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Letters to the editor for Feb. 15

Demand more of Walden

I grew up living in National Parks. Does that give me the credentials to decide on environmental policy if I worked in the government? I had to ask myself that after I attended the surprise town hall Greg Walden held in Boardman last Thursday. After he finished his 10-minute commentary of the great things they’ve done in Congress, he proceeded to justify that he was qualified to work on immigration legislation because he grew up on a Cherry Orchard in The Dalles — what 50 years ago? Don’t worry, those old people and single parents won’t get any more Medicaid coverage because they are “able bodied,” after all.

I was very disturbed when he referred to an interview between Bashar Assad and Sean Hannity on Fox News. Mr. Walden was talking about immigration and then referred to Assad’s insinuation that terrorists were infiltrating the U.S. with the Syrian refugees. In that moment, at the town hall, I let him know that Assad really was the terrorist (he did used mustard gas on his own people, after all) and that he really shouldn’t be listening to Assad or Hannity. (I come from a family of five kids, I have a habit of standing up for myself, in maybe not the most polite way.) This terrorist comment from Mr. Walden has been spinning around in my head. Would those terrorists be the rebels fighting Assad?

Why would they leave to come to the U.S. to terrorize us? They are fighting for more freedom in their own country. That left me with, they were Assad’s fighters, which means they are tied to Putin. If Mr. Walden is serious about this terrorist threat from Assad’s men, then why isn’t he up in arms with Trump’s coziness with Putin? Or is he just using this terrorism threat to instill fear in his neighbors? Is that really what we need right now? It’s time we demand more from Mr. Walden than just lip service while he sells out our democracy by instilling fear.

He should be demanding an independent investigation of Trump and his crony administration.

Kathy Semmes

Hood River

Call the Corps

The mission statement of the Army Corps of Engineers requires them to “energize the economy and reduce risks from disasters.” While some might argue that the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline will energize the economy, there will be only a small number of jobs created by the building of the pipeline and some profit for the corporations.

Contrast that with the cost to the economy of the inevitable oil spill.

By October of last year alone (in nine months), there were over 220 spills from pipelines in the U.S. If that leak contaminates the Missouri River, the economies of all of the communities downstream will be harmed, not “energized.” Furthermore, the approval of the DAPL is in complete opposition to the other stated mission of the Corps, to “reduce risks from disasters.” The pipeline will leak and that will be an environmental disaster. To pretend otherwise is to believe in “alternate facts.” As the water protectors state, water is life.

There is no substitute for clean water and to believe that a small boost to the economy now is more important than long-term economic and environmental health is short-sighted and dangerous. Call the Army Corps of Engineers at 202-761-8700 and ask them to rescind approval for DAPL.

Theresa North

Hood River

Not reassured

Alan Winan’s letters always get me thinking, but he goes too far by suggesting the opponents of Comrade Trumpsky are cause of our current divisions. He even implied we are “un-American.”

Does he remember Mitch McConnell vowing after a big Obama win in 2007 that his party’s main task out of all the People’s Business that needed attention would be to make sure Obama was never reelected?

And that party spent eight years trying to prevent any progress on anything — as in anything.

The result was eight years of just say no-ism that convinced too many lazy thinkers that government is hopeless and change was required.

The ban was a disaster because it was badly “planned” (if that word even applied), badly written, did not seek advice from anybody outside a small circle of non-experts, and trouble was met by obvious and embarrassed confusion.

But his actions aside, we should all remind ourselves he threatened Hillary with gun violence, lied repeatedly even about small things, had protesters beaten up and he has kept himself not legitimate by refusing to reveal his tax returns that would show his holdings and by refusing to walk away from his business.

Trumpsky has done nothing to reassure any of us, not even Greg Walden or Mr. Winans, I really believe, that he is anything but the worst person ever elected POTUS.

Some huge foreign policy disaster is coming our way. I wonder if the Republicans will further tarnish their hearts by leaping to a “patriotic-like” war fever or if the shame and embarrassment I believe they are hiding will at last, before it is too late, rise to their ample surfaces.

Bob Williams

Hood River

Needs understanding

The tone of Brian Robb’s recent letter about snow removal was inappropriate. Since he just visited Aspen and Glenwood Springs, perhaps he had a chance to go skiing.

My husband bought a ski pass this year. He is a member of the city public works crew, part of the “staff” Robb complained so thoughtlessly about. But since Dec. 17, he has had neither the time nor the ability to ski. He has been working constantly: plowing, sanding, dealing with frozen pipes and snow removal, barricading steep streets, then removing barricades, not to mention addressing flooding issues happening at home. There have been weeks of 12 hour shifts, night shifts, and no rest in sight if flooding comes to the Gorge. The 10-man crew has been dedicated, working over holidays and weekends, missing family events, dinners and sleep.

This is a 35-year weather event. A little understanding, empathy and personal responsibility might go farther than shaming.

Jennifer Ouzounian

Hood River

‘Let’s begin’

No system can force us to take care of each other if we do not want to. No system can stop us from taking care of each other if we want to. Our culture is just the sum total of the stories we tell each other. As long as we continue to tell stories in which it is better to be rich than it is to be compassionate, we will all continue to be miserable. All we have to do is tell better stories … stories that show us compassion wins, and greed loses (like Jesus said). Let us begin.

David Warnock

Hood River

Well done

A volunteer is defined as a selfless person devoted to helping others with no self-interest. Kirby Neumann-Rea embodies what it means to be a public servant as he humbly serves our community and every member in it.

Earlier last week, Kirby let people know that he would be out of town for the weekend. It wasn’t until later they found out it was because he had been awarded not only SMART Volunteer of Northeastern Oregon, but also the SMART Volunteer of the Year for the entire state of Oregon.

This is no surprise. Well done.

Morgan Graves

Hood River

‘Let it go’

Response to Darrell Roberts in the Saturday, Feb. 4 paper: It is too bad I didn’t know about your $3 offer. It would have been easy money. On Monday the 6th, my brother and I wore our Trump hats downtown to see the reaction we would get. We walked from the top of Oak Street. On the way down, we stopped at a couple of stores and looked around. Both ways, we never had one negative comment. On the way up, there was this older man sitting on the sidewalk with a protest sign. We stopped and talked to him for a while. I sort of came to the conclusion he had nothing better to do. (I still don’t think he completely knew why he was protesting.) All of the people that vote Republican can’t be wrong. This administration hasn’t even been in office six months. Give it a chance.

Warren Wols

Hood River

Consider Preparation

Readers are lamenting the difficulties with navigating downtown Hood River by car and on foot. The inference seems to be that someone or some small group is at fault for this perceived negligent management of the area. I believe recent history paints a far different picture.

Several years ago, former Mayor Arthur Babitz attempted to educate the community about the limited budget available for snow removal. He informed us we were barely getting by even in low-snow years. His words fell on deaf ears.

Several years later, we are now forced to deal with what Arthur predicted would occur. Sometimes the (future) truth happens even when we ignore it, vote against it, or simply do not believe. I ask that you please stop blaming shop owners and city workers for the situation in which they were placed years ago.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Trump so far

Less than a month into the new administration and we’ve engaged in a raid on Yemen, at least one toddler killed along with other civilians, an aircraft lost, and we lost a member of Seal Team 6. Are we at war with Yemen? Hadn’t heard about it. This raid apparently ordered up during a dinner. During this same month, we’ve shot at Iranian gun boats, and our president has apparently hung up on the leaders of Australia and Mexico. There is conjecture that the Trump campaign for president was involved or communicating with the Russians — where’s the Watergate-style investigation about this and the trolling by the Russians of the Democrats? We’ve had attacks on the judiciary and press by the Tweeter in Chief, not to mention attacks on some very important businesses, one that resides in our area, Boeing through Insitu.

Our president has been disavowing, or is that breaking treaties, right and left. Whether you agree with them, we agreed to them. The administration cut off refugees who wanted to emigrate here, many driven from their homes by the Iraqi and Syrian wars a previous president started, some of whom had been vetted for over two years.

This doesn’t include the green card holders who already lived and worked here and weren’t initially allowed back into their current country of residence. There have been almost daily demonstrations by citizens in the hundreds to a hundred thousand.

Let’s not forget the unelected chief of staff from Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, whose name and white supremacy and fascism have been mentioned many times in the same sentence by various news organizations. Let us also not forget the hatred and prejudice aimed at Muslims, people with disabilities, the Latino/a community, Jews and the LGBTQ community.

Enjoy the new year.

Rob Brostoff

Cascade Locks

Medicare for all

During Rep. Greg Walden’s recent phone-in town hall, he said he favored several key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, but also that he wanted to get rid of it. Hmm? Double-speak?

Rep. Walden, like his GOP buddies, didn’t say how he hoped to fix this allegedly horrible program. Recent Pew Research Center polling shows that more than 60 percent of Americans say “government should ensure health care coverage for all Americans” — up from 51 percent last year.

The ACA is flawed. Congress caved to health insurance companies, so the plan did little to control collusion between them and health care providers. Without caps on cost inflation, the program was doomed to fail. Even so, I benefited from the ACA before moving on to the far-better Medicare two years later.

So here’s an idea, Rep. Walden: Medicare for all.

Medicare is far better at managing provider costs (read Steven Brill’s “The Bitter Pill,” from Time magazine, bit.ly/MgZmuS). It’s a stunning illustration of how our medical system enriches a lot of so-called non-profit hospitals and their administrators, while fleecing the unsuspecting customers.

It’s time we stopped treating health care like a lottery, and start regulating it the way we do providers of other essentials like electricity and natural gas. Socialist? Sure, just like free health care we ensure for the U.S. military. Praise-worthy people? Sure. Exceptional and deserving of better treatment than the rest of us? I disagree. We’re all in this together, so we all should share the same benefits — and costs.

I suspect Walden and the GOP Congress want to get rid of the ACA so they can return to the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (from which they were restricted by the ACA).

FEHBP is a pretty good program, and better than most of us get. Next town hall, I’d like Walden to explain why he, his cronies and the Grabber-in-Chief deserve better than the people who pay their salaries.

Stay tuned, for the sound of silence.

Stu Watson

Hood River

Keep buying local

Keep your money where your heart is. This Valentine’s Day, show your love for local businesses and your loved ones by shopping with local businesses.

We all know how easy it is, especially when the roads and sidewalks are snowy, to log into Amazon.com and shop from the comforts of home. But for many local businesses, that one big sale — or lunchtime rush — can make the difference between staying open or closing early. Local business owners give to our community all year long — making donations, hosting fundraisers, volunteering in our schools. Now’s the time to send extra love their way. Gift certificates to local stores, restaurants, wineries, galleries, coffee shops and more all make excellent gifts that keep on giving.

Plus, many businesses are offering awesome shoulder-season deals and coupons in the Chinook Book mobile app to make it even easier to shop local. Thanks for keeping your money where your heart is Columbia Gorge!

Becky Brun, Board President, Gorge Owned

Hood River

‘Alternative facts’

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “fact” as “something that has been objectively verified.” There is no subjectivity to a fact at all, none. There are no alternatives, none. So the definition of “alternative facts” must therefore be — lies.

Gary Fields

Hood River

‘Fear every day’

What I have seen happen in our country are the following:

• A travel ban imposed against travelers from seven countries predominately Muslim (does not include the countries where most terrorists have originated).

• Trump’s cabinet nominations are not well suited or qualified for their posts and have conflict of interests. Steve Bannon, a white supremacist, is advising the president.

• Vice President Pence voted along with fellow Republican senators for Betty DeVos, who has no experience with public education. Mr. Pence said it was the easiest vote he has made. Another Republican senator said that DeVos can shake things up. DeVos has given millions of dollars to the senators who voted for her!

• For a parent who has found her two children get an excellent education here in Hood River public schools, it is distressing that Republicans want to weaken and “shake up” the public school system.

• The Affordable Health Care Act is destined to be repealed by the Republicans who have no system (will be called “Waldencare”) to replace health coverage for millions of Americans or millions may not have coverage at all.

• Trump continues as president to do what he did in his campaign: lie, demonize the press, show no respect for our judicial and electoral system, and promote his family’s businesses.

We now have an authoritarian running our country. It is frightening that this man with no integrity has so much power while the elected Republicans are wagging their tails in support of this man. One needs to earn respect. I cannot respect someone who is a bully, promotes racism and violence, is disrespectful, and the worst example I have seen of “white privilege.” “Privilege is when you think that something is not a problem because it is not a problem for you personally.” — David Gaider

Trump has only made this country more divisive and people now have fear every day of what the future will bring.

Nancy Johanson Paul

Hood River

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