Letters: Fall 2005
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: October 5, 2005

The story behind the Galileo book purchase

I would like to explain how a rare and valuable book came to the Millar Library's special collection (A Rare Tome," PSU Magazine, spring 2005).

In 1962 a number of Italo-Americans from the Portland area formed Cultura d'Italia, a study group designed to promote Italian studies at this institution. The membership, among others, included Alberto Cereghino, Anne Chiotti, Dolores Simonatti, Don Casciato, and history professor George Carbone.

At this time, an extant copy of Galileo Galilei's famous scholarly publication, Dialogo sopra I due massimi sistemi del Mundo, became available for a fair price on the antiquities market. The Cultura d'Italia membership authorized Professor Carbone to purchase the book at a cost of $2,500 for the library. The University librarian at that time, Dr. Jean Black—who spoke fluent Italian and had earned a doctoral degree in history—thoroughly supported this acquisition.

Although the Roman Catholic Church officialdom had suppressed the book shortly after its publication (in 1632), enough copies survived to ensure that at least one would become accessible at the Millar Library.

Victor Dahl
Professor Emeritus of History

Forgotten team member

In your news, "They Bowled Us Over" (spring 2005), I see that you left off your list of [the winning 1965 College Bowl team] alternates—the last and least of them, me. Even though it was the '60s, I can remember it because it was one of the high points of my Portland years.

Doug Hawley '65
Lake Oswego

Editor's note: Sorry, Mr. Hawley. The article named the alternates who attended a special dinner. For the record, members of the 1965 first team were Robin Freeman, Larry Smith, Michael Smith, and Jim Westwood (captain). Alternates were Jim Cronin, Marv Foust, Doug Hawley, Al Kotz, and Jim Watt. The coach was Ben Padrow.

Primaries in Washington

I was horrified to see the inaccuracies contained in your sidebar story, "Primaries North and South of Oregon" (spring 2005).

While your author was correct about Washington having a closed primary in 2004 for the first time since 1936, she was incorrect in stating that voters in 2005 are required to declare a party preference before voting in a partisan primary. The author was incorrect in stating that Governor Locke refined the initiative language, since any change to an initiative requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to overturn. Governor Locke did line-item veto a bill that was passed by the legislature creating a top-two primary, but this bill came before the initiative. Governor Locke did not "refine" the initiative put forth by the Washington State Grange and passed by the people statewide.

What is currently in effect is that for a partisan primary in Washington state, the top-two vote getters advance to the general election. So, two Democrats, two Republicans, or two Libertarians could advance to the general election in certain areas—something that the parties are still suing the state and county auditors, such as myself, to overturn.

I know this because I am the elected county auditor for Skamania County.

J. Michael Garvison '99
Stevenson, Washington

Keep primaries the same

As described in the recent article "Party Down" (spring 2005), there is a move afoot to change Oregon's primaries to an open system, free from party affiliation. The argument of the proponents of this change may be summarized thus: votes in closed primaries are on the political fringe, votes force candidate to adopt extreme views, moderate candidates are always preferable.

Unfortunately, the advocates of open primaries offer no facts in support of these views. Here's an alternative viewpoint.

Those who vote in closed primaries are simply those voters who care enough about an election to educate themselves about issues and candidates earlier than other voters. They may or may not hold moderate views.

The two major parties historically have had different perspectives about a variety of issues. These perspectives draw voters who tend to share them. Such voters want to know where their candidates stand with regard to these issues. How many California voters knew Arnold Schwarzenegger's views on the issues before he was elected?

The root cause of the frequent horn-locking in the legislature is that the major parties have discovered that the politics of division are very successful in gaining and manipulating the attention of the electorate. Open primaries will have little impact upon this. They appear likely to create more problems than they solve.

Charles D. Bates '70
Sent by email

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