Letters to the editor: June 11, 2021

Putting lives at risk

The recent comments of Commissioner Mary Starrett, defending her comparison of vaccine passports to Jim Crow segregation and the genocide by the Nazi regime, are telling. As Anne Falla, Tai Harden-Moore and Taliana Corvus all explained eloquently to the News-Register, Starrett is exploiting the painful trauma of marginalized groups to depict herself and others voluntarily declining vaccination as victims. The irony is that Starrett and others refusing to vaccinate themselves, or even take simple measures to prevent the spread of this disease, are the ones putting this country at risk of more death and suffering.

We have already lost almost 600,000 Americans to this deadly disease, and more than 33 million have been infected. We’ve seen the death rate fall tremendously, due to the vaccine. But hundreds are still dying every day, the vast majority of whom are not vaccinated. The appropriate metaphor for the public health measures that Starrett and Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer deride are the laws instituted to protect the public from second-hand smoke.

Smokers can still smoke in the privacy of their own homes, and in public spaces where they do not put others at risk, but they are not allowed to smoke in restaurants and bars. These laws have been in place for decades, and the slippery slope that Starrett claims follows all “discrimination” has not come to pass. Bottom line:

If you choose not to get vaccinated, you are putting the health and safety of others at risk. Requiring individuals who make this decision to take certain precautions in public spaces is a legitimate public health measure, just as we require folks who smoke to do so outdoors.

Vulnerable individuals who cannot obtain protection through vaccination, children and the immune-suppressed, for example, also have a right to health and safety. And these public health measures are a reasonable way to protect them.

Caitlin Collins



The dirty work

When I read about the dearth of applicants local businesses are experiencing as they seek to hire staff post-pandemic (“Looking for workers,” June 2), I can’t help but think of the 1991 Joni Mitchell song “Passion Play,” where she sings: “Who you gonna get to do the dirty work, when all the slaves are free?”

Jeff Marten



Scriptures misused

In response to Mary Novak’s June 4 letter “Lost in the fog,” I would encourage her to be more careful in quoting Hebrew and Christian scripture.

After laying out her conviction that Democrats and health officials have led us down a path of division, bias, hatred and loss of liberty in dealing with the COVID-19 virus, she then attempts to sanctify her own biases by misusing two scriptures.

First, she quotes the Old Testament prophet Hosea: “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” This is totally out of context and has nothing to do with her perceived machinations of Dr. Fauci and others. A fuller translation reads, “There is no faithfulness or kindness, and no knowledge of God in the land.”

Hosea was saying people had lost sight of God’s purpose for them, notably by failing to treat fellow community members with honesty, reliability and love. She then quotes Jesus (although she gives an incorrect reference of John 8.23 when it’s actually John 8.32): “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Sorry, Ms. Novak, but this saying has nothing to do with philosophical truth or political truth, nor freedom from what you deem to be ignorance. Jesus was speaking to his followers about how a relationship with him would bring freedom from the wreckage caused by human sin.

But these are still worthy scriptures. If Ms. Novak and people who think as she does would show kindness and love toward others to defeat the virus, dealing with the facts and the good faith of our public health officials, that would be good. By doing so, they would, in the ethic of Jesus, fight the misguided attitude of those who insist the virus is a hoax and vaccinations are useless if not dangerous.

Robert Thompson



Liability to county

Can a single comment be at once a dog whistle and sexual harassment? Commissioner Mary Starrett answered this question fluently at last Thursday’s County Board of Commissioners meeting when, in response to Commissioner Casey Kulla wishing to change his vote against businesses requiring vaccine passports, she told him he “must have gotten a royal spanking” from his “comrades” over his previous vote.

Discussion of a grown man receiving a spanking in any workplace context is vastly inappropriate. Were the tables turned and a male colleague said that to a female colleague, it would rightly be denounced as sexual harassment.

This situation is no different, and Commissioner Starrett should be held accountable.

Some may be tempted to discount Commissioner Starrett’s comments as just another folksy aphorism. However, prior to serving as a county commissioner, she worked as a television news anchor, reporter, talk show host and radio commentator as well as national communications director for the Constitution Party. That shows she has more than adequate experience to know the import of her words and the significance those words have on camera.

Furthermore, Starrett’s harassment of Commissioner Kulla is part of an ongoing pattern of disregard for Yamhill County’s legal liability. She has repeatedly authored resolutions contrary to state law, and she illegally directed the county Health and Human Services Director to deny 15-17 year olds their right to medical consent as protected by state law.

Through her conduct in her role as a commissioner, she makes Yamhill County vulnerable to legal action.

She should issue an apology for her conduct toward Commissioner Casey Kulla, and resign from her position on the board. Her continued service is a liability.

Erin Gardner



Good and evil

Just so that we understand what we are hearing:

The immutable Nazi laws were intended to kill, destroy, obliterate. We all agree that is EVIL.

The temporary COVID regulations are intended to protect, heal, revitalize. We all agree that is GOOD.

By likening health measures to Nazi genocide, are we therefore to understand that GOOD is EVIL?

Tony Roder



Pursuing excellence

In 2020, Linfield College changed its name to Linfield University. Along with the name change came a restructuring into three entities: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business and the School of Nursing. There have been some misunderstandings about the new Linfield University, whether it still has a liberal arts curriculum, and where Linfield is going now that it is a university and a national liberal arts college. Why did Linfield change its name from college to university? More and more community colleges and junior colleges have been dropping “community” and “junior” from their names. This caused confusion for prospective students who were not local, and for the admissions staff. Creating new master’s degrees and structuring them into separate faculties was also a reason, but in my opinion, secondary to solving the name problem. There is a misunderstanding about whether Linfield University still has a liberal arts curriculum. But the liberal arts are not going away at Linfield, despite the name change.

Students of all majors still must take a core set of liberal arts courses to earn an undergraduate degree. This means all undergraduates — those from nursing, business and arts and sciences.

President Davis has made it clear from the time he arrived that many universities nationwide are categorized as liberal arts colleges, like we are. As of now, Linfield University is ranked 120th on the US News and World Report list of National Liberal Arts Colleges. But led by President Davis, we are climbing the ladder.

We want to compete with the likes of Amherst, Bucknell, Swarthmore, Wesleyan and Williams.

Ambitious, yes. President Davis wants Linfield students to excel academically, on the athletic field, and in the community. And I know we can do it.

Jonathan Prather



Humble dignity

The legislative session will soon end, with Senate President Courtney’s proclamation that sine die is imminent. That’s the signal for last minute stuff-and-gut, featuring ramrodded tax increases with one-hour-notices to eliminate public testimony.

Many saw the perils of a Legislature working behind the mute button and a Capitol closed to the public. This is Founding Fathers territory where few dare tread these days.

One fighter acted on his conscience, though, staging a limited but symbolic act in defense of freedom. While many groused, Rep. Mike Nearman led, showing principle and bringing light to the failure of Oregon government to honor our heritage.

A quixotic act, meaningful perhaps to only the few aware of our dangerous retreat from freedom, he dared to show contempt for the contemptible.

The result has been predictable in a super-majority chamber. The Democrats isolate and denigrate, as Saul Alinsky taught them.

You are relegated to watching your friends of convenience melt into the woodwork and the Brutuses of the world seize the low ground.

This man of rare talent sought no recognition for his virtues. He now wears a crown of thorns with humble dignity.

There is a difference in the Legislature between those who lead and those who are on time for each caucus meeting.

Tom Hammer



Local dog whistle?

I’m writing to express my strong disappointment, and disgust, at the words of Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Starrett at the board of commissioners meeting of June 3.

While it’s pretty clear Commissioners Starrett and Berschauer do not see eye-to-eye with Commissioner Kulla on many issues, I’m appalled at the lack of professionalism shown by Starrett when she stated on the record that Commissioner Kulla “must have gotten a royal spanking” from his “comrades” over his initial decision to side with a vaccine resolution she and Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer initiated.

This kind of comment from a male colleague to a female colleague would be immediately denounced as absolutely inappropriate by any self-respecting person. It might even generate an investigation into whether this was a one-time incident or part of an ongoing pattern of behavior.

Commissioner Starrett should immediately and publicly apologize for her inappropriate words and take heed to act more professionally. She sounds like Tucker Carlson dog whistling for ratings.

Sonda Martin



United in gullibility

The GOP is no longer the Grand Old Party. It’s now the Gullible Old Party!

Sheldon Hinshaw




“He now wears a crown of thorns with humble dignity.” Former Representative Nearman should put that on his resume; especially if his humility leads him to seek public office again.


The Oregon House vote 59 to 1 and guess who the 1 was. Although I'm told he did vote to stay with 'humble dignity'


Mike Nearman, Humble? Dignified? Those aren't the first words that come to mind when I hear his name.... Nearman isn't wearing a crown of thorns, he ran into the briar patch.


The comparison of Mike Nearman to Jesus Christ is disgusting! What warped BS is that? Along with Mary Novak’s misunderstanding of the Bible, it shows immense depths of stupidity some ‘Christians” wallow in.


Nearman (literally) opened the door to a gang of thugs and crazies. He needs to crawl back under the slimy rock from which he emerged.

Tom Hammer

Mike Nearman enrolled at Marquette Univ. as a major in pre-seminary. He has studied the Bible and Constitution which is an extension of Christian ethics. The Ten Commandments are inscribed on the walls of the Supreme Court. The US Capitol held church services the first seven years. He acts on his faith which is our founding doctrine. His last win was by over 10%. Many, though not all, appreciate a man of convictions.


Well, it looks like he will soon have some more convictions to add to his collection.



I, too, appreciate “a man of convictions.” Especially if he’s willing to accept the consequences of his foolish actions “with humble dignity.”


Nearman’s pre meditated, self- serving act was intended only to garner status with his fringe group. To imply his decision was somehow driven by “Christian ethics” or his faith, is preposterous.....The only positive from his action was the unanimous & bipartisan agreement that his actions were so egregious that he should be expelled.....


The display of the ten commandments you refer to is in a frieze in which Moses is depicted holding them; also depicted in that same frieze are Confucius, Augustus, William Blackstone, Napoleon and others. The roman numeral I through X depicted elsewhere in the building were described as depicting the Bill or rights, not the ten commandments.

Tom Hammer

thanks for pointing out the Ten Commandments and the Constitution's Bill of Rights share walls in our Supreme Court. Also for the reminder that Napoleon has been a part of our legal system ever since we acquired all that land west of the Mississippi. Napoleonic Law is still on the Louisiana Bar exam.


I don’t care what motivates Nearman. What he did was incredibly stupid. Crown of thorns notwithstanding.


The only cross he has to bear is himself. Lulu 4:18.

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable