Letters to the Editor: Feb. 10, 2017

Appreciate library

Growing up, I had the privilege of having a parent who worked as a librarian at the McMinnville Public Library.

On days I didn’t have after school events, I’d walk, usually with a friend or two, to the library. We’d whisper our way through homework and search the stacks, tiptoeing around patrons lost in a good book or engaging magazine.

Last week I did a quick drop in to see what was on the “new books” shelf. Maybe it was the disoriented young man who initiated a conversation with me, or just something different in the air, but I realized how much our library has changed.

The sturdy concrete walls, filled to-the-brim shelves and the tall windows that bring the outside in remain. But as for the people, I stood and watched and saw how it has evolved into so much more than a traditional library. It has become a warming shelter, a safe place for ostracized citizens, a haven for people struggling with mental illness, a cell phone recharging station and a popular public restroom.

I watched a call go out to the police and their quick response, softly supporting a very intoxicated young man out in the plaza.

I’m now imagining the myriad roles that librarians play today, many of which, as one librarian told me with a smile, “I certainly didn’t learn when getting my degree in library science.”

I hope our community is aware of not only how incredible the library is and what a holistic role our librarians play, but what a community center it has become. I hope that if they needed more from us to complete their mission as it evolves during these challenging times, that not only could they ask, but that we would answer in the affirmative.

Anna Barsotti



Why so cagey?

The Yamhelas bike path proposal is a light-rail project in disguise. We are spending millions, and it does not look feasible to become a trail. But Primozich rebuffs.

Commissioners Mary Starrett and Rick Olson pinned his back to the wall Jan. 19 over the missing farm-impact documents. Then Primozich, in a rare but sumptuous loss of words, called out for help from legal counsel Todd Sadlo ever so delicately.

It went like this: Primozich stated the farm-impact study does not have to be done as a whole, but farmer-per-farmer, because Yamhelas is in our transportation system plan.

Starrett retorted, “That sounds like a kind of circuitous way of saying we’re not going to do it because we don’t have to do it, but what we have done will constitute a farm-impact study because we call it a farm impact study.”

Then Primozich did his crying. Todd! he exclaimed, under his breath but audibly with pain. Sadlo leaned forward and said: “We will be making findings. Mr. Chair, members of the commission, we will be addressing state law 215.296, which requires findings to ways to address whether there are significant impacts to farm costs or to farm practices, and we’ve done these numerous many, many times before. So we know how to do them. We have consultants. They are consultants who know how to do them. We are not formally collecting information on impacts, but we are definitely informally collecting a lot of information on impacts related to farming. That’s what’s required by law and that’s what we will do.”

So, Primozich, why are you buying before testing feasibility? The ConnectOregon grant is stipulated for a bike path.

Bryan Schmidt



Neighbors left in dark

I just watched the Jan. 19 Yamhill County commissioners’ meeting on YouTube. Commissioner Stan Primozich tells the board that he has met all the farmers adjacent to the trail and addressed their concerns.

I know many of the farmers along the trail who have never met with Primozich like he stated, let alone had their concerns addressed. There are also many homeowners adjacent to the trail who were not aware of this project until a private group made them aware of it.

They were not informed of his intentions to spend tax dollars to invade their property rights, but Primozich said he has met with the majority of the people one-on-one already. Why does Primozich have such a hard time telling the truth to the citizens of Yamhill County? Let’s ask Primozich what this project will cost the taxpayers.

The Chehalem Park and Recreation District predicts the trails will cost $1.5 million dollars to construct around the Newberg area, but Primozich says he still does not know what it will cost. The people of the county need to hold him accountable. Let’s drain the Yamhill County swamp.

Chris Mattson



Questionable judgment

We live in a nation governed by a Constitution and a Bill of Rights.

We are a nation of laws. We are a nation deliberately created with legislative, judicial and executive branches of government. We are a nation with freedom of speech and the right to vote. We are a nation established by immigrants who fled England and Europe to avoid religious suppression. These fundamental principles, constructs and laws allow us to voice disagreements even with the federal government and our president. When President Trump ordered an immediate cessation of immigration from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa, there was shock on the part of many people. In Washington state, a federal judge ruled that the president’s declaration was worthy of judicial review, and he put the immigration order on hold.

To that finding, President Trump tweeted “that so-called judge” was wrong. The president went on to say that any problem related to the so-called ban on Muslims should be blamed on this judge. How disrespectful of our judiciary system those tweets were. How ignorant of our federal government those tweets were. We have a system of checks and balances precisely because our founders did not want this country to be run by a king or dictator.

Somehow, President Trump must learn that he is not running a company that must kowtow to his will. He is running a country of largely diverse populations governed by a set of laws and principles that make us the most democratic country on this earth. Let’s hope that lesson is learned soon.

Arnie Hollander



Strange nominees

The Trump campaign had resistance from almost all mainstream Republicans along the way. Now, essentially all Republican senators seem to be in Trump’s pocket. When in history did we have:

1. A nominee for EPA head who has opposed clean air rules, is a climate change denier with extensive but unrevealed ties to the fossil fuel industry, has sued the EPA 14 times as Oklahoma Attorney general, and has refused to recuse himself as EPA director from his unresolved suits?

2. A nominee for attorney general who was deemed too racist in 1986 to become a federal judge, has opposed all voting rights laws, opposed pro-LGBTQ legislation throughout his 20 years in Congress, opposes same-sex marriage and voted against renewal of the “Violence Against Women Act”?

3. A nominee for treasury secretary who was known as the “foreclosure king,” lied (we now know) when he said his bank never “robo-signed” foreclosure documents, and initially failed to reveal a $100 million in Dune Capital International LTD., an investment fund incorporated in the Cayman Islands?

4. A nominee to head Health and Human Services who opposes women’s health programs, attempted to defund Planned Parenthood in 2015, and appears to routinely invest in companies for which he can simultaneously introduce legislation which will help their bottom line?

5. A nominee for labor secretary who has consistently opposed increases in the minimum wage and had a housekeeper for years who was not a legal immigrant to the United States? (One of Clinton’s nominees and two of George W. Bush’s cabinet nominees withdrew instead of being voted down under similar circumstances.)

Where are our Republican senators’ courage and ethics hiding? But I guess I was misguided to hope that the swamp would take steps to drain itself.

Les Howsden



Don Dix

Mr. Howsden -- you mentioned several 'nominees' for cabinet positions by Pres. Trump. Some of these nominees are not part of 'the swamp'. The swamp, in my opinion, is those who are career politicians (never had a real job, so to speak) and who have always been unproductive but always feeding from the pubic trough.

Clinton's treasury guy, Robert Rubin was a swampster. After 26 years at Goldman-Sachs, becomes Sec. of Treasury, and badgered Clinton to sign the repeal of Glass-Steagall (which he did). That ultimately lead to the financial meltdown and all the banking bailouts, paid for with tax dollars. Rubin ended up as chair of Citicorp, which received $472.6B in bailout cash and guarantees, more than any other bank. Hmmmmmm....

There is no 'appearance of impropriety' with Rubin, it is fact! Do you see the swamp connection now?

Don Dix

Mr. Hollander -- You are aware that Trumps' ban on 7 countries was a broadened order signed by Pres. Obama, right?

In December 2015, President Obama signed into law a measure placing limited restrictions on certain travelers who had visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011. Two months later, the Obama administration added Libya, Somalia, and Yemen to the list, in what it called an effort to address "the growing threat from foreign terrorist fighters."

So, I'm assuming you were just as 'concerned' in 2015 as you are now -- or is it just this president that causes you to feel a need to complain?


I left out of my letter 'Neighbors left in the dark' that it is 1.5 million dollars per mile not for the whole project.


Les Howsden, many people don't appreciate President Trump. He won the election primarily because he was the second worst person on the ballot.


Ms. Barsotti. Yes the McMinnville Library is a wonderful asset for the entire community. Their children's programs are outstanding. Their teenage programs engage youth to read and learn. The Passport program connects you to many of the Oregon library systems with your McMinnville library card. Although I have to go to a Washington County area library to get a Passport card, once I do I have access to the entire system. Many local groups use the Library's meeting room for meetings and events. Friends of the McMinnville Library is a dedicated group of people who help the Library with a variety of volunteer duties.


Mr. Dix. I agree with you about Rubin. And George W. Bush's second Treasury Sect. Henry Paulson and Obama's Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Paulson and Geithner swam in the swamp together as partners in a firm. They were all protecting their own for sure. I wish the current Republican administration had not invited so many of those Goldman Sacks connected folks to important policy positions. The swamp still smells sweet.

Don Dix

Mike -- My father was Mr. Dix -- call me Don.


Mr. Howsden. The Republican Administration will have its cabinet. When the Administration and the Republican controlled House and Senate begin to unravel the safety nets of Social Security and Medicare and other programs and replace them with their version, we will begin to see if our life is improved or diminished. It is the American way to voice concerns and to argue for what they think is right. For me when Social Security and Medicare Republican legislation is present to hand them over to Privatization I will be doing whatever I can to keep my Social Security and Medicare out of the hands of the Wall Street gamblers. The gamblers will piss it away like they did in 2008 with Retirement funds. Take a deep breath and prepare for the actual legislation coming down the track.


Mike, this is the part I don't understand. If programs are on an unsustainable projection how do we satisfy people (you for an example) to make changes that might affect their proceeds? It is not much differently than the situation of PERS in Oregon. Politicians "gave away the store" forty years ago and now we find out that it was nothing more than a political ponzi scheme. The Oregon Democratic Party has embraced its symbiotic relationship with our public sector unions and now finds itself in a box with only massive taxes as a possible solution to the problem.


kona - "Les Howsden, many people don't appreciate President Trump. He won the election primarily because he was the second worst person on the ballot."

He may have actually won the election due to coordinated efforts between the campaign and Russia. It seems that we are learning much more about this election, Trump's campaign and coordination with Russia prior to the election and Trump's National Security Advisor, Mike Flynn's interference in contacting Russia after Pres. Obama issued sanctions against Russia. I think those involved in collaborating with an enemy of the US are going to be facing some serious charges. The VP, Priebus and Spicer have been caught lying about contact with Russia according to the evolving reports.


Mudstump, "evolving reports"?? Are those the same reports from undisclosed sources? Yes, you just keep believing that the Russians influenced the election if it gives you some comfort.


From the LA Times ....

The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it’s done so as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University.

That number doesn’t include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn’t like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala and Chile. Nor does it include general assistance with the electoral process, such as election monitoring.


Kona. Social Security was fund was raided and has not been paid back. Pay it back. Do not further cut rich folks taxes and increase spending. That 'trickle down economics' is what President Reagan did and it threw us into a huge debt, "voodoo economics" is what President G H W Bush called it.

I contend there is a substantive difference between Social Security and Oregon's PERS. That not to say I agree with the selfish perfidy of the PERS Board and the Oregon Legislature for locking in unreasonable return rates based on gambling in the stock market. Before the stock market crashes PERS was solvent. Then the bottom fell out and the politician did not act when it was necessary. The Court's have approved those old contracts, even so thousands of dollars were taken from PERS retirees, not once but twice. Still that was not enough. Solution. Reduce the pay and PERS benefits for future police, fire fighters, teachers, and all of Oregon's government workers. Give Social Security over to privatization and the Wall Street gamblers will have their hands on the money. The same thing will happen.

Federal government spends billions on military waste which could be used so older Americans do not have live on even less with no way to go back to work to pay their bills and eat decent food. Those with high incomes would not have to pay Social Security and would not draw on the fund. My reading of the Republican legislative thinking is to privatize Social Security, Medicare.


Kona. I'm sorry. I misspoke. Social Security Fund was played with in the Federal budget then out of the budget. It was used to make he budget look bigger than it really was (done by President Johnson - sense I know you like to have a D in the picture). Then the Fund was removed from the budget. The in and out did not impact the Fund. It was not borrowed from, just used to disguise and hide the Federal debt.


kona - What is it about the Trump administration and Mike Flynn that makes you defend our enemy over your own country? Will you stand when the Pledge of Allegiance if recited next time around or will you just simply remain seated in support of Putin?


Mudstump, no one is in support of Putin over the interests of the United States. You can discard that myth and get on with life. I appreciate the approach of diminishing the toxic atmosphere with Russia and Israel that flourished under the Obama Administration. If the United States and Russia can move on parallel paths in some global situations it will benefit the United States.


Mike, the PERS situation is not as you represent. Only 38 percent of the Pers pension fund is invested in the stock market. The rest is held in bonds, private equity, real estate, cash and alternative investments like timberland and mining companies.

You said, " Before the stock market crashes PERS was solvent". PERS has only been fully funded in four of the last 20 years and the slide is increasing even though we are at highs in the stock market.


Mike to be specific, those four PERS years were 2001, 2005,2006 and 2007. The funding percentage is now lower than its nadir following the 2008 crash and heading lower. The problem is that the lower the PERS Board makes the "expected return rates" there is a corresponding increase in obligations of the individual public agencies to make up the difference.


Kona. It look like you researched PERS thoroughly. Thank you for correcting my mistake. We both agree PERS got in trouble because of selfish decisions of policy makers. Since we agree, how we got there is not as important as a discussion of how to proceed. What is your prescription?


Mike, what a wonderful question ... I have no idea for a good answer. I have followed the PERS story very closely for over 20 years. I was invited to sit with three of the news editors for the Oregonian almost 15 years ago to discuss your question. We discussed the topic for about an hour and a half. The conclusion at that time was that the public sector unions made the program "iron clad" while most people and legislators in Oregon were sleeping. The unintended consequences was that all future union/public sector employees would have to sacrifice for what the unions pushed for their (then) present day employees. That conclusion still holds.

At this time, the only real solution is to heavily tax the citizens of Oregon and penalize all future public employees. The other possible solution is to cut drastically the number of public employees to balance the public sector budgets. Those are the only options and none of them are palatable. In the meantime it is unbelievable how many retired PERS members are receiving over 200 percent of their working salaries for the rest of their lives (with cost of living increases) plus their Social Security. There are thousands who have, or will, receive considerably more in retirement that they received while working.


Kona. Solutions are hard to find. I'm not a policy wonk. Once again you were masterful with a wonderful debate judo move to redirect to a PERS topic from my concern about Social Security and Medicare. Both of those programs are not in the same financial situation as PERS. Social Security with some reasonable tweaks of increasing the retirement age and the income level can be viable. Privatizing is just giving money to gamblers who do not have to worry. They get to gamble with old worker's money.


Mike, I apologize for the tangent. My point is that there are things in common. You mentioned your "concern about Social Security and Medicare" and you didn't want anyone to reduce yours (or anyone's) benefits. That is one of the primary similarities to PERS.

The problem is that politicians often promise things and can't deliver. People aren't flexible or understanding that sometimes promises need adjusting. Usually they just want someone else to pay for the adjustments (another similarity with PERS). Social Security started out as a noble exercise of planning for a small contribution/supplement to a person's retirement. Politicians kept adding all kinds of additional programs (my brother got his college paid for from Social Security) that were not adequately funded. Naturally everyone likes this (Merry Christmas!) but we in the United States are slow to want to pay for these programs unless someone else pays the bill. So what happens? Our last President (with help from Congress) added more to our national debt than all other previous Presidents combined. President Trump will probably match that geometric increase. Eventually the piper will need to be paid which could cause the same problems facing PERS.


I guess I'm not able to see the logic of cutting taxes which is cutting income and increasing spending. I know the theory is cutting taxes on the rich and corporations will provide more money to create jobs and thus pay for the tax cuts. That hasn't worked out. Social Security is a safety net for older workers. I'm not sure about college on Social Security. Survivor benefit or something like that. Keeping Social Security, simple, and as a safety net for those who pay into it is a necessary program. There are more low paying jobs which will mean more older folks who will need a safety net. Have the rich and corporations and Wall Street gamblers have no compassion for those who need a safety net and who have not much life left?


Mike, I agree with much of your comment. Wondering about your last sentence, "Have the rich and corporations and Wall Street gamblers have no compassion for those who need a safety net and who have not much life left?"

The "rich and corporations and Wall Street gamblers" are more philanthropic than any other segment of our society. Sometimes that comes as a surprise to many as they continually bash these groups. Yes, they have more to give and they do. Do you have a definition of "wall street gamblers"? Are you referring to everyone who invests in the financial markets or whom? I know I am in the markets daily, does that make me a "wall street gambler"? Most farmers are in the financial markets. Are they "wall street gamblers"? Most retirement funds are in the financial markets. Are these funds problematic?


Kona- I think you know full well that the banks went far beyond just buying and selling equities or futures that average investors might indulge in......They were leveraged up to their eyebrows and ultimately bailed out by our tax dollars... yet the top executives (like Steve Mnuchin the "foreclosure king") managed to walk away with huge paydays ....yes quite the generous and benevolent bunch...


tagup, I completely agree that banks AND borrowers went well beyond acceptable norms to create the financial crisis. This wasn't in just the United States. Borrowers were very irresponsible by borrowing more than they could realistically pay back. Banks were compliant to lend. Banks have to foreclose when borrowers do not pay back their loans. If you have a home loan and do not make payments, what do you think any bank would do?


Blaming the borrower for the crisis ignores how the lenders marketed, packaged and sold sub-prime loans that shouldn't have been approved in the first place....no...the crisis was on the banks....and now congress is looking to reduce the safeguards put in place to keep the greed in check.....short memories, I guess.


tagup - I was working as a real estate broker during the real estate bubble in the early 2000s. Brokers have to have continuing education credits to renew their licenses and often it was financial institutions that offered brokers a way to get additional credit. Lenders would often request to speak at our weekly office meeting about the loan programs they offered. They marketed their products hard and encouraged brokers to get their financially questionable clients into some very aggressive packages. One financial seminar I attended was on how to help a client with little cash make a 10% down payment and at closing the bank would loan back the 10% down payment so the cash strapped borrower could buy furniture for their new house....leaving the borrower with zero equity in their new home. As we all know, the wheeling and dealing went south soon thereafter.


Kona. I should know better than be poetic about compassion and taxes. My opinion is the stock market long ago lost it's purpose for building capital which businesses could use to invest in improving and expanding their business. That is still the 'theory' but it no longer is accurate. The market produces bets using stocks as chips. A growing segment of the market is conducted by computer algorithms which are programed to sell or buy to take advantage of small adjustment in price. Money is made on the margins. Money is made on the number of transactions. Bets placed that a stock will go up, other bets the stock will go down. And if you are in the market buying and selling every day competing with the algorithms and those one wall street with billion dollars portfolios, good luck to you. And yes I know historically the stock market with its ups and downs does eventually correct itself. Like with what happened with the Bank loans leading to the 2008 'correction' the stock market tolerates products to buy and sell which are pure garbage. Yes the retirement funds are part of the scene and they took a huge hit in 2008. Folks lost the life savings, lost their homes. But some folks hung on and came through it fine. In the past when the country had debts the tax rate on the wealthy and corporations was higher because they still had lots of money left over. The tax burden has been relentlessly moved to those with limited salaries and incomes, workers. And it looks like the tax breaks once again will benefit the extremely wealthy and corporations at the same time there will be increased spending. Increased debt which will be a good reason to get rid of the social safety net because it is deemed to costly.


It sounds awful from the perspective that the three of you present. In a few years it might get better.


Kona. Yes I'm sure it will work itself out. That opening sentence of the Constitution I think Americans understand quiet differently.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

For me "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility" are important concept which now days there may not be agreement. "provide for the common defense" I think there is agreement. "promote the general Welfare" is another important concept which there may not be much agreement. What those concepts are or how to bring them about does not have agreement or consensus. If they ever did. When I talk about compassion and taxes I think I am referring to idea of Justice, Tranquility, and Welfare for the over 3 Million Americans that differs, probably dramatically, from what others might believe about what those beautiful ideas mean and how to establish policies to make them vibrant reality for all Americans.

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