January 11, 2004 11:00 pm

Cash always country

To the Editor:

This past year, Johnny Cash died.

Present at Sun Records at the birth of rock 'n' roll, he covered songs from a wide range of music, but was always country.

If he could move easily from the sacred to the profane, few could doubt his devotion to the Carpenter of Nazareth.

His patriotism was not the "we're number one" type that is popular today, but a more questioning, searching kind. We need some of that.

He sang about the best and worst of America and left us knowing we live in a great country. Even at the height of his popularity (he had a network TV show in a day when there were only three networks), he never lost his respect for the working man.

If he was criticized for songs about violent, drug-abusing men, he never made it seem right and they would pay by the last verse.

His wife, June Carter Cash, also died this year. She was another of country's greats. Listen to a live version of "Jackson." If there is a better country duet, I have not heard it.

If your experience in country music is today's crop of young men with fine hats and indistinguishable voices, and young women whose success owes more to a bare midriff than talent, I'd suggest you buy a Johnny Cash CD. Turn off your local crossover station and let the singer take you to a world of train wrecks, cattle drives, hoboes, outlaws and a boy named Sue.

May Johnny and June Carter Cash rest in peace.

Patrick Kelly

La Grande

Bum's rush leads to move

To the Editor:

Allow me to take you on a tour of a small rental house near the high school.

It's raining today so watch your step as the porch roof leaks onto the sodden wooden deck. And yes that fading red paint on the porch is leaded so don't inhale too deeply. Welcome to my humble home.

No need to wipe your feet or remove your shoes. The 20-to-30-year-old carpet is terminally besmirched, not cleanable. That plop-plop noise you hear in the living room is just cold rain dripping into a cup on the floor.

And no, I don't have pets. The patter of little claws in the ceiling is rodents, ratty or squirrely. They don't help with the rent.

Don't trip over the linoleum as you enter the bathroom. Oh, that raining inside sound again, right over the tub. Must be the source of that dark, incurable mold on the ceiling.

How about the moldy dark caulking around the tub? And you almost missed the crumbling sheet rock where it meets the floor. I know, you have to hold down the toilet handle forever. The potty has seen better years. Yeah, it's a little shaky, no longer secure to the floor.

The kitchen is pretty bright and big. Just don't try to use the oven too much. That fallen top burner will broil you a steak in no time. That plop-plop noise again, this time right near my computer in the bedroom. Check out the bedroom window and see the strips of white leaded paint on the outside. Ends up inside when I open the window in the summer. Well, I hope you've enjoyed this tour of my former home of six years.

Yeah, I asked the landlord for some fixes and got the bum's rush instead. Anybody got a nice cave?

Michael Rosenbaum

La Grande

Learn from Keiko

To the Editor:

I am the animal communicator who since 1998 has tried to let people and the organizations responsible for Keiko know that he did not want to be set free. I devoted the last five years trying to avoid exactly what has happened!

I believe if Keiko's simple request had been honored he would be alive. All he asked for in his communications and through his obvious behavior was to be with people. Imagine how happy and content he would have been if people had been visiting and interacting with him. Many people have told me Keiko died of a broken heart. I agree.

Besides losing Keiko, what really bothers me is that the organizations responsible for Keiko are now trying to make it sound like this ordeal was a success.

According to media reports, Dave Phillips from the Free Willy Keiko Foundation said, "Keiko proved a lot of naysayers wrong. ... Keiko showed what is possible if these animals are just given the chance."

Naomi Rose from the Humane Society of the United States said, "Keiko showed us that it's possible to return an orca to the wild — he didn't swim off into the sunset, but for the last five years he thrived in his natural environment."

In my opinion, this was not a success! Not only did Keiko die, according to his communications with me and several others, he was sad, lonely and unhappy for most of the last five years of his life.

Whenever Keiko had the chance, including swimming from Iceland to Norway, he chose to be with people. Despite Keiko's obvious desire, his caretakers did everything possible to keep him from people. Please learn from Keiko's sacrifice so such a tragedy does not happen to another animal.

Bonnie Norton


Who watches BMTD?

To the Editor:

I read with interest the article in the Dec. 8 issue of The Observer on the Blue Mountain Translator District.

BMTD was portrayed as a business just doing its job, but according to a lawsuit filed against them, they are supposed to inspect a property to determine if the person is using their signal before issuing a letter.

How many people have heard of or seen BMTD inspecting their property? The answer is zero. When asked, they respond that they do not feel they have to do so because it is inconvenient and costs too much money. Wasn't that the same lame excuse UPRR used in the lawsuit to clean up the railroad yard?

BMTD claims you are at fault for not returning the letter and can fine you $100 on your taxes for breaking the law. How come so many people have to return their letters by registered mail with return receipt required? Because BMTD will claim never to have received it if you don't.

Who fines BMTD when they break the law? No one. It seems to be OK for them, besides they claim to be part of the government, and you can only sue a government agency if they give their permission. Yeah, right.

People living within the city limits are exempt from being assessed because it is assumed they have cable. But not everyone can afford cable, therefore their TV is free if they can receive the signal. Most people I know living in rural areas have a satellite dish, so why not just assume everyone in the rural district has a satellite dish and exempt them too?

I wonder how many of us could get away with these poor excuses as reasons for failure to do our jobs?

Lloyd D. Anthony


How about the cash?

To the Editor:

I am grateful to the kind soul who returned my mother's purse on Dec. 17.

It was so nice of them to find it at a local fast-food restaurant and to turn it into the post office. It was nice to get the purse back with the credit cards and the checkbook untouched, but how much better would have this deed been, if, indeed, the $131 in cash was still there.

Since you feel that you have the right to take what you did not earn, I hope you have a great holiday season, and I sure hope, even though you have done this very selfish act, that nothing like this happens to you during the holidays or at any other time.

I just wish you would have thought about someone else other than yourself on that day. Obviously you have no morals or sense.

I just want you to know that you stole from Christmas from a 7-year-old girl and a 20-month-old girl.

I hope you are pleased. I hope you have fun with the money that was not yours.

Happy Holidays!

April Haney


Letter published by others

To the Editor:

You've been duped, or at the very least, you've been shamelessly spammed.

A letter you printed on Dec. 2 by one "Kim Hester" of Saudi Arabia has been printed by no less than 23 other newspapers since mid-November. The letter was aged, musty and stale by the time The Observer printed it.

A very quick Internet search would have led you to this brief expos regarding the very same letter: http://blogs.salon.com /0002551/2003/12/04.html

In the future, I hope to see only fresh and original material in my favorite section of The Observer.

Susan Lindstedt

Homedale, Idaho

Chip scans effective

To the Editor:

The local veterinarian clinics, the animal control officer, the staff at the animal shelter and others have been watching for the two young dogs that disappeared from their kennels on Dec. 6. They are still out there somewhere.

The public should be made aware of a few facts. Because you find a stray animal does not mean that it is yours to take home as if you are the owner. The animal is probably part of somebody's family.

What makes you think that you can give it a better home? Do you know its medical background? What shots has it had? What ailment, diseases or sickness might it have? Do you have proof of ownership? This could prove to be embarrassing if you took the animal to a veterinarian, especially if the animal has a microchip implanted in it.

A simple scan of the animal can prove ownership — anywhere. The animal shelter can track the owner of a dog through the microchip. If you take a stray dog home, and it should happen to get away from you only to be picked up by the animal control officer, a chip scan would easily identify the owner.

The honorable and proper thing to do would be to help see that these animals are returned to their proper owners. To me, that would be easier than to live in fear of being in possession of property that does not belong to you.

Robert Jellum

La Grande

Neighbors lend hand

To the Editor:

How refreshing it is to know there are helpful neighbors who take seriously the holiday spirit all year long.

The Steve Fincher family, Jennifer, Chastity and friend, Brittany, saw me shoveling show and came over to dig me out.

They live by the golden rule and Christian principles.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if this spirit was contagious?

Dolores L. Roper

La Grande

Cut retirement benefits

To the Editor:

Lewis Currie's Dec. 18 letter stated that the Republican Party ought to consider going to another state to look for a village that doesn't have an idiot. I don't think Currie is that village idiot, just one misinformed individual.

Kevin Mannix's statement was correct. The state workers' salaries should be frozen. There is no inflation this year, and the Oregon State Employees make $9,000 a year more than the average worker living in this state.

This was reported on KGW TV on the 11 p.m. news Nov. 12. For a copy of the transcript, call 503-223-1677.

A year ago last summer this paper reported PERS, the state employees' retirement fund, lost billions when the stock market dropped, making the citizens of Oregon responsible for recouping this loss. Now the Dow Jones is above 10,000. This also, should stop the drain of millions of dollars in the state budget. I have a friend who just retired from the state at 125 percent of his working salary. Is this fair?

If the governor and legislators would enact cuts in retirement funds it would save millions and there would not have to be cuts in police, jails or other crucial areas. The state is responsible to its citizens to maintain its civil obligations.

Our governor and legislators want to raise our state taxes more than $800 million. That could be saved by cutting all the excess spending in PERS, freezing salaries of state employees and cutting retirement amounts to state retirees.

Most retirements are not set at an amount over what the employee made while working, they are paid less upon retirement. There is something wrong with a system that pays more for its employees to retire than to continue working.

John Petersen

La Grande

Misinformed on racing

To the Editor:

In response to the offensive comments about race fans adding an "undesirable element" to the community ... Umm Umm, excuse me!

Everyone has a right to express an opinion about this proposed racetrack. However, the Yoders made it personal by stereotyping all racing fans as an undesirable element.

I am offended that race fans have been judged by total strangers because of a love for a legal, family friendly sport. I don't hear them attacking rodeo, football or baseball fans (nor should they).

A misinformed person might think that we race up and down public roads with a beer in hand, spitting chew out the window and tearing up the streets.

Why not focus their time on drunk drivers and criminals who damage our society?

My children and I are avid racing fans! I am irritated at the willingness to publicly judge another. Nowhere is there a commandment that says, "Thou shall not race," nor does the Bible say that we can judge our neighbor because they race. (Jesus in Matthew 7 says "Judge not.")

Just what would make a race fan an "undesirable"? The majority of racing fans are law-abiding, hard-working community members, many of which are deeply rooted, faith-based church members.

Racetracks promote safer streets, safety in general, healthy competition, respect, positive rivalry, responsible behavior, good driving skills, economic growth and family entertainment.

Events are completed in compliance with all regulations. Tracks have strict guidelines and rules to abide by. They work hard to maintain a respectable, safe, alcohol-free, family-friendly environment.

Racing popularity has excelled in our community and will continue to do so.

Rule of thumb: Have all facts before engaging thy mouth to make public accusations and statements.

I'm proud to be part of a "Christian racing family."

Becky Thwreatt