‘Bad tax’

Hood River County’s proposed 5 percent sales tax on meals is a bad tax. It is a regressive tax, one that takes a larger percentage of income from low-income earners than from high income earners.

Service industry workers, mostly low-income earners, make up 24 percent of Hood River County’s workforce. Many of these workers have more than one job, with little time to prepare meals at home and must grab a meal between jobs, and often bring prepared food home to their families. A 5 percent sales tax on food would take a bite out of their already tight family budgets. Many of our local service workers rely on tips to make up a significant portion of their “real wage.” When a sales tax on food is added to a bill, tips go down, hitting these hard working individuals twice. Most are already struggling to afford the high living costs in our county, while others, who cannot afford to live locally, must incur the high cost of large daily commutes to work. Winters already challenge these workers, most of whom see reduced hours, thus incomes, half the year. Most don’t get health insurance or retirement plans. This is a bad tax, one that would hurt those that can least afford to pay it. If you don’t like the idea of shifting more money into our government’s hands, on the backs of our hard working, and already challenged, local service industry workers, then I urge you to please vote “no” on Hood River County’s proposed sales tax on meals.

Randy Orzeck

Hood River

Editor’s note: Randy Orzeck is co-owner of Big Horse Brewery and Horsefeathers Restaurant in Hood River.

Tax food 

Many states with high tourism take advantage of outsiders to provide income for their communities and state. It makes perfect sense because tourists are a captive audience prepared to spend money for the experience. It is time our county takes advantage of this.

I suspect most people purchasing quality food in Hood River County are either outsiders, or people not likely to be affected by a 5 percent tax. A good seafood dinner costs about $30 here. It does not make financial sense that people would willingly buy a $30 salmon dinner, yet refuse to buy the same one for $31.50. A $28 large pizza will cost $29.40. An $8 pizza will cost $8.40. Based on these numbers, common sense tells me establishments will suffer very minimal loss of income from a food tax.

We pay property tax, (often) an additional tax levy, and a registration fee just so our son can attend public school in crowded classrooms with limited resources. We had to close an entire county library system because of funding issues. It took tens of thousands of private dollars and hundreds of volunteer hours to rebuild the Children’s Park because we had no money to support it for years. Every new need in Hood River County seems to create a financial crisis. It is time to move passed the lack of forestry income as the fix for our annual budget. There is an excellent and simple solution to our financial problems. Please consider a YES vote on the food tax.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

‘Yes’ on 65/66

An informed voter is one who looks carefully at the issue before deciding how to vote. A quick look at the programs that would be lost if we don’t pass Measures 65 and 66 makes this an easy decision.

Among the many programs and services that would be cut from the Hood River County budget is one that I am very familiar with, the OSU Extension Service. The OSU Extension Service in Hood River County offers us affordable education that strengthens our local community and economy, sustains natural resources, and promotes healthy families and individuals. The programs that are offered through the OSU Extension Service include 4H Youth Program, Family and Community Health, Food Hero, Food Preservation, Forestry, Home and Commercial Horticulture, Juntos College Readiness, Master Gardener, Master Naturalist, Open Campus, Small Farms, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education and Strong Women Exercise Program.

Our local OSU Extension Service is partially funded by Hood River County. The remaining funds come from the State of Oregon, the Federal Government and grants. If Hood River County stops funding our OSU Extension Service, all other sources of funding stop too. If this happens, we, the residents of Hood River County, lose a multitude of programs, services and educational opportunities that we are only paying a portion towards, while receiving their full benefit.

Let’s put a dollar value on what we have to lose if the OSU Extension Service is not funded by Hood River County. There are currently 280 trained volunteers of OSU Extension programs that annually offer over 12,000 volunteer hours. At the national volunteer rate of $24/hour, that’s $288,000 in-kind value that is provided to residents of Hood River County. This $288,000 worth of volunteer time, plus the $350,000 that is received from state and federal funds would disappear … and with it, programs that add to our quality of life.

Sometimes, you have an opportunity to spend a little, and get a lot. This is one of those times. Vote yes on Measures 65 and 66.

Margo Dameier

Hood River

Support 65/66

There’s only one thing more painful than paying taxes and that is cutting essential services that all Hood River County residents depend upon for their safety and quality of life.

Law enforcement, search and rescue, drug interception, juvenile crime prevention and school safety are not luxuries, but essential services that make Hood River County an attractive and safe place to live.

Despite a robust local economy, the cost of providing essential public services has outstripped available resources. Reductions in timber revenue, unpredictable funding from Salem and statewide budget woes leave local municipalities fending for themselves and chasing an ever-shrinking pie of available grants and funding. Now is not the time to pull back on much-needed investments in our community that keeps Hood River safe and healthy. Hood River County residents have demonstrated time and time again a strong civic-minded commitment to protecting our way of life in the Gorge — safe neighborhoods, strong schools, and well-maintained roads, parks and trails are why we call this place home. Paying for those core operational services by spending rainy day reserves is not sustainable and just kicks the proverbial can down the road.

Join me in voting Yes for Measures 65 and 66 and ensuring that Hood River County stays a safe, healthy, and sustainable place to live, work and raise families tomorrow and for years to come.

David Russo

Hood River 

Support taxes

I encourage all Hood River County residents to vote yes to both the Food & Beverage Tax and the Local Option Operating Levy on your May 21 ballot. The county budget has been in shambles for far too many years. It is time to fix the problem.

The Food & Beverage Tax finally allows the county to generate revenue from visitors that use our areas fantastic resources. Visitors and locals will not shy away from area businesses because of this tax, just as locals do not shy away from restaurants in White Salmon because of the Washington sales tax. The Food & Beverage Tax puts resources towards services that visitors use, and these services need direct funding. Search and rescue, county parks, forest trails and county road maintenance are a few. A Food & Beverage Tax is a good way to fund these services. The Local Option Operating Levy is the second half of the full solution.

No one wants to pay more taxes. Few like to admit that their property taxes are low, but Hood River County has artificially low property taxes for many reasons. Yes, you would pay more property tax just about everywhere else. A letter to the editor is not the place to describe how we got here. The best one document summary I can find is at tinyurl.com/y49uxmgw.

Please look through it; there is a lot there. If you are skeptical of its contents, please call the county and ask good questions. This is a subject that they have been dealing with for far too long and need to the public to understand the state they are in. Please vote ‘“yes” twice.

Tim Mixon

Hood River

‘Take notice’

Cascade Locks, take notice! Loran Ayles is running for School Board Position 1, which represents Cascade Locks. He states in his Letter to the Editor that it’s critical that Cascade Locks children feel valued just as much as any other student in Hood River County.

Hooray! There may be a candidate that will represent the children and parents of the city that generated 39 percent of the entire growth in Hood River County, Cascade Locks. Some parents whose children previously attended Hood River elementary schools before coming to Cascade Locks say there is a difference in the level of academics taught at Cascade Locks Elementary and that expectations are not the same.

It feels as though the lack of consideration by the Hood River County School Administration and Board puts our kids at a disadvantage. Since the 1960s, the Hood River County School District sought to close the school at Cascade Locks and succeeded in closing the middle and high school in 2010. I believe that if the Hood River County School District was truly interested in all their schools, there would be a voting school board member representing every community in Hood River County. That would include Parkdale, Odell, Mid Valley, Hood River City and Cascade Locks. A school board member from each community ensures that projects promised to those schools would be completed.

It concerns me that Cascade Locks has a school building that is only half utilized. While classrooms sit empty, our middle and high school kids are bused to overcrowded schools in Hood River. Why aren’t kids from Hood River housed to an underutilized school building in Cascade Locks? Why does Parkdale and Odell get a bus provided for a summer swim program, but no bus for children in Cascade Locks?

Thank you, Loran Ayles, for your insightful letter and for your heart to serve all the children in your district. I’ve had four children graduate from Cascade Locks High School and one is currently a freshman at Hood River Valley High School. You have my support and my vote.

Kari Goben

Cascade Locks 

‘How quickly we forget’

September of 2017 wasn’t that long ago, and yet the memories of those late summer days remain fresh.

As residents of Cascade Locks, my family was placed on a Level 2 evacuation notice, “Be Set,” to go at any moment. We packed vital documents, hard drives and irreplaceable items. We sent our animals to stay with relatives. We lived on the edge for weeks. Commuting into Hood River daily via Highway 14 afforded awe inspiring views of Mother Nature’s powers.

Night after night as the Eagle Creek fire raged on, the only thing that allowed us to sleep was knowing that multitudes of interagency safety personnel, including deputies from the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, were right outside our door, vigilantly standing watch. Keeping my family safe.

I know that the restaurant businesses lost a great deal during the closure of Interstate-84, a clear sign of the close tie to tourism the industry has. For my family, it’s all about perspective. We will continue to support our local brewery and restaurants but we will also be voting to support services that keep us safe and healthy. Please join us in voting YES twice this May.

Micaela Keller

Hood River

‘Cancer’

The Republican Party has become a cancer in our democracy. Trump and his Republican minions don’t believe that the constitutional checks and balances on the executive branch should exist at all. Their only concern is in maintaining and consolidating power, regardless of harm to our health, our freedom and the Constitution. This disease must be eradicated, or we all become serfs to the mega-billionaires that will rob us of everything but the bare essentials.

Not convinced? Then how do you explain Trump’s gutting of the EPA, tax cuts that benefit the wealthy by four-to-one, and the plans to disembowel Medicare and eventually, Social Security? He has recently ordered all of his staff to refuse their legal requirement to testify before congress on matters of national security — a topic that Trump has been grossly negligent on by refusing to support any effort to curb Russia’s attempts to interfere in our elections. Why investigate when Russia helped him get elected, and may help him get re-elected?

Congress has a constitutional right and obligation to investigate any indication of wrong doing that affects the security of the United States. The Mueller Report has made it overwhelmingly obvious that Trump has no respect for the law, the Constitution, or the intent of the Constitution. Even Trump’s own staff demonstrated that he was behaving in a grossly unacceptable manner by refusing to follow through with his illegal and unethical demands. When Trump and the Republican Party challenge the constitutional duties of the House of Representatives, they are saying, “The Constitution is only a guideline, not to be taken seriously.” The last check and balance, the Supreme Court, is already terminal thanks to unethical manipulation by the Republican-controlled Senate. Our only hope is that Congress will follow through with every investigation, convict every co-conspirator and imprison every guilty party so that they can perpetrate no further harm to what’s left of our democracy.

This includes impeaching and prosecuting our would-be dictator. The cancer will continue to eat away at our freedoms unless we destroy it.

Allan Rodrick

Hood River

Promise

Gov. Kate Brown broke a promise made to Oregon’s public employees who are counting on PERS for our retirement. Time and time again, she has promised that she will work to solve the state’s pension obligation without cutting salaries or retirement benefits for the public workforce. But now she has put forth an outline of a plan that is so unworkable that is has quickly drawn opposition from labor, businesses, local governments, and lawmakers.

Under her proposal, the retirement benefits for all public employees would be, in essence, taxed, to pay the states obligation to people already retired. Those funds would go only to school districts, leaving fire houses, cities and counties on their own. As a result, this new tax on retirement benefits would have both short and long-term effects to public safety. It is unconstitutional to require today’s public workforce to pay the state’s debt to retirees. It will send the state into more lengthy and expensive lawsuits, and the last one resulted in the public employers having to pay back more than $4 billion dollars in benefits. And fundamentally, pulling the rug out from public employees as they approach their retirement age is just plain wrong.

Leadership means keeping your commitments and honoring your word. Firefighters put their lives on the line every single day, which is part of the job. We understood when we were hired that we would never get rich or get big bonus checks, but job security, pensions and health benefits are part of what makes these demanding jobs appealing. Public servants sacrifice salaries, time with their families and put their personal safety at risk. In exchange, we were promised a secure retirement. Firefighters are going to keep standing up for what is right, side by side with other public employees who serve their communities. We have kept our end of the deal. We show up to work and do our jobs. We are counting on our state lawmakers to also stand with us against these unfair, illegal, and ill-conceived retirement cuts.

Jeremy Cervantes

President, Hood River Firefighters Association

The Lorax

A speaker at Saturday’s Earth Day Celebration displayed a copy of “The Lorax” and gave it prominent mention. “The Lorax” is a Dr. Seuss book that warns us to protect the earth’s precious and finite resources, especially the trees. “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.” A gift copy of “The Lorax” sits in the lobby at City Hall. Sadly, no one on the city council (with the exception of Erick Haynie) seems to have read the book lately. Just last month, they voted to rezone Morrison Park. This vote rings the death knell for a woodland of 400-plus year old native white oaks, as well as other old and young growth deciduous and conifer trees.

“The Lorax” was published in 1971, long before climate change was widely accepted. It turns out that Dr. Seuss was right, and his message should be taken literally; we now know that trees are one of the best ways to stave off the worst of climate change. Research from Oxford University states that between now and 2050, trees and biochar (i.e. improving the soil) are the “most promising technologies out there.”

While all trees are important, Morrison Park is a relatively rare ecosystem known as an Oak Woodland, which is documented to provide food and habitat for more than 200 species of native wildlife: Woodpeckers, bats, snakes, owls, kestrels and the imperiled western gray squirrel. Cut down the trees and the complex ecosystem is destroyed. In the words of the Lorax, “They loved living here. But I can’t let them stay. They’ll have to find food. And I hope that they may.” Dr. Seuss leaves us with a final important message: “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Carol Rodrick

Hood River

Gabbard 2020

Are you tired of regime change wars? Does the fact that the “military-industrial complex regime-change industry” has a stranglehold on both of our major political parties have you feeling helpless and frustrated? Are you sad when you hear about the endless killing of civilians in Yemen, in Libya, in Syria, which are perpetrated by our forces, our partners and allies, and using our planes, bombs and guns?

Do you wonder why we hear that healthcare for all our citizens (like most other developed nations have) is just too expensive, or free college tuition (projected to cost less than just the annual increase in the defense budget for 2019) would be unaffordable?

Take heart! There is something we can do to change all of this. Tulsi Gabbard is running for president on a platform of ending regime change wars. She is a 38-year-old Congress member from Hawaii, a 15-year veteran with two tours of duty in Middle East, not a pacifist, but a realist. She makes the case that our interventions in multiple countries are making us less secure (by spawning terrorists and increasing animosity towards the U.S.) and costing us in the trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, and causing us to ignore our really pressing needs at home (poverty, homelessness, rampant financial insecurity, environmental degradation, etc.). Of course, her message has not found fertile soil in our corporate-controlled media and political landscape. People, that’s where we come in. This is still a democracy (for now). Check out Tulsi online to see what she actually has to say and, if you agree, vote Tulsi Gabbard in 2020 to save America.

Rod Krehbiel

Hood River

‘Necessary’

The letter to the editor from Steve Nybroten in the April 3 edition acknowledges that global warming is occurring, but claims that confronting it is not a priority. I suggest that a good primer for Mr. Nybroten and others of his opinion is “Timefulness” by Marcia Njornerud. The author is a professor of Geology at Lawrence University. The book is short, less than 200 pages, and not a polemic or screed. Ostensibly, it is a geology book wherein the author weaves together what little we knew before 1970 about the earth’s 4.5 billion year history with the incredible knowledge we have gained since. The central message is that it has taken the earth’s various processes hundreds of millions of years to sequester all of the carbon which humans have unleashed on the earth’s atmosphere in a mere 200 years. There is no comparable process to re-sequester all of the carbon which humanity has unleashed.

There are two other instances in earth’s history when there was runaway atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations like today. Like then, there were massive concentrations of methane ice which we have today just off our shores in the continental shelf and in the Artic tundra. Once the ocean’s temperature reaches the point where the methane ice boils up from the sea bottom, global warming and climate change will accelerate unimaginably and the earth’s billions of humans will be another footnote in earth’s history as were the dinosaurs and flourishing species before and after them. The “Green” of the Progressive Green New Deal is a start but it is only that; much, much more is necessary.

Lance S. Stryker

White Salmon

Progress

Chrissy Reitz was elected to the Hood River County School Board four years ago and has served as chair the past year and a half. We know Chrissy to be a bright, articulate listener and leader. Many of us believe and glibly claim that our children are our future. Chrissy lives it by volunteering significant time to directly contribute to that future. The school district is currently in a state of transition. With a bit of anxiety, we’re saying goodbye to a district superintendent who has served so very effectively since 2013, and we’re saying hello to his replacement. Chrissy and her fellow board members have thoughtfully searched for and found a new leader. Chrissy’s continued service and leadership on the board will serve to reduce the anxiety associated with a change in the superintendent position, and will increase the likelihood that our new superintendent will be as successful as our last one.

We appreciate the experience Chrissy brings to the school board, as she has already served four years. We also appreciate her entrepreneurial spark, her willingness to create something new when needed. A few years back, Chrissy displayed that spark when she saw an opportunity to expand our Hood River community opportunities for families and founded the Gorge Kids Triathlon, an annual Hood River Waterfront Park event occurring each September. Chrissy’s demonstrated skills at guiding existing programs, plus her competency as an initiator, have compelled us to publicly support her reelection. We hope you will join us in voting for Chrissy Reitz to continue to serve us on the school board, representing Position 1. We’re lucky to have her there now, and we anticipate the anxiety that will arise when she, sometime in the future, decides to move on and we are forced to vote a replacement. We’re fortunate we don’t have to deal with that yet.

Doug and Karen Roof

Hood River

Tyranny

Impeachment can no longer be seen as a political strategy, but as a matter of precedent for future presidents. Donald Trump has instructed his staff and treasury secretary to reject congressional subpoenas. That is to say, subpoenas from the highest legislative and investigative body in the land.

Bill Davis, is this what “rough around the edges,” “blatantly blunt,” and “doing what’s right” looks like? What it looks like to me is obstruction of justice in its most clear and transparent form, which more than qualifies as high crimes and misdemeanors. To Greg Walden, I say this: When you forebear a tyrant, you get tyranny.

Benjamin Sheppard

Hood River

Editor’s note: This letter refers to several of Bill Davis’ Letters to the Editor: “Moral blackmail,” which ran March 16 (though he used the term “blusteringly blunt,” not “blatantly blunt”) and “Doing what’s right,” which ran Feb. 20. The News was unable to find a letter by Davis that includes the phrase “rough around the edges.” Sheppard is employed as a social worker and recently resigned from the school board.

‘Kicks4Jesus’

Hood River never ceases to overwhelm me with the empathy and love shown to people in need, especially children of our community. Recently, another child in our community is in need of our support. Jesus Ledezma, a sophomore at HRVHS, was recently diagnosed with leukemia. There have been many people organizing an event called “Kicks4Jesus” to raise money to help with his family’s expenses. The event is Thursday, May 9 from 5-9 p.m. It includes a silent auction, tacos, art, and a futsol tournament. You can register for the tournament ($20 fee/teams of five) by calling 541-399-7298.

Anyone who knows Jesus, knows his character. He is the kid who looks you in the eye every time he greets you, and says, “Hello, Mrs. Welty. How are you?” Having taught in this school district for many years, I am impressed by the strength, tenacity, courage and positive attitude that children have as they face adversity. Jesus embodies all of these attributes and is someone who makes this community a place I am proud to call my home. With the support of so many who care, we can all make a difference for Jesus.

Please join us in celebrating and supporting Jesus on Thursday, May 9 from 5-9 p.m. at HRVHS.

Carolyn Welty

Hood River

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