Letters to the editor: Dec. 31, 2020

Cold, cruel place

Yet another homeless death on the streets of McMinnville. RIP Mike Stepp.

It’s a cold, cruel place for some 1,400 of our neighbors.

Mr. Stepp lost a toe as a result of a bike accident; was slated to have another toe amputated, but left before the procedure could be performed; suffered a heart attack, but survived; and (some friends claim) sustained a bad beating shortly before his death. He was admitted to the hospital the morning of his death, and asked to see his sister, but left before she could arrive.

This is all so wrong. Even in Bethlehem they had a rude stable to shelter a poor family.

Besides the questionable criminality or poor policy of the hospital allowing a vulnerable person to leave for the streets on a cold night, the rest of us, our whole community and system of care, is making a horrific statement about our society.

Under this Christmas Star, the dying legion of houseless suffer. It wouldn’t take much to assure basic care. Consistent food, 24/7 shelter and health care would be cheaper than the ER treatment alone.

The county of Yamhill can start by creating a continuum of care, access HUD funds and establish simple shelter for those on the street. They need connection to resources.

Meanwhile, what beast slouches in our country this holiday to be born?

Edie Jessup



Misplaced priorities

Is not the main point of a vaccine to reduce the number of deaths? Then what sense does it make for our state officials to put off vaccinations for the elderly when 76% of Oregon’s COVID victims are 70 or older — 1,030 of them as of Dec.20?

Yes, the first round of vaccine rightly went to health care workers and residents of senior care facilities. But not much went to the larger group of seniors living outside such facilities.

Our state authorities have just announced that the next group to be vaccinated consists of essential workers, including teachers. I personally think teachers should be vaccinated next so schools can reopen, but putting the entire group of “essential workers” before the elderly seems criminally irresponsible, when 76% of COVID deaths are occurring among the elderly.

Yes, grocery store clerks are important, but if they contract COVID, almost all recover quickly and very few will die.

If vaccinations for the elderly are postponed until March or later, after all essential workers, it will result in hundreds of unnecessary deaths of our most vulnerable citizens — including a number in McMinnville.

Margaret Arighi



Dishonest account

Your Dec. 18 guest commentary by Tom Hastings and Sadkia Hosteler is shockingly biased and patently false in many parts.

I quote them: “Yes, Trump’s troops attacked peaceful protesters. Yes, Portland police have betrayed the public trust with bursts of unprofessional conduct.”

I encourage all readers to visit the “Portland Protests” entry in Wikipedia, which provides a long and detailed report of all protest activities in Portland. Wikipedia is not a conservative right-wing organization, so anyone can get good information here.

I make just three points, though I could make many more:

1) The first protest stemming from the murder of George Floyd was held May 28. On May 31, many buildings downtown had to be boarded up due to vandalism, looting and arson.

2) Federal troops were first deployed on July2, after 36 days of continuous arson, rioting and vandalism. After 10-14 days, federal troops pulled back and limited their mission to protecting federal property.

3) On July 18, an 18-year-old Black woman was fatally shot by an anti-troop protester. On July 25, a Black Trump supporter was stabbed by one of those peaceful anti­-Trump protesters.

I think the authors of the commentary are either intellectually, morally or spiritually dishonest, or some combination of the three. I am shocked that such a poor piece of literary effort was published in the News-Register.

Byron Shenk



Shocking stance

It was with shock and amazement that I found two such contradictory headlines on the front page of the News-Register.

One addressed a COVID outbreak at a care center, linked to dozens of cases and 11 deaths. The other addressed a county resolution defying the governor’s COVID public safety mandates, with two commissioners expressing mistrust even of the Trump administration’s own watered-down CDC guidelines.

One of the defiant commissioners once served as a volunteer EMT and firefighter, and faces tremendous mortality risk factors were he to come down with COVID. The other is a bright, well-educated former television broadcaster who harbors deep pro-life personal convictions.

Yamhill County ranks 8th among Oregon’s 36 counties for COVID cases, and 9th for COVID deaths, but the two commissioners were more concerned about business curtailment. They should know better.

It’s not surprising, though, considering their alignment with the White House’s mask-defying COVID-hoax orientation.

This county is predominantly Republican, but COVID doesn’t care. Sadly, it’s not uncommon to see unmasked and inadequately masked people milling about in public after hearing their leaders indulge in anti-mask rhetoric.

Clearly, this is not a hoax. That COVID is highly contagious was proven by the other headline.

If our commissioners’ priorities were more aligned with preserving life, they would adopt the CDC guidelines and set examples for the community. They would wear and advocate wearing masks, thus helping the community curtail the spread of this pandemic.

After the dust settles and the vaccine begins to bring this pandemic under control, people can decide in retrospect about the defiant county resolution. They can decide if it was in the best interest of the community, and if not, that a change in leadership would thus be warranted.

God help us in the meantime.

John Wilson




Addressing the needs of the homeless is a complex mixture of compassion, respect, and the efficacious allocation of finite resources. But, I seriously doubt that even Edie Jessup - despite the irresponsible charge of our hospital’s alleged “questionable criminality or poor policy” - believes that any free adult should be held against their will, or denied their legal rights. Where is the compassion in that?

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