Today I joined 60 elected city, school, education, county and state officials from 27 counties, representing every corner of the state and every congressional district in Oregon, in signing on to a letter being sent to Oregon's Congressional delegation. The letter urges the Oregon delegation to direct the Bush Administration to bring our armed forces home from Iraq and to cut off the funds for the Iraq War.
From Tillamook to Umatilla...Wallowa to Curry Counties...60 rural and urban elected officials united in saying it's long past time to bring the troops home.
Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson brought the letter in person to the Eugene Federal Courthouse offices of Senators Wyden and Smith and Rep. Peter DeFazio today at 10:00 a.m.
This effort by Commissioner Sorenson builds off of the strong bipartisan message that Speaker Jeff Merkley and the Oregon legislature sent to Congress with House Joint Memorial 9 in the 2007 session.
As Chair of the Public Safety Subcommittee of Ways and Means, which oversees the Oregon National Guard budget, I've seen how the war has severely strained the capacities of Oregon National Guard and reserves. Equipment readiness has dropped below 40 percent, with a shortage of more than 300 trucks critically required to respond to state disasters.
But this is not just a Willamette Valley issue. Umatilla Mayor David Trout who signed onto the letter said in a release statement today:
"Among us are those in cities where basic infrastructure is badly in need of rebuilding and repair; and those in cities where libraries have closed for lack of funds; and in counties where budget cuts have forced long time employees out of work; where parks have been shut down and essential services are at risk. We continue a massive involvement in conflict overseas, while we cannot solve our own pressing domestic issues."
Rural America is home to a disproportionate number of soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq. The New York Times reported in July of 2005 that of the soldiers who have died in Iraq nearly two-thirds came from more rural, less densely populated counties. Rural Oregon is paying a high price for this war, both in terms of human costs and lost investment in economies and human services.
The U.S. is at a critical deciding point in the future of the war in Iraq. General Petreus has called for the U.S. to stay the course in Iraq but the elected officials who have signed this letter and many others around the country are urging Congress to vote against further funding for the Iraq war when the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill comes up for a vote in Congress later this month or early in October.
Here's the letter.
Letter to Congress & Signers
Dear Member of Congress:
We are elected city, school, education, county and state officials in Oregon sending this letter to Oregon's congressional delegation, urging you to direct the Administration to bring our Armed Forces home from Iraq and to cut off the funds for the Iraq War. We want to add our voices to those of the group of Oregon county commissioners who initiated this message on June 22, 2007.
The Administration put forward the purposes of removing a dictator from power and removing a perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction. If these were once valid reasons to send troops abroad, they are no longer valid reasons. Our brave Armed Forces--including a disproportionate number from our state and communities--are now seen as an occupation force and they continue to be placed in harm's way for no apparent reason. Congress has the "power of the purse" and must assert its responsibility to do what is right and just. We call on you to act in support of the safe and careful withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. This is the best way to "support our troops".
As elected officials, we are struggling to provide basic services at a time when the Iraq War's costs are mounting. We have been told by federal officials, time and time again, that federal funds for roads, schools, economic development, housing, corrections, tuition assistance, law enforcement, health care, mental health and all other purposes are limited because of the Iraq War. We are told to find "offsets" as the cost of the Iraq War explodes. The former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, was asked -- at the beginning of the Iraq War -- what the cost of the Iraq War would be. At the time, he estimated the cost at $50 billion. As a Nation, we had spent $440 billion by June 2007. Oregon's proportionate share of that cost was over $3.7 billion. Even after the bloodshed ends, we and our sons and daughters will continue to pay for this war and the care of physically and mentally wounded veterans as part of the National debt.
We represent a large and growing number of Oregonians who, for many reasons, understand the need to stop this war. Among us are those who mourn the deaths and injuries of our neighbors. Among us are those who mourn for the deaths and destruction suffered by the Iraqi people, and those who believe the war is counter to the true long term interests of the American people. And among us are those in cities where basic infra-structure is badly in need of rebuilding and repair; and those in cities where libraries have closed for lack of funds; and in counties where budget cuts have forced long time employees out of work, where parks have been shut down and essential services are at risk. We continue a massive involvement in conflict overseas, while we cannot solve our own pressing domestic issues.
Please urge the Administration to bring our Armed Forces home from Iraq and please cut off funds for the Iraq War except those which are necessary for safe and prompt withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq.
Very truly yours,
Patricia Daniels, City Councilor, Corvallis.
Bill York, City Councilor, Corvallis.
George C. Grosch, City Councilor, Corvallis.
Mike Beilstein, City Council, Corvallis
Tim Dehne, Director of Soil and Water Conservation District, Benton County,
Matt Donohue, Board member, 599J School Board, Corvallis.
Annabelle Jaramillo, Benton County Commissioner, Philomath.
Jim Needham, City Councilor, Molalla.
Joyce Compere, City Councilor, Astoria.
Jim Raskin, City Council President, Cannon Beach.
Joe Lewis, Scappoose School Board, Scappoose.
Mike Claassen, City Councilor, Bandon.
John Hewitt, City Councilor, Port Orford.
Linda Johnson, City Councilor, Bend.
Peter Gramlich, City Councilor, Bend.
Elizabeth Belmont, Oakland School Board, Oakland.
Ed Francis, Oakland School Board, Oakland.
Katherine Goodwin, Oakland School Board, Oakland.
Dale Thompson, Mayor, Condon.
William B. Harrington, Councilor, City of Prairie City.
Peter Buckley, State Representative, District 5, Ashland
James W. Lewis, Mayor, Jacksonville.
Dave Gilmour, M.D., Jackson County Commissioner
Mike Ahern, Jefferson County Commissioner, Madras
Dave Toler, Josephine County Commissioner.
Bob Litak, Three Rivers School Board.
David Crider, Crescent Rural Fire Protection District, Klamath County
Pete Sorenson, Lane County Commissioner, Eugene.
Bill Fleenor, Lane County Commissioner, Mapleton.
Kitty Piercy, Eugene Mayor.
Bonny Bettman, Eugene City Councilor.
Andrea Ortiz, Eugene City Councilor.
Betty Taylor, Eugene City Councilor.
Alan Zelenka, Eugene City Councilor
Vicki Walker, State Senator, Dist. 7, Eugene
Paul Holvey, State Representative, Dist 8, Eugene
Charles Martinez, Board member, Eugene School District 4J,
Carol Horne-Dennis, Lane Educational Service District Board, Eugene
Leslie Rubinstein, South Lane School Board, Cottage Grove,
Peter Howison, M.D., City Council President, Dunes City,
Diane Conrad, City Councilor, Cottage Grove,
Don Hampton, Mayor, Oakridge,
Bill Hall, Lincoln County Commissioner, Newport.
Mark Camara, City Councilor, Toledo.
Ray Weldon, Lebanon City Council.
Bill Burgess, Marion County Clerk.
Maria Rojo De Steffey, Multnomah County Commissioner, Portland.
Jeff Cogen, Multnomah County Commissioner, Portland.
Chip Shields, State Representative, District 43, N/NE Portland
Randy Leonard, Portland City Council.
Steve Milligan, Monmouth City Council.
Tim Josi, County Commissioner Tillamook County
David Trott, Mayor, Umatilla, Oregon.
Marjorie Iburg, City Councilor, Pendleton.
Sharon Sherlock, City Councilor, Enterprise.
Mark Lacey, City Council, Joseph.
Bill Lennox, Wasco County Commissioner, The Dalles.
Dick Schouten, Washington County Commissioner, Beaverton.
Jack Lorts, Council President, Fossil City.
Ginger Williams, City Councilor, Carlton.
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By Chip Shields
Sept. 13, 2007
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