Opening eyes to tragedy

When I started taking a Holocaust and genocide class that was offered at my high school for upperclassmen only and select few underclassmen, it changed how I view life in a sense of respect and awareness of human rights.

At most high schools you have your normal world history class that talks minimally about the Holocaust and briefly talks about other genocides that took place after the Holocaust. I believe it should be required to a level that students learn about other genocides rather than just the Holocaust, because it will change their view on abusing life and how they interact with the public.

I'm not saying let's throw a bunch of young kids into a class where they learn about mass killings and death, I am emphasizing the fact that our youth need more knowledge on what goes on in other countries then the US, even in their own state. The more people know about genocide the more likely it is for them to share how they feel and get help to the people who really need it in places like The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur. My Holocaust and genocide class changed my life by having more respect for my elders and my view on human rights in the world as a whole. My thought is both private and public schools should at least have a unit in a history class that explains some of the different genocides in our world today, like Darfur or The Democratic Republic of the Congo; with a more mature audience as in juniors, seniors, and college students. I don't believe enough people know about genocide, even our news channels only talk about what the public wants to hear. On 24 hour news channels today we hear more about how a woman saved little baby chipmunks from her car, rather then talking about the genocide in Darfur, Rwanda, and The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Think about it; when is the last time you heard about genocide in the news? The public needs to be more informed of what's going on in the world on the topic of genocide. That is why I believe education is the answer. Make it required that students need at least basic genocide knowledge, so when it does come on the news they know what it is and how to react.

You never know how a person is going to react the first time to hearing about genocide; they could be very inspired and want to start helping as much as they can but, some people get scared and think they won't be able to make a difference.

That why I think it should be required in a classroom setting so that students are able to ask questions if they get confused or need clarification. I say you won't know until you try.

Brittany Yates


Trading safety for light rail?

Through a FOIA request, the chief petitioners for the Clackamas Rail Vote Measure 3-401 received copies of a letter from Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts to the Board of County Commissioners and the text of Sheriff Roberts' testimony to the County Budget Committee, expressing his deep concern about the implications of the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail project (PMLR) for public safety and other basic county services.

The alarming information contained in these documents strikes at the very core of why the chief petitioners support a public vote on PMLR. Clackamas voters who overwhelmingly supported a public safety levy last November were not voting to free up county funding for light rail. As the sheriff stated, '...moving ahead with light rail will mean moving backwards on public safety....'

The Board of County Commissioners is ready to trade voter approved public safety for a non-voter approved light rail project. This is unacceptable. The county cannot afford to participate in the PMLR as intended. The only option is to withdraw from the Inter-Governmental Agreement and urge TriMet to scale back the project.

The Portland to Milwaukie Light Rail Project is too big, too costly, at the wrong time, with inadequate funding and lacking public support. An optional phasing of the project to terminate at Tacoma Street will reduce the financial burden for all the local partners and allow time for future economic growth to provide the adequate funding and public support not currently available.

We thank Sheriff Roberts for his dedication to public safety. We need more elected officials who are willing to stand up for the priorities defined by the voters.

Chief petitioners, Measure 3-401:

Jim Knapp

Oak Lodge Water District commissioner

Mary Olson

Lake Oswego city councilor

Steve Spinnett

Mayor of Damascus

Letter to Board of County Commissioners

You recently released a public announcement, indicating that you will move forward on May 22 with a full-funding agreement for the Orange Line. As sheriff, I feel compelled to speak out about the impact this decision will have on public safety and other essential services that the county provides to its citizens.

I am neither in favor, nor opposed, to the expansion of mass transit - provided that sufficient resources are made available to ensure the safety of the public. However, the budget implications of this decision concern me deeply.

In order to pay for its $25 million share of the Orange Line, the Board of County Commissioners will have to allocate $1.9 million from the general fund each year for the next 20 years to cover the debt service. It is my understanding that this money will come from property taxes that are currently paid into the urban renewal district around Clackamas Town Center, which is set to expire in 2013.

Those of us in public safety have been waiting three decades to see the benefits of the expiration of this urban renewal effort, and the need is especially acute at this moment in the county's history. Since fiscal year 2007-08, our budget allocation from the county's general fund has fallen far behind allocated costs, emergency dispatch rates - even inflation!

After making do for years with innovative cost cutting - as well as reductions in the training we provide for our deputies and other measures - last year we had to eliminate 18 FTE and had our first layoff in more than a decade. Having twice voted to support a public safety levy, this is clearly not the direction the citizens of Clackamas County want to see for their sheriff's office.

The construction of the Orange Line may well be a worthwhile public project. However, it does not exist in a vacuum - moving ahead with light rail will mean moving backwards on public safety, and likely other basic services to county residents.

I urge you to recognize that the initial planning for this project was developed years ago, when the local and national economy were much stronger. Since then, our economic situation has deteriorated drastically, and so I urge you to take a fresh look at whether or not this project is still in the county's best financial interest before the full-funding grant agreement is signed. Thank you for your consideration.

Craig Roberts

Clackamas County Sheriff

Don't miss the fine print

Here we go again, another small business shot in the foot.

Last month I had occasion to have some documents printed and bypassed Office Max, which is near my home, for the lovely little print shop in downtown Oregon City which has done such nice work for me in the past.

Parking was at a premium due to all the construction in the area. I noticed that the diagonal parking and the parking meters were gone and that there were '2 Hour' parking signs as I drove down the street. Nice, I thought.

I parked my car in a legal parking space in good faith, spent a maximum of 20 minutes in the print shop, and came out to discover a $20 parking citation. From my car window I had not ascertained that the signage said '2 Hour Pay to Park' with machines just like those in downtown Portland. I no longer shop in downtown Portland because of them.

When my print job is ready, I will fight the impossible parking situation one last time, and when next I need a service, I'll avoid downtown. I am disappointed that Oregon City does not value its small businesses.

Mary Gayle Van Ingen


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