Letters to the editor: July 9, 2021

Time to resign

Dear Ms. Bershauer:

It’s time for you to resign and move on from your job as Yamhill County commissioner. It’s very clear you came to Yamhill County to advance your personal political ambitions and recruit clients for your political consulting practice.

We need commissioners who view the job as a service to the people of Yamhill County, not just a way to pay back special interest supporters and provide a political stepping stone to bigger and better things.

In your short time here as commissioner, you have ignored the will of the vast majority of residents.

And you have cost the county $1.1 million with your vote to kill the Yamhelas Westsider Trail — real money diverted from programs for our families! The trail was something most residents wanted to give their children to have a safe place to ride bikes and most businesses wanted to give our tourist economy a boost.

You have not revealed who your political clients are, the folks that pay you and your consulting firm, but they must be very important to you. I recommend you go ahead and devote your full attention to them and leave the important job of county commissioner to someone who sees the county and it’s 110,000 residents as the primary stakeholders.

Phil Forve



Not what it seems

I am writing to correct some serious misinformation printed in last week’s guest commentary about the PERS rate of return assumption and its impact on the payroll contributions.

First, the columnist indicated, “Actual earnings have underperformed the board’s assumed rate of return over the past 10 years.” This is false.

The actual rate of return over the past 10 years was 8.48%, per the Oregon Investment Council Q1 performance report presented on June 2 by Meketa Group, an external consultant. The assumed rate was set at 8% in 2011 and gradually adjusted downward to the current 7.2%, with the average over the period working out to 7.61%.

Second, the columnist calls for the assumed rate of return to be lowered to almost zero, ensuring “the payroll rates paid by state and local governments will increase, perhaps substantially.”

That is the understatement of the year! Even a small decrease would cause payroll contributions to skyrocket. It is the equivalent of paying cash for your house, rather than financing it.

One thing the columnist gets right is this: “The assumed rate of return is just that: an assumption.”

Lowering it will not change what is owed by contract to the beneficiaries. It will just front-load the payments and hobble government services in the process.

We can finance it or pay cash, but we must pay what is owed. The columnist’s suggestions would create a self-imposed cash-flow crisis, which is probably what his think tank wants.

John Linder



Give us a chance

With regard to the article about Sheridan Japanese School closing, I would like to clarify a few points.

Although the school was having some financial difficulties, especially last year due to COVID, it had been financially stable for 20 years. When it voted to close, it had more than $300,000 in its bank account.

According to Kristen Miles of the Oregon School Boards Association, the school experienced a net revenue decrease of just $17,695 in the 2018-19 school year and $61,699 in the COVID-plagued 2019-20 school year. I would argue that it is doing OK.

There is no risk to the Sheridan School District even in the incredible unlikely event the Japanese School did have to close for financial reasons. The board had approved a balanced budget, which the OSBA chose to ignore.

What we should be asking is, why are they trying to shut us down during a pandemic instead of giving us a chance for success? This represents a tremendous opportunity to make the school even better.

The board has three new members. It just voted to hire a new administrator and business manager who are passionate about the school and believe they can turn things around.

The community has stepped up with letters of support, $30,000 in pledges, and donated time and energy. The building owner has generously offered free rent for the next two years. And we have 22 new enrollees joining 33 students who have chosen to re-enroll.

I’m hoping the Sheridan School Board can see the glass as half-full and give new leadership a chance instead of pushing forward with termination. The Japanese School is an asset to the area that deserves a chance to reform.

Kim Hamblin



Spirit of Darwinism

Recent data shows that unvaccinated individuals represent 92% of new COVID cases and 90% of new COVID deaths in Oregon. This validates Darwin’s observation that those who adapt survive, those who don’t die.

But Darwin wasn’t a politician, so didn’t appreciate the importance of personal liberty.

It’s one thing to die because you can’t get vaccinated. If you refuse vaccination on principle, then die defending your right to do so, you feel a lot better about it.

I, personally, am very committed to liberty. But I want to protect myself in the bargain, so I always wear a rope of garlic around my neck when I enter a church or other crowded venue.

This, I’m reliably informed, works extremely well to ward off COVID in Brazil. Or vampires. Or the Chinese. Whatever.

Actually, I’m joking. Everyone knows the threat posed by vampires is greatly exaggerated.

And COVID? Meh. Just another government hoax designed to turn us into socialistic Chinese sheep. 

As the death rate spirals upward in the anti-vaxxer red states, Republican governors are realizing that catering to the anti-vaxxers may be affecting their voting base disproportionately, so are now reversing course.

Unvaccinated Republican voters dying? Now that’s serious!

I’m really pleased that Commissioners Starrett and Berschauer are concerned about my liberty, to the point of honoring my right to read conspiracy theories and anti-vaxxer diatribes on the county website. But are they tracking their voter base?

There’s another thing to worry about as well: Are sheep really socialistic, or is it just Chinese sheep? And how do I distinguish Chinese sheep?

These are stressful times.

Margaret Cross



Nothing for seniors

Before the pandemic shut McMinnville down, I participated in a senior exercise class at the Community Center every Tuesday and Thursday. I also enjoyed activities at the local Senior Center. 

But it appears the city thinks all seniors passed away from the virus.

The state has now reopened, and the Community Center has restarted many programs, but not the senior exercise program. Meanwhile, it seems the Senior Center has become a children’s day care center with no activities for seniors.

This surviving and vaccinated senior wants to know, what’s up with that, Mac?

Terry Davis



Kudos to Manfrin

I want to commend Yamhill County Health & Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin for standing up against the regrettable ignorance of county commissioners Starrett and Berschauer regarding COVID vaccines. (“Starrett, Berschauer question COVID-19 vaccine safety,” July 2, 2021).

I am not a scientist, but even I can understand how unverified data cannot prove a cause and effect relationship. I could report to VAERS that I turned green and sprouted fins, but that still wouldn’t prove that it was caused by the COVID vaccine.

Even more disturbing is the commissioners’ opposition to reaching out to communities that have not been vaccinated. We are seeing how the vaccine is bringing down the numbers, and we need to continue getting more of the population vaccinated to make all of us safe.

Getting vaccinated is a civic duty that benefits all — first our friends and neighbors and ultimately the whole world. Science reveals the objective truth of this to us, but apparently we still need advocates like Lindsey Manfrin to clearly and firmly repeat these truths in the face of fear and ignorance.

Lucinda Huffine




I’m proud to be a member of First Baptist Church, with its frequent response to help the vulnerable in our community, most recently to offer shelter from the extreme heat.

Where was the city? Why weren’t the community center or local school gyms opened?

It makes me wonder how prepared we really are for an emergency.

Cherie Walker



Extending a hand

Dear Commissioners: 

Reprinted in last Friday’s News-Register was a 2002 article about George Gay, an early pioneer  in Yamhill County whose life was celebrated in 2002 by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Noteworthy is this quote from Gay’s grandson:

“When the immigrants came through, and there were hundreds, he fed the half-starved, ragged and trail-worn families, and he fed and cared for their harness-galled wretched animals. During the wagon trains, for weeks at a time, a beef a day was slaughtered for these people, and bolts of calico were cut into dress lengths for the women and children. He never charged for any of these things.”

We would all do well to emulate this pioneering attitude toward immigrants coming to Yamhill County today. If Gay’s attitude is good enough for the DAR, it should be good enough for the county commissioners.

Charlie Harris



On catastrophic track

When a population in the animal world reaches a certain level, disease or habitat loss can cause it to crash. This represents population control in its most basic form.

As members of the animal kingdom, we are subject to the same forces. Our numbers not only make us vulnerable to disease, but the demands we place on the planet may ultimately deprive us and much of the rest of the natural world of a place to live, or at least live comfortably.

We can’t go on indefinitely using our resources and space as we have been. This is not an alarmist observation; it is a simple statement of fact.

Until the last few decades, we found it impossible to believe we could ever cut all the trees or use all the water. We never saw any need for restraint.

Now restraint is all that will save us — personal restraint, taken voluntarily to lower the birth rate, protect the environment and rein in our lifestyle.

China’s failed one-child experiment both recognized the need to limit growth and pointed out the difficulties. But what governments can’t legally or practically do, even should they be willing, we can do without their interference.

It’s unclear what level of catastrophe will be required to bring about the collective will to do something, either individually or politically. But if we choose not to take responsibility, it is a choice that will leave our descendants a world only previously found in apocalyptic science fiction.

I’m old enough that I won’t be around to see it. But there are billions of people alive today who will.

Darrell King



American ideals

I was disappointed to hear Vice President Kamala Harris advise in her speech in Guatemala against coming to the United States.

Many people are suffering in their countries from violence, climate change, government corruption, lack of services and a host of other issues. New immigration led to a more dynamic labor market and has been shown to bolster the U.S. economy and growth.

Biden and Harris have been accused of “contradicting the vision and commitment made during the campaign.” This is a problem that needs to be addressed now.

We need to place the issue of immigration near the top of concerns to be dealt with using much prudent thought  and consideration. We should offer prospective immigrants hope of a better life, thus making sure America retains its ideals.

Janet DeWith



Whence the children?

During the world’s first big outbreak of aggressive right wing violence, during the 1930s and ‘40s, the Nazis ran death camps to eliminate the people they demonized.

When families arrived by train at camps like Auschwitz and Bergen-Belson, the first step was to separate out the children for immediate gassing. The rule was no children in the camps, as they consumed resources without being able to work.

These days, right wing extremists are fighting to overthrow democracy in the United States and replace it with an authoritarian government. My question to the people who embrace or flirt with Nazism in pursuit of this goal is this: If you succeed in overthrowing democracy and taking control of the country, will you be bringing back the no-children policy?

Fred Fawcett



Why not the shaman?

Jacob Chansley, the QAnon shaman of Capitol insurrection fame, would have been the perfect person to take Mike Nearman’s place in the Oregon House.

Nearman merely opened the door to a Capitol to outsiders. Chansley actually invaded a Capitol.

Nearman was merely expelled — at least so far. Chansley was actually jailed.

If Oregon Republicans could have extradited Chansley from federal custody, surely he would have been willing to become an Oregonian and serve in the Legislature. With his horned headdress and furs, he would have made sessions much more colorful.

Neal Anderson




Tom Hammer

LUBA ruled 5 out of 5 against the County. Do you know why? Find out. The trail was "killed" six months before Berschauer took the oath of office. County Counsel Sadlo is under investigation by the Oregon Bar. ORS 294.100 - Wanton & Willful Waste of public resources. Kulla, Primozich, Olson cost the County $1.1 million with their votes to build a bridge without proper permitting - prior to Berschauer. Damaging farm revenues is not economic stimulus. 3200 signed a trail petition, some from out of area, not a vast majority of 106,000 county residents. You only know what your source(s) tell you.

Erin C.

Tom, I'm a stay at home mother of two (5 & 10) and I started the Yamhelas Westsider Petition because my family is desperate for safe places we can take our girls to get outside in our beautiful Yamhill County. So among your many misleading statements I'll address that one. The petition was open to all and vastly popular. We collected over 1000 signatures in the first 24 hours! Back when we were at only 2,519 I ran the numbers on the percentage of signers who were local. At that time 1,349 signers were from Yamhill County, 2,124 were Oregonians. One out of every 19 people in the town of Yamhill signed our petition, 1 out of 20 in Carlton. These are people with a vested interest in the well being of Yamhill County, people who live here, work here, spend money at our restraunts and small businesses, and love our gorgeous countryside. You have donated generously to Ms. Berschauer's campaign funds, and paid quite a bit of money towards the lawyer who has challenged the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) but for all the money you've invested, you are still one voice. And the voices of each and every one of those 1,349 Yamhill citizens who you dismissed deserves to be heard just as much as you.


So a few of people with deep pockets (some out of county) ramrodded Berschauer into office. Nothing about the trail would have damaged farm revenues, that is just complete hyperbole. LUBA challenges are easy as long as someone is willing to fund them (same group who funded Berschauer.) While you may have won a temporary reprieve on the trail, B&S are self immolating on the commission, we'll see hw they do on reelection. They are not doing any of you any favors with their idiocy on 2A, Covid, ad nauseum. The trail will have its day.

Tom Hammer

Erin C., I'm the father of three, grandfather of eight and always looking for good experiences for them to recreate. I found over 200 safe, scenic bike paths in Oregon online. A chance to learn about Oregon, exercise and broaden their perspectives on people of different walks of life.

M. Isaac

T. Hammer stated, "County Counsel Sadlo is under investigation by the Oregon Bar. ORS 294.100."

This statement is MISLEADING. The opponents have filed a Bar Complaint so they asked for an investigation - the Bar did not initiate one.

From what I can tell, Mr. Sadlo's only "crime" is that he assisted his clients (the Board of Commissioners) to try to build a 2.8 mile trail for children to safely go to school. Remember, the 12+ mile trail was NOT the issue that went to LUBA only the small section between the cities.

Since a safe way to school was identified by Yamhill, Carlton and Yamhill County, what is the plan now to get kids safely to school?

Erin C.

Tom- It's great that you have the means to travel with your family when you want some outdoor recreation. Not everyone does. I can't deny that there are lovely trails out of county. But somehow I'm guessing that our local small businesses won't be too thrilled with a policy of "Want fun? Go somewhere else."


16,000 votes isn't a vast majority of 106,000 county residents, either, Mr. Hammer.

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