Letters to the Editor for April 19

Items needed

Having attended Greg Walden’s town hall meeting yesterday (April 12), I thought some pertinent questions and concerns were raised and addressed.

And The Resistance was present in force, being loud and obnoxious. However, some items they didn’t bring but needed were their binkies and teddy bears.

Donald Rose, MD

Hood River

‘Prepare for the future’

I went to Walden’s town hall meeting on Wednesday afternoon and saw Trump and Walden as not-so-strange bedfellows.

The folks, including me, were loud, raucous, thoughtful, and demanding just the way democracy should be, not timid and obsequious the way long time incumbents think they should be.

When given the opportunity to agree with a woman who said she teaches her kids to stand up to bullies, Walden ignored the standing ovation she received and looked out to answer another question. He moved on again, ignoring the irony when the laughter was loud, after he spoke of Syria’s Assad as being unpredictable, the obvious being that Trump was the unpredictable one.

I came away thinking of the cynicism present in people like Trump and Walden. Make use of the Boy Scouts and kids as symbols of a Hollywood America, keep pretending that missiles and super bombs will finally save the day, pursue power for power’s sake, and never, ever admit that getting people to believe anything and buy everything isn’t the best ego trip of all.

In my lifetime, I’ve seen the Republican party go from Eisenhower to Trump, racism used as a rallying point, dumbing down as virtue, and the sanctification of billionaires as prophets.

Republican voters as well as Democrats need to look each other in the eyes and prepare for the future, not damn the past and bemoan the present.

Al Brown

Hood River

Thanks for ‘Maine’

Thank you again, Rachel Harry, for a meaningful and passionate high school drama. For the audience, “Almost, Maine” touched upon many of the struggles, emotions, and triumphs loving relationships can bring in our lifetimes. In your productions, the students not only learn incredible acting skills, but more importantly, how to be compassionate human beings. Clearly you are a mentor and role model for the students, and they will carry you by their side through life’s journey. What more could a teacher ask for!

Greg Shepherd

Hood River

‘Nailed it’

Congratulations to Rod Parrott, you nailed it!

I have been trying to put words to my exact same thoughts as you expressed in your letter “Rules Have Changed,” but you said it better than I ever could have. I especially liked your comparison of what is going on in our congress to the world of sports, because most Americans know and care a lot more about sports than they do about politics. The big question is, can our democracy continue to exist, or even has it already disappeared, when the rules are changed on an almost daily basis?

Darrell Roberts

Mt. Hood-Parkdale

Losing small-town feel

Undeveloped land is becoming a “dirty word” in Hood River. If you fear land without concrete and buildings as much as the city appears to, you’re in luck. The city has proposed the building of 2,300-plus new units (apartments, single family homes, townhouses, etc.) as part of their Westside Area Concept Plan on the “undeveloped” west side of Hood River.

By conservative measures, this will bring roughly 6,000 new residents to our small town and add 5,000 additional cars to our roadways. The keywords to look for are “rezoning” (more units can be built on smaller spaces) and “smaller lot sizes,” the ones where you can barely park your car and occupants have no storage space for anything, thus making driving in the neighborhood a maze of dodging objects. If you’re not sold on this idea of a new housing development on every available open field or orchard, and built so close together that you couldn’t squeeze a single bowling lane in between your house and your neighbors, they’re enticing you with the promise of more parks, bike paths, and trails. But before you get too excited about that, be sure to read the fine print and talk to those in the know and you’ll learn that at current funding levels, none of these beneficial parks and paths are likely to be built as advertised. It’s the classic bait and switch.

They’ll build the houses and apartments, but don’t expect the additional parks and trails without guilting you into a new funding ballot measure to do so. Look, we all know that there are housing needs in Hood River — I’m sympathetic to that as well. But 2,300 new units crammed into the west side, nearly doubling our little town’s population and creating a traffic nightmare, is not the solution. Shrinking useable green spaces, housing units with no yards, and limited parks and open spaces is a recipe to quickly transform Hood River into “just another suburb of Portland.” That small town feel that we love is about to drastically change, and very few people seem to know about it.

Jeremy Davis

Hood River

Lead, Congressman

Two recent Town Halls in Hood River featured Congressman Walden. The first, with him absent, was vibrant and uplifting; in expressing concerns, the community showed awareness and expertise on important issues, and demonstrated deep caring for neighbors, the environment and common-sense values.

The second was combative, as Mr. Walden and most his constituents differed strongly on fundamental issues. This could have been healthy, but instead illustrated the deep divides that threaten the fabric of our county and country — just when we face critical challenges requiring sustainable solutions.

As a local and national leader, it is incumbent upon Mr. Walden to facilitate consensus. Water and climate are issues needing societal consensus, where scientists and practitioners can offer objective advice.

1) Water is a precious and globally scarce resource. The Columbia Basin has relatively abundant water, but even here there are fiercely competing uses, including power production, flood protection, water irrigation and salmon rearing. Water and irrigation districts throughout the basin (and the country) must modernize aging infrastructure, to increase overall water availability, minimize waste, and improve quality. For example, in our county’s Crystal Springs Water District alone, 35 percent of the water is lost to leaks during distribution; addressing this and other pressing issues will require upwards of $50 million.

Congressman, please champion a data-informed national debate towards the modernization of the U.S. water infrastructure!

2) The evidence-based majority opinion of climate scientists is that human-caused global warming trends are unmistakable and concerning.

Yet, climate change research and mitigation efforts are being curtailed in D.C. through executive orders, federal regulations, budget cuts and wavering support for the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Should these efforts not be, instead, encouraged? Are they not critical to transform a global threat into an opportunity for U.S. leadership, economic development and environmental sustainability? Congressman, please champion a science-informed national debate on climate change strategies!

By promoting these debates and following-up with informed federal legislation, Mr. Walden could facilitate broadly supported sustainable solutions. We, the people, would remain responsible for constructive dialogue within our communities, for sharing our expertise, and for taking local action towards common goals.

Antonio Baptista

Mt. Hood-Parkdale

Walden bullied

The newspaper’s lead front page story should read “Embarrassing Bullies Converge Upon Middle School,” in regard to Rep. Greg Walden’s town hall meeting held April 12.

I was utterly embarrassed and appalled at the level of total disrespect shown at this public event. Constant boisterous outbursts were absolutely uncalled for and the message this sent to the young students in attendance is abhorrent. I thank God my children are now grown and were not subjected to such public behavior. To think, I was encouraging my kids to move back to Hood River and raise my grandchildren here.

It would be laughable, if not for the hypocrisy shown, as one student spoke about bullying and asked for Mr. Walden’s help to address the issue. To this question, the student received a standing ovation, though throughout Mr. Walden’s responses the spoiled liberal mindset in attendance continued to shout out over his speaking. The hypocrisy reeks!

There was even one shouting out his concerns about global warming and science. While Mr. Walden was attempting to express his agreement with this gentleman, the guy continued to rant and rave over the top of Greg’s speaking in response. It was quite evident these liberal bullies had no intention of hearing what our representative had to say or engage in productive dialogue. They want to preach tolerance, but only if it’s tolerating their point of view or political agenda.

From sources in The Dalles, it was a very similar and disheartening situation there as well. I’m curious just what the reaction would have been if the conservative mindset would have acted in a similar manner at Mr. Merkley’s town hall? Perhaps if I was willing to stoop to such a childish sandbox behavior I would find out. As it is, my parents raised me with manners and I learned to have respect for others, even if I don’t always agree. It’s very sad indeed the students that day were shown that bullying is the great American way. So much for “United We Stand ...”

Loran Ayles

Hood River

‘Oregon Way’

This year, I have attended all three town halls held by our elected representatives. The first two, held by our senators, were well organized and orderly. Numbered tickets were provided for a “lottery” to determine who would ask questions insuring an orderly process. The senators answered questions directly, stayed on topic, and often stated directly what actions they would support or oppose going forward.

The last town hall had no process for questions, other than aides with microphones picking people out of the crowd. This led to attendees having to attempt to gain the attention of the aides through noise or physical movement. Mr. Walden was often vague, gave history lessons citing various legislative bill numbers, strayed off topic frequently and gave no definitive answers. To make matters worse, he urged attendees to follow the “Oregon Way,“ a reference to finding solutions by working together — a practice many were questioning with his staunch loyalty to his party rather than working across the aisle.

Needless to say, as the meeting continued, attendees became more and more frustrated with Mr. Walden’s failure to respond to questions and concerns. Yes, many called out demanding he “answer the question” or jeered at his vague statements. Perhaps the most telling was the standing ovation given to Gwen Thomas, who asked that he explain to her children why he continued to support a president whose behavior to women, minorities, foreign leaders and others constitute “bullying.”

His response was that he could do more “inside the room than outside.”

One had to wonder why Mr. Walden is averse to not standing up publicly for behaviors that would cause a student to be suspended, an employee to lose their job or for some a court case for harassment.

Mr. Walden stated that he represents the majority of voters in his district who voted for the sitting president. As the number of people who are unhappy with this president’s behavior and agenda increases, he will need to decide what the Oregon Way really means. He might benefit from a history lesson on Tom McCall.

Kim Vogel

Hood River

Engaged in civics

Some have lamented the tone of Hood River’s town hall meeting with Congressman Walden on Wednesday, April 12. I also found it painful and uncomfortable at times. Like many others, I don’t think that jeering or calling names is a good or effective practice. However, the great majority of those who commented or questioned Mr. Walden, even when disagreeing with him, stayed respectful and were also well-informed.

The congressman can be commended for being unscripted and under fire for most of two hours. But I can’t support many of his positions, his general swing from a once-moderate stance to complicity with a far-right agenda, and his failure at the town hall to answer several direct questions on vital issues. There were even inaccuracies in some of his remarks, including those about opiate addiction.

In dodging the question of whether he supports our meeting the nation’s expressed commitments to the Paris Accords, he both claimed ignorance of the details, yet criticized the alleged price tag of those commitments. He reaffirmed that he wants to preserve some popular provisions of Obamacare (namely, insuring of young adults under their parents’ plans and not allowing exclusions for pre-existing conditions). Yet he represented the GOPs failed ACA-replacement bill as something that would have helped Medicaid (low income) beneficiaries, the state of Oregon, and seniors, etc. — despite the fact that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and our governor’s office both predicted just the opposite effects.

I could go on, but suffice to say that opposition to Mr. Walden is understandable. It is no surprise that this was reflected by the tense tone of the town hall meeting. I don’t agree that the tone suggests the nation has suddenly lost civility or is descending into anarchy. Even Mr. Walden said we reminded him of Congress. (And far more heated debate has long been heard in the halls of government, community meetings, and rallies for centuries.) Personally, I’m grateful for the surge in civic engagement.

Tina Castañares


Don’t rock the boat

Town Hall Part 1: Don’t rock the boat. When Betty and I were first married, we went fishing with her dad. Neither one could swim. They really got upset if somebody rocked the boat.

Politics. Donald Trump is a businessman, not a politician. But he has had to deal with politicians. He and the silent majority said enough is enough and ran for president. Even the Republican party didn’t want him to be president. But he is our president and he rocked the boat big time.

Town Hall Part 2: I sat through that and was very disgusted with the actions of some people who I used to call friends. This was the “give me, give me, you owe me” crowd. I asked myself, which is worse, this bunch of rowdies or a 3-year-old throwing a temper tantrum? Maybe you hang out at Starbucks or other coffee shops too much and are on a caffeine high.

You didn’t come to the town hall to listen to Representative Walden. You came to disrupt the town hall. The orchardist says thank you Mr. Walden. The Yakima and the Warm Springs Indian Tribes both approached him the correct way. We have a problem, can you help us?

Sitting in congress, we have our own Hood River native, Greg, who is very influential in the House of Representatives. So who is he going to listen to? Those who say, “We need your help.” Or those who are in attack mode, yelling and screaming? You don’t support him, you try to tear him apart. So tell me, is there any good reason he should support your cause? You’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Russ Paddock

Hood River

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