February 29, 2004 11:00 pm

40 years and still waiting

To the Editor:

I was in my 20s right after the war when we came to Oregon in 1945, and I was in my 40s when we moved to La Grande.

It wasn't long after arriving before we inquired if the city had a library.

Virginia and I found the beautiful building, small and lacking in books for the size of the community, therefore we got cards from the college library.

Remember I was in my 40s when we came. I am now knee-deep in my 80s and there is still much too much talk of a new library.

That subject is worn so thin it's falling apart. I had heard talk was cheap and it must be, because 40 years of talking has netted little if anything. It was my understanding that at one time the city had nearly all the money needed for a new library, but of course that was before the city started speculating in property.

If it takes another 40 years for the library to materialize my great-grandchildren will be in their 40s and I will be in my 100s. And if I live to see the finished library — I wonder if I'll know what I'm seeing.

O.B. Hayden

La Grande

God's instructions are clear

To the Editor:

A letter to The Observer was written by several members of the local Methodist Church, supporting the continuing ministry of a homosexual as pastor of a church. My first response was, Oh well, what's the use in saying anything, but my Bible reading this month is in the book of Jeremiah, and he foretells what will happen to God's people and nations founded on His principles if they do not abide by His laws.

Jeremiah describes what it is like to live through the terrible demise of hundreds of thousands of people who refused, blatantly, to obey God's admonitions to abandon their corrupt lifestyles. In the next book, Lamentations, Jeremiah writes with a broken heart of the terrible judgments that had come to pass. This is the same God whose principals the Methodist church was founded on by John and Calvin Wesley, and propagated by the circuit-riding preachers of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The definition of the word "church" is the individuals who make up the body of believers in Jesus Christ as their savior, not a building where they meet. Many members of many denominations who have not followed the dictates of the Bible have become members of God's church, but have denied the ordinances God has ordained.

These people have become traitors to the very person they profess to represent. To claim ignorance is not an excuse. God's instructions and commandments are in his word, the Holy Bible.

John Petersen

La Grande

Fourth Amendment?

To the Editor:

Some recent national news has me wondering what happened to the Fourth amendment to the constitution?

The right to be "secure in our homes" has been eroded since 1984 under well-intended laws allowing for property to be searched and seized when criminal activity on said property has been alleged.

The intent was to give law enforcement a means to recoup the costs incurred in the interdiction of drugs. Since 1984 there have been over 100 other federal criminal offenses added to the drug laws which allow for seizure of private property. Local and state jurisdictions have also added their pet projects to the list.

The intent may have been the best but serving that intent depends on all people in law enforcement being of sterling character.

The abuse that has already occurred under these laws is both unforgivable and alarming. One serious result is that the Patriot Act now draws the suspicion generated by the misapplication of those laws.

Those laws have failed in their intent and have made a large share of the populace justifiably suspicious of other temporary, well-intended rules that may be needed for national security.

For many years I have unsuccessfully petitioned my congressmen and senators regarding how laws are written and have insisted that the writing should be such that both the intent and how to accomplish this intent be explained in one simple paragraph instead of requiring a full volume of legalese.

Without simple clarity in the composition, laws can be easily misinterpreted and wrongly enforced. High sounding, flowery phrases may look nice on paper and provide an impression that much work has been put into their construction, but unneeded or ambiguous language can allow for enforcement that satisfies some part of the letter of such laws without coming anywhere near to satisfying the intent.

Officers in the field should not need to carry and read the latest dictionary in both Latin and English in order to understand and serve the intent of any laws on the books, whether they be federal, state or local.

Gary Poole


Credit rating impacts rates

To the Editor:

While recently shopping for auto insurance I became aware of something we should all be made aware of. All insurance rates are based on your credit status, not driving or anything relating to the policy being purchased.

This method of determining premiums discriminates against low- and middle-income Oregonians who have low credit or bad credit. It also discriminates against the young driver who has yet to establish credit. Does this make sense?

According to the State Insurance Protection Commission (888-877-4894), our Legislature has approved this several years in a row and most folks are completely unaware of it.

Call the commission and your legislator. Tell them this practice is discriminatory and wrong. Auto insurance should be based on one's driving, not credit rating. The state should never be allowed to take advantage of the poor or the young to add to insurance company coffers. This is unfair and needs attention.

Denise Freeman


One bad apple ...

To the Editor:

My family and I visited La Grande recently for EOU's Preview Day. We had a wonderful time. Everyone we met was so generous, very warm and kind. You all made us feel welcome and right at home.

Unfortunately, our perfect weekend was overshadowed by a tumultuous stay at a local motel whose desk clerk's social and customer service skills were less than desirable. We ended up having the local police department come out to help sort out our complaints which the desk clerk met with loud words and harsh undertones.

It is unfair to a town so rich in community and welcoming to visitors to be tainted by one rude individual. I felt it was my duty to inform the community of this incident and hopefully it will be addressed so that what happened to us will not repeat itself.

Diana Gil-Osorio

Whidbey Island, Wash.

City not identifying need

To the Editor:

The City of La Grande has slated for approval an ambitious amendment to its comprehensive plan. City staff claims an immediate need for 18.8 acres of commercial land within the urban growth boundary. They posit a need for over 200 more acres of commercial and light industrial land by 2020.

However, no need is identified; rather, their projections for population growth and an assumed proportional growth in number of employees mandates a need for more acres in order that the calculated number of acres of commercial land per employee should equal that of typical nationwide averages.

Although no need for land is identified, it happens that Wal-Mart has recently requested that the City add 18.2 acres of commercial land to its UGB to accommodate a new supercenter. The city staff's logic is circular, specious and flawed. The projections are unproven and their calculations are of questionable accuracy; yet if approved, development will proceed and Wal-Mart will build a supercenter with no further public discussion.

I object to the Wal-Mart expansion on grounds of social conscience and concerns that this will adversely affect the health of this community economically and in other ways, but that is not my point. This can be a divisive and bitter issue for a community; but if the city abides by its stated goal to ensure involvement of the public in its land use decisions, then it could be an opportunity to clarify our vision for the future. What constitutes a healthy, comfortable and sustainable community for our children, our elders and ourselves?

Civic and spiritual leaders of our community should be involved in an open process and it should not be left to a handful of politicians inside one building.

Whatever your politics or hopes for this town, call City Hall or the crossroad is passed and the future is sealed by limited vision.

Richard Minogue

La Grande

No lack of taxation in Oregon

To the Editor:

In response to Ted Kramer's column on Feb. 6, "Oregon my Oregon, I hardly know ye,'' I have to say that your analysis is wrong.

There is no lack of taxation in Oregon.

We pay $24 in taxes for every 100 gallons of gas we buy. We pay state income tax between 5 percent and 9 percent, various state, county and city fees and property tax on top of that.

Then there all the federal taxes and fees we pay.

With all the taxes and fees added up over a year it comes to somewhere around 40 percent of every dollar we work for.

You espouse the virtues of being "mavericks and finding our own way, of taking care of our own,'' and then call people selfish and anti-government for not wanting to pay more money to the Nanny State. If everyone who voted for the tax increase would immediately go down to the local food bank or church of their choice and empty their pockets the "hunger" problem in Oregon would be eliminated.

Remember that when you went to a nice school and the roads were pothole free, was most likely in the pre-spotted owl days. Hard working members of the now dreaded timber and agricultural industries built this state up over the past 150 years and now we are paying the price for our lack of support for those "mavericks.''

The Oregon of your childhood was robbed of you, not by selfish, anti-government types but by radical environmentalists and tax eaters.

Dan Fiorito


Tax unfair on several fronts

To the Editor:

I read with interest Ted Kramer's article "Oregon my Oregon.'' I have been an Oregonian most of my life. In fact I was born in a little house on Fourth Street in La Grande and I am very proud of my state, but for Mr. Kramer to infer that I am selfish, anti-government and unwilling to support my fellow man because I vote no on the tax increase is outrageous.

I could point out that it was an unfair tax not only with a higher income tax, but the property owner would have been hit with a loss of the early discount by paying his property tax on time; or to mention the bad economy; or that a lot of people feel that some of our public servants have a habit of wasting our tax dollars; or other numerous selfish reasons, but I won't.

My suggestion is for Mr. Kramer and others who voted for the tax increase to take the initiative and donate your proposed tax increase to the state, or do you have to have a law requiring you to be unselfish or unwilling to support you fellow man?

George W. Blanton


Glad to see Measure 30 fail

To the Editor:

After being lambasted by LaNita Anderson in her Feb. 2 response to my letter of Jan. 28 in The Observer, I was happy to see the front page headline "Oregonians: No More Taxes!"

Now I should like to ask what part of "no" don't the big spenders and beneficiaries of public tax money not understand?

The body of Measure 30 had not yet been buried before the headline "Tax reform movement on hold after Tuesday's vote" appeared. What does it take to get a politicians' attention? An area TV news broadcast advised that if Measure 30 did not pass the state's crime lab would have to lay off 50 percent of its staff.

Since Measure 30 did not pass they said no one would be laid off because they had suddenly discovered enough money, and service would not be affected. I am sure that other public enterprises will stay in business also. Measure 30 should not be on hold. It should be buried.

Is it not sob-sister non-truthful stories of devastation put out by people who get their income from the tax dollar that are slashing our faith in government?

David S. Arnott


Keeping sidewalks safe

To the Editor:

I wanted to publicly acknowledge three people from the hospital for working so hard at keeping our parking lots and sidewalks clear during all this winter hoopla we have had! Dave, Allan and Bob have been great.

I arrive to work at 4:30 a.m. and Dave is there plowing the lots. By break time Allan and Bob are there to clear the walks and lots so that we can all walk safely to and from.

These guys do a a great job!

Cindie Rollins

La Grande

What price for life?

To the Editor:

My name is Kevin Kennedy and I have been a quadriplegic for 25 years. My sister, Vivian Brandenburg, helps my 76-year-old mother care for me. I read your story on Christa Riggle. My heart broke. Vivian also lost her prescription coverage. She has hepatitis-C from an unscanned blood transfusion in 1990. She can't get her Interferon and the Oregon Health Plan recently stopped paying for transplants. My mother and I have to watch her die.

You might remember Vivian. She used to deliver papers for The Observer and was forced to quit due to her illness. She has a good attitude but she really doesn't understand what is happening to her because in the third stage of her disease toxins are released into her bloodstream and affect her memory.

I am appalled at the way most Oregonians vote. The word taxes understandably sets off a red flag and affect how people vote, but I'll bet all people are thinking about is their own pocket book. If they had family members who depended on the OHP for their lives you can bet they would pay a few more taxes. The cost per household would have been minimal.

What price do you put on life? Your child's education? The safety of your neighborhood?

I could go on but all I ask is that people think and research issues before they vote. Quit worrying about the pittance it would cost you. I am a veteran and would gladly have taken a bullet for your freedom. What would you do for people like Christa or Vivian?

Kevin Kennedy

La Grande

Requiem for EHIG?

To the Editor:

Requiem may be too strong a term, but the Enterprise Hometown Improvement Group may be in jeopardy of being disbanded.

Formed in 1998 as a non-profit community development group, the mission of EHIG has been to enhance the physical beauty, economic vitality and quality of life throughout the Enterprise community. The group has worked to achieve its mission through a wide variety of initiatives but primarily through brick-and-mortar projects that enhance the livability of the community.

At first glance Enterprise may seem like an ordinary little country community located in a very scenic area. However, whether it is due to geographic location, relative remoteness or distance from major travel routes, Enterprise has retained a culture reminiscent of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town.''

A combination of volunteer action assisted by grants and loans have allowed EHIG to accomplish such projects as a downtown streetscape, vintage lamps, trees, tree protectors, bike racks.

However, as it is with all small-town projects, volunteer help is limited and funding has become more difficult to attain. EHIG has won a grant for over $90,000 to study the feasibility of redeveloping the historic EM&M building on the courthouse square. Grants such as this often provide no administrative dollars but depend upon county or municipal economic development funds. EHIG has functioned in this capacity while depending heavily on the community and town meeting process for guidance.

Without new and energetic volunteer support and considerable assistance in funding EHIG will become a thing of the past.

How can this demise be prevented? A meeting is scheduled for 7 tonight at Community Connection in Enterprise to explore ideas and recruit volunteers to rescue this valuable program. Please attend if possible.

Bob Casey


Provide for those who can't

To the Editor:

Ted Kramer's column in The Observer of Feb. 6 caused me to think again about the recent vote on Measure 30.

In the days leading up to the election I heard the same analogy repeated by opponents of the measure: when families hit hard times, they tighten their belts.

Sure, families forego what they cannot afford. They might pass on a trip to Disneyland or decide to wait on a new roof or a family room in the basement. Maybe they decide to drive the old car a few more months or years before trade-in.

But when times are really hard, as they are now in Oregon, the average family will get a second mortgage or run up the balance on the credit cards. Maybe they will approach the in-laws for a loan. They have to. After all, in this state, families who fail to feed their kids or provide basic health care or keep their kids in school are guilty of the crime of neglect and can face serious consequences.

Now the voters of this state find ourselves in the position of neglectful parents. The majority have decreed by their vote that kids and other vulnerable people in this state can go hungry, can go without basic health care, can go without a good education.

The voters won't be arrested for neglect, but we will pay. Even putting aside the costs to our basic humanity, to our ability to behave ethically, we have to face the fact that the decision to refuse basic services will result in suffering, in lost productivity, in lost business opportunity in this state.

We are like a family that has fallen on hard times. If we are going to survive, we've got to find a way to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves.

Linda Elegant

La Grande

Jumping through hoops

To the Editor:

In response to William Hawley Sr.'s letter: I did the state's red tape. I jumped through their hoops. Now I have received word that my granddaughters are in yet another foster home in a different town.

I will not receive custody, and the only reason I could get from them involved an incident that happened when I was 16 years old over 40 years ago. The papers I am supposed to receive haven't come in three weeks. So I wait to see what else I can do. I can't just give up I love them so much.

There are some wonderful people in La Grande, but they don't work for the State of Oregon.

Charlotte Bauer

La Grande