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Letters: County Anti-Discrimination Policy

♦ I also agree with the Polk county commissioners rejection of the $20,000 grant.

Putting more words into an existing anti-discrimination law, so that homosexuals are singled out as someone you cannot discriminate against will only invite more and more special interest groups to have special legislation protecting them from being offended in some way.

Todd Waters

Polk County

♦ Is the Children's Trust Fund of Oregon endorsing homosexuality? Probably not.

The people working for the Trust are most likely non-discriminant.

Their choice to use the $20,000 for programs that are non-discriminant regarding homosexuals is great. It is my understanding that the Children's Trust Fund of Oregon has requested that Polk County Commissioners restate their policies to include non-discrimination based on sexuality.

How can financially supporting homosexual programs benefit children?

Take into account the many children who are confused about their sexuality and need help figuring it out. I seriously doubt any homosexual program will convince a confused child they are homosexual.

I am confident they will counsel the child for his/her best interest. Look at the children who realize they are homosexual and get smacked around and kicked out of their home by narrow-minded parents.

Don't forget the kids who are raped by a person of the same sex and believe they must be a homosexual because of that.

I have no idea what type of homosexual program or programs may benefit from this action, but I am not going to assume it will not benefit children.

I, for one, am proud that homosexuality is being recognized as a part of children's lives that needs to be acknowledged and handled appropriately.

I am sure that the Children's Trust Fund of Oregon will designate how the money is to be used, and I am sure the groups which may receive money will have to provide quarterly reports on the use of the money and the benefit to Oregon's children.

We have many rights in this great country, and one of those is the right to be ourselves regardless of race, age, sexuality and religion.

I believe we have that right without having to be publicly ridiculed by those who do not understand us or believe in our rights as well.

I am more than happy to receive blood from a homosexual man or woman as well as from a person of any religion or race.

Dori Showell

Independence

♦ It is very sad that in a time of trying to bring peace, community and understanding to our world that Paul Tanksley's letter to the editor promotes homosexual-bashing.

He suggests homosexuality and child abuse are synonymous.

Such a leap would be as misguided as blindly connecting heterosexuality as the cause of abuse to others.

But why not? After all, read the news reports of heteosexuals killing their families, abusing spouses, animals, strangers and even abusing children.

Next, Mr. Tanksley alludes that homosexuality and tainted transfusions go hand in hand, ignoring that many hetereosexuals have blood less than favorable. So what's his point?

All of us differs from one another, so should we condemn everyone?

Debbe Stein

Falls City

♦ I am appalled at the letter written in response to the decision of the Polk County Commission to decline money from the Children's Trust Fund of Oregon.

While I do not understand the commissioners' reason for declining the money, I respect their right to do so.

What I can not support is the reaction presented in the June 4 letters.

There is no data that suggests that homosexuals have a higher incident of child abuse behavior than non-homosexuals.

I work with many people that have same-sex partners and I have friends that are homosexuals. I would feel perfectly comfortable to let any of these fine people care for my children and I would gladly accept a donation of blood from them if needed.

A person's sexual preference is no threat to the future of my children and of this nation. The threat lies in people who feel that they have a right to force their beliefs on others.

Greg Showell

Independence

♦ If I or a member of my family needed blood for a medical treatment, I would be grateful of blood from any person.

I do not actually know anyone that is homosexual in our community nor do I know Paul Tanksley. I do know the Polk County Commissioners.

I was not suprised that two of the commissioners voted to turn down the $20,000 from the Children's Trust Fund of Oregon.

The condition that Polk County adopt an anti-discrimination policy would be too large a step forward for a few people in the county.

I grew up in Mississippi which is known for historic and recent descrimination against blacks. Mississippi also has its own interesting political figures such as U.S. Sen. Trent Lott.

In Mississippi, the government hid behind their values for many years to preserve the status quo. I believe that if descrimination is wrong in Mississippi, then it is wrong in Polk County.

If a person is female, black, Muslim, Spanish speaking or homosexual, that does not effect their ability to do a good job or even to donate blood ... contrary to some opinions.

However, sticking your head in the sand and claiming that action as a conservative value to be preserved does seem to limit your effectiveness at some jobs.

Tony Snyder

Dallas

♦ Your June 4 editorial, which condemns Polk County commissioners for refusing to prostitute county hiring policy to get a relatively modest $20,000 grant, ignores the hypocrisy of an inherently discriminatory funding stream (the Children's Trust Fund grant was intended only for Hispanic youth) dictating to county elected officials in the name of diversity.

Contrary to your implication, the county does have a hiring policy that complies with state law.

Beyond that, it is not unreasonable to question whether the addition of categories like cross dressing to the policy would benefit the county's impressionable juvenile clients -- or its general population.

Phil Walker

Polk County

♦ We are writing in response to the editorial written and printed by the Itemizer-Observer June 4, 2003.

As a general rule, Polk County does not respond to news articles or letters printed in the newspaper.

As county commissioners, we feel strongly that citizens have every right to present their thoughts and feelings on matters of public concern or public business.

However, the news article printed May 28 and the editorial which was printed on June 4 were both factually inaccurate, and as a result, misleading.

In fact, Polk County does -- and has for many years -- stated in writing (i.e. annual policy statement, Personnel rules) that it is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all persons without regard to a person's race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital or family status, association, disability or injured worker or veterans status. Regarding this issue, Polk County is in full compliance with all applicable state and federal laws.

The loss of revenue discussed in the editorial occurred because the Children's Trust Fund made an internal decision to require -- as a condition of grant approval -- an expansion of existing state and federal law concerning hiring practices.

In doing so, they sought to substitute the reasoned judgment of local elected leaders and the legal mandates imposed by state and federal legislators.

We, the Polk County Board of Commissioners, felt that it would be inappropriate and bad practice to alter carefully crafted and legally compliant written policy under the threat of a loss of grant funding.

Polk County continues to explore alternative funding sources for the affected program.

Polk County commissioners

Tom Ritchey

Ron Dodge

Mike Propes

♦ The editors of this paper seem to have a problem with our Polk County Board of Commissioners.

In their June 4 editorial, they argue that commissioners Dodge and Ritchey are fiscally unresponsive. They say these men are meeting the needs of the County by robbing Peter to pay Paul. They raised the question, "How many Human Services are the commissioners willing to abandon?" suggesting the County's ability to deal with domestic violence hangs by a thread.

In the same editorial the editors rail at our commissioners for not maintaining an open government. For running the risk of allowing women and children to die at the hands of abusers. Also they seem to find fault with these men because they are men of principle.

At issue is a $20,000 grant from the Children's Trust Fund that came with strings attached. Strings that our commissioners thought had the potential to cost the taxpayers far larger sums in the future than the dollars that were offered in this grant.

What was the result of their rejecting this "gift horse" and the attached strings? The county lost $20,000, but was still able to implement the program it would have funded on the basis of current revenue. There will be no dead or abused women and children, because of their failure to implement the program this grant might have funded.

While admitting this fact, the editors argue that it is robbing Peter to pay Paul, to implement this program by shifting funds from areas where there are adequate funds to establish this program.

I happen to be a great believer in robbing Peter to pay Paul. I do it all of the time. In as much as I always struggle to pay my bills I often have to put off one project, to pay off another, and I don't see anything wrong with this practice.

You might say observing fiscal discipline, or practicing fiscal responsibility requires that from time to time we rob one account to support another.

Speaking of fiscal responsibility, it should be noted that Polk County pays its bills on time. It maintains its jail, and has room in that jail to incarcerate the persons arrested in this county. We haven't been plagued with complaints that there isn't enough money coming in to carry on the necessary functions of government because our commissioners manage the county efficiently and make good use of every tax dollar we entrust to them.

It seems we are now down to a question of do we want men in office who have principles -- men who might reject offers of free money, because of attached strings.

For my part the answer to this question is yes.

I would rather the county lost a grant of $20,000 than have it buy a pig in a poke, as happened in this case.

Despite the assertions of the editors, we have an open government in Polk County. We don't discriminate in county employment and any organization wishing to do so can check up on the county's hiring practices. This opportunity was rejected by the Children's Trust Fund.

Over the past several years written policies have been the basis for a great deal of costly and unproductive litigation. It has also been the cause of some unanticipated expensive judicial mandates. There is ample protection against unfair discrimination in both federal and state statutes without our creating unnecessary policies at the county level.

Irv Blake

Dallas

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