Opinion, Analysis, Discussion

Editorial: Candidates must see landfill fees are necessary

September 21, 2014 — 

Douglas County residents got their first comprehensive look at the six candidates for county commissioner last week, when the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum.

Questions from the packed audience were appropriately centered around county funding, because no issue is of more importance.

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Guest column: Legislation needed to punish professionals for sexual misconduct

September 21, 2014 — 

Professional misconduct can take many forms with none being more heinous than the sexual exploitation of clients seeking mental health services. This population is especially vulnerable when taking into consideration the fragile nature of their mental state either being referred to or becoming aware that help is needed to cope with life’s too often overwhelming events. It is in protecting this population that the state of Oregon must consider a collaborative effort in bringing together the professional boards of Oregon which license, register and certify mental health service providers under one unifying code of ethics. Mandatory reporting was instituted in Oregon due to the outcry of notorious abuses of those who could not always speak out for themselves. The political and public support for these populations resulted in current laws that protect children under the age of 18, the developmentally disabled and laws that protect the aging from elder abuse, of which there were over 10,000 allegations levied in Oregon in 2012 alone.

This, in and of itself, is enough to point out that tougher laws with harsher penalties are still needed. The public should again push and demand stronger legislation. Currently, model legislation has been designed making sexual misconduct and sexual exploitation of a client punishable as a crime in Oregon. This model legislation has been reviewed by Oregon State Rep. Tim Freeman and other legislators, with Freeman taking the lead in sending this model legislation on to be drafted as a bill stating “this is something I get can behind.”

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Letter: Candidate Gary Leif has the necessary skills to serve as Douglas County commissioner

September 19, 2014 — 

Elect Leif for commissioner

I would like to take this opportunity to express my support for Gary Leif for Douglas County commissioner. I have known Gary for many years and he has always been a hardworking, dedicated businessman.

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Letter: Commissioner candidate Gary Leif has public service experience to address the needs of Douglas County

September 19, 2014 — 

Leif is the right choice

Gary Leif is the best candidate for Douglas County commissioner. He has years of public service under his belt as a volunteer, serving citizens county-wide. His work has improved roads and highways, benefitted downtown Roseburg immeasurably, and once earned him First Citizen recognition in Winston.

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Letter: Make outdoor wear reflect our commitment to safety in Douglas County

September 19, 2014 — 

Think children, plan for safety

School has begun, with a chill in the crisp morning air. As summer slips into autumn, mornings are darker and the evening sun sets earlier. Winter rains will soon be here.

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Letter: Leif’s community service makes him a prime candidate for Douglas County Commissioner

September 19, 2014 — 

Gary Leif for commissioner

Gary Leif took photos of our grandchildren for their school pictures. He is very professional and will make a great Douglas County Commissioner.

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Letter: Elect Todd McKnight as Sutherlin mayor

September 19, 2014 — 

Get it right, vote McKnight

I’m writing this letter in support of Todd McKnight for mayor of Sutherlin.

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Letter: Retired nurse offers perspective on Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center

September 19, 2014 — 

Look deeper at VA issues

I retired from the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center last year, after working there as a critical care nurse for 29 years.

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Letter: Choose an approachable Roseburg mayor who will represent all residents equally

September 19, 2014 — 

Re-elect Rich as our mayor

Larry Rich is the real deal. In my 42 years of political activity, Larry is the most approachable, honest public official I have ever encountered. Larry has done an outstanding job as our mayor. Ask any of your children who have attended Roseburg, High School what kind of vice principal he was and is.

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Letter: John Shirtcliff remembered in Douglas County

September 16, 2014 — 

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.

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Letter: Canyonville city charter and council rules define a councilor’s role

September 16, 2014 — 

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.

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Letter: Research the Douglas County commissioner candidates and choose the best

September 16, 2014 — 

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.

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Letter: Nursing students had positive experiences at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center

September 16, 2014 — 

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.

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Publisher’s Notebook: How will students with loads of debt lead us into the future?

September 14, 2014 — 

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.

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Editorial: UCC nursing center needed but not through more student debt

September 14, 2014 — 

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.

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Guest column: Reach out and help victims of domestic violence

September 12, 2014 — 

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.

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Editorial: Roses & thorns

September 12, 2014 — 


Trash nabbers

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Letter: Ask the right questions

September 12, 2014 — 

His answer was ‘simplify’

I have had the privilege and opportunity to speak to a very distinguished gentleman.

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Guest Column: U.S. cannot fight worldwide terrorists alone

September 11, 2014 — 

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.

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Letter: Canyonville park regulations, insurance needs further consideration before approving Pioneer Days Beer Garden

September 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.

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Letter: Choose representation in the majority caucus; endorse Kerry Atherton for House District 2

September 10, 2014 — 

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.

The Democrats will retain control of the House of Representatives in Salem. When Kerry Atherton wins the House District 2 election, we will place a man in the majority caucus. Forestry issues, eminent domain and the legalization of cannabis, among many other issues will all be on the table. Whether we like it or not, the decisions will be made by the majority party. By electing Kerry Atherton, we will have a voice among the majority caucus that will make the decisions and write the checks.

To send a young arch-conservative to Salem is for Douglas County to be further marginalized and excluded from decisions that have serious consequences. At the recent veteran’s forum, the Republican candidate said he “... would spend the first two years learning what the job is.” Do we have two years to waste? By electing Kerry Atherton, we would have access to the levers of power instead of being on the outside looking in.

Kerry Atherton’s family has a long heritage in Douglas County and he has business experience working for Boeing and Orenco. We have a chance to put Kerry Atherton’s decades of practical experience to work for us. Vote for Kerry Atherton.

Richard Chasm


Guest column: Roseburg residents encouraged to join Blue Sky Challenge

September 10, 2014 — 

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.

We are getting there. As of Sept. 1, about 190 of you have committed to spending a little more each month to support and nurture renewable energy in the Northwest. When we reach our community goal toward the end of the year, Blue Sky will provide a 1-kilowatt solar array that the city can place prominently.

The Courtesy Knock program, as the door-to-door effort is called, is a unique approach to customer outreach and education. Outreach staff provides personalized information on what subscribing to Blue Sky will mean to the individual household, both in terms of cost and equivalent environmental benefits. Customers receive a postcard in advance to let them know that outreach staff will be in their neighborhood at a specific time so they can prepare any questions they may have about the program. Customers can identify Blue Sky outreach staff because they will be wearing Blue Sky and Pacific Power branded shirts and carrying ID cards. Blue Sky outreach staff will never ask a customer for personal information or to enter their home. More information about what to expect can be found at pacificpower.net/courtesyknock.

Making sure everyone feels safe is an important element of Courtesy Knock. You know someone is coming to talk to you about something important and you know who they are and they are more than willing to show you their IDs.

You can ask your own questions, but here are some facts you should know going in:

• Supporting renewable energy through Blue Sky is good business. Large local businesses such as Roseburg Forest Products, Swanson Group Manufacturing and Umpqua Dairy are part of Blue Sky and have been for years.

• Blue Sky funds local solar projects. Major solar arrays atop the city’s Public Safety Building, the Joyce Morgan Food Bank and the Martha Young Family Service Center have all been funded by Blue Sky customers.

• Since 2006, Blue Sky customers have put $6 million to work at more than 70 community-based renewable energy projects in the Northwest.

• This is an affordable program. You can start making a difference for less than $2 per month. And none of the money goes to Pacific Power’s bottom line. All the money collected goes to the program and funding projects.

That’s why the Roseburg City Council and I supported this in April and are urging you to consider becoming a Blue Sky customer today as the team members come door-to-door. We are working with United Community Action Network, Jefferson Public Radio and Umpqua Community College to help get the word out.

I will keep you posted on our progress.

Larry Rich is the mayor of Roseburg. He can be reached at lrich@cityofroseburg.org or 541-673-9973.

Letter: Vote Chris Boice for Douglas County Commissioner

September 9, 2014 — 

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.

The job is to work for the citizens of Douglas County. The job is not letting the state or federal governments run roughshod over Douglas County.

The job requires compassion, great listening skills, a positive attitude, and a can-do spirit.

The job requires a vision of a safe and prosperous Douglas County.

Douglas County requires a person of integrity and proven leadership to fill the role of commissioner.

Chris Boice is the man for the job.

Mike Winters


Letter: Live up to what our forefathers envisioned for America, or seal our fate as another ancient Rome

September 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.

Career politicians flaunt their immorality and dishonesty, winning re-election by uninformed and uncaring voters. Honesty has become a choice depending on what’s in it for us.

Marriage commitment, if chosen at all, is becoming rare and “as long as you please me” becomes the popular choice. Our civil rights outweigh our responsibilities. The buck stops nowhere. We may honor veterans, but we do not require our government to honor them.

Ignoring immigration laws and accepting legal “adjustments,” eroding faith, morals, family values, dishonesty and providing free rides for those individuals who work our system to their advantage are leading us to the same fate as ancient Rome.

The fault is not due to the choices of anyone but us as individuals. The fault lies with each of us, as we settle for less than what our forefathers did.

Eloise Carter


Guest column: It’s time to brand Roseburg to attract visitors

September 9, 2014 — 

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.

In April of this year, NeighborWorks Umpqua was notified by NeighborWorks America that we were the recipients of a Community Marketing Program award. NWA is a support organization for a national network of high-functioning community development corporations of which NWU has been consistently rated as an exemplary member. Being a member entitles NWU access to high-caliber training and innovative programs.

One program that NWU conducts is Community Building and Engagement. This program focuses on a distressed neighborhood where people engage in organizations that take action to reach its goals. Such is the case in Southeast Roseburg, where SERVICE Neighborhood Association and the Downtown Roseburg Association have made positive changes. In 2011, NWU staff and SERVICE agreed to work together, and shortly after the Downtown Roseburg Association joined the partnership. The area covers the city’s historic core. As part of the Community Building and Engagement Initiative, NWU is committed to assisting residents in stabilizing their neighborhood, to enhance leadership development and to accomplish projects such as Trash to Treasures (the annual SERVICE cleanup day) and the Umpqua Dairy Community Garden. Our partnership has been very effective and the residents have substantially taken the lead on our projects. That is a primary reason our community received the Marketing Plan award; together we’ve done so much ground work leading to this project. The branding award is rewarding and is built on the efforts of our partnership.

The primary focus of the Community Marketing Plan initiative is the Roseburg downtown area, and is intended to encourage and attract investment, enhance livability, bolster community pride and characterize the area’s culture and identity. Last week NWU staff assisted consultants with six focus groups, multiple interviews and employee surveys over a three-day period.

The marketing plan will consider the community’s history, condition, improvement plans and existing marketing programs. The process stresses meaningful communication and cooperation between all stakeholders and local government. It identifies barriers and encourages dialog on how to address them. Ultimately, the plan seeks to contribute to the vibrancy of the city center and to positively impact surrounding residential neighborhoods by building upon the area’s assets.

The $50,000 Community Marketing Award from NWA was awarded to our community for these purposes. The primary funder is Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, with additional funding from Citibank and Capital One. NWA hired a pool of market research firms from around the country and assigned firms to the communities to which they awarded projects. Debra Dahab and Lori Vidlak of Enquire Research from Lincoln, Nebraska, were signed to the Roseburg project for a 12- to 14-month period as well as two other communities. Their contract value is $14,000 to help our community.

Phase one of this work will develop an understanding of downtown Roseburg’s character and potential. Phase two will consider existing or yet-to-be-designed images and phrases that best depict that potential for branding purposes. Phase three of the project is the implementation phase. Each step of this process is being done in coordination with the Downtown Roseburg Association and SERVICE, and is subject to the review and comments from a Community Marketing Committee, a set of local business owners and community representatives that serve as a sounding board and steering committee for the work to be completed. Reports from Enquire Research will be reviewed and commented on by this committee.

The purpose of this project is to develop a marketing plan that will attract visitors and the greater Douglas County community to enjoy our town center. Roseburg’s downtown has historically been a place where many of us took our families as a destination to shop. Today’s downtown boasts many wonderful small businesses, and is proving to be a dining and entertainment destination with an ever-growing variety of restaurants, jewelry stores, specialty, retail and coffee shops.

Those interested in signing up for progress reports on this project are welcome to email Mickey Beach at mbeach@nwumpqua.org.

Mickey Beach is chief operating officer for NeighborWorks Umpqua, based in Roseburg.

Editorial: Umpqua River strengthens Douglas County networks

September 9, 2014 — 

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.

One of the county’s most visible landmarks, the massive metal eagle whose wingspan flags attention from passing Interstate 5 motorists at Canyonville, has a fish in its talons. It did not pluck that fish from the sky or a tree. Even when unseen, the river’s presence is an integral part of the Umpqua Valley.

On Aug. 31, our Sunday paper included the signature special section we call the Umpqua Edition. Its theme, “Life on the River,” overflowed with profile sketches of people for whom the river is a central daily focus. The word “overflowed” is deliberate. Enthusiasm for the topic was such that we had leftover stories that were published on successive Sundays. One featured a 70-year-old cyclist taking on a 93-mile trek ending along the North Umpqua River. Another highlighted an Umpqua National Forest ranger who repaired washouts along the North Umpqua Trail before his retirement in July.

Those found within the Umpqua Edition’s pages include Glide-area cattle ranchers and brothers who rely on the river for irrigation, an ex-Marine now working as a fishing guide based in Roseburg and a former Manhattan resident who lives and paints beside the North Umpqua in Idleyld Park. Campground hosts, a fish biologist and bed and breakfast operators also share views from their riverside berths.

People aren’t the only river enthusiasts and/or supporters. The Umpqua National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and Partnership for the Umpqua Rivers each has a role in contributing to the health and well being of the system’s waterways, which are contained entirely within the county boundaries.

One other attribute of the river is the way it can bring together people who want to do something positive for this place where we make our lives. Two examples will take place this month. River cleanups are scheduled to take place Friday and Sept. 27. The first starts at 8:30 a.m. and will end by 12:30 p.m. at the Island Creek day use area along the Cow Creek Back Country Byway south of Riddle. The second is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Micelli Park in Roseburg and will be followed by a community potluck. Extra hands are welcome at these and other river grooming gatherings through the year.

Desert, ocean and mountainside communities all have appeal. Still, most of us in the Umpqua Valley would say river topography is tops.

Letter: Chris Boice has what it takes to serve as Douglas County Commissioner

September 8, 2014 — 

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.

Chris knows what it is like to struggle to feed a family and make ends meet. In 1998, when times were hard for him and his young family, he took a second job, working at Big O Tires in Roseburg. Four years of hard work and determination brought him the opportunity to purchase Big O from the corporate office.

For 12 years now, Chris has not only kept Big O Tires of Roseburg in the black, but has also managed to do so while maintaining his integrity, kindness to those in need and good, solid relationships with his employees. The tools he has acquired and the lessons he has learned over the years about fiscal responsibility and human resources, have, I believe, uniquely prepared him for the job of Douglas County Commissioner.

He shares our values. He believes in personal responsibility, wise stewardship of our natural resources for job growth and recreation, and in being above reproach, maintaining integrity in his business practices, as well as his personal life. His compassion and generosity for those in our community who have fallen on hard times have left no doubt in my mind that he truly cares about people!

I have also witnessed, first-hand, his determination to communicate and cooperate with a wide range of personality types in order to reach goals and get the job done. He is the kind of considerate, yet strong, leadership we need in Douglas County.

Chris Boice is my choice for Douglas County Commissioner. He’s the right man for the job.

Andria Fisher


Letter: ISIS atrocities are unacceptable

September 8, 2014 — 

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.

Now this ISIS is the real deal, folks. This is what the radical Islamists have been waiting and praying for. At long last they now have their Islamic State, their ‘caliphate,’ and with it a well-supplied, well-funded, disciplined and strategically inclined army with no lack of enthusiastic warriors willing and capable of committing any barbarism or atrocity.

If allowed to grow and metastasize, ISIS will become a permanent and formidable enemy to the entire non-Muslim world. They must be crushed, now! The military might of the world — or the U.S. alone, if necessary — must descend upon them like a cloud of locusts wherever they can be found. If they are not annihilated, they will soon be here.

Unfortunately, the destruction of an army is only a temporary solution. It is very difficult to annihilate an idea. This means we’re going to be playing ‘whack-a-mole’ with these maggots for a long time.

It also means our young President needs to climb out of his golf cart, get off his high-horse and jettison his naive notions of minimal American involvement in world affairs. He needs to grow up and get on with the business of using the biggest mallets at his disposal to whack this human sewage into oblivion.

Patrick M. Conley


Editorial: Veterans’ concerns show need for improvement

September 7, 2014 — 

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.

They heard plenty of them Thursday night at the town hall meeting at the VA.

Veterans complained of incomplete medical records, long waits for appointments and in waiting rooms. They heard about employees who lie, don’t answer phones, talk down to veterans, and never get fired.

A lack of female doctors, high turnover of doctors and no post-traumatic stress disorder group were cited.

Veterans demanded an expansion of services — particularly the re-establishment of the intensive-care unit and an Emergency Department that can accept patients rather than diverting them to Mercy Medical Center. One veteran explained that when veterans are sent to Mercy, they end up footing the bill for the care.

Many of the veterans who spoke were also former employees at the medical center. Several mentioned the facility had gone downhill over time. A couple mentioned having moved to Roseburg because of the VA hospital, only to be disappointed in the diminishing amount of services available.

Despite some frustrations, most of the veterans said they appreciate the care they receive, and are highly in favor of having a health care system for those who fought for their country.

At least one noted the Roseburg VA is top heavy in management.

Many of the veterans mentioned how important it was for VA Secretary Robert McDonald to hear their views. After all, he was the one who ordered all VA health care systems to hold town halls to listen to veterans’ concerns.

But it must be helpful for the employees right here in Roseburg to hear honest feedback in person.

The microphone veterans stepped up to was positioned so they were looking squarely at Director Carol Bogedain, Chief Nurse Executive Tracy Weistreich and Associate Director Steve Broskey — the three executives who’ve been asked to resign by the Douglas County Veterans Forum.

More than a couple of veterans repeated that request Thursday. They’re doubtful the Roseburg VA can really change without a complete turnover in senior leadership.

No one disputes that there are many excellent, hard-working employees at the VA. Plenty of the veterans turned toward the managers lining one wall and thanked them.

The VA also carries economic significance. The salaries of nearly 900 employees infuse a lot of cash into our economy.

Those who remember the state-of-the-art services the Roseburg VA provided for decades want to see them return.

One veteran has even researched the reasons why the federal government first decided to locate a hospital in Roseburg. He said the reasons stand today: a good climate, abundant farms and nearby mountains, rivers and the ocean.

Now it just needs a leadership team that is truly transparent, honest and most interested in meeting the needs of deserving veterans.

Publisher’s Notebook: Our veterans deserve a hospital with good management

September 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 jackerman@nrtoday.com.

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