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Letters to the Editor for November 23, 2011

Occupy Local stores, Elks thanks, realities of recruitment, more...

Realities of recruitment

I appreciated the realistic look at a veteran's story, ("Young veteran reflects on tour," reported by Julie Raefield-Gobbo, Nov. 9).

Reporting on military, wars and veterans often focus only on the positive, rather than the reality. Military recruiters counsel young enlistees about the great training and civilian jobs available once they're done with their military commitment. Many veterans will attest this is not the case.

Now, as in all other wars, many veterans come home to find no jobs, or not the jobs they thought they would qualify for. Unfortunately, this is an old story. Military training doesn't automatically transfer over.

There is much misinformation and downright stereotyping of those who work to counsel young people of the realities of military recruitment, service, war and job opportunities.

Full-Disclosure, or what is popularly referred to as counter-recruiting counselors, do not have a political agenda, nor are they anti-troops. Many counselors are combat vets; some disabled and decorated. Others are concerned parents or grandparents, who strongly believe young people deserve to know the truth about recruiting tactics (from within the schools and the Pentagon), the promises and lies.

If you or your child is considering joining the military be sure to get the facts. Take a vet with you when talking with a recruiter, and get counseling from a Full Disclosure volunteer.

Linda Short

Columbia River Fellowship

for Peace

Project Full Disclosure

Hood River

Coal story's other side

As a longtime Gorge resident who still owns property in Hood River, I am disappointed in the Hood River News' coverage of the coal train issue.

I have read at least three articles now blasting the concept of shipping more coal through the area and citing all the dire dangers the coal trains might represent. In none of these articles have there been any comments from railroad representatives or from energy company officials. This is not objective journalism.

The coal trains may well present some serious problems. Or perhaps those problems can be mitigated and the fears are overblown.

I'm willing to take a wait-and-see attitude and not freak out about it. I'd like to hear more about the issue. But for the newspaper to continue to present a long list of objections to this proposal, with no word at all from proponents, is not serving your readers well.

D.C. Jesse Burkhardt

Hood River

Outdated coal video

Video: What would Gorge coal trains look like? Well they wouldn't look like this video. Coal dust no longer blows off trains like is historically depicted in this video.

Railroads have learned that blowing coal dust is not good for them and for those trackside, thus they have fixed this problem.

Arlen Sheldrake

Portland

Stop repeat offender

Paul Loyd, a homeless man who was written about on the front page of the newspaper Nov. 5, did get released from NORCOR. He has since continued to break the law in numerous situations in Hood River.

This man has an extensive criminal record from several states. He was arrested again on Nov. 11 and currently is in NORCOR. He will appear in court on Wednesday for his current arrest.

I hope the court system keeps him locked up this time. Must we wait for him to hurt someone badly before his crimes are taken seriously?

Mary Davidson

Hood River

The big question

If five Supreme Court judges acted like pimps enabling corporations to be Johns, what does that make congressmen who take corporate money?

Gary Fields

Hood River

Downtown revisited

Recently I needed some specialty stationery items. As I am loath to go to Walmart, it crossed my mind to go downtown (a place where I tend to avoid because of the mid-summer's nightmare of parking and a long walk).

Well, late November is a different story on those hallowed streets. Behold - a parking spot right in front of Hood River Stationery. As I stepped through the front door I was greeted by two beautiful ladies (the proprietor and her captain).

After a short journey through this delightful store, I exited with what I came for, and a lot more: nifty Christmas presents for family and friends and a new bling for my lovely wife's finger. All nicely wrapped with ribbons and bows - what a treat - even a small present for myself!

Next, I crossed the street and entered the Waucoma Bookstore. Now there's a library worth visiting and I didn't even need a card - cash worked just fine. Three new books and an opportunity to learn something new. A couple more Christmas presents and "Cascadia," a book on the Northwest Indians that really got my attention.

Yup - downtown revisited. I'm excited to get there again. The gem shop up the street. Two really great jewelry stores. A coffee shop where the elite meet. Maui's great new restaurant where bro Dave use to work at Joe Young's Texaco station. and don't forget Bette's - yum!

I had a good time, and I'll go back! How 'bout you old-timer? The Rialto theater isn't there anymore but what is, is great!

Phil Jensen

Hood River

Proud of Walden

After the library issue last year, I had decided not to ever write another letter to the "Editor" again. However, I cannot sit by and let Jeff Hunter disparage Rep. Greg Walden.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Walden's political views, I think most everyone would agree that Greg Walden is probably one of the most upstanding political figures in Washington, D.C. Contrary to Mr. Hunter's views (Our Readers Write, Nov. 16), my observation is that Greg Walden does have "high integrity, personal fortitude and an open mind." And Greg Walden does reach across the aisle to work with the other side.

I believe that Hood River can be proud to have one of our own in Washington, D.C.

If Mr. Hunter feels so strongly as his letter would indicate, may I suggest that now that he is retired and has the time, maybe he should consider running for elected office? Go for it, Jeff! Let's see if you have the "right stuff."

Phillip Lane

Parkdale

No to Walmart

I am astonished at the alacrity with which corporate polluters and corporate rapists are able to recruit public servants to assist them in their theft of the public treasure.

In Hood River, Walmart's phalanx of corporate lawyers attempt to bludgeon the Hood River planning officials and the city council into allowing a 30,000-square-foot extension to their already illegal, out-of-compliance use.

This development will further depress Hood River's family-friendly business community. But then, that's Walmart's M.O. They slither into a community, promising to be good corporate citizens. Then, like cancer, they begin to grow. They wind up destroying local business and flooding the market with goods made in China.

Take a walk up Oak Street. Tick off the empty store-fronts and the old-time businesses that fell before the onslaught of cheap, below-market, loss-leader bargains

Walmart's original charter was for a 72,000-square-foot retail space to include apparel, cosmetics, sporting goods, auto and gardening supplies only (emphasis in original approval document). They were constrained from selling food.

Not only is Walmart currently selling food in violation of its own charter and current zoning; the proffered expansion envisions a full-service grocery.

Walmart "associates" are little more than indentured wage slaves. Almost everyone is kept at less-than-full-time and many qualify for welfare. In a recent announcement, Walmart is canceling health-care benefits for part-time employees and raising premiums for the rest to unsustainable levels.

Not only should Hood River reject Walmart's proposed expansion, but conscious citizens should boycott this corporate hog and shop locally. Tell the planning commission and the city council to reject the legal fiction of "vested rights" and demand that Walmart comport itself by the laws governing the rest of us.

Sam Dunlap

Home Valley

Good deeds

On Friday I was running errands with my mother-in-law and husband. One the things I needed to do was make a deposit. In the hustle and bustle of helping Mom into the store the envelope with a check and deposit slip fell out of my purse.

Of course, I was totally unaware of this until my cellphone rang. It was an employee of US Bank asking me about the deposit. It seems that some young people found the envelope in the parking lot or on the sidewalk in front of Rosauers and they had taken it in to the front desk. Doug, a Rosauers employee, had taken it to US Bank and that's how they found me to confirm what to do.

I am so grateful for each honest, kind person who looked out for me in what could have been a bad situation. I wish I could mention each one of them by name and thank them personally.

This is an example of what I love about Hood River; how appropriate for Thanksgiving!

Dana Branson

Hood River

Tax or no tax?

Nobody wants Walmart in Hood River, but everybody shops there. Walmart sells food; many stores sell food. Stores sell many items - food included - to keep the doors open to pay taxes and work for employees.

Is the answer to the Walmart seeking a permit to expand and serve customers (pay more taxes to Hood River and Oregon) to find ever-larger stores for farmers markets to stay out of the cold and pay no taxes? No wonder the people are protesting "Occupy the Gorge," etc.

Paul Nevin

Hood River

Need campaign finance reform

Jeff Hunter's letter of Nov. 16 (We need new representative) was right on in his description of a representative for District No. 2 but he missed a very important qualification.

The people of Oregon and across the river in Washington deserve representatives who go to Washington, D.C., to represent them and NOT Grover Norquist or any other lobbyist.

Therefore, an important qualification would be that anyone seeking this job should be open to supporting their constituency by passing a bill for campaign finance reform which would deem illegal any contributions from anyone or any entity other than VOTERS. That would mean no more corporate funds. Only individual (human persons) could give to a campaign.

In addition, after a representative leaves Congress, he or she should be barred from any lobbying for companies or banks which they previously worked with while in Congress, whether it is a bank or the military.

While there is no doubt that Greg Walden is a good person, he nevertheless has signed a pledge to Grover Norquist and has put the goals of Norquist over those of his constituents. The same problem exists across the river in the state of Washington, where Doc Hastings has also signed the Norquist Pledge.

Sen. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma seems to be the only responsible Republican in Congress. He recently completed a report that concluded that millionaires get more than $30 billion in subsidies and tax credits from the government each year. The biggest benefits are paid in the form of tax credits for mortgage interest, rental expenses and gambling losses - millionaires claimed a shocking $21 billion on that last category alone between 2006 and 2009.

But Sen. Coburn, in his report, also said millionaires are paid more than $1 billion a year in Social Security benefits, have received some $74 million in unemployment insurance between 2005 and 2009 and collected $316 million in farm subsidies between 2003 and 2009.

"This welfare for the well-off - costing billions of dollars a year - is being paid for with taxes of the less fortunate," Coburn said in releasing the report. Yet, Greg Walden and Doc Hastings continue to walk hand-in-hand with Grover Norquist and the Republican leadership in voting "No" to any increase in taxes or closing of the loopholes and subsides for the wealthy. Yes, we can do better.

Dorothy Herman

White Salmon, Wash.

Breathing coal dust

I'm writing you today, because I love coal and it tastes delicious! Imagine coal dust glistening in the air, hugging us with its sweet, sweet flavor, while mercury, arsenic and lead settles into our lungs, orchards and river!

With new plans for a few thousands of uncapped train containers to head through the Gorge, we are sure to get a taste of the good life.

So thank you, Mr. Coal Industry, whether I'm wind surfing or just walking around, I'll be breathing in all the coal dust I could ask for. Let's occupy next to train tracks with our mouths open!

Matthew Long

Hood River

Walden does good work

According to the Leering Left Letters Lately, Congressman Walden is "Captain Evil." But most senior citizens would disagree with that characterization. There is nothing evil about the congressman's efforts to stop the Obama tax on Medicare prescription drug benefits. Keep up the good work, Greg.

W.H. Davis Jr.

Hood River

Coal is safety threat

The Dallesport Community Council voted to write letters of concern and complaint to local newspapers and elected officials concerning the proposed shipping of up to 20 additional trains every day of up to 125 cars uncovered and loaded with coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming through the Gorge.

A short while ago, BNSF said that each coal car loses 500 to 2,000 pounds in transit. This was BNSF's own study. They were not happy about this.

The U.S. Department of Transportation classifies coal dust as a "pernicious ballast foulant." So they advised their shippers that they were recommending tighter emission standards for safety reasons.

They were most concerned that the coal dust blow-off is contaminating their rail beds and it undermines the ballast by sifting into the base rock. This has caused derailments in some areas. The BNSF then advised shippers that they were responsible for securing their loads.

We know exactly what this meant. It meant cover the loads. However, there is now even greater conflict of interest between the miners and the BNSF. Ownership has changed and the new owners are invested in coal mining.

Coal mining companies are planning to ship 60 million tons of coal to the cash-rich Asian market though the old Alcoa facility on the Columbia in Longview. BLM coal lease fair market value for Powder River Basin coal is 75 cents per ton. We are concerned that there is little real incentive to contain the load.

For evidence, the occasional coal train that has gone by lately has been uncovered. So you lose a couple tons; no big deal. Right?

We want our elected officials to represent our opposition to increased health and safety threats to our communities. The threat to adjacent farms and agriculture is also of great concern.

Can we really expect employers with living-wage jobs to want to locate in an area that would be objectionable to their employees due to health and safety issues? Why would Insitu want to build a campus in Bingen or Dallesport with this potential level of pollution, and unlivable proximity to this activity?

Next year is an election year and we expect action on this issue.

Don McDermott, chairman

Dallesport-Murdock Community Council

Dallesport, Wash.

Elks thanks

On behalf of The Hood River Elks Lodge, I would like to give a big thank-you to all of our donors, diners, dancers and buyers for making our first annual "Puttin' on the Ritz" charity dinner and silent auction a great success. Hope to see you all next year.

Mark Freeman

Mosier

'Occupy' local stores

If we need to occupy something lets occupy the local merchants for the holiday season. Keep the money local and support our community.

Alan Bailey

Hood River

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