Opinion, Analysis, Discussion
Letter: We could do a lot in Oregon with $26 million: pay 520 teachers or perform 175 elective surgeriesAugust 29, 2014 —
Prioritize use of Oregon money
The Oregon Medicaid program, better known as the Oregon Health Plan, recently decided that Oregon taxpayers should spend more than $26 million a year to try to change people’s genders. This is an outrage! The Aug. 15 article downplayed just how much money would be spent on this elective procedure when it phrased it as $150,000 each for 175 Medicaid patients.Learn more »
Death row time fits the crime
This letter is in response to the lawsuit of convicted killer and death row inmate Jesse Fanus.Learn more »
On July 21 during the regularly scheduled Canyonville City Council meeting, one of the elected counselors, Buddy Kovachy, became so enraged with the testimony and comments of a local resident that Kovachy shoved his way through the crowd, into the parking lot, and needed to be physically restrained from doing bodily harm to the individual who had just provided public input on a Pioneer Day issue.Learn more »
Informed about overdose issues
I just became aware that August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. My son-in-law’s 20-year-old son died of a heroin overdose three years ago. Evidently most overdose deaths happen to heroin addicts, with prescription drug addicts coming in a distant second.Learn more »
Leave space for others, too
Before I go any further into this letter, let me emphasize that I think the Music on the Half Shell is an awesome event. What I have an objection to is allowing people to save their area with blankets.Learn more »
Letter: Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center needs a director whose first concern is to serve the veteransAugust 27, 2014 —
Call to remove Dir. Bogedain
The Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center has had different directors over the years, but Carol Bogedain is one of a kind. She has her own agenda and it is all about her. There’s no room in her world for the veterans she is supposed to serve.Learn more »
Letter: Roseburg Marine Corps veteran speaks up for local VA service, offers suggestion to fill staffing shortagesAugust 26, 2014 —
Find solutions instead of fault
Although I try as a standard practice to comment on positive performance as often as on negative performance, I’ve been remiss with respect to the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. An August 10 letter to the editor was a reminder.Learn more »
Don’t waste experience
Why do we need term limits? If the candidates aren’t doing a good enough job to suit the people in their district, don’t vote for them again. They can be impeached.Learn more »
It’s time for tax reform
Articles have appeared recently suggesting that President Obama may take steps to stop U.S. companies from moving their operations overseas, a practice known as corporate inversions. I think the Administration is losing sight of the bigger picture: the need for comprehensive tax reform.Learn more »
Endorsing Leif for our county
While I was at the fair, I noticed that only one candidate running for Douglas County Commissioner Position 3 had his own informational booth. I am not familiar with any of the people running for commissioner and was surprised that all the candidates did not have their own space, so I stopped at that one booth. The candidate’s name is Gary Leif and he is a long-time business owner in the county.Learn more »
Journalists are being beheaded by religious primitives, 18,000 Russian soldiers are ready to march on Ukraine, Hamas is lobbing rockets on Israel, immigrants are pouring across our southern borders, an American city is under what appears to be martial law and our commander in chief is playing golf — lots and lots of golf.
For the record, I enjoy a good golf game. I haven’t actually played a good golf game in years, but I do enjoy getting out on the course and whacking that little dimpled ball everywhere but the fairway.Learn more »
Bonuses for senior executives in the Department of Veterans Affairs should end forever, not just for 2014.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, The News-Review learned that top administrators at the Roseburg VA Medical Center reaped more than $80,000 in bonuses over the past five years. It’s possible the figures are even higher. We asked for the amount awarded in bonuses. The VA responded that it doesn’t give bonuses, but rather “performance awards,” but the federal agency provided those figures.Learn more »
Lucky family and lucky dog
It’s difficult to view the sad faces of helpless animals turned in daily to Saving Grace, but it seems the partnership of Saving Grace and The News-Review gives them hope.Learn more »
Fixing obesity, or feeding it?
Our first lady has asked our food industry to help stop the horrible plague of obesity and it promised to help, using portion control.Learn more »
Soon, school bells will be ringing. As parents, we can help our children learn successfully by setting aside time for homework and providing time for the family to get together.
We should also consider ways to support our children when they are exposed to peer pressure and temptations. Some of those stresses increase when they return to school.Learn more »
Celebration of our wilderness
2014 marks the 50th year since Congress enacted the Wilderness Act. Some of the grandest landscapes of America were given protection so future generations of Americans could experience them. Cities and countryside alike, Americans across the nation are celebrating this golden anniversary. Here in our precious Umpqua, there have been events in honor of the Wilderness Act. Coming up are two exhibits of artwork that focus on wilderness.Learn more »
Money won’t fix our VA system
I worked as a registered nurse at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center for 28 years. I worked long term care, acute care, the Intensive Care Unit, ambulatory care and home telehealth.Learn more »
Proxy message lacked respect
I’ve been employed by the Douglas County Health Department for 11 years.Learn more »
Letter: Perspective on Obama’s platformAugust 18, 2014 —
Hope, Change: they’re a Croc
Obama unloosed a pair of evil crocodiles with the contrived names of Hope and Change. The final outcome of this deception will be his demise —eat him they will!
Letter: Douglas County Commissioners shouldn’t rush to transfer our public health servicesAugust 18, 2014 —
Reconsider the health services
While I was happy to finally see an article in The News-Review regarding the transfer of public health services to the state, I was distressed to read that neither the county nor the state has a plan in place. In fact, I question the necessity of this transfer until further facts are known.
When the Resolution was passed on June 11, Commissioner Morgan stated the transfer would result in better health outcomes for Douglas County citizens. She referred to Senate Bill 1580, which created Community Care Organizations throughout the state. The CCO in Douglas County is the Umpqua Health Alliance. I disagree with Commissioner Morgan that the goals of the CCOs are consistent with the goals of Douglas County Public Health.
As stated on the website, the goal of the Umpqua Health Alliance is “to improve health care and make it more affordable for the population being served through the Oregon Health Plan.” The goals of Douglas County Public Health are much broader and affect all Douglas County citizens (control of preventable diseases, communicable disease investigations, tuberculosis case management, tobacco prevention and education, immunizations, and many more).
I was also surprised to see no mention of the State Task Force on the Future of Public Health Services, which has been meeting for the past several months to discuss the future of public health services in Oregon. One of the goals of this task force is to make recommendations to: “allow for appropriate partnerships with regional health care service providers and community organizations,” which seems to be one of Commissioner Morgan’s goals.
I have no idea why October 1 was chosen to complete this transfer, but it seems prudent for the commissioners to take a step back, review the recommendations of the task force and delay the transfer.
Letter: Despite Obama, America is the place to beAugust 18, 2014 —
Current policies creating chaos
The president, in my opinion, has committed a traitorous act. By his actions, he is allowing access on our southern border by all comers, including terrorists, drug dealers, gang members, and countless unsponsored men, women and children.
His foreign policy is just as anti-American, by allowing Iran ample time to successfully build an atomic bomb that would put every country, including ours, at the risk of total annihilation.
Along with his misrepresentations pertaining to the Veterans Affairs, the Internal Revenue Service, Benghazi and ObamaCare, impeaching Obama is really not enough punishment for the chaos he has caused.
But in spite of Obama, I still believe America is the best example of people exercising God’s living rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Raymond A. Cota
Publisher’s Notebook: So, there was this time I was at the Denver airport ...August 17, 2014 —
As agents for the Transportation Security Administration were profiling me last week at the Denver Airport — which appears to be staffed, incidentally, by the Taliban — I thought a bit about how far we’ve come since 9/11.
“Are we safer today than we were that September day in 2001, when 19 lunatics changed airport travel forever?”
I don’t think so.
The good news is that if you are old and bald you no longer have to take your shoes and belt off in the security line. The last several times I’ve flown my boarding pass has been stamped with “TSA Pre,” which is a special line for people with money and old people with or without money.
“This is pretty cool,” I told the guy in front of me the first time I was directed to the TSA Pre line. “This must be my lucky day.”
“Don’t get too excited,” the guy said. “They picked you because you are old.”
“Oh,” I said, not feeling so special after all.
I’ve traveled several times since then and have been “randomly” selected for TSA Pre each time.
I’m not complaining, mind you. It takes me an hour to take my shoes and belt off and on and I’m not the guy you want to be behind if you are late for your flight.
I used to require three or four of those plastic containers they slide through the X-ray machine; one for my laptop, one for my belt and shoes, and one for all the stuff in my pockets and my watch.
And even then I set off the alarms.
For the last two years I’ve flown out of Eugene and mostly to Denver. My flights generally leave at 5:45 in the morning, which means I leave my house at 2:30, which means it’s generally an all-nighter.
Senior citizens are not as good at all-nighters as we used to be. It takes about a year to recover and maybe two years if there is a time zone change involved.
The return flight from Denver has usually been the last plane to land that night and it’s 1:30 or 2 in the morning by the time I climb into my Roseburg bed.
It could be just bad luck, but my flights on United Airlines have most always been late, or canceled altogether.
And they really don’t seem too worried about that, from the sound of their top-notch customer service people.
“Do you know when the plane will be leaving?”
“It all depends.”
“On whether it’s able to leave.”
“What about my connecting flight out of San Francisco?”
“So how do I get to Denver?”
Before I forget, here’s a tip. United charges you $25 to check a bag, but if you try to just bring it on the plane they will tag it and store it for free.
Kind of like the difference between coming to the U.S. legally and illegally. It doesn’t pay to do the right thing anymore.
Last week I got to the Denver Airport at 4:30, in plenty of time to catch the 6:30 flight back, with a stop in San Francisco.
I tried to check in through a kiosk, but it said there was no record of my flight, so I waited for the United Airlines representative.
“Looks like that flight was canceled and that we have you on the 10 p.m. flight to Eugene instead,” she smiled.
“Yeah, but it’s only 4:30,” I told her, turning my watch so she could see for herself.
“I know,” she said, doing her best sad-face impersonation. “But here’s a food voucher.”
I was able to breeze through the security checkpoint with my randomly selected TSA Pre boarding pass and headed for the bar.
Then I noticed that the food voucher was for $7.
If you’ve ever been to an airport you know there isn’t much you can buy for $7 and certainly nothing that resembles food.
My “double” vodka and orange juice cost $13 and the food voucher was no good at the bar, so I used it to buy some small fries at the McDonald’s stand.
I sat with my fries at the end of the terminal (Gate 80 is located down where they transport farm animals and research monkeys) and watched people.
Airports are great for people watching and I happened to be sitting where the airport employees gather to complain about their bosses and passengers.
It could just be a Denver thing, but most of the employees weren’t speaking English. I could just have easily been sitting at an airport in Bangladesh or maybe Libya.
The ethnic contrast between the Denver passengers and Denver Airport workforce could not have been more pronounced. An older, Caucasian American would certainly stand out at an employee barbecue.
They may not be profiling passengers, but they sure as hell seem to be profiling employees.
Some point to the fact that we haven’t had another hijacking since 9/11 as evidence that our airport security efforts are working.
I suspect it’s more a matter of would-be terrorists moving on to other devious measures. It seems to be easier to get a job at an airport than to actually get through one, so the next major incident will likely involve three Taliban wheelchair transporters who hate America as much as they hate their boss.
Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Notebook: City Editor Don Jenkins leaves his mark as he moves alongAugust 17, 2014 —
Douglas County lost a fine newsman Saturday. That was the day City Editor Don Jenkins turned in his key to The News-Review with plans to head up Interstate 5.
Don isn’t leaving journalism. He’s headed back to his home state of Washington, back to the job that drew so many of us to this occupation. He’s going to be a reporter again, this time at the Capital Press.
He’s moving from what many consider the best job in the newsroom, city editor, to what was my favorite job in the newsroom: reporter.
During the last four years the local news reported in this newspaper had a lot of influence from Don Jenkins.
You see, city editor is a bit of a misnomer. Well, in Douglas County anyway. In this county, that covers 5,000 square miles from the coast to the Cascades, the city editor must know what’s going on everywhere, whether it involves law enforcement, fire departments, the justice system, municipal governments, schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses, recreation, entertainment … You get the idea, basically everything.
That’s why the city editor is really a “local news editor” but that title is a mouthful, and city editor is the old-fashioned newspaper terminology we like.
Fortunately, the city editor is kept up to date on those topics by the other journalists on our staff, particularly our full-time reporters Carisa Cegavske, Christina George, Jessica Prokop and Garrett Andrews (Kate Stringer joins us next week), along with our Features/Business Editor Craig Reed. As the editor over the entire newsroom, I offer plenty of opinions on what’s news and should be reported as well.
But each publishing day for The News-Review for the past four years, it was Don Jenkins who suggested what local stories should be displayed on the front page of The News-Review. And it was he who worked side-by-side with the reporters to produce those stories. That’s what a city editor does.
I know the routine well. I did the job for eight years. I know how hard Don worked. It would be a shame for him to leave town without me publicly acknowledging the outstanding job he’s done with the local news in our newspaper.
Every morning Don showed up for work ready to report the facts and to tell the stories of Douglas County residents. He was always dressed for the part. He wore a long-sleeved, button-down shirt and tie every day— there are no casual Fridays in Don’s genes.
On Don’s watch, the newsroom has been a watchdog, sometimes a cheerleader, but always a reflection of its community in words and pictures.
Don worked diligently to make every word meaningful, every sentence precise and every story no longer than it needed to be.
He improved the writing and reporting in this newspaper over the past four years.
We have a staff of driven young reporters who have moved to Roseburg to do good journalism and enjoy life in the Umpqua Valley. They will carry with them the lessons Don has taught them.
While coaching young reporters, as well as experienced ones, Don earned his own recognition. He was the best editorial writer in the state and region in 2012. His contributions helped the staff win awards for enterprise reporting, comprehensive series and public service journalism — one of the awards that makes me the most proud.
I’m pleased to have worked with Don Jenkins. He probably won’t like that I’ve sung his praises. But I hired him. I’m proud to have done so, and that means I get the last word.
Keep up the great work Don! Thanks for hanging out in Roseburg for awhile and caring so much about putting out a high-quality newspaper.
News-Review Editor Vicki Menard has worked with about 10 city editors since she first started working at The News-Review 31 years ago. She can be reached at email@example.com or 541-957-4203.
Guest column: At 50, UCAN reflects on service to Douglas CountyAugust 15, 2014 —
On Aug. 20, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act. The act created a variety of programs that are still active and effective today and that had a significant impact in Douglas County.
These programs include Job Corps, Head Start, Community Health Centers, Foster Grandparents, RSVP, Senior Companions, Senior Centers, Legal Services, College Work Study, Adult Basic Education, Small Business Loans, VISTA, Community Action Agencies like United Community Action Network, and more.
All of this was part of a larger effort by President Johnson, often referred to as his War on Poverty.
The idea of these programs was not to redistribute wealth, but to provide economically disadvantaged families with a means to obtain a decent standard of living. This legislation is unique in that much of its funding is provided directly to local communities, realizing that the solutions to poverty are best found at the local level and not through “one size fits all” government based solutions.
This concept is still alive with UCAN, as it is a local nonprofit agency run by local people and addressing local problems in a manner that works best for Douglas County. In many ways this legislation was way ahead of its time with its design, implementation, and programs, which are just as relevant today as they were 50 years ago.
UCAN first served Douglas County residents in 1967 under the name of Parents Action Council. It was started by three women on welfare who wanted to help other women become self-supporting.
From the beginning UCAN has been focused on helping people reach their fullest potential and assisting individuals and families in times of crisis to get back on their feet.
For almost 45 years UCAN has helped hundreds of thousands of people do this, and currently helps about a third of Douglas County residents with one or more of its services. It is clear from the lives UCAN has changed over the years that President Johnson’s War on Poverty was a success.
There are those, however, who will state that Johnson’s War on Poverty failed and that poverty won. The fact that poverty is still with us is inarguable, but the notion that this is due to a failure of these programs is erroneous for two reasons.
First, even though these programs did not win the war, they fought back very successfully against this enemy and pushed it down to levels far below where it was when the war first started. The facts are quite impressive; prior to Johnston’s efforts senior poverty levels sat in the low 30 percent range and now sit in the low teens.
Overall poverty rates dropped from the low 20 percent range to the low teens until rising again to the mid-teens, but only after a significant cut back in the resources to fight this war. Like any war if you start pulling troops out of the battlefield, before the war is won, there will be losses of ground.
The second reason it is erroneous to say that this effort failed is that we now have an understanding of another root cause of poverty that Johnson’s programs were not designed to address: the growing wealth disparity in our country.
There is a growing understanding that as more people divide up a smaller percentage of wealth in our society, the less we all get. This, along with the recent recession which has only increased this trend, actually is the bigger reason for rises in poverty these days, and is an issue Johnson’s programs did not tackle.
The understanding we have now that we did not have 50 years ago is that it will take a battle on two fronts — a battle on the societal systems front and a battle on the individual front — to truly beat back poverty. Without this two-pronged approach we will always be engaged in a defensive effort against poverty.
President Johnson started this battle 50 years ago with a group of very successful programs that have seen wonderful successes with individuals and families.
But it is now time to reinvigorate this effort to address the systemic problems in our society that increase the number of people living in poverty. In past history there was a Hundred Years’ War; let’s hope that this war does not last that long.
Finding the solution to poverty will benefit us all, as poverty is a drain on our society, our resources and our human potential. We know poverty increases health care costs, handicaps the development of young children which plays out negatively over a lifetime, and is the basis of many more societal problems.
It is a problem we must address, for we all will benefit when every citizen has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential and be free of poverty and its negative effects.
Mike Fieldman is executive director of United Community Action Network based in Roseburg. He can be reached at Mike.Fieldman@ucancap.org or 541-672-3421.
Editorial: Roses & thornsAugust 15, 2014 —
Teens earn awards
Hard work and dedication to meeting goals paid off for Douglas County teenagers Emily Hopfer, Sianna Casey and Marissa Morrow.
Hopfer, 18, of Days Creeks is Oregon FFA Star Farmer for 2014. She earned the honor by developing over eight years a herd of Gelbvieh cattle. She began building the herd when she was a fourth-grader. That’s more than a little impressive.
Casey, 17, of Roseburg finished second this month at the Oregon Distinguished Young Women scholarship program in Salem.
Casey, who was named Douglas County Distinguished Young Woman earlier this year, earned a total of $6,500 in scholarships at the county and state competitions.
Another Roseburg 17-year-old, Umpqua Valley Distinguished Young Woman Marissa Morrow, was one of eight contestants in the state contest.
Morrow and Casey will be Roseburg High School seniors this fall.
Meanwhile, Hopfer plans to attend Oregon State University in Corvallis and major in agricultural business.
Sounds of summer
When Tuesday rolls around, thousands of people will likely feel something’s missing in their lives. It’s time for the annual withdrawal from Music on the Half Shell.
Music enthusiasts have flocked to Roseburg’s Stewart Park every Tuesday since late June to enjoy the free summer concerts.
Those feeling the biggest loss must be the many volunteers who make up the Music on the Half Shell Committee. They have been meeting every Tuesday since October to plan the summer concert series.
We owe them our gratitude for their time, efforts and dedication. It was another wonderful season of performances.
We also offer bouquets of roses to the many sponsors who make the series possible. Without the cash donations from businesses and individuals, the committee wouldn’t be able to pay the musicians and keep the concerts free.
The entertainers always marvel at what a fine community we have. They cite two reasons: The concerts are free, and you can put your blanket out in the morning and trust that it will still be there when you return with your evening picnic.
The concerts on the riverbank of the South Umpqua truly are a delightful way to enjoy summer in the Umpqua Valley.
Putting out fires
They’re just doing their job, but we’d like to thank the quick work of the Douglas Forest Protective Association and fire departments across the county for promptly extinguishing the small fires popping up around the county.
DFPA is excelling at keeping the fires small and containing them quickly.
The hundreds of lightning strikes earlier this week had to make that a challenge.
It’s a disastrous fire season in Oregon, but so far we’ve only had to deal with hazy skies from distant fires in Douglas County.
Smokey the Bear is celebrating his 70th birthday this year. Let’s show him he’s taught us well.
And, if you’re looking for more information on the fire suppression efforts by DFPA, check out the agency’s Facebook page. There are plenty of photos and commentary on where fires are being battled or lightning has struck.
Letter: Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center care providers are professional, friendly, efficient and patient-orientedAugust 15, 2014 —
Workers earn appreciation
While visiting my grandchildren in Roseburg, I injured my eye and had to seek medical help. Since I was eligible for medical care at a VA facility, I called the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center and was informed that I should go to their Emergency Room.
At the ER, I signed in for assistance and was soon asked to go to the Authentication Section to verify that I was indeed eligible for assistance, which I did. I was met by a very business-like but friendly person who looked up my record with the VA and issued a verification statement for the ER attendant. I waited a few minutes and was then met by the triage nurse, who analyzed my problem and made an appointment for me at the ophthalmology clinic three hours later.
I reported to the ophthalmology clinic 30 minutes early and was seen shortly thereafter by their nurse. She took me to an examination room, where I was seen by an ophthalmologist. The examination took about 30 minutes and I was told to pick up my medication at the pharmacy.
I waited about 30 minutes to receive my medication.
My purpose in writing to you is to point out that there are a lot of very capable, nice and conscientious people working at the Roseburg VA facility and I personally experienced a very pleasant visit, a timely examination and treatment of my injury. Everyone at the facility with whom I came in contact was very professional, friendly, efficient and caring. The entire nation needs to know this.
The view at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, below the upper level storm at VA, was very comforting to me.
Kenneth K. Yanamura
Letter: State-of-the-art training facilities needed for health sciences at Umpqua Community CollegeAugust 15, 2014 —
Support UCC’s HNS project
I’m a disabled veteran who received an opportunity to return to school for retraining. I started at Umpqua Community College in 1995, at age 39, with some college experience in California. I was required to take science classes in my program of study. Some of the classrooms were adequate for lectures, but chemistry, biology and physics labs were severely outdated and limited in space for students attempting to complete related assignments. This is still a problem 19 years later.
I support the Health, Nursing and Science project for these reasons:
The biggest challenge we face for meeting student needs is 45-year-old facilities that don’t meet the high-tech requirements of today’s health care.
UCC is seeking $8.5 million for a 36,000-square-foot state-of-the-art space dedicated to health and science programs. These funds would be combined with $8.5 million from the state to create a Health, Nursing & Science center. This facility would include a nursing skills lab, dental lab, chemistry and biology labs with a prep room, anatomy and physiology lab, physics and geology lab, four classrooms, faculty offices, two conference rooms and two workrooms, all necessary for UCC’s continued success.
If Douglas County takes no action, we’re letting the $8.5 million in state funding go to another community college in Oregon.
The Oregon Employment Department projects more than 500 job openings in Douglas County through the 2012-2022 years. Those jobs would require associate degrees/training in the health and science-related programs that are currently offered at UCC. Overall, more than 1300 new and replacement jobs in the health care fields will be needed in Douglas County by 2020.
As an alumnus of UCC who has completed two Associate of Applied Science degrees, I strongly encourage everyone in Douglas County to support this project.
Letter: Resource Conservation in effect in unused portions of Roseburg National Cemetery AnnexAugust 15, 2014 —
Where green grass grows
I am responding to the individual with the ongoing complaint of dead grass at the Roseburg National Cemetery Annex. May I suggest that she attend the beautiful Quarterly Service that will be held at 1 p.m. on August 21. Possibly her personal grass issues will be laid to rest as we join in honoring our veterans.
The dead grass issue at the cemetery is a Resource Conservation project to conserve water and other precious resources. This area is being maintained in its natural state until needed for future burials.
Landscaping and irrigation improvements will be implemented as these areas are developed.