Letters to the editor: July 24, 2020

Better info please

I am concerned about the treatment of our teachers as we plan for reopening schools this fall. We need better communication from the McMinnville School District about specific plans for instruction, and we need to make sure teachers and staff are included in the conversation. When the distance learning was winding down in the spring, many of us parents eagerly expressed a desire to have our kids back in school in the fall.

Of course we did. We wanted our kids to have a normal schedule again, to be out of the house, to socialize with their friends, to learn, grow and be active. But “normalcy” remains elusive, and many parents may no longer feel as they did at the beginning of June.

As we have seen in recent weeks, this pandemic is not over. The number of cases continues to rise across the country, and even in our county. Yet, we are on the verge of potentially bringing thousands of people together in our community’s school buildings.

Parents need good information in order to make a decision about what they want for their children and their community.

I no longer know if I want to send my student to school in the fall, but do not know if distance learning is the best option either. I have not been given information about what these options would actually look like. Please, MSD, communicate clearly and thoroughly with all parents about the actual scenarios involved in the options, the stated two options, or any combination of them, for the fall.

Please collaborate with our teachers. Give them a sense of control and adequate time to prepare for the best possible teaching scenarios.

Jennifer Williams



Sizzling sidewalks

Summer is here and it’s getting hot.

Please do not walk your pets outside if the temperature is 85 or above. The pavement hits 140 at 85, and that will burn their paws.

Sandra Ponto



A civil rights pioneer

In the years we have flown the flag, the passing of John Lewis marks the first time we have lowered it. Still, this seems a small gesture to honor this extraordinary man who willingly paid for his principles with his blood. My husband, Lee, once told me a story that both enlightened and saddened me.

On a bus journey to report to Fort Bragg for training, he recalls stopping in Alabama to find a restroom with two signs — “Blacks Only” and “Whites Only.” He looked at his own brown skin and wondered which one he should use. To say that slavery is America’s original sin, while correct, fails to acknowledge the extent of our racism. While we prefer to define ourselves as welcoming arms for all who seek a better life, we tolerate the twin obscenities of hatred and bigotry as free speech — you know, good people on both sides. Our history neglects altogether or lightly references what white Americans did to Native people. Roaring westward to claim their “Manifest Destiny,” they killed thousands of native inhabitants and obliterated rich cultures that had tended and protected that land for millennia.

There is little mention of the Chinese laborers who built our railroads but were not allowed to live in our towns. We remain blind to millions of Hispanics who labor in fields, clean hotels, man factories and do all those things so many white Americans find beneath them. Clearly John Lewis’ work is not done. Too many must still check their skin color to decide where they can go and what they can do: If they are safe… If they are welcome or about to be caged… If they are worthy of American freedoms and opportunity. Let us all honor John Lewis. Let’s channel his bravery, maintain his commitment and keep his dream alive.

Erma Vasquez



Cronies cashing in

So our “wartime president” is still at it, asserting authority, denying responsibility and insisting that folks on the front lines need to fight the next battle on their own, while he cowers in his bubble and worries about his re-election.

Never mind the body count. He wants the schools open so he can claim another false victory. He doesn’t care who dies, as long as it’s not him.

His enabler, Betsy DeVos, can’t articulate a plan to open schools safely. Her bottom line is that everyone should do their best in their local area, code for, “You are on your own.” There will be no guidance or funding from Washington, so we should all just suck it up and soldier on.

Is this nuts or is it strategic? Who benefits from the pandemic?

A few candidates come to mind:

n Corporations involved in drug manufacture and medical supplies are already benefitting from the shortages brought on by the initial scare. Rubbing alcohol has doubled in price and other products are following suit.

n Suppliers of household goods are reaping a windfall by providing their products only in their most expensive forms. Take dishwasher detergent, for example.

n The donor class is cashing in on legislation intended to keep Main Street businesses operational, siphoning off much of the capital that could provide stability to small operators.

n The banks stand to profit greatly from the bankruptcies and foreclosures sure to follow when government PPP assistance dries up at the end of September.

n White supremacists love it that black and brown people are dying of COVID at a rate two to three times their Caucasian brothers and sisters. To supremacists, natural selection is improving the gene pool.

But the biggest benefactor could be Donald Trump. If the pandemic follows its course without intelligent intervention, it could create enough chaos by November to get him re-elected.

He just needs to get close. Putin will do the rest.

My biggest fear is that the man who has worked so hard to destroy our institutions will use this virus as a coup de grace. R.I.P. for our republic?

Bill Johnson



Beyond the pale — again

The current events taking place in Portland, with mostly peaceful protests and civil disobedience being assaulted by secretive federal law enforcement goons, continue to illustrate the depravity of Trump and his authoritarian sycophants.

Those who support Trump are lacking in the intellectual capacity to see the damage his administration and influence are having on the economic, physical, social and environmental well-being of the U.S. and world as a whole.

Those who support Trump are anything but patriotic. And they exhibit none of the Christlike virtues they so often claim.

I hope beyond hope that we may all be able to aspire to the better natures of our humanity.

Preston Henry



Something stinks in Mac

The expansion of Riverbend Landfill is in trouble.

That’s no surprise to those of us who have been calling attention to issues associated with this environmentally shoddy operation. But now that the federal Environmental Protection Agency has swept in to issue notice of ”High Priority Violations” and associated fines, Riverbend’s presence has gone from creepy — think of their PR handlers shelling out wads of money to candidates and calling local farmers liars — to environmentally criminal. I looked up the compliance records for the 10 biggest landfills in North America and five biggest in Oregon. None of them registered Clean Air Act violations.

But Riverbend did. Such an honor. Violating the Clean Air Act at a landfill is fancy regulatory speak for “it stinks.” The problem with the stink at Riverbend isn’t just that it’s a killer to tourism, nuisance to farmers and blight to neighborhoods. The fact is, it’s proof the pollution rolling off that mountain of imported trash poses severe health risks and could trigger explosions. The timing couldn’t be worse for Riverbend parent Waste Management Inc., as it has once again asked the county commissioners for authorization to expand. I am not sure how they could approve expansion of a landfill chronically out of compliance with its environmental performance standards and permits — unless, of course, they don’t care about the health of the community.

The EPA violations are no slap on the wrist. The agency assumes regulation over a polluter only when the state Department of Environmental Quality and its local counterpart have proven unable to enforce requirements on their own. Sometimes I think Waste Management could shoot someone on Third street and still win expansion approval from the county commissioners. Maybe the EPA action will finally make them see the light.

Ramsey McPhillips



Web Design and Web Development by Buildable