Letters to the Editor for April 26

Greg Walden ‘leashed and led’

Greg Walden needs to realize that he represents rural Oregonians and not multinational corporations. Corporations don’t get sick and thus have no need in healthcare while flesh and blood humans do get sick and do need healthcare. The Affordable Care Act is the best plan we have had to date for people who do not have health insurance through their employers. While admittedly complicated, the ACA is effective, and for many, perhaps most, it has offered quality healthcare at an affordable price.

For half a decade Walden has been trying to earn political brownie points by voting over and over to repeal the Affordable Care Act while, with the exception of his last vote, offering nothing at all to replace it, and with his last vote he sadly tried to steal money from his constituents and hand it over to insurance corporations and their already very rich executives for no good reason at all. With his dozen upon dozens of party line healthcare votes Greg has proven that he isn’t a leader, but just a pawn of greedy corporations, he has allowed himself to become an insignificant pol who has been leashed and led in a direction contrary to the needs of rural Oregon voters.

If Greg Walden wants to lead, he needs to go against the dictates of his party and vote to leave the Affordable Care Act in place while at the same time beginning the process to bring single payer healthcare to the American people.

Jim Denton

Hood River

Rudeness and Walden

Polite and well-mannered is the ideal, but ...

Can Trump and Walden folks try to understand the pain and grief of needy families who have no health care coverage?

A shepherd should protect, not ravage, his flock.

Jeanine Wehr Jones

Hood River

‘Unity’ via support

In response to “Another Voice” in the April 19 edition of the Hood River News, we would like to address the “call to unity” in this article. We agree that there is a feeling of division within our community. After attending town halls for Merkley, Wyden and Walden, many issues were consistently brought up as concerns. The use of loaded words like “grandstanding, hijacked, bully, and deceitfully,” conjures up images of division, and as such, does not promote unity. While the behavior of a few individuals was rude and uncomfortable to many for us, there was a large majority who wanted to respectfully ask questions of our representative and hear straightforward answers.

It is important to seek multiple perspectives to get a clearer picture of what is actually happening. While Ms. Wilhelm stated that Senator Merkley intentionally turned off her mic when she was speaking, others sitting in the front row noted that the mic shut on and off randomly for all speakers, including Senator Merkley. The tech issues were very clear throughout the entire town hall. When Ms. Wilhelm asked why Senator Merkley did not attend the inauguration, he respectfully tried to clarify the question, and responded that he was indeed there, out of respect for the institution of democracy.

In looking forward, and addressing a “call to unity”, the words of JFK resound: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” In the case of Hood River, what can we all do to support each other, our neighbors, regardless of color, status and political persuasion?

Carolyn Welty, Anne Gehrig, Cindy Yoshimura

Hood River

Not a ‘hijacker’

This is my first letter to the editor and I am writing because I can no longer remain silent.

I am disturbed by the way others have described last week’s town hall here in Hood River with Congressman Greg Walden, and by the suggestion that the event was “hijacked.” I attended with my husband, my eldest son, and a friend. We are all residents of Hood River County. I personally brought signs reading “Agree” and “Disagree,” which I handed out to my friends and neighbors.

I am not a hijacker. I am a 40-year old Oregonian with a master’s degree in Elementary Education. I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I am your neighbor. I brought these signs because I believe they provide a respectful way to show our beliefs and a visual impact to be seen by our Congressman, by the press, and by others in the audience. I did not boo or interrupt the Congressman, but I did hold up my signs.

I understand the discomfort of being in that auditorium and hearing the frustration of so many. I know that, for many years, the majority of people in our district have felt that Congressman Walden represented their interests and, because of this, members of both political parties have consistently supported him.

If Congressman Walden represents our district, I do not understand why he would help develop and promote the American Health Care Act. If this “repeal and replace” bill had become law, an estimated 24 million Americans would have lost their health coverage, including 400,000 Oregonians and almost 89,000 residents of our own District 2. Although this bill did not have enough support to be brought to a vote, Rep. Walden supported it until the end. I do not understand how the support of this health care bill by our Congressman can truly be in our interest as his constituents.

Our children are indeed watching us, and I want them to see that I speak up for what I believe in.

Sarah Kellems

Hood River

Know thy neighbor

I am intrigued by some of the letters about the town hall with Congressman Walden. Readers seemed shocked by the divisiveness of the crowd. The only ones who should not have been surprised were the eighth graders. There is not a news agency in the land calling for smooth sailing ahead in politics.

I doubt the Congressman planned to change his stance on any issues based on who yelled the loudest. It would have been really nice to hear him provide more thorough answers to many of the questions posed to him. I was one of the few who raised their voice to say “Let him speak” numerous times. I did so because I realize you cannot formulate a counterargument to something without knowing the position held by the opponent.

I was not surprised to learn that the Congressman is more concerned with ammunitions jobs than lead poisoning in bald eagles, or that his biggest concern about the Paris environmental treaty is related to cost to businesses and not to air or water quality. I have not been surprised that POTUS thinks opening up coal mining jobs for 18-year-old graduates in Appalachia will make America great again.

I am grateful my son was present to see and hear everything which occurred that day. He needs to understand the importance of free speech and discord even when it is not very civil.

Parents who wrote to scold the crowd should know better. The town hall mood was exactly as I expected, given most of the recent policy changes.

Memories are short and biased. The Tea Party was just as loud and disruptive for several years with every policy initiated by President Obama.

Politics is not middle school. Know thy neighbor and the shock factor dissipates accordingly.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Can’t pick and choose

I attended Representative Greg Walden’s Hood River town hall last Wednesday and was heartened by the large turnout. But Walden’s scripted answers, repeating by rote the Republican talking points, and his masterful evasion of the questions only exacerbated the anger on the ground and the increased level of frustration of his constituents. The issue of climate change provided a striking example of Walden’s adept ability of skirting the issues. As a scientist, I questioned Walden’s credentials to refute the consensus view held by climate scientists worldwide. After all, Walden is not a scientist and expert consensus is a powerful thing. But he repeatedly emphasized the need for more study even though 97 percent of published climate scientists agree that humans are responsible for climate change. Rather than accept the scientific consensus and act, Walden has aligned with the extreme elements of his party and ignored the experts.

Walden wants to pick and choose the science he believes. However, science does not allow one to discount facts just because they are inconvenient. Proof is necessary. Which leads me to my point: The evidence is overwhelming that climate change is happening and human activities are accelerating it. Both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which conducted a survey among thousands of scientists from around the world who specialize in climate science, and a separate study by the National Academy of Sciences, have drawn the same conclusions. Yet Walden, who has no formal science background, knows better? As the effects of climate change become more acute, extreme weather events will become more common, disease more prevalent, food more expensive to grow, and the farmers and ranchers of Oregon will have greater difficulty making a living. The IPCC concludes that the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change will increase over time. When Walden states his concern about the cost to taxpayers associated with controlling climate change, he better consider the cost of his inaction. If he wants to ignore science as well as his constituents, he should not be surprised by their further outrage.

Robert Flecker


Dissent is real

In response to Kris Wilhelm’s Another Voice, on April 15, I have to say “Wow,” what different perspectives we are all coming from. I had my teenagers read what you wrote in order to try and understand the divide in our country right now, and see how our self-created perspectives and prejudices prevent us from finding common ground.

We attended the Walden town hall and the Merkley town hall. In both, we witnessed people scared, upset, fearful they would be deported, lose health care, and many frustrated and sad as they watch protection for the planet being stripped away bit by bit. To perpetuate the idea that we are all somehow paid is absurd. We are real, our emotions are real, it’s just that the Trump administration has activated many, both young and old, to become involved and vocal. History has taught us we can’t always be perfectly civil when so much is on the line. Could we all learn to listen more? Of course we could. I was happy to hear Walden continued for much longer than he said he would, though his answers were vague, and he moved on when anything became uncomfortable. He at least showed up and handled himself with composure.

I have to say, I was there when you asked your question to Merkley, the first one a bit confrontational about why he refused to go to Trump’s inauguration. I honestly think he didn’t realize you were the “opposition” and thought you were asking, “Why did he go,” since he did attend. He also responded that he was very willing to work with the Trump team, but they had to be willing to come to the table with the Democrats. These letters continue to show how we can be in the same room, and create completely different realities to support our worldview. I truly am not trying to be confrontational, but just perplexed and trying to understand. To start off, please realize we are real. We are happily showing up for free, for our children, our planet, and ourselves.

Carrie Fuentes

Hood River

Learn from McCall

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

AVID applause

Congrats to HRVHS AVID Grads!

Here is some good news! Amongst the graduates this year at HRVHS, we will have the first group of AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) Program graduates. These kids found individual determination they may not have known they had three years ago, and self-elected to enter the AVID Program in the HRCSD. They committed to putting in more time, completing tougher assignments, and doing so with high quality. For their commitment, they received attention from a fantastic group of AVID Program staff at HRCSD. As a result, these kids are graduating high school (for some of them, that was in doubt three years ago) and 22 of them have been accepted to four-year college or university programs. Nine are first generation high school graduates and 19 will be first generation college students. These students now have more self-confidence, courage and ability to succeed in the future for our community, country, and world. Congratulations to students and staff!

If you love this, consider donating to the AVID Scholarship Fund; checks to “Hood River County Education Foundation — AVID” can be turned in at the High School front office.

Rich Truax

HRCSD Board Member

Hood River

Immigrants vital

The discussion over immigration is filled with emotion and sadly lacking in basic economic information. Without immigrants, a large portion of whom are undocumented, this country cannot feed itself.

Without immigrants, we cannot staff our hospitals, especially in rural areas. Without immigrants, we will not be able to meet our Social Security obligations to older citizens. Nearly half of the new companies started in this country, a vital part of job growth, have been started by immigrants, including some very large ones like Google and Tesla.

If you are going to mischaracterize and disparage immigrants, you should first empty your pockets and not speak with your mouth full.

Ben Seagraves

White Salmon, Wash.

Improve roads

For bikers and walkers, does it not strike anyone as utterly absurd that the recent published road plans included so little for the abundant pedestrians and cyclists sharing these same roads as the only access to ... well, anything? Sharing these with multi-ton vehicles moving at 40 or more miles per hour? And one design was so trucks can move through an area faster? Even more frustrating, with all the deteriorating roads used by so many, the road to the golf course gets new pavement, nor does nothing to address pedestrian and cyclist needs?

During our recent snowfest, our roads had no shoulders and yet, children dropped off at bus stops, walking home on icy berms causes no pause, either from cars or the community! I also tricycle year-round and what I see and experience is of huge concern. And it is both cyclists and pedestrians, by the way.

The Oslo standard limits shared pedestrian and cycle roads to 40 kilometers-per-hour or about 25 mph, so I propose an immediate change to a county wide 25 mph limit in what are clearly residential zones such as Rockford Township.

This limit would also apply during winter or hazardous weather conditions and until all bike and pedestrian routes are debris free and safe, or until appropriate routes are built. Think about people, including kids, going to get the mail, walking to the bus stop, walking their dog, with ears plugged into music or eyes on a phone, or maybe not as nimble as in years past, having to cross this “highway.”

I am sure past bureaucratic reasons justify much of what was and still is done, but it is long past time we designed roads based the width of a horse’s ... um, hindquarters, and consider making Hood River the person-oriented town and country it begs to become with safe pedestrian, cyclist, and equestrian routes.

Dan Baxter

Hood River

Get out the vote

Let me (please help me, Lord!) avoid theory and the sharing of what I think is the true state of things.

This is about what we can do to use the wonderful opportunity this almost extra-terrestrial wrecking ball presents us.

Now, after this huge setback, we might be able to advance rapidly to erase that, and fast.

How might this happen?

If we could get people registered to vote in great number, if we could just make happen one time for real candidates of progress, we could then make Election Day a national holiday, maybe the “Patriotic Day of National Devotion” the current minority president suggested at his swearing in.

So, how might that happen?

Registering to vote has to be a talking point of everybody who talks about anything else political, I think. That means we have to enlist the famous and admired to jump in by making our case when we might obtain their attention. And we have to get people to give money to, e.g. to pay for driver’s licenses, and such things as buses to get our voters to the more and more difficult to access registration offices. (In Alabama, they have eliminated DMV offices so people have to travel as much as 70 miles to register.)

But unless registration and then voting takes on a new character, a new identity (“aura,” “image”), we will still be left with a lot of people who are effectively suppressed as voters because they just find politics too unpleasant and lacking in promise to bother with.

We can come up with the ideas to make enthusiasm about voting contagious. It may be our last chance if we do not do it this time. Write them down, share them and get feedback.

Tell us all what you think about it.

Bob Williams

Hood River

For Guatemala

Thank you School Aid and Rosauers shoppers!

Students from The Dalles High School participated in a service trip to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, over spring break. The trip was supported from a generous donation by the School Aid Charitable Trust. The School Aid fruit bin is located in Rosauers. When you buy apples and pears from this bin, you support local school programs and activities.

Guatemala is a country rich in beauty and culture, yet one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Students delivered water filtration kits to families in extreme need, instructed their use and also taught a health and hygiene curriculum.

Our students were exposed firsthand to extreme poverty, yet were left with the knowledge that they had made a positive difference. The impact of this trip on our students was immense. Thank you again School Aid and Rosauers shoppers!

Brian Greeley, teacher

Hood River

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