Letters to the Editor: Feb. 24, 2017

Don’t blame the bag

As a 40-year resident of this city, and now aged 70-plus and having served in county law enforcement for more than 35 years, I would like to add my comment to this “bag ban” recently enacted in McMinnville.

I have always recycled anything and everything that Recology NW has taken — from cardboard to plastic to metal to glass. Actually, I make at least two trips a week to the recycling facility they operate.

What concerns me is the fact that, once again, the “object” becomes the issue instead of the user of said object. While I can see where the “zero” proponents are concerned about trash, how many actually go out and pick up the trash that residents of McMinnville leave on their lawns?

Why is it a concern of theirs what the plastic bag contributes to our residential garbage? I have to go out on a daily basis to pick up plastic bags, candy wrappers, aluminum soft drink and beer cans and recycle them. Why is it always the concern of the environmentalists to attack the innocuous plastic bag, instead of attacking the person who discards the bag in the first place?

Why not go after the person causing the problem? Isn’t this the same logic that designates firearms as the problem, while not considering the person who uses the firearm to commit a crime?

If the Zero Waste folks are so concerned about garbage in our community, how about showing some concern for the imported garbage coming to our landfill from places outside the McMinnville area?

And no, I am not a conservative anti-environmental Republican, but an Independent.

John Kowolik



Money no solution

A Jan. 17 editorial on funding education said higher education shouldn’t be left out.

When I looked at higher education funding about four years ago, I was surprised to learn additional funding received in the first term of Obama’s administration did not result in more professors and course offerings, but mostly went to administrative staff pay increases.

Incidentally, that staff’s pay is well above similar jobs in the general market.

Also, instructors and course offerings don’t seem to follow demand (more engineers, etc.), which could be met by reducing courses offered in careers that have few job opportunities.

This results in graduates working outside of their degrees. That problem could be solved by reallocation of education resources, which bureaucracies don’t do well. They could do better with what they have, but they don’t.

Throwing more money at the problem is not the solution. General housecleaning needed, perhaps?

Gene White



Facts immutable

Jeb Bladine’s Feb. 17 column underscored the spectrum of “news” available, rightfully concluding that folks often navigate toward presentations that fit their personal biases.

He urged more adventurous searchers of news to acknowledge their biased and filtered inputs by spending some time with different news providers to better appreciate alternative views. This is good, solid advice. However, there is an underlying assumption that, along the spectrum, facts are constant, and only the interpretation changes. If this assumption were true, it would be great. We are accustomed to accepting certain “facts.” When we enter McMinnville, we accept the population sign, perhaps qualified with knowledge that this is a best estimate. We tend to accept a doctor’s reports that our BP is 128/88, although we know these numbers are a reflection of how the heart is working at one moment in time, subject to nearly immediate change. We accept that 34,000 students graduated from secondary school in Oregon in 2015-16, but are not surprised if later someone says the real number was 34,112. We receive the figures — the facts — from different messengers, institutions or machines with varying levels of confidence depending on a variety of factors. And, even with inherent variability, we routinely accept these as “facts.” But what happens when we are served with blatantly false figures --non-facts? Alas, we are seemingly now offered for consumption intentionally fictitious, even malicious, figures disguised as facts. It does no good, as suggested, to look on the other side, if each side uses its own made-up take on reality. We can only compare interpretations if we have a common data set of facts, not fiction.

John Moehl



School needs change

In regard to the Feb. 17 article about the Faulconer-Chapman Elementary School parents, I’d like to clarify a few things.

First, I no longer teach at the school. I chose to be a parent and work in our family business. This choice has made it possible for me to volunteer in every aspect at Faulconer-Chapman. It is a blessing and something I greatly enjoy.

Parents are concerned about the learning environment, academic growth, student discipline and student safety. That said, it should also be said that there are staff members that are amazing at their jobs. Administrators have been available to hear my concerns. Some teachers make the world a better place with their dedication to the future.

My fourth-grader has made significant academic growth, and I attribute that to his teacher. My sixth-grader relies on his math teacher to be the best part of his day — holding him accountable, setting the bar high, educating him.

There are good things at Faulconer-Chapman, but change is needed. Students’ education cannot wait the three to five years administrators quote. We are cultivating the future today. Parents want the board to help us change with fidelity to student success in academics and social interactions. There is not time to waste.

Laycee Grauer


Story incomplete

I found your article regarding Faulconer- Chapman Elementary School very one-sided and biased. As someone who worked in Sheridan for many years with children and families, I know very well the population of the town and the schools.

I agree 100 percent that if there is bullying, then it cannot be tolerated. But the article failed to mention the improvements in math and reading scores over the last couple of years. It also failed to mention that more than 75 percent of the population of FCS lives in poverty.

Chronic poverty is a traumatic experience. Many of these students are in a constant fight-or-flight response, which adversely affects behavior and learning. In my experience, families rarely took advantage of supports and services that were offered to them for parenting classes, mental health support and other services.

Questions need to be answered, but some of the questions need to be, are the teachers being trained in working with children who have experienced trauma?

re parents involved with the school enough (volunteering/attending meetings) to see what is happening during a typical day?

I did not work at FCS, but many of the staff are working very hard to improve conditions there and to implement programs to support students and teachers.
We need news about our county’s schools, but we need the whole story.

Gayle Campbell


Why Trump?

I voted for Hillary Clinton. Should I have voted for Donald Trump?

To set my mind at ease, I would welcome reading here considered opinions from those who did vote for Donald Trump and are satisfied with their choice as well as from those who have voted for him and regret their choice.

Tony Roder



Give it up for Lent

March 1 marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period preceding Easter, when many Christians abstain from animal foods in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness before launching his ministry.

The call to refrain from eating animals is as old as the Bible. In Genesis 1:29, God says he has provided plants for food. The prophet Isaiah predicts that “they shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

A number of Christian leaders followed the call, including Methodist founder John Wesley, Salvation Army founders William and Catherine Booth, Seventh-day Adventist Church founder Ellen G. White and prominent evangelical leader Franklin Graham.

A meat-free diet is not just about Christian devotion. Dozens of medical studies have linked consumption of animal products with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer and other killer diseases. A United Nations report named meat production as the largest source of greenhouse gases and water pollution. Undercover investigations have documented farm animals being caged, crowded, mutilated, beaten and shocked.

Lent offers a superb opportunity to honor Christ’s powerful message of compassion, but also to protect the health of our family and our planet earth by adopting a meat-free diet.

Milo Nakamura


Trump’s disasters

The main problem I see with the Trump administration is a serious deficit in two things: competence and coherence.

Competence is self-explanatory. By coherence, I mean providing messages that cohere to the facts (that is, honesty) and messages that cohere among the members of the team — everyone being on the same page.

Trump fired his national security adviser three weeks into his term for dishonesty. He then used the firing as a chance to rail against the intelligence community he should be relying upon. His next choice for the job declined the position. So he ended up with his third choice. This from the candidate who said he had “the best people.”

Apparently, this includes third-stringers. So much for competence.

In Europe recently, the secretaries of state and defense and the vice president were sent out to explain that the president didn’t mean all those things he said about NATO. European leaders asked whether they should believe the president’s tweets or the president’s deputies. So much for coherence.

As for honesty, he is making an industry for late-night television comedians, regularly spouting untruths so obvious that a second-grader with Google could fact-check him. He makes his press secretary transmit “alternative facts.” It’s a national embarrassment.

Truth matters. Competence matters. Coherence matters. We have had administrations that have made bad decisions, but if they at least remained plausible, stayed on script and presented a coherent message, they could get things done.

I am doubtful this president has what it takes to maintain competence and coherence. He has the advantage of unified party control in Congress, so he may accomplish things in spite of himself. But along the way, he is besmirching the office of the presidency with incompetence, dishonesty and dishonor.

Scott Gibson



Equal-opportunity critic

I’m not a liberal. Nor am I a conservative. During Obama’s tenure, I wrote frequent letters condemning his failure to help working Americans while ignoring Wall Street corruption.

I refuse to toe the line of either right or left wing orthodoxy. I use the brain God gave me to decide each issue based on my morals. Recently a letter condemned liberals as hypocrites because they oppose Trump while not having demonstrated when Bill Clinton committed adultery with Monica Lewinsky.

The comparison is way out of balance. Among other things, Trump relentlessly attacks the free press. He tries to delegitimize the press as “fake news” and announced that the press is the enemy of the American people.

Trump has no problems with the press when they agree with him. Neither do his followers. The Lewinsky scandal that the letter referred to was made public by that same press. Apparently, it’s not fake news if it hurts the people you obsessively despise, only when it criticizes the people you give blind allegiance to.

Fred Fawcett




"The comparison is way out of balance. Among other things, Trump relentlessly attacks the free press. He tries to delegitimize the press as “fake news” and announced that the press is the enemy of the American people."

And Obama never went after Fox news? Hmmm! You might want to ask James Rosen from Fox about it.


Scott Gibson repeatedly bashes anything that is not liberal. I suppose that is okay as many have made sacrifices, even giving up their life, so he can spout whatever he wants. The problem that is apparent is that he NEVER says anything respectful or "nice" about the many who disagree with him. Long story short...he is a nattering nabob of pessimism (VP Agnew). Can't you please say something that is not so negative? I suppose the reply would be that there is nothing positive.

Don Dix

gophergrabber -- you are correct. I cannot recall that Dr. Gibson spoke out when Hillary 'received the debate questions ahead of time', or that the D primary was intentionally slanted towards Hillary. And no words on the Clinton Foundation that used the office of Sec. of State to pass along government favors for big contributors.

'Incompetence, dishonesty and dishonor' are the descriptive words he employs to define Trump, and he might be correct. But I would submit one could pick any of 'the players in D.C.' and find those terms fit many, especially congress. In fact, take a gander at our state legislature who are nothing more than minions of the public employee unions (and do not represent the citizens) -- 'truth matters' in all walks!

Don Dix

John Kowolik wrote -- "Why is it always the concern of the environmentalists to attack the innocuous plastic bag, instead of attacking the person who discards the bag in the first place?"

My opinion -- the dominant trait of the environmentalists is the ability to pick the only the low-hanging fruit, leaving the actual work to others.


Scott Gibson is commenting as part of the Democratic "scorched Earth policy" as they move forward with delay tactics and denigration of anything Republican. The same tactics were used to denigrate President Bush ("stratigery") and are continuing now with President Trump. It is all they have left because the Republicans are in the strongest position they have been in since the 1920s. But, this is similar to many Republicans denouncing President Obama when he came into office. After all of the whining about that from Democrats you would think they would want to "take the high ground" for that type of behavior but they are seemingly fixed on taking the corrosive behavior to another level. There are problems with every politician and from Scott Gibson's perspective it is important to make the presidency as unsuccessful as possible to further the liberal/progressive/Socialist/Democratic cause. He is not alone as most Democrats seem to have adopted that strategy. Who wins in this attitude? Certainly not America. We will see how this all plays out in the next few years.


Tony Roder, I ended up voting for Donald Trump for two reasons. Firstly, I felt he was the second worst candidate on the ballot and secondly I wanted him to nominate the next Supreme Court justice. Yes, I am satisfied with my vote because of the above reasons. And no, I don't like President Trump as a person but have no regrets about my choice considering the alternative.


I find it rather ironic that one our local school board members calls our president incompetent in his letter to the editor. He should look in his own dugout first. A school district that is spending 8 to 10 million on a administration building and 4 to 6 million on a building for maintenance but houses students in modular buildings and stores things in containers instead of a climate controlled building shows a bigger lack of competence. You shouldn't throw rocks if you live in a glass house.

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