Letters to the Editor for August 29

Will Walden keep debate pledge?

I’d like to ask Mr. Walden to keep his word about the three debates he agreed to have with Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

On Aug. 22, Jamie spoke at the Pine Street Bakery. She spoke with intelligence, open mindedness, passion and compassion. She talked about environmental issues; about changing weather patterns and wild fires and their impact on our air quality; about water, drought and forest management; about access to affordable health care, mental health care and care for the care givers; about sustainable energy; about access to affordable college and trade school; about the plight of our immigrant community; and about how both the Republican and Democratic parties have left rural communities out in the areas of housing, employment, education and access to affordable medical care. Jamie’s knowledge about these and other issues is founded in her background. She’s a civil engineer and graduated from law school. She served as a city councilor in Santa Clara, Calif., worked as an environmental planner and as a water program manager. She’s a listener who considers ideas, not Democratic or Republican buzzwords. She’s skilled at finding common ground and building consensus to solve our real and common problems.

You agreed to three debates with Jamie. When are you going to keep your word? Where and when will they happen?

Norma Cordry

Hood River

Access to health care

This past week, I had the opportunity to talk one-to-one with Jamie McLeod-Skinner, candidate for U.S. Congress District 2 (our district). I am impressed by her knowledge about health care, health insurance and the connection between the two. Most importantly, I am impressed by her dedication to restoring and maintaining the gains we’ve seen in Oregon and the nation during my years as a healthcare professional, which have unfortunately been recently eroded piece by piece — premium increases, cutbacks on covered benefits, threats to current protection of pre-existing conditions, cuts to federal subsidies, threats to Medicare and more.

Our current Congressman, Greg Walden, was a chief architect of the legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA or Obamacare. Although widespread opposition prevented that legislation from being passed, our president is still harming the ACA through executive orders. Mr. Trump promised to end the ACA, and with the active support of legislators like Mr. Walden, he is doing just that. Their promise to replace the ACA with something better and cheaper for everyone was clearly hollow; nothing substantial is emerging.

Mr. Walden has had ample time and opportunity to protect health care access for his constituency, but hasn’t done so. In fact, when the measures he supported were shown to threaten coverage for huge percentages of the people of our district, he dodged or disparaged these predictions despite the fact that they were made by several independent, nonpartisan professional agencies.

All of us need health care and coverage. Jamie McLeod-Skinner wants to ensure that health care is universally accessible and universally affordable for all Oregonians. I want to offer her the chance to contribute to work on that in the Congress.

She has my vote and, I hope, yours too.

Tina Castañares


Walden, opioids and health care

Rep. Greg Walden has been busy lately, working on and especially talking about the opioid crisis. It’s indeed a crisis, with 72,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in the past year. And it’s far past time to address it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Oregon Health Authority report that during Walden’s time in office, more than 350,000 Americans, including nearly 5,000 Oregonians, have died from opioid overdose. The death rate from prescription opioid overdose is now five times what it was in 1999 when he took office. And here in Walden’s own district, the rate of overdose and hospitalization exceeds the state average. As we listen to Mr. Walden self-congratulate on his current efforts, we might wonder why in the world he’s just now addressing it.

Well, it’s election season.

The bill Walden recently sponsored (HR6) is a weak, piecemeal approach to addressing the opioid crisis. It rolls together 50-plus other bills, giving 50-plus other lawmakers a chance to say that they’re doing something about this national crisis in an election year. It presents many little band-aids but no real, comprehensive plan, and definitely no significant funding.

Walden drove HR6 through — and is crowing about it plenty — to distract from his outrageous assaults on his constituents’ healthcare.

He’s attempted to repeal, defund or destroy the ACA more than 50 times.

He’s promised to uphold protections for people with pre-existing conditions, then has voted consistently to strip away those protections.

He also voted to make deep cuts to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid and Medicare in order to give the wealthiest 1 percent huge tax breaks.

Walden’s generous support from the pharmaceutical industry makes his current belated efforts even more suspect. His Energy and Commerce Committee has been investigating opioid manufacturers and distributors, while at the same time Walden has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in donations from them.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner is by far our best chance for honest leadership, solid healthcare, and a representative who works for her constituents’ well-being.

Vicki Nunencamp

Hood River

Good bikes wasted

Today I was waiting in line to dump some trash at Hood River Garbage when I saw something truly perplexing. A man and a woman both took bicycles out of their truck bed, wheeled them to the scrap metal area and leaned them against the rest of the scrap.

I may not be the most environmentally-minded person, but even I know that used bicycles are sought after not only for recreation, but by those who need them to get to work. I don’t know what condition these bikes were in, but they had functioning handlebars and wheels connected by a frame.

I did consider taking them home and donating them to an organization that refurbishes bikes for those in need, but there is a “No Scavenging” sign right there.

I just went online to find such organizations and there are several in Portland — Bikes 4 Humanity, Portland Gear Hub, Community Cycling Center, etc. If you know of any in the Gorge, please speak up.

Cycling in Hood River is so popular many bikes are probably discarded every year. Please consider passing them on when they no longer suit your needs.

Tom Hart

Hood River

Editor’s Note: In Hood River, at least two such efforts are available: Scoutmaster Nick Kirby of Odell coordinates bike rehab and resale to help send scouts to camps, and Hood River youth Anson Pulk fixes bikes and donates them to families in need (www.ansonbikebuddies.org).

Admired McCain

I wanted to put out there how grateful I have been to Sen. John McCain over the years. While I don’t see eye to eye with him on every issue, his push towards bipartisan cooperation and respect for different views are attributes that I greatly admire.

Going forward, I hope his example lives on both in our region as well as nationwide. We are all more similar than we are different and should aim towards the things we can agree on rather than highlighting our differences.

Avery Hoyt

White Salmon

We all “work”

Working means listening.

My Aug. 22 letter, “Walk the Talk,” asked several questions of Rep. Greg Walden supporters to better understand and support the Congressman and his remarkable efforts to resolve the opioid crisis. I wish Mr. Doug Arnell had an opportunity to read my letter and “Opioids and Cash” written by Mr. Daniel Fritz (Aug. 22) prior to his Aug. 25 submission “Greg is working.”

Time lags exist between reading the paper and writing a response. I suspect that is why Mr. Arnell mistakenly claimed Mr. Fritz and I (as readers) represent the media and Portland Democrats. We listed our residences as Mosier and Hood River, respectively, and neither of us stated our political affiliation. Furthermore, I clearly stated I worked in healthcare and not the #lamestreammedia.

I never mentioned Jamie McLeod-Skinner, but I believe she attended high school in Ashland. Melania Trump lived much of her life in Slovenia and serves as the first lady. I suspect an Ivy League graduate with Oregon ties is capable of serving as an Oregon Congresswoman.

I agree with Mr. Arnell that yelling is a poor way to sway opinion or be heard. A lot of yelling occurred at Congressman Walden’s last open forum at the Hood River Middle School. A lot of people were angry with his support of the president and many of their policies and recent decisions. Conservatives portrayed the event as being filled with bussed-in liberal Portlanders. That is utter hogwash. Many of the people I saw yelling lived in Hood River.

People often report that Congressman Walden does not respond to their calls or emails even after multiple attempts. How is he going to “learn what Oregonians want to see happen in D.C.” if he ignores (the dissenting) half of his constituents? Is that part of the “working” he is claimed to do?

Anyone in public service unwilling to hear contrary opinions should question if they know what it means to serve. I would not vote for a dog catcher who did not respond to my email with a valid concern.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Not ‘promised’

America is NOT the world’s promised land!

Alan Winans

Hood River

Love me, love my dog

Dogs on the trails are probably a perennial topic for the letters. We have covered the unpleasant topic of dog poop on the trails.

Now, on to dogs running uncontrolled.

Today, my wife and I walked the section of Indian Creek from Arrowhead to the high school. In less than 30 minutes, we met three sets of uncontrolled, large dogs. Their owners had leashes in their hands, but appeared to see no need to put them on the dogs.

Of the five dogs we met, all were, happily, friendly and made no growls or other unpleasant sounds. Instead, they came to us and jumped up on us and circled around. Neither my wife nor I like to have strange dogs jumping on us. I tried to control the dogs verbally, but the effort was useless. They were not very responsive to their owners, either. We commented to two owners that we did not really know how friendly the dogs were.

The last person we met was about 50 feet behind her dog. I asked her if the dog was hers. “Yes,” after the second query. We suggested to her that she should control the dog, which appeared to anger her. As we walked on, she said, “You must not be from here.” I responded that we were indeed from here, though I don’t see why that should be a factor.

The sign at the trailhead on Arrowhead says that law requires that dogs be controlled.

My wife is a small person and there was a family with a small boy.

I carry a stick because I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. None of us care to be knocked down by a dog or worse, bitten. My stick is to enable me to walk more normally. It is also a “dog knocker.” I will not hesitate to defend my wife or myself, even if it results in injury or death to the dog.

Cal Taylor

Hood River

If Walden was a teacher

School is just around the corner and parents and children alike are anxious to learn who their new teacher will be. What if your child was assigned to a classroom led by someone like Greg Walden?

What if your child’s teacher was absent during Open House or opened his doors only to parents who supported his educational agenda?

What if you had a question for the teacher and your phone calls and emails went unanswered? What if your child’s teacher supported denying services and materials to the most vulnerable students in order to pass along the savings in room fees to the most affluent? What if parent-teacher conferences were held far from your child’s school and you only learned about them after the fact? Or what if you had to pay $2,500 to $25,000 in order to meet with the teacher to discuss your child’s educational needs?

What if the curriculum in your child’s classroom was determined by outside special interest groups who had donated heavily to the teacher? What if your child’s teacher claimed he could best educate your child by “being in the room” with Betsy DeVos?

Would you entrust your child’s education to someone like Greg Walden? Would you support renewing that teacher’s contract if you knew that your younger child could also be assigned to his classroom in two years?

I hope you will consider these questions when you cast your ballot in November.

Anne Gehrig

Hood River

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