Opinion, Analysis, Discussion
If you are going to publish an annual “Worst Of” list — and I’m not sure why anyone would — it would seem prudent to at least establish some credibility.
In Defense of Animals, a nonprofit headquartered in San Rafael, California, just made my “Top 10 Worst NonProfit” agencies list.Learn more »
A love for Roseburg and a commitment to making the city a better place are among the attributes of Roseburg’s newest First Citizens.
Once again, an audience of more than 500 heard an impressively long list of contributions to the community by newly adorned outstanding citizens Lani Kimoto and Clint Newell.Learn more »
Weight ticket makes sense
According to a November article on dump fees, it appears that the cost of operating the Roseburg landfill amounts to a little more than a penny per pound. The cost to commercial operators is suggested to be 3 cents per pound.Learn more »
Please do not be fooled again
The same gullible people who renamed their french fries to “freedom fries” because France didn’t want any part of Bush’s terrorist-creating Iraq-war fiasco, are now bashing Obama for not showing up for a phony, staged, photo-op picture.Learn more »
Letter: Compare the U.S. today to the U.S. in 2012Learn more »
Save our great local museum
After reading The News-Review’s interview with Jo Barnes about the Calapooia Reflections Museum on January 9, I was deeply saddened. The article reflects that the museum is in financial troubles and I believe this archive that walks us through the settling and heritage of our county needs all of our help to survive. Since the tolls of time have limited my opportunities to visit this treasure of history lately, I appeal to you to take a visit and enjoy our museum in downtown Sutherlin. It is well organized and fascinating to learn of our settler’s struggles, lifestyles and wartime heros.Learn more »
Pipeline not worth the risk
Since the time the pioneers took this land from the Natives, we have taken everything we wanted from this great land. We cut the forests. We plowed the prairies. We mined the minerals and the coal. We dammed the rivers. We fished and polluted the water. We hunted the wildlife, some to near extinction, like the bison. We warmed the planet. We also pumped out the easy-to-get oil. When it was gone, we fought wars to get oil from the Middle East.Learn more »
Writers with too much time?
I love The News-Review Opinion page, but I think far too many writers have way to much time on their hands.Learn more »
State law mandates that each county elect an assessor. The assessor is charged, by state law, with implementing and maintaining a system that sets the taxable and market value for all real and personal property in the county. Roger Hartman is Douglas County’s newly elected assessor, bringing extensive private sector experience to the office.
His team is responsible for maintaining: maps of property boundaries, locations, descriptions and ownerships; an inventory of all properties that includes quality, quantity and important characteristics; an estimate of the market value of each taxable property; managing special programs like farm and forest assessments, veterans’ exemptions, and senior/disabled deferrals; administering all Special Assessment statutes; reviewing and preparing property review requests and appeals, and explaining the assessment process used; along with other duties.Learn more »
Dump free, or pay firemen?
I had something in mind to write the Forum during the holiday season, but got busy and put it at the bottom of my To Do list, but I cannot let the letter about the “free dump whiner” go undebated!Learn more »
Long live the Golden Arches
I am certainly not a great fan of McDonalds (or any other fast food chain), but I thought you did them an injustice by insinuating in the Jan. 14 Opinion page that they didn’t care about healthy eating or fair wages. What about all the other chains? Are they any better? Or for that matter, are most of our other restaurants? Minimum wages are the norm — right? And a hamburger is a hamburger. People choose where and what they eat and when you see a looooong line at the drive-through, you can see where the choice lies.Learn more »
I’ve offended a lot of people in my more than three decades of journalism. I hope to offend many more before I’m done.
For most of those 35 years I’ve written a weekly column that has attracted more than a few nasty calls, emails and anonymous online comments from trolls and cowards unwilling to put their names to their opinions.Learn more »
Helping and preparing the next generation to succeed is one of the best actions adults can take.
Not only is it rewarding to see youngsters grow and learn, it’s important for the future well-being of our society.Learn more »
Help preserve our older trees
Our all-aged trees in the Umpqua National Forest need some “tender loving care” and we can help. More than 65 percent of the UNF has old-growth trees coexisting with trees of newer generations.Learn more »
The pipeline is wrong for U.S.
What the Pacific Connector pipeline boils down to is allowing a foreign corporation to dig a huge ditch through some of the Pacific Northwest’s most scenic and most productive land, pushing landowners (taxpayers) off their property or denying them the use of it, so a pipeline can be constructed to move natural gas to a yet-to-be-built port. That port may or may not provide a few jobs to an unknown few people, in order for the gas to be shipped to a different foreign country, all to make this Canadian corporation lots of money. The corporation – it must be pointed out – that today is Canadian owned, can at any moment be sold to just about anyone.Learn more »
Health care: a vital issue
The League of Women Voters of Umpqua Valley would like to thank The News-Review for its excellent front page coverage on the December 8 Community Health Care Forum. While the four presenters (Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer, Dawnelle Marshall, Janet Holland, and Christy Parazoo) answered several questions submitted by the audience that night, there was not enough time to answer all of the submitted questions. Responses to those unanswered questions are now available on the LWVUV website www:lwvuv.wordpress.com. The League would like to again publicly thank all four presenters for appearing at the forum.Learn more »
Restore Oregon to greatness
As a new session of Congress gets underway, I’d like to thank you for giving me another chance to represent you in the nation’s capital. I am humbled by the trust you have placed in me.Learn more »
Where are you, Joe Wilson?
Remember U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson from South Carolina, who stood during President Obama’s health care speech to Congress in 2009 and called, “You Lie.” He was given a formal rebuke by the House of Representatives and he then issued a statement of apology. It was regarding the right of illegal immigrants to receive health care.Learn more »
As you know, the county has missed a payment for 2014-15 and has only a promise for safety net funding in 2015-16. Safety net is a direct feed from the federal government’s general fund. It compensates Douglas County for the 52 percent of our land base that is owned by the federal government and does not pay property taxes. It supplanted a long-standing formula that shared a portion of the revenue that was generated by the sale of commodities (mainly timber) with the counties and schools. This original formula became inoperative in the mid ’90s when harvesting ended as the Endangered Species Act and litigation brought the harvesting program to a halt.
There are two kinds of safety net payments. First is O&C Safety Net, administered by the Bureau of Land Management. From the county’s perspective these are very valuable funds because they can be applied to any county services. Second is Forest Service Safety Net, administered by the U.S. Forest Service. This money can only be spent on our road system and sheriff’s patrols.Learn more »
Giving blood is not a right
Have our leaders lost all common sense?Learn more »
Publisher’s Notebook: Here’s a chance to help Jennifer Dwight get a new set of lungsJanuary 11, 2015 —
A week after he said he’d “retired,” Dan Hern sent me a note asking for some help on another of his many community campaigns.
Hern is one of those guys who can’t sit still. Not when there are so many who need so much.
“Hi, Jeff,” he wrote in an email last week. “Happy New Year! I’m asking for the NR’s help for a young lady who is suffering from cystic fibrosis. There is an event planned for January 17th at the Pyrenees Winery to help her and the fight against the disease.”
Hern volunteered his significant auctioneer talents for the event and provided some contact information that led me to Jennifer Dwight, a lifetime resident of the Winston area who is fighting for her life.
Jennifer is just 30 years old, but statistics say she has maybe seven years to live and even less if she doesn’t get a new set of lungs soon.
“I was diagnosed just shy of my second birthday,” Jennifer said. “I had a lot of stomach issues. Food would go right through me. My parents took me to Portland where I was diagnosed.”
She said the disease is uncommon and that roughly 30,000 Americans have it. “It’s a genetic disease and both parents have to be carriers of the mutation in order for you to get it. The life expectancy is 37 and there is no cure.”
The disease affects mostly the lungs, but also the pancreas, liver and intestine. Difficulty breathing is the most serious symptom and results in frequent lung infections.
“It kills the lungs,” Jennifer told me.
She was coping with the disease as well as could be expected until last May, when she developed pneumonia. “My lungs took a big hit and they put me on supplemental oxygen. My lung function dropped to 24 percent and my doctor in Portland said I need a double lung transplant.”
Jennifer is a teacher by profession. She attended Oregon State University and earned a master’s degree in elementary education. She taught school, but her medical condition would only permit her to substitute at the Winston-Dillard School District. When her lungs began to fail three years ago she was forced to step away from the classroom completely.
“I was on a ventilator for 18 days last May,” she told me. “I spent an entire month at OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University).”
She and her husband Kerry (they met coaching softball) were recommended for a lung transplant and met with specialists at the University of Washington. “We went up there last July for our initial meeting,” she said. “We met with all the surgeons and then they put me through a bunch of gruesome tests to decide if I was a good candidate for a transplant.”
They wanted to know that Jennifer was healthy enough to survive the transplant operation and that she would be capable of taking care of them.
“In September I was listed for a transplant,” she said. “I’m just waiting for the call.”
When or if that call comes, Jennifer and her husband will have to be at the hospital within three hours. “We have a friend who has offered to get us up there on his private jet,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to fly commercially.”
The family has good medical coverage, but the out-of-pocket expenses are significant. “After you have a transplant you are in the hospital 10 to 14 days and then we’d have to live near the hospital in Seattle for at least three months. I would have to be at the hospital almost every day for lab work.”
The insurance won’t cover those living expenses.
That’s where the fundraiser comes in. “Help us do our part in the fight against Cystic Fibrosis and save Jennifer Dwight’s Life,” reads the poster for that Jan. 17 event at Pyrenees Vineyards. The event will feature a wine pairing and auction for $500 per couple and it begins at 5.
Jennifer has created a wonderful website, where she contributes frequent updates. You can find it at www.jenniferdwight.com.
On her website, Jennifer reminds visitors that she is simply asking for some time. “I do not feel that I have experienced all the things I was placed on this earth to do.”
She goes on to detail the highlights of the 30 years of her young life.
“When I was a teenager, my dad and late uncle Stan Anderson introduced me to drag racing,” she recalled. “I talked my parents into letting me drive in the junior dragster series. I remember the day I got to hold up the Wally Trophy after winning a division race at the Coos Bay drag strip.”
Jennifer seems to have the kind of spirit we need and my guess is that she is one heck of a good teacher who belongs in a classroom.
I appreciate Dan Hern pointing me in Jennifer’s direction and hope the Jan. 17 event provides the support she deserves.
Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editorial: Transparency push a refreshing start to yearJanuary 11, 2015 —
The new year is off to a great start. There’s a good feeling in the air. There’s optimism, hope and a desire to do the right thing.
In particular, it’s encouraging to see the push for more transparency, openness and access in our county government.
As newly elected Douglas County Commissioners Chris Boice and Tim Freeman took their seats beside veteran Commissioner Susan Morgan for the year’s first board meeting Wednesday, they announced cameras were filming the proceedings.
The video access meant constituents could view the commissioners’ actions in real time from anywhere across the county’s 5,000 square miles — or anywhere around the globe, for that matter — as long they had an Internet connection.
Those who were unable to watch a live stream of the meeting found an archived version available online a few hours later that day. Charter Communications cable TV subscribers may also tune in to public access Channel 191 on Wednesday and Sunday evenings to see the commissioners go over each week’s agenda.
The return of cameras to the commissioners meeting room wasn’t a one-time demonstration. The board is committed to providing the live stream at each meeting.
It was a move called for by many county residents after televised meetings ceased 5½ years ago.
Fortunately, the cost is minimal. County Information Technology Director Kevin Potter said the vendor, ustream.tv, charges just $99 per month.
Citizens who are shy about being on camera need not be discouraged from speaking at or attending board meetings. The camera is pointed at the decision-makers, rather than the audience.
In another office at the county courthouse, public records regarding property tax assessments have become easier to obtain. New Assessor Roger Hartman fulfilled his campaign promise by returning a public access computer terminal to the office. A second one is on the way.
The computers include information not available to home computer users over the Internet. Both terminals had been removed by his predecessor, a move Hartman opposed and emphasized when he ran for election.
“We work for the public,” Hartman told News-Review reporter Carisa Cegavske in an interview last week. “They have the right to have anything that is public information.”
Hartman’s statement should be echoed throughout government bodies across the county. Elected officials and government employees need to remember they work for the taxpayer.
In turn, taxpayers have a responsibility to understand how government works and where their dollars are spent.
That’s going to be a big assignment this year as county commissioners face tough decisions on how to pay for services in the next few years without draining all county reserve funds.
Commissioner Freeman has said he wants to make presentations to residents to show them the actual cost of services, so they can state their preferences for where their taxes should be spent.
We applaud this fresh beginning to 2015 from our public servants.
Guest column: Immigration isn’t that easyJanuary 9, 2015 —
Most of those who favor the immigration of people from Central America seem to have some unrealistic expectations of what will swiftly follow: green card and citizenship for those immigrants who truly want to legally stay in this country.
Let me tell you from my own experience that meeting those expectations is far from easy. Back in early 1980s, we in the “underground railroad” brought up a couple, Reina and Benjamin Cruz, and their 4 year-old daughter, Cindy, from El Salvador.
Their underground railroad experience started in Pasadena, where they were held in a detention facility from February until April. A woman visited Reina there, and after listening to her story said, “Don’t be scared. We are here to help you.” Soon after, another woman, Mary Parmenter, told them that she’d be driving them up to Sutherlin, where she owned some property with a mobile home on it.
A bunch of us in Douglas County joined together to help out the family. We called ourselves CERCA, a Spanish word that means “near” or “close,” and which represented how we regarded these refugees. They were not only near us geographically, but close to our hearts as well. It was also an acronym for “Comite Ecumenico por Refugiados de Centro America.” We were a group of people from different churches whose purpose was to help Benjamin and Reina acquire a green card and acquire employment and housing.
We succeeded in getting them housing, thanks to some of our churches donating money for that, and one of the churches even hired the man as their janitor.
But despite the immediacy of these blessings, getting a green card, let alone citizenship was not such a simple process. We were fortunate enough to have an attorney in Hood River who had heard of our plight contact us with an offer to work on our behalf pro bono. Following his suggestions, we contacted the U.S. Immigration office in Portland. Through them we were able to obtain the names of some judges in Portland who might hear the couple’s plea for a green card.
That might sound like a fairly straightforward approach, but in reality it was anything but that. For the next year, some of us drove the parents to Portland many times for one thing or another. A major issue we had to tackle was satisfying the powers-that-be that Benjamin and Reina were indeed political refugees, and not economic ones.
During the year after we had begun this process, the Hood River attorney came to Roseburg twice to consult with us and the family. When we were finally granted a date when we could appear before a judge, it had been more than a year. Both Benjamin and Reina were eventually given green cards which signified that they were in the U.S. legally, and were allowed to work.
Benjamin was given a janitor job with Douglas County, which he still has today, while retaining his church job. Reina became employed as a presser in a local business, and is still working for them nearly 30 years later. She has endeared herself to many people here, friends and fellow employees alike. Her employer can’t speak more highly of her, and she has become one of my dearest, most esteemed friends.
This is a story with a happy ending, but it literally “took a village” to make it happen. To expect all the immigrants now crowding into the U.S. to quickly accomplish the same results is totally unrealistic. The justice system may now have made it somewhat easier sailing through all the bureaucratic red tape, but I guarantee that it’s still more complicated than any new immigrant can handle alone.
The Salvadoran couple applied for citizenship two years ago. To prepare for the required test, they studied for a year. They learned things about the U.S. that very few of us, including myself, know. After plunking down more than $700 apiece, they passed the test with flying colors, and are now citizens of the United States of America!
Both their daughters have graduated from college. Cindy, who was only 4 years old when her parents entered the U.S., and who still finds the sound of helicopters scary, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Portland State University. Her younger sister, Stefani, born in Roseburg, also graduated from PSU and is now working on her Master of Arts in San Francisco. Both were able to pay for college with money from their parents and by working themselves while attending college.
Judy Lasswell of Roseburg has been an active member of our community for 50 years. She has a master’s degree in counseling and taught welfare clients for 11 years at Umpqua Community College. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Letter: America will survive the Obama administrationJanuary 9, 2015 —
Who is the lawless one?
Oh, for heaven’s sake! I hope The News-Review readers will take with a grain of salt the “sky is falling” letters from the Obama haters. A recent letter claimed “America may not survive two more years” under Obama and his lawless administration. As proof, the letter writer cited the books of author Dinesh D’Souza, who makes a living out of writing awful stuff about the president, and who just six months ago was convicted in federal court of a felony. Lawless, indeed!
Letter: Proud of Douglas County programsJanuary 9, 2015 —
Stepping up to help children
As a justice of the peace, I was always proud of Douglas County because it offered programs where people could be placed to get back on their feet and on the right path.
Now in Sunday’s (Jan. 4, 2015) News-Review front page regarding the juvenile center, Douglas County steps up again for our most important project: our children. Well done!
Letter: Prepare and be heard at Feb. 11 health care rally in SalemJanuary 9, 2015 —
Rally for access to health care
I attended the December 8 Health Care Forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters. While the four presenters provided excellent information about health care services available in Douglas County, I also learned that not everyone has equal access to health care.
For example, Dr. Dannenhoffer stated that it was difficult for new Medicare patients to even find a doctor to treat them. Also, many individuals still cannot afford to go to a doctor, because of high deductibles and/or co-pays. This, in my opinion, is unconscionable. Everyone in Douglas County has the right to affordable health care.
That is why I am inviting Douglas County residents to join me at a rally sponsored by Health Care For All Oregon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, February 11 on the capitol steps in Salem. More than 2,500 individuals from around the state are expected.
After the rally, there will be an opportunity to talk with our state legislators. To prepare for the rally, I will be holding information sessions on proposed 2015 state legislation and will coordinate carpools to attend the rally. In addition, I am also available to show the documentary “The Healthcare Movie” to interested groups. This documentary explores the differences between the healthcare systems in Canada and the United States.
Coordinator HCAO-Douglas County
Letter: Red flag issues regarding LNG pipeline in OregonJanuary 9, 2015 —
Reasons to say ‘No’ to pipeline
The proposed construction of the 230-mile LNG pipeline from Malin, Oregon to the terminal at Coos Bay is dangerous. Canadian corporation, Veresen, has determined that because the pipeline will cross low-density population areas, the pipe can be less thick, dug less deeply and inspected less frequently.
Here are a few issues that tell me this pipeline is wrong:
• A foreign corporation using eminent domain to gain access to our lands in Oregon to export their natural gas for their profit. We get nothing except headaches, literally, from non-odorous gas emissions.
• The LNG comes from fracking, the most environmentally destructive method of fossil fuel extraction.
• An earthquake or tsunami would easily result in a fireball explosion.
• Natural gas suppliers are the least government regulated energy producers in the industry. Each month, somewhere in the world, a natural gas pipeline has a major leak or an explosion.
• The Jordan Cove terminal facility would emit 2.166 million tons of CO2 per year, more than doubling what Oregon’s only coal plant, Boardman Coal, emits.
• As the Arctic melts, the cold air moves south giving us the impression that warming is not really happening, but in a few short years, that will stop and we will experience much hotter, drier weather unless we stop approving these enterprises that are killing us.
• Who will clean up the damage done to our fisheries, our land and water when there is an accident? It will be us taxpayers.
You can be one of the people saying “No” to this high-risk, dangerous business venture by writing your concerns to the Federal Regulatory Commission. They’re taking comments until February 13. The mailing address is: Kimberly Bose, Secretary, FERC, 888 First St. N.E., Room 1A, Washington, D.C. 20426.
Letter: VISN offices overstep their original mandatesJanuary 7, 2015 —
Too much VISN for local vets
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio recently stated in a News-Review article that it was good to have the Veterans Integrated Service Network offices to bridge the gap between Washington and the medical facilities. In fact, VISN is just a regional arm of Washington; they not only pass on everything that comes from Washington, but also add their own restrictions and data-gathering systems. These systems increase the number of non-medical personnel at the local facilities and create unnecessary paperwork for the medical personnel. In 1995, when Dr. Kizer went before Congress, he proposed 21 VISN offices with a total of 230 employees. A recent organizational chart shows 63 positions at VISN 20 alone and a budget of $13.6 million.
The day the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center announced the Intensive Care Unit would be closed, I was in the Roseburg director’s office when VISN 20 director Dr. Pendergrass arrived. I asked Roseburg facility director Yeager what the meeting was about. She said she didn’t know. In that executive meeting, Dr. Pendergrass, with no input from anyone at the Roseburg facility, announced the ICU closure. These are the dictatorial practices that the VISN offices use.
When Yeager decided to open the call center in Roseburg, she requested additional funding from VISN. It was denied. Yeager decided to go ahead with the project, even without the additional funding. Now that the call center concept has proven itself, VISN 20 is attempting to expand it by creating a VISN-wide system that will, in my opinion, degrade its original purpose.
VISN 20 needs to be returned to 10 employees and its original mandate of budget allocation and facilities coordination. This would allow the medical facilities to allocate their own budgets to best serve the local communities.
Letter: Roseburg motorized bicycle regulations should protect pedestriansJanuary 6, 2015 —
Enforce cyclist safety rules
Recently, I saw a motorized bicycle going at least 20 miles per hour in the rain in the middle of a traffic lane on Harvard. He was holding up traffic and going that fast on a slick road, he was tempting fate. There’s no way that bike could have stopped in time to avoid an accident. If the bike tires lost traction or blew out, he could have ended up under a car. On top of everything else, there are no headlights or tail lights on these bicycles.
Ten minutes later, another motorized bicycle was flying down the bicycle/walking path by Stewart Park pond, weaving between pedestrians. This path is not designed to accommodate motorized bicycles moving more than 20 mph.
In both cases, these cyclists should have been stopped and ticketed. Several times last summer, I saw a three-wheeled trike being ridden at high speeds on the sidewalks on Diamond Lake Blvd. and the guy was not stopping at cross streets. These devices need to be strictly regulated.
The next time I see one on a side walk, the walking path or on the street I’m calling 911. These people are endangering everyone around them and if there is an accident, it will probably result in an innocent person being hurt, while the law-breaker walks away. If one of these motorized bicycles going 10, 15 or 20 mph hits a senior or child walking on the path, there will be significant injuries. What if you’re walking your dog with the leash played out and one of these guys comes around the corner and tries to pass between you and your dog?
Vehicles designed to ferry handicapped people around are a good thing and I’ve never seen one driven recklessly.
Letter: Publisher’s editorial on Douglas County dump fee issue was unappreciatedJanuary 5, 2015 —
Put dump fee issue to a vote
Wouldn’t it be nice if Jeff Ackerman stuck to delivering the news, instead of whining when a decision doesn’t go his way? What a childish, spoiled brat screed he subjected us to in his recent Sunday rant against the commissioners for failing to adopt dump fees in Douglas County. That editorial was the closest thing I’ve seen in years to a 2-year-old’s foot-stomping tantrum.
So Douglas County is the only county in America where we don’t have to pay extra to dump our trash. What’s not to like about that? If the commissioners decide we have to pay, let them call an election and add it to our tax bills. At least then it would be deductible. And speaking of the commissioners, they’re smart enough to realize what the results of the next election would be.
Whose money does Mr. Ackerman think is sitting in the county reserve fund, anyway? It’s our money that we’ve paid in taxes to the federal government. Is it such a crime that some of it has to be spent to maintain our quality of life?
Any publisher who’s clever enough to print a paper on Friday evening and then another one on Saturday morning ought to be able to get on the side of the people, for a change.
Edwin A. Parker