Letters to the editor: June 5, 2020

Local police abuses

This weekend, as our nation experienced the largest populist uprising of my lifetime, I couldn’t help but think about how this seemingly national problem has strong local roots.

In just the last few years, Yamhill County law enforcement officers have escaped even a modicum of accountability for committing unwarranted and unspeakable acts against people of color.

In 2015, deputy Richard Broyles killed an unarmed black man. And officer Tim Heidt twice lied about beating up two brown men simply because they existed.

One of the Heidt beatdowns occurred in 2010 and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in a settlement. The other occurred in 2017 and is currently the subject of litigation.

Yet at every juncture, District Attorney Brad Berry has defended police violence. He has inoculated officers from consequences by refusing to prosecute them for abusing their position of trust.

Systemic racism permeates every community in this country, including our own.

Proclaiming to be an ally of the oppressed on social media certainly makes you feel good, but it doesn’t bring about results. We need thoughtful and progressive leadership at the local level, not just those who will speak in platitudes.

Emmett Grogan



What virus?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the overall death rate for people under 50 from a COVID-19 infection is 1 in 6,725. And the CDC goes on to state that most of those deaths involve co-morbidities.

That begs the question, what difference would it make if there were no COVID-19? Here in Oregon, deaths from all causes are actually down so far this year.

The African nation of Tanzania received COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test kits, and president John Magufuli had them secretly tested.

Instead of testing people, they tested various non-human subjects, including a sheep, a goat and a paw paw plant. The samples were labeled as people, with names, ages, and so on.

The goat and paw paw plant tested positive, leading Magufuli to say, “There is something happening. I said before we should not accept that every aid is meant to be good for this nation.”

The News-Register reported May 26, “Authorities have been unable to trace about half the new cases to any confirmed source, which means the virus is spreading undetected in the community, according to a new dashboard the state released last week.”

Well, per the news out of Tanzania, has it not occurred to our authorities that perhaps the isolated cases are false positives like the goat and paw paw plant?

Otherwise, does not the assertion that the virus is spreading undetected cast doubt on its very existence? And if it does exist, would not spreading undetected imply it is exceptionally benign?


Dan Katz


Shift priorities

Tears welled in my eyes as I took a knee with the masked crowd Monday in Mac and saw the police officers across from me do the same.

I left the community conversation and vigil honoring George Floyd with deep emotion. It was powerful to see individuals take the microphone to ask for more from McMinnville Police Chief Matt Scales.

However, black organizers nationally are asking for something different. Mac residents might consider joining them in seeking deeper change.

Communities like ours could take the local budget and allocate funds in ways that more effectively prioritize racial justice. Instead of more independent review boards, racial bias training and psychological assessments within the police department, we could be transitioning funds to long-term safety strategies.

Yamhill County already spends 75% of its discretionary general fund dollars on the local criminal justice system. Instead of spending more money making the police better, we could be transitioning funds to long-term safety strategies.

Defunding the police is not some radical, far-fetched idea that leaves us lawless. It is a strategy that allows us to invest in education, restorative justice services, and employment programs.

The economic crisis of COVID-19 is already causing us to make major budget cuts. If we take steps to transition funds from law enforcement to areas directly addressing the inequality that deepens the drivers of racial bias, it would allow us to avoid major cuts to other parts of the budget that are already in the works. The gathering Monday and continued actions this week have assured me we are going to make real changes in McMinnville and throughout the country. I hope these changes will move beyond criminal justice reform to strategies that divest from police manpower and invest in community safety.

Madeline Bisgyer



Don’t blame Berschauer

Another letter to the editor blaming Lindsay Berschauer for Barbara Boyer’s police record. 

Well, maybe not blaming her for the record, but just blaming her for talking about it. We all know it’s better to sweep things like this under the rug.

The letters seem to indicate it’s unethical to keep mentioning these things during a campaign. After all, what’s more important, a person’s police record or how long they’ve lived in the county?

Craig H. Pubols



Extortionist pricing

The Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office is extorting cities with outrageous annual increases in its charges for service.

I expect a reasonable annual increase, say 3% to 5%. That seems fair — about average for most business models. What I do not expect is 7.5% for 2020-21 and another 7.5% for 2021-22.

This comes on top of an 11% increase for 2019-20 for coverage of Lafayette’s population of about 4,000. And there appears to be no room for negotiation. It’s just take it or leave it.

The same excuse was used to justify last year’s increase. When does that excuse expire?

We have two options — settle for less coverage or start our own police department. Thanks a lot, YCSO.

This does not make me anti-law enforcement. It just makes me anti-extortion.

Greg Goularte



Covert operations

As a nation, it seems we should be concerned with what President Trump is doing while the coronavirus is consuming all of our attention. It appears that the president may be using this time of national crisis to push his own agendas, such as building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, reducing funds to the World Health Organization during a pandemic and cutting food stamp benefits during a time of widespread unemployment.

We have been through hard times before. But we at least had leaders with some experience, education and integrity, along with other desirable attributes, all of which appear to be lacking now.

We need to be aware of what the president is doing, with little news coverage, while we are distracted.

Janet De With



Spreading their passion

On Tuesday, McMinnville High School students organized a protest in honor of George Floyd and other black men and women who have been senselessly murdered over the past few years.

I was very pleased that these young people were brave enough to stand up against racial inequality. It reminded me of some seventh grade students at Patton Middle School when I substitute taught in their language arts class.

The lesson they were learning led to a discussion of inequality. I was elated to learn how non-judgmental and inclusive they were of all their peers, and how much passion they held for standing up for those who were different from themselves.

I remember asking them to promise me that when they turned 18, they would register to vote. And here they are today, spreading their passion to help us achieve equality.

I couldn’t have been more proud of these young people. We have so much to learn from them.

Liz Marlia-Stein



A call to action

The frustrations we all feel are expressed in letters in the paper. But do we read, research, go to town hall meetings, or call, write, or e-mail our legislators?

Candidates are glib, but I can never forget George Bush Sr. saying: “Read my lips. No new taxes.” Yep, we were assessed with new taxes.

Now, candidates are professing free college, wage stipends, health care for all. Clinton began it with his proposal to socialize medicine through his Catastrophic Health Care Act.

We’ve lost a lot of jobs because of greedy CEOs more concerned with wealth than our nation. All this was facilitated by availability of cheap labor in China, which commenced with Nixon’s deals there.

We owe a debt to President Trump for shelving both NAFTA, which facilitated China trading, and TPP, which would have put us under control of the U.N. He safeguarded out freedom under the U.S. Constitution.

Do we ever consider the New Green Deal and sustainability movement are just bait to get us to accept more control under the U.N. agenda?

Because of the hysteria at the turn of the century, the UN’s New Millennium development goals went unnoticed — just as now with the coronavirus. It’s a convenient excuse to bring us under more control.

We’ve experienced other outbreaks, but with caution and care, were able to make a living. We need governing, not dictating.

It is most urgent to know our constitutional rights and put them to use. Get a copy of the Constitution and study it.

Mary Novak




Ms. Novak – your letter seems contradictory. On the one hand you praise Trump and assert that he “safeguarded our freedom….” and on the other you state “We need governing not dictating.” I couldn’t agree more with THAT statement. I wonder if you are unaware of the textbook authoritarian tactics being used by this unstable American President being brought to bear on American citizens as they exercise their Constitutional rights?

And re the efforts to contain the spread of the virus, perhaps common sense, as opposed to some form of nefarious external control, is the issue here? Wearing a seat belt is the law, but I wear mine because I believe it makes me safer. I stay home as much as possible right now and wear a mask in public for the same reason. I do not feel “controlled.”


Greg. What's the problem? Start your own police department and pay the real costs for your city's police protection.


I'm not sure Madeline Bisgyer realizes what would, without a shadow of a doubt, happen without police. Crime and violence would skyrocket. It is well established social science.

In one of the most ironic, and quite frankly a little amusing, moments in recent history, a former ESPN reporter tweeted "Burn that s— down. Burn it all down." with a picture of a building set afire by rioters, only to RADICALLY CHANGE HIS TONE LATER when the rioters showed up at his gated community. See the link below.



What Virus? 1 in 6725 risk?
what do you think the statistics are for percentage of people who are here on this planet because someone over the age of 50 put them here?
I am so tired of this argument for opening up the county- that the only people at risk are those over fifty with an underlying health problem and the rest of us should be allowed to open up and make a buck in spite of owing our existance to our parents and grandparents, teachers, neighbors, our elders. It is a shameful argument and i can't believe how often I hear it and see it in print.
Black lives matter, blue lives matter, All lives matter, the lives of people over fifty matter. It should go without saying so but it must be said when there seems to be no shame in expressing the opinion that the lives of people over fifty don't matter.


RobsNR – you got that right……no law enforcement, no safe or civilized society. What a shame that a few who are sworn to protect and serve choose to menace and murder instead. Puts an unfair stain- and strain - on our truly brave and honorable public servants. We can hope the intensity of the hue and cry brings about some positive changes. Surely there is a way to weed out the bad guys before they are armed, empowered, and set loose on the public.....or at least identify them early?

Very interesting article on Palmer. Lends credence to that old admonition about being careful with your words because you never know when you may have to eat them. “Misguided” he claimed? Nice try.


Well said treefarmer - we've got to find a better way to weed out the bad apples like Chauvin. I heard the guy had 16 or 17 complaints about him. Why on earth is he still out in the field let alone a training officer! That said, I'm still suspicious that there is something more to this case since he and Floyd worked at the same nightclub.


RobsNR It is so encouraging in these time of division that so many of us are able to find common ground. I have a dear friend who is a retired State Trooper. I was privileged to ride along with him on several shifts when he was still on active duty. I watched him interface with the public (some of whom were nasty and belligerent to the max – like it was HIS fault some idiot decided to drive drunk and endanger everyone on the road!) He never once lowered himself to their level. I witnessed first-hand only patience and (unearned) respect. When he put on his uniform and reported for duty that held so many dangers, he was there to protect and to serve. We were extremely fortunate to have him patrolling our roads. He represented the ethics of REAL law enforcement.

And p.s. I think it was one of the rookies who may have worked with the victim, and there was some question as to whether he actually recognized him or not. Every single element of this tragedy is bizarre and horrifying.


I know what you mean. I remember going on a ride along at night with my cousin - he was a deputy sheriff. During the ride along a woman called in about a strange man outside her house. Let's just say it is a good thing my cousin trained officers how to drive fast because wow did we book it to the scene.

It turned out to be some kids got their car stuck in a deep gravel shoulder but I'll never forget the feeling as he approached the vehicle. You just never know what you are about to encounter. It could be anything and by definition being the first one there means you are the only one on the scene. Scary stuff!


Treefarmer- It was definitely Chauvin that worked with Floyd though there is a chance a rookie cop knew him as well though I haven't seen anything. The guy Floyd worked with had been security at the nightclub for over 15 years - the rookies are too young to fit that description. I think murder-one is the worst charge they could throw at this guy and I hope they seek it if there is evidence.



Thanks Robs - so many conflicting reports, so much confusion. UGH!


I know what you mean. Hopefully we get the reforms needed to preen the bad apples out of law enforcement. I know the people who despise bad cops the most are the good ones.


Let us look on the bright side: when you're finished reading the Constitution, you could always use it for toilet paper.