Letters to the editor: Aug. 21, 2020

We must stand united

I wear a mask and avoid crowds out of respect and concern for the well-being of others. I do so not to protect myself, but to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus from me to others, should I become infected.

To defeat this virus, we need to stand in solidarity with all people, heeding the call of Pope John Paul II to make “a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good.”

A small but vocal group of conservative Christians are defying local mandates that prohibit them from worshiping in person. They cite their constitutional right to gather for worship.

To put it bluntly, the Constitution does not give them the right to infect others. Their right to gather ends at the point where it puts the health of others at risk.

The public’s safety trumps individual rights. This is the thrust of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s opinion that shouting “fire” in a theater is not protected under the First Amendment.

During this difficult time, when the public’s safety clashes with individual rights, we need to take care that we do not, in the words of Justice Jackson, “convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.”

I, too, want to see our children back in school and our economy back open for business. The pathway to this is to bring the community spread of the virus under control.

The metrics that we need to meet are 10 or fewer cases per 100,000 people, and a test positivity rate of 5% or less, over a seven-day period. We can get there, but it will take a commitment to the common good by all of us.

Be safe, wear your face covering and avoid groups.

Robert Mason



Compromise misunderstood

Dale Dehm would do well to do a bit of research prior to sharing his viewpoints.

The constitutional three-fifths compromise did not relegate blacks to “three-fifths of a person” status. Article I, Section 2 stated: “Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states ... according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons ... three-fifths of all other persons.”

Those “other persons” were slaves. The Southern states wanted to count the entire population of slaves in order to swell their representation in Congress. Northern states wanted to count only free persons, including free Blacks.

The three-fifths compromise served to limit the ability of the Southern states to use slave counts to bolster their political power.  It had nothing to do with voting rights. Though imperfect, it served to preserve the republic while at least partially confronting the moral and systemic evils of slavery.

His facts regarding “disease-contaminated blankets to Native Americans in fulfillment of peace treaties” is also off the mark.  There was a single documented incident where the British may have used this tactic in 1763, when Fort Pitt was besieged by Indians.

Erroneous facts and distortion of historical events intensify and fan the flames of racism. Our past history has been under attack by revisionist historians for decades and it is obvious that they have been successful. Our nation was not and is not inherently racist, and I refuse to accept that premise just because I am white.

Yes, racism is present in one form or another and always will be But to minimize the goodness of America does a disservice to all, no matter what race, creed, color or personal identification.

Steve Sommerfeld



Doesn’t make sense

County Commissioner Mary Starrett’s justification for her vote in favor of Riverbend Landfill expansion lacks logic.

She agrees the landfill should not have been sited in its current location. She also agrees that “there have been impacts.”

But she voted in favor of the expansion anyway, because that’s all that was up for consideration? What?

Based on her own words, bigger isn’t better. The decision to vote to expand a problematic landfill should include consideration of all of the complexities involved.

Susan Murray




More local control

Good news!

A petition is being circulated to create a committee to draft a home rule charter for Yamhill County. The goal is to bring it to the vote of the people within two years. The title is “Yamhill County Taxpayers United for Local Control.”

Why is home rule good for Yamhill County?

Because we continue to face local issues that are exclusive to our county alone. Rather than be subjected to legislative restriction from the state, why not create a charter tailored to meet our own needs?

Under home rule:

“The authority to act in local affairs is transferred from state law to a local charter, adopted and, as need be, amended by the voters through referendum. A county that adopts a home rule charter has the ability to amend its governmental organization and powers to suit its needs. A home rule charter is, in essence, a local constitution.”

Please let me make it clear:

Home rule does not require that we have a five-member board of commissioners in place of our current three. It does not mandate that our county officials serve as unpaid volunteers or, for that matter, that we change any particular part of our current structure. It simply allows us, the people of Yamhill County, to have some decisionmaking power of our own.

We have several communities within our county that feel underrepresented. They feel a home rule charter would give them a greater voice. And this is important, don’t you think?

Please look for a chance to sign the petition and add your voice.

Liz Marlia-Stein



Postal slowdown woes

Apparently the slowdown of USPS has already been going on for a bit, as my current experience will show. I mailed my check for 2019 taxes, along with a Form-V payment voucher, on July 12. The same day, I also mailed, separately, two estimated tax payments for 2020.

A few days ago, I received a CP14 notice from the IRS for failure to pay the amount due for 2019.  I was able to go online to Chase.com and print out both sides of my canceled check, which did not clear until Aug. 3. Having now spent more than two hours on the phone with the IRS, I have learned my checks for 2020 did not arrive until July 24, and my check for 2019 until July 27. By then, the past due notice had already been mailed.

I was advised that postmarks no longer matter to the IRS, as they are often omitted by the Postal Service. The date the payments are logged into the IRS system is the one that counts. While I was able to get late-payment penalties reversed, I did have to pay interest just to resolve the situation.  We all must insist that this slowdown be reversed. It affects more than just voting by mail.

Les Howsden



Safest and fairest

Now it seems President Trump is trying to sabotage the United State Postal Service so he can have a better chance of winning the election in November. He appears to be getting desperate.

The evidence shows his claims about mail-in ballots are false. A team verifies votes are legitimate. A voting machine also verifies the votes.

Two people verify the signatures. And all ballots have to be in long before the time the next president is sworn into office.

It is possible to have some mistakes. But it is possible to have these with in-person voting as well.

Vote by mail is the safest and fairest. With the coronavirus, we are ahead of the game in Oregon on that score.

Janet De With



No liberal bias

Over the last few months, there has been a steady stream of complaints in the letters section of this paper accusing the News-Register of having a liberal bias.

Last week the paper was condemned for reporting about the Democratic Party of Yamhill County electing the youngest chair and vice chair in the state. That’s quite remarkable, and in my opinion, the paper would have been remiss had they not reported the story.

To call this paper liberal is laughable. Mr. Boquist, a Republican, might as well have his own column, his pieces appear so often. And never too much time goes by without hearing from or about Mr. Noble, another prominent Republican.

Are these complaints legitimate or are they political tactics?

Larry Treadwell



Dealing with sore loser

What is going to happen to America? That will depend on the choices the family of U.S. citizens make.

Our choices as citizens will lead to several scenarios over the next few months.

One of them may be having to deal with a sore loser. This would be a favorable outcome, for every parent knows the best way to deal with a petulant child is to ignore him.

A more probable scenario will be having to deal with a vindictive loser. This would test our mettle as a citizenry, because the angry, vindictive loser would want to take his anger out by threatening other citizens.

No parent can ignore a vindictive and aggressive child. This one may have to be given a time out via court order.

The most disturbing scenario is the loser attempting to steal the election and succeeding through dirty tricks like a modern day Jim Crow. When a family of citizens loses its power to control its own destiny, the prognosis for that family’s future is poor.

Robert McNamee



Leading cause of death

If you Google the “top 10 causes of death in the U.S.,” you will get statistics from the CDC for 2017. The number three cause of death during the full 12 months of 2017 was accidents, at 169,936.

Tonight, Johns Hopkins University indicates COVID deaths have now surpassed this number, and it has only been seven months since the first person died of the virus. COVID is already responsible for more deaths this year that we saw in 2017 for diabetes, COPD and emphysema, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, flu and pneumonia, kidney disease or suicide, which rounded out the top 10. Cancer and heart disease still top the list, but are we going to surpass those numbers before the year is out? I just read today that McMinnville’s 97128 is again in the top 10 per capita for COVID infections, among Oregon zip codes.

At what point do we realize wearing a mask and practicing social distancing — meaning not fraternizing maskless with those who do not live in our household, even if they are biologically related — is the only way top keep COVID from becoming the nation’s leading cause of death in 2020?

Denise Murphy



Constitutional roots

I was amazed that Dale Dehm of McMinnville trotted out the old slogan about the “counting of some people (African slaves) as 3/5 person for voting purposes” is proof the U.S. is racist. If Mr. Dehm had studied his history, he would understand that not only were Blacks denied the vote in the old Southern slave states, but also many whites because they didn’t own property.

The “3/5 of a person” compromise in the U.S. Constitution applied only to the apportionment of taxes and delegates to the House of Representatives. If it hadn’t been adopted, slavery might still be legal in this country.

This provision limited the electoral power of the Southern slave states. Otherwise, Southern slave owners would have controlled the presidency and Congress would not have moved aggressively to limit the spread of slavery to new states.

However, I certainly agree with Mr. Dehm that our criminal justice system is often racist.

James Crawford



Riots don’t help cause

Dear members of the Black Lives Matter movement:

I wish you would relax. Look how far Black Americans and other people of color have come since the 1960s. 

Black people are serving as doctors, lawyers, military officers, first responders, teachers, artists and politicians. We have even had a Black president. Generally, people respect you and consider you equal. 

Of course, you will find some rotten apples in every barrel. That includes the policeman who killed George Floyd, but he will face justice and likely end up spending a long time in jail. What more could be done? 

Demonstrations that degenerate into riots won’t help you. That will backfire. 

Don’t let any group brainwash you with socialistic ideas either.

I lived under Socialism and Communism for 36 years, and it’s terrible in many, many ways. That’s a long story I would be happy to share with you someday.

I wish all lives would matter, regardless of color, background or orientation. The basic problem starts in the family.

Children must be taught from a very early age right and wrong, respect for each other and respect all humans.  That should be every parents’ priority.  

The slogan “No human is illegal” isn’t helping either. It could be taken to mean that breaking the law is OK.

I consider myself a member of the majority. I like and respect all people.

So relax, enjoy life and the freedom it gives you. Don’t even think about those rotten apples.

They won’t ever change. They will rot and end up in the garbage.

George Stastny



Masking works

I have been heartened lately when I go out in public and see most people using face coverings as a protective measure against COVID-19. The use of these coverings has increased dramatically since last spring, when it became widely known in the scientific community that face covering is the first line of defense against the spread of this very serious virus.

I see people from all walks of life using face coverings. There is no longer a need to make a political statement by using one or not.

Let’s continue this trend and watch the incidents of new COVID-19 cases drop. Other means can be used to make political statements.

Cameron Urnes



Vote for change

When things don’t work, the person in charge can’t claim it’s not his fault. He needs to take responsibility, first and foremost, then fix it.

An executive is charged with making sure things work. The Trump administration and Donald Trump, by contrast are actively working to make sure that things do not work, including FEMA, the CDC and the Postal Service, to name a few.

By any objective standard, the country’s response to COVID-19 has been uncoordinated and unfocused — to the point of being criminally inept. It continues to be haphazard, costing countless lives.

When a president and party don’t really want to govern effectively, they should lose the right to be in charge of the government. I believe it’s abundantly clear this is the case in Washington today. 

If you believe this is the best we can do as a nation, then, by all means, vote for more of the same. If you want a more competent, functional government, vote for change. 

John Linder



Push on with trail

As a local Yamhill County resident, I am writing today in proud support of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail. We need more than ever to push forward on this project and dream. 

Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail started its work in 2012. It has lined up funding, hosted clean up parties and worked to educate our community on all of the impact studies that have been conducted.

Its work shows us there will be little if any impact on surrounding farmland and highlights the economic impact this will have on our region, bringing more business and tourism into our rural county. I know personally I plan to use the trail for my own mental and physical health often.

Please support the trail.

We are already in Phase 2 of the final planning processes. We have invested much time, energy, money and sweat into making this dream a reality.

Anne Falla




I much appreciate the letters in support of face coverings, and totally agree that we will never be able to return to “normal” life until we get this contagion under control. I do have to go out occasionally and feel that I am surrounded by patriotism to walk among those who care enough, who are educated enough, to wear masks. Last week at the local Safeway market I was distressed to observe a group of four friends doing their shopping. Three were masked, the face of the fourth was not covered, instead she was wearing a sign around her neck that said “I can’t wear a mask, DON’T ASK!” Of course I DID want to ask why she thought her “sign” gave her blanket permission to jeopardize her fellow shoppers and store employees, to make us all feel endangered by her selfishness. It is outrageous that she couldn’t simply have her friends do her shopping for her. Such a small sacrifice that she was obviously unwilling to make.

Re the sabotage of our Postal service, I do believe the severe consequences of this reckless destruction will backfire on the one who thought it would help him steal another election. Even his “base” needs the medications they receive through the mail. Even his “base” depends upon their monthly Social Security checks to survive. Even his “base” needs to have their payments arrive timely to avoid late charges. I feel hopeful that the national outrage will be enough to get this insanity reversed, right now, and then all the way to November 3rd. Nothing less than our democracy hangs in the balance.

Don Dix

Thanks Steve Sommerfeld. Distorting (read - rewriting) history allows one to distance from unethical acts performed by past leadership. Those (Ds) who now disavow any connection to any sort of racism and point blame-fingers across the isle (at the Rs) must have conveniently slept through the study of the Civil War.

One important fact Mr. Sommerfeld did not mention -- the South, the Confederacy, and it's plantations were the domain of the Ds. The southern economy was based on agriculture, and the slaves provided the labor force to tend to and harvest crops. And in 1865, the KKK was formed to restore white supremacy and overthrow R state governments in the south.

History can be such a pain when the facts show wherein the truth resides.


Lol, the Trump-Postal Service conspiracy theory is the best one I've heard since 'Trump's Been a Russian Agent Since 1989'! The new postmaster just started his job two months ago, he's probably still figuring out where the best bathrooms are :) - I doubt there are any significant changes to processes/procedures to what was already underway. How fast do people think government works anyway? He does have 30 years of experience in logistics though, so hopefully he can turn things around in the long run.

Mailboxes? They get removed, repainted, and relocated all the time. Their numbers around the country have been going down for decades (including under Obama) because of e-mail and the internet. The viral pictures do make for a good laugh overseas though (see link). Sorting machines? They need maintenance and repair ect.. This is normal. They are machines. Machines need maintenance and servicing. I do fault the president for trolling the media though, no matter how tempting it is.

If I thought for one minute that the federal government could implement a nationwide mail-in voting system in weeks similar what takes state's 3-5 years to get right I might care. You could throw all the money you want at it - it wouldn't matter. Again, it is the government and we are only weeks away from the election. I do have to hand it to the Biden backing Postal Union though, they are maximizing their political leverage to get the best bailout package from congress possible.


Don Dix

RobsNewsRegister -- So Biden stumbles in to back the postal union. Maybe he hopes they aren't aware, as a senator, Biden voted for the 2006 bill that has hamstrung the PO ever since. Whatever's convenient today, whether it's true or not.


Steve and Don. Labels change. The southern Ds fought integration through the 60s. Then the Nixon southern strategy, the labels started to change. Come the 80s and Reagan and the old Ds moved to the R label. Of course you know that the labels changed. Those were likely good 1964 Ds siccing dogs on those protesters asking for equal treatment. But those folks marching Charlottesville carrying Nazi banners and chanting were likely not Ds. I am not sure how the folks who associate with the R label would label them.

Here we are 2020 and the old Republican/Conservative label of the 80s and 90s is moving to another more personal label of the Trump party. The Ds who are of an age are conservative with a small c. The young Ds are worried about their health care, how the ethnic mix they feel a part of will have a future and are concerned about their parents and especially their grand parents.


Don - yeah, probably just union leadership picking a side.


Once again we are talking about going the charter route and what is really troubling this time around is this one sentence: "A home rule charter is, in essence, a local constitution.”

Oregon and by extension Oregonians already have a constitution and like its federal counterpart is open to interpretation by the Oregon Supreme Court. What recourse will those that have a problem with "home rule" and to whom do they turn? Sounds like we are backing ourselves into a corner and that makes me suspicious about the whole affair. There are too many variables for there to be an unlimited backing of this effort. Questions need to be answered and the public needs to know just what it is that they are getting into.

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