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Letters to the editor, June 8, 2011

June 8, 2011

'Hotel' treatment

Recently I went to the emergency room. I thought I would be going home that same day, but the ER doctor said, "You're not going home; you're going up."

I spent the next two and a half days on the second floor, with the most amazing staff of nurses. They were kind, funny, and most of all, professional.

I'd like to thank my crew: Dr. Laura Starrett, Dannette (RN), Kathy (CNA), Gena (RN), Dee (CNA), Shawna (RN), Sue (CNA) and Larry (my waiter from the café). They made my stay so pleasant, it was more like a hotel, except for the fact I had an IV drip attached to me (reality check), and the food was restaurant standard. Thank you all!

Kathy Widmer

Parkdale

Fox and hens

Mr. Rob Brostoff, I appreciated your letter in the Wednesday paper (Our Readers Write, June 1), but couldn't help but sigh and shake my head.

Our monetary system by its nature is set up to breed greed, dishonesty and predatory behavior. Furthermore, brilliant minds like those of Elizabeth Warren could better serve us through education about the effects of capitalism on our financial systems instead of spending years tweaking something which cannot be altered by its nature.

Pardon this metaphor, but this is how I envision our current scenario: The fox says "Hey, farmer, can you take down that fence around those chickens? It is blocking my beautiful view."

The farmer responds, "But then you will eat my chickens."

Fox: "No, I just don't want the view spoiled by this nasty fence."

Unfortunately, you can't eat a view and the fox will get hungry. Wall Street and the banking industry are no different. They have one thing in mind: To make as much money as possible through whatever means possible.

I think this loosely defines capitalism. You can throw in some things about ethics, but that is it in a nutshell. People rail about government regulations and intrusions up until they lose their entire pensions through the lies and greed perpetrated by Enron and similar companies.

Again, it was about making money at the top through greed and lies. Human nature will always breed this in a capitalist-based model.

Responders please note that I am a capitalist, an American and an employed member of the community. Thank you.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Heads up

For several months, I have been noticing something unusual about our water bill. One month, we would show use of 6,000 gallons and the next month 3,000 gallons. Of course, on the months of the usage above 5,000 gallons, we were charged a water commodity.

While at my mom's one day, I checked her water bills and the same thing was happening to her. So, I went down town to the city offices and spoke to the woman at the front desk and asked why we were being charged water commodities during the winter.

There are two of us in our household and don't go over the 5,000 gallons during the winter when we are not doing any outside watering. I'm sure you all know this was a very rainy winter and spring, so no outside watering has been necessary.

What I found out is, that unlike the power and gas companies, the city does not read the meters on the same day each month. Here is what I found out about our meter reads since December, 2010:

Our meter was read Dec. 13, 2010, Jan. 18, 2011, Feb. 10, 2011, March 4, 2011, and April 15, 2011. We had 6,000 gallons for January, 3,000 for both February and March and 6,000 again for April. For each two-month period, we didn't use even the 10,000 gallons allowed. However, on the 6,000-month usage, we were charged a commodity amount.

Personally, I would like to see the law that allows the city to read meters at random dates like this in order to get more usage in certain months which would allow the city to then charge a water commodity. If this was done to us and also my mom, who is 93 and on a fixed income, then it is being done to everyone who uses city water and normally uses the allotted amount each month.

I requested a refund on these months we were charged water commodities. The woman at the front desk said she would let someone else know about this situation and that I requested a refund.

I waited to get the billing for May to see if this refund had been issued. It had not, so I am writing to inform all of you who use city water to check your bills to see what months beyond summer usage you are being charged a water commodity fee. My guess is that the summer usage is also charged at a higher amount if meter reads are never consistent.

This could go back for years. Imagine what the schools, hospital and businesses have had to pay because of inconsistent meter reads. I think there should be an immediate audit and investigation of the city books. We all should take issue with this and I personally think some heads should roll, starting at the top which should include the mayor, the city administrator and the city council. I'm sure the meter reader doesn't make these kinds of decisions.

Someone among that group certainly has had to know this has been going on in order to generate additional revenue to the city. Of course, if you don't pay your water bill, the city will be happy to turn off your water for you. And since the city no longer allows the 10,000-gallon usage during the summer at the 5,000-gallon rate, we can all certainly understand why most of this city looks parched, dry and barren during the summer.

Perhaps, there needs to be some kind of legal action taken against the city and I for one am all for that.

Catherine Peck

Hood River

Bridge toll $1

There are 48 crossings on the Columbia River; 21 bridges in the United States' part of the Columbia River. And coincidently the same number of bridges in the British Columbia part of the Columbia River.

If you have a computer, look up "toll bridges on the Columbia River." It lists when made and tells if there is a toll. Hood River and the Bridge of the Gods are the only two listed as having to pay a toll. The Astoria-Megler had a toll until 1993. The Bridge of the Gods was free until 1961. It was bought by the Port (of Cascade Locks), who enforced a toll.

The Hood River Bridge crossing the Columbia River was built in 1924. In 1979 I joined the Laborers Union. My first job was working for a contractor working on the bridge. I got to know my foreman and asked what all they were doing to the bridge. In reality we were shooting epoxy on rust. This is a nickel-and-dime bridge.

I can't tell you who the contractor is, but they said, no; the foreman said, "I would replace it in 10 years." So 1979, 1989, 1999, 2009. Twenty-two years have gone by in that 10 years. How many times have you driven on the bridge under construction? The Columbia Bridge should be a Glenn Jackson Bridge to be safer. If we have to pay $1 to use the bridge, give us a safe one.

So after Hood River bought the Bridge of the Gods, "pay time!" The Hood River Bridge from 1924 and the Gods from 1961, when the port can buy property all over the valley.

Why don't they help out with the cost of the school system? That money from the two bridges is everyone's money who lives here and pays property taxes. So spread it around.

John Dorsey

Hood River

CL council meeting

I want to thank the Hood River News and editor and writer Kirby Neumann-Rea for covering an important event in our town.

The letter to the council mentioned in the article has gone viral and been signed currently by well over 100-plus citizens and is still growing. The objective of the citizen complaint is to maintain public safety, both our EMS and police protection.

There has been an attempt to co-opt a revenue stream and use it for tourism with no accountability for the money, rather than public safety. Several members of the council don't seem to grasp what the primary responsibilities of government are; some have an agenda and others are just new.

In the article the word "dismissed" was used in conjunction with Bernard Seeger; he left knowing what this council had decided to do. Along with him went John Morgan, our planner of many years. Our ordinance enforcement officer was given 30 days' notice. All had been demonized for several years and knew what was coming; regardless of one's opinion of these people the way the situation was handled was unprofessional in the extreme.

When working in a public position if the decision makers are not happy with you, it's their responsibility to notify you and give you an opportunity to change; sometimes a probationary period is used. This never happened in the case of our OEO officer and it should have. Again, thank you for a job well done.

Rob Brostoff

Cascade Locks

Keep chief

To some of the City Councilors of Cascade Locks:

I would highly recommend against changing the Cascade Locks Fire Department back to an all-volunteer organization. As a 30-year volunteer and one of the last to serve as a volunteer chief in the Hood River Valley, I can say without a doubt this would be a giant step backwards.

After reading the Hood River News article, one wonders - do you have anyone willing to assume the position of volunteer chief? And is this new volunteer chief available 24/7, or does he/she have a job which makes them unavailable at times?

Interim City Administrator Rich Carson is quoted as saying "If I had to, I'd deal with it." The job as fire chief is so much more than paperwork and administration. How are Mr. Carson's incident command skills? Any experience running an ALS ambulance? Hazmat, wildland and search and rescue training on his resume?

After inquiring about the current situation in Cascade Locks, there seems to be much more to the story beside budget issues, which the HR News should investigate. I think there are some councilors that need to be replaced before Chief JeffPricher.

Jon Laraway

Hood River

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