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Letters to the editor in February

A view of the budget from Salem

'Irrational exuberance' was Alan Greenspan's iconic phrase capturing the prevailing sentiment of the so-called 'Dot.com' era of the late 1990's.

Unfortunately, the former Federal Reserve Chairman's watchwords accurately convey the view of many going into the 2007 Legislative Session.

With some $1.2 billion set to return to taxpayers in the form of the personal kicker later this year, visions of massive investments in education, human services, and public safety danced in Oregonian's heads.

While such visions are understandable, the long-term sustainability of Oregon's economy necessitates fiscal discipline and a clear-eyed, pragmatic approach to the 2007-'09 state budget.

From my seat as Chairman of the Joint Ways and Means Education Subcommittee, it has become increasingly clear that beneath the rosy economic picture lie some thorny issues with which we must contend.

Ongoing debt service, the volatility of Oregon's tax system, Measure 37, and a host of other challenges both known and unknown require a sober, realistic assessment of our short and long-term prospects.

Fortunately, the budget principles directing the deliberations of the Ways and Means Committee reflect a keen understanding of the volatile nature of the state's economy.

State agencies have been charged with documenting their overall strategic approach and the specific means by which they will: secure continuous improvement; prioritize programs and services; achieve meaningful outcomes; and employ performance measures aimed at quality and efficiency.

Although Oregon's recent economic strength does allow us to make some much needed investments in education, human services, and public safety, the long-term sustainability of our institutions demand not only a rainy-day fund for future downturns, but prudent decisions today so that we avoid the fate of so many 'Dot.com' companies and their investors.

Call it 'rational vigilance.'

Rep. Larry Galizio

District 35 (King City, Tigard)

More are outraged than is being said in the media

Reading that only three complaints have been received about the proposed 'standard discount' rate for the Beer and Wine funded trips of $150 per offense does seem right in line with Oregon's second lowest overall alcohol tax rate in the nation (Only Kentucky has a lower overall rate).

However, that couldn't be further from my personal survey results.

I have interviewed dozens of Oregonians and found 100% of them to be outraged by this complete failure of enforcement.

It makes us all loose trust in elected officials and wonder why we are held to individual responsibility standards when our 'leaders' are let off for fifteen cents on the dollar.

What could possibly make them change their behavior with this picture?

I have offered to go to Hawaii for $150 out of my own pocket, but cannot find any takers. The fee should at least be similar to the value - duh!

Talk of raising the maximum penalty is folly when the current one is ignored and unused. Please register my strong complaint and send me any evidence of any Oregonian who feels otherwise.

Further, Paul Romain should face full penalties as well.

I understand there isn't money to handle court costs should legislators refuse to accept your penalties. But really, do you think they'd take this to court?

For the Commission to suggest this makes me laugh and mad at the same time. Mad that such sop is offered by the 'Ethics Commission' and laugh at the idea that any legislator would allow his/her name to be linked to a court defense for an obvious and documented bribery by high paid lobbyists!

These legislators and lobbyists surely don't want any more bad press.

David Booth

Tigard

The means justifies the ends where cruelty is involved

Your editorial in the January Courier goes to great lengths to underscore your objection to a group expressing its First Amendment right of free speech. Although you do at one point concede that these 'animal rights activists' have such rights. It is apparent that they should be granted only those groups with whom you agree.

As an animal lover and one who detests cruelty of any kind, I feel that the real issue here is being overlooked; that being extreme animal cruelty - for vanity and profit.

Leg-hold traps, caged starvation, anal-probe electrocution, strangulation - all are time honored, well-documented travesties of the fur trade. So when we behold a beautiful fur, meticulously displayed in the fur shop, we must keep in mind the cruelties that brought it there. Legal, yes. Moral, no. Our compass cannot be legality alone where sickening cruelty to helpless creatures is involved. There must be compassion too. that is why we protest against the fur trade.

Non-violent protest is in the best tradition of our democracy. This is how grievances have historically been brought to public attention, with the hope that generating rational discussion will eventually bring about change.

Mary Ann Melvin

Highlands