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Kent has brought Ducks far

by: LISA BLUMENFELD, Two Elite Eight appearances are more than most Duck fans would have dared dream a decade ago when coach Ernie Kent (right, with player Tajuan Porter) was first hired, one reader says, adding that some people will be appeased only by an NCAA championship.

I would like to thank Jason Vondersmith (On College Hoops: Oregon has to hold on to Ernie Kent, March 30) for making an excellent case as to why the University of Oregon should extend the contract of coach Ernie Kent. Vondersmith successfully debunked all of the arguments being made by those who support Kent's ouster.

When a coach at any school - especially one without an established basketball tradition or national recruiting prowess - takes a team to the Elite Eight twice in 10 years, he has done a truly outstanding job.

When Kent was hired in 1997, any fan of the Oregon basketball program would have been wowed by the prospect of simply making the NCAA tournament and winning a second-round game. No one can honestly say they envisioned the level of success Kent has achieved.

Today, nothing short of winning a national championship will be good enough for some fans. That attitude is unfortunate and, sadly, it has tarnished the success of Kent and this year's Oregon team to some degree.

I hope that Oregon has another exciting tournament run next year with Ernie Kent at the helm. Without him there, I would feel as if my alma mater had lost a great deal of its humanity and common sense.

Alan Shoebridge

Beaverton

Official got special treatment for crimes

Can anyone tell me why Shadman Afzal was allowed to resign (Pilfered pot gets official busted, March 9)?

This man falsified public documents and stole from the people who paid his salary. You also reported that Afzal is expected to file for disability. Lying, cheating and stealing is a choice, not a disability.

Afzal should have been fired and arrested. I am really tired of white-collar workers getting a mere slap on the hand while the rest of the population would go to jail for such a deed.

Patricia Stanek

Southeast Portland

Double majority helps protect us

The 'double majority' provision in Oregon works very well (My View, We've tried it, and it's failed, March 9). It forces all money measures into a general election, held every two years, where a simple majority is all that is required. We citizens get to see all the money impacts together and make a much more informed decision.

If the Legislature finds it makes sense to budget everything and set priorities just once every two years, it is even more sensible for the citizens, with less expertise, to only have to study the measures all together to cast an informed vote.

Another way of looking at these provisions is no spending or bonding measure can pass in the off-year elections without at least 25 percent of the registered voters agreeing.

This is a reasonable provision and is a useful barrier to prevent special interests from 'slipping one by.'

Richard Leonetti

Southwest Portland

Don't fund higher ed at expense of K-12

While I appreciated your recent editorial (Higher ed helps whole economy, March 30), I disagree strongly with the solution you propose: In order to fund higher education, we should take funds away from Oregon's K-12 public schools.

The co-chairs' budget of $6.245 billion is a critical first step in reinvesting in Oregon's schools. When adjusted for inflation, this level of funding gets us roughly back to where we were in 2001-02 - but still represents lower funding than schools had in 1990-91 when voters cut school property taxes by passing Measure 5.

Oregon's K-12 state school fund is not 'bulging,' as your editorial states. In fact, the state school fund is barely recovering, and some school districts are still looking at program and staff cuts at the new funding level. The way to correct the imbalance between K-12 funding and higher education funding is to increase the level of higher education funding.

One source of additional revenue is the proposal to increase the $10 corporate minimum income tax. Oregon's economic success depends on whether we invest in education, and corporate Oregon is the major beneficiary of a well-educated and highly trained work force.

I applaud those business leaders who have said that they support raising the corporate minimum tax - which now lets many corporations pay as little as $10 per year - if the money goes toward investments in early childhood education, K-12 schools and Oregon's community colleges and universities.

I support more funding for higher education and our community colleges, because no part of our education system is adequately funded. However, taking from one underfunded segment to give to another underfunded segment doesn't get us where we need to be.

Yes, the co-chairs' budget needs improvement, but it should not come at the expense of Oregon's elementary and secondary students.

Susan Castillo

Superintendent, Oregon Department of Education

Salem

Fat tax would battle the bigger problem

Recently, local newspapers have published many letters and editorials in support of Gov. Ted Kulongoski's proposal for a huge tax increase on tobacco products in an attempt to eliminate the use of those products.

The March 2 editorial 'Cigarette tax is good for kids' is more of the same. There have been few printed letters of opposition.

Here's one, with a twist.

Let's tax those who cannot control their obsessive eating habits. Candidates for an overweight tax are everywhere - just stroll through our malls or city streets.

Our bad eating habits, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, can lead to obesity, diabetes and the most prevalent killer in the U.S., heart and vascular disease. The results are high insurance costs and medical costs that affect us all.

Why not have a family doctor, considering all conditions, establish an ideal healthy weight for each individual? A doctor's certificate could then be filed along with the individual's yearly tax return, along with a tax payment based on the deviation from the established healthy weight. It would replace the lost tax revenue from cigarette sales.

I've never smoked. I have many good friends who do. They are being taxed and penalized for their addiction, while the most common contributors to high health costs - overeaters - are ignored by legislators.

Miles R. Abel

Aurora

Hey, Salem, are you even listening to us?

It seems pretty clear that the voters have made their wishes known, in no uncertain terms (So many projects, so little funding, March 2), with a '24-cents-a-gallon state gas tax, which has not increased since 1993. Motor vehicle fees were increased in recent legislative sessions, but only to fund bridge repairs.'

It is time for our government servants to stop whining and do the best they can with the resources that they've been allocated. After that, we the people will get exactly what we paid for and asked for.

Then, if the need is perceived, we can change it.

All of these funding problems happen when government comes along and tells us what is good for us, and then most people decide to do the exact opposite.

Is anyone out there listening? It doesn't seem so.

How many Measure 5s do we have to enact to get our legislators' attention?

Jim Ourada

Aloha

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