I attended the recent Eagle Creek perpetrator hearing in Hood River. Kudos to Judge John A. Olson, Court Administrator Angie Tennison and the Sheriff’s Department for an excellent job of hosting the hearing.
Judge Olson did a great job of explaining court ground rules, making the observers and victims feel welcome and ensuring all victims had a chance to have their statements read or to speak. Above all, Judge Olson was intent on communicating clearly and completely to all attending. Nice job!
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?
I think not. We need to have that conversation first. Until then, I’m voting “no” in May.
Editor’s Note: A portion of this letter was omitted in the Feb. 14 edition.
So, as I’m reading page A2 in the Feb. 14 issue, a prominently displayed article about a Level 3 sex offender (in bold capital letters), I could not help but notice the three-by-four birthday greeting (to Jill House) running directly under the last two columns.
There is Jill (now “50 and Fabulous”) posing a young teen in a cute “hotcha” photo. Exactly the type of young woman Eric Vandyke was sent to jail for offending!
Bad layout, or bad editing not to catch the error? The birthday photo could have easily been swapped with the Anderson’s Tribute Center ad at the bottom of same page. And the theme of that ad, “Putting Your House in Order,” would have been much more appropriate next to a half page warning re: Mr. Vandyke.
Data and debt
Equifax, a credit reporting agency, was hacked, and 145 million citizens’ personal information was put at risk. That’s well over half of those old enough to have data collected by Equifax. Have you been contacted and assured your data is secure and they’re willing to guarantee the integrity of your stolen data and personal assets? Have you received an apology for their lack of care in safe guarding your data? Have you seen the TV commercials by Equifax trying to sell you coverage to protect your family from their sloppy handling of your data? Why isn’t there a government investigation into the sloppy practices of Equifax instead of budget director Mulvaney trying to protect Equifax?
While this is happening, our government wants to give itself $18 billion in the new budget just introduced to build Mexico’s wall — you know, the one our president said Mexico would pay for. By the way, this is the same budget that will add at least another trillion dollars to the debt pile, and that assumes an extreme jump in GDP which won’t happen as we’re becoming a society that’s aging and doesn’t want more and younger people coming here. By the way, this new budget also includes cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the ability to cap your healthcare by the states. Kentucky has already done so. Welcome to Sarah Palin’s death panels.
Sinners for Hillary
Assuming that she had over 50 percent of the Democratic, Muslims, Hispanic, and gay-lesbian votes, and apparent FBI support, why didn’t Hillary win?
Searching for an answer, I flipped through the pages of an updated copy of that old 14th century book written with the approval of King James. I discovered in Romans 3:23 that ALL have SINNED. Wow! And that includes Donald Trump, too!
Now that puts Hillary and Donald on equal and common ground in the sight of the God of Creation. So why did Donald Trump win? (It wasn’t the math.)
The answer demanded more page flipping of that old book.
A-hah! I found it in Matthew 6:10 “… Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
(“Thy” refers to the God of creation, the author of the Bible.)
Let me get this straight. In the past year, Greg Walden has voted to make it easier for a mentally unstable person to get a gun, and more difficult for a handicapped challenged person to get into a building!
Editor’s Note: The writer refers to Thursday’s decision by the U.S. House amending the Americans With Disabilities Act to remove incentives for businesses to comply with the law (Denver Post, Feb. 16).
Another mass shooting event. Enough of the “thoughts and prayers” B.S. Perhaps some of you well-regulated militia aficionados can explain why your Second Amendment fetish trumps the rights of those who reasonably expect to enjoy a day of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness from being gunned down.
No other civilized country enjoys the level of gun violence that we experience. It isn’t even close. Why? We are literally held at gunpoint by the NRA and its enablers, the GOP. Bought and paid for, they give new meaning to the term “money laundering.”
But this isn’t the complicated movement of funds to hide their source. It’s simply the inconvenient need to wash away the blood of shooting victims before being used to buy re-election. Will this time be different? Will Republicans grow a spine and declare allegiance to the majority who want reasonable gun control legislation instead of to the NRA?
Not likely. After all, that bloody money has proven to be quite nourishing.
By the time this gets published, the most recent headline-grabbing school shooting will be fading into our collective unconscious.
I’m disappointed with our country’s inability to find affective gun control measures that support the Second Amendment while limiting access for at risk citizens that may want to harm themselves or others.
This is not just a question about mental illness but a question about who we are as citizens of this country. Are you willing to have a conversation about guns if it might mean stopping future school shootings like the recent one in Florida? We owe it to future generations to muster the courage to do whatever is necessary to evolve and move beyond gun violence.
White Salmon, Wash.
Gem of a park
I believe the Morrison Park rezone appeal is a reasonable action to protect the park’s integrity. And I don’t think Susan Crowley over-simplified her reasons (Feb. 14), as suggested by the city planning director. Many people care very much about this gem of a park.
An online poll held in January 2017 by Hood River Weather showed that two-thirds of the 230 respondents wanted Morrison Park to remain as-is. At the subsequent public hearings, it seemed that about half of the speakers felt the same.
STRs hurt locals
The lack of available and affordable housing, both for rent and for purchase, is a huge problem for many people in Hood River County. I have lived in the Hood River Valley all my life and now find that STRs (short term rentals) in the county are one of the important factors limiting my options to rent and eventually buy a home here.
Studies from communities across the country show that the growing numbers of STRs and increased housing costs in a community are closely linked. STRs take housing opportunities away from those seeking year-round rentals. And houses owned by out-of-towners as second (or third or fourth) homes, or as investment properties, remove those houses from stock available to local residents for either purchase or for year-round rental.
My parents are long-time residents of Hood River County and own properties here for long-term rental. Due to the shortage of available and affordable housing in the county, each house currently has multiple families living in it.
I would argue that we in the county would be better off without STRs entirely. But if we have to have them, the cap on numbers (currently 100) should be kept very low and strictly enforced. And most importantly, the opportunity to have an STRs should be available ONLY to full-time, living-on-site residents of the county.
Meeting the housing needs of residents of the county should be our priority, not providing outside investors the opportunity to make money in our real estate market.
NRA awards Walden
Greg Walden has received $37,250 from the NRA since 1998. As a lawmaker, he has voted to reduce the wait time from three days to one day to buy a gun. He has voted numerous times to make it more difficult to sue gun manufacturers. He also co-sponsored a bill that makes it easier to carry guns across state lines.
The NRA has awarded him an “A” rating for his work for them. If these are your values, then he is your guy. If you value sensible restrictions on military-style assault weapons purchases, then there are some alternative candidates that will be running against Greg in November. I will be voting for one of them.
Heal and rebuild
Today (Friday) at a hearing at the Hood River County Circuit Court, the Vancouver teenager responsible for starting last year’s Eagle Creek fire pleaded guilty to 12 counts and received 1,920 hours of community service and five years of probation under a plea deal.
The fire is out and the court has spoken. Now is the time to focus on the healing process. The Eagle Creek fire was a tragedy all around — creating significant hardship for Gorge communities and businesses, placing firefighters and first responders in harm’s way, and scorching thousands of acres of pristine forest. There’s a long road ahead but the Gorge is a resilient place.
This spring will be a key time in the healing and rebuilding process for the Gorge. And a lot of help will be needed from mobilizing volunteers to help stop invasive species from spreading in the burned areas to identifying funding to help the U.S. Forest Service and its partners in assessing and rebuilding trails damaged by the fire.
Friends of the Gorge