ONLINE ELECTION LETTERS
To those who say that the libraries are obsolete, if that is true, please explain to me why the library is never empty each time I go in there? Why are there, quite literally, thousands, upon thousands of books checked out of the library each year? A recent letter asked if the numbers on library visitors was actually as high as the library claimed. Guess what? It's called a library card. They get scanned every time someone checks out a book, CD, DVD, or uses the computers. The numbers can easily be verified. Amazingly, there are people, young and old, who still prefer an actual book in their hands. Regardless of how you feel about the library ballot measure, do not tell me for one minute that the libraries themselves are "obsolete". Trust me, they're not! — Kylie Miller, Medford
Monsanto requires GMO farmers to sign the "Monsanto Technology Stewardship Agreement" permanently transferring all legal responsibility for GM crops to the farmer.
Though the farmer may terminate the contract, the contract states: "Grower's responsibilities and the other terms herein shall survive €¦" Monsanto is forever relieved of responsibility for damages from seed use or handling, including punitive damages for any reason, such as litigation from farmers whose crops are contaminated by GM plants, or litigation resulting from animals suffering from ingesting GM produce, or from individuals who may suffer from adverse health issues as a result of consuming GM produce. The farmer assumes these responsibilities forever.
Farmers are even prohibited from selling their land until the potential buyer also signs the "Monsanto Technology Stewardship Agreement." For a detailed explanation of the Monsanto "agreement" go to http://healthfreedoms.org/2011/03/02/monstanto-shifts-all-liability-to-farmers. — Ted Voulgaris, Ashland
It is a cause for concern to read that some folks think libraries are not needed. Have they not seen or heard of the struggling families in this economy?
Buying a computer or smartphone is the last thing they are thinking of buying.
We need the libraries for more information for the kids and those adults who are trying to find jobs and educate their selves.
Yes, I am the retired Eagle Point branch manager and I have seen first-hand what the library has done for our children and adults.
We need a library district board of directors to over see the library system not the Board of Commissioners and Budget Committee.
And yes, we do need 15 libraries, as a lot of them are in rural areas and it is difficult to drive to Medford, Libraries for All! Vote yes. — Rose Draper, Eagle Point
Atrazine (the herbicide applied by Syngenta to over half the corn in the U.S.) has been demonstrated in more than one study to affect testicular development in male infants. The American Journal of Medical Genetics cites "small penis" and "undescended testes" among other alarming effects. In 2009, Acta Paediatrica found that children conceived when concentrations of atrazine in the water are highest were more likely to have genital birth defects.
Many scientists-for-hire have been employed by Syngenta to dispute such studies. Syngenta's communications team has engaged in a consistent strategy of discrediting any scientist that comes up with data showing the dangerous effects of atrazine, a sign that the facts are not in their favor.
Where our newborn children's healthy development is concerned, isn't the measured approach — waiting until the jury is in about the true effects of atrazine — the right approach? Vote yes on the Family Farms Measure 15-119. — Leslie Morgan, Medford
There is so much misinformation by the anti-GMO people that I am prompted to write something that is factual and not based on an idealistic viewpoint. I have been involved in farming for over 35 years so have personally seen some of the advantages of GMO plants that help feed the worlds population.
Here are some of the benefits of GMOs:
1. Increased yields which are essential to keeping farmers in business. (Cotton, corn, and soybean yields are up dramatically from where they were 15 years ago.)
2. Plants that use less water.
3. Plants that are resistant to viruses.
4. Plants that are resistant to frost.
5. Plants that are resistant to insects, greatly reducing the amount of insecticide used.
6. Plants that are resistant to some herbicides, resulting in a major reduction in soil-applied herbicides and a minor increase in topically applied ones. — Gary Gamble, Ashland
According to the USDA there were 36 certified organic farms in Jackson County in 2012. Total organic product sales were $3,364,000. Out of 36 farms, 16 had sales that were less than $5,000, with total sales for those 16 farms of $24,000. Twenty farms had annual sales of greater than $5,000, with total sales income of $3,340,000.
Jackson County has a total of 1,722 farms. Total farm sales for Jackson County was $64,127,000. Organic farms make up only 2 percent of the farms in Jackson County and create only 5 percent of the total farm income for the county.
There is a small minority of farmers who hate GMOs and will do anything to ban them from Jackson County. Why should we displace the many for the alleged benefit of a few? Vote no on 15-119. — Hugh Charley, Eagle Point
More agencies are using the "tax district" method of getting tax money. Several years ago, homeowners were asked to "save the libraries". The libraries have now figured out how to get funds for "maintenance": a library tax district. It'll only cost each homeowner $95 a year, (if the appraised value of your home remains at $154,000). Appraised value goes up? So does your library tax district bill. Why not a charge paid by each library card holder? Use it? Pay for it! Have you been into one of the libraries during the past six or seven years? I was in the Medford library twice and Phoenix three times; each time for political meetings. Every school has a library; upgrade them and make them available to the public. A win-win situation.
Remember that the Extension Service is asking for their own tax district ($7 annually based on that $154,000 property). — Murray LaHue, Medford
Concerning the editorial by the Mail Tribune on April 27: 15-119 is a relatively simple issue.
It has nothing to do with safety or usefulness of GMOs. The editorial was mostly "talking points" from Industrial Ag, not science. The dire consequences in the editorial and advertising by "Good Neighbor Farmers" (funded by Industrial Ag) are very unlikely. 15-119 originated because a large multinational chemical company (Syngenta) is using the Rogue Valley as a sugar beet breeding area. Syngenta has walked out of the local seed growers' association, which tries to prevent cross-contamination of local seed crops. Because of potential pollen spread contamination from the Syngenta plots, local, land-owning farmers cannot sell seed or even save their own seed to replant. Crops have been spoiled.
So, the many farmers supporting 15-119 have to be considered and weighed against Syngenta. Vote for justice for your small local farmers. Vote yes! — Kent Knock, Afternoon Zephyr Farm, Rogue River
Watching the many pro-GMO ads on TV (No on 15-119), I'm amazed that they never mention any benefits of genetically engineered food; mostly they seem focused on scare tactics and smoke-screening.
I can see why some farmers would like them; less spent on herbicides and insecticides. Not so great for the consumer from the studies I've seen on lab animals. Generally those fed GMO products had stomach, intestinal, liver and kidney disorders. Now that's scary! Does anyone really know the long-term effects of GMO foods on humans? It would help, of course, if all GMO fruits and vegetables or all meats from GMO-fed animals were labeled; then consumers could vote with their wallets on the future of these products, in the manner of the many countries who refuse to import them. — John Sack, Jacksonville
Proponents of banning GMOs state they will contaminate organically grown crops, adversely affecting human health yet science has not proven such. They concentrate on chemical resistant plants. Such plants constitute a small percentage of GMOs. GMOs have increased production and healthier crops to feed millions of people world-wide. Many local vegetable and fruit crops have produced greater yields with resultant lower costs.
Many organic farmers use livestock and poultry manure to fertilize fields. It is known in some cases such manure has contaminated crops with E. coli bacteria with some deadly results. Will these farmers certify their crops are E. coli-free? Organic farmers state concerns about cross-pollination of their crops by other plants. No one has expressed concerns about winds blowing pollen from marijuana plants onto their crops and contamination with its nasty chemicals! Yes, there are outside marijuana gardens, both legal and illegal. More food for thought! — David Jones, Medford
Why are corn subsidies "bleeding" the U.S. Treasury for $5 billion a year (M. Pollan, "Omnivore's Dilemma", p. 54)? Better to encourage family farms. — Kindler Stout, Ashland
The recent mailing from the Oregon Farm Bureau insults our intelligence with blatant disinformation. The intentional equation of hybrid varieties with genetically modified organisms is meant to confuse voters. The mailing states that organic and hybrid fruits and vegetables, as well as sustainable farms, would be banned by Measure 15-119.
This is untrue, and reveals either the Farm Bureau's ignorance or its belief that the public can be fooled by its propaganda. It is farms using GMO seeds that are truly unsustainable, since pesticide/herbicide use increases. I close with this quote from the nonpartisan Consumers Union: "Out-of-state chemical companies like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow are among those spending $800,000 to kill a ballot measure that would let you decide the future of genetically engineered crops. Make sure your voice is heard — vote yes by Tuesday, May 20!" — Victor Chieco, Ashland
This is more of an emotional than scientific, fact-based issue. The organizers of the "Our Family Farms" coalition have done a very good job of enlisting the sympathy vote of many urban people with the two words: "family farms." The connotation is very impressive.
Mr. Watters' claims to be one of the largest farmers of the coalition should be accurate, because the majority of the coalition farmers are farming under 10 acres each. They certainly don't come close to being the majority.
One thought that hasn't been touched upon is what will happen to farm land values with a GMO ban in Jackson County? I think lending institutions will take a negative approach to land values, thus reducing an individual's borrowing power. Also, this will affect the future sale of the "family farm."
I encourage all the undecided voters to weigh your answer very carefully. More government control is not good for anyone! — M. Heitkamp, Jacksonville
I would like to endorse Joel Ockunzzi for Jackson County commissioner. I have been involved in a local business in the Rogue Valley since 1994. I have known Joel and his family for over 15 years. Joel is a family man and local businessman. Joel is very involved in the local community. It is my belief that Joel will be a great county commissioner. Joel's extensive experience on the Jackson County Planning Commission and broad knowledge of land-use laws will make him a great asset to Jackson County.
I know Joel to be honest, engaging and trustworthy. He has educated his three children locally and is invested in this community. Joel will not be a "status-quo" commissioner. Joel will listen to the needs of the county residents and work to make needed changes.
I will vote for Joel Ockunzzi for Jackson County commissioner. — Grover Lee, vice president/division manager, F.D. Thomas Inc.
A year ago or so my daughter came home for a visit and wanted to check out our library down on Central. I hadn't had a chance to pay a visit either, so it sounded like a good idea. We found a parking spot and walked through the big doors and was greeted by a young lady who announced "the library is closed." It was 11 a.m. on a Friday. I asked her why it was closed, she said "no school today," then repeated, "the library is closed!"
We had just driven by South Medford High and there were students all around that campus. I said as much, to which she replied, " RCC is closed today, and so is the library."
She was disrespectful and condescending. I was happy to get out of there. I'm 64 years old. My daughter is 38. My children and I went to the same grade school, junior high and high school here in Medford. I'm a property owner in Medford and have paid property tax since 1974.
Vote yes for more money to run that "public" library? Ha! A no vote from me. Let them charge admission for use. A day-care fee also might be a good money-maker too. — Mitch Selby, Medford
I have been surprised at the notion that those of us in the "older, fixed income group" would not support the library measure (15-122). There may be some things I feel I can live without, but public libraries is certainly not one of them. And not for myself alone but for our community of all ages — a wonderful learning opportunity that is beyond price. Plus getting the control of our libraries out of the hands of the Board of Commissioners — priceless! — Barbara Dallas, Medford
Daily we experience the federal government's growing encroachment into every sector of our lives, increased taxation, enactment of senseless laws and taking over more of the duties "reserved to the states respectively, and to the people" as the 10th Amendment clearly states.
Because of this, many of us believe we need a stronger representative in Congress, someone close to our local community and its values, and not a member of the entrenched establishment.
I urge your vote for Dennis Linthicum, as a man well-grounded in Constitutional values, with a practical knowledge of economics and a member of our agricultural community. I encourage you to support Dennis Linthicum for the Second Congressional District. — Dennis V. Sinclair, Medford
We are what we eat. We think the government protects our food, yet at least 75 percent of antibiotics used in the US are routinely fed to healthy animals as growth promoters, thus multi-drug resistant bacteria. These same conglomerates make herbicides.
Nature wins again: herbicide resistant weeds and more dangerous herbicides to kill the "super weeds". Genetic engineering has been marketed so well that 95 percent of corn and 90 percent of soy grown in the US is genetically engineered. Genetically engineered crops for animal food means herbicides are sprayed multiple times on each crop, with more poisons in soil, water, and people.
Jackson County has the only chance to say no. Europe prohibits genetically engineered crops. The three California counties prohibit them with no enforcement costs. When something is wrong, stop doing it. Say yes for Jackson County farms. Vote yes on 15-119. — Lanita C. Witt, M.D., Ashland
I have nothing against libraries; however, my problem is funding proposed per 15-122.
Why should a "typical homeowner" be saddled with the entire cost of proposed library services?
It's very unfair since we are already burdened with schools/dducation, the transit district, Fire District No. 3 and other taxes in our property tax bill!
Why not develop a "charge as you use it" where a library card costs $15/year. Since there are 133,932 card holders, that would bring in $2 million-plus to defer proposed expenses.
Furthermore, computer/WiFi users would be charged by the hour, offsetting libraries' incurred expense. After all, Internet service at home isn't free, why should library users get it free?
Moreover, kids/teen events (baby-sitting services) should require a registration fee. community center facilities — a group reserves it, the group pays rent.
No more free rides — the members of the Library Board determine charges/fees, making libraries self-sufficient. — Tom Winter, Central Point
In response to Barry Trowbridge's letter: I am senior on a limited income (Social Security, no pension) and am happy to pay $90 or more a year for libraries. I cannot imagine Medford or one of the smaller surrounding towns without a library. It will be very sad if the proposed library district does not pass. — Sally White, Medford
If GMOs are perfectly safe, as we are assured by the chemical corporations (the only ones doing any testing), why do they fight so hard to prevent products being labeled as containing or being GMO products? Just wondering. — Catherine Heilman, Medford
As a home gardener I support Measure 15-119. The ability to grow our own food, save our seeds and feed our families is a fundamental right we need to protect. As the independent Citizens Initiative Review found, "There's no practical way to stop genetically engineered pollen and seed from trespassing onto traditional farms since there's no way to stop the wind and other sources of pollen transport." And when our local farms are cross-pollinated by genetically engineered crops, it is then illegal to save the seed and sell the crops due to patent infringement, not to mention the crops are rejected by many domestic and international markets.
Based on experience in other counties with similar measures, I truly believe that all farmers here will be in a much more secure and financially rewarding position once Jackson County becomes the premier source for non-genetically engineered crops.
Vote yes on 15-119! — Anna Cassilly, Talent
None of us know when we may need the resources of the library.
Dad had seven broken ribs after a head-on collision (with a drunk driver.) The doctor told him singing would help his ribs to heal. Mom borrowed sheet music from the library and Dad sang songs from "My Fair Lady", "Carousel" and "South Pacific," accompanied by our record player. Dad's ribs healed well enough that he biked and ran again.
Decades later, after Dad's death, Mom's days seemed too empty. Friendly volunteers from the library began delivering large print books once a month. Mom devoured biographies, and novels, and always talked about what she read. Her mind remained keen into her 90s, partly because of the stimulation of good books.
Please — for the sake of the disabled, children, job hunters, the elderly, students, and those who can't afford books and the Internet — vote yes on Measure 15-122.
"Libraries €¦ are essential to the functioning of a democratic society." — Franklin D. Roosevelt — Virginia Sherman, Ashland
It took 30-40 years to discover the effects and ban PCBs, DDT, DES, Bis A and organophosphates as hormone disruptors causing cancers, learning disabilities and birth defects. In the last 10 years at least five research laboratories on four continents have shown evidence that glyphosate (Roundup) has hormone (endocrine) disrupting properties. Did you know that agrochemical companies promised us that glyphosate would not persist in the environment because it is so unstable? Scientific studies half-life decomposition is up to 4-5 months. It would never contaminate us. Scientists have now found glyphosate in our air, rain, drinking water, and of course our foods. It is excreted in human urine and breast milk. The concentration present in American urine is 10-fold greater than Europeans, giving us all constant exposure. Gee, only 20-30 years left for a national ban. Please vote yes on 15-119. — Ray Seidler, Ashland
After 100 years of cooperation, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners has decided to stop supporting our local agricultural extension service despite a greater than 800 percent return on investment.
In addition to the popular 4-H, Master Gardener and Small Farms programs, the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center provides critical public research and education supporting the health of our vineyard, orchard and forestry industries; all vital elements of our bucolic lifestyle. The Land Steward program is another invaluable resource to help us conserve and protect our natural resources and the ecosystem services provided by our diverse fauna and flora.
Fortunately, the citizens of Jackson County have an opportunity to sustain their investment in local extension services this month via Ballot Measure 15-121. — Pete Gonzalves, conservation chair, Siskiyou Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon
This all started when concerned Jackson County citizens submitted 6,700 signatures to qualify measure 15-119 for this current ballot. The ordinance language was open for review, and the only challenger was the Oregon Farm Bureau. The ordinance passed a number of challenges to its language according to Jackson County judges.
This means OFB must have read the measure and knows what it says. Now, a mistake or ignorance is when someone thinks one thing is true, and presents it as fact, but it turns out to be false. A lie is when they present something as fact, but know full-well it is false. OFB knows the ordinance defines hybrids and genetically-engineered plants as two separate things, and that the ordinance does not regulate hybrids, only genetically-engineered plants.
OFB's latest mailer claiming hybrid fruits and vegetables, Sustainable farms growing corn, hay and other crops and vegetable starts of hybrid varieties for home gardeners would be banned is a blatant lie. Vote yes on 15-119 for that reason alone. — Karen B Taylor,Talent