Starrett peddling potentially fatal information

Misinformation can kill.

I am specifically referring to the misinformation and pseudoscience Mary Starrett has used, and continues to use, to form her public health positions on the COVID pandemic. I firmly believe they will lead to unnecessary deaths and suffering.

Initially angry, I am now saddened and frustrated.

I am a recently retired emergency medicine physician. I have spent 37 years in the ER, the last 27 in Corvallis and McMinnville.

I was the founding volunteer medical director for Juliette’s House. As a fourth generation Taylor-Dale residing in Yamhill County, I care deeply about the people living in our community and feel the need to speak to this matter.

Having dealt with death and dying throughout my career, it is alarming to read, listen and speak with commissioner Starrett about her positions. Evidence-based public health is a key component to getting kids back in school, businesses back open and the pandemic under control.

At the Dec. 17 Yamhill Board of Commissioners meeting, Starrett’s chosen “public health expert” made the following statement and conclusion in the course of a slick PowerPoint presentation.

1) “There is no evidence of excess total deaths from all causes in the U.S. in 2020, as compared to years 2015-2019.”

2) Based on his analysis of the data, he concluded there have only been 15,000 deaths due to COVID in the entire U.S.

This statement and its conclusion are absolutely ludicrous. John Hopkins, The Mayo Clinic, University of Washington, the Centers for Disease Control and multiple articles and studies in well-respected, peer-reviewed medical journals estimate there have been 300,000 excess deaths due to all causes and more than 350,000 deaths due to COVID.

You choose whom to believe, him or them.

Regarding the COVID vaccine:

I specifically asked Commissioner Starrett by e-mail if she thought it was important for the board to aggressively advocate for administration of the vaccine to help get the pandemic under control, businesses open and kids back in school. Her response was, “I am not a fan of the vax,” which is a pretty radical comment.

Regarding masks as an adjunct to help control the spread of the COVID virus:

We exchanged e-mails and articles. Her conclusion is that masks are not helpful and may actually do harm.

Multiple well-done studies and the vast majority of medical and public health care experts conclude otherwise. So, that again is pretty radical.

Before writing, I spoke with local health care providers I know and trust — pediatricians, hospitalists, family medicine providers, ER docs and internists. Not a single one agrees with Mary Starrett’s positions.

Bottom line, you can choose what to believe. But we all should seek out credible information from multiple sources, as knowledge of this virus is evolving.

Personally, I strongly encourage you to wear a mask when unable to physical distance. And I absolutely believe getting the vaccine when it’s your turn is the correct thing to do.

Dan Dale is a retired emergency care provider making his home in McMinnville.



Bravo, Dr. Dale for speaking truth about Commissioner Starrett's dangerous, fact-deprived disinformation about COVID and public health. Just as Trump spent four years denying and lying about COVID, while failing to show an iota of compassion & regret for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died or suffered serious illness & long-term health problems because of this virus, Starrett (along with new Commissioner Berschaur) has consistently contradicted the recommendations of scientists, doctors, and public health professionals, and incited her followers not to wear masks, not to socially distance, and to ignore mandated Oregon public health & safety guidelines. And now she isn't a "fan" of "the vax." Well I'm not a fan of elected public officials who abuse their positions of power to spread lies, disinformation, and conspiracy theories. Am not a fan of public officials who reject science and factual evidence and instead root their opinions and policy positions on blind prejudice and partisan bias. Is there no way to hold Starrett accountable for her considerable abuses of power?

Amity fan

This behavior and action of Mary Starrett was completely predictable before she ever set foot in office. She has a long history of conspiracy theories, and has spewed complete falsehoods in many areas for the last couple of decades. She embraces populist hubristic demagogue behavior because for her it's not about serving citizens, it's all about her and her alone. That's who she is, and that's what she has always been about. She will say what she thinks you want to hear to your face, then do what she thinks is in her best interest behind your back. She feeds off a radical brother(Kevin), and loves to dream up conspiracy theories just like some national politicians do. Sad thing about her most recent spin and lies about the pandemic is that she is the liaison commissioner to County Health and Human Services. That is the most misplaced assignment ever. Until the voters wake up and do their homework this is the kind of representation we're stuck with. We've just empowered her further with Berschauer(rubber stamp). Big political signs and touched up photos are not primary qualifications for a commissioner.


Awaiting news of a recall.


Recall? Go ahead, treefarmer, anybody can file to initiate one. Why wait for someone else to do it? However, given the mindset of Yamhill County voters (you know, the ones who just elected mini-Mary), it may be an exercise in futility.


Hey Sponge - The thought has crossed my mind, will confess to hoping for someone with buyer's remorse to get the ball rolling. (More clout perhaps?) I suspect you may be correct re futility. Still hard to believe my fellow citizens seated not one but TWO reps from extremeville. Alas, elections do have consequences.


Mary has been a great leader for this county and our state for a long time. Only liberals, for the part subscribe to the news register as they don't wish to support the Editorial opinions constantly espoused. After 30 years in the county I finally broke down and subscribed so I could help defend our great county commissioners. I honestly feel the majority of the people support them or they wouldn't've been elected and the only reason more people don't post support for them here is few conservative's feel the paper is fair and balanced. The only way they will print a comment is if you subscribe and that's hard to justify for many conservatives.


Great leaders have the ability to listen & base their decisions on truth and facts.

Great leaders do the right thing even when supporters urge them to do otherwise.

Great leaders have the courage to stand against unethical actions such as those of Mike Nearman.

Great leaders do everything possible to protect the health and safety of those they lead.....

Ms Starrett has done none of these things....


Thank you tagup, your comment illustrates my concerns about Starrett’s performance too. She is a dangerous embarrassment. I wish voices like Vet24 would outline specifics instead of just condemning the News-Register and those of us who post our observations about the conduct of our representatives.

No denying that Starrett and her recently elected clone were supported by a majority of voters, but even so I cannot comprehend the idea that either of them represents the decent down-to-earth citizens of Yamhill County. I respect my conservative neighbors. I believe they too deserve better. (Surely even partisan loyalty has limits.)

Count me among the readers of this publication who perceive the coverage to be fair, balanced, and ethical. I remain a grateful subscriber.

Amity fan

So Vet24, your definition of a great leader? One who promotes flat out lies and promotes false conspiracy theories? One who is a political friend until an office holder disagrees with her? Both she and her rubber-stamp partner have spewed flat out false information to voters, many of whom didn't know any better. If Starrett is such a great leader at the state, why did she get hardly a vote whenever she ran for state office? Why did she get fired at KATU after they had their fill of her conspiracy theories. I have been a registered Republican in Yamhill County for decades. If you look at what these two represent, it is not the fabric of the Republican party. On the other hand, at one moment Mary is a Republican, then she is a Tea Party, then she is a Constitution Party - whatever fits the moment suits her fine. Unfortunately in Yamhill County, candidates have learned that they can court a few well healed donors with anti-government, anti-tax rhetoric and get themselves elected. They can also bring in big money donors from outside the county and accomplish the same thing. Look at their donor list. In the meantime, Yamhill County governance is an absolute mess. Lawsuits, failed HR policies, costly contract disputes, administrative costs that have ballooned out of control. This is your definition of great leadership? I don't think so.

Jeb Bladine


The newspaper does not discriminate in publishing opinions submitted to our Readers Forum by conservatives, liberals or in-betweeners.

If you searched our 20-plus-year online archive, you would find a balance of endorsements for Republican and Democratic candidates that leans toward Republican for the President, governor, other statewide offices and the Legislature. You would find a continuing string of strong criticism in recent years directed at the Democratic governor and the Democratic super-majority related to taxation, spending, government regulation, lack of transparency and other issues. You would find that a preponderance of our commentary relates to important local issues that have nothing to do with partisan politics.

You also would find much criticism of former President Donald Trump. That by itself, unfortunately, seems enough in today’s polarized world for someone to be branded as a “liberal.” We always hope people will look at the full range of our content before making sweeping characterizations about the newspaper.

That said, we always appreciate having diverse readers and receiving diverse comments about the newspaper, the community and the world around us.

Bill B

@ Jeb Bladine, I can’t speak to the first 15 years of your 20 year window, but for the past 5 years., particularly commentaries, have been decidedly shaded to the liberal side. Tom Henderson’s and Steve Rutledge’s have been particularly slanted. We moved here from northern California five years ago. We spent quite a bit of time deciding where to retire. We finally decided on McMInnville. We liked the small town feel and the friendliness of its citizens. We also wanted to get away from the extremely liberal California. When we saw there was a fairly equal balance between right and left here, it was the icing on the cake. Apparently, the News Register didn’t read the same statistics that I did, as I read commentary after commentary that were more liberal than what I read in my local California newspaper.
Personally. I’d be happy if you eliminated the Commentaries from the Opinions page and just stuck to editorials and letters to the editor.

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