Letters to the Editor, March 10
Cap coaches' contributions
I am a PERS recipient with almost three decades of service as a high school teacher. I offer the following as a possible fix for the PERS crisis in Oregon.
We need to remember the amount of that person’s retirement under PERS is dictated by how much he was paid. When we pay university football coaches $1.5 million to $2 million or more a season, then contribute 12 percent or more to PERS on his behalf, it is easy to see how Mike Bellotti, ex-football coach at U of O, can receive $500,000 in annual retirement under PERS. The average PERS recipient receives less than $40,000 a year.
So, one way to control these huge payouts is to limit how much can be donated by the employee and employer. Instead of donating $240,000 a year for the coach, cap the deposit at a rate more in line with the police officer’s or teacher’s contribution. This would result in a much lower liability by PERS.
The other choice is don’t pay coaches these exorbitant salaries. However, considering that PERS is one grand Ponzi program, how do we cover contemporary liabilities while waiting for the result of reduced donations with reduced payouts?
Voting system is secure
In a letter to the editor on Feb. 27, Dale Herrmann proposes that in the midst of an extreme budget shortage, Oregon start all over again on voter registration and on voting procedures.
This would cost us many millions statewide, and all to solve a problem that doesn't exist, namely illegal immigrants voting. The writer might not be aware of it, but the DMV does not issue driver's licenses except to verified citizens and noncitizens who can prove they are in this country legally. In the great majority of cases a valid Social Security card and either a valid passport or valid birth certificate must also be provided.
As to the writer's concerns about voting by mail, the county clerks actually check each signature against the one on file and will contact individuals whose signatures don't appear to match up. The writer's concerns are misplaced and the measures in place provide 'ballot control' every bit as much as forcing voters to physically appear at a polling place.
Walden represents voters
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden is to be congratulated on his efforts to support President Trump.
Your attempt at humor in your headline (Where's Waldo ... er, Walden?) was not humorous. What is your agenda? To have a town hall meeting with pickets, disruption of the meeting, speaking over our representative so nothing can be heard and opinions are unable to be explained?
A civil discourse on the challenges of our nation should be the goal of a town meeting, but with a disruptive atmosphere that goal is unobtainable. If conservatives did the same thing to democratic representatives nothing would be accomplished.
Town hall meetings are important, there is nothing wrong with people of our district voicing their concerns, but when other people's rights are violated, when property is destroyed and the town hall meeting is disrupted, all of us should be concerned.
Congressman Walden is representing the citizens of his district who voted for him.
Creative approaches needed
In considering regulations for tiny houses I would urge more creative approaches to housing in general.
Where I live in Phoenix, I have participated in city discussions of new development options on the east side of Interstate 5. The plans are conventional and there was no room planned for tiny houses or accessory units. The explanation was that when regional planning started to occur there was no such things as tiny houses.
In the past 10 years, after the economic collapse and slow recovery, many people, especially younger and aging adults, cannot afford the prices that are now expected by most developers. They would like to live more simply in smaller homes and they feel less expensive elder communities are needed.
Not all these folks are homeless and they should not be lumped into this category (no insult intended to the homeless). Can we not provide spaces where such people could creatively collaborate their space? Could there be a central larger fully equipped building surrounded by the tiny homes, for instance? I know people who would love the chance to offer new ideas. The times are a changin'.
A neo-Nazi regime
Whether simple minds or uneducated, the Republican voter gave America to the Nazis.
Dozens of Jewish Community centers receive bomb threats, hate crimes committed by anti-Semitic groups all over America.
A famous saying by a prominent Protestant pastor and public foe of Hitler who spent seven years in concentration camp states this to lovers of democracy.
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
Trump has come for Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled and women, and soon political foes.
And now a Republican neo-Nazi regime called Congress.
Michael A. Long
Totally awesome! After reading the Mail Tribune daily for 30 years, you have finally done it. You now have prominently placed front page positive community news, positive wording, continuity in forwarding article pages, and excellent reporting. You have included articles of interest in other cities from Ashland to Grants Pass, and I applaud you.
It has been recognized that word choices often affect attitudes and opinions about the subjects they describe. Negative, violent and emotionally charged words appeared all too often in this paper, and many of my family stopped their subscriptions. I'm now touting your remarkable turnaround and encouraging friends and family to take a new look.
There has never been continuity in jumping articles, which always involved flipping and searching page to page. Now, I just continue on to one or two pages to complete the articles. I'm also noticing the frequency of similar articles such as the bridge column, Ask Amy, etc., placed in an orderly fashion.
The entire feeling and attitude of the "new Mail Tribune" is now involved and participatory. All of you who contribute in writing, editing, layout and columnist choice deserve a huge thank you! Well done!
Diane L. Stewart
Pentagon increase unneeded
The president proposes to increase Pentagon spending by $54 billion, meanwhile cutting funds for environmental protection, diplomacy and peace building.
As more than 120 retired three- and four-star generals wrote to Congress: “We know from our service in uniform that many of the crises our nation faces do not have military solutions alone.”
The Pentagon's budget is already unprecedented, equaling what the next seven countries combined spend on their military forces. The Pentagon has managed to evade the public accountability and audits that every other government agency is required to complete.
This is not an agency that needs more funds. I hope my members of Congress will work to preserve critical tools for diplomacy and international development, instead of putting the full burden of foreign policy on our military.
Letter was childish
An article in USA Today stated Google and others are working on eliminating "hate" letters and messages online. Perhaps the Mail Tribune should do the same.
Printing hate letters and abusive messages on the opinion page does no one any good. Granted it’s an "Opinion" page, but to spew hatred of others only shows the lack of intelligence of the writer. Perhaps it’s a cry to make that person feel superior.
It’s natural to not like everyone and have separate opinions and feelings for those in government, especially when they are not what you like, but to liken the government officials to Hitler and his ilk, i.e. Goebbels, as Ted Gibbs did on March 1, is beyond childish. Maybe that’s how he and his neighbors feel. That’s very sad.
Some of us had no use for Clinton or Obama and their minions. Obama had his Reverend Wright, Van Jones and many others spewing their hate as well as his own view of what the world should look like. We, the other side, had to put up with it for eight years. We didn’t burn cars, riot in the streets, attack or kill anyone.
Adopt SB 557
We know that global warming and its climate change consequences pose a serious threat to life here on earth. If we fail to address the cause, all life will likely pay the ultimate price.
So, should we spend our time and money preparing for the changes we will experience, or should we spend our resources addressing the cause of the problem? This question is being asked in Salem about capping climate pollution statewide.
If we fail to address the root cause and leave pollution uncapped we will confront an unmanageable future. Global warming will continue to accelerate, and climate chaos will ensue. Life will likely be compromised beyond recovery.
On the other hand, even if we stopped all climate pollution today, some warming and climate change would continue, but life could adapt to it.
We must do both, but addressing the root cause must be our primary concern lest we perish. Oregon must adopt climate pollution caps. Let’s support a pollution cap and clean energy jobs as proposed in Senate Bill 557.
What will Walden do?
What action will Rep. Greg Walden take against the ongoing criminal conspiracy within the Republican Party?
Our intelligence services have determined beyond question that Russia conspired to tip the U.S. election in favor of President Trump while in continual contact with his campaign. Crimes were committed. Trump openly encouraged them. What’s the Republican response?
- Sen. Mitch McConnell, privy to this information before the election, fought to withhold the facts from the American people. That’s a cover-up.
- Rep. Devin Nunes says there’s no need to investigate because “there’s nothing there.” That’s not an investigation. That’s a cover-up.
- Jeff Sessions, then a U.S. senator, lied under oath during his AG nomination hearing: “I did not have any contact with the Russians.” In fact, Sessions met twice in 2016 with the Russian ambassador, including in his Senate office in September at the peak of the Russian influence campaign. That’s a cover-up!
The facts grow daily more alarming. Must we accept that our nation’s top law enforcement official may lie under oath? Where’s Walden? He takes no action and ducks town halls. Yet how quick he was to defend those out-of-state grazing fee deadbeats!
Does Walden stand for our Constitution or against it?
Monument has value
How many acres of O&C land does Oregon have? Roughly 2.1 million acres. How much of that land was included in the recent Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expansion? Less than 1 percent.
Sure, 80 percent of the expansion includes O&C lands, but if we look at the big picture, the expansion amount is hardly anything at all. The O&C lands were designated in 1936; if the lawmakers at the time did not want the land to be subject to the earlier 1906 Antiquities Act, why didn’t they just write that part into the law?
The expanded CSNM will be infinitely more valuable to our community and the biodiversity of this region than any timber harvest that could be extracted from the same plot of land. The monument expansion is an endless gift to our community providing an outstanding educational and scientific resource in our backyard. The monument protects our clean water, provides recreational refuge, and buffers us against climate change and catastrophic fires. I urge Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Greg Walden to take a stand for our monument and our community. Defend the Antiquities Act.
Too much traffic
We live on Bursell Road and while working in the yard during the week there were 63 cars, loud pickups, trucks and buses that went in an hour's time.
There is a bus route, which is fine, but to have that many cars, pickups and trucks to travel on a residential street is not good. Summer is worse.
The speed limit is 35 mph. That does not even faze some of the drivers. Weekends are even worse when the weather is nice.
I think someone should have a good look at the traffic situation on residential streets. Sometimes on cannot back out of their lanes or driveways, let alone get mail out of the mailbox.
Liberals are scared
All this turmoil about the Russians hacking the Democratic National Committee and Clinton emails, and not a word about the content of those emails.
Democrats are angry the public found out about the backstabbing, corrupt dirty tricks as usual of the DNC and Clinton campaign. Apparently it means little to them.
Fortunately, there are millions of non-liberals in the country that are sick of it, and had the common sense to say no to Hillary Clinton. Instead of blaming the Russians, the Democrats should take a long look at themselves.
It is time to stop the cry-baby chaos and let Trump succeed or fail on his own merit. I do believe that liberals are scared to death that Trump may actually succeed in improving the economy, strengthening our image abroad and securing our border, and thereby shine a light on how weak and ineffectual the Obama presidency really was.
Instead of offering asylum (political, reproductive or Horatio Algerian), the U.S. should weaponize immigrants and repatriate them.
Give the huddled masses our civilian assault rifles and free military transportation home. There they can degrade repressive, anti-U.S. regimes rather than U.S. open space, housing stocks, salaries, and wages — and do so without wasting U.S. soldiers and deficits. Help refugees overthrow their own bad governments rather than bribe ours.
Refugees are their countries' first to cut and run; the ones who deplane on our soil are the richest, most selfish, most reactionary, and most likely to have collaborated with a dictator — and therefore least deserving of U.S. residence. Other countries' best fighters for sovereignty and representative government (the Jan Masaryks and Karel Capeks) are the most suitable immigrants to the U.S., but by definition the least likely to abandon their homelands.
A landslide of 84 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats is uncomfortable with current levels of immigration (Gallup via David Brooks, New York Times, Sept. 25, 2015 ). In fact, immigration makes some Americans uncomfortable enough to emigrate — and they would, except that upgrade countries (such as Australia and Canada) have real borders for everyone but the rich.
Trump was well-coached
Jay Ambrose’s column praising Trump’s putative turn for the better appears to be offered in response to allegations of liberal bias by the Mail Tribune.
Ambrose is a rubber-stamp apologist for conservative causes who is demonstrating relief at the least indication that Trump is not a total loose cannon. Trump’s audience, on that occasion, was a group of legislators, and he seems to have been pretty well coached on how to appeal to them, with special emphasis on sticking to the speech that was written for him and not embarking on wild riffs of his own.
I urge anyone attempting to make sense of our president's words and actions to order up a copy of Herman Wouk's "The Caine Mutiny"; it's required reading.
Write to DeBoer
There is no doubt state Sen. Alan DeBoer, R-Ashland, is a good, civic-minded man. A former Ashland mayor, he has served on civic and nonprofit boards too numerous to mention. He comes across as a moderate willing to work across the aisle with Democrats.
In his Voters’ Pamphlet statement for the November election, which he won by 395 out of 65,712 votes, DeBoer wrote that “Preserving and protecting our environment” was one of his core values.
However, in a meeting with DeBoer last week, a group of citizens sought his support for SB 557 to curb Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions, but DeBoer declined. He said health care and the state budget deficit are more important to him. I would remind the senator that human-caused global warming is the biggest environmental threat to Oregon and the United States.
DeBoer has said he believes the planet is warming, but he’s not sure humans are to blame. Way more than 90 percent of climate scientists agree human activities are to blame.
In a guest opinion last month, DeBoer praised citizens who write him letters about issues before the Legislature. I urge you to write Senator DeBoer. Ask him to support SB 557.
I could almost hear America breathe a sigh of relief after Trump’s recent address to Congress when he stuck to the script on the teleprompter and didn’t disgrace himself or the nation by ranting about Meryl Streep or calling our free press “the enemy of the American people.” Some even speculated that he might not be crazy after all. It didn’t take him long to disabuse us of that notion. Soon he was spewing a flurry of tweets claiming President Obama had tapped his phone and calling him “a bad (or sick) guy.”
I can understand his frustration at realizing that he has no hope of ever emulating such a class act, nor do we expect him to act normal or show respect for his betters, but is that any way to treat the person who enabled him to launch his political career? After all, it was Trump’s racist "birther" conspiracy that catapulted him to infamy and endeared him to the alt-right and white supremacists everywhere.
Whether Republicans like it or not, Trump is now the voice of the GOP, not to mention the U.S. The problem is he has no filter. What he needs is a baby sitter.
Make an argument
I want to encourage anyone who nurtures heartfelt opinions on any subject to exercise free speech by composing a reasoned letter to the editor to their local — or any — newspaper in support of their position.
It is a time-honored practice, far superior to harassing those we disagree with via ugly emails containing offensive commentary and unwanted links to sites recipients may find unworthy of a response. Letters to the editor are an easy and effective way to make such positions known to a wider audience, and all that is necessary is to make the time and effort, provided only that one has the requisite skills for the enterprise.
Hopefully, we all take our own political and religious positions seriously enough to summon the moral courage to go out on a public limb rather than bothering folks with mere assertions, petty shibboleths and shopworn canards. Of course, if one cannot assemble the language to support a premise clearly — rather than behave like a cowering troglodyte spewing out unsolicited propaganda — then perhaps work with a ghost writer skilled enough to make a coherent argument rather than lazily cherry-picking material off YouTube, Breitbart or Daily Kos.
Gary R. Collins
Spend more time in D.C.
Every time President Trump claims something is wrong he finds someone else to blame. Maybe if he spent less time at his Florida estate and more time at the White House (where he so desperately wanted to be), he would be spending less time playing golf and listening to the ravings of Mark Levin, the ultraconservative talk-show host and source of his claims that Obama wiretapped his tower.
Did you know it has cost taxpayers over $10 million so far in firing up the presidential jet and ferrying back and forth all his bodyguards and personnel to his private golf course, which he has done for four out of eight weekends? He claimed Obama spent too much time playing golf. Obama cost us $97 million in jet fees over eight years. If Trump keeps up this pattern, he will eclipse Obama's amount in just one year.
Ten million taxpayer dollars is an exorbitant amount. With that kind of money he could have made a down payment on his wall. Maybe he should change his mind and read Robert Frost's poem about "something there is that doesn't love a wall ..." instead of continuing to utter his rabid rhetoric.
I recently had a birdbath stolen from my front yard.
It wasn't an ordinary one. It was metal, with four foot-high frogs playing an instrument to a little bird. I had it for many years and never saw another like it.
I had other objects in the past taken, so I chained and locked it to a tree. Not only did they take the birdbath, but the chain and lock.
We all got pleasure and loved looking at it. And by the way, the thieves can come back and get the tree.
I have reported the theft and was told if anyone sees it to report it to the Medford Police non-emergency number, 541-770-4783 and they will retrieve it for me.
I am old enough to know that a large part of politics is theater, or worse: circus.
The address to Congress featured two grieving mothers. Are we now to expect, each year, some weeping widows to fill the gallery? There is violence enough to keep underscoring everybody's favorite tagline for years to come.
We can, maybe, cut to the chase and start seeing lions eating opponents: The Old Romans knew a lot about the baser instincts. I hope we have a bit more respect for the privacy of peoples feelings, and our own.
Hans H. Stroo
Walden has an opportunity
If Congressman Walden and his Republican colleagues can come up with something affordable, effective and universally accessible to replace the ACA, then I will gratefully vote for him. But what I'm reading about the current plan terrifies me. Our insurance and health care costs are already more than we can afford. If the Republicans’ plan increases these costs we may not be able to afford it at all.
But he has an opportunity to be a hero. Walden is a leader in the majority party, and Congress can pass whatever they can agree on. Walden’s district, compared to other Republican districts, has the greatest number of people who gained access due to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. That is a lot of bitterly surprised voters who will turn against him if he lets his party do what they apparently plan to do.
Walden has a huge responsibility to his constituents, and a huge opportunity to show true leadership. I just hope he can live up to his promises and pass a plan to protect his constituents, instead of the overpaid executives in the insurance, pharmaceutical and health care industries.
Gretchen Ousterhout Hunter
Since President Trump claims to be a Christian and seems more willing to allow Christians to immigrate before those of certain other faiths, he should consider a basic tenet of Christianity.
The Bible says to treat your neighbor as yourself. Jesus embraced all peoples, especially the poor and the outcast. America is great now because we are all connected directly or indirectly to immigrants. Stopping immigration from certain countries and or certain “other” faiths is just another way of trying to build a wall around our country. He might review the history of the Berlin Wall and see how well that worked.
He says he is fulfilling a campaign promise. What if his second, poorly-thought-out approach to “refine” immigration controls does little to make us “safer”, but simply deprives the U.S. of the caring, talented and hardworking newcomers who would continue to make us great in the future?