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Byline: The Register-Guard

Honor your retirement pledge

Between Ron Saxton's guest viewpoint (Register-Guard, June 9) and the letter from Roger Tedford (letters, June 17) suggesting the pensions of public employees should be terminated, I believe a retort is warranted.

I've been a firefighter and medic in this community for just short of 25 years. I took an oath to protect and serve our citizens' lives and property, just as police officers do. I've spent this time doing my job to the best of my ability each day I've reported for duty.

I've been burned, injured and exposed to deadly diseases in the course of this career. I've held up my end of the bargain faithfully. Now it is nearly time for others to uphold theirs.

Folks like Saxton and Tedford must not know much about duty, honor or a bargain made. I no longer have much patience for men in fancy suits wanting it all their way. Men and women like me in public safety positions know a lot about the sweat, danger and fear that goes with these professions. At the same time, we honor and respect the bargain we struck with our employers to perform our duties to our best ability no matter how difficult that may become. In return, we expect a secure retirement, as agreed when we hired on.

I'm certain these two gentlemen would demand that I do my duty should they have an emergency I responded to. But duty, gentlemen, is a two-way street.



Uganda story was underplayed

I think The Register-Guard is a good paper. I count on it for local, national and international news. Recently, however, I noticed an article I almost missed.

As I was folding the paper to be put into the recycle bin, I saw part of a picture on the next to the last page of the Auto Market section. I opened the section to read a full-page story: "Nightmare in Uganda." Powerful images and a tragic story told of horrific crimes against children, as well as adults, in six paragraphs. I wondered why this story was buried on the last page of the Auto Market section. Surely, The Register-Guard must have placed a more important article in the A section where other international news is located.

Yes, there were other very important stories in the A section. However, when I came across the story on page A12 and saw the article "New puzzle mania, by the numbers" about a new game becoming a national craze in Britain, I wondered, how is this more significant than learning about the horrors happening in Uganda? How can a game be more important than accounts of people being hacked to death with their own farm tools, or 30,000 children being abused and abducted?

I am disappointed in the decision the editorial staff made about placement of the Uganda story. I will continue to look to the newspaper as a primary source for my news - I know I will just have to look harder.



Drownings bring sad memories

How many more people have to die before they do something with the ponds off Golden Gardens? I read the June 21 story about the two teenagers who drowned there with a very sickened feeling.

I know all too well what those families will go though. Eleven years ago on July 7, my beloved, much-missed 17-year-old son, John Emory, also died in those ponds.

My hands shake as I type this. My children to this day still miss their brother. My 25-year-old daughter still hasn't dealt with the pain of losing her friend and brother. My 22-year-old daughter wonders how our lives would have been had he lived. My 29-year-old son blames himself, thinking if he would have been there, he could have saved him.

The pain we felt that hot July day will burn in my heart forever. I don't blame Jesus or the other teens who were there that day. Some of them tried to save him. Others thought he was joking so his screams for help went unanswered. I just wish other families wouldn't have to go though what we did.

I watched my father cry for the first time in my life that day we said goodbye to his grandson. The church pews were filled with people who also still feel the pain.

My heart and my prayers go to those families for the pain that will follow. But I can promise it does get easier with time - until it happens again.



Support universal coverage

It is gratifying to note from a June 15 editorial in The Register-Guard that after many years of letters, opinions, articles and statistics pointing to our deteriorating and dysfunctional health care delivery system, its editors have finally acknowledged that "the situation is headed in the wrong direction!"

Inasmuch as the only solution they propose is to "capture the money being wasted by continuing reliance on emergency rooms as de facto free clinics" and "adding uninsured Oregonians to the Oregon Health Plan," one would get the impression that they have lost sight of history.

In 2002, before massive cuts in the Oregon Health Plan, there were still some 200,000 Oregonians who could not obtain coverage. Perhaps, now that the problem has been acknowledged, The Register-Guard might lend its support to a broader-based solution - universal health coverage. In the meantime, there were four bills introduced in the Oregon Senate - SB 329, which increases the number of eligible participants in the Oregon Prescription Drug Program; SB 503, relating to certificates of need; SB 778, relating to a rural health safety net; and SB 1, which provides parity in mental health care benefits. Editorial support for these bills would certainly be a welcome effort to help deal with the growing health care crisis.



Find funding for mental health

I have to agree with the sentiment that House Bill 2533, sponsored by state Sen. Bill Morrisette, D-Springfield, is likely doomed (Register-Guard, June 19).

HB 2533 calls for a "dime-a-drink" excise tax on beer to create revenue for "preventing and treating mental illness and addiction, funding related law enforcement activities, and creating and maintaining affordable, drug-free housing." One cannot reasonably expect to garner widespread support for one segment of society (beer consumers) to foot the bill for a much broader demographic (the mentally ill).

None will argue against the need to improve treatment options for the mentally ill. But HB 2533 is a tough pill to swallow. Alcohol, tobacco and gas are so overtaxed that suggesting yet another increase even raises the hackles of people who don't consume those products. A more palatable bill must be devised.

As we haggle over a funding source, the mentally ill are going without adequate treatment options. Every day, another mentally ill person is assigned to one of the state's corrections facilities at a cost to taxpayers that exceeds the cost of treatment. Many more are arrested and set free due to overcrowding in our jails. Without resources or a place to turn, they continue their quest for survival the only way they know how. The crimes escalate, the victims grow in number and the related costs steadily increase.

Clearly, we must find a viable, equitable source of funding to gain public support for effective mental health treatment outside of the corrections system.



Bills would reduce abortions

In the June 19 front-page story "Stalemate in Salem," reporter David Steves gives a list of bills bottled-up in the Oregon Legislature. I would be remiss if I didn't point out a disturbing omission, not necessarily on the part of Steves, but on the House leadership.

While the House focused its energy on legislation to limit access to safe, legal abortion, the Senate passed two bills that would reduce the need for abortions in the first place. Senate Bill 756 would require prescription drug plans to cover contraception the same as any other prescription drug. Contraception is an important piece of women's health care, for reducing unintended pregnancies as well as treatment of other health conditions. In fact, a federal court in Washington ruled in 2001 that exclusion of contraception is discrimination on the basis of gender.

SB 849, the second piece of legislation that would prevent the need for abortions, provides urgent access to emergency contraception (EC) by allowing pharmacists, in a collaborative arrangement with physicians, to directly dispense EC to women. EC is a safe, effective means of preventing unintended pregnancy. This bill received bipartisan support in the Senate with five Republican senators voting for it.

Unfortunately, these two prevention bills, which have the potential of significantly lowering the number of abortions in Oregon, have been stalled by House Speaker Karen Minnis. If Minnis were truly concerned about reducing abortions in Oregon, she would allow SB 756 and SB 849 a vote in the House before session adjourns.


Vice President of Public Affairs

Planned Parenthood

Health Services of

Southwestern Oregon

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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jun 28, 2005
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