Want to help Oregon water, parks and wildlife? Just sign a petition to qualify the water, parks and wildlife initiative for the November ballot. This initiative renews the current dedication of 15 percent of Oregon Lottery revenues for providing clean water, maintaining/constructing parks, healthy fish and wildlife habitats.

Overwhelmingly passed by Oregon voters in 1998, without another vote of the people these funds will expire.

For more than 10 years these funds have been restoring habitats, acquiring natural areas, creating and improving state and local parks, creating land trusts and funding local watershed councils. Table Rocks, U.S. Cellular Park, Lone Pine Park, Lane County's Armitage Park and Campground, and the new Stub Steward State Park are a few of hundreds of examples. All with no increase in taxes and no cuts to other vital services, while providing jobs and creating nearby affordable recreation.

Sixty thousand signatures of Oregon voters are needed by June 30 to place the initiative that renews Oregon's only funding source dedicated to water, parks and wildlife on the November 2010 ballot. Commit to Oregon's future by signing a community volunteer's petition. For more information contact Robert Garnett, Jackson County volunteer coordinator, rcg@seanet.com, or volunteer Gaylene Hurley, gaylenehurley@charter.net. — Gaylene Hurley, Medford

It seems that Americans have begun to trust the government more than themselves.

Considering the current debate over who should control our health care, I fear the worst. The argument is not over health care reform, but over who will control one-sixth of our nation's economy. I can understand how some might distrust some corporations, but at least we can choose not to do business with corporations. But with government in control, we have no choice.

It seems that those who complain about the recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to support political candidates don't recognize that corporations are made up of people, just like the government. Why should we trust politicians any more than businessmen? Who is more dangerous, a greedy corporate executive or a power-hungry politician?

If only we had honorable public servants, akin to our forefathers, the answer to these questions might be different. Unfortunately, promises of transparency give way to secrecy. Guarantees of eliminating special interest groups only transfer power to new special interests; from corporations to unions and community organizations.

Corporations exist to make money providing desirable goods and services. Their motives are clear. Can we say the same for our politicians? — Jon L. Hornbeck, Central Point

As I listen to the constant drumbeat of the tea party's love for this country, I wonder if these folks have ever thought that others besides themselves love the United States and are concerned about the direction this country is heading.

To be blunt, I think the tea partiers are a group of whites who cannot grasp the fact that Obama is the president of the United States and that the "rules of engagement have changed." No longer is it a given that a white man will lead this country.

In the future, as a black man who lived through blatant segregation of the last century and who also served in the armed forces, unlike most tea partiers, I am really ticked off that, in some people's eyes and for some reason, my love for this country is not as valid as theirs. — Lindsay Paulk, White City

Do our politicians and political pundits have the authority to invalidate our citizenship? Of course not. But that is oftentimes what they do rhetorically when they start sentences with "The American people ... ."

The health care debate is a perfect example. Think our current system is OK and the meddling politicians can only make it worse? You're out because we all know that "the American people" absolutely want health care reform. Prefer a single-payer system or at least the public option? Ditto, because "the American people" have rejected these plans, too.

The positions of the American people (rare legitimate usage) on political and social issues range from left to right and everywhere in between. They're even reflected in the members of Congress. So I guess many of our senators and representatives aren't "American people" either. — Stan Loer, Grants Pass

Every person in America with even a minimum of respect for our police officers will long remember that it was Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and no one else, who released convicted rapist Maurice Clemmons from prison, enabling this lifelong criminal to murder four police officers last December.

For decades, Huckabee has shown himself to be a shallow, blatant opportunist with frighteningly poor judgment and low morals, pandering to his base of zealots and gun nuts. Twelve years ago, this politician freed yet another violent rapist who soon afterward committed two vicious murders. For those of you keeping score, that's two convicted rapists who committed at least six murders after Mr. Soft-on-Crime turned them loose. "Poor judgment" doesn't even come close to describing the governor's actions.

Apparently, Huckabee never gave any thought at all as to why Clemmons received a 103-year prison sentence. It was society's strongest possible way of ensuring that this sick, violent predator could never victimize innocent people again. Because of the misguided, stupid actions of one governor, six law-abiding Americans are dead. Yet the person who allowed this to happen will never do any jail time. Amazing. — James Snyder, Medford

"We are the only industrialized nation without national health care" was the cry in Congress in 1913. Ninety-seven years later, the situation is suddenly so urgent that any arrangement, no matter how grievous, must be imposed immediately. One would suppose that after 97 years a really good plan would be enjoying overwhelming popular support. Clearly a plan that actually meets the needs of a free people has yet to be offered. Ninety seven years ago, the issue was political and today it is no less so.

The world is replete with health care plans. None is without problems and failures, most have positive aspects, ours included.

We are now being asked — or, rather, told — to be accessories to murder by requiring public money to be spent on elective abortion. This issue is so important that Obama and Pelosi will probably lose their health care takeover efforts because of it. Hopefully.

We the people need to call all our congressmen and demand that 97 years of debate produce a decent solution to our health care needs or we will simply elect different people until we get representation that is actually competent. — Jerry Ross, Grants Pass

How do I say thank you for the recent generosity and kindness of Sandy and Ken Scales of Ken Scales Automotive, Ken Culver of Bullet Machine, Keller Motor Supply, together with so many other local businesses and personal friends of my late husband, Darrell Cooper? Darrell's lifelong passion was car racing, and building racing engines. Darrell left behind one unfinished project: rebuilding a 388 small-block Chevy motor.

Bullet Machine together with Scales Automotive took it upon themselves to complete the work and raffle off the motor! All done in Darrell's memory! Darrell would be so appreciative and thankful to all the people who remembered him and his work and joined in the raffle.

Again, words cannot express how thankful I am for all the kind people who remembered and honored Darrell and I know how grateful he would be also! Thanks again to all of you kind people. — Arlene Cooper, Eagle Point

I am very grateful for the paper having letters to the editor for folks to express themselves.

I am very grateful to all the people who do so much in the road department who keep our roads in good shape.

Also, the fire department lets the children tour the fire department, and the libraries have story time for the children.

We have so many wonderful people. — A.H. Burns, Talent

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