Opinion, Analysis, Discussion
Be careful at crosswalks
My name is Jamie Reynolds and I live in the downtown area by Southeast Stephens Street in Roseburg. The reason I am writing is because I have been almost hit by a car more than five times in the past year.Learn more »
Do not forget our heroes
As Memorial Day approaches we should all remember the 246 men from Douglas County who died from World War I to current conflicts, fighting for our freedom. They are those who appear on the Memorial Wall at the court house. They are the husbands, sons, fathers and brothers who answered their country’s call and died fighting for all that we hold dear when it was threatened.Learn more »
As pointed out by Roseburg Forest Products President and CEO Allyn Ford, lawsuits by environmental groups and logging restrictions on federal lands continue to hinder the timber industry.
Nevertheless, there are reasons to be optimistic that the next few years will be better for Douglas County’s wood-products companies than the past few years.Learn more »
Another view of gun control
This is in response to the letter entitled “Frustrated by Gun Policies,” published April 25. Quote: “The NRA spews forth lie after lie.” As a member of the NRA, I find this offensive.Learn more »
A gem is inserted in today’s News-Review. Chances are it caught your eye right away when you opened up the paper. It’s the Visitors Guide to Douglas County.
The majority of our readers are not visitors, but rather, residents of Douglas County. But we’re told you read the Visitors Guide anyway, and we can see why you would.Learn more »
Beware of HB 2995 and 2596
A March 10 News-Review article informed readers about Rep. Wayne Krieger’s proposal of two bills, HB 2995 and 2596. One would create a felony charge of interference with state forestland management and the other would permit logging companies to sue protesters for lost income. Rep. Krieger claimed it was a response to a “reign of terror by [protesters who have] no respect for the rights of others.” While giving lip service to free speech and mouthing respect for civil disobedience, he then presented a laundry list of acts of civil disobedience that this bill would criminalize, specifically protestors chaining themselves to trees and equipment or using their own bodies to block roads.Learn more »
Time to raise bottle return
It is time, prices being what they are and with so many desperate people on the fringes nowadays, to raise the bottle deposit to 25 cents.Learn more »
Scouts vote on anti-gay policy
On May 23, Boy Scout Councils across the country will vote on a proposal to drop the ban on gay youth and leaders participating in the Boy Scouts. Clearly, this is a change that is long overdue and a policy that never should have existed in the first place.Learn more »
Patriotism can’t be forced
Representative Esquivel of Medford is sponsoring a bill to require a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in all Oregon public K-12 schools. On the surface, it appears to be a patriotic measure intended to foster positive citizenship. Below this noble veneer is a clouded personal agenda.Learn more »
Criminals won’t buy guns legally
Those adamant about gun control laws forget several things. First, there are already laws on the books that, if they were enforced, would stop crime. Second, background checks are already required. Be honest, criminals won’t buy a gun and go through a background check. Gun-free zones just invite shooters who can be assured no one will be able to fight back while they commit their crimes. Adam Lanza specifically chose a gun-free zone to fatally shoot 20 children and six adults.Learn more »
Vote ‘no’ on school levy
I’m voting “no” for the schools levy because I’m more worried about public safety. Every school has empty classrooms and yes, it’s sad to change schools. But I don’t want to live in a community like Eugene or Grants Pass where there are no consequences to committing a crime. They go to jail for one day, then are released due to lack of beds, including pedophiles!Learn more »
District 2 needs this leadership
I know nothing about firefighting or serving on a fire district’s board, but I do know Wes Melo, whom I would support for any elected position he sought. Here’s why:Learn more »
Carolyn Kellim’s home sits in a quiet Roseburg neighborhood and there is a wooden nativity scene outside her door that stands testimony to her Christian faith. The 84-year-old silver-haired native of Jefferson (14 miles or so south of Salem) greeted me at the door with an offer of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Her home was bright and sunny and there were fresh flowers in the kitchen. As soon as we finished our sandwiches, we adjourned to a back room filled from floor to ceiling with guns, rifles and enough ammunition to hold off a platoon.Learn more »
In addressing the future of the Oregon & California Railroad lands, some words won’t do anymore. Words such as “studies,” “timelines,” “frameworks,” “strategies” and “principles.”
It’s time to hear a four-letter word: “Bill.” There needs to be a bill to put into place a mechanism for increasing logging on O&C lands.Learn more »
Most of us can find numerous excuses not to exercise regularly. Not Roseburg’s Winifred Fiske. She makes it to the gym at least three times a week and also rides a stationary bike whenever possible.Learn more »
Carried papers in Yoncalla
I enjoyed reading the recent article “Paper boys of the past learned responsibility from routes.” I can relate to their stories, although I think that my experience delivering the News-Review was quite unique.Learn more »
No insurance for Driver Card
Regarding “Immigrant Driver’s Card bill passes;” give me a break. This great state has just passed a bill for immigrants and others who don’t have documents proving they are in the country lawfully, including elders and homeless people. They can apply for driver’s licenses, if they have lived in Oregon for at least a year and meet other requirements. These cards would be marked “Driver’s Card” and can’t be used to vote, board a plane, or purchase a firearm. How does a homeless person or illegal immigrant prove they have lived in Oregon for any period of time?Learn more »
The road back to our America
Predictably, the last Tea Party turnout was small in number, not like the first demonstrations. When the demonstrations started in 2009, people turned out all over America with their flags and signs. It was to impart a message: “We are here, we are America, we are ready to fight in the cause of freedom.”Learn more »
What happened to my America?
I have served two years in the U.S. Army, 14 months of that was in Korea. I have taught 36 years in public and private schools. I also wrote my own history book, “America, The First 500 Years.” In watching our nightly news, I don’t recognize the America I taught anymore.Learn more »
Letter: Save the Stewart Parkway S curves in RoseburgMay 15, 2013 —
Don’t iron out the S curves
Why must life’s trips always be neat, tidy and in a direct line from points A to B? I don’t see any need for spending nearly $3 million to straighten S curves on Stewart Parkway. Are they a hazard? Have there been many accidents there?
In reality, they cause motorists to slow down and enjoy the scenery. After all, they’re along a “parkway,” right? Any safety or drainage issues there can be mitigated with signage, culverts and water diversions.
Life follows circuitous paths, and our S curves actually provide welcome variety and enjoyment to an otherwise mundane journey. So let’s encourage the city to take that $3 million and help the homeless, poor and hungry, instead. The bends and twists of their meandering lives deserve our attention and funding before we allocate that kind of money to an over-engineered realignment of a few curves in the road.
To date, the city hasn’t decided whether to renew its $20,000 support to the Casa de Belen teen homeless shelter. Perhaps we also need to petition the Legislature, so that state gas taxes can be used for higher priority societal needs than road straightening.
Letter: Positive things about guns and moneyMay 15, 2013 —
Gun business still thriving
I recently learned some interesting facts about the positive things going on in the firearms industry, one of the very few truly thriving businesses in this country since the economic collapse of 2008.
This, so far anyway, in spite of infringement in the form of proposed or actual bans, regulations, and anti-gun legislation from all levels of government.
Women are the fastest growing segment of gun owners and FBI background checks for concealed carry permits are at an all-time high. Since President Obama took office, Ruger’s stock price has surged by 510 percent.
In 2011 alone, commercial firearms and ammunition sales produced $4.59 billion in reported federal excise taxes. This revenue has increased 48.3 percent since 2007, and is up 338 percent in the past 30 years. State taxes totaled more than $2 billion.
The overall combined commercial gun and ammo market totals $32 billion in economic impact nationwide. The shooting sports also include a huge market for accessories and all sorts of equipment directly or indirectly related to the gun and ammo market. For example, total spending for all hunters tops $24 billion.
Infringement of the Second Amendment, the current politically correct frenzy, affects many things in a negative way. Not the least of these is the threat to a very productive economic enterprise that produces good jobs by giving us tangible goods that a great many of us buy, in spite of government and its allies.
Editorial: Constitutional principle falls victim to student drug testingMay 15, 2013 —
Beginning next fall, the Sutherlin School District will require students to pass a drug test to play sports and participate in other extracurricular activities.
The adoption of this policy without visible opposition signals that times have changed. But what’s the bigger change — rampant drug abuse among youth or a disregard for constitutional principles among adults?
Before any other Douglas County school district embraces student drug testing, it’s worth reviewing why retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor thought it was a bad idea.
Twice during her time on the court, the Ronald Reagan-appointee was in the minority in rulings that upheld student drug testing.
The first case stemmed from the Vernonia School District’s decision to drug test student athletes. In 1995, by a 6-3 majority, the Supreme Court ruled the tests were justified because drug use increased the risk of a sports injury and Vernonia’s athletes were the leaders of a drug culture gone wild.
In her dissenting opinion, O’Connor criticized the majority for giving school officials permission to conduct an “intrusively bodily search” on million of kids no one suspected of taking drugs.
The Fourth Amendment is suppose to protect us from such suspicionless searches. But the majority, led by Justice Antonian Scalia, reasoned that since everbody was being tested, there was no concern someone would be unfairly accused. Drug testing was a good policy to address a real problem, the court concluded
O’Connor said Scalia and the rest sidestepped constitutional principles in favor of a policy that may or may not be effective. The fact that everybody was being tested only made the policy worse because blanket searches are a great threat to liberty, she argued.
In other words, police can’t kick in your door on the off-chance you’re doing drugs and justify it by barging in on all your neighbors, too.
O’Connor brought up another important point.
If drug testing were reserved for those who acted suspiciously, students would have considerable control over whether they are tested. The surest way to avoid being subjected to a drug test is to not do drugs. Instead of searching everyone, focus on the troublemakers, O’Connor counseled.
Seven years later, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision delivered by Justice Clarence Thomas broadened drug testing by upholding a policy adopted by a school district in Tecumseh, Okla. Unlike Vernonia, the district didn’t claim it had a big drug problem. Nevertheless, it resolved to drug test students involved in all extracurricular activities, not just sports.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had concurred with Scalia in the earlier case, but she led the dissenters, including O’Connor, in the second case. She argued that the Oklahoma school district went too far, adopting a policy so sweeping that it didn’t resemble Vernonia’s drug-testing policy and thus violated the Fourth Amendment.
Ginsburg’s conversion came too late. The Vernonia case had opened the door for blanket drug testing of students.
Douglas County schools should resist going through that door.
They should follow the example of Roseburg High School and have a code of conduct for student athletes. Students should be held to high standards and judged by their actions, not lumped together as drug suspects.
Letter: Tax increases are not the only answerMay 14, 2013 —
Stop scaring us into more taxes
Well, here we go again, the widow and orphan scheme. Now we’re being asked to have our taxes raised yet again. This time it’s to provide books, computers and a more comfortable environment for our children. It seems that every time our elected officials want to raise taxes, they scare us into it by telling us if they don’t, our police and fire departments will have to be closed down, or our children will have to be taught in overcrowded classrooms with no air conditioning and they will be using out-dated equipment. I thought the lottery money was going to be used for schools. And how about the two measures that were passed not long ago? Wasn’t the money supposed to be earmarked for schools?
It seems to me the more money the government collects, the more money they want. The powers that be tear up perfectly good roads, give food stamps and welfare to people who are able to work, and then whine that there is no money.
How about this? Why don’t we send the environmentalists down the road, open up the forests, let the loggers do their jobs and put people back to work?
Here’s another idea: How about putting greater restrictions on what foods can be bought with food stamps? Food stamps and welfare should be a short-term assistance, not a way of life. The food stamp and welfare programs are way out of control and now the taxpayers are being asked to pay yet another tax, supposedly to help our children. Talk about misleading!
Whenever the powers that be need money, their only answer is to raise taxes, not find ways besides shutting down schools and fire departments in order to get it. Please vote “no” on another tax increase.
Guest column: Five tips to securing the ideal home loanMay 14, 2013 —
With interest rates at historic lows and home prices well off their peak values, now may be the ideal time for prospective buyers to enter the real estate market. Although many banks have revised and tightened their lending criteria, that doesn’t mean home buyers can’t get loans. Of course, the environment is much different today than it was during the real estate market boom, and consumers are wise to spend some time thoroughly evaluating their financial footing in order to secure the best loan for their particular situation.
Tip 1: Understand your entire financial portfolio. Take stock of your complete financial situation to determine what you can afford. You’ll want an accurate picture of your income and expenses as well as any savings that you may want to tap for a down payment or closing costs. In general, home payments shouldn’t be more than a third of your monthly income, and it’s important to factor in other savings needs — for retirement, college and emergency funds, for example.
Tip 2: Know your credit score. Banks and lenders are more careful than ever about who gets loans, and your credit score is critical. It not only determines the loan options available to you, it also influences the interest rate. For example, a buyer with a 720 credit score purchasing a $250,000 house with a 5 percent down payment might get a mortgage with an interest rate that is 0.125 percent lower than the rate available to someone with a score of 719. What does that mean? That additional point on the credit score saves the homebuyer $17 each month and $6,000 in total interest.
Tip 3: Establish a banking relationship. Establish a relationship with a home lending officer at a trusted bank. A home lending officer can explain the key elements of the loan options available and provide resources to assist you at different points in the process, from getting help with a down payment through local support or government programs to selecting a home insurance policy.
Tip 4: Be prepared with a solid down payment. Consider how much you can offer as a down payment. This sum will affect your loan amount and borrowing rate. Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or purchasing a subsequent home, a home lending officer can run scenarios with various down payment amounts to determine which terms and rates best meet your long-term goals.
Tip 5: Consider the entire monthly payment. Taking out a mortgage involves more than repaying principal and interest. As a homeowner, you’ll need to carry homeowners insurance and pay property taxes. In addition to your loan payments, your mortgage statement will include an escrow balance, which will be used to pay insurance premiums and property taxes when the payments come due. Your bank will estimate your annual payments and spread them out over 12 months, allowing you to build your escrow balance gradually. When determining how much you can afford, be sure to factor in these additional costs, which could increase your monthly payments by several hundred dollars.
Buying a home is exciting, but it can turn into a challenge without appropriate planning. By considering these five simple tips and working with your home lending officer, you can lay the foundation for a successful purchasing process from start to finish.
Susan Brown and Jered Helton are senior vice presidents and regional managers for Roseburg-based Umpqua Bank’s Home Lending Division. Helton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest column: Oregon Legislature’s focus shifts to Ways & MeansMay 14, 2013 —
Editor’s note: Following is Senator Jeff Kruse’s weekly newsletter from May 10.
I initially had a couple of different subjects I was going to discuss in this newsletter, but have now chosen a different course. This was a different week in the Legislature for several reasons. Personally, I started my week by flying to Denver on Sunday for a two-day meeting on prescription drug abuse. The National Governor’s Association has made this subject an issue of special concern and convened a group of seven states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia, to look at innovative ways of dealing with this issue. This was the second meeting of this group, with the first one being held in Alabama several months ago. I am the only legislator in the Oregon delegation. I was told it was because I have been the “champion” on issues of drug abuse and addiction. I would also note for the record this is a personal issue for me as I am a recovering addict with 27 years of clean time.
I spent six years working on the development of Oregon’s prescription drug monitoring program, and actually got the legislation passed in 2009. This year we are doing some modifications and adjustments to the program (SB 470), and we think we may have one of the best programs in the nation. We still have a lot of work to do, including looking into how we offer treatment. It has become clear to me the issue is not just around adequate funding, but also looking into the treatment modalities we offer. Hopefully we are up to the challenge.
When I got back to Salem Tuesday evening my first question was, “What did I miss?” The answer was nothing. The famous gun bills had all been diverted from the Senate floor and sent to the Senate Rules Committee. What this means is they are no longer “in play,” but because the Rules Committee stays open until the end of the session they could resurface at any time.
Meanwhile there is a rumor the House is planning on not moving Senate bills because we won’t go along with their tax increase plan, which was actually defeated in the House last week. The Senate Democrats finally appointed their members to the PERS negotiation work group; they are Sens. Devlin (the co-chair of Ways and Means) and Rosenbaum (the Senate majority leader). Unfortunately, discussions are still at the preliminary stage and I am not sure they are going to be willing to do the real reforms we need.
When this session started in February the intensity level was incredibly high. Now we seem to have hit a dead spot, which I think puts our ability to end the session in June in jeopardy. In the committees I sit on, we will be done with our work in the next couple of weeks. What this means is all of the focus will be shifted to the Ways and Means Committee. One of the rules we have in the legislature is the Ways & Means Committee is only supposed to deal with budgets. What we have currently is a lot of substantive bills that were sent to that committee that will need further work. So at the end we will have a very small group making decisions not just on budget, but policy as well.
Another frustration is the fact all we are talking about is PERS reform and new revenue. At no point have I heard any discussion about reducing the size of government or any government efficiencies. Since we carved the Oregon Health Authority out of the Department of Human Services it has grown by 20 percent to 30 percent every biennium. Additionally, the governor’s new education administrative cluster has a price tag this session of more than $135 million, which in my mind are dollars that should be going into the classroom. The focus should not be on protecting the size of government, it should be on helping the private sector with job creation.
Jeff Kruse of Roseburg represents District 1 in the Oregon Senate. You can read his past newsletters at http://www.leg.state.or.us/kruse/ He can be reached at email@example.com.
Letter: Good schools will help Douglas County economyMay 13, 2013 —
Letter: Is Congress caught in a Hale Bopp moment?May 13, 2013 —
Congress in Hale Bopp?
Remember the Heaven’s Gate cult? They were mostly educated bright people who thought they could attach themselves to a rocket that trailed the comet. Ridiculous, right? I call this our “Hale Bopp” side. We all have it. Yes, you do, too. It’s our ignorant side, a part of our brain that isn’t grounded in reality.
The mostly Republicans in Congress are having a Hale Bopp moment also clouded by racism and ultra conservative religious values. They don’t care about our country. They don’t care about you and me. They only care about how they can craft and force our country into joining their ignorant partially racist radical religious agenda. It’s crazy, right? These are the lowlifes I have mentioned before, including some Democrats.
Because of gerrymandering, the Republican Congress are forever in their jobs and never have to worry about the U.S.A. When the Republicans said their mission was to stop the president in any way they could, well, good job Republicans. You have stopped a lot: jobs, safety for workers, unions, women’s and minority rights. The list goes on. What a bunch of Hale Bopp-like people are running this Congress.
Once again, as I have said before, I have written to the President, Congress and Senators many times but no one responds to my question. Why isn’t there a law making it a criminal offense for any elected official to knowingly lie to its constituency? That would change our county dramatically in a very profound way. Am I right, or is this one of my Hale Bopp areas?
Letter: Now is the time to build the Tri City fire stationMay 13, 2013 —
Now is the time to build
There will be another requested bond measure for a new fire station for the residents of Tri City on the May ballot. Last November the $2.5 million measure was voted down, probably for several reasons. The main reasons were the weak economy coupled with the proposed tax for $1 per thousand added to our property tax bill.
This election will offer a scaled down project with an overall cost of $1.233 million, an addition of 63 cents per $1,000 on our property tax. The revised plan will still be able to meet the needs of a new fire hall and disaster center well into the future. The previously planned Community Center and required parking for the Center will be set aside. Once the new hall is operational, the old building will be sold and all funds will be used to defray the overall cost of the project.
Our existing fire hall was assembled in the 1950s as a military-style Quonset hut. In the 1970s, the community and volunteers remodeled the building into its present configuration. Since that time, the population of Tri City has more than doubled and the equipment necessary to provide adequate fire protection has increased to the point where our fire hall is simply bursting at the seams.
The question we’re faced with isn’t one of need, we certainly need it, it’s cost. Costs will never be lower than they are right now, with contractors struggling to find work and the interest rate is the lowest it’s been in many years. If we don’t build now, the costs will escalate. Tri City has always taken care of its own and the volunteers who make up our fire department are asking for your help this time.
Publisher’s Notebook: Down a chicken, but prospects still good for eggsMay 12, 2013 —
Always the romantic, I thought Mother’s Day would be a good time to provide an update on my chickens.
It seems like forever ago that I brought nine new chicks home from the feed store and stuck them in my sunroom, where they would be warm and cozy under a red heat lamp until they got old enough to put into the chicken coop that came with the house.
There are eight left and I’ll get to that tragic event in a minute. First, I wanted to review what I’ve learned about raising chickens in my first two months on the job.
For starters, chickens grow fast. Seems like just yesterday they were cute and fluffy as they scampered about the plastic box I’d previously used to store tennis balls, rackets and other stuff we never use. We got a couple of water feeders, metal chick-food feeders and three or four heat lamps with extension cords. The chicken classes taught us the difference between chick “starter” food and regular chicken food and that the water must be clean enough for humans to drink, or the chicks will get sick and die.
For the record, I never drank from the chick feeder because it had chick doo-doo all over it because … well … chickens like to poop where they drink and I don’t. So I just had to assume that the water I gave them was clean enough for humans.
It should be noted that chickens poop a lot, which is not good because before you know it your sunroom stinks so bad it makes your eyes water.
It should also be noted that The News-Review came in very handy during the chick-raising period, so if you have a mind to raise your own, I can get delivery started as soon as you’d like. It’s not a good idea to line your chick box with an iPad or laptop. Some things just don’t work like an old-fashioned newspaper.
Since it’s likely that at least one of your new chicks won’t make it to chickenhood, it’s not a good idea to name them. It creates an emotional attachment too painful when the time comes to eat one, or when one falls victim to predators, which includes most of the Animal Kingdom. Let’s be honest, there aren’t many things that can’t kick a chicken’s butt.
Unfortunately, that’s the first thing my wife and daughter did when I brought the nine chicks home.
“Your turn, Daddy!” they cried. “You get to name three of them!”
“How about chick one, two and three?” I asked, looking to bail, but not wanting to curb their enthusiasm.
After almost three weeks in the sunroom it was time to move the nine chicks into the coop. They were making me gag and they were no longer as cute. They could also fly and my tennis racket container wasn’t large enough to keep them contained.
As it turns out, it was a brilliant move. The chicken coop is a great place to keep chickens, so long as the predators can’t get in at night and eat them. They had plenty of room and the heat lamps kept them warm through April. At least the eight that made it through April.
One day my wife (Happy Mother’s Day, honey!) was replacing the water and food feeders inside the coop when our Lab, Ben, darted in and grabbed one of the chickens by the neck, killing it instantly. I’m not sure which one it was because all the chickens look alike (except for the two Americanas) and I’m not the one who named them. All I know is that I got a text at work saying that something terrible had happened at home and that I should call right away.
This is a good time to pause. I know we live in a digital world, but it’s not a good idea to send a text like that. Some very bad thoughts raced through my head and none of them included a dead chicken. The list included wrecked cars, burned-down houses, an IRS audit, major water leak, or surprise family visit.
By the time I got home they’d already had the funeral for the chicken. She’s buried in the garden so the dogs can’t dig her up. Think compost on steroids.
I later learned that the best way to teach your dog not to kill your chickens is to tie a dead one around his neck and leave it there for a week or so. “He’ll never kill another chicken,” they promised.
That sounded logical to me. I can say with relative certainty that I’d never eat chicken again if they tied a dead one around my neck for a week. The same goes for a cow or pig.
The remaining eight chickens (we have since learned that one of them is a rooster) seem to be loving life in and out of the coop. I enjoy going out there in the mornings and evenings to check on them because they owe me some eggs after all this work and I want to make sure they stay safe and healthy.
And in an effort to somehow tie this chicken update into a sweet Mother’s Day message, all I can come up with is this: Raising chickens is much like raising children. You feed them, put a roof over their heads and, if you’re lucky, they don’t poop on your shoes when they grow up.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.