Despicable’

By the time this letter is printed, Sen. Chuck Thomsen may be back at work. It does not matter. What he and Senate Republicans did is shameful.
 
To all my congresspersons, Democrat or Republican: when we elect you to represent us, we expect you to do your job. That means, at the most basic level, showing up to work. When you miss work, there is no substitute to do your job. Worse, your absence means that other people cannot do their job. If you are absent as a group, the entire legislature is paralyzed. Please, never use your elected position to manipulate my democracy.
 
Sen. Thomsen, you must be embarrassed. Like a child, you did not get your way, so you threw a fit. You were mad because you did not have the power to stop a bill. But Senator, you do not have the power because Oregonians voted to give that power to others.
 
What you did undermines democracy. You subverted the will of the majority of the people. You and your colleagues tried to silence our voices, particularly our children’s voices: several of my students bravely testified for one of the bills that may be collateral damage because of your stunt. I told them their voices matter; you showed them otherwise. You tried to lay waste to so much work already done by so many people. You made a point - you don’t support capping carbon output. Voting against it would have also made that point. And that vote, for or against the bill, is your job. Do your job and stop acting like a spoiled child. You don’t have to do it well, but you should at least show up to work.
 
Oh, and senator? You lied to me. On March 10, I asked you how you would vote on HB 2015, Drivers’ Licenses for All. On March 11, your office said you would vote yes. I believed you and sent my earnest thanks. But you voted no.
 
So much for the truth. And don’t you dare claim integrity on any mailer that comes to my house. You don’t know what it means.
 
Nan Noteboom
Odell
 
‘You can do it!’
 
As a Bible-believing Christian, I am writing concerning the practice of homosexuality. I am not afraid of homosexuals (homophobia) nor do I hate them. I love them as fellow human beings. Because of this love, I care what will happen to them unless they change.
 
Sexual activity between members of the same sex is universally condemned in scripture. Male homosexuality is forbidden by law and punished by death (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). Male and female homosexuality is condemned (Ro. 1:26). In 1 Cor. 6:9-11 (NLT), homosexuality with other sexually immoral persons are excluded from the Kingdom of God.
 
So, if one loves someone, they don’t want that person to be excluded from the Kingdom of God. This involves telling that person the truth pertaining to this matter. Not only are many churches failing in their duty to preach and teach the truth, they are teaching others to fail, too.
 
In 1 Cor. 6:9-11 (NLT), Paul writes to the church in Corinth, saying, “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves, those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people … none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” The homosexual believers were not stoned to death, but let the practice of homosexuality, were cleansed, made holy and made right with God.
 
God can and will do this for those who want to change. You can do it!
 
Donald Rose
Hood River
 
Editor’s note: In reference to the phrase “Male homosexuality is forbidden by law,” Biblical scripture holds no bearing in the United States as enforceable law. The American Psychological Association has, since 1975, argued against the notion that homosexuality is a choice or mental impairment. The majority of the scientific community believe homosexuality is determined by genetic and hormonal factors, and not a matter of choice; the practice of homosexuality in other animals, such as chimpanzees, dolphins, lions and numerous birds, further supports this belief.
 
Respect Goal 8
 
In reference to the June 26 Letter to the Editor from Tres Spicher: Many of us that were either born here or have lived for a least a few decades have seen this before — the fact is, we always get the housing, but we never get the infrastructure to match.
 
Fact: The trail connection option you refer to in your letter was also listed in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan dated 2012 and in the Hood River City Transportation Plan dated 2011.
 
I don’t know what you mean by NIMBY-ism. The Protect Our Parks initiative obtained more than 1200 signatures in a very short amount of time. The city’s creative interpretation of Goal 8 doesn’t apply only to one park, it applies to all city parks.
 
Goal 8: RECREATIONAL NEEDS GOAL:
 
To satisfy the recreational needs of the citizens of the community and visitors to the area.
 
POLICIES:
 
Existing park sites will be protected from incompatible uses and future expansion alternatives at some sites will be developed.
 
It is safe to assume Hood River will continue to grow. One of the best ways to offset the negative impacts of increased population and density and avoid sprawl is to build a linear park system that wanders through the community.
Morrison Park has always been a critical connection point for the developing west side of Hood River. The Westside Area Concept Plan will be an (almost) 80 percent across the board increase in Hood River population, vehicles on the road, children in school etc., but in a small area.
 
To think that this initiative has to do with property values or NIMBY-ism is only recognizing one side of this matter. This initiative is much bigger than that.
 
Jim Klaas
Hood River
 
Other options
 
A June 26 letter called out NIMBY-ism in regard to the re-zoning of Morrison Park for residential use. I don’t feel that’s an accurate claim. I haven’t heard anyone — including the Protect our Parks reps I’ve spoken with — deny the overwhelming need for affordable housing in Hood River. It’s not the building of affordable housing at that location that’s at issue here, it’s irreversible loss of accessible greenspace within the city limits. As an extreme example: I’m quite certain that affordable housing is nearly non-existent in Manhattan.
 
Should Central Park be re-zoned for affordable housing? Of course not. Hood River is no Manhattan, and Morrison is no Central Park, but the point is valid. Urban areas require accessible greenspaces to be vibrant and livable. This “single plot of land” was not “explicitly set aside with the intent of providing affordable housing.” It was zoned in 1975 as an open space park. And the plan to connect through to the Hook was conceived long before the planned development and rezone.
 
Other options exist for affordable housing. The eyesore of the ODOT yard on Cascade seems a prime candidate. It’s within walking distance of Morrison Park, the Skate Park, and across the street from Cascade Commons (Safeway, Rite-Aid, etc.). It would take some hard work to coordinate the acquisition of a new parcel for the ODOT yard, but that’s the kind of work elected officials sign up for when the run. There are two more Morrison Park parcels across the freeway from the subject property. Seems ODOT might like that location with its easy access to I-84.
 
I’ve worked closely with many of those on the pro-development side and have known Mayor Blackburn as a friend for over 15 years. They’re all good people with great intentions, but let’s consider all options before paving over and destroying one of the few accessible green spaces left within the city limits. The recent closure of several county parks makes the need even more relevant.
 
Mark Schrankel
Hood River
 
Do we need more?
 
I was at the Riverfront Park and Trail one evening this week, after 7 pm. It was too cool for swimming, yet I saw a dozen kids and parents, happily playing. On the trail, I saw many people walking their dogs — and walking themselves. Gazing across the river, I thought of the vast reaches of national forest, open for recreation. To the west, more recreational options in the Gorge — the picnic area at Starvation Creek, camping, hiking, biking. To the east, the Twin Tunnels, Mosier plateau, Mayer State Park, and Catherine Creek. Up the hill is the Children’s Park, the Indian Creek Trail (an amazing park!) and so many other little parks.
 
I have not even begun to list all the rich resources of nearby park recreation. Do we need more?
 
Why can’t we give up Lot 700 for our neighbors, for the folks who work to check us out at the store, check us in at the doctor, check and fix our computers, and create our sushi rolls? I appreciate the people who want us to protect the environment. I also appreciate the people who don’t have stable housing, but deserve it.
 
Heidi Venture
Hood River
 
30-foot rule
 
As we drive by West Side Fire Station, we see their billboard showing 30 feet which suggest that all trees closer than 30 feet from the home should be removed to protect not only the home but help reduce the spread of a potential forest fire. 
 
Now driving through the county, I suspect that more than 50 percent of the homes, plus other buildings would need trees removed.  This is not only an expensive operation, but professional types like loggers will be needed. 
I suggest the county appoint a committee to organize a program to help expedite solutions to this major expensive and dangerous problem.
 
Nancy Moller
Hood River
 
‘Misleading’
 
The headline of Emily Fitzgerald’s article in the June 29 edition of the News was very misleading. Instead of saying that “Hood River groups” staged a rally to demand Sen. Chuck Thomsen return to Salem, the story should have focused on the “out of town” groups who staged the rally. Out of the 10 groups that were mentioned participating in the anti-Thomsen rally, only one is actually based in Hood River.
 
Local residents need to understand how this gathering was not an organic grass roots event, but rather an orchestrated photo op staged by out of towners to grab a headline and further their own agendas. Sadly, Mayor Paul Blackburn chose to attend and side with these out-of-area activists.
 
Downtown Hood River residents consistently have a hard time understanding the realities of electoral politics. The group-think that typically reigns here doesn’t necessarily align with what voters in other parts of the state believe. That’s especially true in Sen. Chuck Thomsen’s Senate District 26. Much of the area is rural and supported by natural resource jobs that would have been devastated by the passage of HB 2020, the carbon tax bill, that led to the Salem walk-out by Chuck and his colleagues. Many of the workers in these areas are represented by well-respected groups like Oregon Farm Bureau, Friends of Family Farmers, Oregon Nursery Association and Oregon Forest Industries Association. All of these groups strongly opposed the cap and trade bill and they strongly support Chuck.
 
Chuck Thomsen took a principled stand to protect his constituents from an extreme piece of legislation that would have severely impacted the livelihoods of many and dramatically increased the cost of energy for all of us. Thank you for representing us, Sen. Thomsen.
 
Rick Larson
Hood River
 
Stop harmful wind project
 
Nearly 10 years ago, the Summit Ridge Wind Farm in Wasco County was first applied for, but was never built. The new project developer, Pattern Energy, is now asking for a third extension of time to build it.
 
The project is poorly sited and poses an unacceptable risk to bald and golden eagle populations, and potentially other birds and wildlife along the Deschutes River Canyon and the eastern Gorge. When the project was first proposed, numerous eagles and eagle nests were discovered near the project site, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended a six-mile buffer between the wind turbines and eagle nests.
 
This project would also harm views along the lower Deschutes River and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. It would forever negatively impact the recreational experience along the Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River.
 
Since the project was originally applied for, there have been new advances in science and technology that could reduce harm to eagles. These need to be integrated into the project. New wildlife surveys need to be conducted to replace the outdated information provided by the previous developer.
Due to the negative impacts and the lack of information needed to make an informed decision, the Energy Facility Siting Council should reject Pattern Energy’s request for a third extension.
 
Sheila Dooley
Mosier
 
Guns
 
If greatness comes from the barrel of a gun, America is truly great. If not, not so much. Guns actually solved our first American problem. We used then to exterminate the vermin who infested this place before Columbus (one of us) discovered it. We use guns to solve all our problems. That is why it is such an existential threat to limit our access to assault rifles. Assault rifles and walls are the source of our American greatness. Letting vermin live is weakness … you know, like Christ said.
 
David Warnock
Hood River
 
‘New national holiday?’
 
Trump’s favorite fantasy must be a business life free of those pesky laws and regulations and successful suits against him (and by the way, he has lost so many he knows how many of the current ones he’ll lose — he just watched Manafort go up on state charges).
 
His fawning over the world’s worst thugs might be in keeping with his demented desire to have big tough friends who want to protect him and, together, can.
 
Mr. Trump, what did you and Putin talk about?
 
“None of your business.”
 
It’s a good thing for the world that his attention span is so short that an hour at a time with Putin is all he can handle.
 
(Staff to Putin — Remember to keep things simple and brief.)
 
June 28: International Day of National Shame (take a look at the videos with Putin, Salman, etc.).
 
Bob Williams
Hood River
 
Public Safety Power Shutoff
 
When Pacific Gas & Electric was forced into bankruptcy following last year’s California wildfires, it changed the financial risks utilities face in serving rural customers. It was inevitable that utilities would take steps to avoid the risk of severe financial losses following utility-caused wildfires.
 
Pacific Power recently announced the steps they are taking to protect their customers and, while unstated, their shareholders. On the positive side, Pacific Power is taking proactive steps, like increased line inspections and vegetative management, to reduce the risk of wildfires.
 
More problematic is their new Public Safety Power Shutdown (PSPS) program that would cut power during extreme dry windy conditions. Red Flag days are a frequent occurrence in the Gorge, while utility caused fires are rare and unpredictable. It is hard to see how the benefits of shutting down the grid outweigh the costs and risks being shifted to customers.
 
Does Pacific Power expect customers to install backup generators or vacate whenever power is cut? Does Pacific Power belief that emergency providers can protect those on life-saving medical equipment? Does Pacific Power believe that residents cut off from emergency notifications when they lose phone and internet are safer?
 
Does Pacific Power believe they can predict, days in advance, what the fire risks will be?
 
Does Pacific Power believe that the risks on Red Flag days are significantly different from other dry windy days?
 
Pacific Power’s PSPS should be seen for what it really is: Less a program to protect people than a program to protect shareholders. Public reaction to PSPS outages will be overwhelming negative. One has to ask if PSPS isn’t a gambit by the utility to force regulatory or legislative action to rebalance the risks of providing power in rural areas like the Gorge.
 
Tracey Tomashpol
Hood River

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