Letters to the Editor for March 17 edition

‘You have been heard’

I am so proud of our teenagers at Hood River Valley High School! The well planned and well managed walkout was impressive, with hundreds of students walking out to protest Congress’ inaction to protect students in school and in support of the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

When my daughter started to organize this event, I was supportive and a little fearful. How will the teens react? Will it be safe? Will it turn into chaos? The school administration and police wondered the same thing. Congratulations to the teens who participated! It was all done in a very respectful, mature manner.

Thanks to all of you, and especially to the group of you who did the work to organize this event. Teens — you have a voice and know how to use it! You have been heard.

Pamela Larsen

Hood River

Celebrate student efforts

Congratulations to all the students who took time out to protest the carnage that’s been happening in our public schools. Where’s the Congress and state legislatures who can find nothing more to do than arm teachers and bring more guns into the equation? You can find pictures of signs in front of old west towns that said it was illegal to bring guns there — that was over 120 years ago. There are pictures of those signs on the internet; we’ve apparently decided to move backwards from there.

On the front page of our paper is an article in which our school superintendent says, “We simply cannot promote or allow walkouts or other demonstrations that substantially disrupt the learning environment ...” Mr. Goldman, they put on a learning environment that you and the board should have attended. They were protesting the effects of one amendment by exercising their right given in the very first amendment to the constitution. Why would you, and I assume the board, not celebrate their efforts to teach all of you civics and school safety?

Rob Brostoff

Cascade Locks

Editor’s note: Superintendent Dan Goldman was present at the HRVHS walkout.

Price of freedom?

If, as said by Bill O’Reilly and Steve Scalise, the “price of freedom” to protect the Second Amendment means children who are compelled to attend school can end up being slaughtered by a gun-owner, then I say we give 14-year-olds the right to vote.

Too young and inexperienced, you say? Well, they couldn’t do any worse than Congress (including our own Greg Walden) or that character who’s residing at the White House now.

And we delude ourselves into believing it’s just the mentally ill. It can only take one moment of rage to turn a sane, legal gun owner to commit an insane act.

Linda Short

Hood River

Racketeering

“I used to run a very profitable family insurance company. Our business plan was based on our keen understanding of what drives human behavior: greed, fear and our reputation of keeping our word. We collected premiums and our ‘customers’ continued to enjoy life and grow their businesses, in a manner of speaking. Of course, we had a lot of overhead due to certain demands from people in high places that could interfere with our rights to free enterprise. I’m retired now, living in a gated community up the river. Some of those people in high places disappointed me by doing their jobs. They accused me of racketeering after all I did for them. Go figure.”

Now THINK. Replace the above character with “NRA” or any other lobbyist or corporation or wealthy individual who uses money, position, and power to buy, threaten, and control the decision makers whose actions (or lack of actions) rob average Americans of equal opportunities in so many ways that are supposedly protected by our Constitution. This is by definition racketeering. Why have our political leaders been afraid to act to protect us? Why has no one of standing taken any of these characters to court and charged them as racketeers? Why has our Supreme Court defined their actions as “Freedom of Speech” protected by the First Amendment? These crooks are simply that, feeding off the fear, greed, stupidity and spinelessness of many of those we elect to represent us. Perhaps we are the ones who are ultimately at fault.

Russell Hurlbert

Mt. Hood- Parkdale

Byrne listens

Michael Byrne is a husband, father, and grandfather. He is a mason and a mountaineer. He is 100 percent real and progressive (which means he believes politicians ought to work to make the lives of real people better).

His moral compass knows where north — and south — are. His classy sign is in my driveway. I spent an hour chatting with him about everything from teenagers to Teddy Roosevelt and if you want change for real people and a man who listens … vote for Michael Byrne on May 15.

Regena Rafelson

Hood River

Vote del Val

Political uncertainty is running rampant throughout our government, creating fear instead of hope, and driving a wedge between the United States. Rather than expand the divide, we must focus on bridging the gap between us. Here, in the beautiful state of Oregon, the people’s voice is echoed from Trillium Lake up to the Columbia River Gorge, and someone is listening. Aurora del Val, hopeful candidate for House District 52, has heard what the people need and has the drive to fight for us. For 20 years, Aurora was an educator, so it is no surprise that she is an advocate for well-funded schools. Aurora understands that education gives people the tools to manifest a brighter future. As a student myself, this is refreshing to hear. Aurora is also a proponent of affordable health care for all Oregonians, young or old, and like many of us, believes that the current system is broken. Hailing from Cascade Locks, she understands the unique struggles that families in rural areas face. From agricultural sustainability to water security, Aurora’s commitment to these families is echoed in her every move. Let us show our commitment to each other by supporting Aurora Del Val for state representative.

Richard Dzib

Gresham

Hasty sale

Last Tuesday, the mayor and city council committed the city to sell Morrison Park for $1. Most citizens won’t know this is a donation and not a sale, since the press release did not mention the purchase price in the News print version (March 10), and it was tucked into the end of the online story. The park is conservatively worth over $1 million by the council’s own estimate.

The mayor and council also bound the city to sell the property without protection for a “significant park area” on the site that is legally enforceable. A significant park area was one of the promises the council made to the public when it rezoned the park for housing construction. It’s also one of the legal conditions of the rezone done to allow construction.

All this was decided behind closed doors in an executive session closed to the public. The agreement the city signed was not made available to the public for comment beforehand. If the council had heard other points of view, perhaps it would not have given away the entire store.

If these kinds of closed-door decisions are troubling to you, let the mayor and city council know. You can comment for three minutes at the beginning of any city council meeting. It’s not much, and can’t compare with the face time given to developers’ lobbyists behind the scenes, but it’s something.

On March 19 and April 16, the Hood River City Planning Commission will start to make development more closely-packed and multi-story throughout the entire city. Public opinion will help shape what form this takes, so try to make time to give them input. Talk to city councilors you may personally know. They have few other ways — other than feedback at the ballot box this November — of knowing what citizens are really thinking.

Susan Crowley

Hood River

‘We need each other’

The United States of America is literally the most diverse country in the world, and we’re becoming more diverse every day! If this makes you grouse and grumble, read on.

America is also an incredibly powerful economic force. Here comes the surprising bit. Social scientists from Williams College and Brown University, among a host of others, have identified diversity as the strongest contributing factor to America’s economic rise!

That’s kind of amazing. I would have said our work ethic, freedom and spirit of enterprise were pretty big factors. And they are, but our diversity boosts us above others in the world who also value hard work, freedom and initiative.

And what’s more, not only does diversity spur economic development, but homogeneity slows it down. And this is true in economics, business, education, healthcare and government. Wow.

Of course, as we know from experience, diversity has its challenges, too. We sometimes have trouble sticking together — or even seeing ourselves with each other — due to discomfort, mistrust and fears resulting from our perceived differences. Young children know how to avoid all this. It’s so simple, even we adults could do it: be curious.

Recognize that people have different backgrounds and experiences.

Recognize that there are many ways of being in the world. Recognize that we need each other. Be curious about others and other ways. That’s pretty much it.

America’s increasing diversity offers a unique opportunity for the United States to become more competitive in the global economy by capitalizing on the unique talents and contributions of all of us.

Surely, our American ingenuity, leadership and determination will help us find our way to each other. For the sake of America, our future and all our wise children who can lead us there.

Pam Tindall

White Salmon, Wash.



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