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Letters to the Editor

Thanks for a successful drill

On June 21, Clackamas County conducted a public health exercise to practice distribution of medication to a large number of our citizens, should we be faced with a major public health emergency. We would like to thank the community, the media, local jurisdictions, county staff and others who helped us with our exercise. A special thanks goes to Clackamas Community College, which hosted the event.

It is important for every citizen to plan for emergencies and understand what they can do before, during and after an event to safeguard themselves and their families. Nearly 400 people went through the exercise and it was a great opportunity for us to practice our response and for citizens to understand how the process works and what to expect.

We are blessed in this region with having a great working relationship among local and state governments. We work together collaboratively to plan for and respond to all emergencies, to the benefit of the citizens that live and work in our region.

Again, thanks to all of you that helped conduct the exercise and to those that attended.

Dana Robinson - Director, Clackamas County Homeland Security

Gary DiCenzo - Director, Clackamas County Department of Human Services

Let's have a real fountain!

Here's an idea for a beautification project that would pay for itself, in part, as well as promote community spirit here in river city's historic McLoughlin Neighborhood. The library park block would be more aesthetically complete, I personally think, with a professionally designed 'McLoughlin Fountain' in the current wading pool area. Something along the lines of what's currently there, but with an appearance more like Portland's Salmon Street Fountain (i.e. 'symmetrical').

What we presently have now in Library Park is more of a foot-washing, almost public bidet-style arrangement that somehow doesn't quite appear finished. It's almost as if it were made of miscellaneous lawn sprinkler parts, and unless it's summer and and kids are actually using the fountain, you're not really sure what this giant circular cement pan is!

I'm under the impression an actual water-filled 'old fashioned' pool-style fountain is nowadays dubbed too 'dangerous' and would require adult supervision when children are around. However, a properly-designed symmetrical spraying fountain, possibly with a central statue or monument, in a non-water-filled basin would be just what the park needs to really be complete.

In addition, to raise money for this project the fountain's basin could be paved with public-purchased bricks with the purchaser's name engraved on them, or in memory of someone. This way the community could feel it's really contributing to its construction, as well as being immortalized, as it were, in the fountain.

I, for one, would support a project along these lines, and I think it would add a finishing touch to a beautiful park and neighborhood.

Steve Cameron

Oregon City

Payday loans

Thank you to Mayor Norris and all of the Oregon City commission members. On June 21, they took an important step to help protect the most financially vulnerable families in our community by placing some reasonable limits on payday loans.

Oregon is one of a few states with no cap on interest. As a result, payday loans can exceed 500% APR. That's just not right. Oregon lawmakers voted to cap the interest and establish other protections but the law won't go into effect until July 2007. Payday lenders are using that time to protect their profits by finding loopholes and developing new high-cost loans.

Majority Leader Wayne Scott voted to protect the industry instead of the hard working families in his district. Fortunately we have real leadership on the city council.

The ordinance they voted on won't cap interest because cities don't have that authority but offers other protections.

I think Commissioner Tidwell summed it up best when he said, 'For someone to walk in and pay 521% they're hurting. It's our job to alleviate some of that hurt.'

Mike Caudle

Democratic Nominee for State Representative,

House District 39

Health care crisis

Solving Oregon's health care crisis starts with lowering the cost of prescription drugs. No one should have to choose between buying a tank of gas and buying their medications. But hundreds of thousands of Oregonians are faced with this prospect every day. It's time to do something about it.

Initiative 122 shatters the barriers to low-cost prescription drugs at no additional expense to taxpayers.

More than 750,000 legal Oregon residents - including children - don't have prescription drug coverage. That means one in five of us don't have enough health insurance to afford our meds.

In the long run, that means more trips to the hospital and more expensive treatments - and a bigger financial hit for the rest of us who then pay higher and higher premiums.

But there's a simple cure. Ballot initiative 122 will open up a great starter program that's already underway. It's called the Oregon Prescription Drug Program, and it saves people as much as 60% on their meds through drug discounts and rebates.

But in order to benefit from the current program, some pretty restrictive conditions first have to be met - things like age and income, for starters. Initiative 122 will completely wipe out those restrictions, and make low-cost meds available to uninsured Oregonians - and their kids - who could really use the help.

If you're reading this with a skeptical eye, there's plenty of proof that this program can deliver as promised and NOT at the hand of taxpayer's expense. The administrative expenses to run this low-cost program are already in place. By negotiating directly with big drug manufacturers and pharmacies, the program pays for itself through the savings realized from discounts and rebates.

Frankly, Oregon is doing something the feds should have done long ago.

122 is NOT a welfare program. It's a no-brainer solution to help thousands of Oregonians afford the medications they need to lead healthy lives.

It's time to come together around a program that takes advantage of a well-known secret that companies like Costco and WalMart have known for a long time: put the power of bulk purchasing back in the hands of consumers.

Sign the petition to get Initiative 122 on the ballot. If you care about how we treat our kids or our seniors, you'll back this initiative. But even if all you care about is your own wallet, you want Initiative 122 on the ballot.

Jerry Cohen

Oregon state director of AARP and is a chief petitioner of Initiative 122. He lives in Lake Oswego. Find out more about the initiative at www.aarp.org/or.