Letters to the Editor - March 28, 2014
Retain Evergreen Museum
I was disappointed to read two letters disapproving of property tax abatement for Evergreen Air Museum because of its nonprofit status.
The museum, with its astonishing selection of historic aircraft and space exploration items, is a cultural resource hardly matched anywhere in the United States, especially in a small community like ours. Housed in the museum are the famously enormous Spruce Goose airplane Howard Hughes built to ferry troops in World War II, huge numbers of military and civilian airplanes, and the amazing SR71 107-foot spyplane. Introduced in 1964 and retired in 1998, it still holds the speed record for its flight across the Atlantic, a full hour ahead of the supersonic Concorde airliner. Traveling at nearly 2,500 mph, it could outrun missiles fired at it as it flew over the Soviet Union at 85,000 feet. Its skin reaches nearly 500 degrees Fahrenheit from friction with air. This Black Prince looks like a refugee from Star Wars.
The soaring heights of the museum buildings with their cathedral-like interiors are able to house intact retired nuclear ICBMs and other enormous exhibits.
Much of the disapproval for public tax relief comes from disapproval of Del Smith, creator and chief benefactor of the museum, because of his wealth. But that overlooks the fact that Del, at 83, is watching his fortune crumble after a lifetime of work to sustain his enterprise that operated in a very difficult industry.
It is questionable whether the air transport industry made a net profit in the century after its founding. Del exploited a niche: transporting war materiel and troops to distant zones like Afghanistan. Now that niche has disappeared. Del seems unlikely to be able to support the museum with his own fortune.
That’s why we need to assist the museum to retain this wonderful community resource.
Support Y-C school bond
Our Yamhill-Carlton School District is in crisis mode. There is not enough physical space to accommodate state-mandated full-day kindergarten, sections of existing building systems and infrastructure are considered unsafe and not one of our gyms meets OSAA requirements.
In the past, our school district attracted new families into our small community, brought back past citizens to raise their children and made families proud to be here for multiple generations.
I feel this bond levy is important for the livability and future of our community, the learning environment of our children and reestablishing pride in our schools. It is important to me as a mother with children in the Y-C school district to express how important it is to support our schools’ future.
Please vote Yes on measure 36-161.
Jo Ann Weinstein
Timber counties need help
While I applaud the News-Register’s general denunciation of corporate and government welfare (Viewpoints, March 14, “Distressed counties don’t deserve more handouts”), I take issue with the charge that distressed counties are “becoming addicted to the easy fix” of federal handouts.
These counties are indeed dependent upon federal replacement dollars for now. The government pulled the rug out from under them, and they are desperate to find the means to pull themselves back onto their feet. They are not indolent parasites “loath to shoulder a fair share themselves.”
The newspaper’s preferred solution, to have those counties simply “bump” their permanent property tax rates, is disingenuous since the state constitution prohibits them from doing so.
Local economies that have historically relied heavily upon agriculture and natural resources will take decades to reinvent themselves. Coos, Curry and Josephine counties have limited options to diversify their economies, due to their relatively small populations and geographic isolation.
The reason these counties have permanent tax rates that are a small fraction of the state average is because they were awash in timber money (not federal bailouts) when the constitutional limits were placed on local property taxing authority. And now that the feds have locked up forests from being managed sustainably, these counties are trapped with their tiny permanent tax rates that cannot be “bumped” without a constitutional amendment.
And because the state and federal governments own more than 60 percent of all the land in these three counties — tax exempt — I suggest it is they who aren’t “paying (their) fair share.”
If the News-Register is sincere in its declaration, “The free lunch is over,” I will look forward to future editorials calling for an end to all agricultural subsidies, state support for the Cultural Trust of Oregon and taxpayer funding for the McMinnville Downtown Association.
Editor’s Note: Our reference to raising tax rates should have clarified that voters, not the counties themselves, have that option. In 2013, voters in Curry, Josephine, Polk and Columbia counties defeated public safety levies that would have augmented existing property taxes.
Prosecute cat offenders
I found the cat drowning article very disturbing.
I don’t know if this man had a mental condition or not, but the fact he told police that he “didn’t want the cats any longer” and then decided to drown them, makes it very clear that he knew exactly what he was doing. This man needs to receive the top punishment for this crime.
Abandoning and/or physical abuse is one and the same. Abandoning a pet may cause it to starve to death. It will stay where it was left, waiting to be fed. Not all cats hunt mice. Even some that do hunt don’t eat them, which makes the idea of “barn cats” not a good idea unless they are also given cat food.
I rescue cats on a weekly basis. I have six feral feeding stations in town that I have supplied with insulated beds for shelter. I feed and water these cats daily. I am so tired of people being so irresponsible in not getting their cats fixed or abusing them because they don’t want them anymore. This has got to stop, and the only way to do that is to prosecute the offenders.
Marijuana Act overprotects
After laboriously reading through the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, I marvel that it went to the voters with the biases it displays. It overprotects the users and the grow site operators.
For example, when one obtains a medical marijuana card, one has the option of growing one’s own pot and is limited to six mature plants and up to 24 ounces of usable marijuana. If a cardholder is found to have more than the allowed plants and pot, he/she faces no fines or penalties. The consequence is that the excess plants and marijuana are removed from the site. The allowed amounts remain.
A person authorized to produce marijuana at a grow site may “produce marijuana for no more than four registry identification cardholders or designated primary caregivers.” That involves quite a few plants and marijuana ounces, since each cardholder is entitled to the amount stated in the paragraph above. The grow sites can be anywhere.
A person convicted of the manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance may be issued a marijuana grow site registration card or produce marijuana for a registry identification cardholder five years from the date of conviction. Why should anyone with any kind of criminal past ever be allowed to maintain a grow site?
Now dispensaries are allowed, and grow sites still are allowed. School neighborhoods and other areas where young people might congregate, such as parks, should not have to house grow sites.
Actually, no neighborhood should have to house a grow site. Dispensaries should have specific, well-thought-out regulations about placement and activities. Also, there should be funding for law enforcement to oversee the dispensaries.
If dispensary owners do not follow the regulations, there should be stiff fines. If that does not work, then closure should be the option.
What a wonderful country we live in now, where you can be prosecuted for drowning kittens but are free to destroy a human being by abortion.
What kind of a message is this? Are cats of more value than people?
Agriculture is important
March 25 was National Agriculture Day — a day to remind us there’s a story behind that can of beans you bought on sale.
When I was young, one-third of our country’s population was involved in producing life’s basic necessity — food. Even if one wasn’t actually living on a farm, most people had a grandparent, an uncle or some friend involved in agriculture production.
We bought our eggs directly from Mrs. Dio and drove to the orchards in Bountiful to buy our peaches, which we helped our mothers peel and preserve. Most of our friends earned school money picking strawberries and stringing trellises for beans to climb. They worked during damp, foggy mornings and humid summer afternoons, and knew that was part of the job.
Today, only one percent of the population is involved in agriculture. Few people have ever been on a farm. They aren’t aware it’s a year-round effort in all weather during all hours. They grumble when they have to drive behind a slow combine and often make lofty laws, not realizing the side effects for farmers.
During my daughter’s lifetime, the world’s population has more than doubled from 3 billion to over 7 billion: 7,000,000,000 mouths — all of them requiring food. That is a lot of people coming to dinner.
Be aware. We need land that isn’t paved over. We need cooperation. We need knowledgeable people.
Basic products may be available if the population realizes that producing renewable raw products is a priority.