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We'd be prosecuted, too

Regarding Pete Seda: Money laundering laws were around long before the Patriot Act.

If you or I were to walk into B of A and order 130 travelers checks in small denominations to avoid reporting requirements, ship them overseas and file false tax returns to cover it up, we'd be prosecuted, too.

Nice that he has loyal friends, but to call this prosecution unwarranted tries the imagination. They didn't run him out, he fled. ' Bruce Dicoskey, Ashland

What are they afraid of?

I agree with Senator Atkinson: This is the Marine Board, for crying out loud. So what was the concern about liberal columnist Russell Sadler taking a seat on the board? That the board would soon require all boats to list to port? ' Geoffrey Riley, Talent

Changing light bulbs

Q. How many Bush administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?

A. None. There is nothing wrong with the bulb; it's condition is improving daily. Any reports of a lack of incandescence are just illusional spin from the liberal media. Illuminating is hard work! That light bulb has served honorably and anything you say against it undermines the lighting effort. Why do you hate freedom? ' W. L. Stevens Jr., Medford

Bad decisions

Social Security: This form of income for retired persons over the age of 65 was started in the Depression years to help retired persons feel more secure in their finances. A certain percentage was deducted from their payroll checks and placed in a fund prior to their retirement.

There have been many bad decisions made since then. Somehow people eligible for many programs received checks from the Social Security fund. These programs include supplemental Social Security, being disabled, aid to dependent children, unwed mothers and many more.

These people should not be given money from the Social Security fund. This must stop. Another fund should be formed to provide money for these programs, funded by state taxes.

The Social Security fund should only be for retired people over the age of 65, as it was originated for.

If this fund will be depleted by the year 2050, as predicted, then an additional percentage of money should be deducted out of the working person's payroll check. After all, everything else has increased in price. ' Donald Cramer, Medford

Recruiters don't belong

The Mail Tribune recently spoke out against the Bush administration's use of aggressive PR campaigns that included paying pundits to sell controversial agendas to the public (Jan. 28). This practice first came to light when it was revealed that the Department of Education paid a syndicated columnist &

36;241,000 to write in newspapers and speak on television about the wonders of the No Child Left Behind act.

As the Tribune editors correctly pointed out, the use of private PR firms and payouts to columnists to sell a controversial agenda is wrong. The No Child Left Behind act opened public schools to the aggressive tactics of military recruiters, mandating that schools receiving federal funding must release student information to the military.

Parents and students have the option to opt-out of having their records released to the military. Unfortunately, this information is often difficult to find. This allows military recruiters, armed with a &

36;2 billion budget, unparalleled access to students facing difficult decisions about their future.

Young people deserve a quality education and unbiased counseling about the opportunities awaiting them after graduation. They should not be bombarded by military recruiters looking for foot soldiers in the Bush administration's next war. ' Stuart O'Neill, Jacksonville

Dismayed by bulb-outs

When I saw the story about the downtown bulb-outs Feb. 8, I thought maybe somebody with the Urban Renewal Agency was actually going to fix a bad mistake; sadly, I was wrong.

How does anybody think trucks and other service vehicles can possibly safely make these turns? Downtown was already a nightmare for delivery drivers as it was. Smaller trucks aren't the solution either; many shipments are too big for this to be practical.

As a taxpayer and professional truck driver I'm dismayed to see just how stupid the experts that came up with these intersections can be. I think these experts should be held personally responsible for the danger to pedestrians they have caused; maybe they would be more practical in their designs if this was the case. ' Jon Wallace, Central Point

Shocked by cheating

We were shocked to learn, via Mark Freeman's sports column, that so many anglers are cheating, declaring they lost their fishing licenses so they can get a replacement, illegally doubling the number of fish they are permitted to catch.

The abuse of the rules protecting this valuable resource is disgraceful! These fish are a resource belonging to all the people of Oregon, and it is a pity that some folks care so little about them that they flout the rules that protect the fish.

We strongly support the new rules proposed by Oregon State Police Lt. Walt Markee to curb this illegal behavior. It is a shame there are so many liars and cheats among the fisherfolk. ' Myra and Alan Erwin, Ashland

Apology took courage

Well it's nice to see someone coming forward and apologizing for something in this world.

In response to Liz Martin's Feb. 6 letter, I'm very sorry for the loss of her father and I appreciate her apologizing on his behalf. I would like to point out that as many people criticize each other in this column, very few have the courage to step up like she has, and fewer to forgive. Thank you again. ' L. Fulmer, Central Point

It ain't over yet

It seems some Republicans don't learn from their mistakes. From the president down to some recent letter writers here in the valley, they are again putting up the Mission Accomplished sign prematurely.

The Iraqi election is barely over and they're congratulating themselves. I hope and pray that things work out well for the Iraqi people. They've suffered terribly.

But folks, it ain't over. Two more elections are coming up, one about the constitution and the other to elect officials. Either one could upset the apple cart. The fat lady is just gargling.

And what about moral values? They overlook the misleading information, the huge deficit, deliberate ruining of the environment, catering to the wealthy and big business, etc., as long as Bush opposes gay marriage and abortion.

I don't get it. Well, actually I do, and it's a shame. Shouldn't caring for the sick and poor be a moral issue too? ' Don Michalak, Medford

Thanks to volunteers

Jackson County is fortunate to have a place for children to feel comfort and support when reporting abuse. They are even more blessed to have community volunteers that spend time following up with visiting families. The inspiring effort and dedication that Children's Advocacy Center's volunteers and advocates give on a daily basis is touching to say the least.

Recently, I had the pleasure of sharing a moment with an advocate as she received pictures of a recent winter formal from one of her kids. I could not help smiling at the transformation that had occurred for this young adult. This is not the same person I met only a year ago! Complete confidence has replaced the shy, timid child that had been very reluctant to visit the center.

Our advocates share more than just their time, they share a piece of their heart. Thank you for all that you do! ' Christina Hill, Children's Advocacy Center, Medford

Doesn't seem right

Let's see, Hewlett-Packard's newly unhired CEO got about &

36;3.5 mil last year and has been with the company five years.

Assuming reasonable spending habits and modestly prudent investments, she should have enough to live on for, oh, a year or two anyway. But kindhearted HP, not wanting to create any more stress in her life, gives her &

36;21.1 mil to clean out her desk and exit through the front door.

Now by my calculator that exit package is about six times her last year's pay. Do you think that the goof in the mail room making &

36;30K (maybe) will get six times that, or &

36;180K, to exit gracefully when they are unhired? I sorta doubt it. Just doesn't seem quite right, does it? ' Mel Beaty, Medford

Less to fear from enemies

George Bush stood before Congress and the American people recently and had the gall to tell us we must be prepared for big cuts in education and in medical care for our veterans and the poor. But he blithely refused to budge on his tax cuts for his obscenely wealthy friends and family.

I think our country has less to fear from enemies outside our borders than from the rotten policies within our own government. ' Mary Heath, Medford

Imports threaten jobs

Did you know that as of Jan. — there are no more worldwide trade quotas limiting cheap imports? That's a death threat to a lot of small businesses.

In fact, a big-name bed and bath textile manufacturer (Westpoint Stevens Inc.) has already cut its losses, closing four plants stateside to move overseas. Of course, it only added 2,465 persons to the numbers who are unemployed.

And they say we don't have a problem here in the United States ' yeah, right. Do you think it would do any good to ask Congressman Greg Walden about this? And who really has the ultimate control over our trade quotas anyway? ' Lane Stevens, Medford

Richardson's agenda

Rep. Dennis Richardson is sponsoring House Bill 2549 to speed up claims for landowners affected by Measure 37.

When asked to address a problem that could be harmful to elderly and/or disabled persons and others who own their homes and rent the ground, Richardson ' in a letter dated Jan. 19, 2005 ' stated, I see no reason to amend the statute at this time.

The obvious is coming to the fore: Richardson is a defender of the wealthy and to hell with the ordinary person.

Sen. Alan Bates is working to get medication to the low-income populace; Sen. Jason Atkinson is working to get a budget for the schools. Richardson is working to appease and pander to the landowner, which reveals his true agenda in spite of him stating, we would be happy to help any constituents.

Richardson does not believe in preventative measures for the elderly but does believe that select wealthy landowners should be given special treatment.

Someday, somehow, the people will awaken and elect persons who can and will address the interest of all the people. Those who worship the golden calf of indifference must understand that simplicity is not stupidity. ' Charles D. Tisler, Central Point

The boobs of Douglas County

Roseburg residents object to replacing a statue of the Greek goddess Hebe in the city park.

It was originally erected in 1908 by the Women's Christian Temperance Union as an inducement to drink water rather than alcohol. Now Douglas County commissioners have pressured the Douglas County Museum to cancel an exhibit on Hebe, claiming it is too controversial. Apparently, local Christians are offended. They associate Hebe with paganism.

Earth to Roseburg! Did you miss the Enlightenment? Does John Ashcroft have a summer home in Douglas County? A statue will not drive your children to witchcraft. Hebe's bare stone breast will (hopefully) not inspire you to sexual deviancy.

What's next? Witch trials? Public stonings? The boobs that run Douglas County are the ones who should be hidden from view. The next time I drive up I-5, I'll skip Roseburg as a lunch stop. You people scare me. ' Scott Morrell, Medford

Lipstick on a pig

Two letters in the Feb. 12 MT attained a new level of right-wing bizarreness.

One states FDR deserves no credit for liberating 500 million Europeans and Asians from fascist and imperial tyranny. Who does the writer think picked those great generals and gave them everything they needed, especially respect for their judgment, to win? By contrast, we have President Bush, who dismissed the wise counsel of his top general and gave us the bloody quagmire that is Iraq today.

The second letter weirdly seems to suggest Social Security is somehow responsible for the massive debt being run up by President Bush. It won't be the SSA's fault if, when it comes time to redeem those T-bills in the trust fund, the federal government will have to borrow money to pay them off. President Bush inherited a growing federal revenue surplus which he promptly converted into the most massive deficits the nation has ever seen. We have ample indication that he intends to make it much worse.

These letters show what ridiculous contortions some people will make to put lipstick on a pig. ' John Wilkinson, Jacksonville

EDITOR'S NOTE: We received more than 30 letters regarding the fatal crash on Feb. 11. Nearly all expressed the same point of view. Space does not permit us to print them all and allow letters on other topics to be published in a timely manner. We are printing a selection of the letters we received, earlier than we normally would print them, in recognition of the intense interest in this crash among our readers.

Print the facts

We are disappointed in the Mail Tribune for printing, and in those behind blaming everyone and everything else regarding the loss of life Feb. 11. Our policemen and women are placed in their positions to do just what they did. Were they supposed to ignore a disrespectful youth or anyone else?

We are sorry for the pain this 17-year-old's parents have to go through, but where were they in all this that they could put the responsibility of this tragedy on anyone else but their son? Please print the facts of what being disrespectful towards other human beings has caused in this accident.

He's not a high school hero because he lived life to its fullest, he had no respect for life, and now three young children will have to grow up without their father. ' Bryce and Deborah Rutledge, Medford

Blame where it belongs

Put blame where it belongs on Kevan Thatcher-Stephens who, on Feb. 11, deliberately drove a vehicle recklessly with total disregard for certain tragedy and loss of property. He apparently taunted police as well.

My heart aches for the innocent victims, their families and friends. And yes, the policemen who were involved in their attempt to protect the public (no, I do not know the policemen involved) ' and the taxpayers, too. I am thankful the policemen chose not to ignore this dangerous speeder.

I hope the family of the perpetrator humbly accepts partial responsibility for the horrific tragedy ' the person to blame is the driver who willfully committed this unspeakable murder ' murder, that's what it is; the vehicle was just Kevan's choice of weapon.

And where were the parents when the kid took the vehicle while his license was suspended? Sounds to me like James Stephens is struggling to shift the blame.

I hope the people of the Rogue Valley rally around the family and friends of Charles Bench and Mark Robustelli. ' Margaret Myers, Jacksonville

Police did their jobs

Please! In the tragic matter of the teen driver who caused the fatal crash in Medford Feb. 11, please remember whose fault it was!

Judging from the young man's driving record and his foolish idea to try to outrun the police through the heart of the city, it was bound to happen, somewhere, sometime. The police were doing what they are paid to do.

Anyone who tries to avoid the police by running should take responsibility for whatever happens. Woe unto us if it becomes acceptable to avoid the law by compromising the police!

My deep condolences to the families of this young man's unfortunate victims, as well as to his own grieving family, who are victims as well. ' Carol SeCoy, Ashland

Tragedy may be compounded

My heart goes out to the families of Charles Bench and Kevan Thatcher-Stephens.

Unfortunately, this tragedy may be compounded. Public sentiment could cause police officers to be held criminally liable for fatalities in the accident. These officers are being accused of a high-speed chase.

There are eyewitnesses. One of them, a credible photographer for the Medford Tribune, stated he did not see a high-speed pursuit, although he was in the vicinity and actually arrived at the scene before the police.

Other eyewitnesses are teens who were cruising Medford that fateful night and say they saw a pursuit. Have they jumped on the bandwagon of a popular cause?

Thatcher-Stephens, the teen who hit Charles Bench, was driving 90 to 100 mph. He passed a Phoenix police officer while honking, yelling and driving at a high speed. Apparently, his driver's license was already suspended for three incidents of speeding and reckless driving.

It would be unjust to bring legal action against the police officers because it would be based on political correctness. Whether there was a high-speed pursuit or not, this teenage driver was already well over the speed limit before the police got involved. ' Margaret Bradburn, Shady Cove

Police protect and serve

I wanted to thank the local law enforcement agencies for doing their job and risking their lives every day protecting and serving the public.

It bothers me that people would try to blame the police for the fatal accident on Feb. 11. When a police officer signals a person to stop, they need to do so.

The irresponsible actions of this kid took the life of an innocent driver. Why aren't people asking why the parents didn't control their child, who has a history of this kind of driving and no valid driver's license? The blame should fall on the driver of the Jeep and his parents.

People need to realize we're responsible for our own actions and we've no right to blame others for our mistakes. Police officers, please know that there are a lot of normal, rational-thinking people who respect you, your authority and your service. ' Josh Platt, Medford

Prevention the only answer

With hindsight, we can say that police should not have attempted to pursue the young driver who was speeding through Medford last Friday. Pursuit didn't prevent the tragedy, and arguably contributed to this particular collision.

On the other hand, common sense says that this driver might have caused a fatal crash elsewhere, even absent hot pursuit. So, what can the police do in cases like this?

The unsettling answer is, practically nothing. True, witnessing officers can alert other units, but with a vehicle moving at high speeds there isn't time to assemble the resources needed for multiple roadblocks to seal off all possible escape routes. Shoot out the tires? Only in movies.

Frustratingly, then, police must let the offender continue speeding through the streets, monitoring location as best they can, and hope that the lethal vehicle will run off the road and become disabled before anybody is killed or seriously injured.

Prevention is the only answer. Persons showing a continuing tendency to drive recklessly must not be allowed behind the wheel. Once such potentially dangerous drivers turn the ignition key and feel the urge for speed, all other options for intervening to protect public safety practically cease to exist. ' Bruce Borgerson, Ashland

County is negligent

While the loss of life in any situation is a tragedy, why are people attempting to blame the police for the actions of Thatcher-Stephens?

As I see it, he was breaking the law by being behind the wheel when he had a suspended license, speeding, failing to yield to an officer, running a red light and causing a fatal accident directly due to his negligence. The fact that police were in pursuit is a secondary matter and, if found negligent in their pursuit, should be handled appropriately within the department.

But let's take a harder look at why this tragic accident really occurred. In my opinion, Jackson County is very negligent in enforcing the laws concerning the privilege to operate a motor vehicle. The jails are too crowded and their 'crimes' don't seem serious enough to put them away ' but then look what happens. I know from a family member's habitual driving offenses that Jackson County doesn't care enough about protecting the people who live here!

My heart goes out to all the families involved. ' B. Roberts, Medford

Lack of parenting is the problem

I sympathize with the parents of young Thatcher-Stephens. After the tears are dry, I have three questions: Where were they when this happened? Who supplied the alcohol to their son? Who allowed him to have a car to drive?

My daughter moved to Ashland three years ago. She was appalled at the lack of parenting and the permissiveness. Her daughters, who arrived at Ashland High School with very good grades, began hanging around with friends, using pot and alcohol, with parents just shrugging it off.

Their grades dropped. One had an accident driving a friend's parent's car (both were underage) . The other fell, hurting herself while drunk at a friend's house. These events happened in spite of her checking with the parents and carefully monitoring her children.

Our daughter, quite alarmed, moved her children out of state. Thatcher-Stephens is a symptom. The lack of parenting is the problem. ' Janet Crawford, Medford

A sad reflection

The Feb. 17 e-vent attempting to politicize the recent tragic collision in Medford is a sad reflection: Typical liberal view? Was this a typical situation? Obviously not. An innocent family man is dead and his friend has had his life forever altered because of a reckless, seemingly incorrigible young man's actions.

This is ultimately indisputable, and what matters most. But to attempt to use this fact as a politicized counterpoint to dismissing the need for questioning the actions of the police in pursuit (particularly Officer Price), constitutes the sort of rhetorical shell game that's, well, typically conservative.

The bottom line is this: I, like the majority of Talent residents, want to know why our officers are becoming better known for accidents in other cities than the work they do at home. Meal break? Give me a break. I, like, Talent residents across the political spectrum, want Talent cops in Talent, should we require one. Add to this the mounting data that high-speed chases in populated areas are simply not worth the grave risk to innocent bystanders and police alike.

There are some instances in which good sense crushes silly political takes, and this is a textbook case. My deepest sympathies to the Bench and Robustelli families. ' John Jayme, Talent

A letter from Ashland students

To the people of the Rogue Valley:

The leadership class of Ashland High School wishes to convey on behalf of all students our sincere and heartfelt sympathy for all of the families suffering after the tragic events of last weekend. Many conflicting stories and emotions have created divisions within our Southern Oregon community. We would like to both explain our feelings here at AHS and respond to recent criticisms directed toward our school.

Ashland High School has been torn apart by last Friday's accident and the deaths it caused. Our students and staff have been impacted in various ways and each is dealing with a unique blend of anger and pain.

All of us are helpless. Our student body is faced with the difficulty both of dealing with the loss of a peer and of guilt and horror at the repercussions of his reckless actions. As we grieve, we do not want to send the message that we in any way condone Kevan's behavior, but we do request permission to mourn the loss of a real person, a friend.

We would also like to extend a plea to our fellow students around the valley that they will not do Kevan the disservice of ignoring his mistakes and repeating them. We are mourning a tragedy that did not have to happen and should never happen again, and are struggling to discover any lesson or meaning in the aftermath of this disaster.

The pain on our campus is immensely sharper because Kevan was not the only victim of his terrible judgment. Charles Ashley Bench was a beloved father, husband and friend. We cannot imagine the pain his loss has caused, but we do extend our deepest sympathy to all who loved him. You are in our hearts.

This is not over yet. More facts and conjectures will continue to emerge, probably for weeks to come. During this time we ask for understanding, and hope that everyone suffering because of Kevan's mistake will be respected and supported.

All are entitled to their grief. Please remember empathy during these hard times. We must come together if we are ever going to heal. ' The Ashland High School Leadership Class