Clackamas County commissioners listened to a large group of people testify last Thursday evening, including a member of the AMR Board of Directors who testified that every employee voted to take a 2 percent decrease in their salaries to be able to submit a very competitive bid.

Their bid was 19 percent lower than Metro West and the AMR employees decrease was a win or lose decrease in their income! In the end County Board Chairman John Ludlow, County Commissioner Tootie Smith and Commissioner Jim Benard (who had received campaign money from Metro West, voted for the Metro West contract against the majority of citizens who testified and sent in letters supporting AMR.

Commissioners Savas (who is campaigning for his seat) and Schrader (who had received small donations from Metro West) voted no.

Since Tootie Smith is campaigning for Kurt Schrader’s Congressional seat and Mr. Benard is trying to hold onto his board seat, one can only assume that Mr. Bernard hopes to get more large contributions as well as Ms. Smith! Is anyone tired of seats being bought instead of being voted on by the voters? It is ludicrous that Ms. Smith, who just joined the board, thinks she is now qualified to be a U.S. representative. Commissioner Smith, where are the “shovel-ready jobs” you campaigned on a year ago?

Jeanne Freeman

Unincorporated Clackamas

Voter wishes ignored

When Chairman John Ludlow and Comissioner Tootie Smith were elected to represent Clackamas County, they were supposedly going to change the landscape of politics as usual and follow the voters’ wishes.

They were going to listen to the people. They initially did this and encouraged the people to vote on TriMet contracts. But since then they seem to be ignoring the opinions of the people.

The recent rejection of the legal American Medical Response bid for ambulance services for Clackamas County shows this. Citizens have overwhelmingly supported AMR, which has given outstanding service to Clackamas County for years.

The excuse was “needed competition” in the bidding process. Anybody that has been following this project knows that this is a “red herring.” AMR submitted the only legal bid and has negotiated with the county to give them everything required. So, why then did they throw out this legal bid?

Jim Bernard is up for reelection, and Tootie Smith is running for Congress. It will be very interesting to see if the ambulance service Metro West, the competitor of AMR, supports them with campaign contributions.

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it may very well be.

Larry Haverkamp

Oregon City

Cigarettes and meat

Last Friday, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon General’s first report on health hazards of cigarette smoking, his office released a report linking smoking to several new chronic diseases. In addition to the previously-known lung and oral cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease, the new diseases include diabetes, erectile dysfunction, cancer of the colon and liver, and stroke.

The parallels between cigarette smoking and meat consumption are uncanny:

1. The chronic diseases linked to both activities and the associated costs of medical care and lost productivity are comparable;

2. The first government reports warning consumers about health hazards of cigarette smoking and meat consumption were issued in 1964 (by Surgeon General) and in 1977 (by Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs), respectively;

3. The first warning labels on cigarette and meat packaging were required in 1966 and 1994, respectively;

4. Both activities are discouraged by health advocates and both are declining.

But there is one important difference: the meat industry impacts more state economies with a stronger Congressional clout than the tobacco industry. Consequently, a Surgeon General’s report on the hazards of meat consumption is most unlikely.

Our health remains our personal responsibility.

Charlie Richter


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