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U.S. Chamber link to Smith is irksome

To the Editor:

Why I am not renewing my membership in the chamber of commerce.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is currently running ads touting Gordon Smith's work at improving health care. I wanted to know why, so I contacted the U.S. Chamber. The chamber told me that my member fees do not go towards the ads ... but I pointed out that the U.S. Chamber is effectively using my membership as an endorsement of Gordon Smith.

I was also told by the U.S. Chamber that Gordon Smith votes with the chamber 90 percent of the time … so why run a health care ad? Had the chamber been honest and run an ad that said something to the effect of 'Gordon Smith votes with the U.S. Chamber's positions 90 percent of the time,' I might not have an issue with the chamber running ads touting the merits of Smith to business, but they are running ads on implying that private healthcare is better serving individuals and businesses and that we've seen some sort of benefit as a result. As a business owner, I have not seen any decrease in the cost of coverage or increase in benefits, to the contrary, I have seen benefits decrease and costs increase. The only thing the current climate does is give bigger businesses an advantage over smaller ones. Had there actually been some indication that the actions of Gordon Smith actually helped more people get decent healthcare and at the same time saved individuals and businesses money, I might not have an issue with this. But the simple fact is that we have a bigger income gap, a $600 billion deficit (not including federal bailouts of the failing financial industry), less people covered by health are, a struggling economy and a fragile business environment. None of these things are good for business, and Gordon Smith is part of the problem. The chamber's actions are not consistent with reality.

The U.S. Chamber states that it has 3 million members and implies that its members support these ads. As a matter of principle, I don't. When our Lake Oswego Chamber membership fees come due, they will have one less member.

Bruce Couch

Lake Oswego

Support Garrett for state representative

To the Editor:

Chris Garrett, the Democratic candidate for state representative, was recently asked what would be his first priority for the Legislature. I heard him reply without hesitation, 'Education.'

When my four children were in the public schools of this area, my husband was selected from among 100 candidates to be on the Portland School Board. That was the level of interest then. Now I hear that only four people are interested enough to apply for that same position.

What can we expect from our school system when the level of education in Oregon has sunk so low in the national ratings? When classrooms are so overcrowded, and the facilities themselves so broken down? How well are our students being prepared to be the best possible citizens and to take on the jobs that are now going begging overseas because we don't have people qualified to take them? We are living on past glory in this state when corporate heads wanted to move here in part because of the excellent school system.

Chris Garrett is the brightest and best-educated candidate for state representative. He has had the experience of working in the capitol, plus the enthusiasm and energy we need. Hopefully he will help the state house to act for improvement in our education system, to really take action.

Nancy E. Stevens

Lake Oswego

Surrett 'has our vote and our trust'

To the Editor:

The latest political buzz words are 'fiscal conservative.'

Jack Hoffman's campaign reflects no exception. Mr. Hoffman's literature claims that he wants to 'keep city government accountable and fiscally responsible'.

The city council's meeting minutes, covering the eight years that Mr. Hoffman was a city councilman, reveal some interesting economic philosophies coming from then-Councilor Hoffman. He indicated that the availability of bonds is the primary source for projects he wants to promote over the next 10 years. He described going out to the community leaders, or establishing a task force of community leaders, who were movers and shakers in the private sector, as a way of doing these things. (May 23, 2001 - Civic Engagement Breakfast Meeting Minutes).

Excuse me Mr. Hoffman. We all are currently confronting increased debts to pay for the new sewer and water systems, an obvious basic living requirement. Your brochure says you want to 'inform citizens of major expenditures.' Where was all of this citizens' information when the voter-unauthorized expenditure for the Safeco building took place on your watch?

On the other hand, John Surrett pledges, in his Web site, to be a 'wise steward of public resources and to be a prudent money manager.' His top priority issues include: avoiding non-essential purchases and keeping Lake Oswego affordable for ALL residents.

We urge our city neighbors to support the city's healthy financial future by voting for John Surrett for mayor. He has our vote and our trust.

Gail and Jerry Parrick

Lake Oswego

Let community pay for furnance work

To the Editor:

Well, our tax-and-spend Lake Oswego City Council is at it again. It was enough that they put the city in hock for better than $20 million a couple of years ago by buying the Safeco property. Now, on Oct. 7, the council is proposing increasing the Hotel/Motel tax by 2 percent on our local city hotels.

This increased tax levied against the lodging revenues of the hotels will be a hardship for clients of tenants of Kruse Woods Corporate Park. These are the business people that stay at our hotels when in town for business. For some reason, the council thinks it is the tourists that use the hotels, so it's soak the tourists to pay for the $1 million restoration of the historic iron ore furnace in George Rogers Park and other cultural projects in the city.

Where is the old-fashioned idea of community fundraising for the restoration of the furnace? The summer project of hanging flower baskets is funded by the community, and I know private citizens and local business interests would be happy to help the city on the furnace project.

That would be a better plan than soaking business clients using our hotels. The office park is one of the city's biggest property revenue makers.

John W. Pullen

Lake Oswego

In spirit of 'change,' vote for Surrett

To the Editor:

I must say that I find politics troubling from the national down to our local level, regardless of party affiliation. All too many candidates say what is expedient and opportunistic to promote their election, hoping that voters will overlook their previous and contrary positions.

In our Lake Oswego mayoral race, one candidate, John Surrett, has demonstrated a consistent position of fiscally 'minding the store' with resident input to safeguard the affordability and livability of our community. The other candidate, Jack Hoffman, now tells voters that he has the same goal, but his record does not support this new position. An example of this can be found in city council retreat minutes (Jan. 17, 2004) wherein then-Councilman Hoffman was a strong advocate of spend-spend-spend, to wit: Hoffman discussed '100 projects for 100 years,' and the council's ability to set the tone for the next 20 years using bonded indebtedness … to buy land or just having the political will to take the land, and then dealing with the maintenance issues involved; he held that it was just how much money the council wants the people to approve.

In his eight-year tenure, the sewer project grew from its $16-25 million estimate to now over $100 million; and his WEB advocacy has us now owning a $24 million property with an uncertain future. Quite simply, Hoffman's statements and voting record do not support his new claim of fiscal responsibility.

In the spirit of the national call for 'change,' my vote is for John Surrett.

Michael Harper

Lake Oswego

Open space could be at risk in code

To the Editor:

I am writing to express concern regarding so-called 'housekeeping' amendments to the city's Community Development Code that, if adopted, will significantly water down its 'open space' provisions.

The vote currently requires that 15 to 20 percent of the land in new developments consist of 'open space.' The proposed amendments:

1. Eliminate the requirement that all open space be retained for common or public ownership and use;

2. Permit more alteration of natural conditions in 'open space'; and

3. Eliminate the requirement that open space be 'permanently reserved.'

The open space provisions of the current code have played a significant role in making the city what it is today. The proposed amendments, perhaps unintentionally, weaken what we have today. They should not be adopted.

Dick Rasmussen

Lake Oswego

Make candidates accountable

To the Editor:

De Tocqueville observed that when this government discovers it can bribe the people with its own money (taxes), the American experiment will end. That day may be closer at hand. Over the past few weeks, this government has nationalized (committed our tax dollars) private companies by committing hundreds of billions of tax revenues with no real knowledge if this money can ever be recouped or if they will have to commit even greater amounts.

The lender of last resort (Congress) has been in bed with these pirates through both parties' administrations. The notion that both political parties' goals are to extract our tax dollars and give it to their friends has never been more apparent. Lobbyists from these nationalized firms spent extraordinary amounts to persuade our lawmakers to 'go along to get along.' The concept that a company is 'too big to fail' is repugnant in a capitalistic economy.

The regulatory system, designed to detect and correct financial gross deficiencies, has failed. Benign neglect, hardly. The self-regulatory system now in place smacks of cronyism and is quick to silence whistleblowers. Our regulators come from the very firms they claim to regulate and frequently return to reap great rewards. Conspiracy theorists have a great deal to smile about today.

The lesson learned is that 'We the People' must demand accountability from the individuals we grant responsibility. Former great republics usually crumble from within and not from without. Perhaps that is why the economy is a bigger issue this political season than our enemies' intentions. So whether the issue is a nonsense stimulus package offered in an election year, the West End Building, or more government bailouts of private companies, citizens must voice their opinions or the erosion will continue.

Noel R. Wolfe

Lake Oswego

How about center instead of Stars?

To the Editor:

I have a suggestion for the proposed Stars Cabaret which would be a double-win for our city.

Lake Oswego needs to sell the Safeco building and buy the Out of the Blues/potentially Star building for a community center.

Too small, you say? Let's tally the number of people who have used the Safeco building in the last month. I am quite certain that they could comfortably fit in the Out of the Blues building. No community support you say? I think the 400 or so people at the community meeting on Tuesday night (Sept. 17) would overwhelmingly support it as would the scores of other people who are adamently opposed to Stars but were not able to attend the meeting. Furthermore, there are very few Lake Oswego public places on the Lake Grove end of the city.

(Interestingly, the city has enough money and motivation to build yet another park in the location of the recently torn-down bank building on the lake, but that's another topic.)

I realize that the Out of the Blues building is technically in Tualatin, but this does not matter. McEwan Road is the main gateway into the Lake Grove side of Lake Oswego and, apart from the fast-food consumers coming off the freeway, is used almost exclusively by Lake Oswego residents. It can certainly still be called a 'Lake Oswego Community Center' and have signage that is consistent with other city-owned properties. And there is great synergy with all the surrounding businesses: Players, 24-Hour Fitness and all the restaurants. Plus it has a kitchen for community events that involve food. This is a poetic way to keep the deplorable Stars Cabaret out of our neighborhood and score a wonderful community center besides.

Sheri Richards

Lake Oswego

Support the library ballot measure

To the Editor:

I love my local library. My love affair with libraries began in Walla Walla, Wash., with a Carnegie-built grand lady of brick and stone sitting on a rise just off my hometown's main street. I earned bookworm awards several summers running. My love of reading was cemented by the relationship with my library; it trumped later years as a cheerleader and most everything else.

Our Lake Oswego library recently ranked No. 1 in the state for the fourth year in a row, topping even last year's score. For its city population size, the 25,000 to 49,000 category, it ranked eighth in the nation!

We have an opportunity to keep our libraries in Clackamas County accessible and available to all of us. Clackamas County is proposing a library district for all of the libraries in the county to help offset the loss of federal timber payment dollars: ballot proposal 3-310, 'Keep Our Libraries Open.'

Yes, there's only so much money to go around and people are struggling to make ends meet. These are tough times. Nonetheless, our libraries are society's great equalizers, a democratic institution that levels the playing field for all kids. And adults.

The benefits of keeping our libraries open and free greatly outweigh its cost. The assessment for the average household would be approximately $6.80 a month, or about 22 cents a day in property taxes. Ultimately, the support of this measure will be an asset to your property value and to our community. I urge you to support Ballot Measure 3-310 for our libraries.

Susan Hereford

Lake Oswego

Moncrieff will work hard on the council

To the Editor:

Bringing people together is very important in this difficult election year. Our community has been fractured by legitimate differences of opinion over many things, from the WEB to the sewer interceptor and more. We need our city councilors to be people who can find common ground, all the while respecting varied points of view.

We need councilors who will work hard to listen and craft solutions. We have many issues facing us and we will be well-served if we can rally the community to get involved.

I have worked with Sally Moncrieff as a member of the Lake Oswego School District Foundation Board, the Palisades Neighborhood Association, and as a parent at Lakeridge High School. She has truly brought people together in all these arenas. She has respected differing opinions, increased citizen participation, and provided guidance, wisdom and thoughtful oversight to a number of projects. Her collaborative spirit has been evident in the neighborhood association, in addition to other areas in which she has served, and her leadership has been strong.

Please join me in voting for Sally Moncrieff for Lake Oswego City Council.

Anne K. Woodbury

Lake Oswego

Strip club problem begins with state

To the Editor:

The Tualatin residents that want to keep a strip club from going into the defunct jazz club along I-5 are in all reality barking up the wrong tree. Does a strip club belong in a business district that is within yards of a residential neighborhood?

Probably not, and city officials say there is nothing they can do about it. Oregonians don't really seem to 'get it' regarding why there are more strip clubs per capita in Oregon than in any other state. They are more profitable, and the reason why they are more profitable is because any business in Oregon that can obtain a beer and wine license can offer state-run gambling via the ridiculous and ruinous state- run video poker and video slot machines. These games are what help keep strip clubs in your business districts and neighborhood afloat and opening up at an alarming rate.

The fact of the matter is that by allowing these games in these establishments, the Lottery Commission, the Legislature which dictates what games the lottery can run, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission that licenses these businesses and the governor's office all give their stamp of approval to these businesses. These groups are the groups that Tualatin residents need to be addressing, not the potential owners of the new Stars Cabaret which will be right across from the family-oriented Bridgeport Village.

The state of Oregon actually encourages these businesses by subsidizing them monetarily by letting these gambling games run in the strip clubs plain and simple.

Heck if I wanted to open a strip club I'd do it in Oregon where the easy money is, where a club can be wildly profitable because of state run VLT's (Video lottery terminals).

Get rid of the video poker and video slot machines in these businesses and you would see the doors to these seedy joints shutting right and left, no profit no business, duh.

If Tualatin residents are serious about blocking this club from going in along I-5 they need to address why the state of Oregon allows their addictive gambling games in strip clubs to begin with, this is the true source of the problem.

James Maass

Beaverton

Surrett saw problems for the city early

To the Editor:

Bob Barman wrote in this past week's Southwest Weekly, 'I trust (Jack) Hoffman to listen' and 'to watch how every penny is spent on the sewer interceptor project.'

Well, Mr. Hoffman was on the city council from 1999 to 2006. In 2001, a feasibility study indicated that a new lake interceptor could cost between $16 and $25 million. Construction could begin as soon as 2006.  This replacement cost has now grown to over $100 million, with no firm construction contract, and a completion (date) of 2011. The council failed to treat this as a priority then and has been forced by the state DEQ to finally act now.

Instead, the council treated the Safeco property as a priority, having spent $23 million on it to date, and there is nothing to show for it. Mr. Hoffman voted for the purchase, and his position on listening to citizens is on record in the council minutes: 'He was hesitant to hold a public hearing after adopting the resolution.' (http://www.ci.oswego.or.us/calendar/councilmtgs/documents/121305.pdf ).

It is interesting that this project is now Hoffman's highest priority, according to his election Web site. Is this a coincidence now that we are 1½ months before the election?

My vote will be for John Surrett who has proven through previous and current actions that he will be a wise steward of public resources. Mr. Surrett recognized long before now that the council's focus has been sorely misdirected while the city's sewer infrastructure has been progressively deteriorating as repair costs have dramatically inflated.

Greg Nelson

Lake Oswego

Vote for Moncrieff for city council post

To the Editor:

I strongly support Sally Moncrieff for city council.

As the president of the Palisades Neighborhood Association, she has demonstrated exceptional leadership, strength of character and innovative community spirit. She has led and unified the neighborhood to identify and implement initiatives for a wide variety of neighborhood priorities, including addressing the safety of pathways and streets, developing emergency response awareness and capabilities, completing our twenty year plan, and initiating sustainability programs on an ongoing basis.

Throughout her term, Sally has demonstrated an effective combination of grace and strength; she is a leader who brings people together to seek working agreement and solutions to issues as well as fulfillment of opportunities.

Sally has a clear vision for the future of our neighborhood as well as for our city. As a city councilor, she will be a positive force in creating and continually enhancing our plans and priorities for Lake Oswego. She will look to our future and push for us to realize our potential as a community.

Robert Kennedy used to say, 'Some people see things as they are and ask why, while others dream of things that have never been and ask why not.' Sally Moncrieff has the vision to help us see the future of Lake Oswego and ask why not, and she has the strength of leadership to help us realize that vision. We should elect her to the city council.

Don Irving

Lake Oswego

Lake Oswego has so many great attributes

To the Editor:

I am a supporter for the newly formed Keep Lake Oswego Great.

And you know?

One of the great things about Lake Oswego is that we have many more things than one that we can be so proud of. It is no secret that Lake Oswego is a wonderful community, tucked away in the beautiful and green state of Oregon. Physical beauty includes the hills, the river, the lake, the homes, the neighborhoods and the town. All you have to do is mention where you are from and everyone already knows. It is the reputation of our top-rated schools, our award-winning library, our stores and our businesses, our Lakewood Center, our adult community center, our parks and our art.

But it is not just those things that I want to remind you of. The really great thing about Lake Oswego is the people. We have citizens that care and are willing to work hard to make this a better place for all of us; just think of all the clubs, service organizations, associations, and civic groups that we have. There are the city leaders, too, including the mayor, the councilors and all of the workers that do their jobs to make our lives better.

And we live here. Are we lucky or what?

So if you want to know what I think makes Lake Oswego great and can make it greater? It's you. This is a great place to live. It is a great place to play. It is a great place to raise and educate your kids. It is a great place to work and even retire. But what you should think about is what you can do to make this even a better place. Take part yourself and support those who work so hard for you. Find out what's going on. Attend, participate, volunteer and join. Support the community, its leaders its businesses and we will grow.

I certainly plan to keep working to help Keep Lake Oswego Great. You should too. Check the Web site at www.keeplogreat.com .

Dale Rhoney

Lake Oswego