Letters to the Editor: Feb. 26, 2016

Local program a miracle

I am very appreciative of the fact that certain individuals in Sheridan care so much about people in need. I love the idea of the Angel’s Attic program.
It helps the needy in our community. The program gives items such as hygiene products, clothing, shoes and other necessities. I like the idea of people giving a chance to the poor and weak. I also like the idea of other organizations helping out and partnering with it, such as Sheridan’s Cavalry Church and public library. I think that the Cavalry Church made a good decision in giving the program all that it had. If more programs helped out, that would be a miracle in Sheridan.

Thank you for taking your time in listening to my opinion toward this program. I really appreciate you as well! Also I would like to thank you for putting this story in the newspaper, so other people know and can help out with the program.

Noah Ellis

School bond is painless

We all have the opportunity in May to painlessly improve our community. How? By passing the proposed school bond measure.
This bond will improve our schools and the education of our children, and as a result, the quality of life in our community.

The bond will provide for facility upgrades that will increase both safety and energy efficiency of school buildings. It will provide for necessary repairs to maintain our current structures. It will provide more classrooms, a new music room, upgraded fitness facilities and a new library at McMinnville High School.
And most importantly, it will fund a new vocational center that will ensure our students graduate with the skills necessary to compete and succeed. Whether or not you are the parent of a student, we know the whole community benefits from a well-educated citizenry.

When this new bond passes, you will see no change in your tax bill because the old bond is expiring. So without raising taxes, we can improve our schools, help our students and make McMinnville even a better place to live. I encourage you to vote yes on the May bond measure and painlessly improve our community.

David Sumner

Gun law goes too far

Eric Swensson’s Feb. 12 letter was exactly right concerning mandatory incarceration for crimes involving the use of a gun. For too long, there have been existing state and federal gun laws that have not been enforced or prosecuted fully enough.

However, recent gun laws passed by the Oregon Legislature and signed into law by our governor have gone too far, and now ensnare otherwise law-abiding citizens. As an example, a widow cannot give to her husband’s hunting partner and friend of more than half century a meaningful and treasured M-21 or M-12 duck gun or a pre-64 M-70 deer or elk rifle without first getting the approval of the government.

Some law-enforcement officers that I know are of the opinion that this law is unenforceable. I agree.

Jim LeTourneux

Don’t bite at Apple

Apple is in a fight with the FBI over the iPhone of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook. The FBI wants Apple to write software, currently not in existence, that would allow them to access the memory in the phone.

Apple says no, contending that software made to unlock this one iPhone would work to unlock anyone’s iPhone. Apple also says this case would create a precedent that prosecutors elsewhere would pounce on.

Apple is right. They created a legal encryption-protected product. The government now threatens to nullify that protection. Prosecutors claim that they only want this one phone hacked, but if the courts grant that right in this one case, judges across the nation could grant the same right of access to the phones of other suspects.

When prosecutors throughout America obtain software to unlock iPhones, how long before hackers grab it? Your phone will be about as secure as rabbit in a wolf pack.

If the courts demand that Apple write software to hack this phone, they will force a private company to act as an extension of law enforcement. This is not just demanding that records be opened for review, such as phone company logs. It is a demand to create something that law enforcement lacks the expertise to make.

Such a case would set a dangerous precedent that could lead to legal coercion of private companies to create all manner of tools that law enforcement says they need.

Encryption is a controversial area that should be decided by Congress, not the courts. If Congress wants to outlaw encryption, or to grant broad authority to prosecutors, even at the hazard of widespread loss of privacy protection, let them debate it and vote on that law. Perhaps they would, but I doubt they have the spine for it.

Scott Gibson

Sanders just a New Dealer

Many Americans are nervous or hostile to Bernie Sanders’ claim to be a democratic socialist.

The Sanders campaign has done a poor job of explaining what that means. It isn’t Bolshevism or Soviet Communism. It is simply being a New Deal Democrat in the mold of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

FDR was one of America’s best-loved presidents, and he gave us programs like Social Security, labor laws and the notion that a fairly run America is what builds a great and strong America. He didn’t attack the wealthy or seize their wealth. He simply made sure that the rich and powerful did not use their wealth and power to trample the lives of working and poor Americans.

He made it his business to get to know everyday Americans and what their problems were. The only president to serve more than two terms, he was loved by the American people. When his body passed through one town, a bystander fell to his knees crying.

Asked if he knew FDR personally, the man replied “No. But he knew me.” The Sanders’ campaign needs to explain clearly to the American people that democratic socialism is New Deal democracy that has proven itself able to solve many of our current problems.

Fred Fawcett

Support schools

We are a wonderful community with great attraction. People flock here to join in many forms of celebration, including success in our wine industry, state-of-the-art museums and even a yearly alien invasion. We celebrate these things as well, but know that this community is attractive year-round. Our community has a down-home vibe, outstanding parks and superb schools.

You have certainly heard by now that the school district will be seeking community approval for an upcoming bond. Since the 1997 bond will be retiring in June 2016, this new bond will come to the voters with no increase in property taxes.

With this new bond, the school district will improve student security and safety (including seismic updates) while making needed energy improvements. We also intend to expand career, technical and vocational classroom space at the high school. Lastly, the district intends to address many necessary repairs in all district facilities.

This bond will continue the investment in the future of our children. These new and improved educational spaces will help our students become the 21st century leaders of our community. Please join me in supporting the upcoming school district bond measure.

Larry Vollmer

Stop praying, get to work

The Yamhill County commissioners’ Feb. 18 meeting was outrageous in its brevity and lack of transparency.

The meeting was only 11 minutes long. In that short time, there was a four-minute period allowed for the opening prayer. There was another four-minute period used to vote on one of the most significant land-use issues in Yamhill County’s history, the Riverbend dump.

Most of these four minutes were taken up by the county attorney explaining what had been added to the file and giving the commissioners an opportunity to honor Waste Management’s request to disallow citizens’ earnest and factual letters to be included in the file. The letters will be allowed to remain in the file.
The commissioners took only one minute to move for approval and then all three voted in support of expanding the dump. No discussion and/or explanation of their votes were given by the individual commissioners.

When we get to the point when we spend more time in prayer than we do addressing issues that greatly affect the county, we have a problem. It is time to consider electing a new commissioner in May when there’s an open seat.

Kris Bledsoe

Time to open our eyes

What happened after so many years that suddenly Bullseye Glass in Portland is in trouble?

Just how could that be? Was no one at the wheel? Look at the situation in Sellwood. The grounds are in question. The people are scared. The air is bad. The children at the school are unsafe. People cannot eat the crops from the gardens they grow. Why now?

Does anyone know why a woman engineer who was 58 years old and worked for DEQ committed suicide? Could it be that covering the Bull Run water was not a good idea?

Let us move on to the decision by the Yamhill County commissioners to vote yes for the dump — once again. They imagine that Yamhill water and farmers’ fields are not being harmed by the dump as it gets bigger and bigger and the smell gets worse and worse.

They think they can trick Mother Nature into believing that everything is fine. It would be fine with me that all the votes were yes for the dump if they signed a contract and agreement with the people who have been against the dump to give up their houses, their retirements, their savings, themselves, their children and the children after them as collateral if something bad happens later, like poisoned ground water, undrinkable Yamhill river water, contaminated farm land and deformed animals.

I do know they will lose down the road. You can count on it. I would believe in the commissioners if they were perfectly healthy — no cancer, no high blood pressure, no diabetes, no bellies, no prostate cancer and no weight problems. I say this because if they were on-the-mark healthy with no disease they then would see life from a different standpoint on knowing what is right and what is wrong.

My question to you is how can we knowing citizens help the blind see? It is time — unless we are just all closing our eyes and voting for Trump because we have become a society which is mentally ill and lost.

Helen Bitar



David and Larry I agree with you on doing what is right for kids. However I totally disagree on how we are doing it. A remodel on a 1955 building for the tenth time is not in the best interest of our children or our community. A new school built to last for 40 years to accommodate 3000 students is a much more prudent investment for kids and community. The current location is to small for athletics and other activities including the auditorium which is not to be expanded. It is a total waste on all fronts. The School District will be back for another 12 to 18 million to finish the remodel. A group of 20'people made a decision for a town of 35,000 and I believe it's the wrong one. Let's take our time and build what's needed instead of putting a bandaid on an aging facility.

Horse with no name

Kris Bledsoe - I believe you're addressing the elephant in the room. How do Commissioners make decisions with no apparent discussion? Vulcan mind meld? The quorum rule is a joke, two Commissioners can't chat together without having a legal meeting with records. Their spouses are all friends and can chit chat all they want. It is obvious the controversial deals are all done in private. It is time for responsible, mentally mature adults to be in charge instead of demagogues with religious agendas. Their agenda makes it OK to sneak around the law in service of a higher law of the little God voice in their head. I hope they're not on the same frequency as the Bundy radio program from God, but recent events indicate they might be picking up the signals.

West Valley Ted

I agree with Horse - all deals done behind closed doors. Add to the list of spouses, etc., county administrators who can go from door to door telling one commissioner what the other commissioner is thinking. There is no transparency, no accountability, and no trust in our county government anymore. Time for a change staring with electing Rick Olson as commissioner.


Scott, I appreciate your comment. The part that I find difficult from Apple's standpoint is that it seems that they want "it both ways". They (Apple) makes hardware and software that is more invasive to privacy than ever in history. They (and their products) collect more private information from users than users can imagine. The information is sold to everyone around the world for tremendous profits. They want to protect information from the government but at the same time allow following a users every move on the internet for financial gain. If they were really concerned about user privacy they wouldn't make it so easy (or accept/promote) to track every user's movement.


"When this new bond passes, you will see no change in your tax bill because the old bond is expiring." This talking point is really something. Did everyone get the same message? I think they did.

Since my personal budget allowed for buying a new car last month, I think I'll buy a new truck this month. I won't notice the difference since I'll spending the same this month as last month. Then next month I'll buy a new boat. I won't notice the difference in my budget because I'll be spending the same as last month. If I keep this scenario going I will soon have everything I always wanted. Hummmmmm ... I wonder if the status of my budget will ever notice? I wonder if I will ever figure out that if I don't keep buying that my budget might become more healthy?


I think, kona, you fundamentally misunderstand Apple's data collection policies. Apple does not sell user data "...to everyone around the world for tremendous profits." Nor does it follow "...a users (sic) every move on the internet (sic) for financial gain."

Overwhelmingly, apps which collect user data do so to integrate a user's experience with the Internet's inherent mobility-friendliness and to enable user customization. Simply put, having limited access to certain details about a user allows a level of personal functionality never before possible. If I get a flat tire, my mobile device (which knows where I am) will give me the ability to contact a tire shop nearby, as opposed to a shop in a distant city. Advertising, which pays for many of the free apps and services I use, will also be tailored to my interests. For me, this means my mobile device might display an ad for golf equipment (one of my interests) instead of women's shoes (not one of my interests).

See http://www.apple.com/privacy/

Altogether, I enjoy the benefits I get from sharing limited data with Apple. And, in light of recent events, I am fairly confident my data will not be misused or freely shared.


Addressing your second point, kona, there is a very basic inconsistency in your analogy: need. To purchase an unneeded automobile simply because you paid the last one off is ridiculous, as you point out. Likewise, funding unneeded school facilities simply because the old bond expired is equally absurd.

But many would disagree that new school facilities are unneeded. We expect our leaders to be good stewards of public money -- part of that stewardship is planning for the future while ensuring current needs are met. In my opinion, our school board is doing just that.


Trafik, you must have missed the technical report that was presented on mainstream news and CNBC last week that 80 percent of the apps on the market have a backdoor entry that allows total access to all of the information stored on a mobile phone.

You said, " If I get a flat tire, my mobile device (which knows where I am) .... ". I rest my case.


My point, kona, was that I like the convenience of my mobile device being able to help me when I need it. I consider myself savvy enough to avoid common traps which might cause me to inadvertently reveal sensitive information and unimportant enough to not be worried that my "every move" is being closely monitored.


Trafik, addressing the second point concerning spending a $60 million redo of the high school. The capacity of this redo is not expected to be filled for 20 years. That will require a great amount of operating revenue to support the redo at a same time that there will be pressure to cut personnel because of the tremendous increase in PERS obligations. There will be pleas for more tax revenue or there will be a cut in personnel.

You said, "But many would disagree that new school facilities are unneeded". I agree, just like I need a new truck and a new boat. I do agree that there are needs. I am not yet convinced that we need to build now for 20 years in the future (with a $60 million pricetag).

I guess we'll just have to wait for the voting results and go with the vote.


You're right, need is relative. One person's need is another's luxury but, in an increasingly competitive world, I'm unwilling to trade the short-term satisfaction of temporarily lower taxes for the long-term goal of ensuring McMinnville's ability to adequately educate its youth.

One of the positive aspects of living in the Portland area that struck me immediately when I moved here was the long-term planning of 50 years as opposed to most communities' 20-year vision. Refreshingly, McMinnville's planning is similarly far-focused.

It's totally understandable to single out PERS -- the most unprofessionally-planned retirement program I've ever seen -- as the culprit. But public resentment against PERS might be better directed at truly fixing or reducing the program's funding liabilities instead of simply opposing long-term MSD needs because its employees benefit from the PERS debacle.

Heck, take your fight to ODE or OEA directly, but don't take it to my kids.


I appreciate your comment. I think you misunderstood the relationship I mentioned concerning the effect of PERS.

You said, " But public resentment against PERS might be better directed at truly fixing or reducing the program's funding liabilities instead of simply opposing long-term MSD needs because its employees benefit from the PERS debacle".

My reasoning had nothing to do with "public resentment". It is the reality of staffing this expansion. There will be a need to increas staffing for this large addition. Where will the additionally needed operating revenue come when there will be considerable pressure from the increasing PERS obligations?

Our high school isn't in dire need of a $60 million dollar addition which won't reach capacity for another 20 years. A good example is tearing down and rebuilding one of the best gyms in Oregon. Where was this "great planning" when the relatively new 2nd gym was built to substandard specifications and now planned to be demolished? I will suggest that there can be many improvements at a lower pricetag (less than $60 million). But again, I will be completely at ease with whatever voters approve.


Trafik, I appreciate that you individually think you are "savvy". Those are famous "last words" of all of the individuals, corporations and public agencies (including the IRS) that have been hacked. Isn't there some concern that your spending habits, physical location and most movements you make on the internet are tracked? Doesn't this reflect an invasion of privacy?


How do you counter the argument that I simply cannot afford it? My taxes are too high now.
Maybe I could add a second job and pay for this measure with the extra money.
Again, all these ambitious plans don't fit my budget. What do you suggest? I'm serious.


So let me get this straight: We shouldn't update the school because a bigger facility will require more staffers who will be enrolled in PERS, which will further increase the PERS unfunded liability? As the community -- and school enrollment -- grows we keep staffing at existing levels? Seriously?

It seems to me that part of growth is staffing, unless we don't mind classes of outrageous sizes. Further, to build new facilities which would reach capacity immediately ("...which won't reach capacity for another 20 years...") would be, in my opinion, the height of bad planning. When I vote for school board candidates, I want them looking at least that far ahead.

I understand your point, kona, that less expensive options may exist. You may well be correct. But I have difficulty accepting your reasoning behind it.


Oh, and as to the phone issue, I like to live dangerously. Recently, I accepted an offer from a Nigerian prince who assured me he would wire me half his fortune of $18 billion if I would only send him the $5000 he needed to spirit it out of his country. I jumped at the chance to help him and am now eagerly awaiting my cash.


That generous person called me several times also. What a great guy to think about us in Yamhill County.

I have also the people from "Microsoft" who need to take care of all of the problems they have detected. They only need about five minutes to get control of my computer to fix everything.


Trafik you said, "So let me get this straight: We shouldn't update the school because a bigger facility will require more staffers who will be enrolled in PERS, which will further increase the PERS unfunded liability? As the community -- and school enrollment -- grows we keep staffing at existing levels? Seriously?"

No, you didn't get that straight. With no student increase, the overhead will be greatly increase at a time PERS obligations will be greatly increasing regardless if McMinnville hires more "staffers". But, there will be more "staffers" required in addition to the PERS obligations. So, where will the operating revenues come?

You said, "Further, to build new facilities which would reach capacity immediately ("...which won't reach capacity for another 20 years...") would be, in my opinion, the height of bad planning".
I totally agree, but that isn't close to what I suggested. McMinnville has smaller class sizes now than almost all high schools in Oregon close to McMinnville's size.

This bond is being pushed so hard because "When this new bond passes, you will see no change in your tax bill because the old bond is expiring." That is the talking point that everyone on the committee has been instructed to repeat along with the school board. It is almost comical the way these well educated people make sure they insert almost the exact same wording in every comment. Naturally none ever suggest that the average house hold will save $400 per year if it doesn't pass.

Does this mean that the school district won't ask for more tax revenue for the next 20 years? If that is what they are trying to subtly suggest I'm all for it. I have this feeling that there will be many more requests in the near future.


Just for your information, McMinnville High School presently has smaller class sizes in English and Science classes than these Oregon districts:
Lake Oswego
Klamath County
Forest Grove
Oregon City
West Linn Sherwood
North Clackamas


Additionally, these districts also have larger high school English and Science class sizes than McMinnville High School:
David Douglas


Sheer marketing, kona, that talking point. (And, for what it's worth, you're right to point out the conspicuous-by-its-absence monthly savings.) I have been known to grumble when school bonds are floated and, even though my property tax bill is high enough, I will vote yes on this bond. Having volunteered in MSD schools and worked with MSD administration for years, I can attest to the district's responsible stewardship. But I do understand your points.

Horse with no name

It amazes me how citizens concerned how the county and state are spending tax money will debate endlessly whether to vote for or against funding education. When it comes to giving tax breaks for a business to locate in your area there is far less debate, yet the gripes about taxes comes from the lack of tax revenue. Only suckers believe in trickle down economics and working people paying the bulk of the taxes while those with more get a pass. That is not sustainable. Funding education should be a no-brainer no matter your political persuasion. Corporate welfare and unsustainable PERS are the problems.


I still can't afford it.


Horse with no name, there is a very real phenomena of "trickle down economics". It is real, powerful and mostly very positive. When people and businesses are doing well there is a corresponding increase in productivity and prosperity that ripples through the economy to every level of the government to the lowest level of employees.

You said, "Funding education should be a no-brainer no matter your political persuasion". I agree generally, but it really depends on the quality and quantity of the funding. Just throwing money at education because the previous bond is expiring is not a solution.

You said, "working people paying the bulk of the taxes while those with more get a pass". That is just incorrect.
I realize this is five years old, but it is more dramatic now in 2016. "The top 10 percent of all income earners paid 71 percent of federal income taxes in 2010, yet they earned 45 percent of all federal income. Compare that to the bottom 50 percent of earners, who earn 12 percent of income yet pay only 2 percent of federal income taxes."

The U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate of any first world country.


While your statement sounds good, I think there might be more to the story....your example that the top 10% paid 71% and only "earned" 45% of the federal tax.....Don't you suppose that the top 10% has a large percentage of the deductions and credits to reduce taxable income?...wouldn't that reduce their "earned" income figures?

having the highest corporate tax rate is indeed a problem, but another larger issue is that many huge corporations have paid little or no tax due to their ability to manuver through the tax code..(see Chevron for instance.)I would be very happy to see the tax rates drop as long as the loopholes for business disappear as well....

The tax codes are set up to help the special interests and big business.....A flat percentage of all income would be an intersting experiment.


Tagup, I understand your reasoning. The lower the income, the higher percentage of tax deductions in relation to income. Think of all of the deductions that are capped at higher incomes, e.g. IRAs, Capital gains on houses etc. There are many. Lower incomes have many more deductions/credits available than higher incomes.

You said, " many huge corporations have paid little or no tax due to their ability to maneuver through the tax code. I agree, but many (perhaps most) of those deductions are targeted toward increased employment (which produces tax revenues), investments, depreciation, research or losses of income. There are many reasons deemed by our government to be positive for our economy.

I am in total agreement with you that the tax code is extremely more complicated for business and individuals than it should be. There is too much opportunity for manipulation, as you suggest.


2014......GM, Merck, Public Storage, CBS, Mattel, PG&E, Time Warner, Weyerhaeuser, Xerox, Prudential financial......just some of the many examples of companies that paid zero federal tax. Some have had no tax for multiple years in a row..
Changing the corporate tax rate doesn't have any impact at all on these guys....the already avoid any tax. This is about we'll paid lobbiests with congressmen in their pockets.
As far as comparing individuals ....let's compare marginal tax rates.... That's how you see who is paying a fair share....


Tagup, as I said previously, there are many different reasons why corporations and individuals sometimes don't pay taxes. In GM's situation they went bankrupt. Some of the corporations moved out of the country like Burger King (and many more) because of the highest corporate tax rate in the civilized world. It is why Apple keeps so much of its income out of the U.S.

I don't know what this has to do with the proposed education bond. I apologize for the tangent.