Letters to the editor

Israel debate challenge

On the weekend of May 11, over 700 people in the Rogue Valley, from all walks of life, attended celebrations of Israel's accomplishments in her short 60 years of existence. We learned of the vast humanitarian assistance Israel provides throughout the world, how she is at the forefront of science and technology and most importantly, how Israel is unquestionably a beacon of democracy.

We also discussed our hope for achieving peace with a number of Israel's enemies, who are dedicated to ending her existence. We discussed the need for compassion and bridge-building to the Palestinian people. The tragedy continues for Israel's cousins who continue to be manipulated by extremists in their midst, preventing possibilities for peace to be realized.

These volunteer events proved yet another opportunity for one of our local anti-Israel writers to publish a letter filled with misinformation (Letters, May 6). As always he included the fact that he is Jewish, seemingly to achieve some level of credibility.

How can you, the reader, possibly know who to believe? I propose a public discussion or debate with this gentleman and those who stand in agreement with him. It would provide an opportunity for in depth discussion around this complicated topic rather than 250 word sound bites filled with false rhetoric and slogans that are, in reality, pure propaganda designed to misinform the public.

I invite those who are interested to get in touch with me via any of the local rabbis to work out the logistics.

Gary Acheatel

Ashland cannot fence off its toxins

Here in Ashland, the railroad has decided that a large section of land just north of A St. is unsafe for people or pets to use as a walking ground. The small placard on the fence explains that heavy metals and toxins such as arsenic and timber preservatives have leached into the soil. It offers a website and a phone number to call for more information. I checked both and could find no adequate explanation as to what is being done, other than simply fencing off the area.

My concern is that every day I see people inside the fence walking their dogs, riding bikes and just taking a stroll in this toxic yard. Since the fence was put up in late 2006, vandals consistently create holes in the fence to enter this area, which was free to roam less than two years ago.

If the site is so toxic, how can the city stand by and watch its citizens be poisoned by an industry who has clearly shown they will do nothing to fix these problems in a timely fashion?

Recently, a concerned citizen of Ashland posted a board near the fence explaining how a community with a similar problem cleaned their toxic site with fungus. Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti () led volunteers in completely rehabilitating the site over the course of three years. In total 170 community members volunteered their time to the project.

I challenge the City of Ashland to begin the process of restoring this land by contacting Paul Stamets. He has done this many times and can easily direct the process. We must stop simply fencing off our problems. We must solve them. It is the only path left to take.

Chris Perme

Questioning the defense of Art

Interesting to see that Ralph Temple of the ACLU is such a big fan of serial litigator Art Bullock. But thousands of words of legal "brevity" (Tidings guest opinion, May 9 and 10) fail to make a convincing case that Bullock is somehow just a poor misunderstood leading citizen of Ashland.

Bullock has the distinction of taking the city to court numerous times on lost causes and (surprise!) losing every time.

He then lashes out by making unprovable accusations of dishonesty and malfeasance against various city officials, including former City Administrator Gino Grimaldi, City Recorder Barbara Christensen, former City Attorney Mike Franell, former Public Works Director Paula Brown and current City Attorney Richard Appicello.

Bullock goes further and distributes such allegations to the whole city in his election time "newspaper," which evidently voters totally discount as glaringly biased. These antics all contribute to Bullock's notoriety and lack of credibility.

But even stranger is that the ACLU leaps to the defense of poor Art in Ralph Temple's two-part submission to the Tidings. Temple may have been a capable civil liberties attorney 30 years ago, but it is disturbing to see him embedded with the lunatic fringe of small town politics. ACLU supporters and contributors have to wonder why defending poor Art is a valid priority in these times with so many vital civil liberties concerns at stake.

Paul Copeland

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