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Letters to the Editor for October 27, 2012

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Obama understands

The bottom line in this election? Whether to go with Mitt Romney and continue the march during most of the last 30 years toward full-blown oligarchy run by the rich; or to go with President Obama and the chance of inching back toward true democracy.

Shockingly, the top 1 percent owns 42 percent of the nation’s financial wealth (http://sociology.uc-sc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html, 2007) and that is growing.

Additional factors include the unprecedented “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision where Romney has agreed that corporations are people, and that has opened the floodgates for rich influence. Thus the cards are heavily stacked toward oligarchy.

But at least with Obama, who understands our threatened democracy, there is some hope.

Norm Luther

Underwood, Wash.

Can’t live in the past

I grew up in the Hood River Valley in the 1970s and listened to KIHR many mornings. Bill Davis (no relation) was one of the broadcasters, as was John Codino. The radio dispensed a lot of useful information and I believed the broadcasters to be careful and thoughtful. In some ways I really did have a Mayberry upbringing.

Fast-forward to 2012. Hood River County has 40 percent more people than in 1980 and the demographics are more diverse. But based on some recent letters to the editor I’ve read, I notice some of your readers, including Mr. Davis (letters, Oct. 13), appear to use reruns of The Andy Griffith Show and Fox News as their main source of “information.” I guess this also explains the appeal of a political platform built with only a few narrow planks.

I, too, sometimes wish the world were more Mayberry-like but I’m afraid those days (if they ever really existed) are over.

Bob Davis

Portland

Vote for English

I would like to give my full support and endorsement to Matt English as the new and true leader of the Hood River Sheriff’s Office.

I had the opportunity to work with Matt as he started as a patrol deputy for Hood River County. It was obvious from the day he started that he possessed the knowledge, skills and, most importantly, the compassion to give what is needed to the citizens of Hood River. Matt excelled as a patrol deputy and was quickly looked to for advice and guidance by many members of the Sheriff’s Office.

When Matt was promoted to detective, it was a loss for the patrol division but a huge gain for the victims of crime. Countless times I would see Matt’s car at work well past his shift, knowing he had other personal plans. Matt’s approach is that of a team, and even on his days off he answers his phone to help in any way he can.

Matt’s determination to see things to the finish is a fresh and positive outlook for the sheriff’s office. He has shown though his work ethics, dedication to the citizens of Hood River and his co-workers, he is a true leader.

I ask that you please support and elect Matt English as the sheriff of Hood River County.

Brian Rockett

Hood River

Esplanade at the Basin

I am in favor of Nichols boat basin becoming an esplanade park. I have supported Friends of the Waterfront toward that end.

I am disappointed to read Brent Foster has expanded the Naito negotiations to include land planning issues already decided by our Hood River Planning process; move the building, change the paths, storm water runoff, etc. I believe he is exercising his right to appeal that decision.

I say Brent Foster because he lists his clients as “Friends, Northwest Environmental Defense Fund and Center for Biological Diversity.” I know what goals were proposed by Friends and I support them; develop the Basin as a park for the benefit of Hood River. I don’t know who the other two clients are, or what goals they pursue. I don’t think their interest is Hood River, or the best result for our waterfront.

I am adamantly opposed to the strategy of hijacking an issue to advance an agenda not even associated with the issue hijacked. The port, city council and planning commission all conduct their negotiations in public. The port did a particularly good job with public comment on the cable park; all sides got to hear and understand different points of view, to inform better decision-making for Hood River.

Public negotiation between Brent and the Naitos would also inform better decision making. The Esplanade is not a private business deal; it is a public park.

As I said, I am in favor of an esplanade park. Taking negotiations behind closed doors, and including issues not associated with the park, advances somebody’s agenda, I’m sure. It won’t help get the park built.

John Everitt

Hood River

Re-elect Johnson

I’d like to encourage anyone who has not yet turned in his/her ballot to cast your vote for Mark Johnson for State Representative for District 52.

In his first session as a state representative, Mark represented our district well. He was willing to listen and act on good ideas, whether those ideas came from Democrats or Republicans. Mark also kept his constituents well informed of what was happening in Salem in his frequent newsletters and face-to-face meetings held throughout his district.

Mark’s campaign signs read “Jobs and Education.” I know Mark well, and I know these two things are high on his priority list because that’s what Oregon needs.

Again, please join me in voting for Mark Johnson.

Bob Level

Hood River

Vote for Johnson

I’m sure that most of us share some degree of frustration when we see the partisan gridlock that seems to be so prevalent in Washington, D.C. Regardless of who prevails in the presidential election, the prospects for very much improvement seem pretty bleak.

Fortunately, at the state level we have the opportunity to be different. We also have a candidate in the HD 52 race that has demonstrated an ability to be a very effective bipartisan legislator.

In his first term Rep. Mark Johnson has earned a reputation around the state of being a results-oriented and solutions-focused legislator. He has demonstrated a skill for assembling bipartisan coalitions to pass significant legislation that has begun the process of bringing needed reforms to our public educations system and natural resource development. Even Gov. Kitzhaber has taken notice and has supported his re-election.

Much of what happens in D.C. is out of our control. But we can chart a different course in Oregon and resolve to work together to address our serious challenges.

Please join me in sending Mark Johnson back to Salem so he can build on his strong performance in his first term.

Patti Gay-Buoy

Brightwood

A woman for Walden

Rep. Greg Walden wants a growing economy for every Oregonian. Federal laws like the Equal Pay Act of 1963 already make it illegal to pay women less than men for similar work. Government should enforce the laws, not create grandstanding duplicative legislation to pander for women’s votes like the Lilly Ledbetter Act.

Women, like everyone else, need a vibrant economy with employment opportunities, not another way to sue past employers, who are probably out of business. I’m tired of the mentality that business owners are evil woman-haters. If they are, they will go out of business.

Walden promotes policies increasing economic development in Oregon. In my mind that is pro-woman, -minority, and -everyone.

The greatest enemy of a free market economy is illegitimate government intervention. Let’s unite behind our businesses; they are our friends and neighbors and support our community.

I support Greg Walden for promoting policies that strengthen Oregon.

Robin Young

Hood River

Need Obama’s attitude

We just returned from South Africa, where we toured the museum that used to be Nelson Mandela’s home. On the wall of his bedroom is a large, framed letter signed by many Michigan legislators of some years past, requesting our U.S. president apologize to Mandela for the part our CIA played in arresting him for what became his 27 years of imprisonment. Now he is revered throughout Africa and the world, and has received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mitt Romney has written a book, “No Apology,” about our role in the world. That attitude will not bring respect for the United States from other nations. We need a President like Barack Obama who will admit when we have done wrong to another country, and express regret for it.

Roz Luther

Underwood, Wash.

Experience is important

The Oregon Supreme Court rules on the most important and complex issues in our state. Because of this, experience is the most important factor when deciding who is right and who is wrong for the job.

Judge Richard Baldwin has spent 11 years as a trial judge, in addition to his 14 years as a trial lawyer. Prior experience hearing all types of cases is a necessary component to properly being able to serve our state’s highest court.

Judge Richard Baldwin has this experience and I am confident he will be an excellent Supreme Court judge.

Judge Janet Stauffer

Dufur

Three to go

Hood River is fortunate to have an excellent choice of candidates for city council this election. Please join me in supporting Kate McBride, Laurent Picard and Mark Zanmiller for council.

Peter Cornelison

Hood River

Last chance to speak

Almost one year after Hood River City Council approved a 30,000-square-foot expansion of an existing Walmart store, it will have another chance to review the legal issues surrounding this controversial land use decision.

Did Walmart lose the right to expand its Hood River store by waiting 19 years to “complete” the project? The legal analysis of the Plaintiff in this case — Hood River Citizens For a Local Economy — argues yes.

On June 21, 2012, the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals issued a decision giving the city specific instruction to hold another hearing to investigate this issue. The remand hearing is slated for Dec. 10, and I hope the outcome will be much different this time around.

Last year, both the planning commission and city council were concerned about the 19-year time lag between the store’s original construction and Walmart’s recent request to expand. But neither body tackled the issue head-on.

It’s a complex issue with no easy, definitive answer. But I do not think it’s fair to local businesses to give Walmart the benefit of the doubt. If approved, a 30,000-square-foot expansion of the Walmart store would change the economic and visual landscape of our town forever.

Hood River has made a conscious effort to pass a footprint ordinance to keep stores of this size out of our town. Giving Walmart the benefit of the doubt, in my opinion, dilutes the strength of our local land-use laws.

If you have standing in this case (you submitted oral or written testimony in previous hearings), you have until Nov. 19 to submit written testimony to the Council or can provide oral testimony at the City Council meeting on Nov. 26.

Becky Brun

Hood River

Where will money go?

I’m fairly new here but even with just a few years under my belt, I smell a rat in the school district ballot issue. It says Hood River County School District needs to retain the $1.75 million levy ($1.25 per $1,000 on assessed value of our homes) for five more years to fund “core academic programs, a full school year, elementary PE/music, current class size” and more.

However, the school district’s financial director states on the front page of the Oct. 20 Hood River News that the PERS rate (Public Employee Retiree System) for Hood River County School District is going up 7.65 percent of payroll for a total increase of $1.6 million — a “blow to schools,” per the article.

Seems like first grade level math to me. If taxpayers agree to pay the $1.75 million, looks like our children will get nothing and PERS gets the lion’s share of $1.6 million. (Oh, excuse me… there’ll be $150,000 in “small change” for the kids to share.)

If and when I can afford to retire, I’ll have to get by on a heck of a lot smaller percentage of my pay than the 32.99 percent enjoyed by our teachers and administrators. And how much higher will that 32.99 percent go up over time?

Where do our educators place the highest value: on our children or on their personal retirement accounts?

Ryan Connery

Odell

Editor’s note: Hood River County School District’s financial director, Nick Hogan, had the following response:

The statewide PERS problem is significant and the state is looking at how to address it, but to clear up a common misperception: The PERS rate charged by the state to individual employers has no direct correlation to the retirement benefit being earned by their current employees. PERS rates are assessed by the State PERS board to keep the entire statewide retirement system solvent. It’s a bill that all school districts and other public employers must pay.

The assessment is so high because the PERS system is still recovering from decisions made by past legislatures and PERS boards as well as the recent downturn in the stock market. The 2003 legislature made significant changes to the PERS system that reduced retirement benefits for all current employees. The majority of PERS payments are used to cover the unfunded liability from retirees that retired before these changes were made.

With friends like these…

How did Brent Foster and “Friends” become the parties to negotiate with the Naitos about the motel on the waterfront? Are they elected officials? Who do they represent? Certainly not the majority of us in Hood River County who have lived here most of our lives.

We seem to have attracted a group of people who have moved here, who become “Friends of,” and proceed to dictate to the rest of us what we can and cannot do, with their own recreation interests foremost; they enlist out-of-town-organizations for support. Any decision that does not meet their interests is appealed over and over by a “Friends” group.

By the way, on a plaque of appreciation at the waterfront park listing sponsors of the park is the name of Bob Naito. Is this how “Friends” treat their friends? As the old saying goes, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”

Good luck and much appreciation to the mayor, Mr. Naito and those presenting the boat basin plan. What a shock it would be if the “friends” would actually support something for the good of us all, instead of their own interest.

Ruth Turner

Hood River

English for sheriff

I am writing this letter to express my support of Matt English for the next Hood River County Sheriff.

I have had the opportunity to work with and supervise both Matt English and Neal Holste over the years. I have observed them as they have carried out their duties and have a feel for the skills they possess.

The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office faces many challenges in the years to come, of which two critical areas are technology and resources: The technology to maintain communications, investigative and patrol operations systems, and the fiscal and volunteer resources to maintain 24/7 patrol, search and rescue and investigative operations.

I have found in Matt English the knowledge, motivation and leadership ability to meet the challenges of the future. Matt may not have had the opportunity to wear the supervisory rank, but I have no doubt in his ability to lead.

In our daily lives, we see those special people we admire for their work ethic, compassion, skills and integrity. Matt is one of those special people. I support Matt English for the next Hood River County Sheriff without reservation and encourage you to do the same.

Jerry Brown

Hood River

End the contest

From reading the story on the boat basin development and Naito/Foster/Friends fiasco, I took a trip down memory lane and thought about when I was about 5 years old. My cousins and I would have contests on who could expel water from their bodies the farthest. Neil Young wrote a song about it.

I also thought about another song, entitled “Imagine.” Fellow citizens of the Gorge, please imagine this: A Whistler-size resort at Cooper Spur; a coal export terminal at the Port of Hood River; a drone proving ground outside Mosier; a Super Walmart in Bingen; a LNG exporting facility in The Dalles; 1,000-foot windmills outside Parkdale; a 1,000-room hotel/casino in Cascade Locks.

The Naito project is small potatoes. Let’s stop the childish water games, bring on these jobs and imagine embracing even larger projects!

James Konopasek

Mosier

Leadership

During the debate the president was asked about Hillary Clinton taking full responsibility for the American deaths in Libya. He responded that it was his fault and he takes responsibility as the president. He did not allow her to take the blame or simply sneer at the moderator as VP Cheney would have done. He simply took responsibility as our leader.

Several times Gov. Romney was asked about his policies and agenda for the Middle East. He had multiple opportunities to simply state he agreed with the president’s assessment and how we were responding. Instead he chose to rehash the president’s words and policies as if no one had heard or seen any of those things occurring.

Either his handlers told him never to acknowledge any correct decisions made by the president, or he does not keep up with government affairs. As the GOP candidate he apparently has to follow Rep. Congressman Mitch McConnell’s position of “making President Obama a one-term president.”

Gov. Romney failed again when he did not explain his position on Russia as the biggest threat to our country. He should have correctly informed the president that Russia has a significant amount of nuclear material which could be sold or stolen by our enemies and used with drastic results. That would have been an informed and appropriate statement made by someone possessing the necessary leadership qualities to act as the next president.

It is not leadership to act simply as a talking head for your party. That is why the president has upset members of his own party. He is trying to be a leader, not a figurehead. Think about it.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Support English

Matt English has my vote! I am a local small-business owner who deeply cares about our community’s safety needs. I am also a war veteran who understands the importance of great leadership abilities.

With this being said, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Matt English over the last six years. I truly believe Matt possesses the qualities and attributes needed to be the next Sheriff of Hood River County.

Please join me in voting for Matt English!

Travis Paulsen

Hood River

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CUSalin 1 year, 11 months ago

RE: With friends like these…

How did Brent Foster and “Friends” become the parties to negotiate with the Naitos about the motel on the waterfront? Are they elected officials? Who do they represent? Certainly not the majority of us in Hood River County who have lived here most of our lives.

We seem to have attracted a group of people who have moved here, who become “Friends of,” and proceed to dictate to the rest of us what we can and cannot do, with their own recreation interests foremost; they enlist out-of-town-organizations for support. Any decision that does not meet their interests is appealed over and over by a “Friends” group.

By the way, on a plaque of appreciation at the waterfront park listing sponsors of the park is the name of Bob Naito. Is this how “Friends” treat their friends? As the old saying goes, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”

Good luck and much appreciation to the mayor, Mr. Naito and those presenting the boat basin plan. What a shock it would be if the “friends” would actually support something for the good of us all, instead of their own interest.

Ruth Turner

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Extremely sorry to read that anyone would condemn the efforts of so many people who are working so hard to better Hood River's Waterfront.

The Friends of The Hood River Waterfront's focus and efforts are in securing a relatively clean, beautiful, healthy, and accessible waterfront for everyone to enjoy. Does anyone not want this outcome?

Naito Development is working hard to make their risky investment pay-off for both themselves and the community. There's nothing wrong with this.

The Mayor and Port Commissioners are working overtime in attempts to make it work so that it satisfies their charters and constituents. You should be proud of these folks, They are working for you.

Whether you were born here or not, you might as well live anywhere else if you don't get what makes this place so special.., and why so many's efforts are important.

No matter your favor.., please encourage an outcome that balances and protects The Basin's public accessibility, urbanized habitat, and commercial value for years to come.

If this cannot be achieved now.., I think it's worth waiting for.

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