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Writers want compromise — and salmon

As a lifelong Oregonian, I can't help asking what do we need, and what have we lost?

Oregon needs to be recognized again as a state with outstanding public schools and universities, a leader in environmental protection and a place where the rights of the individual are championed and protected. We were once.

Oregon needs a Legislature that is bipartisan, with leaders that respect and work with each other. Oregon's political parties need to restore those two endangered species, the liberal, progressive Republican and the conservative, pro-business Democrat. We had them once.

Oregon needs to remember that ultimate wisdom does not reside in Salem. We need laws that allow local school districts, cities, counties and special districts the freedom to seek new solutions without fear of the double majority, kicker laws and oppressive state intervention by LCDC, ODOT and a host of other Salem-based experts. We had that freedom once.

Little by little, independent, progressive, green Oregon is slipping away. We are surrendering to outside money and political interests. We have surrendered it to poorly drafted initiatives that hamstring our ability to support community institutions like libraries and historical societies. We surrender a little more each time we allow governments to impose new restrictions on private property rights and individual liberties and add layers of regulations upon regulations.

If we want the old Oregon back, we have to care enough to demand it. If we want to keep what is left of the Oregon we have, we need to cast a very skeptical eye on each new regulation or incursion by government that limits our rights as communities or individuals, or the rights of our fellow Oregonians to pursue their livelihoods.

We need to tell our representatives we want Oregon back and send them packing if they can't see the difference between what Oregon was, what it is, and what it needs to be again. If we do these things, maybe we can reclaim the Oregon we need. If we don't, we will have to suffer with the Oregon we deserve.

— Doug Schmor

Jackson County is faced with vexing problems in need of workable solutions.

Regional planning, funding for infrastructure maintenance and essential services, job creation, land use and quality of life issues need serious consideration if the Rogue Valley is to continue as a wonderful place to live and work.

The fixes necessary will involve compromise, which is in woefully short supply. Today, the "absolute" rules. There are no more gray areas. Issues are framed in black/white, blacker/whiter, and blackest/whitest. Evil, ignorant people speak for the other side, while our side is always right.

Disinformation is disseminated by vested interests (see the Mail Tribune editorial of Nov. 1, regarding tobacco companies and their opposition to Measure 50). An enormous amount of information is coming at us from print media, airwaves, and the Internet.

Anonymity feeds the fire. Internet forums provide space for members to be rude and inaccurate without revealing their identities. Venting the spleen may feel good on a personal level, but it does a disservice to useful public discourse.

Written attacks and name-calling do not encourage solutions. They are a cheap substitute for thoughtful consideration of an issue.

Too often we accept as truth whatever we believe, without bothering to check the veracity of the information. How are we to sift through the verbiage to find the truth? Is there one truth? Can we combine different approaches to arrive at a greater good? Is it possible for me to give a little, and you to give a little too? Can we respect each other enough to have thoughtful discussions on the important issues confronting us?

— Nancy Pagani

For the majority of the last 30 years, the closest I have come to creative writing is a construction bid. In an effort to have a little fun with this assignment, I would like to resurrect the popular "How Cum?" feature of Corinne Miller's "Country Cousin" publication. The following are a few random thoughts that you may or may not enjoy.

"How Cum" ... Sandy Berger is not in prison? Stealing classified documents used to be a serious crime.

"How Cum" ... as dependence on foreign oil has caused the price of a gallon of gas to creep toward $4 per gallon, there is no effort being made to move forward with immediate and massive U.S. exploration and production?

"How Cum" ... you can't "follow the money" when it comes to the activities of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?

"How Cum" "¦ the Mail Tribune can't see that absolutely no good can come of its stand on concealed weapons?

"How Cum" "¦ we can't figure out how to maximize the use of wood as a renewable resource?

"How Cum" "¦ it is not well-known that our trusted government has budgeted 2008 spending of $29 billion of our tax money on pork? Noteworthy in this pork called "earmarks" is money for the popular World Toilet Summit, as well as money for Street Furniture and Façade Improvements in Guam.

"How Cum" ... only 31 of 435 members of Congress have volunteered to disclose their personal earmarks? Sen. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has included a "Monument to Me" earmark of millions toward the Charles Rangel Center for Public Service. This coincides with his recent proposal of a $1.3 trillion tax increase on we the people.

The common denominator for these oddities, including the prose, is that there is plenty of room for improvement.

— David Boals

My topic of discussion today is getting involved in your community. As we head into the holiday season, we will start to see numerous examples of our community coming together to support many needy and worthwhile organizations, issues and individuals. I challenge everyone to keep the community spirit going all year long.

My challenge to every reader of the Mail Tribune is to reach out this holiday season and support one new organization with a donation of time, money or products. After the holiday season is over and the January blues start for many organizations, try and continue to support that group.

The organization that you support could be your church, kid's school or PTO, any number of the outstanding social service organizations in our community or just a neighbor that needs a little help. Get involved as an active member of an organization as a board member, volunteer or providing ongoing financial support.

As you go through your daily routines this next week, think of ways that you can make a difference. Even the smallest sacrifices in our daily lives can add up to big differences if we work together.

It always amazes me how many people love to Monday morning quarterback on issues but when asked to serve or get involved, they shy away or just don't do it. Lets all do our part to improve our community and make a difference. Even the smallest things you do get great notice and could lead to greater things. Make it your daily goal to help someone every day and make a difference in our community.

What have you done lately to improve our community?

— Ed Chun

I do not think at this time a wild spring chinook exists in the Rogue River. There are fish with all their fins but they are not truly wild.

As I understand it the Butte Falls hatchery started operation circa 1915. The smolts reared there were released back into the river without having their adipose fin clipped. The Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery was built about 1973. Most if not all of the Rogue River salmon propagation is now done there.

Until 2000, not all the salmon reared at Cole Rivers were fin-clipped. We are talking 85 years here, folks, where unclipped smolts were released into the river. The probability of a Rogue River salmon with all its fins not having a ancestor raised in a hatchery is extremely remote; therefore a true wild fish does not exist. Forget about it!

According to their Web site, one of the objectives of Cole Rivers is to produce 1,622,000 smolts for release into the Rogue River. I have visited the hatchery numerous times over the years and have yet to see all the ponds filled with water. Usually about 50 percent are in use. Why not double the objective? Rebuild the run, stock the lakes with any excess, and make fishing fun again!

A poor fishery hurts the local economy. One of the guides I recently spoke to said about 40 percent of his clients are from out of the local area. Some come from as far away as the East Coast to fish the Rogue River. These clients buy licenses, stay in motels/hotels, rent cars, eat in restaurants. In short, they spend money locally. Money that helps our economy. Will they continue to come if the fishing continues its downward spiral? Would you?

— Richard Davis

This will be the last opinion from me as a member of the Mail Tribune Editorial Advisory Board. Now that I am serving my community of Phoenix on the City Council, I have been retired from the board.

It has truly been a wonderful experience to meet with those who write our editorials and select the subjects for the editorial pages of the Mail Tribune, and those who volunteered to be on the advisory board. I would encourage any of you to volunteer — it is a unique experience.

What I have noticed since being involved in city government is the overwhelming complexity and bureaucracy that has evolved since I last served a number of years ago. The layers upon layers of commissions, laws, processes and regulatory bodies is more than most average citizens can even begin to comprehend.

I believe that what we need, in order to get people back to becoming involved in voting, volunteering and taking part in government, is simplicity. Why is everything — from building schools to the laws we vote on — so complicated that the average person with a high school or even a college education simply cannot understand it?

How many of you reading this tried, as I did, to read the Voters Pamphlet explanation of Measure 49? How many of you understood what it would do? Did you understand all the ramifications of voting either yes or no, and what that would ultimately bring about? I sure didn't!

Why vote a certain way because you are persuaded by TV ads — and we know they are funded by special interests — when the vote is in their best interest? This is what voting has come down to.

I strongly suggest that our esteemed legislators, in all future ballot issues, make the language clear, concise and understandable for the majority of voters! And I further suggest that, before we add layers and laws to what we now have, we do a housecleaning. Get rid of every agency, law, process and commission that is not essential to running government! It would save us money, too!

Good-bye — and if you agree, write your legislator!

— Diane L. Stewart

When the Tribune invited me to join the Editorial Advisory Board, I was excited to have an influence on the way the voices of my community were reflected in our newspaper.

Our first task was to write a biography, including our political philosophy. This posed a challenge. While I have definite political opinions, I resist labeling myself. Eventually I chose "Christian" and "communitarian."

Do those labels influence the way you read this? If you read a column by a "liberal", an "environmentalist," or a "conservative," do you honestly consider the value of what is written?

In Saturday's Tribune, Chris Rizo described Sen. Alan Bates' disappointment about the failure of Measure 50. Dr. Bates stated, "There is a basic distrust of state government out there, and I think it's based in some pretty good fact." Most would agree with that opinion, including the 65 percent of county voters who voted against the measure.

Unfortunately, distrust and disagreement too often breed incivility in the discourse. Some indict the majority for foolishly "buying the lies of tobacco companies and their ads." Others echo a Mail Tribune forum contributor who called Bates a "jackass."

Let us drop the insults, and begin debate with points of agreement. Then we can explore strategies in a spirit of respect. We could start health care discussions by agreeing that people should be healthy. Bates states we should "overhaul the state's health care system." Do you agree or disagree? Then dig into issues of funding and type of care, without resorting to invective or ridicule.

This can work. We all want a better community and society. The key is to remember that as we step into the public square. Then we can discuss specific issues in a cooperative spirit, and we will be amazed at what we can accomplish.

— Michael Wing

The Butte Falls fish hatchery, one of 33 in the state, has produced fish for 92 years. Editorial Advisory Board member Richard Davis questions whether any truly wild fish remain in the Rogue River or elsewhere.