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Letters to the editor for April 6, 2011

April 6, 2011

CL council problems

Cascade Locks City Council has allowed the town to go without a public works director for far too many months, either through negligence or a lack of willingness to pay prevailing wages. This leaves the public works crew one man short on an already small crew.

During the last snow storm when a water main broke on Ruckle Street in the middle of the night with subfreezing weather, there was no one in town with proper credentials to oversee the repair.

Council has allegedly hired someone in Goldendale, Wash., who might have certification who couldn't make it here as the highway was closed. This leaves the citizens in the position of having their potable water system worked on by people without proper certification.

At the same time the council hired a planner at twice the rate of the former planner, and are paying more for an interim city administrator than they were paying for either of the last two administrators.

It's become obvious that our current council is a disaster with no ability to plan, administer or budget.

Citizens, please start paying attention to what's happening in your city hall; it's important to your safety, health and well-being.

Rob Brostoff

Cascade Locks

Invest in

local stores

If you're a small-business owner or community member in the Gorge, you've likely heard someone ask, "Do we want the Gorge to become Anyplace, USA?"

The desire of any community to preserve its unique culture - made up of independent retailers, artists, natural beauty and more - is getting harder and harder, given the economic pressures coming from Wall Street.

The recent announcement that The Dalles City Council has approved the construction of a Walmart 150,000-square-foot Super Center, along with Walmart's interest in expanding its Hood River store to include 30,000 square feet for grocery sales, is an important reminder about the ways in which big-box retailers are forever changing economic landscape - especially in rural communities.

Many people have asked me, "Is it really an either/or question?" Can't a region like the Gorge support a mix of locally owned businesses and national chains? Why wouldn't we want to provide the lowest prices possible to our citizens?

I see the value of keeping the cost of goods affordable to as many people as possible. Walmart's low prices helped generate a 3.1 percent decline in overall consumer prices from 1985 to 2004, according to consulting firm Global Insight Inc. (known as "The Walmart Effect").

But those low prices come at a price to small retailers: Walmart's expansion from the late 1980s to late 1990s accounted for 50-70 percent of the decline in small retailers (those with fewer than 20 employees).

They come at a price to farmers: In 1990, the farmer received 24 cents of the grocery store dollar. Today, it's 19 cents. In 1990, out of every dollar spent on beef, 60 cents went to the producer. Today it's 42 cents.

They come at a price to taxpayers: Walmart has benefited greatly from more than $1 billion in economic development subsidies from state and local governments to build and expand stores and distribution centers.

Walmart is the No. 1 grocery chain in the country. Yet despite its huge profit margins, Walmart is not proposing to make a commitment to carrying locally produced food in its Gorge-based stores.

Compare that to Rosauers (regionally but not locally owned), which recently expanded its store on the Heights to make way for a bigger bulk foods and natural foods section, a large selection of local foods and 30,000 square feet of solar panels.

I urge local businesses and residents to think about the impacts of their purchasing decisions and support businesses that are invested in making our local economy and community stronger. This indeed will make us richer in more ways than one.

Read more about the impacts of big-box stores at http://gorgeow-ed.org/walmart-effect/

Becky Brun

Director, Gorge Owned

Business Network

Hood River

Cyclists:

Follow rules

It has come to my attention that the number of bicyclists in Hood River has dramatically increased. They are everywhere; the upper valley, lower valley and even on trails in the hills.

I am completely fine with this. What I am not OK with is that most of them do not follow the rules. Bicyclists on the roads are supposed to follow the same rules that drivers do, with the exception of the speed limit (of course). This means stopping at stop signs, staying in their lanes, signaling turns, etc.

I very rarely see one who is following all of the rules. I am often slamming on the brakes because someone riding a bike thinks that stop signs do not apply. Think again. This is how people get hurt, and the drivers are not the ones being rushed to the emergency room.

Another thing that seems to "slip" the mind of bicyclists is that they are supposed to be single file while riding. This is a constant problem on roads such as Dee Highway. It makes it difficult to pass; especially when cars are coming in the opposite direction. Thus, drivers are going 13 mph in a 55 mph zone. I am not a whiz with numbers, but I don't think that those numbers are anywhere near each other. When they're passing one another, I say fair enough; but when they're riding side by side?

There are also people breaking the law in the hills, mainly in the Post Canyon area. There are trails provided to bicyclists in Post Canyon by the county, but some think that it's all right to go off the trail. This is destruction of public property.

It's not the one person who does it; it's the continuous act of it. This creates more trails. Bicyclists then go off trail again, and the appearance of new trails never ends. This is why it is such a big problem.

I am not asking that people stop riding their bicycles; I simply ask that the bike riders follow the laws that were put in place to keep them safe. Also, to have drivers in mind.

Be courteous - and follow the rules.

Ryley Gilbert

Hood River

Local discounts?

I enjoy walking downtown and entering the shops sometimes. I see something I really like, but take one look at the price tag and put it back on the rack. It is too expensive.

I would like to propose discounts for the Hood River residents. I understand that there are coupons for us, but a lot of the shops downtown don't have them. A discount would encourage residents to shop locally, which would help us keep our money here, in our town, as opposed to going to Portland or somewhere else to purchase what we have here.

I know this brings about many questions like: How much should the discount be? How will it benefit our shops and people? How do we prove that we are residents of Hood River?

I suggest a discount big enough that people can afford to shop there but not so big that the shop will lose profit.

As for residency, I was thinking a card; we can have people fill out a form and submit them, and only those who would like the discount would fill out the form.

A discount for our residents would benefit our community's economy, it would encourage people to shop locally and they would get what they need here, in town, saving them time and gas money.

Lizeth Zendejas

Hood River

Benefits

of music

Thank you for printing the wonderful article about the Hood River Valley High School Chamber Choir's tour of England by Julie Raefield-Gobbo, and the letter, "Uplifting experience" (hearing the singers at the sacred stone circle) by Janet Kersey in the March 30 edition of the Hood River News.

I've had the good fortune to sing in a small group in an ancient church in Turkey and to be sung to in a medieval cathedral in France, and they were experiences I will remember forever.

Our school district and community are so lucky to have Mark Steighner, everyone who assisted in the tour, and a group of dedicated - and adventurous - choral students. What a fine example of the benefits of supporting music programs in our schools.

Mary Carlson

Hood River

Enforce

phone laws

I enjoyed your letter, Mr. Christensen (Our Readers Write, April 2), but I feel you are being a little too kind. The laws about phone use while driving are very clear and we are past the point of making polite suggestions to drivers.

If we just enforced the current laws we could probably make a better chunk of money to reopen the library or fund our schools than the well-meaning students who raised $700 (or so) collecting bottles and cans.

Driving the Gorge every day for work I can tell you that for every driver I see using a headset or another hands-free device, there are an equal number of people still holding their phones. As with any law, it is the enforcement and associated fine which makes it work; not the debates in the state legislature or the polite messages in the paper.

The statistics clearly show the safety risks associated with phone use while driving. Unfortunately, we sometimes have to "legislate common sense," as some like to say.

Sorry, friends without headsets, but we have to show equal treatment to all. It looks like Hood River just purchased new police cars. Let's make it easy for us to pay for these in light of so many budget cuts. Click it (your phone off) or ticket.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Letter head

A siege, not class war

You are right, Mr. Palmieri (Our Readers Write, April 2), we are not in a class "war"; it is more like a siege. One side seems to have all the power and all the weapons, while the other side is too brain-washed, too dispirited or too burdened with other problems to make use of the power that they have.

We live in a wonderful country where every citizen in good standing has the power of the vote. But the vote means nothing if it is not an informed vote.

I just want people to wake up; take time to study the issues for themselves and vote for their own best interests the same as big corporations do.

Anne Vance

Hood River

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