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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Forest Grove salaries in line with other cities

I read former city employee Mandy Hayes's article about city budgetary issues and felt it was important to respond to her inaccurate portrayal of important facts about the city budget.

It is important to note that the city has a professional human resources department that completes an external analysis and compares Forest Grove positions with communities considered as comparables. We look at salaries from McMinnville, Newberg, Tualatin and other similar-sized cities and try to stay within 5 percent of the market median.

This information gives us objective data that allows us to treat our employees fairly. Also, as city manager, I don't set salaries; it is a process that involves direction from the City Council, recommendations from our human resources department, and often the collective bargaining process.

Due to this process, we recently adopted a new salary schedule that increases our police captain's salaries to within 5 percent of the market median.

However, there are other factors that affect our ability to attract candidates for senior level positions such as police captain, including that the city is not a member of PERS.

The benefits of the city's position must outweigh the potential benefit that is given up with having several years of built up retirement.

The same is true for the economic development coordinator. This position was 31 percent below market and the union requested that we bring it closer to market. This position received a $286-a-month increase, not the $900 increase Ms. Hayes claimed.

The assistant finance director's job description was modified two years ago to serve as the assistant to the public works/engineering director as well. This position has assumed some of the duties of the engineer who was moved into a non-supervisory position. This position, like most other positions in the city, is within 5 percent of the market median.

Over the past several budget years, we have had to be very creative. We have had to consolidate positions, reduce several positions citywide and do everything we can to maintain the high quality of service citizens expect and deserve from the city.

At the same time, we have tried to pay our employees fairly without breaking the bank. Compared to the financial crises we have seen in Washington D.C., the state legislature and in our school districts, I think we are doing pretty well.

With a steady decline in property values, more people out of work, and a gloomy forecast for our national economy, we will have to continue to tighten our belts and try and grow our economy.

I am disappointed Ms. Hayes was so critical of some of the decisions that were made as part of our overall budget. After all, our budget process is very open and public input is encouraged. Good ideas that help manage a tight budget in difficult times are always welcome.

Michael Sykes

Forest Grove city manager

Bonamici will fight for Oregon, 100%

Under normal times, Brad Avakian would be the perfect successful Congressional 1 candidate.

He, on his own admission, spends 30 percent of his time working, while the other 70% of his taxpayer paid work time he spends campaigning for another political position.

He has a problem paying his federal income tax properly but is willing to spend ours. He has a problem providing accurate data.

Yes, under normal times he would be a shoe in . . . but this time around, voters need a U. S. Representative who will fight for us and represent us 100 percent of her time in Washington. Time to send a real fighter . . . Susan Bonamici to Washington!

Bobby Griffin

Forest Grove

Testing doesn't mimic class settings

I read the Oct. 12 guest column ('The trouble with testing... testing...') with interest.

We have a son who struggled at the end of 6th grade and took the OAKS test a third time, one-on-one with a teacher, spent all day on it and earned a high score.

Going into 7th grade, Neil Armstrong Middle School placed him in three honors classes because of his score, which was not in a class-like setting. He has now gotten his grades up but at one point was failing all of them and being penalized by not being able to play football. Not that football is more important.

It shows that this type of testing can be problematic. Emailing the teachers, I found he is not the only child placed in honors classes when they probably cannot handle them, because of these test scores.

This commentary has nailed the issue.

Tia Maitlan

Forest Grove

Katie Riley's leadership needed in Salem

I read your article about the race for House District 29 and, as a longtime resident of Forest Grove, I am really pleased that Katie Riley is running. She is a longtime member of the community and a proven leader with her service to many community organizations. I am particularly impressed that she served as both the chair of the Washington County Commission on Children and Families and president of the Oregon Public Health Association at the same time. We really need her knowledge, commitment, and leadership in Salem.

Claire Berger

Forest Grove

Riley has superb resume

As a fellow board member with Katie Riley for Sequoia Mental Health Services, I am happy to learn that she is running for state representative for House District 29. However, your Oct. 12 article merely identified her as the wife of Chuck Riley and casually mentioned her status as professor emerita for Oregon Health Sciences University.

While these roles are worthy of mention, they do not reflect Katie's superb qualifications to serve as our state representative. Katie has an impressive track record of leadership and service to our community in her own right. She served as chair of the Washington County Commission on Children and Families and continues to be an active member. She has also been on many other boards, including Sequoia Mental Health Services, Hillsboro Empowers Youth, and the Northwest Regional Education Service District, and has served as president of the Oregon Public Health Association.

She is a respected leader on the difficult issues facing our community - jobs for the next generation, quality care for individuals who suffer from chronic mental illness, and the toughest healthcare issues confronting our communities. We need Katie Riley's leadership in the state legislature.

Monica Marvin

Forest Grove

Get government out of private business

Professor Emeritus Russ Dondero makes a great analogy in his column 'Beware the lure of moral purity and outrage' (Oct. 12, 2011). As with the repeal of prohibition by the 21st Amendment, I am hoping something similar happens to President Obama. His policies have failed miserably, particularly his economic policies. He failed to keep the unemployment rate at 8 percent by bailing out banks, auto companies, insurance companies like AIG and any other business deemed too big to fail.

I find it the height of hypocrisy that Obama now aligns himself with the Occupy Wall Street crowd after the bailout of Wall Street with practically no strings attached. Face it. The stimulus was a bad idea and didn't work. Witness the fact that the states received a lot of this money to hire 'teachers, police and firemen.' A year later, when the money dried up, the layoffs started.

Now Obama wants to borrow another half a trillion dollars to do the same thing again, not getting at the root cause of our unemployment and sagging economy. And where did all the money go that was to assist stressed homeowners to stay in their homes? Another failed policy. I do not know what he means by 'litmus test cultural politics in resurgence.' I do know about 'Crony Capitalism.'

In short, it's a relationship between government and business whereby the business receives favored treatment in the form of government grants or tax breaks. Solyndra, the bankrupt green energy company, received 500 million of our tax dollars. The government 'investment' leaves you and I holding an empty bag. In addition, are we surprised that one of the shareholders, after many trips to the White House, assisted in bundling tens of thousands of dollars for the Obama campaign treasury? It is time to get the government out of private business.

Obama's signature legislation, the wonderful health care bill, is already unraveling (The CLASS section of the bill, to be specific). The administration has indicated a part of the bill is economically unsustainable and they will not pursue it. Tip of the iceberg? I will not be at all surprised if the Supreme Court throws out the entire bill next year.

Want another example of failed policies? The Justice Department's 'Fast and Furious' operation put guns in the hands of the drug cartel that killed one of our own agents and who knows how many other innocent lives. The cover-up even might eventually be judged the same as 'Tricky Dick's' effort to bury Watergate. Dondero wants to awaken the political base, calling on Democrats to rally their support for Obama in the next election.

If the mid-term elections mean anything, you might get the idea that the majority of Americans are rejecting Obama and his policies. Look where we are. Things have gotten worse under his administration. He has had his chance and failed. Professor Dondero warns that the Republicans will 'steal this election, and we will have buyer remorse in the days after.'

No, Russ, I already have buyer's remorse from the last presidential election. I don't think the GOP will steal anything. I think the votes will all be counted as they always are, and we will have a new and more effective president.

James R Shores

Forest Grove

Library foundation thanks community for support

This community surely knows how to support a worthy cause. Nearly 160 people turned out the night of Oct. 27 at the UCC church for a lasagna dinner hosted by Maggie's Buns. As a benefit for the Forest Grove Library Foundation, proceeds were nearly $2,200 in ticket sales and donations. The Library Foundation board would like to sincerely thank everyone who came out in support.

The Library Foundation board would like to especially thank Maggie Pike and her crew for donating all the delicious food; BJ's Coffee for donating the coffee; Sue Vosburg and Reinecker Nursery for the flowers; Shari Adams for playing the piano; and USBank and the Chamber of Commerce for selling tickets.

In these tough economic times, we all know that every donation is a conscious decision. As the FGLF moves forward in our $250,000 'As the Story Unfolds' fundraising campaign to purchase furniture, artwork and signage for the adult fiction, children's and Spanish language sections, we are encouraged that the Forest Grove community will continue to support the library. Visit our website, www.fglf.org, for more information on how you can help.

Linda Saari, vice president

Forest Grove Library Foundation

Is your letter Missing?

With a special congressional election and a school board recall, we've been buried in letters that needed to run in the past two issues. So, if your letter has been languishing, don't despair. We'll catch up to the rest next week.