The May 23 lead editorial, "Salwasser deserves our confidence," is a sorry commentary on the abuse of science and public funds by Oregon State University's Forestry Dean Hal Salwasser. It is even a sadder commentary on how we allow the aiding and abetting of a timber agenda at our own local university.
A long string of e-mails between Hal Salwasser and the timber industry has been well established. Imagine if Salwasser had such a list of e-mails with environmental groups? The Gazette-Times would be up in arms with claims of "overt environmentalism?" Instead, Salwasser is found to be communicating with Chris West, vice president of the American Forest Resources Council lobby. They are fond of cutting ancient forests, have fought the listing of endangered species and decry the protection of roadless areas. Just go to the AFRC website and read with amazement - science be damned.
I once thought that Hal Salwasser should resign. He should be fired.
Even the May 23 editorial commented about Salwasser's e-mails that they "revealed his personal bias against environmentalists, whom he refers to in one e-mail as goons." Salwasser has broken trust with his public funders, the taxpayers.
For too long, the words "forest science" at OSU have been used to justify mass clearcuts, the spraying of herbicides, short rotation forestry and the downplaying of ecological concerns. Science refers to the scientific method - a process for evaluating empirical knowledge. Halwasser's manipulation of science to accommodate timber interests is hiding in plain sight.
John F. Borowski
Move past controversy at OSU's College of Forestry
I have been following the controversy surrounding the (Daniel) Donato salvage logging research study at Oregon State University's College of Forestry these past several months, and I have been anxiously waiting to hear voices of calm and reason raised in the debate. I found one in the May 23 editorial, "Salwasser deserves our confidence."
I agree with the points made in the editorial. Hal Salwaser is a person of honesty, integrity and courage. When he makes mistakes, he admits to them and stands up and takes the heat. More important, he learns from them.
It is clear that there is a deep divide within the school of forestry that the Donato research project exposed. It appears that it has grown since the research paper was published.
Dean Salwasser has spent much of that time trying to pull the college back together again so it can move forward. It is time for everyone involved in this controversy at the forestry college to help him do that.
As an Oregonian and a family forestland owner, I am interested in the management and protection of Oregon's public and private forests. I depend on the forestry college as a prime source of research, undergraduate and graduate teaching and Extension Service outreach; not just to help me meet my own goals on my forestland, but also to help meet our collective goals on public lands.
It's time for the forestry college to mend its fences and get back to the work that we depend on.
Keeping rusty old Van Buren Bridge not worth it
The Van Buren Bridge is clearly under-maintained and no longer functions to open, having been welded shut by the Oregon Department of Transportation on the last and failed attempt to open it in 1982. The bridge constricts three lanes of traffic to one, is load limited and scores only 16 out of 100 on ODOT's bridge viability scale.
Oregon's State Historical Preservation Association (SHPA) may require ODOT to leave the Van Buren Bridge in place because of the bridge's deemed historical significance. Unless firm commitments for adequate maintenance are secured, ODOT may be left with no other option than to eventually abandon the bridge in place and remove access of any kind to the Van Buren Bridge, including foot and bicycle. This would be fulfilling their obligation to minimize the public liability potential from a bridge crossing that is not adequately maintained and deemed unsafe.
Any new bridge is required to accommodate foot and bicycle traffic, regardless of whether we keep the Van Buren Bridge. The three bridge option makes us pay double for this feature.
The funding for a foot/bicycle-only bridge must come from local sources other than ODOT. The Linn County Commissioners have clearly stated their recommendation for the two bridge option, so we should expect no funds from that source.
Is Benton County, the City of Corvallis or any other group prepared to provide necessary funds, into perpetuity, for the Van Buren Bridge?
I do not want a rusting abandoned bridge on our riverfront. Do you?
John H. Mills
Military atrocities are repeated when condoned
Reading reports of the systematic massacre of defenseless civilians by U.S. Marines in Haditha, Iraq, brings to mind the equally repugnant events in the Vietnam village of Mai Li in 1968. In both cases, U.S. Marines lost their perspective and systematically murdered innocent civilians, including women and children. Eventually, the perpetrators of the Haditha event will be tried and punished. However, too often it is only those who actually commit these acts who are punished.
In the Vietnam case, enlisted men and one captain were found guilty.
Those who planned the war, who abandoned diplomatic means to resolve the spread of Communism in southeast Asia, who lied to the American people, and who had no plan for resolving it, also should have been held responsible.
So it is with the murders of civilians in Iraq. Enlisted personnel will be held responsible and punished, but what of the politicians who sent them there in the first place? Responsibility for atrocities such as these are more attributable to the president and his co-conspirators. Had these marines not been sent into combat, neither mass murder would have taken place. In war, it's the enlisted or the drafted personnel who pay the price with their lives, limbs and loss of focus, while the real responsibility lies with the commander-in-chief and his underlings.
My question is: Had there been a precedent for laying blame where it truly belongs, would President Bush have been so cavalier in deciding to invade Iraq in the first place?
Oregon must forge own health plan path
Vermont has followed Massachusetts in promoting universal health insurance. Oregon should not go in lockstep down that exact road.
Health insurance rakes somewhere around 20 percent of payments for profits and huge amounts of cost in time and money are spent by health systems trying to deal with the array of different requirements for billing those insurances.
Because the goal of private insurance is to provide as little service as possible, huge gaps of care exist, even for those who have insurance. Cost already is out of control, and the Vermont and Massachusetts experiments are highly likely to fail because of that, setting back the appropriate efforts of citizens there (and perhaps here, as well).
We should promote a public service health-funding system, keeping the current private provider system. A variety of methods of paying for this are reasonable, but I like the idea of a "sliding scale" premium, with no cost for low-income families and individuals and full premiums for those with higher incomes.
Cost and quality control measures without oppressive cuts in health systems and professional funding should be created. The Archimedes Movement and HealthCareforAll, among other organizations, are working on moving Oregon in that direction.
Henry Elder M.D.
U.S. war crimes unprecedented
The present administration's misbehavior has ruined our reputation globally.
Their lies, illegal war in Iraq, torturing of prisoners and the like, have no precedent in our previous history. It's time that they be brought to justice for their crimes.