Letters to the Editor for July 18

Healthcare sabotage

It almost feels like the healthcare crisis in America has disappeared.

I mean, with the constant barrage of inane statements and wag-the-dog games going on with this administration, it is almost impossible to know what is really going on with boring subjects like healthcare.

While Congressman Walden and his Republican colleagues in D.C. are being quieter on the subject, they are definitely not sitting on their hands.

Having failed to eliminate the ACA (“Obamacare”) all at once, they’re sabotaging it piecemeal and hoping we voters won’t realize who’s responsible for rising premiums and falling coverage. They do this by trying to reduce the number of people signing up for private coverage by drastically reducing outreach for healthcare.gov and promoting various dodges to allow insurance companies to return to discriminating against people in poor health and with preexisting conditions.

Another tactic is by eliminating the individual mandate, an action that discourages the young and healthy from signing up and drives up the cost for others in the market. (Insurers are already planning major premium hikes and stating that that’s the reason.) And don’t forget the promise to slash federal health care “entitlement programs,” i.e. Medicare and Medicaid, after November, to pay for the budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy that were enshrined in the recent Republican tax-scam legislation.

Yes, the healthcare crisis continues, quieter but still deadly. Walden’s responsibility didn’t stop with the defeat of his terrible American Health Care Act proposal (“Trumpcare”) last year. It lives on in all these pieces of Republican sabotage that thrive when we are distracted.

Come November, I’m voting for Jamie McLeod Skinner. She has the integrity, fortitude and critical thinking skills to represent us on many important issues, and one that should matter to every Oregonian is healthcare.

Paul Crouch

Hood River

Two for one

I liken that old cliché, “A bird in hand is worth more than two in a bush” to one Congressman’s dedication to his elected duties, serving not just his (district) or State, but the entire United States, making America great again by successfully applying his leadership skills that led to the passage of these many opioid bills to reduce this “alarming death rate caused by their illegal usage;” to our two State Senators who pride themselves, hanging around in town halls, telling their constituents what they want to hear, blaming the NRA and supporters of our Constitution’s Second Amendment for the deaths related to the mentally ill/sick gun possessors.

In other words, one Congressman at work is worth more than two Senators at town halls!

My mother once told me, “You can’t criticize a man that doesn’t do anything.”

Alan Winans

Hood River

Another word?

Bill Davis, in response to your “Unswampables” letter (July 14), if the definition of a “Deep State” is, as you quoted from Newsmax Magazine, “a clandestine network entrenched inside the government that controls state policy behind the scenes, while elected officials are merely figureheads,” then the clandestine network that controls state policy is the members of the Russian military, as directed by Putin, who have been indicted by our Department of Justice. The elected official who is the figurehead is Donald Trump, who is carrying out all the wishes and desires of Putin.

There is a word that describes people who sabotage their own government. Do you know what it is?

Darrell Roberts


‘Ridiculous president’

Twelve Russians indicted, allegations about a Trump campaign contact being in touch with them, surreptitious attempts to set up an off line, untraceable internet connection with the Russians — both at the Russian embassy — and at a meeting involving Eric Prince, brother of failed education czar Betsy DeVos.

In addition, how many others from the Trump circle are being investigated? At least three have pled guilty and a campaign manager (is) in jail. In the meantime, we are treated to the spectacle of Trump being laughed at, the Brits flying their “baby Trump” diaper and all in London and at least a quarter-million Brits protesting at one venue alone. Did you notice they didn’t have any Nazis attacking protesters in Britain? Just the Brits making a joke of what we pass off as a president these days.

Now after being told that the indictments were coming down before leaving the states, our ridiculous president is still planning on meeting Putin in a private, one-on-one meeting in Helsinki with no witnesses. So what is Trump gifting Putin with this time besides Syria and Crimea? Maybe stopping Iranian oil from reaching Europe so the world will pay more for petroleum products, i.e., gasoline?

Rob Brostoff

Cascade Locks

Our values, our future

I am deeply concerned about the contract our public jail, NORCOR, has with ICE, and the holding of immigrant detainees at our public jail.

Over the past year, I have worked to raise awareness around this issue and have realized that here in Hood River County, many people are not aware that NORCOR contracts with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

NORCOR is a four-county public jail located in The Dalles and operated under joint agreement by Hood River, Gilliam, Wasco, and Sherman counties. The jail is too large for the incarceration needs of our local population, so it has contracts to house additional adults and juveniles from outside of the four local counties, including a contract with ICE.

As a county jail, NORCOR is designed for short-term incarceration rather than the long-term detainment of immigrants awaiting a hearing on their immigration case. While the average stay of local, criminal offenders is only several weeks, many of the immigrants at NORCOR stay for months or years at a time. These men and women, detained on a civil rather than criminal charge, are separated from their families, denied family visitation, and housed alongside criminal inmates.

In recent weeks, there has been a wave of momentum building as immigration issues come into the spotlight on a national level under the zero-tolerance policy and national outrage rises against the separation of families. Our public officials are challenging the zero-tolerance policy and calling for the reunification of immigrant families, except for our local Representative, Congressman Greg Walden, who has remained silent on the issue.

Just last week, the two other public jails in Oregon which had contracts with ICE cancelled those contracts, leaving NORCOR the only public jail in our state to hold immigrants through a contract with ICE.

This is our public jail, our tax dollars, our community. We have the power to cancel a contract that does not line up with our values. I urge you to learn more, contact our county commissioners and demand an end to NORCOR’s contract with ICE.

Sarah Kellems

Hood River

No design guidelines?

We have been visiting Hood River for many years, staying at my cousin’s while they also vacation elsewhere. We love Hood River, but with each increasing year, we see more and more people moving to this beautiful place. But what we don’t see is any apparent design guidelines for new housing to fit into this backdrop of beauty.

I will give some examples. The four new homes on Oak Street (are) so modern in design that they don’t fit well with the rest of the neighborhood. So glaringly out of place, so out of context.

Think how it might have looked with some design guidelines in place by the city. The homes would have fit in rather than looking like unruly children.

The next example is out on Belmont, where orchards were once planted and now we see what look to be three-story houses glaring down on everyone who passes instead of a valley of trees. I have heard this area has been annexed into the city, so once again the planning department, evidentially, didn’t have any design guidelines in place to prevent the look and feel of this development.

At least they have planted some trees, which will help offset the feeling of three-story sticks in a circle.

We have lived many places in the states that are lucky enough to have planning departments that cared about how their city looked. That appears not to be happening in Hood River. It appears the only thing that is currently happening in Hood River is to give out as many building permits as possible with little scrutiny of the overall design impact.


Kevin and Jill Woodhouse

Aurora, Colo.

End child separation

Parenting children to keep them safe and healthy is a most basic instinct for humans and animals alike. Almost certainly, any parent risking the abuse and uncertainty they will face at our southern border, is doing so because the alternative for their children is worse in their own country. They may be facing gang wars, corruption or extreme poverty, and they know that their children are in too much danger to stay in their homes. These people take a dangerous journey to come to the United States hoping for a better life as asylum seekers.

It’s horrifying that young and vulnerable children have been taken from their parents with no plan to reunite these families. This is a Trump administration policy that is not supported by any feeling member of our nation. We are fortunate to have two Senators, Merkley and Wyden, who advocate humanely for these families.

Unfortunately, our Congressman Greg Walden speaks the language and policies of Trump. He voted last month for a hardline immigration bill, which failed, that was opposed by 41 Republicans and every House Democrat.

This November, we have the opportunity to elect Jamie McLeod-Skinner to Congress. She will work to help us recover from this dark period and move in a direction of a more humane and loving country that truly respects all people. It’s time for a positive change in November!

Beth Flake

Hood River

‘Legality’ mentality

In Rob Brostoff’s letter (July 11, “Immigrant impacts”), he failed to mention that Albert Einstein, Sergey Brin, Madeline Albright, Irving Berlin, Andrew Carnegie and the others all entered the U.S.A. “legally.”

Of course, during that earlier era, legality was not a dirty word like it is now with the activist crowds … and obeying the law was not scorned like it is today with the activist crowds.

Now more than ever, we need law and order while crossing the border … we need to activate and support a legality mentality nationwide.

Bill Davis

Hood River

No offshore drilling

I urge Congressman Walden to stop the federal government’s new offshore drilling plans and to protect waters off the Oregon coast from drilling. As chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Walden has enormous influence in this process.

Trump’s radical offshore drilling plan is a catastrophe waiting to happen. We’ve seen the devastation from drilling accidents (Deepwater Horizon ring a bell?). Engineers will verify that for every drilling site, leakage or a major spill is a matter of when, not if. Our beaches, fisheries and coastal tourism and recreation economy are far too important to risk an oil spill. Plus it is time for the country to move beyond fossil fuels. We cannot drill our way out of the climate crisis.

More than 43,000 businesses and hundreds of cities, counties and communities have voiced their opposition to offshore drilling. Our future is in environmental protection, not reckless exploitation.

Walden has a chance to act on behalf of us constituents and our children by opposing the administration’s dangerous plans to drill off our shores. Mr. Walden should put our interests before corporate interests.

David Michalek

Hood River

Value history

“Battle Flag” by Alan Bailey (July 14, Our Readers Write)raises some interesting questions about how Americans in 2018 should feel about all sides of our history. I completely agree that we should not “destroy American history” (for convenience).

American should remember the hundreds of thousands of people who were kidnapped from their homes in Africa and forced to work for free while being treated like animals. We should remember many were beaten and raped to keep them submissive and to create more free labor, respectively. It would not hurt to remember that even after they were freed, many generations faced lynchings, rapes, and social injustice without justification.

Internet pictures of the Confederate Flag and Battle Flag of Northern Virginia show them to be quite similar. Neither looks anything like any version of the American flag in any stage of its evolution with my 20/20 vision. Perhaps the South needed better optometrists?

This was an American Independence Day parade in Hood River, Ore. What purpose does the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia or any other state serve in the parade? Was it too hot to wear an Easter Bunny costume to make a statement?

Ironically enough, Mr. Bailey, the “sinking ship” of which you speak seems to have undergone a resurrection. Several statues of key Southern Civil War leaders, including Lee and Davis in the great state of Virginia, have already been removed from public display according to the July 15 60 Minutes broadcast.

There was no #FakeNews until 2016. I guess that means the kidnappings, rapes, and beatings actually happened. Now we just have to decide how we feel about it. Some seem much more accepting that others.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Thanks, firefighters

Anyone who has had their property saved from fire must feel as we do — that there are no words strong enough to express our gratitude, our thanks and our overwhelming sense of relief. When told to evacuate, one feels completely helpless … the world is coming to an end.

And when things turn out well, again, one feels amazement. The firefighters have performed a miracle. Saving Oregon — fields, forest, homes, people, businesses — cannot be over estimated.

The firefighters who defeated the recent Memaloose fire (July 6-14) deserve praise not just from residents in the area, but from everyone.

Controlling wind and flame seems an impossible task. Success results from unrelenting effort, physical endurance, and complete dedication.

It comes from working on the ground all night and all day, from cooperation with planes dropping retardant, and helicopters taking up water from the river and dropping it where most needed.

And the vigil and perseverance of the fighters on the ground, the working, the checking, the watching … this persistence continues for many days even after people return to their homes.

Firefighters work for results, for satisfaction, not for praise. But we hope they know the debt we owe them, how much we value them, and that we laud them, extol them every day of our lives.

Thanks to the many agencies who responded, the pilots and crew of planes and helicopters, the men and women firefighters on the ground and all the support staff. The land is now charred, but our homes were saved and we will watch the land turn brilliant green again in spring.

Nancy Matthisen

Colin and Jean Zylka

The Dalles

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