July 08, 2004 11:00 pm

Need real energy policy

To the Editor:

Thanks for running the AP story concerning oil production on federal lands, and for the editorial about the vicious and disgusting behavior of the Enron traders. The two are not un-related.

The amount of new oil discovered in the continental United States has been declining for many years despite all the additional drilling effort and the availability of almost 90 percent public lands to drill on.

One response at both the state and federal level has been to push deregulation as a way to encourage energy production. Unfortunately it says a lot about the current state of our political system that the same middlemen who stood to benefit from energy trades got to write the deregulation rules in California. The result was 10 to 20 billion dollars stolen from consumers in that state by a criminal class wearing elegant suits and driving fast cars.

Here's the truth: we are coming to the end of the fossil-energy trail and the time is long past for us to make the difficult decisions we must make as a society. That's one reason why some of us have been pushing so hard for renewable energy such as wind.

Congress has been only too willing to give multi-billion dollar subsidies to make it affordable for companies to destroy productive agricultural lands. Meanwhile, the administration wants to rip into what's left of the West's un-roaded country.

What is it that makes this place what it is, if not the wide open spaces and the endless sky? Does every bit of it have to go under the knife so that we can suck out what little is left?

It's long past time for a real energy policy, not one that continues to cater to the needs of the Enrons and Halliburtons of the world.

If our politicians can't deliver it we need to get rid of them and get new ones.

Norm Cimon

La Grande

Insubordination draws ire

To the Editor:

Mr. Birnbaum, you are an elected public official and I voted for you. If I had known that you were planning to be insubordinate to your superior, I would have voted for your opponent.

I expect you to follow the orders from the judge, and I also expect you to follow the rest of the laws that we all must abide by.

You are not exempt.

Lucy Gilchrist

La Grande

Privileged to be American

To the Editor:

What a privilege it is to be an American!

In the '80s I watched as Communism crumbled in one day. The Soviet tank rolled into Red Square, where thousands of people stood protesting because they had not enough food, homes or clothes. These people had so few basic necessities of life that they were willing to stand in front of the Red Army's military might. The "grand plan" of Marx and Lenin crumbled into the ash heap of history.

President Reagan's conviction to label Communism the ‘Evil Empire' alarmed and distressed many of his opponents of that day, but President Reagan and men and women with the same convictions stood — and the Red Empire ceased to be.

Today, the enemy is different, but we are still fighting evil. Our life-or-death struggle is against radical Muslims who rule by terrorism. Just as they stood with Reagan, not knowing the outcome, today we have the opportunity to stand with President Bush against this new evil. It is a privilege to be an American.

John Petersen

La Grande

Eye for eye won't work

To the Editor:

Roy Hills believes that we are safer now than before 9/11 because Fox news reported that a foreign terrorist was captured. It's too early to make that conclusion. Also, Mr. Hills suggested that Senators Kerry, Biden and Kennedy should "know of that which they speak before speaking" because they disagree that we are safer. Mr. Hills should follow his own advice.

Our State Department reported that terrorism was up dramatically in 2003. While there were no acts of terrorism in the U.S., experts agree that it is likely to happen, sooner or later. Before the millennium celebrations we prevented several terrorist attacks. Those efforts made us safer only until 9/11.

The question is whether our upgraded homeland security will offset the increased desire by fanatics to attack us at home and abroad. Donald Rumsfeld stated that attacks against U.S. military and civilians in Iraq will increase in the short term — that is likely true for the entire world. We must consider the safety of our citizens and others outside our borders. In a global economy, isolating ourselves is not feasible. I suspect that the families of Nick Berg and Paul Johnson would disagree with Mr. Hills.

Let's not jump to the conclusion that we are safer now. With contentment comes carelessness. Yes, we need to remain vigilant and protect ourselves. But taking an eye for an eye will not work and never has — Israel never has been and never will be at peace because of that strategy.

Instead, wouldn't it be better in the long run if we got to the root of this problem? Why do they hate us so much? It's not for any simplistic reasons. While we are protecting our borders, why don't we try some long-term attempts to determine and fix the roots of


Tim Hoffnagle

La Grande

ESD spending priorities wrong

To the Editor:

I would like to respond to the article "ESD defends Credit Card Use" in The Observer June 23: Ed Schumacher has again found himself defending the antics of the UBESD administration and some of its board


As a former employee of UBESD, I would like to understand the need for the administration and board members to attend three-day conferences in Las Vegas and Florida, while local teaching staff were denied the opportunity to attend conferences within the state.

I find myself wondering about charges to Hair Expressions, Bass-Pro Shops, Mikasa Factory Outlet, the bars, expensive restaurants and hotels. There seems to be money to buy airplanes, buildings and other amenities, but the local kids have been denied resources to facilitate learning.

Most of the board that approved this credit card policy are the same members who in a meeting a year ago approved the purchase of a building and a bus, but laid off eight highly qualified teachers.

I find myself attending board meetings at UBESD to understand what is happening. However, what the Education Workforce Development Committee is finding — that some of these people who are screaming the loudest and claiming to be teachers and administrators — have had certificates denied, don't hold the appropriate certificate or never have been to an accredited teacher education program.

The staff are defending an administration that is hiding huge amounts of money within its budget and have several sexual misconduct suits filed against them.

I may be the only former employee who is speaking out, but there are others with similar stories. The EWDC has done its homework. The documentation is there, and I will continue to support this committee until there is accountability, honesty and integrity with taxpayers' dollars at UBESD.

Carol Byron

La Grande