The Adult Center Theater production of a Hispanic version of my play, “Cell,” afforded me a totally unexpected opportunity to rediscover my play in a manner I never would have imagined otherwise. Produced since 2012, originally written for an African-American cast, presented in Hood River last year with a white-Anglo cast, and now, in 2019 with a cast of Hispanic-American actors, I have received a bountiful writers’ gift in the process.
Now, thanks to the original vision and concept of Director Gary Young, and Associate Director Kathy Williams, “Cell” has been presented by a wonderful cast of Hispanic actors who are part of the current demographic group that is being specifically targeted in the current U.S.A. detention crisis. It has been a pleasure, a privilege, and an honor to witness the performers infuse their characters by way of utilizing their own directly personal immigration experiences. I will never forget it. My deepest gratitude to the Salvador Fund, the Adult Center Theater; directors: Gary Young, Kathy Williams; cast: Viviana Rafalowski, Sonia Marquez, Leticia Valle, Juan Reyes; and crew: Priya Kendrick and Rosemary and Steve Shepardson.
The feedback that we received from our community audiences has been inspiring, enlightening, and so thoroughly affirming. Thank you, White Salmon, The Dalles and Hood River audiences. New York City itself could never have offered me such a unique experience. I will never forget it.
New York, N.Y.
Yes on 14-67
Megan Saunders’ “Another Voice” suggests that giving people a vote will “undermines the democratic process,” be expensive, and create risky, unintended consequences. Those arguments are nonsense.
Ballot measure 14-67 asks: “Shall Hood River revise its charter to prohibit the disposal of any city parkland without a public vote?” Passage gives voters a vote on future park sales. That’s it.
Megan claims Measure 14-67 “undermines democracy.” Nonsense. If the council decides to sell more parks, then lively debates and community meetings will occur. Voters will weigh the issues and cast their vote. It’s what people in a democracy do best. A “Yes” on 14-67 gives everyone a voice.
Megan writes that a vote on city park sales will be a costly, significant obstacle. How many more parks is the city planning to sell? Sales of parks should be rare events, worthy of public discussion and a vote. When that rare vote happens, it will likely occur with other ballot measures like bond issues, school funding, or candidate elections — the other significant decisions the voters now make.
The higher price is incurred when the council sells irreplaceable community resources without giving everyone a voice. When we lose a park, children lose a safe place to play. We lose green space. A valuable asset vanishes forever. Approving Measure 14-67 lets the people choose whether to sell their parks. Let the people vote on those sales. Our parks, our choice.
Her worry about changing the city charter is fear-mongering. Oregon’s voters amend their charters to reflect local issues, and voters throughout the state do just that. Corvallis and West Linn residents amended their charters to protect parks from sale without the people’s vote. Sandy’s citizens added an amendment so voters could approve annexations. Pendleton’s charter amendment keeps solid waste transfer stations away from homes. Oregon’s voter initiatives show a healthy respect for the will of the people and city charters reflect those values.
Reject fear. Embrace the democratic process. Our initiative process lets you vote to add park protection to our charter on Nov. 5. Vote “Yes” on Measure 14-67.
Party above country
I give Republican CD2 Congressman Greg Walden credit for issuing a statement last summer criticizing Trump’s racist comments about immigration issues and some members of Congress. He noted the comments were “disgusting and wrong” and “do not reflect the values that we hold dear in America.”
However, such “boldness” by Rep. Walden is rare. He has also stated (via Twitter) that he doesn’t believe that Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden’s son amount to “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the Constitution’s standard for impeachment. I’d very much like to hear what Walden does feel would amount to “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Posing that question to Walden staffers at his offices elicits the usual “I can’t answer that.”
Walden further said, “If you’re going to overturn the will of the American people and unseat a president of the United States, you better have really good reasons . . .” He appears to forget that Trump’s presidency does not represent the will of the people. It represents only the artificial “representation” of the Electoral College system. Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes.
Even at this advanced stage of presidential lying, cheating, and arguably treason, there appears to be little Trump says or does that moves Walden beyond a tepid reprimand. He and the GOP are clearly willing to put party above country. Although it may appear to them to be the politically expedient thing to do right now, history will judge them harshly.
“I am the least racist person.”
“No one is more conservative than me.”
“No one stronger on the second amendment than me.”
“No one respects women more than me.”
“No one knows more about taxes than me, maybe in the history of the world.”
“Nobody builds better walls than me.”
“I am the least anti-Semitic person.”
“I know words, I have the best words.”
“Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”
“In my great and unmatched wisdom.”
“I am the chosen one.”
Would you want someone who would bleat out this bilge for president?
No on 14-67
Don’t be fooled. Vote No on Measure 14-67.
Measure 14-67 is not about “Protecting our Parks,” it’s about undermining our local democracy.
As we live in a time where our federal democracy is under attack, we need to be well informed and participate in our local government. Local policies directly affect us and our community.
The sponsors of this bill are trying to instill fear in us, fear that our parks are in danger. Hood River does not have a parks problem, we do not need to change our city charter.
Our local democracy works; we have elected representatives that have the facts and make decisions through an open pubic process, ensuring the community’s voices are heard and considered for all of the city’s assets.
Our last May election showed an overall voter turnout of 47 percent — that means that more than half of our community would not be represented if we required a vote to deal with our park lands. Requiring a vote before leasing or selling park lands would not support the voice of our most vulnerable populations and is not in the best interest of our community as a whole.
Help maintain a strong local democracy. Vote NO on Measure 14-67.
14-67 could hinder parks
Decades ago, I spent nearly five years as a Port of Hood River representative on the joint Port/City Park Development Committee (PDC), which facilitated the design and development Hood River’s Waterfront Park. I co-chaired with Mark Zanmiller, then a board member for HRV Parks & Rec District and genuine parks advocate who now serves on city council.
As a communications consultant who has worked for the port, city, and other local and agencies, I’ve had opportunities to learn in-depth about a wide array of local projects. I’m concerned about Measure 14-67’s claim to “Protect Our Parks.” Waterfront Park was developed with an IGA (intergovernmental agreement) between the port and city, where the port sold six acres to the city (for almost nothing) in exchange for development and maintenance as a park into perpetuity. It’s now one of Hood River’s most impressive gems, primarily due to huge fundraising and volunteer efforts, plus ongoing city maintenance resources.
Morrison Park was also a result of an IGA between the city (landowner) and local parks district to temporarily develop and maintain a disc golf course until such a time as the city dedicates it to another civic use. Currently, the parks district and city are discussing (via another to-be-completed IGA) to locate a dog park between the city’s wastewater treatment plant and the Hook (city-owned land likely needed for a future treatment plant expansion). The city has many established parks and has been very “pro-parks,” exemplified by the building and rebuilding of Children’s Park in 1992 and 2018. The city should be able to act flexibly in opportunities to use non-established lands for parks or open space, sometimes for decades.
The voting public should realize that if Measure 14-67 passes, it could reduce options for future community parks. City leaders could be reluctant to consider future options for turning property into temporary park use since a public vote could be required to return it to another use. Instead of having a dog park on the waterfront for 20 years, we may not have one at all. Changing the City Charter is rarely a good idea, and in the case of Measure 14-67, the consequences could negatively impact the development of parks and parks partnerships.
An Oct. 12 article on the Protect Our Parks ballot measure contains alarmist nonsense.
The operative text of the Protect Our Parks measure is simple. It amends the city charter to add this sentence: “The City shall not dispose of City parks unless specifically authorized in a public vote by a majority of City voters.” It’s uncomplicated.
If the city wants to sell or give away a park, it must first get permission from voters.
The Oct. 12 article claims this “changes our democratic system.” That’s wrong. The right to amend a city charter is granted by the Oregon Constitution. Nothing could be more democratic. Citizens amended our charter in 2005. No mushroom clouds resulted.
The article complains changes to the charter are “forever.” This is untrue. The public has the right to make changes; and the public has the right to reverse those changes the same way.
The article claims that public votes on any proposed sales of city parks will be “costly.” Nonsense. The cost in odd-numbered years is the same as a flat-screen TV. The cost in even years is nothing.
Compare that to the cost of giving away a million-dollar park for $1, a decision made in a closed-door meeting. Consider the evidence:
At noon on March 6, 2018, the city held an “executive session,” which by law excludes the public, to consider “real property transactions.” On the same date, the city signed a contract to sell the 5-acre park for $1. What do you think happened?
It’s illegal to make decisions in closed executive session, and selling public property legally requires a formal public hearing. No such hearing has ever been held.
The article claims abilities to “move quickly” to “take advantage of opportunities” will be lost with Measure 14-67. That’s just as well. We see that rush-rush “opportunities” tempt officials to give away public parks in closed-door sessions.
The real risk to democracy is when well-meaning public officials are tempted to let the end justify the means. That abuses the democratic process and, “changes our democratic system.”
Remove one temptation. Yes on Measure 14-67.
Hands of the people
A friend of mine supported selling Morrison Park for $1 in order to build subsidized housing. I opposed it because I believed city council could have found an alternate site that didn’t sacrifice one of our parks. Although my friend and I were on opposite sides of the Morrison Park issue, we are now in agreement that the decision to sell or give away a city park should rest in the hands of the people, not city council.
This is why we support the Protect Our Parks Initiative, along with Councilors Erick Haynie and Tim Counihan. They both voted to support the Protect Our Parks initiative at the July 22, 2019 meeting, with Counihan stating that he believes, “Council would have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they would have put the Morrison Park issue on the ballot.” Haynie added that, “Park land is a public asset of the people, not council.” This is what democracy looks like, putting the power in the hands of the people.
Why, then, do the remaining council members object to letting the people decide? One councilor stated that a change to the charter is “forever” (not true, this is why we have amendments). Another councilor argued that the “people voted the current council to make decisions for the people of the city” (since council is elected to represent the will of the people, why not let the people make their own decision on the important issue of parks?).
Meanwhile, council assures us that the decision to dispose of Morrison Park was a special case and that all of our remaining parks are safe. If that is true, why is the majority of city council so intent on retaining full control over the future of all of our parks? I don’t know the answer to this, but I do know that leaving the power in the hands of city council doesn’t feel safe. I am voting Yes on the Protect Our Parks Ballot Measure 14-67 because I trust the citizens of Hood River to decide the future of all of our parks.
I found Megan Saunders Another Voice article most disturbing, condescending and inaccurate.
Ballot Measures, open council meetings and elections are democratic processes. Unfortunately, some of our elected/appointed officials, including Ms. Saunders, act in a borderline ethical manner forcing us the people to take democratic steps to protect our community.
Three years ago, the city council in a closed executive session offered Morrison Park to a developer for $1. The community objected to that move and lodged an appeal with the Oregon Court of Appeal. The court of appeal overturn the city decision. The reasoning being that converting a park to a housing development is not compatible to park use and is against the City Charter. Despite this ruling, despite the testimony of many concerned citizens, despite a study I conducted showing that the Morrison Park housing project is financially doomed, and despite the clear charter statement protecting our parks, the city council including Ms. Saunders, voted that housing development in a park is comparable to park use. Not just Morrison park but all city parks. Ms. Saunders is now asking us to trust our elected officials because they know best. Really? Do we live in Argentina and your name is Eva Peron? Surely not!
Please protect our democratic way and vote Yes on Save the Parks ballot.