As we anticipated after the governor's announcement rolling back managers' raises last week, we are no longer on a course for an early settlement.

Our last proposal two weeks ago was a good-faith attempt to step to the plate and share the sacrifice needed to close the state's enormous budget shortfall.

Our bargaining team is profoundly outraged and disappointed that, instead of accepting our proposal, the governor has responded with a demand for deeper and unreasonable cuts.

The state's counterproposal amounts to a 4.6 percent annual pay cut. The proposal includes:

  • 26 furlough days for all members.
  • No holiday pay on 15 paid holidays.
  • 11 furlough days on prescribed days, including two this biennium (resulting in more furlough days than some managers in this biennium).
  • Elimination of the 10th step.
  • Full step freeze.
  • All economic terms, including health care, would be in jeopardy through a re-opener that could be initiated by either party. — Phil Newton, Murphy

In his Sunday letter to the editor, Dennis Davis had a lot of fun ridiculing President Obama and the Navy's thought of using dolphins to protect the submarines in Puget Sound.

Well, he should be aware that the Navy has been training and using dolphins to protect its ships (by locating explosive charges) since at least 1972 when they were training dolphins (and sea lions) in a facility on Point Loma in San Diego.

Dolphins are considered even more intelligent than man ... which probably is true since I have never heard of a dolphin making fun of anyone or anything that they don't know about. Instead, they are noted as being a friend to man since ancient times. Whether the water is too cold in Puget Sound for dolphins would be known by oceanographers. I suggest we wait to make fun until we hear from them.

Maybe someday he will run for some political office, maybe even president. Then I can have fun too. — Jean Barber, Central Point

Gee, whiz, did I miss something? The two cops in the New York Post cartoon who shot the ape thought they were shooting the author of the bill — that is to say, Congress — but now it seems that President Obama, via Al Sharpton, is taking deference to the drawing and claiming authorship of the bill.

What am I missing? Are we going to have to put up with this every time someone references any sort of simian beast?

There is an old saying that an infinite number of monkeys armed with an infinite number of typewriters could, in an infinite amount time, produce every written work of human existence.

Well, gee, Mr. Sharpton, the whole thing does appear to be the work of an infinite number of monkeys, the lot of which should in fact be shot. Did President Obama write the bill as could be inferred from the furor over the cartoon showing the cops shooting what they thought was the author? Does Mr. Sharpton think BHO wrote it? The cartoon cops thought members of Congress wrote the bill, as did I.

What did I miss? — Charley Watson, Medford

The draft EIS for the Timber Mountain/John's Peak OHV designation is here. Scoping for this EIS began in September 2001, so it's been more than seven years. We'll have 45 days to comment on the draft.

There will be an open house at the Medford Red Lion on March 5 and a public forum at the BLM offices on Biddle Road in Medford on April 2.

Never before has the government proposed to take the peace, quiet and security of our homes from so many people. This proposed designation was first listed in BLM's 1995 Resource Management Plan by name and acreage only. The total area for the proposed designation will be more than twice the acreage of the BLM land. I encourage you to study this draft EIS carefully, particularly the issues of enforcement and protection for private landowners. — Jack Duggan, Applegate

Letters keep coming in commending the killing of the cougar (which was safely isolated and sleeping in a tree at the time) on the grounds that it might have saved a child. This despite the fact that according to official statistics there has been not a single actual attack of a human in Oregon (by a cougar) that resulted in injury.

Nevertheless, departing from all reason, we must go with emotion to the bitter end and do the only safe thing for all of us, that is to kill all wildlife to be perfectly safe from these ravenous creatures. — Harry L. Cook, Ashland

It is incredibly sad to see well-intentioned but ignorant Americans continue to try and subvert our science classrooms to further their own perverted religious dogma. Most Christians (not to mention scientists) on this planet accept evolution as the cornerstone of biology. There is no competing theory in the real world.

Fortunately, the Catholic Church officially supported evolution in the Humani Generis declaration over 50 years ago. Ninety-seven percent of the Christian clergy in England do not take the Genesis story literally, according to Religion Today. In 2006, the Episcopal Church reaffirmed that "evolution is entirely compatible with an authentic and living Christian faith." In 2002, the Presbyterians stated that "there is no contradiction between an evolutionary theory of human origins and the doctrine of God as Creator." Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism? Yup, they all support theistic evolution too.

So why do a relatively small group of fundamentalist "Christians" actually believe in dinosaur-riding people popping up suddenly 6,000 years ago? Unfortunately, creationism correlates with a lack of education, with high school drop-outs making up the largest group of "believers." Our schools need real science from real scientists. Please support facts over false prophets. — John Williams, Ashland

I lived in Detroit during my teenage and early adult years. In 1960 our nation was in an economic recession — about 9 percent unemployment throughout most of the country, but 14 percent in Detroit.

Why did it happen? Apparently, for no other reason than people had grown skittish and had hunkered down, had decided to hold on to their money.

We cannot afford to do that now. President Obama has assembled some wise heads to try to turn this ship around, but whether it works or not depends on us. If we hunker down now, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

I'm not suggesting that anyone return to old irresponsible spending habits, but we must continue to spend. And quite frankly, anyone who refuses to help because of ideological differences is stupid. If this ship goes down, we all drown. — Hartley Anderson, Medford

The trade deficit mentioned on the business page of the Mail Tribune Feb. 12 was $39.9 billion for the month of December and $677.1 billion for 2008. When are we going to stop spending money like drunken sailors? Our nation is already so far in debt to China that we'll never pay her back if we continue on this buying binge.

Now we hear all this talk about the new stimulus plan and how it will only put us deeper into debt. No nation can remain strong and free if her money is destroyed. In my opinion, we are very close to that point.

Maybe there is an agenda being worked out by men in high places to create an atmosphere of panic and insecurity that makes it acceptable by her citizens to become part of the New World Order. I sure hope not! Lord have mercy on us if that should take place. — Gordon DeVos, Medford

There have been a number of comments, mostly negative, regarding the release of family planning funds to Africa by President Obama. The major objection seems to be the possible mention of the "A" word.

Much of Africa is in dire need of population control as food and water supplies are already overtaxed. A comprehensive family planning program along with readily available contraception supplies could help make abortion the exception rather than the rule.

Another method of population control is of course death by starvation and/or disease. Which is preferable? — Harlan Moore, Medford

On Valentine's Day, my friend's son made this mistake: After a Medford police officer failed to respond at a traffic signal, he tooted the horn.

She responded and both vehicles turned onto another street. Immediately, the officer positioned her cruiser behind the son's vehicle and turned on the flashing lights.

She said she was working on a case at the stop light (computer?). The officer told him that she didn't tell him how to do his job, if he had a job (her words). She issued him a citation for unlawful use of a vehicle horn and threatened him with arrest for disorderly conduct when he told her that they would meet in court. This statement to her was made in a normal tone of voice.

Incidents such as this do nothing for the image of the Medford Police Department versus the general public, except worsen it. I hope this officer gets a little chair time if the right persons hears about this. Or, was this a good Medford cop arrest? The citation was ridiculous and very petty. Our police and court systems have time for this? — Louie Edwards, Eagle Point

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