Letters to the Editor for Dec. 24, 2011

Many stores not local, HR is Dog River, Revolution coming, more...

Not local

Opponents say Walmart is an outsider. Let's look at other stores in Hood River: Safeway, Rosauers, etc. All are out-of-state companies, i.e., not local. They got here first, so people claim the right to keep out competition.

Soldiers fought and died to allow stores to locate where they want. I hope the appointed LUBA does not overturn the elected Hood River City Council.

Paul Nevin

Hood River

HR is Dog River

Beyond the historical reasons for our namesake and to now, this place is a dog-friendly environment filled with many citizens who incorporate needs and wants with daily activity. Many of our best-friends enjoy the daily social and physical needs at our waterfront. This is often in defiance of posted regulations.

Many activities occur county-wide all throughout the year in defiance of rules, and at the end the day, there are no problems. Dog owners here should be exemplified for their self-control and respect for other waterfront users.

We are the most often visited and vigilant beings on the waterfront engaging in social and physical activity with respect toward the environment and fellow citizens. To over-regulate leash laws while ignoring other unlawful activities (which shall remain unnamed) is not in the character of Hood River as we appreciate and enjoy today.

I applaud the efforts of our police force and the Port of Hood River in their judicial use of enforcement of what is most important for our city and county. Dogs off-leash have never been a problem on our waterfront, and manpower for enforcement of such a trifle seems counterproductive.

Let's get together in our collective enjoyment of the waterfront and make friends. I see that as the goal of my dog every day; can we rise to his expectations as waterfront visitors?

Tracy Hollister

Hood River

Good decision

I would like to thank Mayor Babitz and the city council for overruling the planning commission and approving the Walmart expansion. Inasmuch as the 1991 approval was not clear as to the 30,000-square-foot expansion, the decision of both city bodies could have been interpreted either way. I am pleased that the ruling came down on the side of jobs, lower prices through competition and common sense.

When we moved to Hood River 32 years ago there were three grocery outlets, one being Prairie Market, a discount-style operation where we marked prices (from the shelf) on the product with a grease pencil. Having three outlets for groceries will once again give the citizens more choice in shopping and encourage more competitive pricing for all. The jobs created in both construction and retail sales will be an added bonus.

I do my best to support hometown businesses when they carry what I am looking for and their prices are reasonable. But all the things a growing family needs are not available in downtown Hood River. And Rosauers and Safeway are no more "local" than Walmart.

I can also find goods "made in China" all over town, not just at Walmart. The opposition to Walmart in this current battle is the same as it was 20 years ago and again in the big box battle.

Some people just hate Walmart, and they will come up with any excuse to block expansion or new construction. Parking lot runoff, Chinese goods, local jobs, local dollars, working conditions and business practices are all just red herrings dragged across the trail of progress.

Thanks again to the courage of the five whose votes will make Hood River more livable for the many.

John F. Brennan

Hood River

Christmas angel

Many children are hoping for big gifts this year, such as iPads, Xbox, or American Girl. I have a student who desires very simple things like a new outfit, socks and a pair of shoes.

Every year, the staff at Mid Valley Elementary chooses a couple of deserving families to shower with gifts during the holidays. This year, we selected four families, including my student, her single mother and her four sisters.

I am a firm believer in supporting the small, local businesses. To be able to affordably get everything on my student's list, I realized I had to be bold and ask the local store owners for a discount.

A couple of weeks ago, while I was at "Footwise" downtown, a customer overheard me giving out my contact information to the store clerk, who later planned to give it to the manager/owner. The customer called me by name and sweetly said, "I'd like to buy the shoes for your student."

Thanks to this amazing woman, my student will be sporting a beautiful, sturdy pair of Keens - paid at full price! She simply wanted to be identified as a "Christmas angel."

In addition, Shortt Supply donated a sporty pair of shoes and Ruddy Duck gave my student a stylish outfit. I also found great joy is getting her some clothes and a couple of small musical instruments.

It is this spirit of giving that makes the season so very joyful. These are examples of why we should all find a way to help our community and our fellow human beings.

Sophie Whitehead

Mid Valley Elementary

Revolution coming

The machinations of the 1 percent abound, but nowhere were they more glaringly evident as they were in the kabuki theater known as the quasi-judicial Hood River City Council meeting to approve the 30,000-square-foot expansion of Walmart (Dec. 12).

The usual suspects were all there: Walmart's carefully coiffed, blow-dried legal team, the conflicted elected officials and the huddled masses. Walmart employees clung to their group identity by donning baby-blue T-shirts. The earth people clung to the illusion of meaningful participation.

In 1991, Walmart applied for and was approved for the construction of a 72,000-square-foot retail space. Twenty years later here they come saying, "Oops. We really meant to say 102,000 square feet. Now we want approval for the other 30,000."

The earth people plead with their city council for local food safety, for sustainability, for family farms, for Hood River businesses and for fairness under the law.

Walmart used shuck and jive, obfuscation and intimidation.

Walmart won.

In fairness, it should be pointed out that the mayor and his council are not the bad guys. The Walmart apologists are not the bad guys. The Walmart opponents are not the bad guys. We are, all of us, part of the 99 percent. We act our parts in a macabre dance of resistance and futility.

In the steel and glass global headquarters of Walmart, the puppet-masters, the 1 percent, raise their glasses in toast to one more victory in a game of world dominance. They light their cigars with worthless federal currency and congratulate one another on their brilliance.

The 1 percent wins victories at their peril. The Occupy movement has pretty much picked the scab off the class warfare that rich elites have waged on the rest of us for the last 40 years. The bank bailouts, the home foreclosures, the layoffs, the skyrocketing unemployment, the staggering student debt; all have shattered the illusion of a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

The cauldron known as the body politic is very near the boiling point. One senseless act of police brutality, one death, one random spark and the American Spring will erupt in all its full fury and splendor.

Welcome to the Revolution. The Revolution will not be pretty. The Revolution promises to be beautiful.

Sam Dunlap

Home Valley, Wash.

Too much negativity

All of these negative writings, words - whatever you want to call it. Walmart is a business people love to hate but for the wrong reasons.

Stop and think what Walmart does for the community. They support the community from the river to Mount Hood. Charities people are blind or don't want to thank them for.

This past summer Walmart donated a pallet of water for the fire on Mount Hood. Walmart's wages are most likely in line with those of their same line of business. Retail! And if you want, I would venture to say the coffee shops and restaurants don't start their employees out at $12 to $14 an hour. Neither does Walmart.

My wife has worked for Walmart for seven years. Over that period she has gotten raises and promotions like any other employee. What she makes is nobody's bleepin' business but ours but it's GOOD! Benefits could be better but what business couldn't?

I'm sure there are many of you out that that would like a lower deductable or out-of-pocket deduction. But that's just the way it goes for all of business to balance their bottom line. It's just a fact of life.

For those of you who are getting great bennies - great; I'm happy for you. This new expansion would create many construction job, more jobs in the store and help lower the prices for everyone.

My wife and I have been to each meeting on this expansion process. The last city council meeting was by far the toughest meeting of all. Not because Walmart won this round but because in my view the mayor and each council member took their time. They didn't let anything influence them, in my view. There were so many papers flying around the room one might think they were in a blizzard.

I take my hat off to the mayor and the council for taking the time to do a very in-depth and complete tough job.

Rick Hutchison


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