Letters to the editor: March 6, 2020

Our turn in November

At a time when our state is more divided than ever, all Democratic lawmakers seem to care about is shoving through Gov. Kate Brown’s cap and trade during the short session.

They don’t care about working on funding for various agencies that were dependent on action. They decided to push forward the one piece of legislation they knew would drive away Republican lawmakers.

Salem has become so polarized to the left that legislators won’t even hear arguments from the middle.

The newspapers all report that cap-and-trade proponents “made huge concessions for rural Oregon” and “Republicans won’t come to the table.” In reality, House and Senate Democrats simply won’t hear anyone out.

All they had to do was remove the emergency clause, allowing cap and trade to be referred to voters. Instead, they forced Republicans to pack their bags and walk out in order to stop this horrible legislation.

Thank you to our Republican lawmakers for risking everything to stop the Democratic supermajority from driving the stake further into the divide between urban and rural Oregon.

All Oregonians from all walks of life need to remember this session when they cast their votes in November. No more supermajority, no more division of our state, no more tax hikes to make up for the mismanagement of PERS.

We need to show the Democrats they have gone too far.

The Republicans of the House and Senate have taken the first step. It’s our turn in November.

Donald Jamieson



1000 Friends sellout

I read with interest the 1000 Friends op-ed acquiescing in expansion of McMinnville’s urban growth boundary and pleading for more “housing choices.”

Not long ago, the venerable environmental group was purchased — OK, given a cash lifeline — by billionaire Washington developer Clyde Holland. Holland, Washington’s No. 1 Trumper, serves as a PR frontman and policy-pusher for building whatever wherever.

Despite the rally cry of his staff and supporters for more “choices” and “affordable housing,” Holland just offers one choice — upscale and expensive cookie-cutter housing, such as “Premiere on Pine” in Seattle. And after moving south to plunder Portland — laying waste to historic buildings and delivering high-impact development generating handsome profits — Mr. Holland and his staff seem to have set their sights on McMinnville.

Tom McCall would turn over in his grave to see our state so exploited, and 1000 Friends reversing course to assist.

Formerly a bulwark against UGB expansions, 1000 Friends is now arguing for building into prime farmland to meet Mr. Holland’s “housing needs.”

Please don’t fall for this. It’s too late for Portland, but not for McMinnville.

Margaret Davis



Time for action

On Jan. 12, 2018, this paper published, “Carbon bill isn’t a good fit for short session.” Last Friday, it published, “Cap and Trade Can Wait for 2021 Session.”

Both editorials were validated on the false assumption legislators haven’t seen this bill before. In fact, they’ve seen this legislation for six sessions.

Republicans insist they’ve been locked out of shaping this policy. However, I and my partners in Mac’s Congregations for Climate Justice attended many four-hour sessions of the Joint Committee on Emissions Reduction, where diverse voices were heard.

This bi-partisan commission met monthly from April 2018 to February 2019, taking input from scientists and stakeholders and  holding numerous town halls around the state. Major concessions have been made to timber, utility, fuel and other industry interests to make it work for all Oregonians.

The 2020 version exempts emissions from all fuel transport and use in counties east of the Cascades. The result is support from 300 farm families and all nine Oregon tribes.

All the opposition has to say is that fuel prices will skyrocket, when studies largely show the cost of fuel has remained steady over the first 5-10 years of implementation elsewhere. What opponents don’t acknowledge are losses to flood and wildfire and the benefits of new employment and economy of scale as industry develops cleaner ways of doing business.

This paper has become the champion of doing nothing in short sessions, no matter how much work has come before.

I look forward to your editorial during the short session of 2030. You will no doubt speak boldly against consideration of cap-and-invest legislation, saying there’s just not enough time to thoroughly study needs and impacts.

We’re tired of the game-playing in Salem. There are no winners. Among the losers are children of all species.

John Pitney



Shirking their duty

I recently proctored the ACT test, which only benefits the highly profitable testing industry. A day’s instruction was lost, both for test-takers and the more than 50% of students who stayed home

Test fees are district paid, to encourage college enrollment. With free community college, trade schools and apprenticeships in the skilled trades in high demand — while supporting careers paying more than those requiring a bachelor’s degree — this is a poor investment.

Proctors aren’t allowed to grade papers or do anything else, so the day was lost for me, too. But I did it. I did my job. I followed all the protocols, even though I disagree with the practice, believing it does harm.

My issue is my elected representatives, Rep. Ron Noble and Sen. Brian Boquist, not meeting like standards.

They’ve walked out on the job, and that’s unacceptable. They disagree with a bill, but walking out isn’t the correct response.

All other legislation, some just as critical, is stalled due to your failure to do your job. Why do you get to walk out because you disagree, and I don’t? Why do you get taxpayer-funded hotel, travel and meals, plus perks from corporate interests, as a reward for your boycott?

The Republican walkout is a childish tactic that doesn’t belong in the repertoire of professionals or adults. It’s an attention-getting strategy to garner corporate donations while taking a taxpayer-funded break.

Where is my break? I worked while also caring for a parent dying of cancer. I worked while recovering from surgery, which meant sleeping 12 hours a night in order to make it through the school day.

Tell me, representatives. Why do I work this hard to meet my responsibilities, when you are shirking yours?

I’m really having trouble understanding this. I’d like you to explain it to me.

Corinna Tricarico



Hold the expansion

Read the article by Friends of Yamhill County and 1000 Friends of Oregon. It was professional, factual, historical and interesting.

My husband and I have lived in the Shadden Tract, off Baker Creek near Hill Road, for 20 years. It is amazing the buildup in our area within the last two years. Now looking across Baker Creek, there will be another buildup and loss of more farmland.

As authors Kathryn Jernstedt and Alex Biddle warn, “Focusing our growth on the fringe of town will add to our greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the distance people need to travel to meet their daily needs.”

The article encourages affordable housing in existing neighborhoods with a smaller footprint, thus reducing use of energy for heating, cooling and commuting.

Judy Buchholz



Office hours only

I have been an animal lover all my life.

I was born and raised in Mac, and we always had animals growing up. When I moved to Hawaii I kept up my love affair with pets. And since moving back to Mac, I have collected a few more.

I am extremely concerned that there are no emergency vets in this town of about 33,000.

If I have a problem with any of my pets, I’m told I have to travel to Tualatin. Are you kidding me?

What if a pet can’t last that long or the stress of travel makes the situation worse? Are they not important?

Pets keep us alive and healthy. They are a special and essential part of daily life. Yet there is no one in this town to care for them if there is an emergency?

I’ll bet there are at least 33,000 pets in this town. It makes me very sad that the smallest in our community are not better cared for.

Make sure your pets don’t get sick or hurt after 5 p.m.

Alice Vinton



GOP manipulates

For years we’ve had to endure panegyrics of Ronald Reagan — the former grade B actor turned conman and corporate shill. He proclaimed, “Government is the problem,” as he mocked the hungry, curtailed worker rights and employed racist dog-whistle tactics.

Over the years, GOP hatred of government has morphed into a cult prerequisite. Republicans constantly try to prove the ineffectiveness of government by deliberately underfunding it and governing incompetently.

Remember George W. Bush’s “Heck of a job, Brownie!” response to Hurricane Katrina?

The problem is that cutting government spending on any number of fronts costs the U.S. — and that’s you and me — an enormous amount of money. We can compare Obama’s well-funded CDC and our government’s swift response to Ebola in 2014, nipping it in the bud, to the willful destruction and purge of the CDC under the current president.

The financial and human costs of cutting the CDC, food stamps, environmental protection and the like have tremendous hidden costs in terms of human health. These costs are far greater than the expenditure it would take to ensure preparation in case of epidemics, ensure well-nourished kids and foster cleaner air and water.

For decades now, Republicans have manipulated the electorate in such a way that half the country is now willing to shovel middle and lower class wealth — that’s your income — to the top percentile of income earners.

The GOP also manipulates citizens on issues such as race, guns and sexuality. These citizens grow ever more anxious, thus susceptible to further manipulation, as their incomes stagnate amid a fusillade of deliberate misinformation.

I don’t know if the coronavirus will dissipate, devastate or fall somewhere between. But we’d know more and be safer if we restored CDC funding and elected a president who believed in science. Maybe then we wouldn’t have panic threatening the U.S. economy.

Steve Rutledge



No ID, no chow

Every week, it seems the paper has at least one article regarding the homeless problem and how the community needs to come up with a viable solution to provide food, shelter and services.

I applaud the efforts of Remy Drabkin, who tirelessly pursues remedies for this problem. I would add a word of caution, however.

I have said it before and I will say it again: Build it and they will come. Feed them and they will come.

As we search for solutions, we run the risk of exacerbating the problem by encouraging the homeless to flock here for the services.  One possible way to avoid this is making sure the homeless we serve are residents of Yamhill County.

I don’t mean if they happen to be here, they qualify. Recipients of any of the proposed services would need a government ID indicating they are, indeed, residents of Yamhill County.

Food kitchens should also participate in the program. No ID, no chow.

There has been more than one News-Register article where a homeless person has openly admitted to drifting in from wherever.

The first order of business should be requiring ID from these people so we can establish a realistic inventory of those in local need. Otherwise, no matter what kind of shelter you build or services you provide, there will be an unending stream of people waiting to take advantage.

We don’t want to be known as one of the top 10 places to live if you happen to be homeless or simply enjoy the homeless lifestyle.

Having a verifiable ID to access services is a small thing to ask. It would help mitigate the problem.

Steve Sommerfeld



Vote ’em out

Sen. Boquist and Reps. Nearman and Noble have once again demonstrated their unwillingness to show up for work. If you were absent from your private sector job, you would be fired.

I generally disagree with the suggestion that government should be run like a business, as the primary function of each is so different — making a profit vs. serving the public. In this instance, though, I think we should take our cue from the private sector and fire people regularly abandoning their jobs.

Both parties, when in the minority, have used the walkout tactic. Democrats last staged a walkout 19 years ago.

Lately, Republicans have been making the walkout standard operating procedure, rather than a rare and extraordinary measure.

A strategy of repeated walkouts is no way to operate government. Vote these people out.

Alisa Owen



Dial down the rage

I have always enjoyed letters to the editor, especially those that highlight important issues, challenge me to think critically and even change my views. I do not, however, appreciate self-righteous, snarky diatribes such as the one entitled “Dogmatic drivel” in the Feb. 28 issue.

Nothing wrong with expressing one’s opinions forcefully, even angrily, if there’s a reasonable point to follow. But sarcastically proclaiming one’s intellectual superiority to ideological opponents helps no one.

The author slams climate change activists as childish liars, then predicts he’d have to resort to fisticuffs in a debate. That’s childish indeed.

He scoffs at some imagined conspiracy of “editorial authorities” who would refuse to print his own analysis of climate change issues. As a longtime reader of these pages, I’ve observed that opinions from all over the political spectrum are regularly published.

He claims to be a critical thinker. But belligerent denigration of those who disagree with you doesn’t make you some kind of analytical expert.

Smug, hostile rhetoric solves nothing. It only divides us further.

You’re angry and you’ve got an ax to grind? Fine. Share your views and feelings in a letter, then dial down the rage and demonstrate your critical thinking prowess by providing ideas, evidence and solutions that could benefit us all.

Grant Hoyt



Cuts hamstring CDC

The 1918 flu had a 2% fatality rate. In a world without air travel, it still killed 50 million people.

There have been non-stop warnings from scientific and medical authorities ever since that it was only a matter of time before the next pandemic. Now we’re waiting to see how bad things might get.

This administration and others before it gave multi-billion-dollar tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy. Some of that money could have and should have been used to put in place a robust system that goes into action at the first sign of an emerging pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control is great at what it does — develop vaccines and search for cures. Missing is any kind of system to try to keep pandemics from hitting here in the first place.

This last tax cut alone will cost a trillion dollars. You’d like to think the country that put men on the moon could build one impressive system with that much money.

Ironically, the last tax cuts resulted in cost-cutting measures that led to dissolution of the CDC’s pandemic team.

Voters should demand a large investment in this area before another dime is returned to another billionaire. At this point, all we can do is hope the suffering is limited and the death toll small.

Fred Fawcett



Don’t tax on me

Is our rainy day fund accounted for in our Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which is not revealed to citizens?

A curious Mr. Walter Bunion — from Oklahoma, I believe — gained access to the books in his state while the keeper was absent. The very large amount of funds this report identified resulted in no property taxes for the rebellious citizens, when they were made aware.

Looking back, it was about the same time Gov. Mike Huckabee created the “Tax Me More Fund” in Arkansas. Being upset by all the calls for more taxation, he thought those seeking higher taxes should have a means of making voluntary contributions.

Calls for more bureaucracy, school funding, road money and so forth provide excuses for more taxation. How about money that has previously been collected? What about those funds?

This excessive taxation is not only burdening us citizens, but also our businesses and corporations. They will declare bankruptcy or move to a more friendly tax state. Then work will be scarce.

Do we want to end up like Venezuela? Then why are we sitting on our duffs and not standing up for our rights? Why are we not helping the legislators who are trying to help us?

We have the right and the power to remove every perpetrator. Your future and that of your families depend on it.

Mary Novak



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