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In pursuit of taxesRegarding Sunday's piece on the struggle to track rampant untaxed home improvement in the county, the Assessor's Office should look into modernizing its approach to ferreting out these scofflaws. The program should be expanded to include the use of night vision goggles, in case some miscreant tries to get away with re-roofing his house under the cover of darkness. Another useful tool would be eavesdropping equipment that is designed to alert the operator to the sounds of hammering and sawing.

Following the lead of the NSA, data mining from the sales receipts of the local home improvement centers could reveal patterns of unreported remodeling activity.

Hiring more appraisers should be just part of an overall plan to make sure that in addition to the expense of the materials and the sweat associated with such nefarious activity, the homeowner will have to cough up some additional cash for the county. I just have to wonder if I will have to pay whenever I mow my lawn. &

8212; Don Bennett, Medford

Why wait to help?

In Letters to the Editor on May 15, a reader responds that YMCA classes framed to help Hispanic people overcome health issues should be conducted in English.

I believe that speaking English would help any immigrant get along better in the United States, but should we wait until everyone can speak English before we help them improve their children's health or other important issues? &

8212; Hank Rogers, Medford

Bigotry is bigotryThanks for the April 24 article about the community access television show that explores issues impacting gay men. I look forward to the day when the topic can be meaningfully explored on a television channel that reaches a larger audience. Still, this show may provide relief in a rural valley where gay and lesbian isolation is psychologically reinforced by persistent anti-gay rhetoric.

Last election, local politician Dennis Richardson stumped repeatedly on the radio for Measure 36 for those of you who forgot, this is the measure attempting to prevent gay and lesbian couples from getting legally married &

8212; time will tell. Silver-tongued Rep. Richardson talked fancy circles 'round his prejudice, as some right-wing Republicans are want to do lately. He two-stepped verbally while in fact trampling civil rights.

It is horrifying and fascinating to observe the manner in which homophobia is rationalized. Bigotry cloaked in fancy language is still just bigotry. &

8212; Doug Huston, Medford

More wasted gasWith car dealerships lining the streets of Central, Riverside and Crater Lake Highway, and gas at or near an all-time high, it seems pretty silly or dumb to ferry 200 to 300 cars to the Expo using gas both ways and hoping people will spend a little more of their own gas to come and see their bargains.

Can't these car shops sell enough of their cars while leaving them in their own lots? Never have seen a town where this happens! &

8212; Bob Johnson, Medford

They want our moneyIt's not right to go around nickle and diming home owners because our county government can't manage their budget. Gas is over $3 a gallon, food prices are up and everything else is going up, except wages.

Now my county government is going to hire property appraisers with the sole purpose of reappraising my house and raising my taxes. If my property taxes get raised — cent I am going to appeal the decision and I suggest everyone else do the same.

Don't let your government steal from you because they can. The citizens of this county need to stand up for ourselves; our county commissioners do not have our best interests at heart. They want our money, any way they can get it &

8212; traffic enforcement vans, red light cameras, raise property taxes and whatever hair-brained scheme some politician is bound to come up with to rip off the people next time. &

8212; S. Vinson, Eagle Point

Mining plan abhorrentBob Robertson's intention to extract and mine rock and gold is environmentally and socially abhorrent. Anyone who looks at the far-reaching ramifications his mining would have on the environment will realize that it is not something we should accept.

Robertson stands to reap a short-term windfall if he is allowed to establish mining operations. But at what environmental cost? Typically, hundreds of tons of earth must be excavated in order to obtain a single ounce of gold. Those masses of disturbed rock, exposed to the rain and air for the first time, contribute to gold mining's multi-billion dollar environmental time bomb. Sulfides in that rock react with oxygen, making sulfuric acid. The resulting chemical reaction also frees heavy metals like cadmium, lead and mercury, which are harmful to people and fish, even at low concentrations. The chain reaction can go on for centuries.

In many parts of the world, gold mining has polluted drinking water, sickened communities and displaced indigenous peoples from their lands. Are we really willing to allow this to occur here in our community? I urge all concerned citizens in the Rogue Valley to register their opposition to Robertson's request with the Jackson County Planning Commission. &

8212; Susan Young, Ashland

Don't blame cougarsTaxpayer support for a cougar hunter would be irresponsible. Neither the cougars nor the taxpayers created this problem, nor should they pay for solutions.

For centuries shepherds have used livestock guard dogs to protect livestock, pets and families. These dogs seldom kill predators, instead keeping them away. Before I owned Great Pyrenees, cougars visited my porch. Now, although cougar sign is visible 200 yards away, none come near my home or animals. Problem solved &

8212; by prevention.

People who move into a predator neighborhood bear responsibility for the problems thus created. A cougar shouldn't be blamed if, upon seeing a spring lamb, it thinks, "I don't care if this is someone's 4-H project, I have a litter to feed."

A good dog can be obtained from a reputable breeder or rescue groups. Go to and for more information. If you own the problem, pay for the solution. Let's spend taxpayer money on services for all of us. &

8212; Nancy Ames Cole, Siskiyou Pass

Plan bullies seniorsThe plan to bully seniors into joining a drug plan that taxes their Social Security income is a failure. This plan is obviously not in the best interests of those who have worked hard, paid taxes and once thought these taxes would help them in retirement.

The government of the wealthy, by the wealthy and for the wealthy has finally shown its true colors.

What scares me to death is the purposes for which this senior's taxes might be spent. &

8212; Joan Tyson, Ashland

Democracy under attackYou don't have to believe in conspiracy theories to be concerned that our great experiment in democracy is under serious attack. How do you investigate intelligence agencies for malfeasance if all they have to do is deny security clearance to the investigators?

I question the sanity of anyone who isn't concerned about the government data mining all phone calls and e-mail without court oversight, while retaining the power to use that knowledge without restraint. When will we have enough of President Bush and his minions repeatedly lying to us about Iraq, resulting in tens of thousands killed and maimed and hundreds of billions of dollars wasted; about secrecy well beyond the nation's need for security; or about huge budget deficits that will strangle future generations?

Permanent access to oil in the Middle East is important likely the real reason for invading Iraq, but why not have a viable energy conservation program?

Do we really want to continue with the lack of oversight and corruption of a one-party government, and an administration that believes that anything goes, with no laws or treaties considered valid unless President Bush finds them expedient? &

8212; Gene Goodson, Medford

Pick and choose lawsSo let me get this straight: We want all our citizens in this country to be legal, yet it's OK if our own citizens invade and occupy another country illegally. It must be OK to pick and choose which laws we want to obey. &

8212; Earle Sloan, Ashland

Don't hire trapperI am distressed and outraged that the county is considering funding a federal agent to deal with wildlife complaints at a time when the county is experiencing serious budget woes. The county's budget committee has snuck this budget item in, overriding a citizens committee that was previously organized by county government to look into the matter. The citizens of this county should demand to know why they are ramrodding this through and funding a federal agent when there are other ways of handling complaints that are free or more cost-effective.

The hiring of a professional trapper is mostly in response to cougar complaints. Under current law, property owners can kill an offending animal. While the current wildlife conflict system has serious weaknesses, the citizens committee is the best place to work them out. The committee has been looking at alternative ways of dealing with complaints. But once again, it's apparent public input is not valued.

Let your county commissioners know you are opposed to bringing a federal trapper to this county and don't want your tax dollars wasted, especially at the expense of sheriff patrols or libraries. And please do it now, before the county adopts its budget. &

8212; Geri Landeros, Medford

Custodians work hardIn response to the letter from Connie Day on May 7. When was the last time she toured the inside of Medford's schools? She asked what custodians do to earn their money.

For several years now there has been only one evening custodian at each elementary school. In an eight-hour shift, I clean 10 student restrooms, four staff restrooms, 16 classrooms, library, computer lab, offices and health room. That gives me approximately 12 minutes per room to clean sinks, toilets, replace paper products, sweep, mop, vacuum , empty trash and pick up garbage outside. I deal with vandalism to the restrooms every day &

8212; stall doors kicked in, wads of toilet paper on ceilings, graffiti, foreign objects in toilets and urinals, feces wiped on walls, paper and soap dispensers torn off.

I'm not licensed to handle asbestos, and our schools are full of it. I'm not a licensed plumber, roofer or electrician. If I were, the school district couldn't afford to pay me more than I earn now, which is slightly over poverty level.

If you think all we do is sweep floors and empty trash, I would be happy to have you follow me during my shift. I hope you have a strong stomach. &

8212; Karen Heyward, Wilson Elementary School custodian, Medford

Johns Peak clean-upI would like to thank all the motorcycle riders and local retailers that helped with the annual Motorcycle Riders Association trash clean-up Saturday, May 13, on Johns Peak. We filled a 40-yard Rogue Disposal container and a huge box van donated by American Appliance Recyclers with appliances.

Although it's not dirt bike riders dumping this trash, we need to keep our riding area clean, our sound levels down and respect owners' private property so we can continue to keep the great place we have to ride. Our family and thousands and thousands of other families have ridden and raced and camped on this property since motorcycles were invented. Don't let people move here and take it from us. Please! &

8212; Jeff Moffet, Oregon Motorcycle Adventures