Opinion, Analysis, Discussion

Letter: Roseburg needs work environment choices for the disabled

November 25, 2014 — 

They need work options

Oh, my, I am so frustrated to think that the sheltered workplaces for our disabled citizens may be closed soon. Governor Kitzhaber’s executive order has already limited state funding for them and it will stop funding even the placements that are already established in these sheltered workplaces by July 1, 2015.

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Letter: Health care forum presented Dec. 8 in Roseburg

November 25, 2014 — 

Attend health care forum

Recently the League of Women Voters of Umpqua Valley showed the 2012 PBS documentary “U.S. Health Care: The Good News.” The documentary highlights several communities around the country that have come up with innovative ways to provide quality health care, while at the same time lowering health care costs.

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Guest column: Who should really be honored in Veterans Day Parade?

November 25, 2014 — 

Once a year, Roseburg puts on a parade to honor our servicemen and women who serve this country. This year the parade consisted of about 100 entries: veterans, local businesses, schools, clubs, organizations and current military personnel.

As a soldier in the National Guard, I volunteered to be in the parade with my brother, Hank, who is also in the Guard.

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Letter: Roseburg’s Veterans Day parade honors our veterans for their service to our country

November 24, 2014 — 

The parade is to honor veterans

The Greatest Oregon’s Veterans Day Parade is an event that takes considerable planning and work over nine months. We present a quality parade for this community to experience, honoring veterans and their service so that all may enjoy the freedoms we have.

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Letter: Three Douglas County events were outstanding tributes to our veterans

November 24, 2014 — 

We appreciate our veterans

With the recent Veteran’s Day observance in Douglas County, three events stand out that deserve special praise. First, this year’s parade in downtown Roseburg was a huge success and according to reports, the attendance set a new record. The parade committee should be given a lot of credit for all their hard work. These fine volunteers spend months of planning and preparation to ensure the countless number of details were completed on time that would lead to one of the best Veterans Day parades in the state. Douglas County is truly fortunate to have people with this level of dedication.

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Editorial: O&C bill still needs work to offer certainty

November 23, 2014 — 

Congress will be in session for eight more days this year.

That makes it unrealistic and undesirable to pass a bill directing management of the unique Oregon & California Railroad trust lands this year.

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Publisher’s Notebook: Shouldn’t the punishment fit the crime?

November 21, 2014 — 

I’m one of those guys who wonders whether the punishment really ever fits the crime.

A guy gets 25 years for stuffing his girlfriend in a freezer and is on the streets 15 years later on “good behavior” because when he was serving his time he didn’t stuff a single person into a freezer and he ate all his vegetables.

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Guest column: Consider alternatives to Wyden’s O&C legislation

November 21, 2014 — 

I oppose S. 1784, Sen. Wyden’s proposed O&C legislation. We need more broadly accepted and beneficial solutions.

Long-term sustainability of old growth in the Western Oregon forest cycle should be a guiding legislative principle. Where, in this Senate legislation, is there gradual, intentional regeneration and renewal of old growth forest stands? Trees over a certain age cannot be harvested. Thinned forests eventually die out, and as we saw in the Douglas Complex fire of Southern Oregon — these stands burn up.

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Editorial: Roses & thorns

November 21, 2014 — 

Rose

A festival for all

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Letter: Winston meeting highlighted good things in community

November 21, 2014 — 

List of assets was impressive

Now that the elections are over, maybe this is a good time to send a letter I’ve been thinking about ever since my husband, Duane, and I attended an annual meeting last winter. It was a meeting where community members got together on a Saturday morning in January and talked about how to make things better in Winston. Steve Schenewerk, local pastor and community volunteer, was the MC. He led us in an exercise that would be beneficial to any group or individual.

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Letter: One of Roseburg’s drive-up mailboxes creates traffic flow issues

November 21, 2014 — 

Call to take out a P.O. dropbox

It‘s time to remove the drive-up mail box that’s in front of the post office. It’s on the wrong side for drive up drop-off, which results in people stopping in the street and getting out of their vehicles to deposit mail. These drivers often leave their car door open, which just adds to the problem.

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Health care act is a fraud

November 21, 2014 — 

Health care act is a fraud

“This is a big f***ing deal,” to quote Vice President Biden. Did you know how stupid the progressive Democratic elite think you are?

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Letter: Roseburg veteran wanted to detox

November 21, 2014 — 

A cry for help from the VA

On Nov. 4, 2014, my husband, Jerry Sofranko, took his life. Jerry was battling prescription drugs: methadone, oxycodone, mood and stress drugs prescribed for years by the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. These prescribed pain medications immediately triggered a dormant drug addiction. Jerry realized what was happening and repeatedly asked and pleaded for the VA to please help him detox off of the pills. He had been having all kinds of reactions to the medications and wanted to be done with them. The VA refused to help him detox. He felt that he could not do it with out medical help, but they said no, go home.

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Letter: Wyden hopes to balance differing elements with O&C bill

November 21, 2014 — 

Supporting the O&C bill

Senator Wyden’s O&C bill is finally working its way through Congress. It seeks to balance timber supply, county revenue, jobs, clean water, sustainability, and environmental protection. It also honors Frank Moore, a World War II veteran who landed at Utah Beach during the Normandy invasion and fought across France, Belgium, and Germany, returning home only after the war was won. Since then, he has tirelessly worked to sustain the North Umpqua River and the unique steelhead it supports. Wyden’s bill creates the Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Refuge in the Steamboat Creek watershed. This is an honor Frank Moore richly deserves.

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Letter: True capitalism isn’t the problem; enforce the laws in Douglas County

November 19, 2014 — 

Socialism fuels local drug war

I was disappointed (a frequent occurrence) when, on the front page, the paper blamed capitalism for the drug problems here in Douglas County. The header of an article written by Jessica Prokop blamed capitalism for the increase in drugs on our streets.

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Editorial: Attend hearings on Pacific Connector pipeline project

November 19, 2014 — 

If you care about the economic future of Douglas County then it is a good idea to mark Dec. 9 and 10 on the calendar.

On those days the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hold two local hearings on its recently released environmental impact statement on the Pacific Connector pipeline project.

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Letter: Show appreciation for Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center employees

November 18, 2014 — 

Recognition for VA staff

With all the negative publicity surrounding the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and while awaiting new leadership, I would like to propose an Employee Recognition Day for all the employees of the hospital to show a change of direction. Low morale and bad leadership do not last forever.

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Guest column: Our generation must respond to climate change

November 18, 2014 — 

My parents were members of the Greatest Generation. After spending all four years of the war in the South Pacific, Dad had five bronze battle stars and two commendations. When I asked what he had done to earn them, his response was always, “My job.” My mother never complained of the shortages on the homefront. It was what you did. When faced with an existential evil, you sacrificed.

Today we are faced with an existential evil, but we are not rising up in unison as we did then to respond. Are we lesser people? No. We are simply faced with a threat that has crept up on us slowly. We are the frog in the pot of water that does not recognize the slowly rising temperature. We are being cooked, but we don’t see the danger. Folks with a vested interest are convincing us that we are in a Jacuzzi, not a cook pot, and working hard to keep us placid. And, in truth, all of us want to believe that the threat is bogus because the reality is terrifying.

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Letter: Current O&C plan provides no ecological or economic balance for Douglas County residents

November 18, 2014 — 

Wyden’s O&C plan won’t help

An Oct. 30 letter writer was correct: balance is necessary when managing public lands. However, if he’s really interested in policies that support children and education, Ron Wyden’s O&C bill is not the one.

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Letter: No need to sacrifice rich history to grow local economy

November 18, 2014 — 

Find better RV park location

The Douglas County Parks Department is planning to develop a Recreational Vehicle Park around the environs of the former United States Coast Guard Station, now a museum, at Winchester Bay.

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Letter: Republicans must use time wisely

November 18, 2014 — 

What will 2016 election bring?

I’m an Independent voter. In the last election, I voted for three losing candidates.

I’d like to throw my opinion out to the people. I feel very sorry for the Republicans in 2016; I think they were set up. They have two years to pass all of the bills they can, while they control both the House and the Senate. If they don’t, this will have a large bearing on the election in 2016.

The Democrats have a record of 5 percent unemployment, the economy is doing well and most people have medical insurance. The result will be a Democrat for president in 2016.

I think there was some underhanded politics. Did the Democrats hogtie the Republicans? What do you think?

Gabriel Soldevila

Myrtle Creek

Letter: Where’s the love of our country in ‘transforming’ and ‘remaking’ America?

November 17, 2014 — 

Disregarding due process

Now I’m not sayin’ our young President is a narcissist, but may I at least ask when his third autobiography is due out?

And I would not dare question his love for his fellow American, but isn’t it curious how he will not use any language even approximating “Islamic terrorist,” yet doesn’t hesitate in the least to brand millions of Americans as “. . . bitter clingers . . .” just because they believe in God and the Second Amendment of our Constitution?

And when he exhorted to his minions that “. . . voting is the best revenge!” (and I’m assuming he didn’t mean for Mitt Romney), or when he spoke to the racist and pro-illegal invader group “La Raza,” telling them they should “. . . punish our enemies . . .”, wouldn’t it be reasonable to question his motives? Revenge? Punish? Really? And who would La Raza’s enemies be, Mr. President?

Finally, and far be it from me to suspect his patriotism, but does “. . . fundamentally transforming . . .” or “. . . remaking America . . .” sound like the words of a man who loves his traditional country?

When the dust from the mid-term elections has settled, our young, ego-maniacal, ideologue of a President, Barack Hussein Obama, will, with great personal disregard to Congress and the majority of Americans, grant some form of amnesty to millions of culturally different, prolific, criminal invaders who are illegally in our country.

What better way to dilute, punish, take revenge on, and begin remaking America?

Patrick Conley

Yoncalla

Letter: It’s time for political representatives to work together on behalf of their constituents

November 17, 2014 — 

Dreaming of a little teamwork

I dreamed that all our senators and congressmen in the west actually worked together to fight as a team. I’m a little tired of each one happily sending out propaganda statements about how hard they’re woring for us, when the entire west is methodically being damaged by federal policies assaulting our once productive range lands forests, mining and rivers.

All of the politicians claim to have had some education and they should at least have seen football games. Everyone wants to be the quarterback (that’s where the glory is), but without teamwork, you get the kind of mess we see in politics today.

Just dreaming ...

Terry Stafford

Riddle

Publisher’s Notebook: Our disabled citizens need workplaces like Sunrise

November 16, 2014 — 

The plan was not for me to be a single parent to an autistic adult son.

But life rarely goes as planned so we go with the flow, or … as Forest Gump reminded us, “Life is a box of chocolates. You never know what you’ll get until you bite into one.”

My autistic son’s name is Luke. I call him Cool Hand Luke because he’s been a blessing and, well, blessings are as cool as they come.

My wife pretty much raised Luke while I worked to keep a roof over our heads. We learned he was “special” when he was maybe 4 or 5 years old and that he would require all of the special attention we could muster.

Fortunately, my wife could muster more than most and she was the reason Luke made it through childhood and through those “terrible teen” years that are tough enough for anyone, let alone someone who is autistic.

School officials told my wife that Luke would probably not make it through high school, but that was before they knew my wife.

She volunteered at Luke’s school just so she could be close to him and she did such a good job with the kids they hired her.

When he started high school, Luke was pretty much tossed straight into the fray. He had an aide, but for the most part was on his own. His big sister and her friends were there to make sure nobody messed with Luke and nobody did.

They say patience is a virtue and my wife had more than most. She read to Luke almost every day of his life and there were nights when I wondered how she managed through it.

Luke went on to graduate high school and we eventually moved to Roseburg, where my wife would spend the last two years of her life.

Now it’s up to me to make sure all of my wife’s work doesn’t go to waste. The rest of my life will be dedicated to making sure Luke — who just turned 22 — is a functioning, contributing adult, capable of caring for himself. And if his life can be half as full as mine has been he’ll be just fine.

The great news is that I don’t have to do it alone.

Autism — if you haven’t noticed — has reached epidemic proportions: 1 in 68 young people have been identified with an autism disorder, which includes a wide spectrum. The complex neurodevelopment disorders have common social impairments that often make communication difficult. Some autistic people (and most are males) cannot communicate at all and demonstrate self-destructive behavior, while others, such as Luke, are referred to as “high functioning,” or belong in the category often called Asperger syndrome.

The bigger issue is the growing number of young adults with various disabilities who face a future with very few employment opportunities. And unless we find, or create, those opportunities those millions of young people will become dependent on a government that is running out of money to take care of the growing number of social needs.

A friend of mine named Jason Harman introduced me to Barry Robinson, a local businessman who is on the board for Sunrise Enterprises. Sunrise was founded in 1969 to, according to its mission statement, “assist persons with disabilities to access meaningful employment opportunities and achieve self-fulfilling lives.”

“Bingo,” I thought during my first lunch with Barry and Jason. “I’m talking to the right guy.”

The next step was a tour of the various Sunrise facilities, where they are serving nearly 150 adults with various disabilities. They do that at a large wood products, recycling facility out in Green, a recycling center on Harvard Avenue and through thrift stores in Roseburg, Myrtle Creek, Winston and Reedsport.

During my tour of the Green facility I asked one of the guys if he could point out the employees who were disabled.

“You can’t tell?” he asked.

“No,” I replied.

“Good. That means we’re doing our job.”

The point, you see, is assimilation.

Unfortunately, there are dark clouds on the horizon for Sunrise and other so-called “sheltered workplaces.”

The state believes every disabled individual should be assimilated into the workplace community and that places such as Sunrise, which offers a comfortable, supportive environment, are somehow stunting the process.

So the governor signed what is known as Executive Order No. 13-04.

The first paragraph of that order acknowledges the problem Sunrise is already trying to address: “Individuals with disabilities persistently face higher rates of unemployment than their non-disabled fellow citizens.”

This is where I would typically say: “duh.”

The order goes on to brag that Oregon is “a leader in providing supportive employment services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

That could be, and, if that’s true, it’s because of organizations such as Sunrise, not because Oregon has somehow figured out how to find jobs for disabled people.

Government’s solution to these kinds of social problems is to dump more money into them with very little accountability.

“We don’t disagree with a competitive, integrated job in the community,” said Sunrise Executive Director Sam Gardner. “But the governor’s order says it is the goal for everyone, which takes away the choice for sheltered employment. The reality is that not 100 percent of those folks are able to work in the community. In fact, I’d guess about 20 percent of our folks would be able to work in the community.”

Barry Robinson, a longtime Sunrise board member, believes it’s a numbers game with the government. “Oregon wants to be an example for the rest of the country,” he told me. “They want those with the least severe disabilities working in the community, while the majority, or those with more difficult disabilities, staying at home.”

Sunrise, by comparison, tries to serve the entire spectrum and it does that while generating more than 70 percent of its own revenue through its manufacturing, recycling centers and stores.

“We are empowering these people and that is something to be applauded, not disparaged,” he said.

Unless the public gets involved, or the state officials realize the value of facilities such as Sunrise, that wonderful organization will be reduced to an office filled with job “coaches,” but no real jobs.

And that won’t help my son become a productive and contributing member of a community we’ve come to love.

Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or jackerman@nrtoday.com.

Editorial: Funding needed for feasible health college in Roseburg

November 16, 2014 — 

Anyone with money to invest who cares about the future of Roseburg has an opportunity to make a difference.

A long-anticipated study on the feasibility of establishing a private health college in Roseburg was recently completed. It concludes the project is viable.

If funding can be secured, the health college could bring a much-needed economic boost to Douglas County. Not only would it diversify the economy, but it should create stability.

With our aging population and the technological advances in medicine, the need for health-care workers is only expected to increase. Training more of those workers for health-care careers in Roseburg would be a wise move.

Health care is an industry believed to be largely recession-proof — that’s something this part of the country hasn’t experienced before. We’ve had to learn to survive in a boom-and-bust economy.

Realizing a more stable economy would be a refreshing change that could make a huge difference for those who live here, while attracting even more employers.

We’ve always known we live in a beautiful area that has a desirable climate and is centrally located — close to the beach and mountains and halfway between Seattle and San Francisco.

If we had the jobs and services people rely on, it would be the ideal place to live.

The health-care college study provides optimism, forecasting that payroll and locally purchased services would total $35 million annually. Conservatively, an estimated 300 to 350 jobs would directly or indirectly be created — not including those involved in construction of the health care college. About 200 jobs would be added specifically for the college and they would pay wages well above the regional average.

As many as 1,500 students could be served, a number deemed feasible considering market demand.

The study reviewed 25 local sites before determining downtown Roseburg would be the desired location. Multiple sites within walking distance could be utilized, and those sites are likely for sale, or their owners could be persuaded to sell.

The potential for this project could transform downtown Roseburg. Suddenly the town could be bustling with students, faculty and support personnel heading to classes and work.

The demand for housing and eating establishments nearby would surge.

The college would be modeled after Mercy College of Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa, which has the same parent organization as Roseburg’s Mercy Medical Center: Catholic Health Initiatives.

The funding need for the project is huge: $180 million.

We hope that’s not insurmountable. Certainly there are plenty of foundations with ties to Roseburg that could contribute. And any foundation concerned about Oregon becoming more deeply divided between the thriving urban areas and the depressed rural locales should want to get involved.

This is an extremely worthwhile project. We want to see it continue to move forward with frequent and transparent updates on its progress.

Editorial: Roses & thorns

November 14, 2014 — 

ROSE

Public service pays off

In a real sense the story this newspaper printed earlier this week regarding Doug Page, commander of the Earle B. Stewart American Legion Post 16 in Roseburg, symbolizes two key elements.

For one, Page personifies the service our veterans rendered to this great nation.

Yet his story, centered on his service with the American Legion, also represents the changing nature of America and its newest crop of veterans generated by the decade-long global war on terror.

Page mentioned during his interview that he struggles to get younger individuals involved in the American Legion.

He made a good point that if organizations like the American Legion are not supported now, such entities won’t be around in the future. Page deserves praise not only because he is a veteran but because he chose to give back to that part of our community that gave so much on foreign shores for our great republic.

ROSE

Celebrate artists

Art isn’t usually one of those items at the top of the American pantheon. We are a busy society, eager for the next new horizon and often dismissive of writers, poets and painters.

That is why when someone such as Douglas County’s Bob Heilman steps into the spotlight, if for even a moment, it is refreshing.

Heilman, a writer from Myrtle Creek, is reissuing his book of essays called “Overstory: Zero: Real Life in Timber Country.”

Heilman is an established writer and one of the best things about his stories are their focus on lives and issues right here in Douglas County.

Distinctive points of view, such as Heilman’s, can be hard to come by sometimes. Yet the very fact we have someone of such talent who writes right here in our local area is good news for our little slice of the American heartland. We need to celebrate our writers, artists and poets.

THORN

Be prepared

Eight hunters in the past few weeks found themselves lost in one form or another as they trekked the beautiful mountains in our area, and complacency may be, at least in part, to blame.

After spending time enjoying our beautiful area — hunting, fishing or other forms of recreation — it can be easy to misjudge a particular mountain situation, especially as the days grow shorter.

So it is imperative that people take a few basic items to ensure they do not become a statistic if they get lost while hunting.

That means packing simple things like a map and a compass. And have a plan. Discuss and know where you are going to hunt and what to do if you get lost.

Learning that eight people became lost in the woods in a few weeks isn’t a statistic to hang your hat on. We can do better than that.

Letter: Winston’s Douglas High School presented a fine tribute on Veteran’s Day

November 14, 2014 — 

Veteran Tribute was remarkable

The Douglas High School Music Department’s Veterans Tribute on Tuesday evening Jacoby Auditorium at Umpqua Community College was awesome!

Mr. Carwithen and Mr. Pust have done a remarkable job in the selection of compositions, and their guidance of these young people’s presentation of instrumental, voice and drama was exemplary. Numerous other parties (pianist Finch-Johnson, writer Fallose, principal presenter Mr. Annear, support personnel and businesses) are to be commended for providing a touching homage to our deserving veterans.

It is wonderful to see the exceptional skills of our multi-talented youth and to be presented with a unifying event in these times that often seem to be focused on day-to-day dissention.

Dennis Danz

Winston

Letter: ‘Majority rules’ is part of our democratic system

November 14, 2014 — 

Not fair? Really?

Many local “red-leaning” voters already feel aggrieved and resentful about being outvoted by “blue-leaning” counties. We don’t need The News-Review’s publisher, Jeff Ackerman, throwing gasoline on the “It ain’t fair!” bonfire. (Publisher’s Notebook, Nov. 9.)

There’s nothing unfair or underhanded about Oregon’s bluish election results. No one’s stuffing ballot boxes or hindering red voters’ rights. A Portland vote only counts once, and our votes here do count. That’s it—one person, one vote, statewide.

Compare Douglas County with Lane County. Art Robinson got more than twice as many votes in Lane County (42,480) as he did here (20,322). And 52,705 Lane voters picked Richardson for governor, compared to only 24,068 in Douglas. Why were these majority results here but minority results in Lane? It’s simple: There are many more people, more voters, in Lane County.

Both counties had similar voter turnout percentages (Douglas 71.4 percent, Lane 72.5 percent), but the number of ballots was way different. Douglas returned 42,903 ballots while 148,594 Lane County residents voted — nearly half-again our county’s entire population (est. 108,850).

Nevertheless, each of our votes does count. My county voted against equal rights for women (what year is this?) and letting judges serve in the National Guard (it’ll do them good), but my votes for Measures 87 and 89 helped them pass statewide. A Douglas County vote counts exactly as much as a vote in Lane County. They just have more people and more voters. So even though Robinson got twice as many votes there as he did here, many more people in Lane County chose DeFazio, resulting in 62,802 votes in the two counties for Robinson, and 115, 864 for DeFazio.

There’s no plot against Douglas County’s voters. It’s just simple numbers and the democratic principle of one person/one vote and majority rules.

Cathryn Feral

Myrtle Creek

Letter: Gun purchase clearance in Oregon should occur within three days

November 14, 2014 — 

Know the gun laws of Oregon

I was in a gun shop the morning of November 8 to pick up a shotgun the dealer had ordered for me. After 45 minutes, the dealer was told I could not have the gun until December 22. There was no denial or reason given. I have been through this before, so I told the dealer I would be back after three business days had lapsed. The dealer said fine.

Here is the three day law: If the State Police cannot say yes or no in 30 minutes, they must provide an estimate of how long it will be. Federal law requires that three business days must come and go between the time the background check was requested and the day you can take possession.

In many states, the dealer contacts the National Instant Check System operated by the FBI and there is no fee. Before you buy or order a gun, ask dealers if they will comply with this law. If not, find another dealer. Some dealers are afraid, but there is no reason for them to be.

These delays are the result of a political decision. There is no reason at all for them except to hinder freedom and waste everybody’s time and money. In fact, there is no honest reason for a State Police unit to do this, as has been argued in the legislature. When a cop stops you for a traffic violation, it does not take days, weeks, or months for that officer to find out if you are a good citizen or not.

Michael D. Heath

Myrtle Creek

Letter: Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center staff praised, morale low

November 12, 2014 — 

Look at misuse of power issues

I came in good faith to Roseburg for a great management job opportunity at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The Nutrition and Food Service staff is a group of hard-working employees. They work as a team and get their kudos from each other, not their Chief.

The nursing staff and physicians provide excellent patient care. During the 7 months I was employed, the clinical managers all collaborated with me concerning patient care issues, but not my Chief.

The Nutrition and Food Service is run by intimidation and non-collaboration. Going “up the chain of command” and the constant threat of “disciplinary action” has given those at the top too much power. I was hired by a panel and dismissed by the opinion of one.

I should have spoken up immediately when my delegation authority was removed. I should have realized my future when I saw my Chief continued to carry my management title under her name.

There are serious morale problems at the Roseburg VA. Look at those departments with the lowest employee satisfaction scores and look at their management and you will find the answer to the problem.

Mary Reynolds

Roseburg

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