McCracken: Officials need to value, invest in community

To the Editor:

The story “City: No funding for theatre” ((The Observer, April 7) exemplifies, on a community level, the schism in American politics today.

The Liberty Theatre Foundation is a non-profit venture dedicated to restoring our historic theater as a venue for diverse cultural events. The lit sign hints at the possibilities it embraces.

Obviously the Liberty Theatre would support downtown businesses by bringing locals out for dinners and entertainment as well as drawing tourists and performers to check out the town.
La Grande is a lovely place to live, but it lacks substantial cultural and entertainment draws.

The Liberty Theatre would put us on entertainment maps and sites. Travelers would be enticed to stay overnight. Visiting mountain bikers, hikers and hunters with discretionary money might schedule more town time. The subsequently spin-off money would support local restaurants, lodges and unique downtown stores all housed in existing taxed buildings.

Mary Ann Meisner, Justin Rock and Nicole Howard opposed further funding.

“It’s a community project, rather than a city project,” Meisner said.

Is a “city” only buildings and tax money separate from its “community” of people? The theatre would enhance quality of life, plus bring in significant revenue to existing local businesses.

Since Oregon has no sales tax, local government agencies tend to focus solely on property taxes. Mark Davidson, former county commissioner, defined economic development in terms of increasing money to county coffers rather than increasing sales for local businesses. Many of those preparing government budgets seem to have no real interest in our economic well being or quality of life. The Liberty Theatre would be owned and operated by the non-profit Liberty Theatre Foundation and not be subject to real estate taxes. The value of the Liberty Theatre is not as a taxable entity but as a local cultural treasure fully deserving our unequivocal support.

Do we want URA, city and county dollars funding wealthy out-of-towners’ pie in the sky for profit ventures or
supporting us in the Union County community we call home? Change will only come when we vote in commissioners and councilors who value and invest in community.

Mary McCracken

Island City

Martin: Renewable fuels standard good for Oregon

To the Editor:

Whether it’s for cattle or crops, farmers and ranchers have been on the forefront of conservation. Many frontline harvesters of the land and sea are also leading efforts to find new ways to cultivate and care for soil and water, fisheries and farmland.

Partnerships, like the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), between the agriculture community and the alternative energy industry, show the valuable opportunities that can arise when we all come together.

Confronting our environmental problems requires us to remember that our states, our communities, and our professions — our people — are more complicated than we often think. But changes like this don’t come easy. Congress must stay consistent so that our industry can do what we do best. I encourage Congressman Walden to maintain the RFS as it is and give Oregon’s agricultural community and economy the certainty to grow.

As a rancher, we want to leave the land, air and water a little better for our children. Long-term stability in biofuel production and the Renewable Fuels Standard is good for Oregon and the ranch.

Curtis Martin

North Powder

Triplett: Proposed rule would protect retirement investors

To the Editor:

Did you know that a new fiduciary rule, issued by the Department of Labor, that would force financial professionals to act in the best interest of their clients when giving retirement advice has been stalled after President Trump ordered a review of it?

Without this protective rule, financial professionals can continue to have the option to advise clients toward investments that pay them higher fees, not necessarily in the client’s best interest. This fiduciary rule was to go into effect this month, but now risks revisions or being killed.

According to AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, proponents of the rule have estimated it would save Americans more than $17 billion a year in hidden fees and other costs on IRAs alone. This rule helps assure that we can count on retirement investment advice that is in our best interest, not Wall Street’s interest. Many investment professionals do work for our interest, but this rule would ensure that all do.

Whether you are near retirement or just starting to think about investments and savings, this affects all of us. Call your congressmen, let them know what you think. Tell your Congress representatives you are not in favor of any revision to this fiduciary rule made to protect individual investors.

Susan Triplett