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Letters to the Editor for April 22

Call 811, you dig?

After a long and dreary winter, it’s time for outdoor spring projects to start. NW Natural reminds contractors, homeowners and landscapers to call 811 when a project involves digging 12 inches or lower.

Calling 811 to locate underground utilities two business days before the start of a task is the simple, smart and safe thing to do. Overlooking this important step may cause property loss, serious injury or worse.

Following safe digging laws helps to prevent accidental damages, which is needed since approximately 800 incidents occur each year in NW Natural’s service area.

No damage is too minor to report; even a small dent or scratch could weaken a pipeline. If a gas line is accidentally hit and there’s a smell of rotten eggs, or the sound of gas escaping, be sure to leave the area immediately and then call NW Natural’s 24-hour emergency line at 800-882-3377.

Have a safe spring and don’t forget to call 811 before you dig.

Tonya Brumley

NW Natural Community

Affairs

The Dalles

Healthcare should be bi-partisan

As a moderately liberal Democrat, there are issues that I will absolutely not agree with when debating with moderate Republicans.

That said, I really don’t understand why healthcare for all has been framed as one of those issues. The plan put forth, and summarily rejected, removed citizens from the roles of eligible participants, dramatically raised the cost of premiums for the elderly, and those in rural areas who are in most need of affordable coverage, and “Would save the nation billions.”

Who then, is “the nation?” A political boundary line on a map simply defines what lays inside of those lines. We, then, are “the nation.” I don’t want to go off on a Trump rant, or list the average annual compensation of insurance company CEOs. I don’t want to alienate fellow citizens who hold different political beliefs than I do. Rather, I see universal healthcare as THE issue that ALL of us can agree upon. That is, all American citizens should have access to affordable healthcare. This then brings front and center the underlying premise of how insurance works: The good fortune of the many supplements the bad fortune of the few. That is, if everybody chips in, the premiums are reduced for all. There is no “fancy-math” or political spin that will replace this very basic premise of how all insurance works. If everyone participates, we all benefit.

If you have not done so already, find one of the many graphs available on the Internet that shows the cost of medical services you will need, vs. your age. Once you hit 50, it starts going exponential (cost equals a*b^t).

When did the concept of a nation taking care of the healthcare needs of its citizens become somehow “too liberal”? From where I sit, age 55, coming together and providing healthcare for all of us is perhaps the most patriotic thing any of us can do.

Eric Cohn

Hood River

Walden sighting

First, thank you to Rep. Greg Walden for attending a town hall and enduring two hours of criticism. Rep. Walden has the demeanor of a gentleman, appearing to empathize with constituents who pour their hearts out to him. His mellifluous voice and folksy charm lulled a lot of letter writers to decry the “rudeness” of the attendees at the April 12 town hall. Rep. Walden deserved every boo.

This writer has called Rep. Walden’s office over 50 times, written a dozen post cards, one full-length letter, and several emails. I participated in a telephone town hall a few days after 86/45’s first Muslim immigrant ban. I have received one email response, in which Rep. Walden repeated his litany about health care reform — “cost less, keep pre-existing conditions, cover your kids until they are 26 ...” —

and yet this is the same man who authored a bill that would strip health care from 24 million Americans, raise premiums, deductibles and co-pays, shift the cost burden to the oldest and sickest, and save Walden’s rich corporate cronies millions of dollars. At the April 12 town hall, Walden repeated these lies about costing less as he clucked sympathetically.

Greg Walden grew up in Hood River. He used to represent all of us. Who does he represent now? He crafted the bill that would devastate thousands in District 2, sending thousands to an early grave after going bankrupt to live under the health bill he authored. While we are relieved that his horrible bill was struck down before a vote, it is no coincidence that he and his pal Paul tried to rush that hot mess through to win a symbolic victory of repeal on the anniversary of President Obama’s landmark. Walden will never admit that the flaws of the ACA are due to the meddling of the GOP.

The folksy guy with the pretty voice? He does not represent us, ALL the folks in Oregon District 2. THAT is why he was rudely received, and rightfully so.

Regena Rafelson

Hood River

No shock

The vitriol and anger expressed at the recent Walden town hall made me uncomfortable as well. Yet, anger and rudeness at town halls is nothing new and it’s not just from liberals who lost an election. In 2009, the Tea Party disrupted town halls with anger and violence. And they went on to take over the Republican party. Just last year, Trump’s campaign events were fueled by anger over perceived threats from immigrants and riddled with sexist and racist comments.

Angry chants of “Lock her up,” and “Build the wall, kill them all!” People proudly wore t-shirts with “Trump that (expletive).” Trump often incited violence, saying, “Knock the hell out of them,” and even said he would pay for legal fees for any supporter who roughed up opponents. And despite this uncivil and rude behavior, Trump became president.

So what caused people at our town hall to act so rudely, yell out, interrupting the meeting? I heard people outraged that Walden wrote a health care bill that would have caused millions to lose their coverage — 400,000 in Oregon and 5,000 in Hood River and Wasco counties.

People tearfully asked for his help to protect their friends and neighbors from immoral deportations that are breaking up families, leaving children without a parent. One woman asked Walden to stand up to Trump’s bullying, sexist and racist statements. Walden did little to quell anyone’s anger when his initial response was to joke about the number of times Trump has said sexist and racist comments.

For some of you, the anger expressed at Walden may come as a shock. You think he has represented our district well. But many who used to support Walden are now disappointed, frustrated by his politics. Since his promotion to a leadership role within the Republican party, many now see that he is making decisions along a straight party line. Not on what is good for Oregon and our district. A comment at The Dalles town hall sums up the frustration cogently. It went something like this, “Greg, you come home to talk with us and you sound like a Democrat, but then you go back to Washington, D.C., and vote like far right Republican.”

Guy Tauscher

Hood River

Reception deserved

To answer those complaining about the hostile reception for Greg Walden at his town hall meeting in Hood River, I have this to say: I have recorded Greg Walden’s votes in the House of Representatives since January of 2007. No matter what Walden may say, what he does is consistently vote to help corporations and businesses increase their profits at the cost of their workers’ safety, the environment and family-supporting wages. Walden’s current net worth is about $2.7 million. He votes to give huge tax breaks to himself and other millionaires and billionaires. He does this while complaining. His understanding of the federal budget is completely one sided — balance it with cuts to social programs. Never does he consider increasing taxes on those who take the most from our capitalistic system and pay back the least. Instead wants to make those tax breaks permanent. Greg Walden is a representative on paper only, but in reality, only a right-wing politician.

Gary Fields

Hood River

Town Hall buzzsaw

I was pleased at the excellent turnout at Mr. Walden’s recent town halls in Hood River and The Dalles, and was equally pleased at the local, state, and national press coverage. The events provided a good opportunity for both residents and Walden to be heard. Yes, there were both heated rhetoric and loud responses from the audience, but for the most part, speakers were quite civil and respectful, despite the importance and passion of their messages.

I hand it to Mr. Walden that he allowed both events to continue beyond the one hour originally planned, especially considering he probably was not having a great time. However, his comments, speaking points, and even attempts at jokes were canned, repeated verbatim in both sessions, and he dodged giving meaningful answers to many/most questions. At one point in The Dalles, he asked for a show of hands for how many people had voted for Bernie Sanders, then how many people had voted for Hillary Clinton. Then he shrugged his shoulders dismissively, and made a dismissive comment about the voice of all of those people.

The town halls were packed, and the speakers were well-informed and highly engaged. This is what democratic process is supposed to look like. Mr. Walden had logged a five-month history of remarkable unresponsiveness to the repeated entreaties of Gorge area constituents, then fanned the flame by dodging questions and acting dismissively to constituents’ concerns. The “buzzsaw” quality of the response shouldn’t come as a surprise, or be held up as something unusual or undesirable in this setting.

Bobbie Adams

Hood River

Appalled

I attended the Walden Town Hall on Wednesday (April 12) and was disturbed and appalled by the behavior of many other attendees. We live in a great country and Democracy is a great thing. Debate is a welcome part of democracy but booing, interrupting, yelling, stomping feet, calling names and not allowing Mr. Walden to respond is not productive engagement.

There were kids and children in attendance. We all are teachers of our future generations, so let’s practice respect and good manners. These are what we want our children to learn no matter your political persuasion. I was not able to attend the Merkley Town Hall but from what I hear, it was a very different experience.

Keely Kopetz

Hood River

Parks matter

Two candidates, Nick Kramer and Anna Cavaleri, want to serve this community on our parks board. Both will work to locate future parks in or next to our urban areas to be accessible by everyone. There is a lot of need, especially for more sports fields. A number of good candidates are running for two board positions. But Anna and Nick are two that have attended many parks board meetings and know the issues.

Our pool will soon face major maintenance issues. The public needs be brought into the decision-making and Anna and Nick will bring transparency to this board’s deliberations. Additionally, a major master planning initiative is about to begin together with the city, the county and the Port of Hood River. Both Nick and Anna are “big picture” people who will listen and work to build broad public support for park board initiatives.

Please join me in marking your ballots for Nick Kramer and Anna Cavaleri.

Jeff Hunter

Hood River

CSWD candidate

This May, we will be choosing those among us who will serve in boards overseeing our county, ports, schools, service districts, and more. Please vote: Each position matters to the healthy functioning of our community.

I am a candidate for commissioner of the Crystal Springs Water District (CSWD). Serving over 5,000 people along the Highway 35 corridor, CSWD faces important challenges and opportunities. Among the challenges are a single water source, lack of storage reservoirs, and high-percentage water loss to leaks along the aging distribution system. Opportunities might exist for incorporating small private water districts, each offering a mix of pluses and minus. A recent master plan identifies necessary infrastructure investments that will require substantial rate increases. Changes in climate and land use will affect future water availability, timing and quality.

As a CSWD commissioner, I would bring the perspective of a professional life dedicated to water issues. I designed water distribution systems early in my career. Since then, and over three decades, I have conducted research to inform consensus building on Columbia River water issues at the interface of hydropower, navigation, ecosystems and Endangered Species Act. Along the way, I have secured federal research funding, and managed projects, budgets and teams.

I am an engineer by training, an oceanographer by practice. In 1987, I earned a doctorate in civil engineering from MIT. As a faculty at Oregon Health & Science University, I direct a center for the study of rivers, estuaries and coasts. My work focuses on the Columbia River, and is driven by the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development in a changing world and climate.

I am a non-affiliated voter who believes that local issues are best solved through a collaborative consensus-building process. Solutions should balance current and future needs, incorporate on-the-ground experience, and be informed by global context and by best-available data, technology and science. Three recent letters to the editor (March 25, April 1, April 19) offer insight into my thinking.

I would be honored to work with CSWD staff, other commissioners and the community to protect and enhance critical water resources, infrastructure and services.

Antonio Baptista

Mt. Hood-Parkdale

‘Raise your voice’

Reading the letters to the editor section of this paper has been a difficult exercise of patience, given many chose to use it to belittle those who, in their rights as citizens, rightly manifested their outrage at Walden’s lack of responsiveness.

However, a line needs to be drawn to those who wrote “appalled” at the back and forth between Representative Walden and his constituents “on behalf” of the children present. Is ensuring your views are heard by an unresponsive local politician a shameful act that children shouldn’t witness? You have a very narrow idea of what children advocacy is all about.

Where were you when our kids saw that shortly after taking the oath of office, Trump (and Walden) supported a bill that would have thrown 24 million Americans off their health insurance, cut funding for Medicaid by $880 billion, and drastically increase the cost of health care for older, low-income people in rural counties?

Many of those Americans are the parents, brothers, and sisters of the very children that were sitting at the town hall listening to a representative that supported that very same bill. Where was your outrage then? I checked the letters to the editor and no, did not see any of you writing one on behalf of those children or families who will get their health insurance taken away.

Where were you and your defense of children when many have to live in fear because of the latest immigration Executive Orders? I did not see letters to the editor from any of you either.

My advice is that you raise your voice on behalf of our children, do it when it matters, and do it in the name of ALL children.

Maria Elena Castro

Hood River

Health insurance needed

Most people receive health insurance through their employer. Suppose for a moment that your company changed its benefit plan to match proposed AHCA changes waiving protections for pre-existing conditions and community rating.

Without those insurance mandates, premiums would jump for people with pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure or being overweight.

Cancer patients could be forced into high-risk pools. Women could be charged more than men and maternity coverage would need to be purchased separately. Mental health and addiction treatment would likely not be covered.

You would have Paul Ryan’s promised freedom to buy only the insurance you want. Younger and healthier employees could buy less expensive insurance or chose to go uninsured. Older workers and people with pre-existing conditions would face much higher premiums, but could chose to be uninsured or underinsured. I doubt that people would like to see these supposed “freedoms” in their employer health plans. Neither will people covered by AHCA plans.

To win over the Freedom Caucus members’ votes needed to pass the AHCA, Republicans are now proposing to eliminate insurance reforms included in the ACA. Rep. Walden introduced HR 1121 the Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act to guard against changes now being seriously considered.

The changes being asked for by the Freedom Caucus make a mockery of past promises by President Trump to protect people with pre-existing conditions.

For Walden to break his repeated promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions to win passage of a bill that would cause millions to lose insurance while giving a huge tax break to the wealthy is simply unacceptable. When Walden returns to Washington, he needs to step away from the AHCA bill and start working to stability rural markets by ending uncertainty over funding for Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs) needed to stabilize rates and keep insurers in the market.

Richard Davis

The Dalles

Whither civility?

I attended the town hall meeting held by Congressman Greg Walden in The Dalles on April 12. I was appalled at the rudeness of people. He is our representative to the United States Congress and people would not even let him finish answering any of the questions they asked. Now you would think the attendees were young people, but no, most were in their 50s to 70s. This is the ages people were taught respect and manners.

Where has civility and courtesy gone to?

I am wondering if Senator Wyden will receive the same rudeness when he comes to do his town hall meeting on April 21. I doubt it since the people making all the noise were the Democrats. Republicans tolerated the last eight years of the Democrats in office without yelling at town hall meetings and I am sure we will be able to be polite even with Wyden who does not represent how we believe. Do unto others how you would want to be treated and show respect.

Darlien France

Dufur

Tidal wave

A tidal wave of Californians and Muppies is washing over Hood River and nothing is going to stop it.

Jerry Giarraputo

Hood River

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