Hopkins: The American people own the national forests

To the Editor:

The Observer in its article about the new Forest Service Regional Forester states that 48 percent of Union County and 68 percent of Wallowa County is owned by the Forest Service. Let’s keep this straight. The American people own the national forests. We hire the U.S. Forest Service to be our janitor.

Doran Hopkins


Botts: Vote yes on Measure 104

To the Editor Why you should vote yes on Measure 104:

1. In 1996, Oregon voters passed a constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority vote on all revenue-raising legislation. Politicians have created loopholes to get around the state’s constitutional requirement for a three-fifths supermajority to raise taxes on Oregon families and small businesses.

Measure 104 will close the loopholes and make sure politicians follow the State Constitution. 2. Ballot Measure 104 ensures that any legislation that raises revenue requires a three-fifths majority vote. This includes fees or the elimination of tax exemptions, deductions or credits — making it clear that Oregonians are fed up with politicians working behind closed doors to increase taxes.

The Legislature has made a variety of attempts to raise taxes on a simple majority vote.

For example: Oregon politicians attempted to eliminate the home mortgage interest tax deduction for many taxpayers; attempted to implement a carbon tax without a supermajority vote and without providing Oregonians evidence that it would result in reduced carbon emissions; and robbed thousands of Oregon small businesses of recent federal tax cuts by disconnecting from the federal tax code — raising $244 million in new revenue from small businesses on a simple majority vote (SB 1528– 2018).

Oregon lawmakers just voted for $1 billion in higher taxes within the past year, examples include: 10 cent gas tax increase, new payroll tax and car sales tax, car registration and title fees hike, truck mileage tax hike, family health insurance premium tax ($330 million), small business tax ($376 million), and hunting and fishing license fee hikes. Oregon now ranks among the top 10 states in the country in terms of individual tax burden (www.TaxFoundation.org.)

While Measure 104 won’t stop every tax increase it will make it a little harder and ensure that there is broader, bipartisan support. Measure 104 sends the message to politicians that we want better management of our tax dollars. There’s currently no political will to make tough decisions. Measure 104 forces politicians to eliminate waste before they come back to us for more money.

Rodney and Linda Botts


Gougherty: No on 105 — immigration does not equal criminality

To the Editor:

The national events of the past few days have shown the effects of a toxic political atmosphere, where any group defined as “different” becomes demonized and threatened. Approval of Measure 105, which has been partially funded and supported by hate groups, would inject this sickening atmosphere into Oregon. It would renew racial profiling and make the most vulnerable among us even more vulnerable.

I have studied with, worked with and taught first- and second-generation immigrants from Mexico, Central America, Asia and the Middle East. Most immigrants, documented or not, work hard and try to do what is best for their families just like most Oregonians.

Since meeting with Sheriff Rasmussen over a year ago to discuss immigration policy, it has become increasingly clear he is a mouthpiece for an agenda he doesn’t understand. He signed onto a letter in favor of the measure, which politicized a young woman’s murder against her family’s wishes. Such an action contributes to the false narrative that equates immigration with criminality.

Representative Barreto, who initially co-sponsored the petition, would rather divide us and divert our attention away from his lack of concrete achievements for Union County.

It is rather ironic a politician who claims to be pro-family and in favor of local control supports a measure that would tear families apart and divert local resources to federal immigration enforcement.

I encourage you to vote NO on Measure 105.

Matthew Gougherty

La Grande

Pfister-Minogue: McLeod-Skinner is ready to protect our democracy

To the Editor:

It’s time to think seriously about what has happened in this country and to put senators and representatives in Congress who will use their voice to support everyday people. Big corporations, including health insurers and pharmaceutical companies, are allowed to make enormous contributions to campaigns, thus buying what they want to see happen. Insurance companies are profit-making entities and the current law protects “Big Pharma” from any price controls (which is why drugs in this country are so expensive).

President Trump is busy stripping away many of the protections that previous administrations put in place, such as clean-air regulations, workplace rules and guarantees of net neutrality.

He gave a huge tax cut to already wealthy corporations and a temporary one to the rest of us. It’s clear: every day, the Trump administration puts corporate profits ahead of people’s safety and security.

Proposals in Congress threaten Social Security and Medicare. Social Security is not in the red — and it’s not a giveaway. Many of us have paid into Social Security for years and we deserve to have it continue. Before the advent of Social Security, more than half of elderly people lived in poverty (now it’s 10 percent). Medicare is very cost effective (non-profit), yet there are proposals now to give vouchers to people on Medicare to limit their use of health care. I don’t think the billionaires running the show understand or care about the average American.

I’m voting for Jamie McLeod-Skinner who is ready to stand up for the average person and protect our democracy. Regular people (not big corporations) fund her campaign. She has traveled more than 40,000 miles across the state meeting with both Republicans and Democrats. She knows how to listen in a bipartisan way. Vote with me for Jamie McLeod-Skinner for Congressional District 2 before Nov. 6.

Kathy Pfister-Minogue

La Grande

McCracken: Citizens must have free and open platforms to present their views

To the Editor:

Greg Walden has been my senator for 20 years. Unfortunately, he actually represents a few major industries when voting to shape national policy.

Given his near bottomless campaign fund, supporters of any grassroots opponent have difficulty even getting an alternative message out. Jamie McLeod-Skinner is running for CD2 with individual donations and volunteer support. Corporate media is extremely expensive, yet it controls most means of disseminating information in America today. Jamie’s volunteers formed phone banks and have gone door to door with information. How else can volunteers reach voters?

I chose to encourage people to vote while handing out fliers outside local stores.

At each store managers asked me to leave. I feel the need to provide information other than “paid for by” on media platforms. So I chose to continue offering information and encouraging people to vote even after being asked to leave.

Citizens must have free and open platforms to present their views to others. Freedom of speech and press mean nothing without opportunities to disseminate information. Denying citizens the opportunity to educate voters will further the control of big money in this country. That is not democracy.

Mary McCracken

Island City

Hainley: Vote yes on Measure 102 to promote affordable housing

To the Editor:

Oregonians need a safe, stable and affordable place to call home. Too many members of Eastern Oregon communities are struggling to put a roof over their heads and put food on the table. In Eastern Oregon, the crisis is impacting seniors, agricultural workers, families and the entire community. Community and Shelter Assistance Corp (CASA of Oregon) works to ensure the basic need of shelter is available to all Oregonians. We work with community partners to help develop capacity to respond to community needs.

We know that having a safe, affordable place to call home means everything else is possible. Too many of our community members lack access to safe, secure and affordable housing. There are many different aspects of our housing problems in Oregon, and the solutions might look different depending on where you live. This November, there is one thing we can all do to help: Vote yes on Measure 102.

Today, when local communities consider passing a bond to build affordable housing, Oregon’s constitution actually prohibits local governments from working with affordable housing developers to build homes with bond funds. This constitutional ban means local governments must own and control any housing built with bonds, and cannot use bond dollars to leverage other resources — like federal dollars — to build affordable housing. It also means that local governments cannot access the expertise of nonprofit affordable housing developersv like CASA of Oregon, or others.

That’s why we’re strongly advocating for Measure 102. It is a bipartisan solution that would easily fix this problem.

Public and private sector cooperation has been key to creating affordable housing over the past 30 years. Nonprofit affordable housing developers have a proven track record working with local, state and federal government to create long-term affordable housing. Measure 102 would allow local bond funds to be used in the same way and would create more affordable housing that our communities desperately need.

Our organization is working hard and thinking creatively to develop solutions to the problems our communities are facing. We are piecing together the puzzle to help ensure everyone has access to a safe, affordable home. Join us in supporting Measure 102 this November.

Peter Hainley

Executive Director

CASA of Oregon

Wilcox: Walden does stand up for our health care

To the Editor:

How is it possible that blatant lies are passing as news today? I am tired of people spewing absolute nonsense about our representative, Greg Walden, especially when it comes to health care.

He has been active in fighting for our health care since he first took office. Greg Walden has fought to protect those with pre-existing conditions. While many like to attack the AHCA, this legislation would have prohibited insurance companies from denying, not renewing, or rescinding coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

Additionally, insurance companies could not exclude benefits based on a pre-existing coverage.

Another famous liberal line is that “one in five people in our district would lose health care” — another rhetoric-induced lie. This number comes from the number of people on Medicaid.

If the legislation said “we will completely eliminate Medicaid,” the above statement may be an accurate statement, but completely removing Medicaid was never on the table, and was never an option. This is a blatant lie being used to create fear and confusion.

Greg Walden has fought for those with pre-existing conditions, he has passed the longest extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (no thanks to the Democrats who held up the passage of the bill) and he was the only member of the Oregon delegation to vote for CHIP on the House floor every time.

He has funded community health centers, opened up rural health care and fought for veterans’ health care. I know this because I was an R.N. for almost 50 years with more than 40 years in emergency rooms. And my husband a Vietnam veteran who has benefited from Greg Walden’s work.

Greg Walden is working for us. Can we please get back to the truth?

Pam Wilcox


Sharp: Don’t disrupt Walden’s good working relationship with ranchers

To the Editor:

Incorrect information has recently been circulated from Harney County regarding which candidate I support in the upcoming Oregon Congressional District 2 election between Greg Walden and his opponents.

Let there be no misunderstanding, I continue to support Representative Greg Walden. I am a lifelong registered Republican, have always voted for, have donated to, and have no intention in disrupting the good working relationship between the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, cattle producers of Harney County and within the State of Oregon as enjoyed with Representative Greg Walden.

Please join me in your support of Greg and also for our gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler in this November’s election.

Tom Sharp

Sharp Ranches, LLC


Brookover: Walden needs to be concerned for constituents

To the Editor:

The Observer article on Greg Walden during a tour around Eastern Oregon was soft on our representative.

Walden’s association with President Trump, who is known for fake news, makes me question the representative’s integrity too.

Speaking of integrity, last year, Walden’s promotion of a health care bill as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act spurred an OPB article by Jeff Mapes that quoted Patrick Willard of Families USA, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group, who said that Walden claimed to “support protecting people with pre-existing conditions” but then pulled “a bait-and-switch.”

Constance and Kevin Marr of Main Street Alliance reported: “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, whose analysis has always been taken as fact by both sides of the aisle in Washington, estimated that the bill Walden promoted would strip 20 million Americans of health care, spike costs for millions more and reduce the overall quality of care.”

We need to look at the candidate’s concern for the majority of constituents in his district.

Meg Brookover


Clark: It’s the Democrats we can’t trust

To the Editor:

The Oregon governor’s party has been televising ads that say, “We can’t trust Knute Buehler.” But who really can’t we trust? The Democratic candidates. They are the party of lies, locally, statewide and nationally.

Since the very day that Donald Trump was elected his Democratic enemies have not ceased to tell lie after lie about him.

In the recent Supreme Court nomination hearing, all Kavanaugh’s enemies did was propound lying accusations against him. Here in Oregon the Democrats are doing the same thing — lying about Buehler, lying about Walden and anyone else that suits their fancy. There are no positive points they can say about their own candidates, so instead they lie about their opponents.

Both Walden and Buehler are hardworking, people-caring, common-sense men, and their records prove it.

They’re the kind of people we need in government. Brown has a record of no achievement in office and McLeod-Skinner has had only one real job in Oregon — city manager of Phoenix — from which she was fired after four months. Then why all the hype about them? Because the Democratic Party has lots of money from the unions and from socialist billionaires like George Soros, Peter Lewis (CEO of Progressive Insurance), Ted Turner of Atlanta, Pat Stryker, Tim Gill, Jared Polis and the like.

They can flood the TV with ads, communities with signs and newspapers with letters. They care nothing about the worthlessness of their candidates, only that they are Democrats and will give the Democratic Party power and control.

Don’t be deceived by their propaganda. Vote for less government, lower taxes, common sense laws, economic prosperity, morality, decency, patriotism and a future. Rescue our state. Rescue our country. Vote right. Vote Republican.

George Clark

The Dalles

Shea: History is important

To the Editor:

Wanted to commend your decision for printing the recent article’s highlighting Union Country history. Interesting stories similar to the ones like the clock and MR Porter are what set newspapers apart.

John P. Shea

Cricket Flat

Haechrel: Independents and non-affiliated voters should vote for Kate and Jamie

To the Editor:

Greg Walden is like a 20-year-old car. All the great qualities it once had are gone. It now barely gets by and clearly doesn’t provide the same satisfaction it once did. It’s time for an upgrade to a new model.

Walden once had an impressive record of “working across the aisle,” but like on an old car, that feature ceased operating. He once sought to address the needs of his constituents. But this 20-year-old model had no navigation system so Walden lost his way and his connection to us. Walden has found new bosses — the corporations and the Republican Party leaders in Congress.

Money talks, and it has spoken loudly and often to Walden during the past 10 years. Who do we really hear when listening to his TV and radio ads? Are we hearing Walden or his corporate sponsors?

It’s time for last-minute deciders to leave the sidelines and enter the game. Help choose the new model. Non-voters, infrequent voters, registered Independents and non-affiliated voters must realize what tremendous collective power they possess. Together these people will ultimately decide who will represent us in Congress. Collectively these people control more than 100,000 votes. This is a tremendous voting power, but only if used.

Choosing not to vote is choosing the status quo. It is a choice which accepts the Congressional bickering we have endured during the past ten years. Not voting condones a corrupt and morally bankrupt political system, paid for by corporations and wealthy donors. Not voting is a slap in the face of all previous generations who sacrificed so much to build a stronger, safer, and better America.

The Independent Party has endorsed Jamie McLeod-Skinner. Their candidate for governor has withdrawn and they’ve endorsed Kate Brown. Registered Independent voters should follow that lead and vote for Jamie McLeod-Skinner. Doing so gives them great influence in the election and greatly increases the likelihood of achieving their political goals.

Let’s all come together in trading in our outdated model. Jamie McLeod-Skinner will be a fantastic replacement.

Robert Haechrel

The Dalles

Puentes: Measure 105 will not make Oregon safer

To the Editor:

All Oregonians should feel safe where they live, work, learn and play. It shouldn’t matter what color our skin is, whether we’re documented or not, or what neighborhood we’re in. We should all feel safe going about our day-to-day business.

Measure 105 will not make Oregon safer. It will lead communities to distrust the police and other government workers, which means they’ll be less likely to report crimes or testify in court. Make sure Oregon stays safe. Vote no on Measure 105 by Nov. 6.

Jennifer Puentes

La Grande