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Sunnyside Police Officer Jim Ortiz was on the scene yesterday when 11-year-old Nora Gonzalez was shot in the forehead with a small-caliber handgun at her cousin's home at 713 South Fourth Street. Gonzalez later died at Harborview Medical Center. The cousin is in custody at the Yakima County Juvenile Detention Center awaiting official charges in connection with Gonzalez's death.
   

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Once again Sunnyside is made to look like a joke to the rest of Yakima County. I am referring to the little poem by our local councilman, Bruce Ricks, in the latest editions of the Yakima Valley Business Times and the Daily Sun News.

Mr. Ricks, please start concerning yourself with city issues and quit bad mouthing agencies that don't agree with your sanctimonious views. Not all of Sunnyside agrees with you.

Maybe you should try working with the other agencies and stop with the "If it's not my way, hit the hiway" attitude. That attitude alone has cost the city in revenue dollars. No wonder people give our city a wide berth when it comes to relocating businesses and opportunities.

And to Sue and Rob Rice, congratulations on your new business. It will definitely be a great asset to the Lower Valley. I wish you both nothing but success.

/s/ Patty S. Denson, Sunnyside

Stockwell great city manager

I find it most interesting talking to citizens of Sunnyside. The populace of Sunnyside has so many opinions on so many subjects concerning our fine city.

Recently, everywhere I go I hear people talking about the purchase of the Monson feedlot. Several people say the purchase was the right thing to do, but they should have bought the mill, too. Others say it was a waste to have bought it at all.

Well, to me it doesn't matter. The smell of manure to me is much more refreshing than most of this perfume women wear. But if this community wants to move forward and not become stagnant as far as economic development goes, it was the right move.

It seems as though being the city manager surely must be a thankless job. Bob Stockwell has done more for this city as far as economic development goes than any manager in the last 20 years. He has grabbed the reins and led the way. I am not saying the others weren't good managers. The others were more appeasing type managers.

It just seems to me that some groups of people in town want their projects done immediately. This city has fallen so far behind in the last decade that it will take time to get to where we should be. I personally think Stockwell is a great manager and we will see some great movement forward with this city manager.

But for you that don't, I am setting up a collection at the intersection of Sixth and Edison. Just throw your money in that manhole. I will collect the money and buy Stockwell a magic wand!

/s/ Don Padelford, Sunnyside

Image vs. character

Recently, a contributor to this Forum column wrote in espousing the "presidential charisma" of candidate Kerry. He specifically referred to how well Mr. Kerry looked and acted in the third presidential debate. The writer seemed to be most impacted by the image Sen. Kerry portrayed.

In this media saturated culture it seems that image is "everything." Granted, looks are important but when it comes to picking a president for our nation we need to look beyond the pretty package.

If we look back at two examples of previous presidents, we can point to glaringly stark contrasts. Remember Ronald Regan. What a gentleman. A man with rock-solid principles, a fantastic marriage and a man whose word was as good as his handshake. Even his enemies, such as Gorbachev, came to respect him.

Contrast Reagan with Bill Clinton. Even before he won the presidency, a parade of "bimbos" gave witness to Clinton's marital indiscretions. Foreign leaders mocked him behind his back. As Commander in Chief, Clinton gutted the military. For example, he reduced active Air Force personnel from 650,000 to 240,000 people during his two terms. Many of the best officers voluntarily took early retirement rather than serve under a man they could not respect. And then to top it all, he lied in court and to the American people. His own state took away his license to practice law.

So what does this have to do with the 2004 election?

President Bush is a man of his word. He has principles and integrity. He stands for what he believes. Our military loves him as Commander in Chief. And he has a fantastic marriage.

Then there's Sen. Kerry. Fresh from his four-month tour (others served one year) in Vietnam, he went before a Congressional hearing and confessed to war crimes while still a commissioned officer. Then he accused those he served with of crimes against civilians without one shred of evidence. He has voted against bills supporting new weapons and funding for the military. Yet, he claims that he has all the qualities to instill loyalty by our soldiers who daily lay their lives on the line to defend us from those who want to kill us and take our freedom. Give me a break!

Finally, I want to remind my neighbors how ancient Israel's leader, David, was chosen. After all of Jessee's handsome sons had been paraded before Samuel, one little shepherd boy became one of the greatest kings in all history. When Samuel asked God why He chose David, God told Samuel that "Men look on the outside (image) of a man, but the Lord looks on the heart (character) of a man."

/s/ Rick Herndon, Sunnyside

Defending Kerry an attack on Vietnam veterans

I was watching TV the other night when a representative from the Veterans Administration was asked whether Sen. John Kerry was telling the truth in 1971, or whether the "Swift Vets for Truth" were. This man said that John Kerry was telling the truth.

I was shocked. My understanding is that even Kerry has said that he had no firm knowledge of atrocities to back up what he said back in 1971. He admits that he stretched the truth. So why would one of our representatives say that Kerry told the truth.

I was in college in 1971 and I remember how hard it hit me when Kerry told those lies. I also remember that Congress was so upset by what Kerry had told them that they called in Telford Taylor from Columbia Law University in New York to investigate the atrocities being committed in Vietnam. You might recall that Taylor was the chief prosecutor during the War Crimes Trials in Nuremberg, Germany at the end of WWII.

After Taylor's investigation he said that he found very few cases of true atrocities taking place in Vietnam. He did say that many times our soldiers had killed civilians, but in almost every case he investigated he found that it was not an atrocity at all. He said that these incidents were very sad and hard for soldiers to deal with, but they were not a crime according to the Geneva Convention. The civilians were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that the aim was not to kill the civilians just for the joy of it. In fact, most soldiers felt guilty for having killed innocent people during firefights. It was not their intent.

In the end Taylor said the Rules of Engagement were impeccable. He said the Rules of Engagement were so impeccable that he found it difficult to believe that soldiers would follow them, as it would cost them their lives to do so. Taylor said that the way in which we fought the war caused many soldiers to lose their lives, in order that civilians would be spared theirs. And he said that he felt that was unacceptable during war. In the end he said the Vietnam War was the cleanest war that America had ever fought; that it had the fewest atrocities by any measure compared to other wars; and that he found a renewed sense of awe for those who were fighting the war, even though he was firmly against it.

To my knowledge no one has disputed Taylor's assessment of the war with regards to war crimes having been committed by our troops, so why would one of our representatives say that Kerry was "right" back in 1971, referring to our fellow soldiers as war criminals?

I think John Kerry threw gasoline on the fire back in 1971. He convinced people that Jane Fonda was right. And that caused the war protesters to harass the returning soldiers on college campuses at a higher level than what they had been doing before. I know, I was there. After Kerry spoke to Congress in 1971 it was very ugly for the veterans who were attending college and trying to further their education.

In 1971 I remember watching (from afar) an anti-war rally on campus one day, and watched as the students cheered when it was announced how many returing Vietnam veterans had committed suicide after coming home. They truly wanted to see us dead. Their level of cruelty was more brutal than any acts by infantry soldiers that I had ever seen.

The question remains: why doesn't John Kerry go on TV and debate these Swift Boat Veterans, and the POWs and the recipients of the Medal of Honor that have spoken out against him on TV ads? He could end this whole debate once and for all. He's a very good debater. He had the courage to debate George Bush, so why not do all Vietnam veterans a great favor and debate these men as well? They have proven to be honorable men, thus I would like him to step up to the plate and discuss this whole matter on national TV.

That doesn't sound like much to me, especially if Kerry thinks he's right.

I wish he would either defend himself against these veterans, or apologize for what he did. My view is that he needs to apologize for the lies he told, and the damage that those lies did to Vietnam veterans. And he especially needs to apologize to family members of those returning Vietnam veterans who committed suicide when they were unable to stand up to the attacks committed on them by their peers. It must be remembered that these veterans returned home physically fatigued, mentally fatigued and spiritually fatigued. They required nurturing, not the attacks hurled at them.

But still today people come to the defense of John Kerry and encourage others to continue to attack our veterans. For any defense of John Kerry is an attack on those who honorably served in Vietnam, and who say that they are proud of their service in Vietnam, and who also say that they would serve again if asked.

/s/ Greg Schlieve, Vietnam veteran, Grandview

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