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Letters to the editor: May 17, 2019

A headache in the making

I have mixed feelings about an air show at our municipal airport.

Would it bring revenue to our community? Absolutely! Would it be a fun three-day event? Absolutely!

However, in my mind, here is the tradeoff:

Thousands of gallons of aviation gas residue will drip from the sky to coat our homes, vehicles, pets and families with toxins. We will end up even sucking the nauseous fumes into our lungs.

That’s especially true for those of us living along Three Mile Lane. I am most concerned with the Kingwood and Olde Stone Village areas.

Jets taking off or landing at the airport have caused my windows to shake, along with those of my neighbors, almost to the point of cracking. The noise and vibration cause our pets to run for cover.

I, for one, don’t look forward to 16 hours of it.

Getting out onto the highway is a problem now. I can only imagine what it will be like with 15,000 visitors. (And how, I might ask, are they going to cap it at 15,000?)

Maybe instead of ramrodding through something like this, officials should ask voters and taxpayers how they feel about it. Just because the city manager thinks it’s a good idea doesn’t mean everyone else does.

If it’s going to pump $5.5 million into our local economy, maybe the taxpayers should have their bills lowered to compensate for the resulting problems and situations.

I’m just saying!

Connie Moran

McMinnville

 

Jesus preached foregiveness

I’m writing in response to the letter from Dale Lux, printed in the Readers Forum of May 3. He suggests Jesus would respond this way to a plea from a homeless person: “Hey, you low-life. Try being a contributing member of society.”

Clearly, Mr. Lux is not familiar with what Jesus actually did say throughout his teaching.

He did not tell the poor and needy they should quit freeloading and get a job. He urged the rest of us to treat the down and out with kindness and respect.

He talked about a kingdom of heaven within us. But He said it’s harder for the well-off to get there. 

If a beggar asks for a shirt, give him a jacket, too, Jesus urged. He said the beggar Lazarus got to the bosom of Abraham, but the rich man who ignored his begging went to the other place.

He said life is not about going to the temple and bragging about one’s piety, while looking down on the poor government worker. He told the story of the traveler beaten by robbers, who got help from a Samaritan after being bypassed by religious big shots.

He challenged the sanctimonious mob threatening to stone a woman, challenging the one without sin to cast the first stone. And the mob backed down.

He told the woman, “Neither do I condemn you.”

Jesus directed us to forgive one another. He said we should forgive 70 times seven.

We’re not going to eliminate the needy among us. The challenge lies in how we treat them.

You don’t have to be a Christian. You don’t even have to renounce hardline views. Just don’t ascribe to Jesus words that He would never say.

Paul Sullivan

McMinnville

 

Time to deal the public in

The News-Register was quite right when it said, “Staff reports don’t have to be marathons.”

During the April 18 planning commission hearing, which opened at 6:30, the city staff droned on and on, with detail after detail. That continued until about 8:30, when a short break was called.

A veteran activist of many hearings predicted there were going to be a lot of vacant seats after the break, and he was right. A quick count showed about 40 percent of the citizens had walked out. I left at 9, and members of the public had yet to be noted.

That hearing was the most picky and droning that I have ever attended in 25 years. It appeared the planning commission, planners and applicant were only concerned with their own agenda. They didn’t seem concerned the public was even there.

The only time the planning commission recognized the public was to give notice that this was not a popularity contest, so there would be no applause or cheering. The implied message was, “Just sit down and be quiet.”

The public will notice when government officials take over, when they have too much cotton in their ears and just wish the pesky public would go away. That’s what brought the right to vote on annexations to our city.

That certainly got the city council’s attention. It resulted in a healthy partnership between the citizens and city government. But the Oregon building industry eventually got the right to vote taken away.

The planning commission, planners and applicant need to acknowledge the involvement of citizens, as they are the city of McMinnville.

John Englebrecht

McMinnville

 

In defense of PERS

Why is Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System always under attack?

I don’t think people realize the number of significant changes that have already been made to PERS over the years. And yet our public employees continue to bear the burden of blame for insufficient funding for public services.

I’m not sure people understand the number of times our teachers and other public employees have sacrificed salary to protect programs students, patients, disabled people and the rest of us rely on.

These unselfish workers deferred a salary increase until their retirement, all for the sake of ensuring our schools, police departments, care centers, parks, libraries, fire departments, roads and bridges would have enough money to survive another year or two. It has been incredibly unfair to blame these dedicated employees.

Regarding our public schools, we must not overlook 1990’s Ballot Measure 5, an initiative passed by Oregon voters, which fundamentally changed Oregon’s property tax and school funding systems. This initiative made Oregon’s public school system primarily dependent on state general fund revenues controlled by the Legislature rather than local school boards.

Finally, after 30 years of our schools struggling for crucial funds, this year’s Oregon Legislature passed HB 2019, the Student Success Act, which will bring nearly $2 billion a biennium into our public school system. A small number of Oregon businesses will now invest a share of their profits in our students’ future, helping to reduce class sizes, strengthen critical programs and hopefully increase instructional assistants and counselors.

Then — maybe, just maybe — we will change our focus from constant complaining about PERS to investing our time and energy in ensuring this new source of funding remains secure.

Liz Marlia-Stein

McMinnville

 

Criticism rings hollow

I find it a bit asinine to hear the county complaints and finger-pointing, directed at the city of McMinnville, regarding the homeless situation.

As far as I’m aware, the city does not provide mental health, housing assistance or addiction services to its residents. All these services, crucial to treating the root causes of issues related to homelessness, are administered by the county.

Instead of scapegoating the city, I would like to see the commissioners offer to work together to provide greater reach of these services to all residents of Yamhill County. Or have they forgotten the struggles of homeless families in more rural parts of the county?

It seems as if the county commissioners prefer to escalate tensions rather than relieve them. Maybe because they’re paid for their time, unlike the volunteer McMinnville city councilors, criticizing an already overwhelmed city government, without offering potential solutions, is a luxury they can afford.

Courtney Terry

Willamina

 

It’s time city took action

I disagree with Robert Mason’s analogy from the May 10 Readers Forum. Comparing poverty levels and job scarcity in 18th century London to the homeless situation today is misleading.

Many of the homeless today could work in minimum-wage jobs, but choose not to. In the UK at that time, an estimated 50 percent of the population lived below the minimum subsistence level.

Our national unemployment rate is currently less than 4 percent, a 50-year low. The official poverty rate is about 12 percent.

Many of the homeless prefer to have no responsibility or accountability. To make that possible, they live off handouts from do-gooders.

Mobility is better now than in the 18th century. So if there are no local jobs, help them by providing them with a bus ticket to a city that needs workers.

Unfortunately, McMinnville’s city council is an enabler for the homeless situation, and it’s hurting the city’s reputation.

My niece and her husband, a skilled ambulance mechanic, were considering relocation to this area from Phoenix. They chose not to after research revealed McMinnville’s uncontrolled homelessness.

Instead of inspiring their young family to move to McMinnville, the city council chooses to mollycoddle the homeless.

It’s time to encourage the homeless to get a job or move on. With creative legal actions, we can stop making them feel welcome.

Randy Johnson

McMinnville

 

Legislators on right side

Since last September, I have been carefully crafting really excellent foster care reform legislation. It would include the tracking of every single child on one or more psychiatric drugs, which is currently not being done.

Additionally, I submitted several bills that would require Oregon Health Authority to provide better means for parents to get informed consent on medical procedures proposed for their children.

Sadly, several months ago, Rep. Cheri Helt, working behind the scenes with Sen. Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward, introduced HB 3063. Based on just four cases of measles at the time, it would have eliminated all non-medical exemptions for vaccines.

HB 3063 completely usurped my foster care advocacy and legislation. All Democratic legislators except Rep. Tawna Sanchez refused to focus on the elephant in the room, which was foster care. Instead, they set out to narrow vaccination restrictions based on false stats and media hype.

In Yamhill County, this would have affected 600 students in private schools and 484 in public schools. Students missing even one of 22 vaccines would have been barred from classes.

Locally, County Commissioner Mary Starrett, Sen. Brian Boquist and Reps. Ron Noble, Mike Nearman and Bill Post worked hard to allow children of all races, creeds, religions and medical needs to remain in school. They deserve a huge pat on the back.

However, foster care has yet to be made a priority this session.

Brittany Ruiz

McMinnville

 

Equal access for all

I’m writing to remind Oregonians of the values of dignity and respect for all, and urge the Oregon Legislature to pass the Equal Access to Roads Act. The ability to drive legally is a core everyday need for many Oregon families, as people take their kids to school, commute to work and take care of family and neighbors in need. So we must strongly reaffirm our commitment to providing a safe community for all individuals, regardless of ethnicity or immigration status. In Oregon, being unable to produce a driver’s license during a traffic stop is increasingly leading immigrants, who otherwise have no criminal records, to be flagged for deportation. Oregon lawmakers need to pass HB 2015 to ensure standard licenses are available to all drivers who can meet the requirements to drive, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. Please encourage lawmakers to support this vital legislation.

Cathy Beckley

Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, McMinnville

 

Comments

Don Dix

Liz Marlia-Stein asks -- Why is Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System always under attack?

Here's a short list:
Most members don't (or didn't) contribute anything to their accounts (paid by employer - read taxpayers)
23000+ retirees receive 100%+ of their working salary.
1200+ retirees receive $100K+ yearly.
PERS unfunded liability has grown to $23B.
All elected officials and appointees as well as courts are PERS members (stacked deck).
PERS payments are based on final 3 years of employment, and comp time, unused sick leave and vacation can be used to inflate final salary numbers.
PERS members are eligible to also receive SS, adding to total compensation (not usual in other states or federal employment).

Apparently, being so immersed in defending this broken program, these facts seem to be of little or no consequence. PERS has been in the state government's pants for over 30 years. Government's reaction is to raise taxes, find new areas to tax, raise fines and fees, raid stable programs (SAIF) for revenue, and declare emergencies to thwart voter-approved constitutional amendments (kicker).

Other than that, no reason!

Bill B

Thanks for the information Don Dix. I knew the program was extremely liberal but not to this extent. We (non PERS) all should be outraged!

Stella

Cathy Beckley

Sorry but coming into the US illegally IS a crime. They should not have the right to drive and should be deported. We voted on this before - what a waste of taxpayer dollars to visit this again.

Mimi

I couldn’t have said it better myself, Stella!