Letters to the editor: Jan. 31, 2020

The logic of impeachment

President Trump is standing trial on two articles of impeachment:

1) Abuse of power for using his power as president for solicitation of the interference of a foreign government, namely Ukraine. 2) Obstruction of Congress by refusing the House of Representatives its Constitutional subpoena power.

On the second article, it seems we must all agree. As to his guilt on the first article, some say maybe, others say maybe not. Some say probably, others probably not. Some say definitely yes, others definitely not. Me, I say, “I don’t know.” If he’s innocent, why not open the trial to every bit of information?

Maybe then, the senators could decide. Or maybe not. But maybe then, I could decide. On the second article, I can’t come up with a logical answer other than guilty. Ain’t logic a bitch?

Robert Porath



Seeking community consensus

Sid Friedman is correct, as he asserted in his letter of Jan. 24, that our conversations about McMinnville’s potential Urban Growth Boundary expansion should exhibit “respect for those with whom we disagree.” All of us, including the News-Register’s sometimes inflammatory editorials and headlines, need to follow this guideline.

But then, so does Friedman. His letter is scarcely respectful to Planning Director Heather Richards, whom he suggests, among other things, is “unable or unwilling to follow the law.”

For the past three years, I have served on the McMinnville Planning Commission, and along with Friedman, on the city’s Housing Analysis and Urbanization Study Project Advisory Committee.

I have never heard Planning Director Richards express an opinion about what level of growth “she might like,” as Friedman states. Instead, I have heard her provide thorough analysis of the city’s current housing conundrum and unbiased discussion about alternative ways forward.

It’s her job to suggest realistic options for the city — options that recognize the recent history of UGB expansion across the state, which is far more nuanced and complicated than Friedman describes.

McMinnville faces challenging decisions about how we will handle population growth and ease our lack of affordable housing. Those decisions require community conversations that include all stakeholders, not just those whose top priority is protecting farmland.

In fact, Oregon’s land use planning laws require us to equally consider multiple goals, in addition to those of protecting agricultural and forest lands. Among these are providing an adequate housing supply for all income levels, planning for citizens’ recreational needs and achieving economic growth and development, to name only a few.

I suggest we all step back, take a few deep breaths and begin to have a civil, broad-based dialog that refrains from making accusations and instead builds community consensus.

Susan Dirks



Let the spirit guide us

I was dismayed at the tone of both the recent article and Jeb Bladine’s column suggesting we prepare for war as we start our next land use planning process.

Our community has been badly divided over land use issues in the past, so is way behind in its planning process.We really do face a crisis. But if we start this process with a “call to battle,” we will simply fail. If everything we have done in the past ends up in court, perhaps we should develop a better process.

Jeb quoted this statement about the state land use program: “McMinnville is now the poster child for the ‘not working’ argument.” Ironically, Yamhill County could be considered the poster child for what is right with the program. We simply would not have a wine industry were it not for state land use protections. The land use program does have some unnecessary complexities. But the state has worked hard during the past decade to make the UGB process simpler, easier and less expensive. And the Department of Land Conservation and Development is giving us $25,000 to help facilitate the effort.

We do have some hard work to do. We can do this, but only if we establish a cooperative effort between the city, the state, farm and forest advocates, local developers and members of the community at large.

Fanning old flames will just result in repetitive failures. Instead, let’s make a real effort to create a healthy foundation for the planning process. A respectful, cooperative foundation that can result in a product that gets McMinnville the land it needs, respects the planning system and doesn’t land us in court. The spirit of community in McMinnville has guided us successfully through many challenges. Let’s use it now to get the land use planning process right this time.

Marilyn Worrix



America First

Good news, for now at least: Yamhill County missed the federal government’s Jan. 21 deadline for consent to continue refugee resettlement participation. However, Commission Chair Casey Kulla wasn’t sure the deadline, set out in a presidential executive order, was hard and fast.

Bad news: Oregon made the deadline in a Dec. 16 consent notice from Gov. Kate Brown.

This should be front page news, not buried on page 5!

The issue was discussed by conservative blogger Michelle Malkin in her Dec. 5 post headlined, “Citizen Revolt: Resist Refugee Resettlement Dumps.” She said:

“Should U.S. citizens have input into whether their neighborhoods are fundamentally and permanently transformed into United Nations refugee camps full of welfare dependents and tax burdens?

“Government-funded charities that profit mightily from the federal refugee resettlement program say: ‘Hell, no!’ But President Donald Trump and growing numbers of informed Americans across the heartland are raising their voices to say: ‘Heavens, yes!’”

She told of a revolt in Bismarck, North Dakota, where an overflow crowd braved sub-zero temperatures to oppose the dumping of any new refugees in their backyard. She said similar citizen revolts had taken place in Maine, New Hampshire, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Vermont, Wyoming and Tennessee.

But she said, “Many Americans remain alarmingly clueless about the four-decade-old, tax-funded racket lining the pockets of nine privileged nonprofit contractors.” She identified them as Church World Service, the Ethiopian Community Development Council, Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the International Rescue Committee, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the World Relief Corporation.

Malkin concluded, “America First or America Last? Speak now or kiss our sovereignty goodbye.”

And bear in mind that birthright citizenship and chain migration would multiply the initial number of refugees resettled in Yamhill County.

Dan Katz



Time to reconsider

As the debate over the McMinnville Urban Growth Boundary starts again, I sincerely hope we remember one of the primary reasons Oregon adopted this form of land use – protecting valuable, irreplaceable farm and forest land from development.

Those who claim the UGB has failed are wrong. It has succeeded in protecting the resources that make Oregon the state we all know and treasure.

The Willamette Valley is one of the most productive in the world, with a climate well-suited to growing fruits, vegetables, nuts and timber. Our UGB has well-served the citizens of McMinnville and Yamhill County, and people from around the world who come to enjoy the bounty we harvest from our potion of that valley.

Fields and forests are a valuable resource, not the enemy. Preserving these resources for future generations is as important today as it was when UGBs were created in Oregon in 1973.

Growth is not always good. Once lost, farm and forest land will never return. Witness the sprawl we all see in the metro area, with its destruction of natural habitat and the associated costs.

It’s time to reconsider the premise that every city or town must continue to grow its population in order to be successful.

Expanding the UGB will not automatically address the shortage of low- and moderate-income housing, nor will it reduce homelessness. Expanding the UGB will, however, encroach on valuable farm and forest land, eliminating it from our inventory.

Janet Lee Redmond



Bulldozing paradise

In response to the WhatchamaColumn about land use tyranny, I think we should look at the other side, the tyranny of the Home Builders Association.

In McMinnville and other Oregon cities, citizens passed a law requiring voter approval of annexation of land for development. They were concerned about rapid growth, traffic congestion and livability.

Who went to the Legislature to overturn the people’s initiative? The Home Builders Association!

Who got the state to enact the 20-year buildable lands requirement for cities? The Home Builders Association!

Recently, this newspaper published a commentary from the Home Builders Association that basically stated we need to build more houses, in order to raise more taxes for infrastructure, in order to build more houses.

But in McMinnville, homebuilders don’t pay any systems development charges for schools, police or fire. And they pay less than the state allows for parks and streets. The citizens have to make up this difference, so the homebuilders can have higher profit margins.

If new schools and infrastructure are needed due to population growth, voter approval is sought for bonds that raise property taxes. And higher property taxes also mean higher rent.

These builders aren’t putting up housing for the low income, either. That produces a lesser profit margin.

McMinnville’s planning director said in a recent presentation that she talks to landowners about selling developable property, and they reply, “No, over my dead body.” They must like livability.

How fast do you want our city to grow? How much more traffic congestion and how many more strip malls do you want?

You need to tell the city council what you want for our city. Otherwise, the tyranny of the developers,homebuilders and planners will prevail. Paradise will be bulldozed for a parking lot.

Jim Kreutzbender



Vigil for victims

Encompass Yamhill Valley members have been tireless working to find ways to help those who are “houseless” in our communities. We are truly grateful to the local churches and service organizations for feeding and comforting them in some way, especially during extreme temperatures.

In the past, and even more recently, we have had, in McMinnville alone, five individuals die of exposure to freezing weather. Thankfully, we’ve had a warmer winter this year.

Still, Encompass decided to honor these victims by making signs bearing their first names and the years they passed. These are being placed around McMinnville in locations where gracious people have given permission.

We thank all who are helping in this effort and encourage others to join. You may call me at 503-434-5352 and leave a message.

Encompass will be holding a candlelight vigil for these “houseless” victims, and everyone is invited to attend. This will take place very soon.

We are seeking permission for 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, in one of our city plazas. Hopefully, you’ll see a post in the paper.

Liz Marlia-Stein



Celebrating McMinnville

I am retired after 34 years at the McMinnville Public Library.

During those years, I had the pleasure of seeing the transformation of our ordinary town with its empty downtown storefronts into the vibrant, award-winning version of today. And I credit land use protection as an important part of this process.

McMinnville has used its location among farms, vineyards, orchards and woodlands to create “Life McMinnville Style.” The hiring of Malcolm Johnstone as our first downtown manager and the crusade of retired library director Rose Marie Caughran to cultivate trees along our streets helped lead the change.

The coming of vineyards and wineries brought wine drinkers in to tour our beautiful countryside, fill our hotels and bed and breakfasts, dine at our restaurants, listen to local music and shop at our book, clothing, antique and toy shops, among many others. For many years, this newspaper has urged us to shop local, and these added options make it a joy.

Our farms have brought us CSAs, farm-to-table restaurants and our ever-expanding farmers market. They grow our local economy as well as our food.

Agricultural land use protection and hard work by local folks have halted the expansion of the dump and lessened the stench, though its continued existence threatens local livability as well as wine tourism. McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon has a crowning jewel, its rooftop bar, where you can eat, visit and look out over rooftops to the nearby countryside and mountains.

In the past, the citizens of McMinnville have voted against large residential development in the city. They know that bigger is not the same as better.

We have managed to become so much more than another Portland bedroom town!

Dee Goldman



City squanders opportunity

In last week’s article, “Planning director takes on state land use laws,” McMinnville’s planning director regrets that “no subsidized housing projects have been built in the city during the last 13 years.”

Even though Heather Richards is new to the area, surely she is aware of the Habitat for Humanity project on Atlantic Street. As planning director, she should also know that the city has allowed almost its entire supply of land zoned for multifamily units to instead be developed for single-family use.

Just a few months ago, the city rezoned its best remaining multifamily parcel, on Highway 99W near Linfield, for commercial use. It seems disingenuous to blame state land use laws for a lack of subsidized housing projects when the city has squandered the appropriate land for less affordable developments.

Her concerns about housing affordability are laudable, even though she said just a few months ago that “the city’s apartment rents are too low.” (“Analysis: McMinnville lacks retail shopping, restaurants,” Aug. 16, 2019.)

Melinda Moorefield



Mobilize us to action

So what about growth in McMinnville?

Reading the News-Register for the past several months would lead one to believe, based on several articles on planning meetings and various editorials and opinion pieces, that such growth is inevitable and never-ending. If we would just learn to live with it and plan for it, life would continue to be good.

Then there’s Planning Director Heather Richards, who seems to revel in continued growth, seeing it as a positive thing that must be accommodated at any cost. But after all, that’s her job.

In her recent address to the City Club, Ms. Richards cited a 1973 statement by Gov. Tom McCall. She focused on the “wandering wastrels of the land” segment, as if that seemingly elitist comment were no longer valid today.

She also asserted land use planning was never intended to be a zero-sum discussion in Oregon. The fact is, however, that when it comes right down to it, it is zero-sum in nature. After all, we aren’t making any new land.

Would that we had the wisdom back then to take stronger action, not simply enact strict land-use laws. What if we had recognized our thirst for growth was a mistake, both demographically and economically, and that we should therefore seek more sensible ways to live?

I prefer to focus on the second half of the Tom McCall quote: “We must respect another truism — that unlimited and unregulated growth leads inexorably to a lowered quality of life.”

What we’re seeing now is a net reduction in quality of life, due to growth pressures.

That’s the real issue. That’s what should mobilize us to action.

Steve Iversen



By the numbers

I agree this is a difficult conversation to have, but there are several factors affecting urban growth boundary decisions.

The first is McMinnville’s “staggering” 120% growth rate since 1980, fueled by unprecedented growth during the 1990s. We haven’t experienced anything near that for the last 20 years, so implying we’re currently growing at 120% is misleading.

I’m happy to play with numbers, though. How about the 1999 state forecast of 38,000 population in 2017? Three years later, we’re still 15% below that, which doesn’t seem to support a current growth rate of 120%.

Continuing to play with the numbers, comparing percentage growth between population and the UGB is meaningless.  For example, if the starting population is 100, then 120% growth puts us at 220. If the starting UGB is 1,000 acres, just 6% more puts us at 1,060.

Sixty more acres for 120 more people gives each of them half an acre.Could it be that actual, accurate numbers aren’t as impressive as percentages for supporting a predetermined position?

I’m also failing to understand how expanding the UGB would ease traffic congestion. More people equals more cars because we haven’t developed a transit system that reliably takes people when and where they want to go. I wonder what type of transit we’d have today if we’d spent a quarter of a billion dollars on that rather than a four-mile section of bypass.

And if things are as dire as presented, why are we still actively marketing McMinnville as a fabulous place to visit and live? It sounds as if we’re marketing a product we don’t currently have.

Maybe we should take a step back, cease all marketing and focus on fixing our infastructure issues. Then we’d have an actual, marketable product to meet the growing demand as dictated by the state — the same state that said McMinnville would be at 38,000 three years ago.

Just a thought.

Patty O’Leary




Robert, Please let us know how Obama and Biden skirted the law on numerous occasions and in numerous instances. Does guilt require removal from office? Then say goodby to Kate Brown, Merkely and Wyden.


>2) Obstruction of Congress by refusing the House of Representatives its Constitutional subpoena power.

There is a third branch of government (judiciary). The House CHOSE not to take the subpoenas to court but had every opportunity. The president choosing NOT to give up his constitutional rights (to challenge the subpoenas) is NOT an impeachable offense. Just because he gave up executive and lawyer-client constitutional privileges during the 'Mueller Investigation' to get out from under what some call the 'Russia Hoax' doesn't mean he has to every time.

Don Dix

Susan Dirks -- Mr Friedman seeks to deflect any responsibility for Mac's UGB situation, even though he has been a piece of the opposition 'for 25 years' (his words).

A simple inspection of 'who said what' reveals the 'divisive rhetoric, misinformation and alternative facts' (again his words) didn't come from the city or it's employees, but directly from him and his cohorts -- and now those same naysayers wish to move on, forget all the contrary claims they made.

To put this in a clear and parallel observation -- a full circle always returns to the point of origin -- always! And here we are!

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