Upzoning is a scary word if you are one who appreciates a quality town life that includes a lot of green space and no traffic jams or overcrowding. Upzoning is a word synonymous with less nature and more concrete, less quiet and more noise, less peace and more congestion. It is also synonymous with serious money for a select few who will develop and market the upzoned lands. Of course they are all for it and are ready to convince us of the benefits. Be wary of them folks.
Yes, we have a growing affordable housing problem in Hood River. No, we do not need a new upzoned plan to address it! Thankfully a citizens group has formed to stand up for the initial plan in an effort to ensure a liveable Hood River long into the future. Liveability and affordable housing are not mutually exclusive with the original plan. They are with the new plan. This issue needs to come up for popular vote as it is way too important to be decided by a small group, some who probably have a vested interest in an upzoned outcome.
Of course, overpopulation is the heart of the issue, along with the fact that we are blessed with a rare paradise of a place to call home. Recall the Eagles line from the song “The Last Resort:” “Call a place paradise, kiss it goodbye.” Well, we’ve named it that, continue to promote it so, and now it’s up to us to indeed kiss it goodbye or figure out a way to live here in a sensible way that does not destroy the values that make Hood River the wonderful place it is. Examples abound of paradises who embraced that fatal kiss and are now places better avoided. Let’s not be one of them!
And the song goes on ... “Who will provide the grand design, what is yours and what is mine? ‘Cause there is no more new frontier, we have got to make it here.”
It was sad to return to Hood River this summer and see that the once beautiful views of the Columbia River are now almost totally obstructed by even more three-story buildings along the waterfront. But I think that I understand why the government in Hood River has let this happen. These are good people with good intentions. They have grown up with this beautiful scenery all around them. To them it is not precious. There is plenty more. And so why not let the developers make more money. The town needs that too.
And so I get it, I understand. But I just wonder if future generations will understand.
Pay for what?
Kurt Vonnegut famously coined the phrase, “In this world, you get what you pay for.” To what world is he referring? I understand that we pay for what we get. But get what we pay for? Not so much.
Our courts are jammed and lawyers are getting rich as folks seek satisfaction over failures to deliver. Let’s look at the family model.
Most parents understand that pursuing careers does not relieve them of their accountability for the health, safety, welfare and guidance of their children. Their career choices should not relieve them of similar duty to their employers, employees, customers, stockholders or any other individuals they serve. Obviously, large numbers of them fail to see the connection as the lure of money, influence, and their narcissism steal their empathy for anyone outside the range of their tunnel vision.
We all know who many of these people are. While they are not necessarily politicians, they’re into politics in a big way, and here’s the rub. Our Constitution and its Bill of Rights clearly define the roles and responsibilities of government, the people who run it, and who they represent as they run it. However, these unelected folks feel entitled to run it in view of their wealth and the influence it buys.
Sadly, they’re getting away with it as our Supreme Court ordained that the enormously rich entities the wealthy control have the same rights as you and me when it comes to financing elections (Citizens United — McCutcheon v. FEC, 2014).
So, who do the president and the congress and their state counterparts represent? Is it “The People” as stipulated in our Constitution, or the power brokers who unfortunately have the undivided attention of the executive and legislative houses around the country? Our taxes and fees pay for leadership that is attentive to and supportive of equal opportunity in all aspects of our lives. Are we getting what we pay for, Kurt?
Contributions to Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Greg Walden during this term of office up to and including the first half of 2016 help explain what’s happening to our healthcare — or about to happen to our healthcare, depending on your perspective. According to OpenSecrets.org, the senator from Kentucky reaped over $4,486,526 in contributions from the healthcare industry and others having an interest in healthcare legislation during 2011-2016, his latest term in office. Greg Walden appears to have taken in $713,859 during this latest term, and Speaker Paul Ryan appears to have taken in $751,723. Please remember senators serve for six years and those in the house are elected every two years. This doesn’t include contributions from lawyers, although lobbyists were included. Please go to the website and look for yourself — it’s interesting to see who spends how much to influence our elected representatives. You can also look at numbers for PACs and individual donors, which aren’t included there. Other numbers could be included; these seemed to be the fairest.
Given the contributions made by industries, PACs and individuals to these three congressmen, do you think they will have your best interests at heart when making healthcare decisions that will affect you and your family?
These figures were checked twice on a pocket calculator with no paper backup, please verify them for yourself.