By Observer Upload April 21, 2014 12:45 pm


Montgomery-Jones: Council needs to explore whistles

To the Editor:

Could the decline in Union County tourism figures be at least in part the result of train whistles blowing at all hours of the night? I was informed by the La Grande city mayor that the motel owners in our beautiful city have complained that many of their guests leave after checking in because they can’t sleep for the train whistles. Frankly, neither can I, especially in the summer when our windows are open. 

Any expense (if indeed there is any) incurred to stop train whistles, at least between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., would likely result in an increase in the transient room tax. Increased revenue for motels and restaurants in La Grande would result in more revenue for the city. Whether this would cover the cost of installing the equipment necessary at crossings to eliminate night-time train whistles remains to be seen; it certainly would mitigate the expense. 

I encourage the city council to seriously consider this issue, starting with a cost/benefit analysis, then looking for sources of revenue (grants, bonds, etc.) to finally give our city residents and guests a restful night’s sleep. If the council has already done a study, I would like to see the results either personally or published in the Observer for public input. 

Emelie Montgomery-Jones

La Grande

Wetter: Barreto knows and lives what he believes in

To the editor:

I don’t trust politicians much, so if I vote at all, I’m careful for whom I cast my ballot. A while ago, I heard Greg Barreto speak. I disagreed with a comment he made, and so I emailed him my concerns.

End of story? Not at all. A few days later, Mr. Barreto actually called me to discuss my concerns. We talked for a while, and I was most impressed by his willingness to listen, to consider another’s point of view, and to clearly state why he said what he said. Most of all, I was impressed that a man as busy as Greg Barreto would be interested in a single voter’s concerns.

In the weeks since, I have studied Mr. Barreto’s positions, his background, his worthiness to serve as my representative. He is conservative, which I like, but more than that, he lives out his conservative beliefs. One of his beliefs is to remain positive — in his campaign, in his business and in his attitude that this state and this country are still beacons of freedom, that economic growth is still possible, that the American Dream is alive and well in Oregon.

I like positive. Negative campaigns might be effective, but the negativity then gets sent to Salem, or Washington, where it grows into the cancer of bickering and fighting and stalemate. Nothing good comes out of negative.

Greg Barreto knows what he believes in. He knows how to run a business, how to put people to work, put money in their pockets. He knows that every tax dollar spent is a dollar taken from someone who had to earn it, and that as a state representative, it will be his sacred duty to not take more than is needed.

I like that. I like it a lot.


Bruce Wetter


Squire: Let’s squeeze the right people

To the Editor:

I know Cover Oregon has helped many people get health insurance they could not afford in the past. Despite its dismal introduction with a computerized nightmare, many Oregonians will be better off under Cover Oregon. 

You may be asking, “Where’s the money coming from to pay for this?” There is a lot of “fat” in the health care system. We know this because the Internet gives us access to massive amounts of information. For example, United Health Group, a major private health insurance company, has paid its CEO, Stephen J. Hemsley, $169.3 million over the past five years (www.forbes.com). 

But does it follow that health insurance companies will pay their CEOs less so that Oregonians can afford health insurance? Not necessarily. I recently learned that private health insurance companies are decreasing their reimbursements to pharmacists. In other words, your local pharmacist buys and keeps an inventory of medications on his shelf so he can fill your prescriptions quickly when you come in. You pay your co-pay to your pharmacist and he submits the balance due to your insurance company. 

Your insurance company is likely to reimburse him a sum that is less than the sum he originally paid for the medication. In that case, your pharmacist takes a loss. I have not seen his tax returns but I can assure you, your pharmacist did not earn $169.3 million in the past five years.

While many people in Oregon are thankful that they now have more affordable health insurance, our health care system is still badly broken.

Louise Squire


Patterson: Time to end partisanship voting

To the Editor:

I remember when the 18 year olds fought for the right to vote.

I remember when we fought to have the ballots delivered to our homes by mail. Having won such huge battles I don’t understand so many people choosing not to exercise their right to vote.

I agree that thinking of national politics can be a bit overwhelming, but we do have more effect and control over local politics. This primary you have the opportunity to change the position of Union County commissioner, to nonpartisan.  

A yes vote will ensure that any Union County registered vote will have the right to run for the position of county commissioner, and that all registered voters will be able to vote for the candidate of their choice, regardless of party affiliation.

I am asking you to exercise your right to vote, and if you haven’t registered make picking up a registration form at your local post office the top of your to-do list.

And I urge you to vote yes on ballot measure 31-84.


Donna Patterson