The absurd $36 million restitution that Hood River County Circuit Judge John Olson assigned to the 15-year-old kid who started the Eagle Creek fire might make some people feel that justice was served. It may make folks feel that it was solely his fault for this inferno.
This is not the case. We all are part of the problem of climate change, which helped create the tinderbox that just needed a trigger. That trigger happened to be a firework set off by a kid. There was another fire that I witnessed out by the Hood River Transfer Station at the same time last summer. I called it in to 911, and the Hood River Fire Department quickly put it out. The fire had started just beside the road, so I would guess that a careless person may have thrown a cigarette butt out of his/her window.
It was mind boggling how quickly the fire spread! The person who tossed this lit cigarette was just as guilty as the 15-year-old who started the Eagle Creek fire.
This year is lining up to be another hot, dry summer. The grass on the hills is already parched, and the scene is set for another careless act to start the next fire disaster. Perhaps we should look at the whole concept of how we celebrate our country’s independence. Should we really be selling and lighting off incendiary devices in the middle of the dry, hot summer?
I saw a bumper sticker today stating “MY guns, MY money, MY freedom.” I couldn’t help but think, why not OUR country? Why not OUR community? Why not OUR common good? Am I the last sane patriot in this once-great country?
We do not need to look outside our borders to find terrorists attacking our country and everything it stands for. There is an active terrorist group fully engaged in attempts to destroy America. The organization has a powerful leader who is surrounded himself with saboteurs. This leader resides in the White House. The acronym for this group is DJTT — Donald J. Trump Terrorists.
The worst saboteur is Scott Pruitt, head of what used to be called the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) put in place to ensure the health and safety of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil were our grow is grown by policing industries.
At the behest of Trump, here is some of what TSP is doing or has already done: Repeal of the Clean Power Plan, rescind the Waters of the United States rules, canceled the EPA’s directive that energy companies provide information on methane emissions from their drilling operations, withdrew a 1995 policy imposing limits on nearly 200 toxic chemical being released into the air by major industrial polluters, delayed a rule imposed by the previous administration requiring plants to release inventories of on hand, and refuses to enforce limits on ozone pollution. He claims human activities have no major impact on the environment in spite of the irrefutable evidence that it does, wants children under the age of 18 to be allowed to apply pesticides and refuses to ban chlorpyifos (Dursban), an organic pesticide that can damage the nervous system. He has granted a coal industry request to review of national rules on the disposal of toxic coal residues, sided with Trump and Steve Bannon to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, ordered the removal of any references to climate change from grant solicitations, and ruled that scientist who receive EPA grants can no longer sit on the agency’s advisory boards.
Seven board members quit to be replaced by industry friendly, so-called scientists. Pruitt has slashed more than 800 staff, including 200 scientists most of who have not been replaced. Instead Pruitt has hired long-time friends and acquaintances.
Pruitt is just one of Trump’s gang of terror.
A new AD way
In a time of gender and ethnic awareness, the Hood River County School District district has a unique opportunity.
The HRVHS athletic director has left the position to return to teaching. HRVHS and the school board should take this opportunity to review the past practice of selecting the athletic director. In the past 20 years, all have been white and male. The position history no longer fits the evolving diversity test. Our diverse student body and significant public investment in sport facilities deserve reviewing the AD selection process.
Address equality, skill sets and competitiveness of a very important job position. Step out of the comfort box, invite the community to participate and take a little risk in your next AD selection.
It’s time to create a recruiting model that doesn’t reflect the appearance of entitlement.
Having recently awarded a Susanna Blake Gabay Peace Scholarship to graduating Hood River Valley High School student Natalie Lapierre, I reflected back on why the Columbia River Fellowship for Peace named their scholarship in honor and memory of my daughter, Susanna. She participated in peace related activities during her years at HRVHS. Yet earlier, Susanna was the youngest speaker, at age 13, to compose and present a speech at the 2002 event at the Hood River waterfront called Hoodstock. It was a gathering of locals from around the Gorge concerned about the U.S.-initiated bombing in Iraq. She also wrote and presented another speech at subsequent Hoodstock in 2004. While I continued perusing some of her other writings, amidst the painful backdrop of yet another school shooting tragedy, I came across the following letter to the editor she wrote as a 16-year-old in 2005.
Considering the strife and division in our world and nation today, her words ring poignantly relevant and I believe worth a re-run.
(Editor’s Note: Susanna Gabay’s letter runs below.)
To the World:
Please listen. Just listen.
What is happening to us? What is happening to the world? Why are we, as human beings, doing this to ourselves? Why can’t we see that despite our difference, we’re all the same? Yes, we’re different colors, different shapes, sizes — the list goes on. But underneath, we’re all people, with emotions, beliefs and thoughts. Mine are no better than yours, and yours, no better than mine. To me it seems as if our whole history consists of putting more importance on our differences than on our similarities. Where has this gotten us? Where will this get us? Will it be the same when the world is ending? Will the last two people end up taking each other’s lives?
We as human beings are amazing. Look at the world. Don’t judge, just look. Look how far we’ve come since the beginning. Imagine how far we can go. We can, and do, change the world. Every single one of us, as a whole species, changes the world. All I am asking is that you think about your future, the future of our world. Should hate or love lead our world? Won’t our world continue to suffer if we continue to love some — and the others?
Please, for the sake of those you do love, love he rest of the world, too.