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Letter of apologyWe now have a magnificent statue at Ashland's north entrance, honoring the Native American community and acknowledging "Yes, you are still here" and we are glad! This letter offers an apology for the past.

Dear Native American friends:

Has anyone ever said they are sorry for the pain and misery caused by the invasion of your land, for the broken treaties and the terrible mistakes of the past? America owes you an official apology. Until that happens, let me say: I am sorry! I decry the miserable treatment from the misguided policies of the past, some of which continues. I know all people of good faith share in this sorrow.

Let your heart embrace the gentleness of forgiveness as the beauty of grace mends your hearts, minds and souls. — Extend this forgiveness to your ancestors and to those yet to come and we will be one people again. Let us look forward to the day when everyone realizes the past is gone, the future is not here and the creative present is what we have.

Now our spirits unite in love, joy and courage. May we from now on remain wholly loved and loving, forever friends together. &

8212; Sally McKirgan, Ashland

Kitten is missedSomething sad happened. Jacksonville had an all-city yard sale. An unknown person went to a sale on South Third Street and left with our kitten.

"Monk" is a 4-month-old male tabby cat with orange and white stripes all over his body, who had no collar yet and was not yet neutered. The neighbors having the sale thought he was a wild feral cat, and let someone take him.

We have been mourning his loss daily and had no response to a lost ad we placed. If the person who took our kitten is reading this, we implore you to please return him to his rightful home. You can call us at either 324-6369 or 488-0200 or just bring him home to 615 South Third St. We would reward you with $50 on his return and hold no ill thoughts, only thankfulness.

We love him dearly and were just waiting until he was old enough to neuter him and get him a collar. We appeal to you to please bring him back.

The moral of this story is: Get to know your neighbors and introduce your pets to them, otherwise you may face a heart-wrenching loss! &

8212; Jessy Jordan, Ashland

Patience, pleaseThe city of Medford's South Peach Street project is nearing the paving stages. Paving operations are scheduled for the week starting Oct. 9.

We ask for just a little more patience from motorists and the already gracious residents and businesses that reside on Peach Street. There will be many contractors working in the final phase, including grading and paving operations.

Please understand that this project has been plagued with major design issues and was redesigned mid-swing, which has delayed the project considerably. We ask the public to use a construction speed of 20 mph and understand that there will be traffic delays as flows will be restricted to a single lane during the grading and asphalt placing stages of work. &

8212; Mark Taylor, president, Taylor Site Development, Medford

Feeling at homeIt took George Will quite a few years to realize the incompetence and sheer cruelty of this present federal administration. Molly Ivins knew about it as it was coming into power. Jonah Goldberg is having an awful time maintaining his right-wing ideology while trying to not hurt his former idols. Clarence Page is too busy being polite; he can't clearly define his opinions. The other three women "journalists" are so vague, one can't tell what they think.

On the other hand: MT's writing readers seem to favor mild-to-heavy "Bush-bashing." I certainly feel at home here: Perhaps the Rogue Valley is inhabited by sane people? Considering the immense growth of militarism with its unconscionable power over all of us, we are lucky to be freely roaming our streets without being stopped, searched and forced to wear imbedded IDs! &

8212; Duane Sample, Jacksonville

Winters kept promisesI voted for Mike Winters in the last election. At that time he made numerous promises, as do most people who are running for office. However, unlike most people, Sheriff Winters has fulfilled those promises. How refreshing!

Those of us who live in the rural areas of Jackson County have seen more service from the Sheriff's Department since Mike Winters took over than ever before. Sheriff Winters is usually at the scene of every situation, in uniform, and ready to work. He is a true professional and his department appears to be run professionally.

I feel safer with Mike Winters as sheriff and I'll vote for him again. &

8212; Jim DeVore, Prospect

Voting for WintersThe Jackson County Sheriff's Office has garnered statewide respect under the last two sheriffs. I am no more impressed by the union employees stabbing Mike Winters in the back than when they did it to Robert Kennedy four years ago.

The county cannot afford to have the policies of the Medford Police Department become the policies of JCSO. I don't want Medford police officers filling the ranks of JCSO.

Tribune article, "Night patrol," May 2001, Lt. Tim George was the officer in charge of the Reservoir Dawgs.

"His team doesn't wait for an opportunity to fall into their laps. Instead, they go out and make it happen."

It's one of the reasons he calls the officers of Team 5 the Reservoir Dawgs &

8212; a slightly modified term borrowed from Quentin Tarantino's violent cult hit film "Reservoir Dogs."

George was a ranking officer when they named this unit after a criminal gang. &

8212; Christine Alford, Gold Hill

Voting for VoisinI'll vote for Carol Voisin for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I agree with her stance on most issues. Secondly, Walden is a threat to democracy. Not Walden himself. I'm sure he is a nice guy. Rather, it is Republican control of Congress that threatens our democracy.

Democracy depends upon all points of view being heard, discussed and decided upon. The party with the largest number of members in both houses of Congress controls proceedings. Committee chairpersons, who decide what topics are discussed and voted upon, are selected from the majority party.

Since the Republicans took control of Congress, especially the House of Representatives, opposing points of view have not been heard. Democrats have regularly been shut out of committee meetings; consequently, only legislation favored by the Republican leadership, who are far from moderate, is voted upon.

We can't afford further threats to our democracy. Vote for Voisin. &

8212; Bruce Evans, Talent

Thanks, RepublicansIn January 2005, I wrote a letter congratulating Republicans on their sweep of the government. I asked if they would wear an elephant pin, so that the 49 percent who didn't vote Republican could thank them personally for their party's service to America.

Now it's fall 2006. I'd like to thank Republicans for at least one pedophile whose perversion is ignored by the leadership. There's still no armor for the troops. Budget deficits balloon like Dennis Hastert's pants &

8212; another legacy for the kids. Abramoff, Ney and Cunningham prove that for Republicans it's not just sex and kids, they love money, too. Don't forget torture. Republicans have made torture permissible as long as Mr. Wonderful (GWB) says it's OK. The Fourth Amendment? Gone with the wind.

What's next? Whatever Republicans want. Diebold and the new Jim Crow laws will make sure they steal this election, too. Thanks Republicans. Want an elephant pin? &

8212; Damon Neal, Medford

Voting for KulongoskiRon Saxton wants to give tax breaks to big corporations, many of them from out of state.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski wants a rainy day fund for Oregon. His proposal, which would not raise new taxes, simply keeps revenues already earned. They would not be sent to corporations as the "corporate kicker." Saxton is a $300-an-hour corporate attorney. He wants to terminate the voter-approved minimum wage.

Kulongoski supports the minimum wage.

Saxton's plan to balance Oregon's budget? He has none. Kulongoski, on the other hand, has already balanced the state budget.

I'm voting for Ted Kulongoski. &

8212; Phil Newton, Murphy

School bonds irresponsibleJim Teece's advocacy of the Ashland school bond (Sunday, Oct. 1) omits salient facts. The same "tax rate" means nearly doubled tax burdens because of increased real estate values. The "similar time period" is 12, not 10, years. Bad: Everyone will pay more longer. Worse: The bond urges an expensive "green" rebuilding, not building repairs for millions less.

Worst: No architectural designs, detailed and costed, support this "green" rebuilding or any other facility construction or remodeling. When "green" ideals meet design and construction realities, cost overruns or performance deficits result. These outcomes create distrust of district officials and "green" citizens should send a message to the district: My vote "no" this year will be my "yes" vote in two years if you act responsibly by offering bond proposals for facilities based on public planning, detailed designs and prudent budgets. &

8212; Michael L. Hays, Ashland

Vote for CharterThe position of judge holds tremendous power in our political system, and it is our responsibility as good citizens that we make that selection with great discernment. We want someone fair-minded, who understands both the letter and spirit of the law, someone compassionate with human folly. We want someone fierce yet tender, forgiving yet holding accountability.

Joe Charter is this type of man. I have been in circles with Joe. I love his heart and respect his wisdom. When Joe speaks, people listen. He is trustworthy. He lives with integrity, personal responsibility, self-forgiving and forgiving of others. If I were to stand before this man with my transgression, I believe he would judge me fairly.

The power of a judge must be placed in the hands of a person of character, of moral fiber, of deep love, commitment to truth. Joe Charter is this man &

8212; the next Ashland municipal judge. &

8212; Dennis Mead-Shikaly, Ashland

Connect the dotsTwo political dots appeared in recent issues of the Mail Tribune. I hope my fellow Jackson County voters will connect them.

On Oct. 4, incoming SOU President Mary Cullinan pointed out that costs continue to increase faster than revenues at our local university. Tuition increases will only force more students out of school.

Cullinan is talking about "rethinking." Translate that as "shrinking." On Oct. 3, gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton said "The first thing I'm going to do is lower taxes." Oregon already ranks 48th nationally in percentage of state support for higher education.

Where would Saxton take us?

Our success as a community depends on investing in young people.

India is doing a better job than Oregon at educating its future labor force. Anti-tax conservatives like Saxton are stealing our future to buy our votes.

Ted Kulongoski says he wants to invest in Oregon. That makes sense to me. &

8212; Diarmuid McGuire, Ashland

Vote for VoisinThe Iraq war was an ill-conceived action and nobody knows why George Bush and his pack of supporters invaded Iraq. They had no weapons of mass destruction; there was no link between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein. Ask a Bush supporter one prediction he has made that has come true!

We don't hear much about the possible draft. Bush has a back-door draft by extending tours of duty. If George listens to his commanders, they are telling him they need more troops.

Greg Walden has supported George Bush 94 percent of the time, so a vote for Walden is a vote for staying the course. George might attack Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Syria, just to name a few countries.

Where are the troops going to come from? Look at your children and your grandchildren and watch them go off to war! Please vote for Carol Voisin and save our children! &

8212; Bruce Bauer, Medford

Anybody but JackMeasure 37 gave us great unpredictability in rural areas. Yet Jackson County Commissioner Jack Walker added to that unpredictability by voting to create up to 2,590 new 10-acre parcels, adding potentially 26,000 additional daily vehicle trips to traffic counts. His action also served to encourage the destruction of wildlife habitat, farmland, forest land and open space while greatly increasing county service costs.

Commissioners need to represent the interests of all who live in the county, not just those who clamor to hack up the countryside. Yet Walker doesn't see things that way.

Partisanship at the county level is immaterial because the primary issues are livability and government fiscal responsibility. Yet we gain in neither area with Walker. Fortunately, he has two opponents: independent and Republican-leaning Diane Davidson and Democrat Tom Winmill. Thus, the recommendation for this race for the good of all county residents has to be "Anybody but Jack." &

8212; Brent Thompson, Ashland

Cool on KulongoskiThe Democrats may be too embarrassed to put Kulongoski bumper stickers on their cars, but it's a safe bet that they'll soon be voting for him &

8212; again. &

8212; Ron Smith, Medford