Letters to the Editor - March 7, 2014

Broader light on museum

Having read comments about Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and its tax situation, I feel the need to shed a broader light.

I have volunteered two days a week since May 2007, resulting in a pretty good understanding of what it takes to keep the doors open. During that time, I have met visitors from nearly every state and from Canada, Asia, Europe, Africa and South America. Many thousands of visitors come through each year. All these visitors have been drawn to McMinnville by the museum. Never a day goes by without one of our guests telling us what a world-class entity we have.

Most, if not all, museums supplement their admission revenues by other income-generating activities. OMSI, for example, has a large gift shop and theater complex.

One cannot walk through the doors of our McMinnville museum without understanding the budget-drain of utilities for such large buildings, well beyond what admission can cover. Add to utilities the cost of the museum educating high school students on how to conduct experiments on the International Space Station, and you can appreciate why taxing the museum as a for-profit enterprise causes a major hardship. It requires as much revenue as possible from the water park and museum store to help cover expenses.

There is no other year-round attraction bringing tourists directly to McMinnville. While here, guests ask about local places to eat, shop and stay overnight. The point is this: The museum brings many more tax-generating dollars into our community than can be achieved by extracting the maximum property tax.

If we should decide to opt for the small picture, we could all eventually look down at the self-inflicted bullet hole in our feet.

Gary Werner



Rep. Walden unfairly labeled

I feel the need to respond to a Readers’ Forum letter titled “Contrast in political parties” (Jane Kristof, Feb. 28).

I don’t know Republican Congressman Greg Walden, nor am I a highly political person. But I do have an opinion about putting names or titles on people unfairly. It is unfair to insinuate Rep. Walden or anyone else is not concerned with fundamental values like caring and kindness because, for whatever reason, he didn’t vote a certain way on animal issues.

I would be considered a pretty serious animal lover, but even more than that, I believe that all life is precious, from birth to natural death, and the value of people comes before animals. What credit has been given to Congressman Walden for the many votes he made based on his human caring and kindness, such as not allowing abortion to target babies based on their sex or race, keeping the health care plan you know and trust, extending benefits for veterans, voting to protect women against violence, and nutrition programs for women, infants and children — to name just a few.

Let’s look at the whole picture and not just the part that massages your point of view.

Loretta Johnson



Kneeling before the wealthy

My friend works at a large department store. He has a wife and three school-age children. He makes $9 an hour with no benefits, and his monthly take-home pay is $1,100 a month.

Fortunately for my friend and his family, they receive some government-provided food stamps, or they wouldn’t be eating at all for two weeks out of four. But regardless of my friend struggling to balance his checkbook, imagine where he would be without that job.

The Tea-Republican Party calls the wealthy “job creators,” regardless of who they are: the Walton (Walmart) family, Ted Nugent, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney or the Koch brothers. Accordingly, the American people are commanded to pay homage and reverence to their betters.

We’re told that the troublesome fact that mega-corporations continue to receive tens of billions in government handouts is immaterial to this obeisance. We’re told to ignore the fact that 75 cents from every taxpayer dollar doled out is pocketed by those corporations. We’re instructed to disregard the inconvenient truth that half the firms receiving U.S. taxpayer subsidies are foreign companies.

We’re asked to bite down hard and accept the fact that Intel receives $3.8 billion in handouts, IBM soaks up more than $1 billion, Google grabs $632 million, and Yahoo another $260 million. We’re to shrug and walk away upon receiving the news that Bill Gates and Microsoft receive $95 million, which is relatively paltry compared to Dell’s $482 million.

They tell us whining about corporate welfare is sour grapes, perhaps even unpatriotic. After all, we worship millionaire athletes, movie and pop stars, NASCAR drivers, golfers and talk show hosts.

 Willingly — even enthusiastically — kneeling before the altar of great wealth and privilege is the American Way, and God forbid we should fail in this regard. Otherwise, who will hire us?

Kevin C. Nortness



France protects its interests

After reading Scott Gibson’s letter (Readers’ Forum, Feb. 28) extolling the virtues of French peacekeeping efforts in Africa, I was wondering if there is another France out there I am not aware of. However, if he was referring to the one in western Europe, he left out one critical fact in praising their peacekeeping efforts.

All the countries cited, with the exception of Libya, are former French colonies. These countries have a considerable population of French expatriates, French businesses and medical personnel. Some have French troops and French Foreign Legion, and French is one of the official languages of these countries.

France is not the benevolent peacekeeper claimed in the letter; it is simply acting to protect its own economic interests and citizens. When America does this, the leftists in this country condemn us as imperialistic war mongers.

As for Libya, the interest there is a simple, three-letter word — oil, and France wants it. Again, when we protect oil interests, the leftist environmental wackos condemn us as greedy destroyers of the environment.

Furthermore, the operation in Libya was a NATO operation, not French. So it is not such a “surprising twist.” In light of the praise heaped on France, one has to ask, what is France doing now regarding the blatant invasion of Ukraine by Russia?

My office in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, moved to Dakar, Senegal, and remains there today, because it is not as safe in Ivory Coast as implied in Dr. Gibson’s letter.

In times when we have weak leaders, such as the present feckless occupant of the White House, America is not trusted or respected. Only President Jimmy Carter benefits from the present administration, because he is no longer the worst president of modern times.

Len Morelli



Bicyclists nearly hit

I almost hit two bicyclists with my car this week. I’m guessing, by the obscene and animated response I got from the male rider, this wasn’t the first time it had happened.

What he (and she) didn’t know was that I, too, am a bike rider, logging a couple thousand miles each year, and I pride myself on being aware of bikers, motorcyclists, kids and dogs when I drive my car. I felt terrible because, with as much care as I take, they ended up in my blind spot at dusk and both of them were wearing dark colors. They were practically invisible to me.

This experience warrants a reminder to everyone driving a car to watch out for bicycles, motorcycles and kids. As the weather changes, there are going to be more of them out and about.

In closing, I want to apologize to the two riders. I am truly sorry. I also have some words of advice for them: In all my miles on the road, I never assume someone is going to stop ... even if I have the right of way. I always wear bright-colored clothing, no black or dark blue at dusk because I know those colors could make me invisible. These two things might just save your lives. Be safe.

Gary Beard



Obey state fog light laws

What are the Oregon laws for using auxiliary lights or fog lights? Answer: Auxiliary driving lights and fog lights may be used only as high-beam headlights are and must use a distribution of light or composite beam aimed so that glaring rays are not projected into oncoming drivers’ eyes. Fog lights may be either white or amber — not blue, bluish or any other color.

From the 2014-15 Oregon Driver Manual: “It also is illegal to have auxiliary lights, such as driving or fog lights, in excess of 300 candlepower, on at times when you are required to dim your headlights. These very bright lights make it difficult for oncoming drivers to see.”

Oregon Revised Statute 811.515 Section (8) states: “A light other than a headlight, that projects a beam of light of an intensity greater than 300 candlepower shall not be operated on a vehicle … when use of low beams of the vehicle headlight system is required under limited visibility conditions.”

ORS 801.325: “Limited visibility conditions means: 1. Any time from sunset to sunrise; and 2. Any other time when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles are not clearly discernible on a straight, level, unlighted highway at a distance of 1,000 feet ahead.”

Under Oregon law, fog and auxiliary lights must be off whenever another vehicle is within 350 feet, or within 500 feet if coming the other way. They should be turned off during normal conditions and never used instead of headlights. Failure to comply can draw a $287 fine. Yet many drivers seem to be unaware of this.

Driving with these lights on distracts other drivers, focusing drivers’ attention off the hood instead of scanning two to three blocks ahead as required in Oregon.

Please turn off your fog and auxiliary lights.

Jerry Sullivan



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