Letters to the Editor: Feb. 19, 2016

Vote in support of schools

I am voting “Yes for Our Kids” on the May school bond. There are loads of largely obvious, if slightly boring, reasons why maintaining and updating facilities at our schools make sense. If you want to see the list, you should visit the Yes for Our Kids website.

I am voting yes on the May ballot because I think ensuring safe, well-maintained public schools with advanced tools and facilities to help career- and college-bound kids thrive is a civic responsibility and a good investment.

Our world is changing in many ways, and so are the expectations of colleges and employers. Regardless if kids in school today go on to make things, build things, invent things, heal people, help people or keep communities safe, public schools are the places where we should expect kids to explore their interests, find their passions and gain the skills they need to be great.

The relationship between schools, kids and communities is co-dependent. McMinnville depends on creative, responsible people with purpose and the vocational skills to keep it interesting and economically resilient. In return, our young people depend on their community to ensure schools are safe, well-maintained and well-equipped with up-to date facilities and technologies.

Of course, everything has a price. Luckily, though, a yes vote will not increase the current tax rate because a previous bond ends this year. So for the same rate taxpayers already pay, voters can choose to create better learning opportunities and futures for our kids and, by extension, a better future for McMinnville.

David Primozich 


Anti-landfill side ignored

The News-Register’s most recent article about Riverbend landfill make it look like there is only one side in the ongoing landfill saga.

The opening line mentions that Waste Management filed a rebuttal to opponents. True. It is also true that opponents filed an extremely detailed rebuttal to Waste Management’s claims that the dump does not force farmers to significantly change how they have to farm. The article fails to mention anything that was entered in the other side’s rebuttal. Huh?

Was the article written by Waste Management to make its case to an increasingly skeptical public? Quoting hearsay from an executive reporting on a conversation with a farmer who won’t let his name be published is laughable if it weren’t such a breach of good journalism.

Is the Farmer Whose Name We Dare Not Say in some kind of witness protection program? Is this the same farmer who is the only farmer interviewed in a Farm Impacts Analysis study that was largely discredited by LUBA?

Waste Management is quoted as saying the issues are “minor.” These “minor” issues fill 28 pages in the 48-page remand. LUBA clearly told the county that Waste Management has to prove it does no harm to farmers because it failed to do so in the original proceedings. “Minor” issues don’t require that a vice president of a giant corporation interview someone (whose name we dare not speak) to get proof that no harm is being done.

Not only is Waste Management implying that all those other farmers (including the Oregon Farm Bureau) are lying, the vice president manages to slander opponents by claiming the unknown farmer is being “threatened” by us.

Come on, News-Register. You can do better than this.

Ilsa Perse 


Crude and proud of it

In your Feb. 2 edition, my comments on Riverbend Landfill expansion were described as “strident” and were typographically bleeped in two places. I do not possess the expertise and legal skills of many key people who are fighting to keep Yamhill County clean and livable. These people are fighting a slippery Texas-based corporation with no interest in anything but profit at any cost. They are contending with our own commissioners — who often seem not to share our passion and respect for our role as responsible stewards of the land. These people conduct themselves with admirable, even astonishing, decorum.

My role is that of the mouthy, politically incorrect subversive, and I don’t apologize for ruffling the feathers of the wrongfully indignant. Given the circumstances and character of our adversaries, I was the very model of restraint.

Marilyn Higginson 


Try living on minimum wage

Many local politicians believe our $9.25 minimum wage should remain the same.

The minimum wage equals $370 per week and $1,480 per month (less with taxes). Show me your budget. How much do you allot for mortgage/rent, car (payment, insurance and maintenance), gas, electricity, phone, cable, garbage, food and clothing? What about the possible cost of child care and school expenses?

If minimum wage earners were paid $2 per hour more, my guess is that this money would remain in the community and not likely invested offshore.

Ann McNamee 


Palin a genius

Sarah Palin is the best when it comes to getting inside the heads of the progressive left and GOP establishment. They go nuts every time she gets in front of a microphone, and Palin’s sound bites go viral as she is attacked by her detractors. Some refer to the phenomenon as trolling.

That’s Palin’s genius, because outside of the progressive left and GOP establishment, people more or less agree with her. Even people who disagree with Palin don’t like to see her mocked as she goes rogue, speaking out against the eradication of American culture.

Jeb Bladine’s hyperventilating Jan. 22 column/meltdown “Palin re-emerges as a newsmaker” took the bait — hook, line and sinker.

It was a great endorsement for Donald Trump, paid for by the News-Register.

Dan Katz 


We can do better

The verbal slugfest at the Feb. 13 Republican debate was an embarrassment for the GOP, the United States and our democratic process.

The constant regurgitation of sound bites with sophomoric mudslinging is insulting to the American voter. I would submit that the only sane individual with the credentials and demeanor to hold a presidential office was Gov. John Kasich who incidentally was all but ignored by the moderators.

I sincerely hope and pray (as I do believe we are in need of a miracle) that voters can see through the media-driven election by doing their homework.

Voters need to remember that what candidates across the board are doing is interviewing with us — their prospective employers for the most important job in the world. I would not hire any of the loudest four due to their lack of communication skills and lack of professional integrity. This election is not just about the presidency but about congressional seats and now a Supreme Court position. The ramifications of this particular election will be a tsunami unto itself no matter who wins.

The masses in our country must not lower themselves to lemmings mindlessly running over a cliff. It terrifies me to hear potential voters profess such disillusionment with the media-driven election process that they are no longer watching, listening or voting. This election goes far beyond the label of Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative. We will not find a candidate with whom we agree 100 percent of the time. So let us critically look at that individual who has the potential to really do the job we are hiring him to do.

Susan Tiffany 


Board takes right tack

As I attempted to make sense of Eric Witherspoon’s Feb. 5 letter, the question as to which country he came from kept arising. Is he not the least bit familiar with the U.S. Constitution or the separation of powers clearly outlined in that document? That there are many other issues which the commissioners must confront is a no-brainer, but that there are other more critical and divisive issues that demand their (and our) attention is perfectly clear. It is not their primary job to either “respect and uphold” federal decrees, particularly when there is absolutely no constitutional basis for such extraterritorial fiats. The same goes for the chief law enforcement officer of the county (although clearly the sheriff of Malheur County is apparently unaware of his constitutional authority or simply chose to vacate his obligatory responsibility).

I would also note that when the last four protesters surrendered, it was a very serious error for them to allow the FBI to take them into custody. They should have demanded that the sheriff of the county was the only lawful authority in the dispute.

David Terry 


Movie examines testing

Community Rights Yamhill County hosts the movie “Standardized” at Third Street Pizza Company’s Moonlight Theater in McMinnville at 6:30 p.m. Monday. Feb. 22.

In an effort to help parents, students and educators learn more about the effects of “high-stakes” standardized testing on our public school children (such as the current “Smarter Balance Assessment”), we encourage all interested in learning more about this form of testing to view this documentary.

Oregon Save Our Schools representatives will conduct a question-and-answer session after the movie. This organization consists of parents, teachers, administrators and school board members who have thoroughly researched the current form of standardized testing and believe there is a better way of assessing our children’s knowledge and performance.

As an educator for more than 25 years, I believe we need a system of assessment that accurately measures student learning and growth without overly stressing many of our children. I have witnessed this undue anxiety in and out of the classroom for years.

It is time to put the love of learning back into our schools. Last June, our state Legislature passed the bill titled “Student Assessment Bill of Rights.” This bill allows parents to determine if taking the statewide standardized assessment is in the best interest of their children.

I encourage you to come with your questions regarding the current form of standardized testing and be a part of this crucial conversation.

Liz Marlia-Stein 


Merkley proves clueless

The statement made by Sen. Jeff Merkley at a town hall in Amity last Saturday demonstrates just how uninformed he really is.

Merkley claimed he was “powerfully relieved that our Constitution is under attack” because “it was written with the principle that people have an equal voice” in discussions about national policy.

If the senator’s statement about the writing of the Constitution is true, then why is he encouraging attacks on the Constitution? If the senator and his cohorts would adhere to the Constitution as written, this country would be far better off than it is today.

Both he and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici cited the Citizens United vs. FEC as an example of a Supreme Court ruling that they believe is causing corporations to drown out the voices of ordinary people.

What they failed to mention is that the case eliminates restrictions on political spending by unions as well as nonprofit corporations. We are usually told that unions are the voice of the working class, so are our lawmakers wanting to quiet their voice as well?

The senator’s energies would be better served if he would figure out how to rein in the 527 organizations (or super-pacs) that spend millions of dollars to support or smear candidates. These are the organizations that are drowning out the voices of the people.

These organizations are funded in large part by the uber-rich on both sides of the political fence. You have the Koch brothers, for example, on the conservative right. You have George Soros and Tom Steyer as examples on the far left.

Merkley’s mantra about the 1 percent does nothing constructive but encourage class envy and an unwillingness to work. For once, I would like to hear a message that wasn’t filled with words such as prohibit, restrict, legislate, regulate or tax. These days it’s not about what you can do for your country but what government is going to do to you.

Steve Sommerfeld 



Don Dix

Steve -- Politicians are only upset when someone 'is goring their ox'. Your herd is not on their endangered list!


Liz Marlia-Stein stated, "As an educator for more than 25 years, I believe we need a system of assessment that accurately measures student learning and growth without overly stressing many of our children. I have witnessed this undue anxiety in and out of the classroom for years."

So, what is the"system of assessment that accurately measures student learning and growth without overly stressing many of our children"? So where have you (and the Oregon teaching profession) been the last 25 years as Oregon's K-12 academic results have plunged to about the lowest in the nation? Have you (and the teaching profession) been keeping this "system" secret all these years? Oregon students are among the least tested of all states. How has that worked? Oregon has among the most highly compensated teachers of all states (currently 13th highest of all states in just salaries), so it is not lack of teacher compensation. Are you blaming testing for the education problems in Oregon, or what?

Don Dix

kona -- the “Student Assessment Bill of Rights” is just another backdoor exit. If a parent decides their child does not handle testing without stress (thus poor results), they may opt out. Responsibility for failure at that point is no longer on the classroom teacher, which seems to be the desired result of the bill.

And yet with less responsibility, the OEA will demand more pay -- sounds about right!

Horse with no name

Ann McNamee you make a very good point, but that is an expense to business. Business tries to eliminate or minimize all expense. Why do you think the Chamber of Commerce is against a minimum wage raise. That's the really stupid part of a short-sighted business philosophy, who's going to buy their widgets if people are having a problem paying the rent?

Henry Ford understood long range business philosophy and understood that to make the economy better for him he should raise the minimum wage. It wasn't because he was a nice guy but it reduced turnover which saved him plenty... heck enough that Ford didn't need a bailout like the other car makers in our day and age. The average wage in the auto industry then was $2.34 for a 9-hr. shift. Ford not only doubled that to $5 a day and he also shaved an hour off the workday. Boy-o-boy the ol' Chamber would choke on that one, but they aren't as smart as Henry Ford was. Maybe the Chambers members should re-evaluate their leadership.


Horse with no name, If you raise the minimum wage to $15/hr. for people who have no, or very little skills, what do you do with the people who do have skills and are currently getting $15 dollars per hour? Do you leave them at $15/hr. or will you have to raise their wages to $20/hr.? Then what do you do with the people who have more skills than the $15/hr. person? Do you get the picture? This isn't just about the person at minimum wage. At some point businesses will stop hiring at the entry level position because it doesn't make economic sense. There are many unskilled people who are barely worth the minimum wage as it is now. They won't be hired if the wages are increased.

Horse with no name

Marilyn Higginson - I love what you're doing and admire your courage of conviction. You should be held up as an example of participating in government as children are taught in their civics classes... is that even taught any more?

It looks like they might be only taught to shut up and do as their told by authority figures without questioning. They are taught to pray at BOC meetings by the example the Commissioners give. When adults think that way, they can also believe that God's in charge and there is nothing they can do. They like a lot of adults don't think they can disagree without getting in trouble. That lack of courage gets us an apathetic electorate and self-serving government. It's too bad the News Register can't appreciate an involved electorate more than the status quo.


How many of these minimum wage people are the products of Oregon schools? We have an unarguably abysmal educational system when we are among the lowest of all the states. Every few years, the higher-ups in education departments unveil new "strategies"--lately, they throw around "best practices dictate..." as if they've discovered a magic strategy. Having been employed in this arena for several years, I know unequivocally how too many teachers are simply dead wood, hanging on as long as possible until retirement. So many have no business being inside a classroom because they have no spark, no genuine enthusiasm and are directly linked to why a disgraceful percentage of students simply drift away. What is heartbreaking is the damage inflicted lasts a lifetime.

Horse with no name

Kona -
100 years of broken record arguments against raising the minimum wage:


Impact of 1996-97 minimum wage increase:


"Four different tests of the two increases’ employment impact — applied to a large number of demographic groups whose wages are sensitive to the minimum wage — fail to find any systematic, significant job loss associated with the 1996-97 increases. Not only are the estimated employment effects generally economically small and statistically insignificant, they are also almost as likely to be positive as negative."

It is not Armageddon for Business, people are raised out of poverty.


The problem in Oregon is we have had the highest unemployment rate of all states for the collective period of the last two decades. To increase Oregon's unemployment rate to the highest in the nation would continue to put pressure on unemployment and business. It is not like we would be increasing from a low rate. Oregon already has the third highest of all states.

I wouldn't think it would be a problem if some of the states with a very low minimum wage rate were to increase their rates, but Oregon is very high already in relation to other states.

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