Shame
On Aug. 17, Ben Mitchell accused those of us who support “Protect Our Parks” ballot measure 14-67 of uncivilized behavior. Further, he said “the war waged against this affordable housing project (smacks) of NIMBYism and entitlement.” Perhaps there are some entitled NIMBYs among us, but I have encountered only “war” and uncivilized behavior among the opponents of 14-67, including when some coward ripped off my pro-parks lawn sign this morning.
I have lost a friendship to this campaign, which is painful. Cowardly action does not hurt me.
As far as I know, the only thing we pro-parks people think we are entitled to is to activate our constitutional right to initiate a ballot measure that counters the illegal action of the city council. I stand ready to debate the merits of Protect Our Parks with anyone willing to call me at 541-490-3264. The coward can call me as well and explain their action.
This campaign has divided our community, and that is a shame. I hold the city council and the Mid-Columbia Housing Authority — institutions I would love to support — responsible for this mess. Shame on you.
David Hupp
Hood River 

No on 14-67
I decided to share a mistake I made a few months ago. I was walking in downtown Hood River and a person stopped me and asked if I would sign a petition to give voters the opportunity to have a say in whether or not a park is sold.
The petitioner said a couple of things about the value of city parks. Because I was in a hurry, I did not take the time to ask for more information and I signed the petition. Now that I have more information about this ballot measure, I am going to vote no on this ballot measure and I urge all voters to take the time to learn about the consequences of the measure passing.
I have talked with some of the people who have signs in their yards urging a yes/si vote on the measure — asking why they support the measure. And I am fascinated by the number of signs in Spanish — especially when I go to the website of the campaign and the children and adults in those photos are overwhelmingly Anglos.
I am talking with my Latino/a friends and neighbors about what they have been told about this issue. Mostly, I have been told that someone asked if the sign could be put up and they were given little information. Some were told that our city might lose all of our parks if the ballot measure fails. In spite of what Tracey Tomashpol wrote in her letter to the editor (Yes on 14-67, Oct. 19), it is the proponents of this ballot measure who are doing the fear-mongering. If you really are in support of parks, vote no on Measure 14-67.
Ruth Tsu
Hood River

‘No brainer’
I’m a relative newcomer to Hood River, so I can’t claim to understand the inner workings of our beloved town. But I am a lover of the parks here and I also work with the homeless as a Warming Shelter host, so am intimately aware of our town’s need for affordable housing. I regularly talk with folks who work two or three jobs and still can’t find housing. I feel the issue before us on this bill have served to divide a public that cares deeply about both issues.
As I see it, this issue gives us an opportunity to think out of the box together to find alternative solutions. Parks to me are sacred. I have looked at both sides of this issue and have good friends on both sides. For me, yes on 14-67 is a no brainer. In this present world we are in, any time the people have more of a voice, that is a good thing. I know as a community we can work around any immediate needs we have for our town that might arise.
Protecting parks and finding a path to affordable housing are not mutually exclusive. How about supporting efforts to make it easier to build an ADU (additional dwelling unit) for long term housing in people’s yards, maybe a small tax deduction for those who do this or finding land along the CAT bus route to create tiny houses or mobile home parks?
This bill is not about Morrison Park. It is about having a say about the parks we have now and future parks-assets in our community.
 Let’s come together, pass this bill to protect our parks and create something beautiful for our working people!
Sarah Bellinson
Hood River

'Your parks, your vote, your yes'
As a resident of the city of Hood River, you are an owner of all the city parks. It does not matter how old you are. It does not matter what color your skin is. It does not matter what religion you may or may not practice. It does not matter how much money you may or may not have. It does not matter what your political affiliations are. It does not matter what social group you identify with. It does not matter what language you speak. It does not matter what gender you identify with. You are an owner of the city parks.
As owners we all should decide if we, the stewards of open space, should transfer ownership of park land from all of us to just one of us, to a corporation or to just a few of us. The city parks belong to all of us who call the city of Hood River home. We each deserve to have our voice heard in a meaningful way — i.e. a vote.
I urge you to join me and share in your responsibility of park ownership by voting yes on ballot measure 14-67.
Carolyn Smale
Hood River

Neighbors
I voted no on 14-67 because I think it is an unneeded complication to the governance of Hood River. Your city council and staff are working hard to develop a system of parks that meet the needs of the entire community. There is no “deep state” within the “city establishment” rubbing their hands together conjuring up ideas of what parks we can get rid of next. The notion is plain and simply absurd. How quickly we forget the countless volunteer hours that Councilor Megan Saunders devoted towards the rejuvenation of Children’s Park. Just to be clear, “volunteer” means donating her time, free of charge, in addition to working a full-time job. Quite a few of the proponents of Measure 14-67 state that they realize that affordable housing is needed in our community and that other solutions are readily available. I look forward to seeing these folks work as hard advocating for affordable housing as they have for this measure. Hood River is what it is because of all the people that live here. When this is all said and done the need for affordable housing will still be there.
Yes, we need parks; but it sure would be nice if young families could afford to live here so there are children to use them.
Tim Counihan
Hood River
Editor’s note: Tim Counihan is a member of Hood River City Council.

Pinnacle of democracy
Recent letters from current and former Hood River politicians opposing Measure 14-67 are misleading and it makes me sad how the false rhetoric continues to divide our community.
In reality, Measure 14-67 represents the pinnacle of democracy; namely, a popular vote by the citizenry (i.e. direct democracy). When representative democracy is not representative of the citizens, invariably challenges ensue — such is the nature of democracy.
Measure 14-67 would not prevent or impede the creation of new parks. Rather, Measure 14-67 would simply require a popular vote when the city proposes to sell or give away existing parks. Measure 14-67 narrowly defines what constitutes a “park,” and when the city requires flexibility in managing publicly owned land, they need only to define the acquired property as something other than a “park” in any applicable ordinance (e.g. a “dog activity area,” or a “pedestrian linear transportation system,” etc.).
Unfortunately, there is a much bigger problem in Hood River that the parks issue points up. Namely, a lack of transparency in city government. Until this problem is addressed, issues similar to Morrison Park will continue to plague Hood River.
Put simply, parks belong to all citizens and ‘we the people’ should be able to decide if and when we want to give them away to developers for $1. I encourage fellow citizens to protect our parks and vote yes on Measure 14-67.
J. Andrew Weets 
Hood River

Yes on 14-67
Vote yes on 14-67 for the right to have a vote on parks. Recent issues of the Hood River News have been filled with “vote no” letters from current and former city government officials. The argument is that the city government would be unable to function with any sort of public accountability. We should be extremely wary any time our government officials want to limit our input to the process of government.
Former Mayor Arthur Babitz equated it as “giving the middle finger” to elected officials. Other government officials claim that the measure will limit democracy. Exactly how is voting limiting democracy? How is voting giving anyone the “middle finger?” These are the same people who called concerned citizens “NIMBY” and insinuated that we were against low income housing. Bully tactics to make us go away.
Megan Saunders, Mark Zanmiller, Jessica Metta, Arthur Babitz, Cindy Walbridge, and other current and former city officials should be ashamed that they are claiming they can’t do their jobs with public oversight. We entrust them to run this city with the input of the citizens. We entrust them to listen to their constituents and vote accordingly. That’s what representation means but our current government is not following this.
When an elected official comes out and states that they shouldn’t be hamstrung by public input we need to remind ourselves what it means to be in a democracy. Tyranny starts with reasonable statements. Totalitarianism begins when we are no longer allowed to have input when we believe it is necessary.
What we have now is a city government that just decided that they can sell city parks to whomever they want for development. It isn’t just about Morrison Park, it’s about all parks. So no, I do not feel represented in the city council and I believe that you deserve the right to vote on these matters. That is why I will be voting yes on 14-67.
Zed Ruhlen 
Hood River

Dictator
Let’s examine some incontrovertible facts about the actions of Donald Trump:
He has instructed, repeatedly, government employees to spend taxpayer dollars at Trump properties, from which he has refused to divest.
He has, by his own admission and the admission of his surrogates, attempted to elicit a ‘quid pro quo’ in the form of pressuring the Ukrainian government into investigating his political rival.
He has obstructed justice repeatedly by instructing staffers to ignore congressional subpoenas. Let us not forget that obstruction was ultimately what got Richard Nixon impeached.
He has declared a phony state of emergency so as to undermine Congress’ power of the purse, enshrined in the Constitution that Republicans claim to love.
And finally, most worrying of all, he has allowed his lawyers to argue in court that he, as long as he is in office, is completely immune to criminal liability, even if he shoots someone on Fifth Avenue, even if he closes down voting stations, and even if he had political opponents murdered. Sure, Congress could impeach him. But would they?
Taken together, these actions paint the picture of a man who is enriching himself on the back of the American people, and doing everything he can to make sure that he will be able to continue doing so in perpetuity, with no possibility of criminal liability.
Republicans, Trump is the authoritarian dictator that you fear from the left. I’m sorry, but this is the truth.
The reality is that the House does not need to subpoena and talk to a single additional soul. They should, of course, hold every single individual who refuses to comply with a subpoena in contempt of Congress, but they have all the evidence they need to proceed with the impeachment process.
The House could vote to impeach today, send it to the senate for trial and be completely justified, all without going into human rights violations, domestic concentration camps, the betrayal of our allies in the Middle East, the deceit, and the sexual predation.
We must: Impeach. Indict. Incarcerate.
Benjamin Sheppard
Hood River

Country first
Most recently in January 2017, Congressman Walden swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” I ask him to be true to his oath.
The Constitution defines when and how a U.S. president should be subject to impeachment by the House and trial by the Senate (Article II, Section 4). An impeachment inquiry is in progress. Before opening it, the Speaker of the House exercised considerable restraint, relenting only on mounting indications of potentially impeachable offense(s). Mr. Walden opposed the inquiry, alleging insufficient information.
I ask him to publicly support the inquiry. Isn’t this how information will become available?
The U.S. president has overtly interfered with the inquiry, arguably obstructing justice: By verbal and social media messages, which are misleading and unfit for the Office of President. By instructing others to disobey Congressional subpoenas, which prevents or delays testimony and access to documents deemed necessary.
I ask Mr. Walden to publicly condemn presidential interference. Otherwise, wouldn’t he be breaching his oath to bear “true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution? Mustn’t he defend the House’s constitutionally mandated oversight duty? The Speaker of the House developed the strategy for the inquiry, as is her prerogative. Democrats and Republicans who are members of three specific House committees are conducting — with equal time and access for questioning — closed-door interviews that inform the inquiry. A more public phase will follow, when previous interview transcripts will become available and the full House participates.
Still, some two dozen GOP lawmakers broke into a closed-door inquiry meeting, in a disruptive protest that defied reason and violated specific security rules on electronic equipment. I ask Mr. Walden to co-sponsor a bipartisan reprimand of those GOP lawmakers. Theirs was an egregiously wrong attempt at distraction and obfuscation.
I respect Mr. Walden’s right to defer judgement on impeachment until all information is available. But I cannot accept his silence, when the Constitution is being disrespected by those who should defend it.
Please put country before party, Congressman.
Antonio Baptista
Mt. Hood-Parkdale

Worship
We must not worship Nature directly (like the Pagans). That would be heresy. Then we couldn’t cut down all the trees. God put us here to make money, not to take care of the trees, or each other. What we should do is worship our oligarchs because God has shined on them in the form of money. Perhaps we should just cut to the chase and worship money.
David Warnock
Hood River

Climate crisis
The undersigned Gorge residents and supporters of the Columbia Gorge Climate Action Network (CGCAN) encourage Hood River city councilors to continue leading climate actions by crafting and approving a Climate Emergency Declaration.
Recent global temperature data and storm intensities are confirming the awful momentum toward climate catastrophes, that we’ve created. In the Northwest we should expect much larger wildfires, fewer salmon able to survive the higher water temperatures, summer river flows cut in half, and increasing ocean acidification destroying ecosystems.
Hood River City Council is deciding whether to sign a Climate Emergency Declaration, as more than 1,100 jurisdictions around the world have done.  Such a declaration is necessary to communicate the depth and urgency of climate crisis we face, and to catalyze decarbonization actions by individuals and families.
Restoring a safe and stable climate requires an emergency mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II, to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors with wartime urgency, to rapidly and safely drawdown or remove all the excess carbon from the atmosphere, and to implement measures to protect all people and species from the consequences of abrupt climate change.
The city has already demonstrated a commitment to reversing climate change by creating, endorsing and implementing the Hood River county energy plan, a blueprint to drastically reduce fossil fuel use and carbon emissions, while also saving big on fuel costs. The city has already invested in rooftop solar, energy efficient street lights, more fuel-efficient vehicles, reducing energy use at the wastewater treatment plant and many other tangible actions to ensure we shift the economy from one based on unhealthy, dirty energy to a clean, equitable economy.
A Climate Emergency Declaration does not require immediate specific city actions, but would reaffirm the urgency of these efforts and citizen efforts, by communicating with each other, local official, business leaders, and elected officials to support climate emergency declaration toward mobilizing an effective, immediate, and sustainable climate recovery.
Peter Cornelison
Ellen Donoghue
John Boonstra
Eric Strid
Ann Harris
Eric Burnette
22 other concerned Gorge residents and supporters of CGCAN.org

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