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Letters to the editor for April 2, 2011

Oregon timber industry still very much alive

The Gresham Outlook's pronouncement in its editorial that the timber industry is near death reminds me of a quote often attributed to Mark Twain: 'The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated' ('Bridal Veil, timber industry both on their last breath,' March 30 Outlook.)

The truth is that Oregon softwood lumber and plywood production are second to none in the United States. In 2009, Oregon produced 3.8 billion board feet of lumber and nearly 1.9 million square feet of plywood, more than any other state. According to the Oregon Employment Department, that same year 47,700 Oregonians directly made their living from the forest sector, a significant part of the economy, especially in rural Oregon. Forestry and milling account for 8.5 percent of the state's total payroll for direct and indirect jobs, and forestry is among the four top-traded sectors that export products. Industry jobs pay, on average, $43,071, which is above the state's average wage.

We will never go back to when Bridal Veil was in its heyday. Many of the small mills like the one mentioned in the editorial closed because they were outdated and inefficient, but the overriding reason they closed is because of sharply curtailed timber harvest on federal lands.

Since the 1980s there has been a major change in the management of federal lands. Once an equal partner to private lands in providing timber harvest for sawmills, the national forests are now managed predominantly for non-timber values such as recreation, wildlife and wilderness. Private timberlands are largely managed for timber production and still support a vibrant though smaller forest sector.

So, don't shovel dirt over the forest sector. It is much changed from Bridal Veil's early days, but it is very, very much alive.

Dave Kvamme

Director of communications

The Oregon Forest Resources Institute

Portland

Stop personal attacks, get back to the budget

On March 30, Thomas Gemelli wrote, 'Following my previous letter, 'Forward Support' denied access to their website and quickly shut down their website.'

This is completely untrue. Our website has never been shut down, and no access is blocked to it. One page has gone offline recently due to some staff changes (it went offline before your letter ever appeared in print or online), but other than that the site is still online and always has been online. The staff page is offline but easily found via a Google search via the cache option. I also have bios of myself available at a number of other sites around the Internet that discuss my political activism.

My No. 1 concern is the students. Always has, always will be. I am not working for Forward Support or any other organization in my efforts here at the college.

To this date you have yet to answer a single one of my points from my original response to you. I pointed out that your numbers were incorrect and gave the data straight from the Mt. Hood Community College budget. Your only response to this date is to bash a small start-up business that I am affiliated with - a business where my role is Internet presence manager, otherwise known as a web designer.

How about we stop all these personal attacks and get back to the heart of the matter - students and the budget? We are spending less than half of the budget on instruction costs, yet instruction is the No. 1 mission of the school. We have a board that is not negotiating with the faculty and seems more interested in power plays than serving the students and this community.

Jenni Simonis

Gresham

Fallacies of faith and teen drug use

The special publication 'Empowering Teens: Live and Work Drug Free,' delivered in the March 30 edition of The Outlook, contains a full spread called 'Faith,' which reports on the 'facts' regarding the relevance of faith in addressing youth drug use. But the journalism fails to point out several fallacies.

The only source reported is The Search Institute. The data comes from their surrogate, The Center for Spiritual Development. Good journalism would have detected a bias. Did The Outlook contact any atheist organizations to see what their data says? Are the readers aware of how successful atheist organizations have been in curbing youth drug use?

The reported data is not credible because it comes from a single survey given by the same organization that asks the questions and interprets the answers. It is not peer-reviewed, and the data has not been replicated, so the findings are shielded from any scrutiny.

The data on their website includes a footnote that clearly states the results do not show a cause and effect relationship, yet the headlines extracted by the study and repeated by The Outlook elevate the data unfairly to suggest there is a cause-and-effect relationship between faith and reduced drug use. There is no such cause and effect relationship.

The self-serving headline cites double-digit percentage differences in likelihood that a teen not attending church or synagogue will have drug problems, yet that difference is tallied by measuring the difference in two response rates. That is called a correlation, and qualified journalists should be poking at how a conclusion is drawn from a correlation instead of copying and pasting a salacious, self-serving claim from the single source's website.

Most importantly, the survey neglects to report on the real behavior of children who are atheists. If a child is an atheist and attends non-religious programs, that child is lumped together with the deity-worshiping kid who blows off church activities in order to score some crack. How can we trust the survey results?

I think it would be great journalism to expose the false bravado of religious groups and to alert your community that the 'facts' which are spoon-fed by their pastors, rabbis and surrogate organizations may not be facts at all. But that wouldn't help those religious groups fill their pews with the next generation of donors.

Sean Mulvihill

Gresham

Oregon group aims to end abuse, violence

I recently read your article about the little girl who died from extreme child abuse.

As a parent of two girls I could not even finish reading it. There is an international organization based right here in Oregon whose mission is to help end abuse and violence. It is called 'Hands and Words Are Not For Hurting.' They are online at handsproject.org.

Doug Keller

Gresham

Who is going to save our children?

I am still shaking with outrage at the indifference of the state workers to child abuse of any kind, much less the obvious, extreme harm to a 5-year-old child ('Brief picture of joy hides a horrible secret,' March 19 Outlook).

Who is going to save our children?

Norma Harris

Tigard

Lessons from my first real job

Sharon Nesbit's March 26 column on her first real job really got me going down memory lane. As a farmer kid during the early 1960s, I too did my stint in the berry fields - no choice in the matter.

If I wanted extra stuff when school started in the fall, I had to do it or else. I didn't like doing it in the beginning and probably thought my parents were borderline child slave traders.

The lesson to the story is this: I grew up a little that summer and, more importantly, knew why they pushed me out the door to take my first real job.

Joyce Stoeckel

Troutdale