I think that the Tree of the Year is a great idea. However, every spring I wish the contest was held twice a year.

I think that the Tree of the Year is a great idea. However, every spring I wish the contest was held twice a year.

From my own window I'm looking at three beautifully blooming magnolias, lots of plum trees, and in a few weeks there will be flowering pink and white dogwoods, tulip trees, cherries and even chestnut trees.

Come autumn these won't be remembered for their gorgeous blooms. What about a spring, flowering tree of the year contest? It would be a nice contrast with the bare oaks and evergreens that seem to win every year. — David Helphand, Ashland

Five articles on PERS appeared in the April 7 edition of the Mail Tribune. It is a massive unfunded liability that Oregon has not resolved, joining other states with similar problems. Medford School Board member Ron Anderson, saying he is a "fiscally conservative Democrat," courageously broke with his spendthrift party on Senate Bill 822, which essentially delays the debt payments until 2013-2015.

Antone Pedersen of Central Point wrote in the letters section of the pensioners that "we want ours and couldn't care less about you who pay the bills." Teachers, students, parents, taxpayers and all associated with K-12 are those who lose the most. Senator Bates, one of the cagiest politicians in Oregon, is for SB 822, saying it is "designed to produce savings that will make a positive difference in school budgets."

Democrat Anderson says "this kicking the can is not sound public policy" and he's right. Representative Richardson says, "PERS ... costs are increasing by $2 billion and legislative leaders refuse to do more than tinker." SB 822 is the creation of Democrats Buckley and Devlin with Republicans calling it "PERS light" and the MT saying "they're not far off."

Democrats are now in charge of taxes, spending and PERS. God save the Queen. — Joel Marks, Medford

Loophole: "An ambiguity or omission in the text through which the intent of a statute, contract, or obligation may be evaded." — Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary

Remember this definition when our politicians talk about closing "loopholes" to raise revenue. With the thousands of pages in the tax code, I'm sure there are plenty of true loopholes, but the most commonly mentioned deductions, exemptions and tax credits are anything but. They are in the tax code for real or perceived benefits.

Lobbying against any changes will be intense, and we will be assured by those affected that revisions or cancellations will result in catastrophic consequences that cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. And we will be expected to believe that without question. — Stan Loer, Grants Pass