Monday, November 14, 2011
Mind own business
I see in the paper someone from Hood River urging people to attend a hearing in Cascade Locks to question the water bottling business.
I would just for once like to see people who do not live in Cascade Locks mind their own business. I am a Hood River native and am getting really fed up with those who, year after year, think they have the right to tell everyone in the Gorge what to do.
No matter what Cascade Locks tries to get for a business, there is always a group against it. Let's see some positive activity and encouragement for a change.
I was disappointed by the editorial in Saturday's (Oct. 26) Hood River News supporting approval of the Naito proposal to build a commercial cable park in the middle of the Nichols Boat Basin.
The proposed cable park would essentially eliminate - or at least severely restrict - public use of the waters in the boat basin for navigation by kayak, canoe, paddle board and other kinds of recreational watercraft. The project involves placing towers in the water and then using cables and pulleys powered by a motor to pull people on a board around in circles on the water.
Is this what residents want for the Hood River waterfront? What's next for the development of the waterfront? A Florida-style amusement park?
I urge the port commission to vote nay on this ill-conceived project.
I recently talked with an engineer who does consulting with the farmed salmon industry in British Columbia, touted in a recent letter for economic reasons.
He knows the ins and outs of the process, including the feed and antibiotics used, the very high density of the number of fish in an area.
He said farmed salmon oil is quite different from wild salmon oil. When asked if he eats farmed salmon, he said quietly, "No." Wild? "Yes."
Message to 'run' driver
To the hit-and-run driver on 13th Street:
On Wednesday the second of November, you very nearly took my girlfriend's life. If I had not pulled her to safety, much more than her legs would have been injured. You hit her hard enough across the legs to rip her from my arms and injure my back.
Since you did not stop, this letter is to let you know that we are alive and OK. Also, we know what kind of car you drive and made a police report. We hope you do the right thing.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the driver of the truck that did stop to make sure we were alive.
Residents of Hood River, please take a look out of your north-facing windows and enjoy the view of the mountains and forests that you see. In a few months that view will be dominated by 450-foot-high wind turbines north and northeast of Underwood Mountain.
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and related lands are rapidly being converted to a commercial, industrial power generation center.
Take a look at Arlington, Ore., and ask yourselves if this is what you want in your neighborhood.
It's about time the Port of Hood River had a private for-profit enterprise set prices for recreation on the port. People unable to look forward will, of course, think of how they are losing their recreational opportunity at the once quiet "lagoon."
You see, the forces of private enterprise will build at great expense a cable park/monorail for which a market clearing price will be established.
And unlike the current publicly subsidized launch sites, the fees collected by a cable park/monorail will actually be more than the price a child pays to see an afternoon matinee.
I'm not a fortune teller, but my guess is that a cable park/monorail is just a little window dressing for what the development will soon be seeking: a waiver of existing limits on building height.
Enjoy your cable park/monorail!
In my 25 years of teaching in Hood River County School District, I have witnessed a plethora of education reforms. From Essential Learning Skills to the Certificate of Initial Mastery, most of these reforms were abandoned long before their effectiveness could be measured.
Each of these ideas was duly introduced by the Oregon Department of Education and implemented - in good faith - by most school districts.
The most insidious of these reforms, No Child Left Behind (fondly referred to as "Nickleby"), was the brainchild of the second Bush administration. Its main difference was that it was a federal reform plan imposed on every state, with dire consequences for non-compliance.
The initial notion behind NCLB was sound: Students must be able to read, write and solve problems. On the face of it, what is there not to like? How could anyone disagree?
In its interpretation of the mandate, Oregon decided to one-up the federal government by tying the high school diploma to these requirements. Students receiving a diploma next June will have proven that they can read proficiently; students receiving a diploma in 2013 will have proven that they can read and write; and the class of 2014 will prove their proficiency in reading, writing and mathematics before they get a sheepskin.
Again, what's not to like? Plenty. As a classroom teacher, the greatest impact has been testing. Since school started on Sept. 7, my classes have spent 10 days - that's four weeks of the A/B schedule - testing.
While we get lots of data from all this testing, taking a test is not teaching or learning. We are not, as some might claim, teaching the test, but we are trying to teach students how to test well. The pressure is on: Students get just one chance to pass the writing test. One chance.
The impact of not receiving a high school diploma is devastating. Without a diploma, a student cannot enter the military, cannot enroll in a four-year college and cannot receive federal financial aid. Most jobs, even the much maligned "pumping gas," require a high school diploma.
I know of several 18-year-olds who cannot pass the state reading test. These young people are far from stupid. They have driver's licenses, are registered to vote and know everything there is to know about the internal combustion engine. They have jobs where they have demonstrated reliability and honesty.
This new diploma requirement will leave them behind. It is a cruel irony that in our quest to improve education, we will steal the futures from so many. Even those who manage to pass all the tests are bearing the brunt of a school experience driven by testing.
Testing is not education. Our state is in such dire financial straits that we cannot afford to offer meaningful apprenticeships in the trades for those students who excel in those areas. By not doing so, we are neglecting to provide thousands of good citizens with what they need to succeed in the world.
No Child Left Behind is a lie.
No coal trains
Imagine it: 26 coal trains, each a mile long, barreling along the Columbia through Hood River every day. You can see the cloud of black smoke coming. That's toxic coal dust, escaping the uncovered rail cars to land in the water, on The Sandbar, on grapevines, on our homes and cars, in our lungs.
Even if the coal companies covered their cars, the exhaust of 20-plus additional trains a day would expose our community to increased diesel emissions linked to respiratory illness and cancer.
Where would all of this coal go? To ports in Longview and Bellingham, Wash., where it will be shipped overseas and burned in poorly monitored power plants in Asia. Then it will drift home on air currents to pollute us once again.
Is there an economic benefit to the exports? In the Gorge: Not a penny. Just clogged rail lines, increased pollution and decreased quality of life. This is the scenario currently proposed by coal companies mining in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming. Sure, the coal barons will prosper. But the rest of us?
Coal exports are a terrible idea. Come to the Coal Hard Truth Forum at Riverside Community Church this coming Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 6:30 p.m. Learn more about coal exports and join community members calling on elected leaders to speak up.
Be a pal
In the last eight months, only two men in Hood River County have stepped forward to volunteer as mentors for Big Brothers Big Sisters. During the same period, eight new boys were added to the waitlist, bringing number of boys waiting for Big Brothers to 15.
These are nice boys who don't need a baby sitter or a parole officer; just a friend who will take an interest in them.
If you can see yourself spending two hours a week with a boy, age 6 through 14, please consider volunteering.
What're we thinking?
I read, with great interest, Bingen Bart's (Bart Vervloet) article (Another Voice, Nov. 4) about the proposed "Cable Park" on the Hood River waterfront.
Well said! I couldn't agree more.
Bart's "points" were thoughtful and well presented. Read it for yourself.
What are we thinking?
Good job! Thanks, Bart!
A frequently quoted statistic by those trying to justify the huge disparity in U.S. wealth is that the top 10 percent pays 70 percent of federal income taxes.
This is a classic example of a true, but meaningless statistic because this situation can happen with all sorts of income and tax rate scenarios. These include some with huge income disparities - and also with flat tax rates that are currently popular with Republican presidential candidates.
As a simple hypothetical example, this statistic would be true of any population in which 10 percent each earn $700,000, the remaining 90 percent each earn $33,333.33, and there is a flat income tax rate of 10 percent; then after tax, the 10 percent each take home $630,000 and the 90 percent each take home $30,000, so the income inequity is a huge $600,000.
(Using a 25 percent flat rate, closer to current reality, would still create a huge inequity of $500,000 in after-tax income.)
And clearly from this example, if we increase the inequity in income between the top 10 percent and the bottom 90 percent, we increase the percentage paid by the top 10 percent; even with a flat rate that favors the rich and penalizes the poor.
Some really meaningful statistics are:
(1) From 1935 until 1980, the top income tax bracket rate was at least 70 percent (90 percent under the Republican Eisenhower administration); whereas now the top rate is 35 percent;
(2) CEOs made 40 times the average wages of their workers in 1980; whereas it is almost 400 times today;
(3) After-tax income of the top 1 percent grew 275 percent from 1979 to 2007, compared with 65 percent growth for the next 19 percent of the population; just 40 percent for the middle 60 percent and only 18 percent for the bottom 20 percent (recent nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report) .
Astoundingly, in 2007 the top 1 percent owned 42 percent of the country's financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home) compared with only 7 percent for the bottom 80 percent (http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html).
Occupy Wall Street is indeed right-on!