doesn't have an idiot.

Lewis Currie

La Grande

Spirit of giving alive in Elgin

To the Editor:

The Elgin Christmas Light Parade is sponsored by the Elgin Lions Club. It is done as a community service, not as a money maker, so no entry fee is charged.

This year's parade was the biggest in 11 years. It would not have been possible without all the work done by the Lions or without the support of the area businesses contributing to the advertising and the prizes of $250, $150 and $100.

The parade was outstanding, but something even better happened afterward.

The first-place winner gave half their prize money to the Lions to spend on eye care for people in our area. The second place winners are giving their prize money to an organization for Christmas presents for children.

A happy and blessed Christmas to you all.

Maureen Smolkowski, president

Elgin Lions Club

Motorized wheelchair needed

To the Editor:

Her name is Deborah. Some of you may have seen her riding through the streets of

La Grande on a motorized wheelchair.

Those days are now gone for Deborah. She has been hit twice by different drivers. She survived with few injuries. However, her wheelchair did not make it. She is ineligible for a replacement through the state until 2005.

Deborah is stricken with MS, diabetes, kidney failure and seizures and is on an all-liquid diet. Her condition is so serious that doctors in the valley cannot help her. She must travel to Portland for medical attention.

In order for her to live her life, she desperately needs to have another motorized wheelchair. She is now totally stranded.

Is there anyone out there who has a chair that is no longer being used or could contribute toward the purchase of another chair? Your help would be such a blessing. Please call 962-7231 or 963-8121.

You would be giving Deborah her legs back and her independence and her very life.

God bless, and thank you.

Cindy Greer

La Grande

Fans' conduct deplorable

To the Editor:

On Tuesday I came to your city to watch the non-league Hermiston-La Grande basketball games.

I was appalled at the rude, disrespectful, even dangerous behavior of the La Grande student body. Not only did they boo the officials and the Hermiston team throughout the game, but they chanted, as a group, phrases and words which would not be printable in your paper.

Obscenities were shouted at our players whenever they were close to the La Grande student section and, at times, objects (coins, broken pencils, etc) were thrown at the Hermiston players on the court. Why the officials didn't stop the game at that point is a mystery.

Even elementary-school-age children were waiting outside the locker room, booing and making gestures at the team as they exited the locker room.

The final insult was when one of Hermiston's players was injured and the La Grande students literally cheered. This was one of the worst displays of poor sportsmanship I have seen in many years of attending high school sporting events.

It is amazing to me that no staff members stepped in to put a stop to it. The announcer made several appeals over the public address system to show some sportsmanship, but was ignored. I was not too surprised to hear some adults in the stands who were not much more sportsmanlike than the students. The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, I suspect.

Is this really the impression you want to give to those who visit your city? I dare say not.

I would hope that some parents and staff members would step up to take responsibility for teaching the difference between being an enthusiastic fan and being rude and offensive. And certainly the school administration should be enforcing some rules of sportsmanship.

Education should not stop when the student leaves the classroom.

Ginger L. Linkel


Use local contractors

To the Editor:

Will history repeat itself?

Let's hope the city will not make the same mistake that others have. I would hope that they will use local contractors to build the new library-ODS complex.

That would be money that would all be kept right here in La Grande. We have plenty of comparable contractors to choose from.

Pat McDonald

La Grande

Pushed into disaster

To the Editor:

Now that Saddam Hussein has been captured, we have the perfect moment to reflect on how such a man took control over so many people. One obvious piece was to consolidate wealth into the hands of a few. He could then coerce, intimidate or bribe many more into following him, and ultimately dominate the majority.

This has a parallel here in our own country where a greedy administration has pushed us into economic disaster and bullied the world into accepting our way or the highway.

Add to that a willingness to send our youngest and most innocent citizens to sacrifice their lives, physical and mental health and precious time for a cause that primarily benefits a small, insular group of rich Americans.

Another piece of the picture is to regard all foreigners and even your own poorest citizens as subhuman. Thus America ignores the count of Iraqi casualties, homeless and orphaned and maimed. America also ignores Afghan, Vietnamese and all peoples who are "other," who still suffer from our wanton war-mongering around the globe.

This administration has already included most of America's poor — and the intellectuals who protest this war — as "other," and created a sneering, bullying type of patriotism that spits in the face of true democracy.

One voice of reason has been that of Molly Ivins. Her column states the facts for those of us too busy or prone to forget. Her constant theme is the dangerous rip-off of wealth by the powerful minority in control of our economy. Bush's loyalists have an eerie resemblance to those of Saddam Hussein when they try to silence her.

I have a message for them: Molly Ivins sounds mild compared to what many of us are thinking and saying here in this free country.

Mary Cook


Give us full column

To the Editor:

I'm unaware of what rules apply to a newspaper that prints a well-known writer's column that it obtained through syndication.

I do know that when The Observer cut several paragraphs from Molly Ivins and edited some of it on Dec. 17, folks there obviously didn't realize The Oregonian would print the same column on that same morning.

Many of us who like Ivins and what she likes to say, as she has written it, put up with ultra- conservative or neo-conservative columnists The Observer often prints. We've been happy to see that our local paper realizes that not all of its readers are monolithic in attitudes by occasionally using Ivins and hope that it keeps doing so.

We cannot count on The Oregonian printing the same column on the same day The Observer does. How about giving us what a columnist writes rather than editing it to your version?

La Nita Anderson

La Grande