Cast your vote
The most important day of the next two years is at hand - November 5, our nation's election day. We will choose those who will work with President Bush to win the war on terrorism, to get our economy out of the Clinton Recession, fill our judicial vacancies so judges will be working to deal with terrorists and criminals, rebuild America's intelligence system, rebuild and strengthen our military, set up a Homeland Defense Department, and adopt an energy plan that eliminates our dependence on the Middle East.
We will choose those who will work to get these things done or we will add to those who are dragging their feet.
Senator Leahy of Vermont, a Democrat, thinks all lower court judicial appointees should go through his judicial committee for approval. It is not this committee's responsibility to approve or reject nominees. This is the job of the full Senate. This has become a bottleneck in the process. As a result, judicial vacancies are being left open when we need them most.
It is the same with getting the Homeland Defense Department set up and running. Democrats are dragging their feet.
Vote! Christians and those who love our country, vote!
I have listened to the political ads and rhetoric for the last month or more and have a few observations. It appears that the phrase "Tax and spend Democrats" applies only to someone that wants taxes to support schools, law enforcement, roads and the general good of the state, but our conservative no tax people only want tax relief in the form of build a new dam to benefit a few, spray weeds to benefit a few, build fences to benefit a few or have tax relief to benefit a few.
Our new senator has an ad out that attacks a Democrat for voting for a tax break for his logging that I am sure affected more than himself, maybe even a Republican.
Our Republican commissioners spend countless hours trying to get federal tax dollars to help the county but then stand up and cheer when their party talks about tax relief to the few.
I am sure that they can make the argument that these project are of great benefit to the many, but my belief is that it will greatly benefit the few who cry "No more taxes."
With the problem in the Enterprise school and their broken truss I am reminded why we love this county.
Enterprise will go to the other two schools to play their games and activities.
This county and its citizens are so generous when it comes to a sincere need - we have seen literally thousands of dollars given from people who live in one of the most economically depressed areas in Oregon.
While we are not "natives" of this county, we certainly are proud to call it home.
There is light in the dark tunnel that the legislature has forces our public schools to walk in! That light comes in the person of Elizabeth Scheeler who is running against Greg Smith for the Oregon State Legislature.
Scheeler brings to the campaign these fields of expertise and concern:
1. She has volunteered in her daughters' classrooms for the past seven years, was a SMART volunteer, and served on her school's budget committee.
2. She is currently a member of the Pendleton School Board.
3. She has been concerned about school funding since Ballot Measure 5 passed and is fed up with politicians running on the education platform only to get to Salem and forget their campaign promises.
4. She isn't beholden to any big money special interest groups.
5. She is running because she believes that providing a quality education is one of the most important responsibilities a government has and because she cares about the future quality of life in Oregon.
Since throwing her hat in the ring, Elizabeth has spent countless hours traveling throughout eastern Oregon visiting with concerned citizens in their homes and at their civic organization meetings. She has bravely stepped out of her "comfort zone" and is ready to invest her time, her talents and energy in the education of Oregon's children. She rightly believes that a strong educational system is the key to a strong Oregon.
At the recent forum in Enterprise, Greg Smith stated that no new taxes are needed to save our education dilemma. He maintained that the money for education is there - that the legislature just needs to prioritize its spending. If this is true, why in the world didn't they take care of this funding problem at their regular session or in their five successive special sessions!!
The legislature has already cut $135 million from the Oregon public schools. Programs have been cut, enriching field trips are a thing of the past and class sizes have increased dramatically. If you truly are concerned about what has already happened to our public schools and thus to our state as a whole, Elizabeth Scheeler deserves your vote. She is deeply concerned and is passionately determined to find a solution.
Gail M. Swart
Yes on 33-20
By now, voters have received their ballots for the Nov. 5 general election. In addition to numerous local, state and federal issues and races, those residing in the Joseph precincts will be asked on vote on Measure #33-20, a Local Option Levy to support the operation of the Joseph School District for the next five years beginning with the fiscal year 2003-04.
If passed, Measure #33-20 authorizes the Joseph School District to levy a property tax in the amount of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value each year for five consecutive years. These proceeds would first be used to maintain existing core programs. Remaining funds would then be used to replace those programs that were cut, or reduced, as part of the district's $310,000 budget cutting from this year's budget.
It is critically important to remember that the funds raised through passage of Measure #33-20 will stay in the Joseph School District and will not jeopardize or reduce any funding received from state resources. In fact, this local levy is designed to inject some funding stability into our local district because funds provided by the state continue to be reduced and cannot be relied upon to provide us with that stability. Many of the budget issues facing smaller, rural school districts today have been created by fewer dollars per student being allocated out of the state's general fund for an increasing number of programs mandated by the state. This fact, when combined with a declining enrollment, has created a serious funding crisis for the Joseph School District.
The Joseph School Board has been working very hard the past few years to bring the district's budget in line and to build a contingency fund that can absorb unexpected expenses or resource shortfalls. They continue to explore ideas and opportunities where there may be more fiscally responsible methods of delivering educational programs to the district's students. The district administrator, Rich Graham, is in his second year of his plan to get the district back on stable ground so that it can provide a solid education for our students.
The board and Rich Graham cannot do this alone. They need our support. Join me in voting YES on Measure #33-20!
Voters living in Union and Wallowa Counties will not be voting to return an incumbent from District 57 to be our state representative in the upcoming election. Nor will we be voting for a resident of Union or Wallowa Counties to represent us. Elizabeth Scheeler is a resident of rural Umatilla County and her opponent, Greg Smith, is a resident of Heppner in Morrow County.
In weighing which candidate to vote for, I considered how each would represent the interests of residents of the two counties and their position on government finance. From hearing both speak and reviewing their positions on issues, my conclusion is Elizabeth Scheeler is more understanding of and would better represent the diversity of Union and Wallowa County residents' values and concerns.
Greg Smith's votes on and statements about finding a permanent solution to the state meeting its long-term obligation to fund schools, human services, and public safety are not consistent with the interests of rural Oregonians. His believing Oregon's problems can simply be solved by making more budget cuts - the perennial waste in government argument - without consideration of new funding sources flies in the face of common sense and economic reality.
My vote for Elizabeth Scheeler is a vote for a less doctrinaire, less divisive, and more common sense approach to financing government services. Her community volunteer experience, work on school budget committees, and service as a school board member provide her a critical practical perspective her opponent lacks.
Please join me in voting for responsible government by voting for Elizabeth Scheeler for District 57 State Representative.
The misleading information about the food label law that is being viewed by the public through the various forms of media is really appalling.
Measure 27 is simply an opportunity for the consumer to know what is in their food. No more or less than that. The arguments used by opponents of Measure 27 are the exact same arguments they used against nutritional labeling when that law came up for a vote.
Issues that are nebulous are being thrown out to confuse and frighten the consumer. Opponents to food labeling make statements about costs without substantiating them. The only people who will be inconvenienced by having to reveal what is in your food is the processor and food packer and the chemical companies that manufacture the food. Even this will not cost them much except the cost of revelation, which will determine if a consumer or farmer or grocer or restaurant wants their product.
Opposition to the food labeling law is not about saving money for the consumer. It is about food ownership. All genetically engineered food is owned by the company that patents it. If there is no voice to counter this movement to recognize owned food vs free grown food and have a choice about it, there will indeed be higher prices for food when it is owned by a few conglomerates.
Consumers must always be on the watch for what they are truly buying. How many food shoppers know that a product may legally have 51 percent of food and 49 percent of filler without stating that it is nearly half filler and not real food? There is never any harm done to the consumer as long as there is an informed choice.
I ask myself why the food and chemical companies are spending billions to defeat this simple little measure. I am certain it is not to save the consumer money. If stock companies and manufacturers of goods are required to disclose all there is about their product, why shouldn't food manufacturers and chemical companies be held to the same rules, especially when their buyers are captive and must have food.
Europeans have fought against genetically engineered food and won. Also, Japan. they won't have any part of it. The food companies need to sell their engineered food here in America where no one has a say. If we do not demand a label, we will never know if we want to eat it or not. It is false to say that a consumer already has a choice in that they may buy organically grown food. That is only a partial choice. There are many people who cannot afford organically grown food, but still want a choice about buying genetically engineered food. The Food Alliance is one organization that fills that gap. They do not certify for organic but do not allow genetically engineered under their label.
One subject that has not been addressed is the impact on the environment. Genetically engineered food is in direct opposition to everything sustainable. It cross pollinates with heirloom varieties (which are free to anyone who wants to collect their seeds). The cross pollination destroys the natural defenses against disease and insects those plants have and also destroys their ability to reproduce without the help of a laboratory. The ramifications of that information alone is mind boggling. If the food patent holders were really concerned about grocers, restaurants, consumers and farmers, they would not be suing farmers for having and not paying for genes in the food growing in their fields that blew in on the wind from a genetically engineered crop being raised nearby. Several test cases are pending.
The last thing I would like to address is the statement that genetically engineered food is safe. This food has not been around long enough to determine the truth of that statement. Remember when we were told that estrogen was safe. And now women are suffering the consequences of long term use. I don't want pig genes in my strawberries and I would like to have a choice about it.
As we prepare to navigate through our November election ballot, our gaze hesitates a moment to reflect upon the friends of Wallowa County. One such com padre in the fight to make a living east of the Cascades is Representative Greg Smith. Wallowa County has been well served by this tireless advocate of northeastern Oregon. Let us share with you just a few things that Greg has already done for us.
During the 2001 legislative session, Greg took legislative leadership in stabilizing our county fairs with reliable, long term funding. The Oregon Fairs Association named him their "Grand Champion Legislator" for his hard work.
At the request of the Oregon Cattleman's Association, Greg introduced legislation that would demand that the Oregon Department of Agriculture deal with the growing problem of gray wolves migrating from Idaho into Oregon. While our governor vetoed this important legislation, Greg fought hard for what mattered most to citizens like us. For his dedication to the cattlemen, he received the "Lariat Laureate" award.
Greg fought hard to insure $1.2 million to rural Oregon safety net clinics. For his leadership on this issue, the Oregon Rural Health Care Association named him their "Outstanding Freshman Legislator of the Year".
Greg led the charge in keeping the State Accident Insurance Fund (SAIF) intact so that our main street businesses would continue to have affordable worker's compensation insurance.
For our farmers, Greg was a strong "yes" vote on eliminating Oregon's inheritance tax, thereby allowing the family farm to pass from generation to generation without having to worry about the over burdensome tax placed on their family.
These are some of the reasons that come to mind as we ponder our support of Greg Smith in his effort to seek re-election to the Oregon House of Representatives.
We need Greg back in Salem to fight for what matters most to Wallowa County. Please join us by marking your ballot for Greg Smith and sending our voices back to the legislature.
Jan and Lorraine Swift
Learn the facts
A local community group, Oregon Rural Action (ORA), has sponsored forums on several issues that have raised concerns for me. Since misinformation is often fed to consumers from big companies that profit from questionable practices, I appreciate having a local group looking into these issues.
ORA is actively promoting Ballot Measure 27, which requires labeling genetically engineered food in stores, but not restaurants. Large, out-of-state companies like Monsanto have spent 4.6 million dollars so far to oppose this measure. They are researching, producing, and marketing these questionable foods, but have found that many international markets - such as Europe, Australia, and Japan - now limit genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and require food labeling.
Bio-tech companies already sell GMO foods in the U.S. but are afraid that we'll stop buying them if they're labeled. That's why they're paying for all those TV ads and glossy letters you may be getting in the mail. Polls confirm that consumers here are concerned about eating engineered foods and want the choices that labeling would facilitate.
Shoppers shouldn't have to hunt for organic products, which are limited in our area and often more expensive, to avoid unnatural foods with added bacteria, antibiotics, and genes. Labeling can give us better choices, raise awareness, and pressure producers to keep our food clean and safe.
Companies change labels often enough (we constantly see "New & Improved" or "Reduced Salt" or "Fat Free") that no one will go out of business simply because they have to put GMO information on labels. In fact, if Oregon leads the way in labeling and producing GMO-free products that other countries and consumers want to buy, it will add to our export capability.
Measure 27 is about our right to know what's in our food. Learn the facts and vote YES.