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Mount Hood Wilderness Act stalled by Oklahoma senator

Letters to the Editor, March 26

To the Editor:

By now if you haven't heard the name Tom Coburn and wondered where on the map Oklahoma is, than either you have been on a long vacation or you haven't been reading newspapers. Tom Coburn is a Senator from Oklahoma and here is what he has to say about the Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act: 'We can't do it. We don't have the money. I don't want to trade. I want to fix what's wrong with our country in terms of the fiscal problems we have.' This sounds good; however the 59-year-old junior Republican Senator isn't trying to save the United State from bankruptcy, he is capitalizing on an election year.

One has to look no further than his sponsorship of a controversial amendment to a large Natural Resource Authorization Act, repealing the ban on loaded firearms in National Parks that has been in effect for more than 100 years. His active and vocal support of the war in Iraq, which costs $700 million per day to fight, must come from some other budget and not the Federal Government for his remarks to be taken seriously.

So, what's all the fuss about one gray-haired wannabe in the U.S. Senate? It's the bulge in his pocket that has everyone fuming, including Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith, both sponsors of the Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act. No, it's not a loaded gun in his pocket; it's his fistful of holds that he has placed on consensus legislation that is normally shuffled across the Senate floor. At last count there were more than 100 bills in his pocket.

Included in this wad of paper are two important Oregon bills; one that will significantly expand the wilderness area around Mt. Hood and another that promises big economic returns for Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. The latter bill, referred to as the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail Act, will create a new unit of the National Park Service that will cross parts of the four Pacific Northwest states interpreting the amazing story of the largest floods ever recorded on Earth. This is exactly the kind of tourism product that the emerging brand of geo-tourism is looking for; it integrates environmental science with recreation and conservation and comes with a large wow factor.

This brings me to my final point and it may not be comfortable for those of you that value citizen involvement. Tom Coburn has taken an important Senate procedural rule, the ability for any Senator to put a hold on legislative action, and twisted it into a tool to promote his own activist agenda.

Call Sentor Coburn's office in Washington, D.C. at 202-224-5754 and see how long you can vent to an Oklahoma Senator until the 18-year-old on the other end of the line says, 'Thank you very much for your call...' click. I lasted about 45 seconds.

Mark Buser

President and Founder of the Lower Columbia Floods Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute

The voters spoke, and the city should listen

To the Editor:

The reaction by the mayor and city planner-types to the rejection of the Beavercreek annexation project sheds light on the reason why voters are frustrated with government. Rather than abide by the vote of the people, the mayor's reaction is to repackage this annexation and 'educate' the voters. It's this arrogance and attitude that they know better than the voters that turns many of us off. I've got a better idea: rather than 'educating' the voters, how about listening to them? When a proposal is defeated by over a 2-1 margin, it's clear that the voters don't need to be enlightened. Our elected officials need to respect the decision of the voters, and stop throwing more money at this particular proposal.

With regard to the owner of the Oregon City Golf Club, if your interest is in selling the property, how about selling it to someone who will keep it as a golf course, rather than 'develop' (i.e., destroy) it? It's been a golf course since 1922, and it would be a shame to see it turned into little boxes on the hillside.

Dennis Taylor