Do folks want forum on business?

Someone asked me recently, "What is the Grandmothers Roundtable studying?"

We have been informing ourselves about the health of the current business community. I might ask, is the patient ailing, dying or living? What are the symptoms?

Some would say we are sick, just look at the Blue Mountain Mall. It resembles a war zone. Or look at the mini mall that was started and abandoned.

A few of the new mini malls are rented and seemingly prosperous. So we could say they are living and only a few have died.

What about the living businesses? Walmart seems to thrive and keep people from leaving the community to shop. The wine tasting rooms are increasing, but the price of wine is declining here and in Napa, Calif. (I just recently returned from there and it is having a great deal of trouble with over production).

We Grandmothers have learned that not many of our youths return to the Valley after graduation, until they are ready to retire - or buy a winery.

Our unemployment rate is better than many of the counties in the state. We have made it through part of the recession with a slowdown in real estate, and the number of foreclosures have lessened in the last few months.

Several new businesses have arrived on Main Street and are succeeding. I guess what I am trying to convey and maybe make you curious about is: Do you think we will survive and grow as a community?

We are now living in a global world and it is here to stay. Can we adjust and adapt our lifestyle differently than preceding generations?

What are the business people telling us and what do you want to know? Are you interested enough to attend a forum on the topic? Speak to a Grandmother.

Robertta Hunt

Walla Walla

Windsock nation

It started with the budding Harris Poll incorrectly predicting that Thomas Dewey would beat Harry Truman in the 1948 presidential election. Lord knows where it will end.

Americans love pollsters. It's unthinkable to imagine a representative who does not query the community to determine what she or he should do. We've become a windsock nation.

This practice is not all bad, though it has significantly shifted the political climate. The original framers of the Constitution envisioned a government run by elected representatives, people governing according to their own judgment. The electorate would choose based upon character, then, having chosen, let that character represent them.

Today's elected representatives need not have character, but they must have a polling organization. They need not bring judgment, other than the judgment a windsock exhibits when it submits to the breeze.

So we see political directions shifting faster than a tango dancer. We see long-standing policies right-face or left-face or even pivot backwards, promoted by nothing more permanent than a slight shift in the wind.

When a Harvard University researcher interviewed some of the world's most successful designers, the results were clear. None of them ask their customers what they want. Why?

One responded, "Because they don't know." Nobody could know, that's why the framers put their trust in character and judgment, not popular opinion.

I consider it to be my civic duty to lie to pollsters. I also try to keep them on the line as long as possible, to slow them up. When they ask a twisted question, I ask them what the question means, how others have answered, what use my response will be put to.

When they use purposefully provocative terms, I question their meaning. I do whatever I can do to avoid becoming just another meaningless statistic. I've worked with statistical analysis long enough to understand just how unreliable it is.

Who do my representatives think they are, sniffing the wind instead of their judgment? Day-to-day, democracy should not be about voting to see which way the wind is blowing. The most important decisions are inevitably the most unpopular, and the most necessary. If my nose is out of joint about half the time, I figure it's working.

A government trying to satisfy all the electorate all the time is no government at all.

David A. Schmaltz,

Takoma Park, Md.

Hope thieves enjoy lights

About a month ago on a Sunday morning I stepped out my front door to retrieve my Union-Bulletin. I was very disappointed and upset to find all our landscape lights had been stolen. These were not ordinary lights, they changed colors.

The previous year only four of these lights had been taken, but my dear husband, knowing how much joy they brought to us, ordered another set.

We hope whoever took these lights from an elderly couple with many health issues enjoy them as much as we did. The thieves shouldn't bother to return, these lights will not be replaced.

God bless you and have a fantastic summer.

Mary Sullivan

Walla Walla

Wa-Hi's ‘Wizard of Oz' wonderful

The Wa-Hi musical, "The Wizard of Oz," was a treat for the eyes and ears. The entire cast and crew are deserving of a standing ovation for this outstanding production.

Every cast member performed above and beyond what anyone would expect of a high school student. The pit orchestra conducted by Andrew Ueckert did a fine job supporting the singers and setting the mood.

Ronda Gabbard is to be commended for doing a great job teaching the songs and coaching the singers, and Maribeth Bergstrom's costuming of the show was absolutely delightful! If you haven't seen it yet, please go and see these wonderfully talented students singing, dancing and acting their hearts out. You will not be disappointed!

Praise to director Brian Senter and all who made this show possible - and also to the Walla Walla community for so enthusiastically supporting all of the arts in our town.

Walla Walla Public Schools is appreciated for recognizing the importance of music and the arts in the education of our children and keeping them in our schools.

Christine Janis

Walla Walla

Attend meeting in Touchet

I want to encourage Touchet community members to come to the School Board meeting May 20.

Anyone concerned for the future of Touchet School needs to attend these meetings to see some of what's going on in our school right now.

It has been frustrating trying to get straight answers from administration and the Board on a number of concerns. We need to go and see for ourselves how several of these concerns are being handled - or not being handled - at this time.

A few questions I would like answered include:

How is firing a teacher not a cause for concern? How is running up over $55,000 in legal fees by administration not a cause for concern? How are lost funds (in about 39 active accounts!) not a cause for concern? How are lost records/book keeping (from a number of different accounts!) not a cause for concern? How are mistakes on payroll on a monthly basis not a cause for concern? How is the District's interference with the forming of a union for classified employees not a cause for concern?

How is the firing of most classified staff and leaving the district with no bus drivers, para educators, kitchen staff, library, office staff and custodians not a cause for concern?

How are attempts by administration to obtain student medical records without authorization, as well as student text messages and approaching students to provide information on their classmates not cause for concern? How is having administrators tell teachers to go ahead and quit their jobs if they're not happy, reasoning that there's a line of other teachers out there wanting their jobs, not a cause for concern?

And last but not least, how is the district not providing reasonable explanations to questions raised by the community members, teachers or students at board meetings not a cause for concern?

I have great faith that our teachers are always putting students' best interest above all else - even as they experience a lack of support from administrators, board members and a few in the community who form an opinion without actually looking at facts!

The facts speak for themselves. It's time for everyone in the community to be concerned! Resolution needs to take place in Touchet School. I want the Board members to take a stand and reassure us our school is going to be here in the future for our kids!

Concerned? Please come to the meetings!

Jennifer Stephens


Is combat in Iraq and Afghanistan necessary?

"Don't ask, don't tell" is not only the name of the military's sexual-orientation profiling policy that violates the rights of homosexuals, it is an apt term to describe a pervasive current American attitude toward our two ongoing wars and the military in general.

One would hardly know we are a nation involved in two wars that have taken over 5,000 American lives. We see no caskets and hear very little about the dead.

We have already fought longer in Iraq and Afghanistan than we fought in WWI and WWII combined. For what? For how much longer? Toward what ends? With what exit strategies?

Approximately two million U.S. troops have gone to war since 9/11, and as of November 2009, nearly one-half million were VA hospital patients (227,000 of whom were diagnosed with mental-health conditions).

Military installations have been beset by killings and assaults. At Fort Carson in Colorado, six soldiers from a single unit were charged in murders after returning home from combat. In addition, there are thousands of cases of drug and alcohol abuse, deep depressions and homelessness among combat veterans.

Our soldiers are doing three and four tours of duty in combat zones and, predictably, the suicide rate for people in the armed forces has doubled since 2001. Last year, 182 service members committed suicide. All the studies of the children of these multi-tour veterans are devastating.

How can we explain a general attitude of "don't ask, don't tell" among Americans toward this situation? Why are there virtually no major protests against these useless, endless, tragically expensive ($60 billion this year in Afghanistan) and ineffectual wars?

Right now we are repeatedly sending less than one percent of the population into combat that our leaders, Republican and Democrat, deem necessary.

If such combat is necessary and if we are in fact fighting these two wars because our national security can be maintained only by doing so, why is only one percent of the population called upon to do the fighting? If these wars are absolutely necessary, why shouldn't we reinstitute the draft and let the entire country bear the burden of fighting for our endangered security?

Why do I sense that if we were to reinstitute the draft, we would suddenly find out that we could leave both countries and do so in swift measure?

Patrick Henry

Walla Walla

Balloons in the sky are appreciated

Kudos, kudos, kudos to the balloon pilots.

It was a real thrill to see all those beautiful balloons in the air. All the residents at the Odd Fellows got a real treat to see them so close. It really made us have a happy Mothers Day to begin with such a surprise. It really meant a lot to all of us.

It was appreciated by all of us at Odd Fellows.

Pauline Pope

Walla Walla

Edison Truck Rally was a success

I want to acknowledge the people who participated with Edison Truck Rally. There were about 30 exhibited vehicles from our community and wonderful people willing to spend their Saturday working hard to make the truck rally a success.

Let me tell all the volunteers who worked hard to pull this off, and all the people who dared the weather ... rain and all, that the truck rally was a success. We had a nice turnout and kids did have fun.

The help was appreciated and the event more profitable than the previous truck rally and our school will benefit.

Volunteers are what makes our community such a special place.

Vicki Ostrander

Walla Walla

Don't let Willamette Valley choose representative

Things are not always as they appear - don't be fooled by what Colleen MacLeod is saying about our state Rep. Greg Smith.

Rep. Smith really does care about us, listens to what we have to say, and does all he can for us; sometimes against insurmountable odds. That is something extremely rare in the political arena today and we need to do all we can to keep him.

Just a few things Smith helped put back in the budget include keeping Eastern Oregon University open after a recommendation to close it, keeping the Milton-Freewater Armory open after a recommendation to close it, preserving FFA and 4-H after their basic funding was slated to be eliminated, sustaining adequate funding for critical access hospitals and rural nursing homes in Northeast Oregon (reimbursement rate was to be reduced 25 percent) and funding for Milton-Freewater city street improvements.

He continues to work hard for economic development and job creation legislation for small rural communities, reducing the size of government, obtaining adequate funding for assisted living care and home health care for senior citizens, and appropriate funding for education including BMCC and EOU.

A few years ago when Rep. Smith heard about the problems active military, veterans and returning troops were having with obtaining information on their benefits, and contacting the correct agencies; he organized Operation Outreach - bringing together over 20 agencies and offices to one place to assist the soldiers and veterans.

Because of his voting record in support of the major issues that are impacting them, just a few of the groups endorsing Smith are: The Oregon State Council for Retired Citizens, Associated Oregon Loggers, National Rifle Association, Oregon Right to Life, Oregon State Police Officers Association, Oregon Health Care Association and Oregon Nurses Association. The Oregon Farm Bureau recognized Smith with an "A" grade for his 2009 voting record and Associated Oregon Industries said he was a "champion for jobs and the economy" with a 95 percent voting record.

The majority of support for his opponent, Colleen MacLeod, comes from the Willamette Valley.

Senior citizens, loggers, nurses and farmers are pretty smart people - so let's take their advice. Don't let Willamette Valley choose our representative. Vote for Greg Smith. Let's keep the person who listens to us and fights for us.

Marcia Akes


Ministry health care a good option

The article in the May 9 paper, "Health insurance ministry members pay claims to other believers," describes what I consider to be really a true medical health-care insurance over any government concocted plan of force to buy into or be fined.

According to Jeff Masters of Miami, his experience of having his $30,000 medical bill paid by Health Care Ministry Insurance is working very well. I believe it is working because it is God-arched toward individual moral responsibility to be accountable for everyone's physical, mental, social, faith-care consciousness for personal health.

This kind of thinking and planning is destined to succeed whereas any lesser government plan is a plan to fail before it gets implemented as another federal and political fiasco. Such as the League of Nations failed. God was not in it.

America's thinking is in ruins for having stolen from a pragmatic Social Security program that could have come nearer to working better if absolute honesty had been employed.

Where is the integrity of government for its people to trust in expecting anything different in a plan you buy into or be fined? No government can solve a problem by the same intelligence that created it.

If we don't believe in freedom of choice, then we don't believe in freedom at all. Freedom is no more.

Phillip Monfort


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