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With a breathtaking performance on all levels, how could both reviews of "Aida" be so off?

What's wrong, Moeschl, with loving the costumes, sets and music? Isn't that why we go? And Varble, comparing Ariel to Aida? When was the mermaid executed for falling in love? Amneris' song gave you the "blues," "less said about the lyrics the better?" How else do we see the transition from vacuous princess to reigning queen? Despite betrayal, she upholds Egyptian law with compassion, her sorrow ending war and establishing peace. It's the contrast necessary to see why she alone is left admired at the end.

Sadly, Varble and Moeschl are stuck in the 19th century. Did they write their preconceived reviews before seeing the show? They bash the music that won the Tony for Best Original Score. They mock the sets and lighting, which both won Tonys. They even scorn "Lion King," which also won, yep, best musical. Boys, what could possibly have been the basis for your attack except for a refusal to acknowledge that inspiration can flow into and out of "Aida" in a venue other than opera? Next time save the space for a review that actually matches the performance. — Camille Schuler, Medford

Think about the last time you drove north on Interstate 5 to Eugene, Salem or Portland. How many Oregon State Police patrol cars did you see: two, one, maybe none? That scarcity of sightings shouldn't come as a surprise, since OSP has the lowest patrol staffing of any state in the country.

These dedicated men and women of our Oregon State Police perform critical services on our highways and in our communities. In the past five years, over 2,300 persons died on Oregon roadways, yet continued budget cuts over the years have resulted in a situation in which there is no longer 24-hour patrol coverage anywhere in the state. In 1980, OSP had 641 patrol troopers/sergeants, today there are less than 300.

Rep. Sal Esquivel has sponsored HB 3421, which would pay for 300 troopers over five years by adding the equivalent of 4.3 cents to the tax on a bottle of beer, raising it to a nickel. That is significantly less than Oregonians currently pay in taxes on wine and hard liquor. If safe highways are important to you, take a minute and send an e-mail to one of our local legislators. — District Attorney Mark Huddleston, Medford

Why are MURA and Lithia building the "Commons" redevelopment project in downtown Medford? Do we (the citizens) need another parking garage downtown? People barely use the first two! A three-block parkway ... why?

What does Medford really need? A convention center! The only attempt at a convention center is the Red Lion Hotel, that is way too small for most conventions. Turn this project around and redesign it into a joint effort between the Red Lion Hotel, Lithia, MURA and the Medford Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors and Convention Bureau and build a convention center in the center of Medford. Make it a multi-use facility so it can hold not only conventions, but antique shows, car shows and other entertainment for the betterment of Medford.

Don't waste MURA's dollars on another "pie in the sky" urban park and office building. These will not bring either shoppers (money) or outsiders into our downtown. But a convention center can!

Conventions bring people and their money directly into the core of cities and they do spend money in this area — guaranteed! Step up fast, folks. Tell us what you really want for Medford. — Allen Stewart, Jacksonville

I am a true believer in libraries and discouraged by the threat of their closure. Nevertheless, I don't understand why voters are only being offered two choices; to either pay to have all 15 open, or close them all. What happened to a happy medium?

For example, Ashland was faced with a declining younger population, which led to school closures; their solution wasn't to pass a levy for more money so they could keep all the elementary schools open. They instead closed some schools and relocated the children.

Citizens should be offered more than just an "all or nothing" decision when it comes to the libraries. Instead of another hefty property tax so we can open all 15, let's offer voters the option to open a few, therefore leaving more money in our pockets without denying ourselves the wonderful services libraries provide. — Eric Jorgensen, Central Point

I am an 89-year-old homeowner on a fixed income. I paid over $2,000 in taxes this year. Every year it goes up and there is the school bond that we passed recently. Don't forget that.

Little by little, these increases eat away at my fixed income. Gas prices are up. My bill for my TV from Dish went up $4 recently. Stamps are going to be 41 cents very soon. I found that out at the substation yesterday. My garbage bill increased from last year.

Think about it. Those are just the ones I can recall right now. My fixed income does not go up and I do not want to pay more taxes to support the library that I can't get to use anyway. — Sarah E. Davis, Medford

Senator Bates was quoted in the Mail Tribune on March 26, "There's already enough money being spent on health care in Oregon to pay for universal health care if we spend it more efficiently." That statement is an oxymoron! Politicians have no clue of what the word efficient means when it comes to spending taxpayers' money.

The population of Oregon would grow dramatically. My concern is it will attract low-income workers or welfare recipients like moths to a light from all over the country!

I realize our health care system needs fixing. Consider implementing a program at the national level so our state won't stand out as the one state offering free health care. The influx of people will put greater demand and pressure on Oregon taxpayers.

It's not OK to spend our tax revenue in such a frivolous manner and destroy the social and economic structure of our state. Please don't let SB 329 become law. Less government in our lives is a good thing! — Charles Johnson, Medford

Ludicrous. Ashley Ferl, 15, makes the front page of the MT blubbering over a weak entertainer with bad hair? The crying shame is the rest of the headlines which spoke the unspeakable!

Everywhere real tears are shed over murder, mayhem and shrinking lives. Tears flood Africa, the Middle East and the developing world.

Cry instead over the real possibility of an invasion and occupation of Iran. — Mike Jager, Jacksonville

As a parent of an Evans Valley fifth-grader I have concerns regarding the K-8 proposal.

Students learn better with a lower student-to-teacher ratio and get in less trouble with adult supervision.

It doesn't make sense to eliminate jobs when we need those people to educate our kids If the teachers get divided between two schools, our kids will miss out on the diversity of teaching styles, subjects and electives today's middle-schoolers have.

Evans Valley does not have enough space. If we have to add buildings and sports facilities, and buy more books, shelves, lockers, computers, copy machines, sports equipment, etc., will we spend the money we were trying to save? I feel that the kids at Evans Valley are going to be shortchanged, with less space and materials, fewer teachers, choices, and opportunities.

I like the idea of changing Evans Valley into an annex which houses the district's administration, offers outdoor education, home-school programs, Alt-Ed and GED, and rents space out to the community.

We could have a K-8 or a middle school with an expanded elementary school downtown. It would unify our community rather than divide it, having our kids together in the same schools. — Dana Rose, Rogue River

Libraries provide a vital link to the past, present, and future. Libraries welcome all of us. Libraries offer information, pleasure, and inspiration. Libraries help those who have no home library nor computer. We have long counted on having libraries and being trusted to check out books. Let's not be the people who allow them to close.

Passing books to one another when we helped move to the new library was a wonderful experience for all ages. A levy is the only sure way to keep our libraries open. Let's join hands again and vote yes for us all! — Faye M. Hutchings, Medford

The hound hunters are trying once again to repeal the protection cougars have from their particular type of "sport." Twice Oregonians have voted to ban bear baiting and hunting cougars with radio-collared hounds. Killing "problem" cats has always been allowed, but the hounders won't be happy until they have their blood sport back.

One of their weapons is fear. "This big predator will eat you, your children, your pets, and your livestock." With some common-sense precautions, it's just not going to happen.

Like all predators, cougars have a place in the natural world, but they are currently being hunted by both the state and the county. Maybe there's enough killing going on without adding the houndsmen to the mix? — Jean Strong, Medford