Letters and Comments for May 24, 2010

By Observer Upload May 24, 2010 01:30 pm
Letters and Comments for May 24, 2010

Tough choices

To the Editor:

I’d like to respond to Sandy Sorrels’ Community Comment from May 19.

She is correct that I stated that the city manager and the directors did a great (not good) job of preparing a balanced budget under difficult circumstances. After taking three nights to go over the general fund line by line, without a single motion by any member of the budget committee to make any changes, I made the motion to accept the budget as presented by the staff. The motion passed 9 to 3. I stand by my comments and my motion.

Over the past three years, the city has cut six positions, three in public safety. No one tried to find money in this year’s budget to save the half-time position in the library or, for that matter, to find the dollars in the general fund to pay for a new Jaws of Life that the Fire Department needs. Surely if there is money in the budget, shouldn’t we be thinking about restoring the cuts in public safety and/or purchasing life-saving equipment first? Where are those arguments?

When expenditures exceed revenues, tough choices have to be made. The city has made those choices the past three years. We cut internally while continuing to fund outside agencies. This year, we continued to reduce staff and services, but we also chose to use some of the transient room tax that the city receives to partially fund parks, in accordance with existing law, which allows the use of those funds for tourist facilities, not just promotion.

I make no apologies for my decisions. I am elected by the citizens of La Grande and I see my first duty to look out for citizens’ best interest and to protect city services. If I have to choose between keeping parks and the pool open versus reducing funding for a tourism-related agency, I will vote for the parks and the pool. Every time.

Colleen Johnson

La Grande

Frivolous spending

To the Editor:

I have been reading with interest the articles in the paper about the city budget.

Supposedly everything has been cut as much as possible, or so they say. Well golly-gee, I just received in the mail a full-color, high-gloss folded brochure about the water quality of La Grande.

The city of La Grande is listed as the return address, so I am assuming it did indeed come from the city.

Question? Just how much did it cost to have this printed and mailed? I have had a few things printed in color and they don’t come cheap.

It seems to me that with the budget crunch, a simple notice in the newspaper would have sufficed in notifying the people about the quality of our water.

It is spending like this that needs to be cut. If there is frivolous spending like this going on in one department, most likely there is some going on in other departments. That is what needs to be cut — not vital programs and services.

Robert Bull

La Grande

Rein in big banks

To the Editor:

Jeff Merkley is one of the senators leading the effort to get proprietary trading, where the banks bet your money win or lose, out of the banking system. They should not be playing in gambling houses, but that’s what many of these trades are, side bets.

Those bets went sour and that’s a big reason why the economy got blown apart and we had to save them with our tax money. Republicans are refusing to let this come to a vote, one that they know they’ll lose.

Paul Volker, the Federal Reserve chairman under Ronald Reagan who now advises this administration, has stated it clearly: the banks have become too aggressive with these trades.

Here are Sen. Merkely’s own words: “We got into this financial crisis because Wall Street set the rules to benefit itself, and now with an assist from Senate Republicans, they’re doing it again ... The lobbyists are afraid they’ll lose this vote, and in typical Wall Street fashion their solution ... is to rig the result. Main Street is being shut out of this debate. It is time to stop letting Wall Street call the shots — let this amendment have a vote.”

He’s right. The big banks need to be brought to heal or this will happen again.

Norm Cimon

La Grande

Thank foster parents

To the Editor:

We have some heroes right here in our community, but they could use a little help. These are our foster families, the folks who step up every day, taking in children who need a place to stay until they can safely return to their families or make another plan.

They do it because they care, and because every child deserves a safe and loving home.

If you know someone who provides foster care, be sure to say “thank you for all you do for the children in our community.”

May is National Foster Care Month. Now is the time to show you care. To learn more about how you can become a foster/adoptive parent, call 541-963-8571, ext. 426.

Susan Lemon

Foster Home certifier

Union County