"Paved paradise, put up a parking lot ..."

"Paved paradise, put up a parking lot ..."

Joni Mitchell was right. We are doing just that, but we can start saving part of this paradise a few acres at a time.

The wetlands just west of the new Northgate Shopping center (Trader Joe's and REI) have some wetlands that our fine feathered friends are using now. Why can't we preserve that small amount of acreage for our waterfowl? Planning Commission, please take this letter under advisement and help save paradise. — Terri Rose, Central Point

Your article reporting accusations of a Little Butte teacher and counselor molesting two young girls was horribly irresponsible. Three independent, grueling, in-depth investigations by the police and district attorney, the school and the stringent Oregon Teachers Standards and Practices Commission exonerated him of any wrongdoing.

Fifth-grade gossip overheard by parents presumably devolved into an entrenched falsehood, abetted by an ambitious attorney. Every public servant working with children has this kind of nightmare hanging over their head. The attorney, not having a case with any substance, is using the media to play into the understandable fears of the public, and you have played right into it. By the time this teacher has again been cleared of any misconduct, his career will have been ruined.

We have known him since 1983, both professionally and personally. The charges are ludicrous. An exemplary father and one of the most popular counselors in the valley, there has never been, after 20 years of working with children behind closed doors, any previous sexual allegation.

Two adults and 30 children were present during the time of the alleged "incidents" in front of his classroom, and what is being alleged simply did not happen. — Donna Eden and David Feinstein, Ashland

The Republicans want to destroy Social Security. They say: "We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer."

No, retirees are living to about the same age as they did in the 1930s. Life expectancy (at birth) is higher mostly because many fewer people die as children. But having survived, they don't live significantly longer. The small gains are distributed unevenly — since 1972, life expectancy increased by 6.5 years for workers in the top half of the income brackets, but only 2 years for the bottom half. The rich live longer than the poor.

"Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security." High earners pay less tax: They stop paying into Social Security after they make more than $110,000 per year. Why? People in that category need a break less than anyone else.

"The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs."

No, it's full of Treasury bonds — the most secure investment possible.

"Social Security adds to the deficit."

That's not even possible. By law, Social Security's funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. It can't add one penny to the deficit! Call your representative. — Nick Tennant, Ashland

The malignant labor union that destroyed Hostess bakeries left us with one ray of sunshine: It'll be donating less money to the election campaigns of its Democratic puppets. — Ron Smith, Medford

With all the posturing over what is being cut in the federal budget, why is the topic of government employees' pensions never listed?

I think the citizens of this country are entitled to know how much savings would be realized by curtailment of government employees' retirement benefits, including Congress, the president and all their staff. Why is the "discussion" limited to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone? — Jim Hardy, Medford