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Letters to the editor

Arts plan clarified

As spokesperson for the Public Art Study Group in Ashland, I would like to clarify a couple of points made in your editorial of Aug. 8. While we do plan to present a proposal to the city within the next month, that proposal is for the creation of an arts commission, not an advisory panel. The commission would not necessarily be tied to the Parks and Recreation Department, although it certainly would work closely with that department, as well as the Planning Commission, with a goal to create a public arts policy most appropriate for the City of Ashland.

Of course, as this proposal is put through the process of city government, it remains to be seen how the final structure turns out, but it is our intention that the creation of an Arts Commission, and the policies it develops, will be far more valuable than the costs of implementing such a plan.

Thank you for your vote of confidence in the process of creating a public art policy. ' Bruce Bayard, Ashland

Shelter staff dedicated

I am writing in response to Dog wasn't a stray Aug. 8.

I have known the staff at the Jackson County Animal Shelter for 10 years. You will not find a more caring, professional, dedicated group of people anywhere in the state.

If a dog is licensed, they will make every attempt to contact the owner. And if the writer was not contacted before her dog was put to sleep, how did she know what the fine was?

The policies at the animal shelter apply to everyone. The writer seems put out because no exception was made for her alone.

It is every pet owner's responsibility to license and care for their own pet. If your dog gets out it is not my or other taxpayers' duty to subsidize your incompetence.

I suggest to any thinking person, before you pass judgment on the staff at the animal shelter, check it out for yourself. Visit the shelter or go to one of their open houses. Meet the staff and see how they work. Or join the letter writer in her ignorance. ' Michael Patnesky, Gold Hill

Has system lost all sanity?

An Oregon newspaper, which insists on publishing front-page pro-basketball stories under the guise of news, reports police had no right to enter the home of a Portland basketball player when the home's burglar alarm sounded.

Officers retrieved a pound of pot during their search for intruders, and the paper subsequently editorialized in support of the player, claiming, among other things, that the player is a local hero.

Then a Clackamas County judge ruled police had no probable cause or permission to enter the house. What the hell do we subscribe to alarm systems for? Has our judicial system (and our press) lost all sanity? ' Kurt Austermann, Medford

Errors in thinking

Whenever I bother to read Cal Thomas' column, I imagine the Mail Tribune contributing fodder for local SOU and RCC professors who teach classes in critical thinking.

I am unsure of requirements in the Oregon state university system, but as a graduate of another state university system, I remember that the class in critical thinking was a requirement for graduation. Although my class was now more than a decade ago, I still recall examining articles for logical fallacies such as false choice, ad hominem, common practice, slippery slope, etc.

Mr. Thomas' latest column is rife with critical thinking/argument errors in attempting to convince his readers of the merits of his opinions. These strategies are used by persons all along the political spectrum; however, it appears that Republicans and those further to the right are especially prone to such tactics in promoting their positions.

Mr. Thomas, popular right-wing radio talk show hosts and others of their ilk are bombastic, perhaps in part because of pressure to garner sales or ratings. Additionally, their frequent tone of derision, condescension and meanness is especially sad and disturbing.

Even if they are genuine in the opinions they espouse, please don't confuse such opinions with well-reasoned and cogent arguments on any specific complex public policy issue. Look for many other such examples of errors in critical thinking in the upcoming debate over the looming attack on Iraq, especially by the head of our executive branch. ' Doug Huston, Medford

Kitzhaber deserves praise

John Kitzhaber is a man of intelligence, integrity and great courage. He understands clearly that Oregon's funding problems, including the current education issues, are attributable directly to the idea that the public does not have to pay for the state services it demands.

By his vetoes Kitzhaber is placing the problem exactly where it belongs, with the Legislature and the voters. He is saying that a long-term problem needs a long-term solution, not a short-term expedient. He deserves praise, not criticism. ' John Gardner, Talent

Support RVTD recall

I do not argue with the Rogue Valley Transportation District Board's right to terminate the employment of the general manager. I do argue with the board's attempts to micro-manage the district, their inability to understand their roles as policy makers (elected officials), their general unprofessionalism when representing the district in the public, and their unwillingness to keep the public informed as to their direction and/or reasons behind their decisions.

I am particularly concerned that they are financially jeopardizing the district's future with their actions.

Please get involved. Sign the petitions when a volunteer comes to your door. Carry a petition yourself. Talk to your friends. For more information, contact Connie Skillman at 482-2148. ' Bill Snell, Ashland

Maxwell a great choice

Shayne Maxwell is a great choice for the House. I worked with Shayne on the Rogue River telephone exchange hearing, watching her work tirelessly for her community and the rest of the Rogue Valley to standardize the local area calling. She will do the same for House District 4. ' James Hicks, Jacksonville

Letter was in error

A letter to the editor appeared in the Aug. — issue of the Mail Tribune that may have caused some confusion about the retirement system for former members of Congress and their spouses. The letter said that senators and congressmen do not pay into Social Security, nor do they collect from it.

While I uderstand the writer's frustration over some of the enduring problems concerning Social Security and commend her for raising

awareness about this issue, this statement is not true. The letter resembles a hoax e-mail that has been circulating for several years, and I often receive inquiries about whether it is correct.

Contrary to what was stated in the letter, there is no special retirement system for retired members of Congress, and every member of Congress does pay the Social Security payroll tax like every other citizen. Retired members of the House of Representatives and Senate also do not draw the same pay for the rest of their lives that they received while serving in Congress. The retirement packages available to members of Congress are the same as those offered to any other federal employee.

While this letter was based on incorrect information, I couldn't agree more with the notion that Congress must do everything in its power to strengthen and protect Social Security for future generations. I'm also a strong advocate of providing seniors with prescription drug coverage under Medicare and recently voted in the House to implement such a plan. ' Greg Walden, member of Congress