Opinion, Analysis, Discussion
We’ll miss the forever fireman
More than 30 years ago, I witnessed a near tragedy be averted. A car pulled out of a parking lot onto Myrtle Creek’s Main Street. The driver had inadvertently left the baby car seat on the roof of the vehicle and taken off. Horns honked and lights were flashed. One quick-thinking individual darted out into traffic waving his arms at the vehicle and got beside it, ready to catch the car seat, should it fall.Learn more »
Not all agree with decisions
At a recent city council meeting in Canyonville, the council was approached with a request to override an existing city ordinance and allow a beer garden in city-owned Pioneer Park during Pioneer Days. The request was denied.Learn more »
Vote integrity, vote for Boice
I’d like to take a minute to talk about integrity. When we endeavor to use our constitutional right to vote, electing a person of integrity should be our highest priority.Learn more »
VA caregivers, training praised
My name is Megan. I am a licensed practical nurse student at Umpqua Community College and recently completed nine weeks of clinical training at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. After reflecting with fellow students, I want to share with the community several positive experiences to be publicly recognized.Learn more »
My daughter — the one who is part of the so-called “Generation Of Debt” — begins her senior year at University of Oregon in a week or so.
If you hadn’t heard, an estimated 7 million students have defaulted on their student loans to the tune of — and most of us can’t comprehend the number anyway, so not sure it matters — $1.2 TRILLION.Learn more »
The need for a Health, Nursing & Science Center at Umpqua Community College is undisputed.
The current facilities are vastly outdated. The fields of science and medicine have become much more technologically advanced since the original buildings were constructed nearly 50 years ago on the Winchester campus.Learn more »
Until the website TMZ released its Ray Rice video, the National Football League had failed to address its culpability in domestic violence. Statistics from 2013 show that players in 21 of the league’s 32 teams were involved with domestic violence offenses.
The video, which shows Rice assaulting his wife (then fiancee) Janay Palmer in an elevator, caused a public outcry that brought domestic violence to the forefront of a national discussion.Learn more »
His answer was ‘simplify’
I have had the privilege and opportunity to speak to a very distinguished gentleman.Learn more »
It is a complex world that we live in, and it seems more true today than ever that we live in perilous times. The world is fraught with discord and strife, despite our best efforts. It seems as if our blood and treasure have done little to make the world a better, safer place.
Our nation has had commander in chiefs who have completely different executive styles and temperaments. George W. Bush was certain when he led our nation on the path to war against Iraq, and resolute with his decision.Learn more »
Letter: Canyonville park regulations, insurance needs further consideration before approving Pioneer Days Beer GardenSeptember 11, 2014 —
Topic needed more research
An August 29 Public Forum letter writer would have you believe the July 21 Canyonville city council meeting was a free-for-all. Sadly, reality is not nearly as exciting as his imagination.Learn more »
Vote Atherton for District 2
An Aug. 31 article in The News-Review under the headline “Five things you should know in 2014 about Oregon elections” offered an important insight to the voters of Douglas County.Learn more »
We are halfway through a stellar effort to raise Roseburg’s standing among Oregon communities when it comes to being sustainable and forward-looking. I wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone why the Blue Sky Community Challenge is important and worthy of your consideration.
Starting today, team members from Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program will start knocking on doors in Roseburg. Altogether, they plan on talking to 3,000 residents to tell them about Blue Sky and give you the opportunity to ask questions. Our goal, as stated in a formal proclamation April 28, is to increase participation in the Blue Sky renewable energy program by 500 residents and business owners.Learn more »
Elect the right man for the job
An elected official has to be a decision-maker. Whatever the issue, after the facts are in, the discussions are done, there has to be a yea or nay vote. Often, you irritate some folks when the discussion is not to their liking. You cannot be everyone’s friend; that’s not the job.Learn more »
Letter: Live up to what our forefathers envisioned for America, or seal our fate as another ancient RomeSeptember 9, 2014 —
Our country is well on its way to reaching the same destiny. If you doubt that, consider how our country’s values and actions have deteriorated in the last 10 years. Like kids on a car trip, we wonder if we are there yet! Unless we radically change and return to honesty, patriotism and recognition of God as our founding fathers did, we will follow the same destiny.Learn more »
It’s been said that a brand is what people say about you when you are not around. If you think about it from a business perspective, it makes sense to create that brand to control — to some degree — the image people have of your company; it’s done all the time.
The same goes for your neighborhood, especially if it suffers from a period of tough times. But a brand has to be built on reality, on real assets, and be reflective of real investments being made. For a neighborhood, the brand should be engaging and captivate your curiosity. It should entice investment and give people reason to shop, live or open a business there.Learn more »
Science generally is not the strongest subject for journalists, so this may not be most accurate anatomical comparison. Nevertheless, few residents would argue that if Douglas County is our collective body, the Umpqua River represents not only our circulation system, but our very heart as well.
News-Review subscribers seem never to tire of reading about the activities that take place in and along the North, South and Umpqua rivers. Many of these people also like to contribute their stories and tributes. The banks and waters of the Umpqua form the backdrop of so many events in our lives — our work, our playtime, our profile and our reputation.Learn more »
Make a choice: vote for Boice
I would like to take a few moments and share with you why Chris Boice has my whole-hearted support for Douglas County Commissioner.Learn more »
Obama must stop ISIS now
Other than his family, Barack Obama seems to care only about three things: Barack Obama, the “fundamental transformation” of America, and golf. This is why his foreign policy is so lackluster and inept; it is all secondary to him.Learn more »
Can trust be rebuilt between Douglas County veterans and the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center staff and leadership team?
The question remains, but VA employees now certainly know the complaints, concerns and wishes of local veterans.Learn more »
Publisher’s Notebook: Our veterans deserve a hospital with good managementSeptember 7, 2014 —
I’m a veteran who has never used the Department of Veterans Affairs medical system.
I mention that for credibility sake, only. I feel I have a right to speak on veterans’ issues because I have served and because I believe our veterans have earned their place at the government dinner table.
There are lots of folks eating at that table, by the way, and many of them haven’t earned a right to do so.
And being born a U.S. citizen doesn’t earn you that right, by the way. You need to actually do something with your life.
I don’t care what you are as much as who you are.
And, before I forget, I hope they send as many White House officials to meet the next American soldier’s body as they sent to Missouri for the funeral of the young black man who was killed by a cop.
Heroes (black and white) are coming home in body bags every day and I don’t see as much outrage from the talking heads on TV as I saw from the 24-hour, seven-day-per week coverage coming out of Ferguson, Missouri.
In fact, I wonder how many White House officials were on hand at the memorial services last week for Steven Sotloff, the latest journalist to have his head chopped off by the monsters who would like nothing better than to see all of us dead, Republicans and Democrats alike.
Back to the Roseburg VA and the more than 900 people who work there.
Lost in much of the coverage — and I’m proud of the spotlight our newsroom has shined on the administrative mess it’s in — are the front line employees who continue to come to work every day wanting to do a good job.
In my long career of managing people I have rarely had anyone who just didn’t want to do a good job.
Nobody wakes up each day and says, “You know. Can’t wait to get to work today and fail.”
I’ve had people who couldn’t do a good job, mind you. Mostly because they just weren’t qualified, which meant we did a rotten job in the hiring process.
Then there were the ones who started out like gangbusters. They were excited and came to work each day ready for a new challenge.
Then we ignored them, or depressed the hell out of them and pretty soon they lost all that enthusiasm.
In other words, when our employees fail, those failures can usually be traced to a bad manager who either put them in a position to fail, or failed to manage them properly.
And trust me … I have made more than my share of mistakes over the years. Managing human beings — getting them to do what you need them to do in order to move your organization forward — is tough stuff.
None of us are born managers — although there are some common traits to great leaders.
The well-documented problems with the Roseburg VA facility are not a result of 900-plus horrible employees who just can’t seem to do their jobs. I know some of them and they are really quite good at what they do.
It’s probably more about an environment that is void of any accountability, from top to bottom, and an environment that doesn’t really reward top performers.
When top performers are treated the same as under-performers they start to wonder why they should bother going the “extra mile.”
Good management also requires some “weeding and seeding.” When you have someone in your organization who is just a rotten employee — and every organization has one or two — you need to get them out the door as fast as possible.
If you don’t, their bad attitude spreads like a cancer and poisons your entire organization.
And the top performers eventually leave because they are tired of management not dealing with these under-performers, or bad apples.
Top performers can choose where they want to spend their time and most of the top performers I know want to be appreciated.
Unfortunately, it’s easier to get rid of bad apples in the private sector than it is the public sector, where bad apples are protected by union contracts.
Bad employees love to hide behind union contracts.
Government jobs used to come with low wages, but lifetime employment and great benefits. Today the private sector can’t keep pace with the wages or benefits offered by government jobs where you almost have to stab someone with a pencil in order to get fired. And even then you probably get four or five chances.
“Do you promise not to stab a coworker with a pencil again?”
“Yes. I promise.”
“OK. Get back to work.”
It’s tough to find accountability in that kind of environment.
That’s where good management or leadership comes in.
Most employees have a “reserve tank,” or place where they store that extra little effort each day. Great managers know how to get those employees to flip that reserve switch because they know how to inspire people, or get the most out of them each and every day.
They do that by walking the talk, by their actions, not their words. They set the pace for the organization and they hold themselves accountable for the things they are asking of their employees.
It could be the VA environment is simply not a place for that kind of management or leadership. Maybe it’s so mired in process and paperwork that it’s impossible to create the kind of work environment an organization that size needs to avoid the kinds of problems we’ve been reading and hearing about for months now.
My guess is that’s not true. History is filled with leaders who have led in similar environments and driven those organizations to greatness.
Our area’s veterans deserve an organization like that and those 900-plus employees deserve a leadership team that can inspire them to deliver on our promise to those men and women who served our nation in a time of need.
Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or email@example.com.
Letter: Taking a closer look at the current admininstration’s prioritiesSeptember 5, 2014 —
Less hope and change, please
I’m getting a little tired of our “leader” and his ilk accusing Congress of not doing anything, so he has to “take care of it.” Let’s see: According to GovTrac.us, for the 113th Congress, the Republican-led House has passed 297 bills or resolutions that originated in the House. By contrast, the Democrat-led Senate has passed only 59 for the same period. So who is dragging their feet?
And forget those phoney unemployment figures. In 2009, the labor force participation rate was 65.7 percent. At the end of July 2014, it hit 62.8 percent. If the participation rate had held steady since 2009, the number of folks in the labor force today would total nearly 162 million. Instead, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the official number to be just shy of 155 million. Almost 7 million are not counted as unemployed. Add them in and you have an unemployment rate averaging 10.8 percent.
There’s more great news. U.S. wages are down 23 percent since 2008, for a total of $93 billion in lost wages.
Then let’s not forget the disastrous mismanagement of the construction of the ObamaCare website. It’s already cost taxpayers $840 million and will go higher, because it still isn’t fully built, yet. And please don’t mention the cancelled healthcare plans, lost access to doctors and higher payments. That’s another great job by a bunch of overpaid incompetents.
Now the VA: I wonder if anyone is upset about Defense Secretary Hagel fast-tracking Bradley Manning’s sex change operation. Manning, who was convicted of stealing classified documents and is still incarcerated at taxpayers expense, requested the operation. Hagel approved it, while real heroes are still waiting for vital treatment. I guess we now know where this administration’s priorities are. Hope and change? How wonderful.
Editorial: Roses & thornsSeptember 5, 2014 —
Thank you, firefighters
Our gratitude must be expressed today to the multitude of firefighters who promptly attacked the grass fires that ignited along Interstate 5 south of Roseburg Thursday evening.
It appears sparks from a vehicle may have started multiple blazes in the tinder dry grass lining the highway between Clarks Branch Road and Roberts Mountain. When the fires began growing together, they amounted to nearly 80 acres. Firefighters were able to build a fire trail around the fires, putting a stop to the growth before the evening was over.
Residents within a two-mile radius of the fires were put on standby evacuation, but none actually had to leave their homes, nor were any structures burned.
Douglas County used its reverse 911 situation to advise residents and word quickly spread through other local agencies. The threat of evacuation and the fires were announced by Roseburg Veterans Affairs police during the VA Town Hall meeting.
Thanks to the Douglas Forest Protective Association, other Douglas County fire departments, Oregon State Police, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Myrtle Creek Police Department and Oregon Department of Transportation for your work. We know you were just doing your jobs (or in some cases fulfilling a volunteer mission), but we always appreciate work that’s done well. Especially when it means local citizens are being protected.
Fountain of youth
With age comes wisdom, or so we hear. Nevertheless, no one is too old too learn something new.
That’s the unofficial philosophy behind the Conference for Extraordinary Living, which takes place Friday at Umpqua Community College.
Technically, the conference itself isn’t even at middle age. Next week’s is the 32nd annual edition. But it used to be called the Conference on Aging, before organizers decided baby boomers don’t consider themselves as either aging or aged. (Well, those of us boomers fortunate enough to be in good health, anyway.) And the 29 presentations offered in three sessions from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. are geared to attendees ages 50 and older.
Yet even if we wanted to quibble about the name change, we have to admit the offerings contribute to an extraordinary day. Participants can find out how to treat insomnia and avoid potentially dangerous medications. They can get cozy with Facetime or adept with iPads. They can tackle the ins and outs of estate planning or wade into the nuances of wine tasting.
There’s a lot to explore. Thanks to UCC and the other sponsors and volunteers who make it happen.
Wild and wonderful
U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson on Sept. 3 1964 signed legislation that created the legal definition of the wilderness.
Local events have happened to mark the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Umpqua National Forest and Umpqua Watersheds have led hikes into the woods. Wolf Creek Job Corps incorporated it in an open house recognizing its own birthday.
For the next two months, visitors to the Douglas County Museum of Natural and Cultural History can celebrate the Wilderness Act by attending an exhibit that opened last week in the museum’s gallery.
“Wild Impressions” will display work by six Northwest artists. Pieces chosen reflect the artists’ experiences with nature and are intended to help connect viewers with the local environment.
Museum Director Gardner Chappell told The News-Review that the museum is always striving to reflect the community it serves. Residents who love the Umpqua Valley and its recreational opportunities can join with those across the nation who are marking 50 years of the act that has as part of its motto: To establish a National Wilderness Preservation System for the permanent good of the whole people.
It’s good to see local recognition of this important act.
Letter: Have compassion for those who battle with depressionSeptember 4, 2014 —
My name is Teresa. I’m a 48-year-old female with bipolar II disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, deep depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I recently attempted suicide for the second time in three months.
It’s too long a story to go into why, but while in the hospital, I heard that Robin Williams committed suicide. It hit me hard and I thought to myself, “If someone as beautiful and wonderful as he was did that, what hope do I have?” I didn’t know him personally, but I knew his story and struggle. I have known people personally who killed themselves. They were great, funny, talented and gifted people and I kept asking myself, “When is it going to be my turn?”
This disease and others wear you down and they wear down those around you who love you. It’s hard to understand, even to us.
I consider myself a realist. I see man’s terrible inhumanity to man and wonder, “Will things really ever get better?” And I cry.
However, I also see miracles, love, and amazing, inspirational people. Don’t let Robin William’s light and laughter dim. The only way to fight this illness or any horrible thing is with love. So reach out a hand of kindness and compassion to those around you and please love each other.
So long, Robin, my fellow man. May peace be with you and your family.
Letter: Gary Leif can get things done in Douglas CountySeptember 3, 2014 —
Vote Leif for commissioner
I am voting for Gary Leif for Douglas County Commissioner in this year’s November General Election and here’s why:
1. I like the leadership he shows on the Downtown Roseburg Association and the Downtown Development Board to bring about an economically strong and vibrant downtown Roseburg.
2. Gary will make our county government open and accessible. He will insure transparency, economic development and safety for the residents of Douglas County. He will turn the camera on the workings of county government and the decisions of its commissioners to make sure all voices are heard. It’s his number one priority!
3. Gary has the respect of the people and it shows. He has been Winston’s First Citizen and president of the Winston Area Chamber of Commerce, chair of the Umpqua Training and Employment Board, a board member of Roseburg Air Ambulance Life Support, chair of the local Elks National Scholarship Board, and many more.
4. Gary has the track record and experience to get things done. His leadership has been instrumental to successful projects like the Cottage Industries Bill to cut red tape and start business in rural areas, to fight the closure of the dunes at Reedsport and to straighten those dangerous curves on Highway 42. He worked hard until the job was done.
5. Gary knows our county and its people. His photography business has taken him to all parts of the county, from Glendale to Drain and Yoncalla, from Reedsport to Glide and Diamond Lake.
When you get your ballot this fall, join me in voting for Gary Leif for Douglas County Commissioner and return your ballot by November 4.
Letter: Raise awareness and funds; join the Roseburg Walk to End Alzheimer’sSeptember 3, 2014 —
Walk to End Alzheimer’s
The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.
As this year’s Roseburg Walk Committee Chair, I am joining participants of all ages in the movement to reclaim the future for millions at Walk to End Alzheimer’s at 2 p.m. on Sept. 21 in Roseburg.
I’ve worked directly with those affected with Alzheimer’s or related dementias for 15 years and also have family members affected by this disease. I am walking to help raise awareness and hope that one day we’ll find a cure.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, there are more than five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, including 59,000 here in Oregon.
Alzheimer’s disease is a growing epidemic and the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death.
Walk to End Alzheimer’s unites us as an unstoppable force in Alzheimer’s. Together, we can raise awareness and funds.
To start or join a team today, visit Walk to End Alzheimer’s at alz.org/walk. For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org or call 800-272-3900.
Letter: Contact your Oregon legislators about marijuana regulationsSeptember 2, 2014 —
Require stricter grower’s laws
When medical marijuana was legalized, it was done with almost no rules or regulations. It’s allowed to be grown next to schools. It can be grown next door to you without going through the land use process and without you having anything to say about it, even though your half-million-dollar piece of property is now worthless, because no one will want to buy it. There is no protection from the loss of the quality of your life when every day you and your children have to look at this marijuana grow.
Six plants are allowed for each cardholder and can be grown for four people. That’s 24 plants. Two pounds of marijuana bud are allowed for each card. There are no rules for the rest of each plant, which is huge. There are no strict laws if growers are caught with more plants than allowed. The Sheriff can only remove the excess plants. If growers break the law, they should lose all the plants. It wasn’t intended for just anyone to be able to get a card.
Now Measure 91 to legalize marijuana will be on the next ballot. Before it’s legalized with no restrictions or rules, please contact our lawmakers and tell them you want strict rules and regulations, that you want your rights protected and laws strict enough so that law enforcement’s hands aren’t tied.
Call Mike Winters at 541-440-4201, Tim Freeman at 541-580-7545, and Bruce Hanna at 541-580-2653.
Editorial: Food stamp fraud case highlights need for reformSeptember 2, 2014 —
From the Corvallis Gazette-Times
A recent story in The Oregonian about a long-running (and extremely slow-moving) investigation into food stamp fraud in Klamath Falls should prompt renewed calls for reforms to strengthen the ability of caseworkers and others to ferret out fraud in the program.
Don’t misunderstand: The program is essential. But the reforms under consideration wouldn’t do anything to take assistance away from anyone who needed the benefits.
In the Klamath Falls case, 65 people have been charged with trafficking in food stamp benefits. As The Oregonian’s Les Zaitz reported, most of the charges accuse defendants of illegally taking cash instead of food by selling their Oregon Trail cards to a Klamath Falls meat market for 50 cents on the dollar. (The cards are issued to participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the official name for the food stamp program. The federal government funds the program.)
When the charges were filed, the director of the Oregon Department of Human Services sent an email to Oregon legislators boasting about her department’s role in cracking the case.
Among the legislators who received that email was Albany Rep. Andy Olson, who’s been part of a group that’s been examining ways to cut back on fraud and waste in the program. He presumably was interested in the case — but probably wasn’t much surprised by The Oregonian’s story, which found that, in fact, state workers had watched the fraud continue for more than two years before arrests were made. In 2013, an investigator warned the fraud was growing at an “alarming rate.” Arrests followed — 17 months later.
To be fair, state officials were severely limited by rules restricting how fraud can be treated. And federal investigators, who declined comment to The Oregonian, were very slow to respond to the early reports of fraud. But, overall, this is not a particularly shining example of a smooth-running system efficiently sniffing out fraud.
However, it should serve as a reminder that relatively simple changes in laws and procedures can make a big difference. For example, Olson has said in the past that printing recipients’ names on the Oregon Trail Card would help reduce fraud, and would cost only about $1.3 million. Tightening procedures when cards are reported lost or missing — an issue in the Klamath Falls case — could help as well.
Olson also advocates changes in federal law to strengthen the hands of the investigators probing possible abuse.
The state estimates fraud in the program at half of 1 percent, and we have no reason to doubt that. On the other hand: Last year, the state paid out $1.2 billion in benefits. Half of 1 percent adds up to about $6 million. That’s a lot of money that could be going to people who really need it.
The Associated Press provided access to this editorial.
Letter: Candidate Gary Leif has the skills to be a Douglas County CommissionerSeptember 2, 2014 —
Leif will get the job done
Gary Leif tops the field of candidates for Douglas County Commissioner. His proven leadership has been the defining point for success on many of the boards, commissions and community projects he has served on during the last 30 years. He has been a successful business owner for 38 years and strives for his customers to have full satisfaction and excels at customer service.
He understands the need for adjustments during a declining economy and has proven he can handle that type of situation. Gary has a can do/will do attitude and does not believe in passing the buck. He will bring this positive attitude to the leadership position of county commissioner. This will certainly be a breath of fresh air after the long period of stagnation Douglas County has experienced.
Gary’s relentless efforts of community volunteer work and support for community organizations is unparalleled. He is not a career politician and will not become one.
An important factor to remember in this race is the term for commissioner will only be for two years. Gary has the knowledge and experience to take office running, without the need to waste time in a learning curve. Most of the other candidates will just be getting up to speed by the time they have to start campaigning for the next term.
To learn more about Gary’s accomplishments and experience, review his website at http://leif4commissioner.com or www.facebook.com/leif4commissioner.
Letter: The office follows a president wherever he goesSeptember 2, 2014 —
Presidents not far from the job
I read with a touch of amusement The News-Review publisher’s folksy, overlong critique of the President’s golfing in the face of our current crises. In fact, his is an argument that has been going on for as far back as there have been presidents. The opposite party has screamed about Eisenhower’s golfing, Reagan’s brush clearing, Bush II’s golfing, (there is a news clip of Bush looking earnest while declaiming in his inimitable style on terrorism, and then saying we should watch his golf swing.)
In point of actual fact, presidents are never far from the job. The office follows them, and they are as close to events as they would be in the White House.
The problem is with the “optics.” It appears to those critical of the incumbent that he is disconnected from his job, when in fact he is never far from it, whether on Air Force One or on the links.
The publisher’s critique is in good right wing company. Bill Cristal, right wing congressmen, and other critics of the president are alert for any reason to pile on. I say that when Obama’s vacation days amount to half the days of either Eisenhower, Reagan or Bush, criticism may be due. Until then, I would advise the publisher to use his editorial space for something more in his area of expertise.