April 18, 2004 11:00 pm

Time for change

To the Editor:

I am disgusted with the way our country's leadership is leading us.

They talk about a Clean Air Act and then allow industries to emit more pollution. They talk about clean water and then allow more pollutants in the streams and waterways. They talk about leaving no child behind and then instead of adequately funding it they allow the Department of Education to give millions of dollars of discretionary money to organizations to promote school vouchers that work to tear down public education.

They talk about a Patriot Act that takes away our freedoms and privacy; freedoms which many have fought and died to win and keep. They talk about tax reform and end up shifting the major tax burden to the poor and middle class and reduce the tax burden on the extremely wealthy.

They talk about stimulating the economy and then outsource thousands of jobs to other countries and greatly increase unemployment at home.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say something is terribly wrong with the way things are going. It has to be changed.

I would like to be able to breathe clean air, drink clean water and live in an environment that is safe, beautiful and free with a right to privacy. I also want my grandchildren and their children to have these same things.

Apparently, to achieve this it is going to take a change in the leadership of our country at every level.

Lewis Currie

La Grande

Stores must find niche

To the Editor:

In response to several recent letters to the editor regarding the potential big-box store expansion versus the alleged catastrophic ripple effect on small downtown businesses, please allow me to comment on one example.

A downtown store is going out of business, the owners said, because of "decreased retail traffic in the downtown area."

I used to frequent that store for those special times when I needed to purchase a unique quality item for a gift or home decor. However, since re-opening after a closure due to smoke damage, I was dismayed to discover that their new store was completely down-scaled from what it once was.

I do not know the owners personally, and am not picking on them in particular. I only use this as an example. While there are several downtown businesses that offer unique services that a big-box store such as Wal-Mart would probably never offer, there are several others that don't.

Those who in the past have written to predict that a larger store, such as a super Wal-Mart, might possibly lead to the demise of downtown businesses are operating under a false pretense – unless they consider all aspects.

The store that is closing is but one example of lost business from a customer — regardless of whether a super Wal-Mart was here or not.

Businesses should ask the question: What can I offer a customer to make them drive around the block three times or more to find a parking space — and keep them as a returning customer?

It is sad to see any downtown business close after any number of years.

David Riley


Scenic protection reduced

To the Editor:

I was disappointed that the recent article in The Observer, "LCDC upholds new zone at lake," didn't provide more detail about another issue reviewed at the same hearing.

The Wallowa County Commissioners have reduced the level of scenic protection for a 1,600-acre area beginning on the top of Mount Howard and extending down onto the east moraine.

This 2.5-square-mile area includes both private property and U.S. Forest Service land, and although the east moraine is considered to be of the greatest scenic value, the commissioners have given this area the lowest level of scenic protection used for the moraines.

I find the reason county officials give for this change disturbing. The 1,600-acre area has been named the "3C Exception Area for Tramway Ski Run Connection" and was created specifically to accommodate the "use of the existing ski run corridor."

However, there is neither a ski run corridor in use for that area nor is a permit in place to operate one.

In 1997 when the Wallowa Lake Tramway Company began discussions to establish a ski area on Mount Howard, county Commissioners Hayward, Boswell and Wortman encouraged the USFS in a letter "to do everything possible to expedite the process involved in making the proposal a reality." The recently created exception not only includes the Forest Service land the tramway company identified for its ski area, but also extends onto private property on the east moraine previously promoted as a site for a destination resort.

I urge residents to keep this in mind when they vote in the May 18 primary. Both Hayward and Boswell are up for re-election. I intend to cast my vote for someone who shares my vision for the future of Wallowa County, and I encourage all voters to do the same.

Jean Pekarek


God determines right, wrong

To the Editor:

As citizens of the United States of America, we have the ability to legislate what we consider to be socially acceptable behavior. We do not, however, have the ability, the wisdom, nor the privilege to determine right and wrong.

Right and wrong have been determined by the all-powerful, all-knowing, unchanging God of the universe. God is the source of all wisdom, and has the benefits of hindsight and foresight through all time.

As the gap continues to grow between our socially acceptable behavior and the axioms of right and wrong as presented in God's holy word, we lose. We lose all kinds of things that we have always valued in the past. Depending on our areas of disobedience, we can lose such things as the integrity necessary for the survival of our form of government, thus losing our freedoms.

We can lose the social environment necessary for survival of the family. We can lose our sense of the sanctity of life. We can even lose it all, as did both Sodom and Gomorrah.

God has told us what is acceptable and expected of us in the Bible. Of course we all fall short of his standards on a more or less regular basis. But it is essential that we not adopt these failings as ongoing lifestyles.

Our accepted norm needs to be an attempt at the pinnacle of God's standards rather than the bottom of the trough to which faulty human reasoning can take us.

And by the way, if I attended one of the churches so prevalent today that have abandoned the teaching of God's word in favor of human reasoning, I believe i would just add Sunday to my other fishing days. Certainly God would be no less served.

Frank Beickel


Oppose strong-mayor measure

To the Editor:

The existing City of Union city administrator position is proposed to be replaced by a strong mayor who would be paid a comparable salary and perform the same duties.

The existing city administrator position is funded from the city's general fund. City property taxes and franchise fees support the general fund. Property taxes are now fixed by tax measures and can grow only 3 percent per year plus new construction valuations unless voted on. The general fund must also support police, library, park, transfer site, planning commission and other administrative functions,

The bottom line is that no other funds are available to pay a strong mayor and then hire part- or full-time support staff necessary to assist him/her. Therefore, the person who fills this job must be qualified to perform multiple duties.

The current city administrator is required to carry out many professional duties. The position provides technical/staff support to the city council and mayor. The city administrator manages personnel within state and federal labor laws. He annually prepares a draft balanced budget, within state budgeting laws, and submits it to the city budget committee. The administrator pursues and administers economic development activities and grants, such as the Fulton Street reconstruction, the sewer treatment plant upgrade and golf course construction.

Other duties include land-use regulation administration, technical assistance to the general public, coordination with other local, state and federal agencies and city employees, and general oversight and administration for public services —- sewer, water and streets.

These responsibilities demand a person with many qualifications and skills, not just someone who can win a popularity contest. Hopefully, the person filling this position is neutral on most issues, and is able to professionally and technically support the council and mayor who provide city direction.

Vote no on Measure 31-48.

Nadyne Rodman


Salute to Princes

To the Editor:

I wanted to express my appreciation to Union police officers Ronetta Prince and Tony Humphries for a few experiences I had while living in Union.

Officer Prince had to deal with my children and their friends several times. She did it in a professional yet caring manner. She also came to my aid in a crisis situation.

Professionally, she was accurate and knew what she was doing; personally, she was caring and kind.

Darwin Prince supported the Union athletes, volunteering his time as a coach, being a strong supporter and traveling to sporting events.

Shae and Darwin both represented Union in the Shrine Football game.

Once when I was moving furniture into my house Shae stopped and helped me. He didn't even know who I was. He was just being kind and would take no money for his efforts.

Calin Prince is also a great person and athlete.

The Princes have been a solid part of Union's history of accomplishments.

I can't help but think that some of the demeaning remarks made about Officer Prince are rooted in jealousy.

Then there is Officer Humphries, whom all the children admire, who is kind to them yet is firm when the line is crossed, and without hesitation comes to your aid.

There is no way being a police officer in any town is easy. Being one in Union has got to be so difficult for these two families in a town with so much turmoil.

Those of you who demean these two officers should ponder this:

When you have been perfect, could you do the job of being a small-town police officer, getting calls all hours of the day and night, whether you are on or off duty? Could you be ridiculed and condemned by someone, then turn around and help that same someone in a crisis?

These two people do this everyday.

Joann Waite

La Grande

Wrong title, writers

To the Editor:

Having directed a 1965 production of the same show La Grande High School students presented last week, I'm sure the cast and crew of their show greatly appreciated the picture and caption that ran in the April 2 edition of The Observer.

It may well be cut out and pasted in many of their scrapbooks and kept for years to come.

Because it may be preserved, I believe the cast and crew would also appreciate clarification of some points. The name of the show is "Once Upon A Mattress," not "The Princess and the Pea." It is not a "musical by Rogers and Hammerstein." The book is by Jay Thompson, Marshall Barber and Dean Fuller. Lyrics are by Marshall Barber. Music is by Mary Rodgers. Note: Rodgers, not Rogers.

The story is not about a prince "whose mother desperately wants him to get married." On the contrary, Queen Aggravain does everything she can to keep anyone from ever marrying her son, Prince Dauntless the Drab.

Perhaps if you ran this letter some of the students involved in the production might clip it out and paste it in their scrapbooks, alongside the picture, for posterity's sake.

Richard G. Hiatt

La Grande

On art, taxes, outsourcing

To the Editor:

When I sent in the reply to "Double Standards?" I did not name those who sent in the letter because I felt replies shouldn't be personal. I thought the person who sent that in was having some fun at the expense of those who register as Republican, and believed I was returning the favor without making it personally offensive. They no doubt enjoyed their little joke by sending the original and I enjoyed mine with the reply.

Regarding government support for our "rich artistic heritage": If that is what we support it would be great. When the institutions receiving public support display a picture of a soup can and call it art, or display a container of urine with a title pertaining to Christ, I question if we are supporting our rich artistic heritage.

"Those with the top few of our country's wealth" do pay more taxes than the rest of us. That, coupled with poorly written and applied regulations, as well as unions that think owners should have no control of their own companies, are reasons some American companies have increasingly outsourced jobs ever since World War.

By 1963 we had lost 90 percent of the merchant shipping and shipbuilding that we had been doing before WWII. I'm quite sure "Dubya" had nothing to do with that. If I remember right some of that shipping was being handled by a man named Aristotle Onassis using some of our WWII Liberty Ships that he somehow acquired. I never have heard the full story on that bit of acquisition.

Regarding "suppressing political ads that present views differing from those of Mr. Bush": When and where has that happened? All of the main news channels on TV are liberal, except Fox, which is close to half and half. If they are suppressing opposition to Bush they have concealed that fact very


Gary Poole