Letters to the Editor for March 15

Against ordinance

In our “Cascade Lock’s News” letter the citizens of Cascade Locks received notice on March 1 that the City Planning Commission is considering an ordinance to make short term rentals difficult for AirBNB, VaCasa, VRBO, home share, and transient rentals. My question is, who is driving this ordinance and what are your concerns? I live next to a neighbor who started a B and B last year to help give her income due to her husband’s death a couple of years ago. I am sure there are other citizens in our town who depend on this income as well.

I see the problems stated are noise, excessive garbage, and parking issues. I know my neighbor does not allow animals and is very quiet and clean. If an occupant has a larger vehicle, say a motor home, that person could find another area to park that vehicle. All of these issues are of little significance as they can be solved through language in a contract by the host. Unlike many absentee vacation owners, people who rent rooms in our town are there to maintain and monitor their property, oftentimes to a much higher standard than longtime residents.

I am also against this ordinance as it can hurt our economy. The people who rent these places come to the Gorge to spend money: dine out, hike, windsurf, fish, and other tourist venues. Other potential economic possibilities could be new jobs, such as property managers, cleaning and yard maintenance, or catering.

I am a senior citizen and have a beautiful home and have wondered if my husband passed away would I be interested in having a B and B to make ends meet. Our town is a tourist town and that is how it prospers. It would be detrimental to the community to stop such venues for tourists.

Margie Curtis

Cascade Locks

Rights lost

Dear Millennials, you are about to lose your reproductive rights.

The Republicans and the far right do not have to overturn Roe, they have been chipping away at your reproductive freedoms for years, at both the state and federal levels. Under the direction of our new Health and Human Services Secretary, things are going to get much worse. Tom Price has publicly opposed the contraceptive mandate under the ACA (Obamacare). Any new insurance legislation coming out of this Republican Congress will most likely not include contraceptive coverage.

Already we are hearing specific threats to defund Planned Parenthood, and the Republicans have been advocating for Title X cuts (Federal grant for family planning) since 2010.

In addition, the movement to declare life at conception is threatening to deny women access to many effective contraception choices such as IUDs.

Individual states have been enacting laws to restrict abortions. Twenty-two states have six or more major restrictions on access, four states have four to five major restrictions, nine states have two to three major restrictions, and only 11 states have one major restriction. A few examples of such restrictions are limits on medication abortions, waiting periods, misleading counselling and many more.

Defunding of Planned Parenthood, Title X cuts, and state restrictions on abortion are all intended to reduce women’s reproductive rights. Women like the choices that reproductive freedom brings: later marriage, opportunities to further their education, the ability to work, to support their families, and to choose their family size, to name just a few.

Only you can stop this assault. Vote for legislators at both the state and federal level that will protect and expand these rights. Let Greg Walden, your Republican Congressman in Washington, know you do not want him to defund Planned Parenthood, cut Title X funds or take away the ACA contraceptive mandate, by calling his office at 202-225-6730.

Sandra Holden Montag

White Salmon, Wash.

The bill fails

Dear Representative Walden, I am forced to write to you this way as you have never acknowledged receipt of my letters. When I call, your staff doesn’t answer. The time I was able to leave a message, your office never responded.

Obamacare has extremely serious flaws. Conceptually, repeal and replace is the way to go. Your bill fails to fix the problems. The greatest hindrance is blatant partisanship which overshadows the real needs of main street America: a good healthcare system.

Obamacare wasn’t healthcare reform, but insurance reform. It failed it’s two primary goals: not providing access for all to healthcare, and not bringing down costs of healthcare. This needs to happen. You stated your bill will “provide the people with what they’ve asked for: greater choice, lower cost, and flexibility ...” Your bill fails at that 100 percent, as did Obamacare. You also said subsidies and Medicaid “… is not sustainable.” Of course not. But you refuse to address what will bring those costs down.

Former Senator Baucus’ white paper on healthcare, written before Obamacare, still stands today as what’s wrong with America’s healthcare system. Exorbitant costs keep many Americans from access to healthcare.

This was wrongly addressed by Obamacare. Your bill fails, too.

The greatest roadblock to affordable healthcare is the insurance industry, which has driven administrative costs to be about half the total cost of healthcare in this nation. It’s a paperwork nightmare. No country in the world is even within an order of magnitude of that.

Insurance is not healthcare, but creates roadblocks to the working poor of our nation which keeps many from getting access to healthcare. That‘s where Obamacare failed. The health insurance marketplace is an unaccountable bureaucracy impeding America’s working poor. I wrote you a substantive letter explaining what happened to me — it took half a year to fix, even with a senator’s help — and other serious problems I found while struggling to straighten it out. That’s what needs fixing.

Let the American people have the healthcare that one would expect from a country that calls itself the greatest county on earth.

Rick Meis

Halfway, Ore.

A life of learning

Left unchecked, the influence of the spirit would move us gently, but inexorably, toward unity. Unity is a facet of equality.

Because of this, the creation and maintenance of hierarchy requires perpetual diligence. The influence of the spirit must be contained. We do this within our intuitions. We keep God in special buildings. To be with Him, you must go there at special times. This is how we limit His access to us, so we are free to create a culture that celebrates the acquisition of wealth at the expense of the poor.

We keep art in special buildings. If you want to see art, you must go to galleries and museums.

This is how we make art valuable and a job. If artists’ work doesn’t sell, they must change it until it does.

We keep learning in special buildings. We send our children there, make them sit in rows and all learn the same thing at the same time. After 12 years, we give them a piece of paper that says they never have to learn again. This is how we make teaching a job and control what our children learn.

What would happen if God had access to us all everywhere, all the time? What would happen if we were all artists, and we saw art everywhere we went? What would happen if we were all always both teachers and students, and every encounter was a learning and teaching opportunity?

I’ll tell you what would happen. Hierarchy would crumble and fall. Are we going to let that happen?

David Warnock

Hood River

Lives changed over 5 cents

Recently I’ve been reading and overhearing how peoples’ lives have been dramatized because they didn’t have the foresight to bring their own bags into a grocery store.

Too bad there isn’t a You Tube video available for these people to watch, showing how the check-out line works in Europe and much of the rest of the world. In Europe, you best have your own bags or be wearing a coat with lots of pockets. You’ll also need to be reasonably fast at packing your own bags. If not, the next customer’s items will be sliding down the chute, mingling with yours. In England, ask for carry out help and you would probably be laughed out of the store.

I don’t know if they are still available or not but recently I noticed, at the entrance to the stores, barrels of shopping bags, free for the taking. The alternative is to buy your own. They are cheap in price, light weight and will last a long, long time. I’ve have some of mine for a decade or longer.

I applaud the Hood River City Council. Too bad the ordinance isn’t countywide. Better yet, statewide. I hope someday soon, something like this becomes national. Let’s keep the plastic bags out of the roadside ditches and the landfills.

Larry Larson

Mt. Hood

Where’s Walden?

The administration and the Republican Congress have decided to push a healthcare plan that will throw 20-plus million off healthcare, raise rates drastically for the elderly, eliminate the increase/extension in Medicaid, and worst, give a tax break to health care CEOs making in excess of $500,000. There are other problems with it too numerous to mention.

So where’s our Rep. Walden? He was on TV yesterday pushing this plan along with Rep. Ryan. Rep. Walden chose to do town halls in the far corners of the state — did anyone see him in or around Hood River doing a town hall to explain how we’re supposed to get our healthcare with this plan? You will also notice that Paul Ryan, Greg Walden and company attempted to hide this bill and then push it through without its first being assessed by the Congressional Budget Office, which would give us an idea of the financial consequences of this bill.

I couldn’t help notice that both our senators were either in Portland or Hood River for town halls — again, where’s Walden? If you’d like to express yourself to him about healthcare or anything else, you can reach him in Washington at 202-225-6730. He really needs to know what his constituents are thinking about healthcare, immigration, potential and ongoing wars, schools and so many other issues.

Rob Brostoff

Cascade Locks

Post partisanship?

How do we get beyond partisanship?

The election is over, so Greg Walden and Mark Johnson do not have to listen to the dissenting voices in their districts. They received the more than 50 percent our closed bipartisan election system uses to determine who wins 100 percent. So in their minds, they are serving the best interests of their constituents because it is their interests that got them elected.

This is a clear indication why our closed bipartisan electoral system contributes to the degrading of our democracy. The people chosen to represent us are elected by just over half of the people who vote. Because we have a closed primary system, the candidates Oregonians get to choose from are selected by a shrinking partisan system. In the last election, 32 percent of voters were excluded from participating in the primaries because they do not identify with the ideals of either the Democratic or the Republican parties. The number of unaffiliated voters climbed 5 percent in the four years prior to the 2016 election, supporting the idea that people are becoming more disaffected with the closed party system.

In our district, it is clear that the 50 percent plus one number of voters ,when forced to vote for the lesser of two evils, lean toward republican ideals. It is not that they agree with them, but between two candidates chosen by the partisan diehards, we get to choose from on Election Day we pick Greg Walden and Mark Johnson over the current Democratic nominees.

If we want our representatives at the local, state, and national levels to truly represent the interests of our community, then we need to change the electoral system. Our current elected officials have a vested interest in keeping the current closed system, so it would be foolish to ask them to “fight for change.” Instead, we need active voter participation in the initiative petition process to breakdown the bipartisan barriers to democracy and regain our political voice.

Glen Patrizio

Hood River

Critical thinking

Thanks to Jeff Merkley for taking the time to meet with Hood River folks last weekend, and to Kirby Neumann-Rea for his in-depth reporting on the event (Hood River News, March 8). I would like to share a moment from the town hall meeting that was not mentioned in the news article, but was a highlight for me. During the raffle-style Q-and-A time, many folks got to ask questions, but there was just one dissenter. This individual asked the Senator why he had chosen not to attend the inauguration.

Merkley, confused, asked her, “Are you asking me why I went? Because I was there. I think it is a matter of honoring the institution.” She apologized, and admitted that was not what she understood. There were chuckles from the audience, as several folks called out, “fake news!”

This incident stuck with me for a couple of reasons. One is that it took courage for the woman to stand up and ask a question when she was so clearly in the minority. Another is that everyone was respectful, despite knowing that she had her facts wrong. She was called out on her error, but no personal insults were hurled, and no yelling or bullying occurred. Finally, it was a great reminder that there are misleading “news” sources out there, and it’s easy to get sucked in. Presumably, her incorrect belief was based on “news” she read that was dead-wrong on an easily confirmed fact. It is critically important that we keep an open mind, read news from a variety of sources across the political spectrum, and know the difference between opinion pieces and actual news. Educate yourself, think critically. It’s patriotic!

Karin Tauscher

Hood River

Editor’s note: The exchange Karin Tauscher describes was included in the longer version of the article, published online at hoodrivernews.com.

Trumpcare scam

Trumpcare, as interpreted by Rep. Paul Ryan, is another scam. Disguised as a patient centered solution to a non-problem, it is actually a tax relief bill which will deny coverage to many who now get it, but will cost most of the rest of us a lot more for lesser coverage.

Who will get the relief? Well, the top 400 families will get $7 million EACH. That is just an idea of what the top economic tier will derive from this desperate pretense.

The poor Republicans are so ideologically twisted up they absolutely have to do something to convince their base they are repealing Obamacare, but they cannot make their real tax relief purpose obvious. So they will wiggle around, skim some off now, do more after the 2018 elections, do the rest by attrition as we just lapse even temporarily. Certainly no new cases will be accepted except at ridiculous rates for what you get, and the present cases will also pay more for less.

While we work against the greedy rich and their puppets in Congress who are slavering after their own minority president, let’s remember what we are for, the only real solution — Medicare for everybody.

We know that works and will provide the most significant increase in personal freedom in this country’s history, maybe ever anywhere, in one swoop.

You’re not free if you have cancer and no health insurance. So, let’s free the people who do the work, who don’t depend on their money to make money but get it the old fashioned way, by working for it.

I spend more time hating Trump than I do taking steps to remove him and preventing anything like this happening again. (I spend more time seeking something sweet each day.)

We have one chance left maybe to turn things around in 2018. It can only happen if we register and then turn out to vote, all around this country. That is our priority, I think. Ideas?

Bob Williams

Hood River

Silence is acceptance

Oregon collects a 25 percent sale tax on marijuana store owners. They collected $60.2 million in marijuana tax revenue in 2016. State taxes from marijuana sales are growing at record pace. Where does Oregon allocate this money? In Salem, Gov. Kate Brown is proposing a $20.8 billion 2017-2019 budget and hopes to close a $1.7 billion budget shortfall caused by PERS and hiring more state employees. She wants to do so by raising taxes and making cuts to existing programs, some involving education. Oregon schools receive $9.5 billion and yet the high school graduation rate is almost the lowest in the nation.

Do you know where the state of Oregon is spending the rest of the money? How much of it is being squandered? Do you understand that Gov. Brown and other Democrats want to increase our property taxes? If they continue to misuse the extra tax dollars they are getting from a more robust economy and marijuana, alcohol and the lottery, our property taxes could increase exponentially.

Let’s be vigilant and speak up about expanding government and the taxes needed to run its programs. Remember this: silence is acceptance.

Sandi Burgess

Hood River

Not so stressful

Connie Black, where have you been for the last 67 years? (Letter, “Added Stress,” March 8 Hood River News).

We have been re-using and recycling paper grocery bags, using cloth bags provided by shops and stores (I think Waucoma Book Store, for example), purchasing (for perhaps $1) cloth grocery bags found in all major grocery stores, picking up re-useable bags at no cost from barrels placed at store entrances … for years, in my case, for decades!

More recently, signs have been posted at the checkout counter stating the new law eliminating plastic bags, notifying us to prepare for its implementation, giving us the exact date.

What more do you want?

Okay, how about this: You know, of course, that there is a floating mass of plastic gauged at anywhere from the size of Texas to the size of the U.S. out in the Pacific Ocean? Uh, oh, sorry, that makes me sound like some granola-y eco-freak. Scratch that.

But seriously, it is no imposition, no stressful, impossibly difficult action on your part to grab some cloth bags, keep them in your car (or communal van), take them into the store, and use them — over and over over again. And you also know, of course, that you get a five-cent credit for each bag you bring, each time? Why, in no time you will recoup any losses you’ve suffered doling out nickels to purchase a bag. But, wait, you refused to pay that nickel, didn’t you?

Don’t know what else I can say, except you can do this. By the way, I live up in the snow and ice of Parkdale and I am 73 years old.

Jude Russell

Mt. Hood

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