At the rate Hood River is growing, in a few years it will lose its rural charm and essence and be reduced to nothing more than a Portland suburb.
Rules have changed
I went to a baseball game once where one manager insisted his team get four designated hitters each inning. The other manager says, “Then we get six outs.” The ﬁrst says, “One foul ball and you’re out.” The umpire says, “I don’t care where the ‘strike zone’ is; I’ll call them however I want to.” One manager says, “Okay, but no base lines.” The other chimes in, “Ignore the foul poles, and if a ball bounces over the fence, it’s a ground rule home run.” The other counters, “But only one home run allowed every three innings.” A bunch of spectators went to the concession stands (the real purpose of the games). Still others converted their programs into signs and started a demonstration. The stadium staff ﬁnally turned out the lights and went home.
Pardon me for mixing sports and politics, but it seems to me that we’re playing fast and loose with our other “national pastime.” In the matter of the conﬁrmation of a Supreme Court nominee, from Mitch McConnell’s refusal to allow consideration of Merritt Garland to the Democratic ﬁlibuster and the Republican invocation of the “nuclear option” in order to conﬁrm Neil Gorsuch, each side is arguing about the rules and the whole exercise is sliding into chaos. Citing arcane rules or precedents, senators have not only changed the way Supreme Court nominees are conﬁrmed, but also our presidential election rules: apparently, we no longer elect a president for a term of four years. It is for something over three years, or, effectively, whenever the next election cycle starts. And as we all know, that is as soon as one election is over. Apparently our current president is already campaigning for 2018 or 2020. There are, of course, other challenges to the rules. It’s ironically called “gaming the system”: allowing corporations to be players (“Citizens United”), enacting voter-ID laws aimed at suppressing votes among some constituencies, gerrymandering, and allowing out-of-state or out-of-district money to ﬂood local and regional elections. To add to this irony, much of this gaming is done while espousing “law and order.” Does anybody really think this is good for the game?
‘Let us be angry’
Mayor Paul Blackburn and City Manager Steve Wheeler,
I wanted to take a moment and thank you, Mr. Blackburn, for holding the meeting regarding the Children’s Park. I think it showed that the city understood the announcement of the closing of the park could have been handled better, and that there is a strong desire to keep the park as a part of the community. I appreciate your honesty regarding the safety and the liability aspect of owning a potentially dangerous park, and the possible ramifications for the city.
That said, however, I would like to express my disappointment in the demeanor and tone presented to the public. While we all understood why the park was closed, there wasn’t, in my opinion, enough honor and respect displayed for the individuals and families that worked so hard to produce the park in the first place. I heard quite a bit of defensive language and jokes made that fell on deaf ears. This community needed an opportunity to be upset and to express that to their elected officials. What we heard instead was, “Sorry, but you should have made it out of more durable materials.” Being defensive in this situation was a poor choice. It shows complete insensitivity to the community, and creates a divide between the administration and their constituents. It was your job to listen, honor and respect, and instead you tried to drive the conversation toward resolution, when we are not ready for that yet. Let us grieve. Let us be angry. Show compassion and empathy; give us time. Then, and only then, help us move forward.
Walden, protect us
Mr. Walden, we in agricultural Hood River County need you to break with Trump and demand EPA Chief Scott Pruitt do his job to protect our health.
In an early move in the Trump attack on science and the environment, Pruitt has refused to ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos. This is completely contrary to the agency’s own science, including review of many scientific studies establishing that even very low levels of exposure to chlorpyrifos can cause irreparable damage to children’s developing brains.
Studies document reduced IQ, loss of working memory and attention deficit disorder in children exposed to this pesticide. The scientific evidence is so strong that chlorpyrifos was banned 17 years ago for residential use. But now Pruitt is allowing its continued use on staple foods like corn, wheat, apples and citrus, contaminating our food and water, and endangering agricultural workers and families in rural communities.
Mr. Walden, please end your lockstep adherence to the destructive, anti-science Trump agenda, and act to protect your constituents from chlorpyrifos and Pruitt. Silence is complicity, and we will hold you responsible.
This is an open letter to Congressman Greg Walden: I am very sorry, sir, that you are being attacked mercilessly by Democrats who can’t accept losing an election. I am also sorry that more Republicans in the district are not standing up for you right now. Please know that I have your back.
I usually don’t write letters to the editor, but I felt compelled to do so after reading attack letter after attack letter from liberals and knowing that you must feel very alone at times. It is very tiresome that we put up with their liberal agenda for the last eight years and acted decent the whole time, while they cannot accept the fact that we won in November.
Although many of us get busy with life and don’t take the time to show our support, you have it. We vote for you in strong numbers because we know that you are there to stop government red tape from choking rural economies and out-of-control agencies from strangling business growth and harming ranchers and farmers who grow our food.
I commend you for standing up for American values and having the courage and perseverance to carry on every day under fire. I and my family are grateful beyond words that you are willing to weather this gale on our behalf.
Saturday’s Walden Town Hall was yet another demonstration of what a great community this is! The organizers had tried for weeks to get our Congressman to hold a community town hall in Hood River. His schedule did not allow him to commit, so we held a town hall without him. Hundreds of people of all ages came with serious issues and questions for Congressman Walden. The event was respectful and demonstrated the concerns of everyone who attended — concerns about health care, immigration, internet privacy, and the toxic impacts of big donors on Congressional decision making. All of the comments should be made available to Mr. Walden.
Our Congressman is coming to Hood River after all, on Wednesday, April 12 for an hour from 3-4 p.m. at the Hood River Middle School. Fewer teens and working people will be able to attend at that time. Let’s hope for a meaningful dialog and a good turnout.
Last week was our area’s first-ever Sexual Assault Awareness Week, and because that issue is close to my heart, I participated in everything that was offered. I read in this newspaper the official proclamations by both the city and county councils, the many Letters to the Editor, and several other articles and photos. I listened to a student being interviewed on the radio. I saw the student-made video that ran as a trailer at Andrew’s Pizza. I stopped by the high school to see the pledge cards the students had hung from the trees. I went to Wy’east to see the movie “Audrie and Grace.” I checked out the “jeans art” in front of the library. I went to the public meeting hosted by Gorge Ecumenical Ministries.
Each of these was well worth the effort, but the highlight of my week came on the very first day. That Sunday, Karen Shultz, a dual survivor of domestic and sexual assault, and now an advocate at Helping Hands Against Violence, spoke at my church about her own experiences. Her story was deeply moving and powerful, but she kept the focus on surviving and thriving, not staying a victim. Not letting the bad things define her, in other words.
It was one of those “you could have heard a pin drop” times, and Karen’s unconditional honesty and bottomless compassion for fellow survivors was so moving that, in the discussion after her talk, two longtime members of our congregation revealed their own sexual assaults — assaults that few of us, if any, had heard before. Later in the week, another woman approached me and told me her own story — an assault she could never tell her own parents during their lifetimes.
So, what did I learn from last week? Obviously, the vital importance of prevention, but also that survivors of sexual assault are all around us. There’s a saying, “Think you don’t know a survivor? Think again,” and now I see how true that is. My wife, Leanne Hogie, envisions a new group with SASS — Sexual Assault Survivor Supporters. I don’t know if they’d accept men, but if they do, sign me up.
I can understand the sentiment behind the bag ban, but I would argue that it is harmful to environmental causes. It is just an empty gesture benefitting the stores but not the environment. The harm comes in that it gives us the illusion that we are doing something good for the environment. How big of a difference does it make that Safeway, Rosauers, and Walmart are not allowed to use plastic bags and can charge for paper bags? The ordinance saves them from having to stock up on bags and they get to charge for paper bags, so of course they are going to support this “politically correct green initiative.” However, it has done nothing to decrease the use of plastic bags for fruits, vegetables, bakery, and deli items. It has not curbed the use of saran wrapped styrofoam packaging. There is no change in the amount of superfluous packaging that many items come in. They still give away plastic silverware in the deli. If corporations really cared about the environment, they would change the packaging requirements. Corporations exist to make money, so if banning bags is popular with consumers so be it. It is a win/lose proposition.
They win because they look like they are doing something for the environment while benefiting their bottom line, and we lose because we think we are doing something for the environment when we are not. It’s like feeling socially responsible for picking up after your dog by putting one of the most biodegradable substances on earth (poop) into one of the least (a plastic bag). We delude ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, alternatives to plastic packaging is a good idea, but it’s more than banning store bags. It takes legislation at the state and national level requiring 90 percent of everything that is manufactured and sold is recyclable. And that the producers of big ticket items are responsible for recycling them after they are worn out. This is not a fantasy, it’s already reality in other countries. We just lack the imagination and political will to make it happen here.
Editor’s note: Rosauers and other stores have stopped charging for bags, and city policy is in the process of being amended to make the paper bag fee optional.
Many local readers seem upset that Congressman Walden is not representing them, citing conflict with his policies. We should remind ourselves that the Congressman consistently wins 70 percent of this district.
A few months ago, a reader from the eastern part of our district correctly pointed this out stating to local residents that the policies of the Congressman do represent the majority of his constituents. Since no one is accusing Russia of tampering with Hood River politics, we have to accept that the Congressman has the right to represent our district.
The Congressman surely understands the issues we face locally and across his district. He has chosen to support certain policies and candidates based on his personal and political views about these issues. I have no choice but to accept his decisions even though they are diametrically opposed to my own because I respect the political process.
It is unfortunate that a vocal minority in our district seems to have no voice. Many people I know have attempted to contact the Congressman’s office several times through published phone numbers and email addresses. None have received any form of response. If you represent this district, you have a legal obligation to hear all sides of an issue. A comfortable 70 percent vote does not remove you from your duty to do so. That is not representation.