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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

With the horrible news out of Rogue River, perhaps it is time to give further consideration to our local police chief's current wish list.

We've apparently already agreed to his request that we finance a personal parking garage to go with the new police station that they've justified as a way to keep up with Bend and Eugene. Most recently the chief has asked our City Council to give police the power to restrict the rights and therefore control a specific segment of our population through a ban on an animal they love.

With this story and its implications, perhaps a county-wide ban on pigs should also be considered. Maybe a "report-a-pig" hotline to encourage the involvement of the citizenry.

Not that the pigs themselves are bad, but who really knows just what some of those pigs are encouraged or allowed by their masters to do? Once we get rid of all the pit bulls and all the pigs we can get on with figuring out what else to ban to make life here in Jackson County the utopia it should be. — Joe Lee, Medford

As a 23-year teacher in this district, this contract negotiation and the lack of respect shown the teachers who do the work of this district is what this argument is about.

Make no mistake, money is an issue. For months the board failed to negotiate in good faith (Thank the Hungerford Law Group). They have denied that the money existed to give teachers their promised raise (teachers have had their pay frozen since 2008).

When the district enforced its contract in December, one board member exclaimed that teachers would be happy when they got their first check. My take home pay increased $22.03, and some teachers actually took less home because the "raise" put them into a higher tax bracket. Take into consideration inflation over the past six years and it's easy to see the teachers' point of view.

At the last negotiation, Ms. Killen finally agreed that the money was there, but the board is choosing to spend it elsewhere. If readers want some true insight into this board check out "Motion to dismiss Phil Long" on YouTube. I think Medford will get a new perspective of its elected board. — Sandra Rouhier, Medford

Regarding "Farmers debate GMO ban," I want to address Ron Bjork of the Farm Bureau, a part of the so-called Good Neighbor Farmers, and his assertion of his right to grow GMO alfalfa on his Eagle Point farm.

The reality is, if he misses a cutting because of weather, his alfalfa will cross-pollinate with his neighbor's alfalfa, and if that neighbor wishes to have non-GMO feed and seed, his crop will destroy theirs. Whether or not he feel GMOs are safe, he's taken away his neighbor's right to grow a non-modified crop, organically or otherwise. That's even more likely with GMO seed crops such as canola, corn and soy.

Additionally, if he creates super-weeds from excess application of a singular herbicide, developing Roundup resistance, they may also spread to a neighbor's crop, hay, pasture, yards, and also county roadsides and parks, necessitating ever-more-potent herbicide measures to be taken by them. How is this being a "Good Neighbor Farmer?"

Is he at least posting notice that he is growing these crops so his neighbors can be informed? All of our actions affect others; a truly good neighbor should be aware of this. — Mary Alionis, Whistling Duck Farm LLC

As a graduate of the Medford Public Schools (South '06), I experienced first-hand the incredible dedication of our teachers to work at all hours to prepare for lessons.

I sat in classes of 32 students, and saw my teachers strive to spend one-on-one time with each student. As a naive freshman I celebrated the new three-day weekends that occurred with alarming regularity, but I now realize what it must have been like to come home with measly paychecks for years, at no fault of your own.

It is time to give our teachers the contract they deserve. I urge the school board to make a better offer and avoid a strike. — Dana Kleinhesselink, Oakland, Calif.

In response to threats of lawsuits and boycotts, the Ashland City Council has asked for more information, to stay open-minded and neutral, and to have civil discussion on the recent petition for gun safety ordinances. Hurrah!

Many of us are disheartened by our federal government's lack of civility and decision-making. Locally, we now have a chance to address concerns over balancing constitutional rights with the safety of all.

Recommending a ban on openly carrying weapons in public places and requiring guns to be kept away from children without authorization does not take away Second Amendment rights; those rights are merely safeguarded. Our right to free speech does not allow us to threaten detonation on airlines, to defame others, or to display words or images promoting child pornography. With rights come responsibilities to insure our safety and well-being.

I wonder if a single, private citizen's weapon has averted any crime on the streets of Ashland. We do know that weapons in public places result in shocking deaths elsewhere, every day. Thank you to the Ashland City Council for bravely taking such issues under consideration, protecting our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. — Lynn Ransford, Ashland

A handful of scientists still question the role of human activity in causing the warming effect. However, the fact of global warming is not in question even by this small minority of scientists.

My window looks out on Mount Ashland. Seven years ago the snowcap lasted until mid-August. Each year it has vanished earlier. This year will it last until June?

The facts say our planet is warming. The projected consequences have in some instances become new facts adding weight to old projections of consequences. New facts, such as the rapidity of the vanishing of Arctic ice, acidification of the oceans with collapse of the fisheries, dwindling snow pack and the loss of many important species of Oregon's trees are unanticipated consequences of the planetary tragedy unfolding before our eyes.

It is time to let the scales fall from our eyes: time to educate ourselves, time to accept our power as citizens to influence what is happening. We cannot afford the luxury of despair. We are being challenged at both personal and political levels. This is a new Pearl Harbor calling for full participation of our citizenry. Let's wake up!

Visit www.socan.info (Southern Oregon Climate Action Now). — Elizabeth Hallett, Ashland

Mr. Bjork of the local Farm Bureau was quoted in the paper on the subject of health risks from genetically engineered crops, saying "nobody's died." He's right, as far as we know.

As far as we know neither has anyone died as a direct result of exposure to, for example, DDT, though that chemical has been banned from agricultural use since the 1970s because of its association with multiple cancers, diabetes, birth defects, etc.

In fact, genetically engineered crops have not been subjected to the kind of careful testing we've seen with DDT and other dangerous chemicals, despite protests by scientists in the very government agencies (USDA, FDA) that have approved GE crops. Perhaps it's because those agencies are managed by political appointees from the big chemical/bioengineering firms, or because those firms must give permission for their patented crops to be studied by independent researchers, or that corporate permission must be granted even to publish the results of any studies that are conducted.

Either way, we need a better standard than "nobody's died." And in the meantime I'm voting yes on the ballot measure to end the planting of this stuff in Jackson County. — Terry Anderson, Rogue River