A letter published in ‘poor taste’

In The News-Review’s Public Forum section, their letters policy states that “letters considered libelous or in poor taste will not be published.” Yet, on Oct. 13, The News-Review published a letter from Fred Nelson of Roseburg in which he stated, “Should Donald Trump be elected, he will be the first billionaire to move into public housing that was vacated by a black family.”

Apparently, Fred Nelson thought this was funny, I’m sure Donald Trump would find it amusing. Did The News-Review editorial staff also find this amusing? Personally, I found it to be a despicable, racist slur against President Obama and his family.

Maybe racist jokes or slurs are not considered in “poor taste” by The News-Review editorial staff. Or are they OK if they’re submitted by a republican radcist?

I hope that I’m not the only Roseburg resident that was offended by The News-Review publishing such racist garbage. If you were also offended please call The News-Review and voice your concern.

If The News-Review is as reputable a newspaper as they claim, I would expect them to publish an apology for not following their stated policy of not printing letters “in poor taste.”

The ball is now in your court News-Review editors.

An example of a failed library tax in Josephine County

Recent suggestions that the Douglas County Library System be managed and run by volunteers made me wonder what that might be like? We have an example in the Josephine library system. My current pastor at St. George’s Episcopal Church, Rev. Jim Boston, lives in Grants Pass, so he has experienced the difficulties of the Josephine libraries. Here are his comments:

When the county commissioners discontinued funding the county library system all branches were closed. In the aftermath, work began to reopen the libraries. The county offered to lease the libraries and their contents to an independent organization and also made a contribution.

After a vigorous effort to raise funds and recruit volunteers, the main library was reopened (24hrs/wk) about 18 months later. The other three branches were also reopened (13,12,10.5 hrs/wk). I understand that the state organizations of librarians did not support what we did in Josephine County. They thought it wrong to open with substandard staffing (7 full-time employees) and resources. We did it anyway.

Besides local fundraising, the Josephine County Libraries Association has sought and received many grants, most from outside the county. Recently a major effort was made to pass a levy for the library. It failed, unlike the similar favorable vote on a tax base for libraries in Jackson County. So we are plugging along, hoping in due course to see either a proper tax base for our county government, or a library district, to fund the libraries.

I pray your proposal does pass in Douglas County.

Permanent tax, part-time libraries

As a Canyonville city councilor I can appreciate how much effort the Save Our Libraries group has put into this proposal. But is this really the best we can do? Unfortunately they undertook this task without any input from the elected representatives of the communities involved. Many councilors, myself included, rejected this plan when it was presented to us.

A large portion of the property in Roseburg and Reedsport is in compression. They will not see an increase in their taxes. The burden of this tax will be unfairly borne by everyone else.

The plan projects an operating budget of $3.7 million and a total budget of $4 million. What are we getting for our money? Let’s try to figure that out.

Even though Sutherlin had the good sense to opt out, the revenue from that city is included in the budget so I will leave them in. The population figures I’ll use are from the Libraries PAC and were provided to councilors in 2011.

Of all Douglas County residents living in a city that has a library 43.7 percent live in Roseburg. Large libraries should cost less per capita so I’m going to give them 35 percent of the budget — $1.295 million. 42 percent live in one of the four cities considered large branches which equates to $1.554 million, or $388,500 each. 14.3 percent live in the small branch cities. With $851.000 left in the budget that comes to $141,833 each.

Now consider this, the small branch libraries will be open only 20 hours a week and the large branches only 30, but Roseburg’s will be open 45. If we have a down turn in housing prices and tax revenue decreases your little library could still be closed.

I ask my fellow city councilors, is this a good deal for your constituents?

If you’re wondering how it could cost this much you need only look at the personnel costs; Salaries of $40, $60, $80,000 a year, PERS at 23-32 percent, and medical and dental plans at $16,380 per year.

Do you want another bloated, inefficient, government agency, or do you want libraries that are open for business? I think we can have full time libraries at a much lower cost, but first you need to vote NO on 10-145.

Library Foundation should not provide operating expenses

At the Douglas County Library Foundation on Sept. 20, the library director made a most unusual request, asking for funding from the Endowment Fund. He needed tens of thousands of dollars to avoid laying off employees before the end of 2016.

The foundation already had made another large gift from the endowment, recognizing that the funding situation was exceptional. We wanted to support the library as much as we could. We all know the county has slashed funding for our library, museum and other departments because, unfortunately, they cannot afford to pay normal operating costs. The library’s operating budget has been reduced steadily since 2008.

But, providing operating expenses is not the purpose of the Library Foundation — it doesn’t have enough money. Supplying additional materials, paid for by annual enhancement donations, is an example of what it does.

There is not enough money in the endowment, which is managed by the foundation, to pay operating expenses for more than a partial year. Using foundation dollars is not a funding solution for the library system.

The funding situation must be changed and stabilized now. Ballot measure 10-145 will create a special library district and that is the only adequate funding answer. At least 23 other library districts have been formed in Oregon and many others across the nation — tax districts solve the funding problem. volunteers can’t run libraries, card fees won’t cover salaries, only a dedicated funding source, free of politics, will sustain our libraries.

Join us in voting YES on Measure 10-145 to keep our libraries functioning.

Kathleen Johnson for Circuit Court Judge

Kathleen Johnson is a far superior candidate for Circuit Court Judge than her competitor. Kathleen has a much more diverse knowledge of both criminal as well as civil law. Her experience in the real world is as an attorney in private practice, but also as county counsel and most recently with the District Attorneys office.

This diverse knowledge base as well as her impeccable honesty and integrity places her far and above her competitor for the position of Circuit Court Judge. It is very important to replace Randolph Garrison with a person of utmost integrity and not just another so-so attorney that is looking for an easier position than surviving in the real world as a general practice civil attorney.

Please join me by voting for Kathleen Johnson for Circuit Court Judge.

I support Pam Cameron

I have lived in Sutherlin for almost six years. I haven’t attended city council meetings or been involved in civic activities but do stay abreast of happenings and current events. My neighbor is Pam Cameron and I know her by being a friend and neighbor not by any involvement with her politically.

What I can say is she is one of the kindest people I have met in Sutherlin. She cares about her neighbors and is the first to send kind messages if we are sick. My point is, I support her for city council because I know how much she cares for us in the community. I am astounded by the vile things being said about her in the public forum of this newspaper; this type of political posturing has no place in our city.

My lawn sign supporting Pam was stolen last night along with others in our neighborhood. This message is for those of you playing dirty politics: it makes me even more determined to support Pam, not less. Let’s talk about the issues affecting our community and keep personal mud slinging out of this process. All you are doing is embarrassing yourself.

McDonald’s love for libraries is insincere

After carefully reading John McDonald’s letter explaining why he cannot support the library taxing district, I concluded that his expression of love of libraries to be beautifully written but completely insincere. Why? I say this for three reasons.

First, he compared future library funding to the current library budget. The library is financially one step from being out of business. His comparison to automotive purchases moves this man, from Detroit, to say that right now we have a Yugo in its twilight years and the improved library funding would only get us to a used Toyota Camry with 80,000 miles on it. Mr. McDonald has obviously never been in a Cadillac library.

Second, I don’t think he really loves libraries because he did not do some careful math to actually back up his claims of the negative impact of the library funding proposal, Although there are several bookkeeping omissions, the most egregious is that he failed to make a precise calculation about the impact of the library tax on the budget of the city of Roseburg. Instead he said that it would be $300,000 to $600,000. Such a wide range of estimated cost can only be described as a careless guesstimate.

Third, I found McDonald’s stated love of libraries to be ingenuous because he offered no workable alternative proposal for library funding. If the leadership of the county and the cities within the county could have come together to solve the problem, they already would have done so.

We stand behind Assessor Hartman

Roger Hartman is the most ethical person to hold the position in the past 14 years. My wife and I have been the subject of retaliation from the previous two assessors, Acree and Northcraft, who were the two most incompetent individuals to hold the positions since our moving to Douglas County in the 70s. We are one of the 6,000 accounts that have been overassessed and are included in the $14,000,000 of fraudulent assessments that Hartman and his staff have discovered. I am sure that the total amounts will be higher as soon as Hartman obtains the staffing necessary to unravel the decade of corruption that has been allowed to run unchecked.

The interesting part of their discovery is that the Department of Revenue conducted a partial investigation of the Acree administration in 2012-13 and gave the assessment office a clean bill of health. Upon further investigation it was found that the DOR assigned employees that lacked the proper knowledge of the areas investigated with specific instructions to give the assessor a passing grade no matter what was found. I understand commissioners Freeman and Morgan stalled and refused to proved the funding necessary to complete the forensic audit with their indoctrination from being state representatives for so many years.

Morgan is on her way out and would be doing Douglas County a favor by taking Freeman with her!

Keep up the great work Assessor Hartman.

America can do single-payer system better

Linda Middlekauff’s letter (Oct. 2) regarding the Oregon Health Authority’s quarterly report contained erroneous statements that need correction in order to answer the questions she raised.

First, the report reviewed the performance of Oregon’s unique Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs), not what she refers to as “Community Care Organizations,” which she seems to think are part of a national program. CCOs are designed to do just what the report says they have — bring down costs by coordinating care to eliminate waste.

Middlekauf may be confusing CCOs with insurance exchanges. The exchanges are in trouble because they haven’t been as profitable as expected, leading large insurers to drop out. That’s to be expected when health care is treated as a commodity rather than a human right. Why should a Wall Street-owned insurance company care if sick people can’t afford their insurance? There’s no percentage in empathy.

For all its faults, Obamacare didn’t cause unaffordable insurance. That’s the inescapable consequence of a for-profit system of health care delivery. As costs go up, fewer can afford it, and demand goes down. Since stockholders expect the value of their stocks to increase, so do premiums, copays and deductibles, so even fewer can afford it. Eventually, no one can.

Take out the profit motive, put the funds we already pay into one pot and establish rational rules for spending it, and you can save trillions. It’s already been done in countries around the world. It’s called single payer. There’s no reason America can’t do it better.

The library is the heart and soul of a community

America’s Education System is desperately lagging behind the rest of the world. A national conference of state legislators recent report stated that “the shortcomings of our education system have made the U.S. workforce among the least educated in the world.”

It is ironic and galling that the Roseburg School District and the Education Service District have toured the Headquarters Library with plans to take it over if the Library Initiative fails. They did this in front of the working staff, rubbing salt, so to speak, into all of these part-timers’ wounds, staff who see joblessness on their horizon if the initiative fails. The county owns over 1,000 acres in Yoncalla and is renting it out for cattle-grazing for $150 per year. It is time to sell it! How can retaining it be excused while the commissioners plead “crisis” every day?

James Fallows, a writer for The Atlantic magazine, recently toured the U.S.A. He writes that in all the small towns and cities his family visited the library was the “heart and soul” of the community.

Don’t let our heart and soul go away. Vote to save the library system.

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