Letters to the Editor - Jan. 31, 2014
Cartoon distasteful, alarming
I found the cartoon the News-Register chose to print on Jan. 24 distasteful and alarming. In it, Joe Heller depicts winter 2014 as a giant troll dumping snow on a guy. The snow-laden victim declares, “Silly me … I thought snowboarding was a sport. Actually, it’s more like waterboarding!”
Waterboarding is a euphemism for simulated drowning, which is a scientific-sounding name for a form of torture. To use the term as a punch line goes beyond bad taste. In the context of a “political” cartoon about the weather, I cannot accept this usage as anything other than propaganda.
The term waterboarding was reintroduced to the American people when it was revealed that President George Bush’s Office of Legal Council drafted memos suggesting torture might be legal. This was, of course, after we had invaded and occupied a country that had done nothing to provoke us.
In 1946, the International Military Tribunal, to which the U.S. was a signatory, declared, “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Acknowledging that our military was since put to this very task is not a popular sentiment. Thus, most of the public discourse on this topic is awash in denials, apologists, misinformation and distractions.
So while my initial reaction to the “torture joke” was disbelief, I quickly realized this was another instance of the constant efforts to trivialize the war crimes of the Bush administration and its victims’ pain. Perhaps the snowboarder comparing his situation to waterboarding should not have been shivering under a blanket of snow but headfirst in a tree well, suffocating and wondering when his heart was going to stop. That would be a much closer analogy.
Reduce your waste, costs
A few of us McMinnville “greenies” have initiated a zero-waste discussion to move some negative solid waste issues to a more positive footing.
As we gather our forces and ramp up our initiatives, we hope you will do something to help — lower your garbage bills.
That’s right, we are asking you to save money by moving toward zero-waste right now. Here’s how:
Many of you have already embraced Recology’s fantastic curbside single-stream recycling program: the bins with red lids. They just added this service to all rural customers, too.
But not all of you know the best way to save money on your trash bill is to call Recology and discuss how you can get the lowest price possible. If you are like most McMinnville families, you could use the smallest bin size picked up just once a month. Totally do-able, because you can also order twice-monthly bottomless recycling pickup, where you will place most of what you used to throw away.
More recycling, less garbage, lower bills.
I did this and saved $168 a year. Not everyone can go this route, but you would be surprised how easy it is to reduce your bill by recycling, reducing and reusing with a simple change in your current service. Before you worry about the landfill closing and the possibility of your trash bills going up — which is debatable, anyway — it would be great if you take personal responsibility for your own waste and lower your garbage bill by sending the least amount to Riverbend.
We look forward to working with the community to create more jobs by zeroing out our community’s waste, but, meanwhile, move your refuse/rubbish from the garbage pail to the recycling bin and lower those trash bills.
All you have to do is call Recology and ask.
Landfill damages the county
Our county commissioners have authorized a team of marketers to spend $63,000 to promote Yamhill County. The marketers have a website at www.growyamhillcounty.com. It features four of our local businesses and will increase coverage to 16.
Since Commissioner Kathy George has consistently voted for expansion of Riverbend Landfill and newly elected Commissioner Allen Springer has joined her, I wondered how they would promote our regional garbage dump. I combed the website for information, only to find they haven’t mentioned it.
Since our commissioners are enthusiastic about the growth of Riverbend, they will want to include it on the website and in any other promotional material.
I have a few suggestions for promoting it:
Provide aerial views. People thinking about locating in Yamhill County will want to see how enormous the dump actually is. They will want to see how dangerously close it is to the Yamhill River and how close it will be to Highway 18 after the berm is built.
Since websites don’t emit odors, they should ask prospects to imagine the odors that are part of a garbage dump. Leaving fish bones and used diapers in their kitchens for a few days will give them the idea.
Explain that the mountain of trash isn’t so ugly since they’ve started covering it with dirt. It’s still an out-of-place eyesore, but it isn’t as bad as it was when it was a plastic-covered moonscape.
Explain that Waste Management has tried to present itself as a community partner by sharing land for farming. Ask prospects if they want to eat fruits and vegetables grown next to a landfill.
Our commissioners don’t seem to understand that expanding Riverbend Landfill damages the McMinnville area, and that — in turn — damages all of Yamhill County.
Recreational use unsafe
Allowing recreational drug use in Washington and Colorado, or other states that may follow that trend, is a sad turn for our society.
Marijuana destroys lives, families and, ultimately, our communities. Immature adults will buy marijuana for various reasons and become addicts. If marijuana is available to anyone, there will be a lot more DUIIs, shootings and general mischief.
Yamhill County Sheriff Jack Crabtree, a reputable authority on the subject, says it is devastating to people’s lives. Marijuana is classified on the federal level as a Schedule I substance. The DEA defines Schedule 1 as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.
The DEA’s position on recreational drug use is clearly stated in the “DEA Position on Marijuana.” It says legalization of marijuana will come at the expense of our children and public safety.
As a teenager, I sincerely hope Oregon’s marijuana dispensary plan will be canceled. And if it is, it will be done by officials with clear heads.
Expecting forward thinkers
Regarding the recent Riverbend Landfill decision by two of our commissioners, Kathy George and Allen Springer, it is unfortunate that they have chosen to take the low ground by putting the interests of individuals wanting to save a few dollars a month over the long-term interest of the environment of McMinnville and Yamhill County.
I would expect my commissioners, Springer and George, to be forward thinkers, setting a higher bar for those less knowledgeable to follow. It seems that the process is backward, and our commissioners follow the advice of the loudest voices and the deepest pockets, regardless of merit.
Unfortunately, it will be our children and grandchildren who will be faced with the future calamity being thrust upon us today. While Riverbend Landfill claims that hazardous waste is not permitted, who is checking all those roadside trash cans picked up daily at the curb? We have two designated days a year, one in Newberg and one McMinnville, to properly dispose of hazardous waste in this county. How many people hold onto their hazardous waste for this length of time?
It is only a matter of time before what is deposited on the banks of the Yamhill River will end up in the river. This ever-expanding mountain of malodorous garbage, along with all the trash that blows out of trucks onto the highway, is our “Welcome to McMinnville” sign to all visitors arriving from the coast.
I would like to see the current system of three commissioners expanded. We need a larger board, with a minimum of five commissioners. Two voting commissioners on this issue are not adequate to represent the diverse views of all Yamhill County residents.
Commence ‘Plan B’ for landfill
Jeb Bladine’s Jan. 17 WhatchamaColumn, “Consider possibility of Riverbend closure,” was an eye-opener. What happens if Riverbend doesn’t receive its zone change for expansion is of big concern to many stakeholders here in Yamhill County.
The commissioners’ recent landfill zone-approval bucked their own planning commission, and some might say the planning director who, for the first time in known history, did not give the commissioners a thumbs-up or -down recommendation in his staff report. One can only guess how the Land Use Board Of Appeals (LUBA) will rule as the zone change application weaves through state courts.
My favorite recap of the current zone issue was stated by Riverbend’s previous engineer of record, Leonard Rydell, who wrote: Waste Management “… wants to zone an un-farmable landfill to farmland so they can convert farmable farmland to an un-farmable landfill.”
Good luck, LUBA judges.
It seems most legal bets are being placed on the opponents’ case to reject the zone change. Meanwhile, Jeb is right. Let’s not get caught with our garbage pails down. It’s time to “… devote attention to the challenges that would arise from a near-term Riverbend closure.”
I hope Commissioner Springer and the two new commissioners sworn into office next year will commence a “Plan B” to create more recycling, green jobs and stabilization of garbage bills while stopping Portland/Metro from dumping on us. We can continue to kick the can down the road to a leaking landfill on our farmland and riverbank, or we can take personal responsibility, finally pick the can up and recycle, re-use or reduce it.
The new zero-waste goal is a breath of fresh air in this contentious county conflict. I urge the community to embrace those efforts while the courts make their final ruling on the future of the dump.