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A letter from an Ashland writer Sunday decried the lack of liberal columnists in the Mail Tribune, citing Susan Estrich and David Broder, among others, as examples of conservative writers.

As the head of Michael Dukakis' 1988 campaign, and as an avowed Hillary backer, I think Ms. Estrich would get a real chuckle out of being so labeled. And David Broder, the dean of American journalists, although he writes for the liberal Washington Post, is considered by most to be straight down the middle.

Only in Ashland would these two be called conservative. — David R. Newell, Eagle Point

Recently, I attended a discussion on WOPR (the BLM proposal for our forests) in Ashland and I had some questions that were not answered.

1. What will be the economic impact of the loss of revenue due to hunters and fishermen not coming to Jackson County? Clearcutting our old-growth forests in the Applegate Valley will eliminate many animals and the hunters seeking them.

2. How will it affect global warming?

3. What about the impact on our air quality in Southern Oregon? This valley really has cleaned up its air in the last 25 years. Is WOPR going to set us back?

4. There is a promise to replant areas that have been clearcut. Has there been any thought of replanting a mixture of trees to prevent insect and disease problems?

5. Over 100,000 acres in Jackson County are earmarked for off-highway vehicles. Has there been an environmental impact study of these vehicles?

6. What is the impact on the quality of life for Jackson County citizens?

In conclusion, I am against this proposal because our old-growth forests cannot really be replaced by man! — Bruce Bauer, Medford

Paris Achen's article on cell towers at NMHS makes light of a serious issue. She refers readers to the Cancer Society's Web site that gives as its bottom line, "Cellular phones are a relatively new technology and we do not yet have full information." She then refers to the energy broadcast by cell towers as, "the same low energy radiation as AM/FM radio signals."

However, cell towers emit RF radiation at the 450-2200 megahertz frequency, which falls in the microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. A thorough search of the scientific literature reveals that while scientists agree that cell towers do not ionize (heat up) your cells, there is much debate about long-term health effects of chronic microwave exposure. A recent study linked RF exposure of 884 megahertz to sleep disorders, headaches and chronic fatigue.

I pose the following questions: What is the strength of the radiation emitted by these towers? Who will monitor these towers and accurately report the findings to the school and community? What are the long-term physioelectric effects of constant exposure to these towers? Until these and other questions are answered, 549c should join the Los Angeles Unified School District in banning cell towers on campus. — Robert Black, Medford

Regarding Karen Salant's letter (Dec. 7): Involved for the last two months, wow!

Where have we been? We have been butting heads with the school board for 18 months now. Two hundred of us were at the School Board meeting demanding not to close any schools.

Back then they promised to spare Jackson School. Since the bond passed, they have done nothing but stick to the original plan (which would have failed if voted on as it was). Jackson School has been pushed to the back burner over and over.

No, we won't be quiet or go away. We are determined to get what we were promised. All we want is for the board to keep its promises.

There is currently no plan for Jackson or Roosevelt. Our children are orphaned. Show a little compassion and understanding. How would you feel in our shoes?

The media is indispensable, telling the story as it is. I personally have been rejected from being involved in any committee they formed, because I am strongly opposed to closing schools. Don't talk to me about clarity and transparency! — Curt Turner, Medford

Karen Salant (Dec. 7), stated she had been to numerous school board meetings, was provided with a lot of information and never felt deceived.

I, too, attended those meetings. When Mrs. Salant asks where were the discontented people with "real input and alternatives," I must answer that they were sitting next to her. They each spoke for three minutes, offering options, giving information and presenting ideas. All of this is recorded in the board's minutes posted on their Web site.

As to the information Mrs. Salant received, what exactly was it? Certainly not a direct response to anything brought forth at a board meeting. No one received any acknowledgement of their input. This lack of dialogue caused a citizens' group to demand a public forum to openly discuss the issues facing the board.

Karen and Peter Salant separately asked the board to "sharpen their pencils" and revisit the costs associated with the remaining projects. That pencil sharpener must have been a dud! "Flagship High" is now $21 million over budget, Lone Pine is $3.5 million and Oak Grove is $2 million over — so far. How can the board continue to justify these expenditures?

Are they being deceptive or simply disingenuous? — BJ Buxton, Medford

I am writing to you because of a scenario I recently witnessed which I found to be appalling. While waiting for deli service at a supermarket it was clear to me that several of their employees were very obviously ill with colds.

I made this presumption because the employees consistently coughed, but what I found most disturbing was the constant sneezing over the food, the counters and the entire work area. I felt that they were just too busy to even cover their mouths.

This observation was so distasteful to me I decided to abandon my shopping and left the store (along with a few other customers).

I am a regular customer of this store and I wondered, are the employees of this store expected to work when they are sick? Are sick days not available to their employees? Until I find out the answer to this question and observe the proper and sanitary handling of food products, I do not intend to go back to this store.

May I suggest these employees take sick days or at least be assigned to work in areas where their illness does not contaminate the customers or the food they may be purchasing? — L. Alba, Medford

The American people have been told, and many believe, that we invaded Iraq to spread democracy. I would rather we coveted their rich oil fields. For absolute democracy is an unnatural form of government and it surpasses belief that it's come to such prominence in the modern world.

Should the imbecile and the creative man of enterprise, the jackal and the lion, have the same sway? In America, democracy has brought about a grotesque state of affairs: Imbeciles are supported at government expense, titans acquire gluttonous fortunes while their poor workers vote for men who promise them mansions in heaven just as the 9/11 terrorists were promised harems of celestial virgins. Meanwhile, having pulverized freedom-seeking Vietnam, our imperial war machine holds the whole world in fear.

Our nuclear arsenal is not safe in the hands of a populace whose idea of entertainment is "Cops" and "American Idol." Naturally, democratic elements should be retained. But most power should be held by men of wisdom and ability: philosophers and scientists, men who can see past national and class boundaries and remedy world problems from the melting Arctic to the disease-plagued jungles of Africa. — Sean Lawlor Nelson, Medford

The Clark family would like to thank everyone who came out to help find our grandson and friends last week, lost while Christmas tree hunting on Dec. 8.

Many thanks to Chris Hansen, Search and Rescue, the county sheriff and everyone else. Many thanks. — Lanettte Clark, Gold Hill

Thank you for your article on Diane Roxbury's love for the deceased at Woodville Cemetery. Good for her. I hope the caretaker of the Jacksonville Cemetery sees the article.

My blessed mother-in-law died in 1971. Every year, a week before Mother's Day, I clean her grave and nearby graves. I decorate her grave with many decorative flowers.

A couple of years ago, a caretaker was hired and threw all my decorations away. I was shocked and hurt. This grave is sacred to me and I go every year to fix it.

He came one time and was very sarcastic to me and said the flowers weren't allowed. Boy, he needs to look at all the unkempt graves. Flowers or neglect? He hasn't bothered the grave since.

I'm 77, not well, so maybe he'll win out, but as long as I can, I'll decorate her grave. Thanks, Diane. — Jean Albertson, Medford

This quote is from "The Touch," a book by Colleen McCullough. "...if you substitute arbitrary violence, hatred and jealousy for justice, legality and right, it may be that you will succeed in carrying your point; it may be that a great wrong will be accomplished by the exercise of sheer force, and the weight of superior numbers: but your reputation among the nations of the earth will be irretrievably injured and debased, and the flag of which you are so justly proud will no longer be the standard of freedom and the hope of the oppressed, but will be associated with deeds of falsehood and treachery."

Would that the leaders of our country take this to heart and act accordingly! Is it too late to find them in the mire and muck that has become our country's capitol? — Judith Tharp, Central Point