Letters to the editor

Misquote in ice rink story

I was pleased to read the Nov. 27 article titled, "Under the stars ... for now," regarding the ice rink in Lithia Park. I thought the article was well written except for my unfortunate quotes. I am embarrassed and must apologize to the 20 committee members along with everyone else in the Rogue Valley who unselfishly contributed to help bring Southern Oregon its first ice rink.

I would never claim to have been the sole individual to have raised the money to purchase the ice rink. I would also like to clarify my second quote, which was very confusing, even to me. I was simply offering a new concept for a permanent roof structure as the old tent style cover was destroyed last winter.

I was trying to describe the concept of constructing a permanent open air roof structure which would span the entire parking lot (tastefully designed), provide better viewing during the skating season and offer year round protection from the elements. Even when the ice rink is down for the season, the parking lot could perhaps still be used for an occasional and city sanctioned activity.

Eleven years ago, many people volunteered their time and donated money to make the Lithia Park Ice Rink a reality. I hope they will join me again and generously contribute to update the rink. If you are interested in getting involved with this project, please feel free to contact me.

Bow Seltzer

Ashland needs hearings officer

I once worked as a planner in an Oregon County office that had instituted a land use decision-making process using expertise of an official called a Hearings Officer (HO: a land use attorney on contract to the county). The idea was to begin having local land use decisions based on legal issues, not political ones.

Elected officials rarely have experience and/or background to make legal land use decisions. Legal decisions are based on applicants meeting legal code. HO Appeals cost about $2,500 and go directly to the Land Use Board of Appeals, the "last word body" of Oregon land use decisions. Appeals must be based on the fact that local land use law has been broken or ignored.

Politicians administer Ashland land use decisions. Decisions are thus mired in inexpensive appeals, based on issues not legally binding. Legal appeals place burden of legal proof on the appellant. Expensive appeals are therefore not considered lightly; the "little guy" that cannot afford high fees should consult with protesting neighbors. If neighbors do not financially back an appellant, is there really a contentious issue?

The HO hears only legally contentious issues. Policy decisions like general plan change requests are the only matters considered by politicians. Planning staff, the local land use experts, decide all Type I, II, and III requests that do not generate legally binding contention during review; the HO hears the remainder. The result? Local staff is free of dealing with the minutia inevitably arising from politically made decisions. Staff is then allowed to perform their assigned duties associated with managing growth.

Eric Heesacker

Politicians should stop playing games

I understand that the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, is being needlessly delayed by the Armed Services Conference Committee because of a partisan dispute over a non-relevant provision dealing with an expansion of "hate-crimes" legislation that has absolutely nothing to do with national defense.

I encourage you to do everything you can to get members of the conference committee to strike this non-relevant partisan provision and complete action on the NDAA conference report. They are playing brinksmanship and I want them to stop it.

Our brave troops deserve and should expect nothing less than the full support of Congress. Please move HR 1585 as a "clean bill" as soon as possible.

Katrina Schumann


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