For free press
I am writing in response to the letter, “Inflammatory ‘Voice,’” Feb. 10, written by Roger Neufeldt.
This letter writer must not be aware of free speech or doesn’t care about the right of free speech or the free press. He says shame on the newspaper for printing such an inflammatory article. First, it was NOT an article written by the newspaper staff. As I understand it, it was an opinion piece written by citizens stating their opinion in “Another Voice.”
Apparently, he wants the paper to only print opinions and articles he agrees with. Our democracy relies on free speech and a free press.
Missed the point
I think Roger Neufeldt (Our Readers Write, Feb. 10) missed the point of Wendy and Richard Best’s Another Voice column (Feb. 3) for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
After all, letters to the editor and to the Another Voice columns are opinions. And while Mr. Neufeldt expressed his own opinion, he seems unable to tolerate others.
Just because something is a law does not make it right, especially laws that scapegoat a single class of people. Slavery was wrong. Removing Native Americans to reservations was wrong. The Chinese Exclusion act was wrong. The Japanese internment was wrong. To not renew DACA and deport dreamers to a country they have never known is also wrong.
There are many reasons human beings immigrate. In 1939, The German ship St. Louis, carrying over 900 Jewish refugees, was turned away from the U.S., after also being turned away from Cuba. Many passengers had already applied for U.S. visas before leaving a hostile Germany. Though they asked for asylum, the State Department decreed that the passengers must wait their turns on a waiting list and obtain immigration visas before being admitted to the United States. The ship returned to Europe with its passengers, who were unable to meet the U.S. timetable or requirements. While the refugees England took in survived the war, the ones that were accepted in Holland and France perished in concentration camps after the Nazis took over.
The idea that illegal immigrants are responsible for our problems is one propagated by an administration that seeks a scapegoat for the inequality and disenfranchisement now felt by many Americans. Deporting immigrants won’t lower the escalating costs of housing, health care or college. Just because congress fails to address these problems does not mean that immigrants are not people who deserve empathy and basic respect, regardless of their status.
As a matter of fairness, I support DACA. To forcibly remove people who were brought here, as children, by their parents, and have only known the U.S. as home, is cruel and immoral.
Not ready for tax
We citizens of Hood River County face a real and serious problem: a county government deficit that state law does not allow. I am not convinced the county has been creative in either its budget adjustments or its search for new revenue. Nor am I happy with the way the county has handled citizen input.
The county’s two hearings on their sales tax proposal come at a late hour: just three days after the second hearing is the state’s deadline for filing the referral to the voters. This feels like a done deal.
I know how this works. In my career I worked for a local government that faced the largest budget deficit in the state’s history ($28 million in 2017 dollars). We got very creative and passed, among other things, the state’s first local gasoline and income taxes to help solve the problem.
Later I worked for a city that proposed a tax on tourists. In both cases the politicians decided which specific new revenues they wanted, then did studies to justify their choices. After making such decisions, then they engaged in “dog-and-pony show” meetings to drum up support for what they’d already decided to do. This county’s sales tax proposal feels that way. Their own poll shows 53 percent against; a general sales tax is very divisive in Oregon and hits middle and lower income people hard.
So, what gives? Are we to believe that the county has commissioned a thorough and independent spending and revenue study that would cover broadly the topics of budget cuts, program shifts and new revenues? Have the commissioners traveled around the county educating us about the possibilities shown in the study and asked for our help in this tough decision?
All play, no pay
We live in the playroom of Oregon. According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s audit, Hood River County tax rate is ninth lowest among 36 counties, but has the ninth highest average per capita personal income. Rich enough to play, but too stingy to pay our fair share. We need to support local government, law enforcement, fix our roads, keep a broadened school curriculum, build more parks, run snowplows, etc.
We have been this way ever since the fat and sassy era of Federal Timber Revenues started dropping in the 1980s. Give our local farmers an exemption on buying big ag. equipment at local firms, but tax ourselves and our visitors on nonessentials. I’ll gladly pay 2 percent more to buy ski equipment, eat out, and still buy my stuff locally. Those who come to play, and stay in our short-term rentals, motels, housing, etc., should also pay for paradise. I pay tourist taxes everywhere else in the U.S.A. Quit saying, “Oh woe is me.”
It’s time Hood River paid for the services we’d certainly all moan about if we didn’t have.
The winter Olympics started this week. The sister of Kim Jung Un, North Korea’s leader, was there sitting one row behind our vice president. Do you think that was accidental? The two Koreas decided to share a team, which lost to the Dutch, but at least showed peaceful intent and some cooperation with each other for the moment.
The president of South Korea has been invited to the North — do I see ice melting? Personally, I don’t think war between the Koreas with us probably joining in will do anything but destroy a lot of infrastructure and kill millions of people, some of whom might reside here or in Hawaii. I’ve been wondering all weekend, why couldn’t our vice president grow a little bit, turn around, smile and extend his hand to the sister of Kim Jung Un? It would show us as a peaceful nation willing to reach out and try diplomacy before reaching for weapons as our president wants to do (his bloody nose policy). It would also show the world that we’re willing to be open and try diplomacy rather than resort to war.
According to the Feb. 7 edition of the Hood River News, the county budget shortfall would be $1.6 million dollars. The suggested 2 percent sales tax would raise about $3.5 million.
Wouldn’t a 1 percent sales tax raise $1.75 million, just about cover the shortfall? Easier sell than 2 percent? I could live with that.