Greg Walden exploits the urban-rural divide narrative for personal gain — not the Oregon way.
In a fundraising letter to supporters on Aug. 3, Rep. Walden claimed he was under siege by “the most liberal agitators in Oregon,” imploring, “Does Nancy Pelosi or the Hollywood elites really need another vote in Congress? Our vote?”
I attended Rep. Walden’s April 12 town hall, the only one in Hood River since the 2016 election. I was taken aback by his letter, which claimed “paid organizers” were packing our town halls, stating, “Many drove from Portland to scream, chant and shout me down. It’s a nationalized effort and they’ve zeroed in on our district.”
Paid organizers? No, Rep. Walden, I took a pay-cut so I could leave work early to attend your town hall, which was scheduled during the workday.
The town hall I attended was made up of locals, many who volunteer countless hours to strengthen our community and defend the Constitution.
I didn’t meet a single Portlander or celebrity.
I’m disappointed that you falsely portrayed your own constituents as outsiders who want “to kick ranch families off the range, have the federal government seize control of water rights and impose more federal regulations on those trying to create jobs.” This narrative does not add up, and from what I’ve heard, local “ranch families” aren’t buying it either.
These constituents would be adversely affected by the destabilization of rural hospitals if the healthcare legislation you championed had passed.
That’s in addition to the 64,000 individuals in District 2 the CBO projected would lose healthcare from your proposed bill. I find it interesting there is not a single mention of healthcare or your role as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee in your letter. Perhaps you’re not proud of your work either?
District 2 doesn’t need Portland, Pelosi, or Hollywood elites to pack our town halls — we have the people power to make that happen on our own, which I believe you are fully aware of. Rep. Walden, now is not the time to double-down on Trumpian-style narratives or falsehoods that pit neighbor against neighbor.
I pride myself on being a careful writer and a good speller. When I write a column for this newspaper, or submit work for other publications, I always read, and reread, my piece out loud, often at least a dozen times. I also check the “Tools” box on my computer to make sure I haven’t misspelled anything or inadvertently used improper grammar. Finally, I double check spelling and word usage using my trusty old dictionary. When I’m sure it’s “clean,” I send the finished work off via email.
I followed all these steps in writing my Hood River News column for the Aug. 9 addition. Reading it today, as a published piece for all to see, I gasped. Somehow, I described Rosemary Wells’ husband as diseased, rather than deceased. My apologies to the fine gentleman, who may have been sick before he passed, but deserves to be remembered differently.
Peggy Dills Kelter
Editor’s Note: Out of respect to Rosemary Wells’ husband, and to Peggy Dills-Kelter, the editor also apologizes as it was his responsibility to catch the error. It has been corrected online.
PERS change needed
In his Editor’s Notebook piece (2016), Kirby Neuman-Rea on high pay for coaches is correct. There are certain categories that we pay outrageous amounts to enjoy people’s performances. Coaches are certainly one category, and entertainers and athletes also fall into this category. When it comes to our governments, it seems to me that we should either have caps on these salaries or have the recipients — universities in this case — pay for this out of their budgets without influencing the costs to students, parents and citizens. If you go down to California, you’ll find tuition costs far lower for in state students than what Oregon charges.
In addition to paying coaches, there are facilities that have been built at our biggest universities that are very expensive — think playing fields, training facilities, practice facilities, scholarships, uniforms and much more.
Another problem this creates is its impact on PERS. Two of the highest paid recipients of PERS are former U of O coaches, and the others remaining from the top 10 are mostly from OHSU — these are/were doctors. The average recipient of PERS receives approximately $29,000 in retirement money; those in the top 10 start at well over $600,000, at least one coach gets over $500,000 annually. Shouldn’t these retirees be maintained by their schools in retirement and not by the bulk of the citizens?
When you look at the cost of PERS to the citizens, you quickly realize that it affects the amount of police and fire personnel we have, the amount of teachers, and the amount of people serving us at the counter in the DMV.
Isn’t it time for a change? Are you getting half a million in retirement in addition to your Social Security?
Abolish atomic bombs
The human outline chalk drawings created on the sidewalks of downtown Hood River on Aug. 6 by Columbia River Fellowship of Peace members were made to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the hundreds of thousands of lives snuffed out by the atomic bombs our country dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki near the end of World War II. The bombs carbonized or vaporized the people who were nearest to the bomb blast.
The escalating war of words and actions with North Korea poses a real danger of nuclear war and similar destruction.
However, a treaty banning nuclear weapons was recently passed by the United Nations. In it, 122 non-nuclear nations, refusing to be held hostage by the nuclear nations any longer, have acknowledged the science that proves how even a small regional nuclear war using less than one-half of a percent of the global nuclear arsenals would result in the deaths of two billion people on the planet from the nuclear famine that would follow.
This treaty sets a new norm of international behavior and responsibility and, when ratified, requires that nations not develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess, stockpile, transfer, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. The treaty opens for signatures on Sept. 20.
Once 50 nations have signed and ratified it, the treaty becomes international law 90 days later. Nations who continue to possess and threaten the use of nuclear weapons will be outside of international law and norms.
Please take a moment of silent remembrance for the countless victims of war in our world and then demand our government ratify this treaty. Let us begin the hard work of abolishing these weapons forever. The health and future of our children depend upon it.
Columbia River Fellowship for Peace
‘Gross moral outrage’
The article in the Saturday, Aug. 5 edition of the Hood River News entitled “Another Voice: The Oregon PERS debt time bomb” is just another unworthy and disingenuous hit piece on teachers and public employees in general. My parents were life-long public school teachers in Oregon. Every three to five years when their salaries were up for renegotiation, the state and local government entities pleaded poverty in response to the teachers’ requests for salary increases, even those for simple increases due to inflation. Over the years, public school teachers’ salaries lagged far behind those paid in the private sector.
As public school teachers’ salaries worsened, the state and local government entities continued to plead poverty and continued to deny public school teachers’ requests for decent salaries. However, the state and local government entities told the teachers that their reduced salaries would be made up to them by incremental increases in their retirement benefits. With no other recourse, the teachers accepted their diminished salaries on the basis of the state and local government agencies’ promise of decent retirement benefits.
Now that the teachers have invested their entire careers in educating the general public’s children and are expecting to receive their promised retirement benefits, they are again confronted with the state and local government entities’ pleas of poverty. If there ever was a gross bait and switch, the cries to steal public school teachers’ retirement by not funding PERS is a gross moral outrage which cannot be tolerated.
Lance S. Stryker
White Salmon, Wash.
I am both happy and sad regarding the development of the waterfront area in Hood River.
Happy because on these beautiful days of summer, seeing people stroll through the lovely walking/bike path is a joy. Watching children romp in the nicely created waterfront beach and play structures warms my heart. Even the wonderful retail businesses that are packed with happy people eating and drinking on the patios looking out to the water is a wonderful use of the area in my opinion. I’m a bit sad because it seems that the newly constructed commercial, retail and medical buildings will soon block the view of the river completely from the downtown area.
My biggest concern is that with children and adults recreating, and ever-growing restaurant, coffee and bar facilities, we still get to walk outside after our meals and drinks and smell the distasteful odors of a water treatment plant just upwind. How can sewer odors possibly encourage a growing crowd of food and drink enthusiasts? When trying to decide where to meet my family and friends for a meal or a drink I always consider whether the wind is blowing and whether my appetite will be ruined by this horrible odor. How can this possibly be good for the growing business of Hood River? Is there a solution?
In response to David Hupp’s letter to the editor on Aug. 5: I agree that the piece of property that is to become Golden Eagle Park was nicely wooded and had quiet trails. I have walked my dog and ridden my mountain bike there numerous times as a portion of the Indian Creek trail system and I mourn the loss of natural habitat, yet at the same time celebrate the creation of a facility where people of all ages can congregate and participate in engaging and healthful activity. This park will support tennis, basketball, pickleball, bocce, a pump track, a nature trail and a picnic area as well as much needed parking for the sports fields and is accessible via the aforementioned Indian Creek trail system. In my opinion, the tax payer dollars that were dedicated for just such a purpose are dollars well spent.
Humans are social creatures and need places where they can get together outside, relax and enjoy each other’s company. Parks such as this supply that need are part of community building and help make Hood River a special place to live. Relative to my particular bias, what you call “faddish recreational tinsel,” pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America. It is predicted that it will grow from 2 million players to 8 million in the next few years. The reasons for this are it’s easy learn yet challenging to get good, appeals to all ages and you don’t have to be a great athlete to have fun playing.
As a pickleball enthusiast, I’m excited to have three dedicated public pickleball courts in Hood River. I believe that in two years we will have over 500 pickleball players in our area. These courts will be well used.
So yes, we have lost something and we’ve also gained something in return. Whether what was gained is of higher or lower value is a matter of opinion, but I can say more people will soon be enjoying that piece of land than have in the past. I thank the county commissioners, parks and rec and all who came together to make this happen.
This week (Aug. 13-19) is National Health Center Week, and we are proud to be part of the Gorge’s own community health center, One Community Health. Our clinics in Hood River and The Dalles serve residents of Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Skamania and Klickitat counties. Like other federally-supported health centers, One Community Health (formerly known as La Clínica del Cariño) makes the costs of care affordable, with the quality of care as good as any other health care setting — and studies prove it.
One Community Health is helping to transform health care delivery by working with each patient as a whole person and helping that person to achieve their health goals. Our teams of highly trained, caring professionals treat our patients with dignity and respect, with a focus on preventing costly illness and disease before they happen. That means better health for our community’s residents, and consumers, taxpayers, and governments save money.
A fundamental characteristic of all 1,300 plus health centers around the country is that they are rooted in their local communities. Like all centers, ours has a community board whose members volunteer their time and energy. In addition, at least half the board members must be patients of the center, so the patient voice is not only heard but is also at the governance table.
Please join us in supporting and celebrating our local health center. Visit our website www.onecommunityhealth.org, send us any questions (firstname.lastname@example.org), and learn for yourself why health centers are such a good prescription for our nation’s health.
Kristen Dillon, chair
Shanon Saldivar, vice-chair
Board of directors, One Community Health