Wednesday, July 19, 2017
A close call
We are in favor of logging. When done responsibly, it creates jobs and pays some county bills. “Partial cuts” are actually good for our public forests and prevent wildfires. Lumber is a renewable resource. This is all good.
However, my husband and I were driving up the Red Hill Road last night to walk our dogs at about 6:30 p.m. We were proceeding uphill in the right-hand lane at about 25 mph. Suddenly, a gigantic truck loaded with logs came roaring around a blind corner at top speed, taking up the entire pavement. Luckily, my husband’s reaction time is good, and he swerved into a ditch as the monster whistled past us. The encounter was way too close for comfort.
I have two points to make here:
When driving on public highways near our forests, always know that a huge truck may be coming the other way driven by a person anxious to get home to supper.
Loggers: Please remember that other people besides you use our county roads. Slow down at blind corners and sound a warning on the horn. You would hate to cause a tragedy. Last night’s incident very nearly was one.
Willing to run
According to public radio, Rep. Walden has four challengers so far. One is Jim Crary, who lost last time to Walden, a retired attorney living in the Ashland area who appears to have many of the values I see supported in most of the Hood River area. A second would be a physician, Julian Bell, who lost to Kate Brown in the last Democratic primary. Mike Byrne, a stone mason from Parkdale, would be number three, and Rachel Scdoris-Salerno, who is a sled dog racer (musher) and business woman, would be the fourth. A fifth person, according to Willamette Week, is Chris Van Dyke, son of TV actor Dick Van Dyke, who served as a Marion County DA, who says, “I am contemplating getting involved.“ I’ve only talked to one and that was Jim Crary from the last election, who I supported at that time.
Rep. Walden has changed. He no longer puts his constituents first. He either doesn’t care or realize that many in Oregon, particularly rural Oregon, will lose their healthcare if the plan he’s been supporting passes through Congress. The chief executive of our local hospital said it far better than I can in the Saturday, July 15 paper.
According to my significant other, an MD, healthcare could potentially be devastated, and we could see rural clinics and hospitals close down and many lose a place to go when in need of healthcare. Mental health, care for the elderly, and care for those with special needs will be hard to come by. We’ve got four people willing to run against Rep. Walden; please take a look at them.
Editor’s Note: Last week, Portland TV news station KGW reported that Scdoris-Salerno has dropped out of the race.
Two letters to the editor in Saturday’s paper attempted to discredit opposing voices in dishonest ways: One by labeling an entire network as fake news, in line with President Trump’s tactic of damaging the reputation of every news source he doesn’t like, and the other by trying to assert some sort of nefarious, coordinated effort to smear a congressman.
Both these letters ignore the very real alarm felt by a large number of folks regarding the actions of these politicians, and the honest sense of duty they feel to speak to it. Instead of taking on the messages with which they disagree, these individuals attempted to sully reputations.
We are a deeply divided country, and remain so despite President Trump’s promises to unite us and make us “great again.” Any step forward must begin by acknowledging that truth.
‘Get past politics’
Dear John McCain,
I wish you a quick recovery from your surgery. It is nice you can take time to heal at home, knowing your doctors are available on demand.
Since you have the time to reflect on this, perhaps you might contemplate life for people who will no longer have insurance once the Congress removes them — and millions more — by a vote in the Senate.
Without insurance, people do one of three things: They might not remove the tumor at all, or pay the whole ticket out of their dwindling resources, or pay nothing and stiff the hospital and doctors. Somehow, someone loses.
I keep hearing Obamacare doesn’t work. Get past politics and mend it without killing it. Don’t go down this road of repeal without a better deal for all the people and not just the top 1 percent. If you kill this law, we all know it is a sure bet you will never ever replace it. I know this and I know you know this too.
Oppose ‘Cruz Amendment’
I worked in human resources when companies first began offering PPOs and HMOs in addition to their comprehensive major medical plans. The goal was to give employees more care choices and to reduce rising health care costs.
Even though the premium differences were initially modest, healthier employees flocked to the lower cost plans. After a couple years, adverse selection made the major medical plans unaffordable and they were discontinued.
The Cruz Amendment included in the recent revision the Senate’s healthcare bill will create much larger incentives for younger and healthier individuals to choose cheaper bare-bones plans. Individuals with pre-existing conditions, needing coverage for maternity, mental health, substance abuse treatment and rehabilitative services or seeking protection from life-time caps will be left in plans with skyrocketing costs and unstable insurance markets.
We will return to the pre-ACA days when older and less healthy individuals were unable to buy affordable coverage and junk insurance left people underinsured and at risk for bankruptcy. Every major health organization strongly opposes this bill. Insurers have warned that the Cruz Amendment will create unsustainable markets. Hardest hit will be rural communities and hospitals.
The GOP is facing an existential choice. Either alienate a portion of its base by “repairing” rather than “repealing” Obamacare or passing a historically unpopular bill that will leave millions without decent healthcare and create market chaos. People care deeply about their healthcare. The GOP would be wise to hit the pause button before making a choice that threatens its future.
I spent about 8 years working for a well-known, local drone aircraft company, which was a great experience. I have since begun doing business in drone aerial photography. On the 5th of July, I received a few comments from friends regarding a few drone aircraft that were apparently flying at the time of the firework show the night before. If you own a drone aircraft, remember that it is illegal to fly it more than 30 minutes after sunset/dusk. Also, if you fly commercially for hire in any way, you are required to gain FAA certification to do so. If a certified pilot does know he/she is planning to fly outside these regulations, they must file a waiver application to do so with the FAA at least 90 days in advance and only proceed with these plans if the waiver is actually granted. This could have been the case on the night of the 4th. Fines for not complying are quite steep, starting at $10,000 and or jail time. Ouch...
Follow the money
Our state representative Mark Johnson worked tirelessly this session.
Unfortunately, it was on behalf of Union Pacific railroad based in Omaha and not on the behalf of the people in his district. Union Pacific actively supports more oil trains through the Gorge and opposes measures to improve oversight of train emergency response. Apparently, so does Mark Johnson.
Rep. Johnson received $7,000 in campaign gifts from Union Pacific last year, including $5,000 after the Union Pacific oil train derailment and fire in Mosier. All through the session, Rep. Johnson opposed HB 2131, which included commonsense measures to require robust oil train emergency response plans, fees assessed to the railroads, proof of financial responsibility for oil spills and open public disclosure. He voted against the bill in the House Energy and Environment Committee. He ignored the advice of the Legislature’s in-house lawyers who said the bill was legal and instead got his legal advice from Union Pacific’s lobbyists. He worked to make oil spill plans secret and off-limits to the public, then voted against restoring public disclosure on the floor of the House on June 30. His votes, debates against rail safety and other supporting documents detailing his actions are accessible on the Oregon Legislature’s website. His campaign contributions can be reviewed on the secretary of state’s campaign finance webpage.
Please call Rep. Johnson and let him know the record shows he is not on the side of community safety from oil train derailments, is not representing his district and it better change in the 2018 session and beyond. His number is 503-986-1452.
The lead story in Saturday’s edition of this paper was about the recent Oregon legislative session, and I was especially impressed with the views of our state senator Chuck Thomsen. Despite the bipartisan passage of a new transportation bill by a two-to-one majority, he (and our state representative Mark Johnson) voted against the bill on principle. Good for them.
I was even more impressed with the reason why Mr. Thomsen voted no. According to the article, even though “… the program will help people who ride state-supported bus services, such as Columbia Area Transit, he disagreed with taxing those who don’t necessarily use the services.” Damn right! Why should the rest of us have to fund something we don’t even use?
In fact, Mr. Thomsen, your principled stance has helped me solve a big problem. For years the county has forced my wife and me to pay thousands of dollars to support our local schools — yet we have no children or grandchildren in any of them. Heck, I’ve never even set foot in some of the schools I’ve been forced to support. Thank you for showing me that it’s the exact same principle — “taxing those who don’t necessarily use the services.” I agree with you that we should make the parents of those school kids pay for the schools, not people like me. I’ll contact your office to see how you can help me fight this unfair tax.