Letters to the Editor for October 10

Saving a gem

I was pleased to hear that the Oregon Board of Appeals reversed the decision by the City of Hood River to turn Morrison Park into a development for affordable housing. I was doubly pleased to read the Hood River News editorial (Oct. 3) in support of keeping the park a park and pointing out another option that exists nearby for development. Affordable housing is, of course, an important issue and there are ways to address it, as the editorial pointed out, without destroying a park.

We’ve all felt the changes of a rapidly growing Hood River, which is all the more reason for this city, or any city for that matter, to protect the parks that already exist. Increasing population here and in many other locations results in the gobbling up of open space at a daunting pace. Existing parks, national and otherwise, are the closest thing our culture has to “sacred ground.” I am grateful to Susan Crowley and friends of Morrison Park who stepped up with legal action to say “no” to plans to turn this little gem into just another bunch of houses.

Daniel Dancer

Mosier

Stop privatizing

Open letter to my congressional delegation:

Dear Senators Merkley and Wyden and Congressman Walden:

I write to ask you to do everything in your power to stop this immoral process of privatizing the Veterans Health program. Whatever the problems facing the Department of Veterans Affairs, privatizing is not the way to solve them.

I am a veteran. I receive a monthly disability stipend and the bulk of my healthcare is provided by the Veterans Hospital in Portland and clinics in The Dalles and Vancouver. I have received these services for about six years and found them exemplary in every way. Without the help of my local Veterans Service Office, I would not be receiving these benefits. I unconditionally thank every taxpayer for helping to provide them.

I have needed to use the privatized Veterans Choice from TriWest twice.

Both times I have found the service provided to be inefficient, ineffective, and lacking the caring attitude I have received from everyone who serves me in the VA. In the second instance, the middleman was so useless that I have taken care of the matter myself while awaiting a promised callback. This problem has never happened with the VA directly, as the latter’s follow-up practice has been flawless.

In fact, I find the management of the Portland Veterans Hospital unique among the diverse types of institutions — both public and private — I have dealt with in a long life. That management, put simply, is the best I have experienced in my life. Messing with it is not only stupid, it borders on criminal (given the inspector general’s allegations of $45 million waste in TriWest involvement).

Political leadership, in various ways, asks our young people to fight these various wars under the claim of defending our freedoms. Veterans return, often missing parts of themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. It is a huge price to pay. We can do no less than provide our veterans with the best healing services possible. In my experience, the DVA provides these services and is being compromised by market fundamentalism.

Please stop this nonsense.

David Hupp

Hood River

Vote no on 105

Ballot Measure 105 would repeal our state’s “sanctuary law,” which was passed with broad support from Democrats and Republicans more than 30 years ago.

I oppose Measure 105 because it poses a clear danger to our public safety system:

Fear of deportation would discourage people from immigrant communities from reporting crime, serving as witnesses and engaging our justice system.

It would divert law enforcement’s focus away from solving crimes and keeping people safe.

It would force us to spend local taxpayer dollars to do the federal government’s job.

It would not help keep our community safe. People who commit crimes and harm others can still be held accountable if we reject Measure 105.

It will sow distrust between law enforcement and immigrant communities and communities of color.

Please vote in November, and vote no on Measure 105.

Lara Dunn

Hood River

Kate Brown for environment

The Trump administration is continuing its wholesale destruction of environmental protections and its assault on our public lands. It couldn’t be a more important time to have a solid environmental champion as our governor.

Gov. Kate Brown has worked hard for a healthy environment. She passed “Cleaner Air Oregon,” which established new standards to protect air quality. She negotiated a transportation package that includes sensible climate actions, and overcame opposition from polluters to establish the clean fuel standard. She supported the coal-to-clean energy bill, ending the use of coal in Oregon by 2030. And, she supports “cap and trade/invest” in partnership with our neighboring western states for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Gov. Brown has also been a champion for our public lands, protecting the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and keeping the Elliott State Forest in public hands.

The contrast is stark between her record and that of Republican challenger Knute Buehler. Buehler voted against protecting Elliott State Forest in 2017 (SB 5505), voted against the transportation funding package and voted against the Clean Fuels Program in 2015 (SB 324). He has voted to support fracking and opposes “cap and trade/invest” for CO2 reduction. He has a lifetime “F” rating from the Oregon League of Conservation voters, which reflects a consistent disregard for conservation.

Our children and grandchildren deserve a healthy environment and public lands to use and enjoy. Kate Brown is my clear choice for governor.

Jim Appleton

Mosier

Some $1 questions

Yesterday, I took my daughter to the re-done Children’s Park. All my children have had great times at the old Children’s Park. The new one is a step up and awesome! Well done!

While there reading the Hood River News, on the front page were two articles: One regarding the county’s budget woes and the other regarding the remanding back of Morrison park. Let me state, I do understand the city and county are two separate entities. However, it is in the not too distant past that the city also has had budget woes. Courses of action included raising fees for inspections, developers and builders to beyond common-sense rates to help build revenue.

It’s agreed that affordable housing needs to be addressed in Hood River. One start, brought up many times before, could be to provide discounts and other incentives to the developers of affordable housing. Lower initial costs transfer to the end. Certainly, we don’t need to pay for another study which will sit on the shelf — try working with the potential parties involved for solutions.

Regardless of where you stand on whether Morrison Park should be preserved or sold, to sell that resource for $1 is both asinine and irresponsible to the citizens of Hood River. Makes me wonder what the developer promised in return? Think about this as you head to the election this year, or when the terms are up!

Steve Nybroten

White Salmon

Vote Johnson

As an Olympic Gold Medalist (1976), I have been fortunate to have great leaders throughout my entire swimming career, not because I let things fall in place, but because I took the active role in finding out who best aligned with my talent, desire, focus and goals.

As a citizen of Hood River, I look for the same attributes in a leader as I did as a swimmer. That’s why I am voting for Susan Johnson for Mayor of Hood River. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Susan in both public and private forums. She possesses all the qualities of a great leader, especially for the non-partisan role as mayor.

Susan openly communicates and listens to all people and perspectives.

She refuses to take a one-sided approach; rather, she uses her unique abilities to seek common sense solutions for complex issues, while understanding both their short and long-term implications.

Susan’s passion for our town and residents of Hood River is evident, as she has been a dedicated member of City Council for four years. I like that she is independent, yet values building consensus and is not quick to make decisions without first getting the right information, making sure the decision is legally sound and putting the safety of our citizens first.

In her chosen profession as a nurse, she has used her leadership skills to prioritize and provide access to critical health care across a diverse population while treating all patients with respect, equality and concern throughout their care.

Now more than ever, Hood River needs a leader who is decisive yet empathetic and has a solid understanding of the needs of everyone in our wonderful community.

If you have not had the pleasure of meeting Susan, I highly urge you to join in the next four weeks to learn all you can about this amazing candidate and make sure you vote on Nov. 6.

Wendy Boglioli

Hood River

Out of balance

One of Hood River’s problems may be its “out-of-balance” programs!

People, parks, and prisons. Too many of one and not enough of the other!

Alan Winans

Hood River

A call for empathy

In 1976-77, I spent seven months studying in Madrid, Spain. It was a tumultuous time in Spanish history: Franco had recently passed away and the country was just beginning its move from a dictatorship to a democracy. The Guardia Civil policed the streets of Madrid, guns drawn, eyes glaring. Political gatherings were not allowed — at least those gatherings that espoused opinions different from those in power. Once in a while, gunshots could be heard. The only way political leaflets arrived in the hands of the citizenry was via anonymous air drops. For a young woman raised in the democratic United States, it was an eye-opening experience.

Though I’d often felt cynical about United States politics (having seen daily government in action when I did two government internships at the state and federal level), upon returning to the States, I found myself feeling proud and patriotic — I was allowed to voice my opinions and share my stories without fear, and I felt assured that while civil debate might be at times cantankerous, the participants debated with civility.

In September 2017, Superintendent of Schools Dan Goldman quoted Mian Franzinger Barrett, an award-winning teacher, in his speech to returning Hood River County School District staff. He said, “It’s our duty to assure our students know how the constitution works, how our election process works, about civics, and most of all about empathy and humanity for one’s fellow human beings.”

When I hear still another obnoxious, mean-spirited comment from our president, I wonder if anyone ever taught him about empathy, or if he was just educated in the School of Bullies. His recent public mockery of a brave woman made me ashamed to call myself an American.

Whether we belong to the red, or blue, or purple tribe, we must all learn to have empathy for those we agree with, and for those we don’t. Our nation, and the world, depend on it.

Peggy Dills Kelter

Hood River

Fight misogyny

The Senate Kavanaugh hearings was a cultural moment for so many of us. Memories of indignities: Narrow escapes from dangerous dates, innuendo and laughter at my expense. I was the first professional woman in my office in 1969, the object of sexist jokes with the intense fear of working late and alone in the office.

I believed the world had changed by the 1980s, but now, listening to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and remembering the Anita Hill hearings, I wonder if it has become worse for women in recent years. Now we are in a full-on misogynist period where bullying is rampant, women are disbelieved and their reproductive rights are threatened along with their healthcare.

Make this moment meaningful! We must vote against sexism and against the arrogance of entitlement of career politicians. Vote for Jamie McLeod Skinner, Chrissy Reitz and Anna Williams. Vote for any candidates who care about women and families and healing the wounds of the Senate Kavanaugh hearings.

Christine Knowles

Hood River

Time for women

As of last year, the United States ranks 104th in the world for women’s representation in government. That is not a statistic to be proud of. Females make up more than half the population of the U.S., but we are represented by a Congress that is 80 percent male. Other countries have increased their representation by women through voluntary party quotas, legislation and constitutional amendments. It is hard to imagine these things happening in our country any time soon.

We do have the power to vote, however, and now is the time to support qualified female candidates. I plan to vote for Jamie McLeod-Skinner for U.S. Congress, Anna Williams for State Representative and Chrissy Reitz for State Senate. These hard working women will work for us all, putting people before party. Let’s envision a more balanced representation and then vote to make it happen.

Erica Roulier

Hood River

Consequences

As has been said, “Elections have consequences.” The last one, 2016, which brought us Trump, certainly has: One Supreme Court justice who shouldn’t be there, a second about to be elected by the Senate as thousands of citizens around the country protest someone accused of attempted rape and drinking beyond his capacity in high school and college, and being, shall we say, free with the truth; elections have consequences.

People, do you believe in keeping abortion legal? I do. I remember what it was like before it was legal: Coat hangers, women dying of sepsis from botched procedures and worse. Speaking of which, did you also know that Portland’s most famous abortionist, Ruth Barnett, who was active at least into the ‘60s as the abortionist to the rich in Portland and, I believe, also active in other communities, was from Hood River. You can find it online if you look hard. I believe Ruth Barnett was a pseudonym.

Rob Brostoff

Cascade Locks

Vote for Thomsen

In real estate, they say it’s is all about the location. The same can be said for effective legislative representation. That’s why I’m voting to re-elect Chuck Thomsen. Chuck’s committee assignments in Salem position him to be able to impact the legislative process and to be an effective advocate for his senate district.

Is improving public education the most important issue to you like it is for me? Then Chuck should have your vote. He is a member of the Senate Education policy committee, through which every education bill must pass before becoming law. He is also on the Education Budget Committee that determines the funding of all education programs from pre-school to higher ed. And he is a member of the full Ways and Means budget committee that must approve the entire state budget.

Chuck is in a unique position in Salem to have input on education policies and budgets. He has consistently used his position to fight for kids. In the last session, he supported the largest increase in K-12 funding in Oregon history. He fought for a record amount of state investment in career technical education. He was able to secure funding for the Oregon Promise program to provide community college tuition waivers for qualifying high school students.

Because of his “location” in the legislature, Chuck was positioned to play a key role in each of these issues.

I hope you will join me in sending Chuck Thomsen back to Salem where he can keep up the great work for all of us in Senate District 26.

Stan Perkins

Hood River

For McLeod-Skinner

I applaud congressional candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner for insisting that internet broadband be accessible for rural communities.

She’ll fight for net neutrality to encourage business growth and innovation. As Jamie says, if you think the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality — promoted by Rep. Greg Walden — doesn’t have real consequences, think again.

Jamie recently wrote on Twitter: “Last week, a rural fire department’s data was throttled by Verizon during an active wildfire. Meanwhile, my opponent got $77,500 from Verizon — then led the charge to repeal a free and open internet access.”

Walden is touting how much the FCC will spend on rural broadband. That’s money I see as payback for his support of the policy change that gives companies like Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable free rein to sell access to high-speed internet to the highest bidder. In his statement praising the repeal of net neutrality last year, Walden said he liked giving these telecommunications giants “a light-touch regulatory regime.” If you remember the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, even the Great Recession, you know how the light-touch regulatory regime works for working Americans.

Walden — the second-highest Republican recipient of corporate money tied to net neutrality — wants to help his corporate benefactors put the touch on rural Oregonians.

Our Second Congressional district needs a champion for rural communities and progressive solutions. It’s time for our district to have a representative like Jamie who will advocate for our families and communities, and not for special interests.

Tom Kaser

Hood River

Walden fails to represent

Congressman Greg Walden has not responded meaningfully to the findings of Russian interference in free and fair elections in our country. Mr. Walden has also failed to protest our president’s most damaging policies and directives — on immigration, environmental protection, equitable taxation, and more. In these and other lapses, he has neglected his duty to protect our communities from threats foreign and domestic, though he took the oath of office to do so.

Mr. Walden does not adequately represent the values and interests which are most important to me. I hope that, beginning in 2019, he will no longer be my elected representative. My vote in three weeks will be for his challenger, Ms. McLeod-Skinner.

Tina Castañares

Hood River

Can’t sit idly

I have been a volunteer attorney for the ACLU interviewing detainees locked up at NORCOR since March 2018. As you can imagine, each detainee has a story. Some are firefighters, chefs, orchard workers, painters and artists. Many came to the United States as children, but never applied for DACA. Many don’t deserve to be locked up, especially where they only get to go outside for an hour a week. Most endure the humiliating strip-search, some are put in solitary confinement, and most do not want their families to visit because it’s not face-to-face, but in a divided room or through video conferencing.

I hesitated to take part in the march as NORCOR has been kind in letting attorneys go inside and help detainees. When I interview the men (I have never spoke with a woman, yet they are there too), I feel alone in the process; however, this week’s march reassured me that many other people care about immigrants and oppose the policies of locking people up, just like our government did with the Japanese families during World War II.

The march Sunday in The Dalles started with 104 people and dwindled to about 75 when we made it to NORCOR around 3 p.m. The detainees and inmates could hear us. We would shout things like “ICE out of NORCOR” and they pounded on the cement walls like animals in a cage, responding in the only way possible. I teared up and my heart gulped. The contrast of the sun shining on the Columbia River with human beings, wrongfully locked up in NORCOR, made me ashamed and saddened.

The issue is complicated, and I worry that if ICE melts out of NORCOR, it will move to another jail where people might not care. The Gorge is a special place and our embarrassment and disgrace by what happened to our Japanese friends and farmers makes me even more passionate. We can’t sit idly by and let this happen again. We must protect our neighbors. Not only do I chant, ICE out of NORCOR, but also no on Measure 105, a divisive measure that will tear families apart.

Ruth Berkowitz

Hood Rover

Mayor’s choices

Many people ask for my advice about voting. For those who are interested, I recommend the following votes on this year’s Ballot Measures:

YES on 102

NO on 103

NO on 104

NO on 105

NO on 106

Measure 102 would give cities like ours a valuable tool to create affordable housing, while Measure 105 would repeal our state’s important sanctuary law, pulling local law enforcement resources away from their core public safety work.

Paul Blackburn

Mayor, Hood River

‘Rough mistress’

After all the liberals’ dishonest antics, Ford’s outright lies and the Mainstream News Media’s smears, Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed. Sweet! Personally, I would like to congratulate the new supreme court justice and say, “Serves you right” to the liberals who set up this crap and then lost. Karma is a rough mistress! You fools set the tone for all future nominations from either side. Proud of yourselves? I know I am disgusted with you liberals and so are a lot of other folks. Enjoy November. I doubt it will go as you hope. And did I mention that Ginsberg is about gone? She can’t hang in there much longer. LOL.

Cliff Mansfield

Odell

Non-partisan

What happened to non-partisan leadership for Hood River?

The positions of Mayor and City Council are crucial roles up for election in our community. These non-partisan positions are charged with making the best overall decisions for our safety, preservation of natural resources and livability, managing financial stability of our city and smart planning for our future.

Recently, the Democrat Party of Hood River formally endorsed candidates running for these positions; several promoted (and therefore accepted) the endorsement. I am a Democrat and do not support the Democrat Party endorsements. I want to elect the best person for the job(s) at hand.

These are non-partisan roles and should be filled based on skill set, not party affiliation.

What I’ve witnessed in recent years is contrary to the Democrat Party credo “cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls.” Hood River is at great odds; we are faced with critical decisions we can’t reverse and there are frustrations abound. Choosing leaders for their ability to collaborate and innovate with all interest groups, experts, influencers, businesses, citizens, the county and our surrounding communities could significantly help unite Hood River and set a smart, safe growth-plan forth for all.

Mayoral and city council positions require the ability to listen, think strategically and make politically neutral decisions. The strongest candidates should have an open mind, strong leadership and people-skills, solid business acumen and a track record of fairness and transparency.

As you cast your vote for mayor, ask yourselves who can best facilitate meaningful community engagement in planning and land use decisions, strengthen our community and preserve and build on the natural features and culture that makes our community distinctive. Susan Johnson is the obvious choice.

For council positions, ask yourselves who will listen and represent your voice. Choose who can best legislate for the city, enforce city ordinances fairly, transact city business fairly and smartly, manage our financial operations, protect the welfare of our city and culture, and provide community leadership.

Make an informed, non-partisan vote on Nov. 6.

Kathryn Huhn

Hood River

I love the Park

First off, I love the new Children’s Park.

Next, I would like to thank all the leaders and community members that helped make the new Children’s Park.

I love all the effort everyone put into the new Children’s Park.

Best,

Olivia O’Shea, 8

Hood River



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