Letters to St. Helens Update

 

Letters to the Update are the opinions of the  writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Bill Eagle, or that of his wife, children, mother, father, sisters , brothers, domestic pets etc..

See My Standard Disclaimer.  Send all  letters to eaglew@sthelensupdate.com

From: Nancy Whitney 3/24/19

Fashion designers and manufacturers are quickly redesigning their operations to help with shortages of masks and gowns in the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week the American fashion industry closed stores and factories, both voluntarily and by government orders, to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

But by this last weekend these designer manufacturers and factories on both coasts began to change  from making high price clothing to making surgical face masks and other protective gear for all those people on the front lines who fight to save lives in this never before seen pandemic disaster.

Los Angeles Apparel is already making surgical masks. On Monday it began making hospital gowns as well.  The company’s founder hopes his 150,000-square-foot factory can produce 300,000 masks and 50,000 gowns in a week.

Christian Siriano, another fashion designer, has his seamstresses in New York making masks now and hopes to produce a few thousand this week.

Even though the White House is running in circles trying to impress the public with varying misrepresentations of what is actually happening in the world, is it not heartwarming to see what Americans can do all on their own?

It is also happening locally - both the good and the bad. My husband and I went shopping at a grocery store very early last Sunday morning. Supposedly the grocery was to open at 6 am but did not actually open until 7 am. We were there at both times as were many other older people.

As I began filling my cart, I noticed there had been a large increase in prices, especially in the fresh fruit and vegetable isles and in the meat department. We finally decided we did not want to purchase more at this store and went to the checkout stand.

While standing in line, a gentlemen in the next line asked the checker for what single item he had been charged $24. She held up a package of toilet paper containing only twelve rolls. He said he was not paying that and that he wanted it deducted from his total. She appeared embarrassed and was polite in completing his request. We also heard this checker state that she wished this day was over. Not a pretty picture.

Now for the good. My husband and I decided to try St. Helens Market Fresh (formerly Red Apple - I continue to use that name) on Columbia Boulevard. We took our shopping bags and went inside.

I noticed immediately that the fruit and vegetable isle was considerably lower priced than at the other store - as was the meat department. I checked other items in the store and the prices had not been raised. We loaded up on things we needed while thanking the people working there for not taking advantage of a bad situation.

There was one person ahead of me in the checkout line. The checker asked that I not put our items on the counter until she had finished with him. She then took out a cleaner and cloth and wiped down the entire counter including the mechanism which accepts debit and credit cards. She asked that I not put our own shopping bags on the counter as she could not touch them but said she would use only paper bags and that there would be no charge for those bags. I want to go back and hug her when this disaster is over.

So many services and businesses have been closed in the state. I bake for Community Meals - for 120 friends at a time - but that has been stopped because of coronavirus. Kathy Bauska, the heart and soul of Community Meals, told me to bake one item and leave it on a doorstep. I did so.

Ms. Bauska also asked that I include the fact that Community Meals was started back in 2009 when so many people lost their jobs and their homes and needed to be fed. She further stated, “This is going to be worse. We need to plan ahead and commit our thoughts to the future - to support and help people to get back what they lost”.

Even with the controversial statements being issued on a daily basis from the White House, I believe the American people themselves can handle this crisis - people like the checker at Red Apple and Kathy Bauska from CM - and the fellow who walks by with his dog and won’t let me pet it “until this nightmare is over”.

I believe they will all come through with flying colors - and I sincerely hope that I and all the people I love come through with them

 

From: Bill Allen 3/19/20

When Chris Brumbles proposed his original Second Amendment ordinance, I attended his presentation to the Columbia County commissioners. There was a fair size crowd and numerous individuals made statements in support of their Second Amendment rights. At the end of the supporters' comments I spoke. The gist of it was that I had heard 40 minutes about the group's rights, but not once did I hear the word responsibility. You cannot realistically discuss one without discussing the other. It is called social responsibility and we all have an obligation to make concessions when it is clearly in the best interests of society.

In Chris's Friday, March 13, 2020 Spotlight letter [Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance on fall ballot] Chris stated, "The government's sole purpose for existing is to protect our rights…" Before the Chris's of the world start screaming about their rights, perhaps they should have a clue about the actual intent of our Constitution. Let me go through the preamble line-by-line, with annotations, so people like Chris can understand.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, [The goal.] establish Justice, [Equal and applicable to all.] insure domestic Tranquility, [Bring the people together as a nation; E Pluribus Unum.] provide for the common defense, [Not offense and not at the expense of all else.] promote the general Welfare, [Health, safety, environment, living wage, ….] and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, [Leave our children a future world that we would be proud of.] do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. [We the people do give you, our elective government, the authority to achieve the above stated goals.]"

This is our compact with our representatives. The stated reasons that the Constitution was written. THIS is their job Chris; the Founders' original intent. The success or failure of these goals is inextricably linked to the sense of community, cooperation, and compromise of We the People. Chris, and many other Americans, have perverted the original words to  Me the People. This interpretation is unsustainable in a civilized society.

 

From: Darrel Whipple 3/6/20

During my 20 years as a member of the Lower Columbia River Watershed Council from its inception until 2015, I was painfully aware that the earnest efforts of all the councils in the region to reverse the salmon’s slide toward extinction were insufficient to save these magnificent fish.

I was heartened last month to hear a politician finally say what scientists have known for years: Removing the four dams on the Lower Snake River is key to any serious effort to prevent the extinction of Snake River salmon and Southern Resident orcas.

I’d like to thank Governor Kate Brown for publicly supporting the removal of the four dams.

We have an historic opportunity to remove these dams and bring back our fish. And studies show that we can replace the power these dams make without resorting to dirty fossil fuels or breaking the bank. Leadership from Governor Brown, and other elected officials in the Pacific Northwest, will be necessary in the coming months to craft workable solutions for our region.

 

From: L.T.  Hales  2/29/20

The Senate Joint Committee on Ways and Means hearing on the carbon tax bill, Senate Bill 1530, that both Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, and Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, eloquently oppose, showed their education, experience and concern for their constituents' interests.

They understand this carbon tax is based on false science and the true goal is an enormous tax.

Following a cursory reading of the Columbia County Republican forum on Facebook, we see a Republican candidate who threw his hat in the ring for House District 31 who doesn't appear to possess the education to read and understand lengthy, legalistic, legislative bills. Just opposing the governor's agenda does not qualify one to be a state representative.

Many thanks to Senator Johnson and Representative Witt for their excellent representation and holding firm on their decision to protect constituents from this carbon tax that will just fatten the state's coffer while depleting the wallets of taxpayers. 

 

From: Brad Whitt 2/28/20

Cap and Trade

The Capitol has become very quiet, as most Republicans from both the Senate and House have left the building.

The GOP Senators began the walkout Monday after SB 1530 the Cap and Trade Carbon Tax bill was voted out of the Ways and Means Committee and scheduled for a Senate floor vote. On Tuesday, the House Republicans joined them which resulted in denying quorums in both the Senate and House Chambers.

I believe the walkout over the Cap and Trade bill could have been avoided. I introduced a compromise amendment to the House version of the Cap and Trade, HB 4167.

My plan would lower the state’s carbon output, while incentivizing individuals and businesses to work toward carbon reduction without putting an undue financial burden on rural Oregonians. Instead of creating an additional bureaucracy to implement the carbon legislation, my proposal creates a Carbon Sequestration Investments Fund and Commission. The Commission members would be Oregonians, appointed by the Governor, and would award grants for programs, projects and activities that support innovations in research, science, technology and natural resource management for carbon reduction. Grants could be awarded to businesses, schools, even individuals.

I worked with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to come up with this amendment, and I know it had bi-partisan support. Unfortunately, my amendment and the other amendments proposed for HB 4167 were, in my opinion, never seriously considered and my Republican colleagues felt it was necessary to leave, to block a vote on a Cap and Trade bill they could not support.

Unless we have some Republicans return to the Capitol, we have many issues we cannot address this Session. When we began the Session, we received the positive news that Oregon’s tax revenues had exceeded the economist’s projections.

We were taking a close look to determine if some of Oregon’s most critical needs would receive funding. It’s disappointing to me that health care, homelessness, affordable housing, and shoring up the financially troubled Department of Forestry, are all issues that may have to wait either for a Special Session, or the 2021 Session to be addressed.

But I was heartened when Rep. Rob Nosse extended courtesies to House Democrats on Wednesday.

“It is because of all of you that we have passed historic funding for our public schools, expanded access to health care, protected the rights of every Oregonian, and made progress on our state’s affordable housing crisis,” Rep. Nosse said.

Be engaged

While legislation is currently not moving in either Chamber, my office is here to assist my constituents. If you need help on a state issue or have a concern regarding a state agency, contact my office and we will see what can be done.

Rep. Brad Witt serves House District 31. He may be reach at:

Email: Rep.BradWitt@oregonlegislature.gov

· Telephone: 503-986-1431

· Capitol Building: 900 Court St NE, H-382, Salem, OR, 97301

Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/witt

 

From: Nancy Whitney 2/25/20

Back in August, St. Helens City Councilperson Steve Topaz filed a complaint with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission against St. Helens City Council members Doug Morten, Keith Locke, Ginny Carlson and Mayor Rick Scholl.

The City met at the Portland offices of Maul Foster Alongi which was announced by the City as being a closed session in order to discuss real estate transactions. Now, this type of meeting the City could have gotten away. It is my understanding that only discussions pertaining to real estate transactions, employees and privileged meetings with attorneys can be held in private executive discussions.

However, as it turned out, the mayor and city council members, including Steve Topaz, and city staff members met with Maul Foster Alongi, members of the Governor's Office, the Environmental Protection Agency and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to discuss an entirely different project. This, they cannot get away with and an investigation was launched by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

The topic of this illegal  meeting is clear, of course. City council people have been attempting for years to cover up their past mistakes by accepting millions of dollars to allow additional poisonous carcinogenic sludge from the Portland Harbor Superfund - one of the most filthy and toxic sites in the nation - to be dumped on St. Helens property.

This  property is located on the waterfront between the old paper mill and the old sawmill. It already contains a lagoon which is leaking poisonous contamination into the Multnomah channel and thus into the Columbia River.

This lovely piece of property is the site which was promised to the citizens who paid for it to be developed into a park with water access, picnic tables and walking paths. Later it was suggested that condos and businesses be built in this area. That is not working out well for the City either.

The Spotlight reported this situation nearly a year ago and has since reported that the Oregon Ethics Committee proceeded with a formal investigation of this illegal meeting: "Based on the information available during this preliminary review, it appears that matters discussed in the executive session may not have been authorized under either of these statutory citations," ethics agency reports state.”.

City councilpersons e subjected to a fine of $5,000 each. A hearing on this matter has been set for late March.

Want some other interesting tidbits which have not been confirmed even though  I attempted to reach City Administrator John Walsh a few days ago?

In a couple of weeks it appears the City of St. Helens is going to surprise us with another E2C/Tina Currey-Cannard project. It is rumored to be scheduled for June, July, August and September and will take place in downtown St. Helens.

The only other information I have so far is that it is something from China which will also appear in New York and Los Angeles. Seattle apparently was not interested. Let us hope it is not the coronavirus.

It seems this project was a hot topic at the last executive meeting for the St. Helens City Council. I do not yet know the details of the objections but it seems the mayor disagreed with the new project and attempted to fire City Administrator John Walsh and Event Director Tina Currey-Cannard. He was informed that he could not do so in his position as mayor.

So, what do you think? I normally do not care for City surprises but this one has be curious.

 

From: Nancy Whitney 2/17/20

Starting on January 1, 2020, Oregon retail stores and restaurants were forced by law to discontinue the use of single-use plastic checkout bags. This change was approved by the 2019 Oregon Legislature, which passed the Sustainable Shopping Initiative (House Bill 2509).

HB 2509 prohibits retail establishments from providing single-use checkout bags to customers, and to charge not less than five cents each for recycled paper checkout bags, reusable fabric checkout bags or reusable plastic checkout bags provided to customers, except in certain circumstances. Those circumstances are not fully clear in HB2509.

This House Bill also establishes a maximum fine of  $250 per violation.

Unfortunately, it also repeals the statute requiring retail establishments that offer plastic bags to customers to also offer paper bags.

Now, if I forget my own carrying bags while shopping, I must use plastic because paper bags are sometimes not available. And I must pay for the privilege.

When faced with this dilemma recently at the local WalMart, I actually piled my purchases in the shopping basket, wheeled it outside to my car and stood in the pouring rain while reloading into my own non-plastic bags. I will not again forget my own bags.

You know - plastic is plastic no matter if the plastic is thicker or that it can be used more than once. Eventually it will all end up in landfills because those of us who have recycled in the past will continue to do so or will use our own carriers. Those who have never recycled will continue to throw plastic in the garbage. They just have to pay for it now.

There is one excellent answer to this quandary. QUIT MAKING PLASTIC.

Which brings me to my next point of environmental disaster involving products created from or related to oil .

In 2016, 2017 and 2019, the Oregon Department of Energy, through Chemical Waste Management,  illegally buried over two million pounds of radioactive fracking waste in Arlington, Oregon - under five miles from the Columbia River.

According to Columbia Riverkeepers, the fracking process “uses tremendous amounts of fresh water, which gathers and concentrates radioactive elements from rock formations”.

The Oregon Department of Energy has admitted that some of the waste received by CWM from the North Dakota frackers (this may be a new word) was over 300 times the amount of radioactivity allowed in Oregon landfills.

The crux of this issue is that the State of Oregon is not planning to fine Chemical Waste Management.

Call Governor Brown at 503-378-4582. Call Attorney General Rosenblum at 503-378-4320.

Tell them they must hold corporations morally and financially accountable for their behavior.

Nancy Whitney
St. Helens

 

 

From: Wayne Mayo 2/8/20

I thought it was an outstanding, encouraging State of the union address.

President Donald Trump is right: “America is back and we’re not going down again”

He honored a WW II veteran, soldiers, wives and children who’ve risked and lost for America. He honored a courageous young relief worker who lost her life after being kidnapped while on assignment.  He honored a bright young woman and, by extension, her hardworking single mother with a scholarship to a non-failing prep school. He honored a national radio personality with the Medal of Freedom as he battles advanced lung cancer.

To the future: The military, school choice, judges, abortion, life for the businesses of America, demanding the Europeans pay their fair share of NATO, and refreshing trade parity with our trading partners. It’s all on the agenda.

Considering most of us would’ve withered under the attacks the tag team compromised of Democrats and the mainstream media hurled at him daily, he makes Rocky Balboa look like a slacker.

He makes me think of Harry Truman.

 

From: Greg Pettit 2/4/20

I recently attended the Climate Summit held at the Elks Lodge in St. Helens and sponsored by the Republican Party of Columbia County. The Summit featured presentations by Chuck Weise and Dr. Gordon Fulks that provided data and theories that they believed disprove that human caused pollution with green house gases was causing global warming.

Prior to attending the Summit, I researched the backgrounds of Chuck Weise and Dr. Fulks. I found both were frequent presenters at conservative political organizations that would be sympathetic to arguments disproving Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Many of these presentations are available online. Chuck Weise was a meteorologist before changing careers to become an airline pilot (I remember watching Mr. Weise as a TV meteorologist). Dr. Fulks has a Ph.D. in astrophysics. I did not find any information that either had published journal articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals on their theories about climate change, nor had they worked in a professional capacity conducting research related to climate change. While both are smart and have legitimate scientific backgrounds, I do not consider them bona fide climate scientists.

I spent my career working in a scientific field and have attended hundreds of conferences and presentations where scientific research was presented. Never have I seen a scientific presentation start out with a political diatribe. Mr. Weise started his presentation denouncing Democrats and Kate Brown and praising the Oregon Republican Senators for walking out of the Senate at the conclusion of last year’s session. The return to their conservative political opinions was a frequent occurrence of both presenters. Obviously intended to ingratiate themselves with the mood of the largely conservative audience while at the same time completely discrediting any objective scientific credibility.

At the conclusion of the presentations they opened the floor to questions from the audience. Perhaps unwisely, I thought there may have been people in the audience who wanted to figure out what to believe. I made a statement about how do we know what to believe and attempted to suggest ways people could verify the credibility of the presenter’s positions. This was not well received by many in the audience.

The largely Republican audience who support a president who denies AGW and opposes carbon reduction initiatives wanted “scientific evidence” to support their positions. Mr. Weise and Dr. Fulks gave them exactly what they wanted. That is what they do using the false technique of scientific equivalency.

The information they presented was highly biased, cherry-picked, linked to political affiliations, and not credible.

There is no longer any debate in the legitimate scientific community that global warming is occurring and caused by humans. Ninety-seven percent of bona fide climate scientists agree.

Studies into scientific agreement on human caused global warming:

· Oreskes, 2004, 90%

· Doran, 2009, 97%

· Anderegg, 2010, 97%

· Cook, 2013, 97%

· Verheggen, 2014, 91%

· Stenhouse, 2014, 93%

· Colton, 2015, 97%

These studies found a high correlation between the level of expertise in climate science and the level of agreement with AGW. For example, in one study the overall agreement with a large pool of 3000 scientists showed a 90% agreement, those who had over 50% of their peer reviewed scientific articles on climate change had a 97.4 percent agreement. It also found a strong correlation between those

few who didn’t agree and with either a political affiliation skeptical of AGW or a financial dependence on funding sources with a conflict of interest (fossil fuel companies).

In science, consensus is developed over time developing hypothesis, testing them, and publishing the results. Peer reviewed journal articles are the gold standard verifying the studies are conducted using accepted and credible scientific methods. There is much back and forth but eventually a scientific consensus is reached. Ninety-seven percent is about as good as it gets; about the same consensus there is that smoking causes cancer.

If you don’t want to believe these climate scientists perhaps you would believe these sources:

· Debbie Dooley was one of the primary founders of the Tea Party Movement. She has become a strong proponent of supporting renewable energy and addressing climate change. She says this earth is not a Republican or Democratic earth, it’s not conservative or liberal. She believes we owe it to future generations and our grandchildren to protect this earth from the catastrophic effects of climate change.

· The Pentagon: Adopted Climate Change Roadmap and 2016 DOD Directive 4715.21 Climate Change Adaptability and Resilience

· Exxon Mobile: 2017 Harvard study of 187 Exxon scientific papers and internal memos written by company scientists. 83% of peer reviewed papers and 80% of internal memos supported the climate was warming and it was caused by humans.

I am not going to go through each of their technical arguments one by one, because I am not a climate scientist and that has already been done by real climate scientists and published in peer reviewed scientific journals. If Mr. Weise and Dr. Fulks really wanted to establish scientific credibility for their positions they would have them published in scientific journals. The fact that they have either not chosen or been able to do that says volumes about the credibility of those arguments. If you would like to research this further, the website, Skepticalscience.com, debunks all the climate change deniers’ arguments (including those presented by Weise and Fulks) and contains references for the studies and accompanying journal articles from which the debunking information is derived.

Since I was characterized as a “radical leftist” in the Brumbles letter, I would like to tell you where I stand.

It is true that I am a proud progressive Democrat and Chair of the Columbia County Democratic Party. That is because I believe the Democratic platform provides the best; education, public safety, housing, health care, consumer protection, and foreign policy for working class American families and not just for the top one percent. We believe in the basic truth that all humans have inherent human rights; that money is not speech; that health care should be a right for all Americans and not just for those who can afford it; we believe our country was founded by immigrants and stand against xenophobic, prejudiced and racist rhetoric and policies; we support the second amendment and believe that it is not in conflict with common sense gun regulations that save innocent lives.

I am strongly in opposition to the tribalism, confirmation bias, and the vilification of those who do not share our political opinion that has consumed our country. Despite our political affiliations we have far more interest in common than those that divide us. I have many friends and family members who are Republicans and support President Trump who I know to be wonderful people and whom I love. We basically want the same things for ourselves and our families. If we can work together to understand each other’s needs and interests, we will be far more successful in moving our country forward.

I want to recognize that Traci Brumbles, Columbia County Republican Party Chair, did in my opinion a good and fair job of moderating the Climate Summit. I would also want to acknowledge and express my appreciation of the several conservatives who after the Summit shook my hand and let me know, that although they may not agree with me, they respected my right to express my opinion and bore me no ill will.

The material and opinions expressed in this article are my own and have not been endorsed by the Columbia County Democratic Central Committee.

From: Pat Rubino 1/23/20

I’m Pat Rubino, and at one point, I almost lost my home due to the cost of my heart medication following the surgery.

At the last minute, a program agreed to cover what I needed, but no one should ever face such a stressful situation while also battling illness. Recent polling shows that it isn’t just me. About one in four Americans can’t afford a prescription. It’s plain wrong. While we all wait on the federal government to act, there is good news.

The Oregon legislature has taken up a bill that would allow me to get cheaper prescription drugs from Canada if necessary while we await change that will relieve us all. I am compelled to speak out because, if more of us ask for meaningful action on this issue, our elected leaders will begin to listen.

Yes, we need and deserve affordable medications. And yes, we vote. We need relief now.

 

From: Richard Ellmyer 1/20/20

Trump über alles is the battle cry of the 36 deceptive smiley faces below of elected Oregon Republicans who oppose our American constitutional requirement of separation of powers and the obligation of the congress to hold the executive branch accountable for its behavior.

 These 36 elected Oregon Republicans, the party of Faust, reject facts, science, evidence and truth They stand by blind Republican tribalism supported only by lies and fantasy conspiracy theories. They envision government as a reality TV show. Their raison d'être is to transfer as much of our country’s wealth to the richest individuals and corporations as possible. They condone, indeed, invite Russian and other foreign interference in our Oregon and American elections. They rave pathologically cultish loyalty to orange skinned Apollyon, Donald Trump as did the originally orange dressed people who were subservient, sometimes criminal, devotees of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

 

 These Republicans, who, in another time, would have enthusiastically voted for Jefferson Davis, say Donald Trump is fit to be President, an exemplar of values and behavior to Oregon’s and America’s children and should not be impeached for the serious charges laid against him by our United States House of Representatives.*1

 

 These Republicans are brethren to those that clung to the disgraced Richard Nixon even after he resigned in ignominy.

 

 These Republicans venerate Trump, and his crime family, despite legal judgements that closed down Trump’s so-called charity foundation for fraud and fined him two million dollars for stealing.

 

 Along with Republican Senate leader, Moscow Mitch McConnell, these Republicans are now useful idiot comrades in Vladimir Putin’s long term disinformation campaign to blame Ukraine for interference in our elections which has been exposed and rejected as false by our Federal Bureau of Investigation, every one of our American Intelligence Agencies and the Mueller Report.

 

 Concerned Oregonians will want to ask these shameless, fearful, if not cowardly, dissemblers why they have NOT issued press releases and posted them on their official websites exposing their tortured defensive arguments opposing the fact based, weighty and credible impeachment charges against Donald Trump.*1

 

 “Contrary to what President Trump says, Article Two does not give him the power to do anything he wants. The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he cannot make him a baron.” Stanford law professor Pamela Karlin testified as an example differentiating between a presidency and a king.

 

 Our forefathers fought against a king and for a democracy. In our country NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW.

 

Voting is not enough. Our government, “of, by and for the People” REQUIRES citizens to publicly participate. If we do not fight for our American democracy then the forces of darkness will surely take it away.

 

 

From: Nancy Whitney 1/7/20

Doesn’t it look great in downtown St. Helens since the metal fence has been removed from the waterfront property - both at the end of First Street and along Strand? The gate still remains, standing alone, but I expect it too will soon be gone. A rotten apple tree has been cut down and I expect also that grass and trees will soon be planted.

When you turn onto First Street from Columbia Boulevard, one can see all the way to the tip of Sauvie Island and the Multnomah Channel and a part of the Columbia River. A turn onto Strand or Cowlitz gives a view of the shimmering Columbia like I have never seen from this area. Most unsightly obstacles have been removed.

The businesses on Front Street have great parking on the lot next to the old John Gumm School site and up and down the entire street with an illegal U-turn used at the conjunction of First and Cowlitz. This U-turn has been used - legally of illegally - since before I attended high school in St. Helens. And, trust me, that is a long time ago.

However, the parking on Cowlitz and Strand remains atrocious. If one parks at the far end of Strand, it is most likely you must back out into traffic incoming from both Strand and Cowlitz. It is possible to maneuver your vehicle into an illegal U-turn if there are no really long pickup trucks intruding into the street.

Parking in front of the defunct Klondike building and around the corner to the end of Strand Street is limited to 2 hours. That pretty much eliminates parking for those who live in the lovely Waterside Apartments.

OK, St. Helens, you have made a good start with the fence removal.  So why not continue a loop from the end of Strand Street to connect with First Street and eliminate the bottleneck in that entire area? What would it take - 50 feet of the waterfront property? It wouldn’t surprise me if you could even get volunteers to help with this project.

It is time for the St. Helens City Council to give up on their grandiose ideas of high rent condos and storefronts on the Old Mill Property.

It is time for the Council to quit throwing around the really stupid idea of accepting carcinogenic sludge from the Portland Harbor Superfund into our own poisonous lagoon in order to make money for these grandiose plans.

Whether or not the former mayor of St. Helens signed an “as-is” clause on the purchase of this property from Boise Cascade, I would be willing to bet there is a helluva law suit which could be brought on this purchase.

It is time to quit writing these mediocre grants for street signs that you can’t even bloody read unless you park your car. Put your time and efforts into writing grants that will clean up the poisonous lagoon and make a real park on the Columbia River waterfront - a park that will actually entice people to visit St. Helens.

We have one of the most beautiful spots along the entire Columbia River now that the paper mill is gone. Please take advantage of that.

It is time to give that land back to the people who paid for it.

 

From: Brad Witt 1/7/2020

I’m gratified to see so many people stepping up to participate in Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Established in 2015, January 9th is our opportunity to honor the men and women who serve in law enforcement and thank them for the daily sacrifices they make to protect our communities.

Law enforcement officers of every rank and file have chosen a profession that puts their life on the line every day for our communities. In 2019, 128 officers died in the line of duty in the United States. The majority died of gunshot wounds after responding to a domestic-related call, serving a high-risk warrant or working on an investigative activity.

The death of a law enforcement officer devastates a family in many ways, emotionally and financially. That is why I was honored to sponsor House Bill 2286 during the 2019 Legislative Session, which established a College Scholarship Fund for Fallen Public Safety Officers.

Now in Oregon, a college scholarship fund exists for the children of public safety officers killed or disabled in the line of duty. The scholarships are for the cost of tuition and fees for four years of higher education. The program is funded by 10 percent of civil forfeiture proceeds. HB 2286 received unanimous support in both chambers of the legislature and was signed by Governor Brown on May 5th. It was one of many pieces of legislation that took effect on January 1, 2020.

Another way that the Oregon Legislature continues to honor fallen law enforcement officers is through the Roadside Memorial Fund, which was established in 2011 allowing ODOT to receive and appropriate moneys to erect roadside memorial signs commemorating law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The Roadside Memorial program was expanded in 2013 to include members of the Armed Forces killed in Action.

This past session, Senator Betsy Johnson and I sponsored Senate Bill 528 adding firefighters to the Roadside Memorial program, like Scappoose fallen firefighter Robert Hales. SB 528 also received unanimous support in both chambers, was signed by the Governor on June 7th, and went into effect on January 1, 2020.

Next week, lawmakers will return to Salem for the final Legislative Days before the February short session. Legislative Days are a time for informational committee meetings, receive reports from state agencies, hear updates on legislation implementation, and make final plans for the February Session.

It is my privilege to represent you in the Oregon House of Representatives, so if you have a concern or comment or need help regarding a state issue or agency, please contact my office. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for reading my newsletter, and remember, January 9th is Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, so if you see a police officer, thank them for their service.

Brad Witt serves as State Representative for House District 31. He may be reached at 503-986-1431, and at Rep.BradWitt@oregonlegislature.gov. Rep. Witt's website is http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/witt.

 

From: D. Swan 12/26/19

There was an immediate, impressive reaction to the change in Spotlight policy to no longer publish commentary focused on national issues. I had requested reader input, and readers delivered.

Since then, in addition to feedback received in the way of letters and other commentary, I've had several conversations with Columbia County newsmakers regarding the policy shift. All told, the response — those in favor and those against the prohibition — was mostly even. There are compelling arguments on both sides.

One correspondence with Greg Pettit, chair of the Democratic Party of Columbia County, veered into questions about civil dialogue and the dire need for our national populace to rediscover the art of vigorous, yet courteous, debate. A conversation with Larry Ericksen, former chair of the Columbia County Republican Party, yielded a similar sentiment: As a society, as a community, we should be held to the standard of civility when discussing differences in political opinion and the perspective of good or bad governance.

A reasonable argument for continuing publication of commentary on national issues is that some Spotlight readers desire a credible platform to express themselves; interactions on social media pages aren't quite the same, it's not so easy to gain traction with the Washington Post or New York Times, and the Spotlight is a time-honored vehicle for expression and influence in Columbia County.

Here are just a few comments received on that front (note: attribution has been omitted considering some responders may not have anticipated having their comments published):

"National issues affect us all directly in one way or the other," wrote one reader. "Since the President of the United States is under investigation, and impeachment is almost certain, I feel that it is important for citizens of this great country to be able to express their concerns. After all the newspaper has always been an important factor in the birth of this nation."

Others, yet from a different political perspective, also referenced the impeachment proceedings and the desire to address them in the Spotlight. "Anytime something like this happens it's going to cause heated arguments between the two parties but, do you really think it's less important than a court case about asbestos or an ethics probe in St. Helens?" another reader responded, adding, "I don't think the Spotlight should decide what I or any other reader should care about or be interested in."

While we agree we shouldn't decide what the reader should read or find of interest, each week we do make many decisions about what to cover — and, hence, what not to cover. All news organizations make decisions about the focus of their coverage. The question here is whether the Spotlight is the appropriate platform for dialogue about national issues.

On the other end of the spectrum, concerns from those who favored halting publication of letters on national topics boiled down to a handful: they distract from local issues, are sometimes misleading and inaccurate, and are mean-spirited.

"I couldn't agree with you more about your new policy regarding topics on the national stage. The discussion has descended into a diatribe, and most of us our SICK of it!" a reader in favor of the policy shift responded. Another wrote, "I am sick and tired of reading about Nationwide letters to the editor in the, Spotlight."

And yet another, received Nov. 16: "I am a democrat and am very anxious to see Trump get impeached. That said I was going to call and cancel my subscription to your paper after reading this weeks letters. Things are only going to get more partisan and nasty as 2020 gets closer. I have no interest in reading letters about political issues that don't concern this county in my local paper."

Therein, as the expression goes, lies the rub. National issues do concern residents in all Columbia County communities — and all communities across this nation, for that matter. We appreciate, and relish, the notion that the Spotlight is the credible outlet Columbia County residents turn to to voice their opinions about whatever is affecting and influencing their lives, and want to be of service in that regard.

Here's the new deal: We'll resume publication of letters about national issues as those issues unquestionably affect our readership, but not all letters. Egocentric name-calling, bullying, mean-spiritedness and the like will be promptly deleted and filed in the trash. So too will any attempt to mislead our readership with false information — we'll do our best to ferret out such nonsense, but our resources are limited and we're not perfect. If false information slips through, we expect some help from our readers to identify those problems and to correct the record. Lastly, as has always been the case, we retain and reserve the right to publish, or not publish, any letter for any reason.

On the flipside, thoughtful letters that provide personal insight into the myriad issues — city, county, state and national — that influence and affect our lives will be published as time and space allow. In fact, they are encouraged.

We, like Pettit and Ericksen, believe there is a dire need in this country to rehabilitate our collective political dialogue. Let's see if we can start right here, in the pages of the Spotlight, with civil and thoughtful commentary that might illuminate and change a few minds rather than alienate and add to the partisan, divisive hate and anger that has become all too common.

From: Luanne K. 12/23/19

The Merchants’ Toy N Joy Auction Committee would like to thank everyone who helped make our 37th annual auction, “A Heroes Christmas,” such a success. We consider each one of our generous guests, volunteers, and the many local businesses, agencies, and individuals who donated cash and auction items as heroes for making the holiday season brighter for local children and families in need.

The Merchants’ Toy N Joy Auction, held on Dec. 7th, grossed $48,000 this year. Funds have been distributed to the following Columbia County agencies: Columbia River Fire & Rescue Volunteer Firefighters (Toy & Joy); Kiwanis Club of St. Helens (Holiday Hope); and Scappoose Fire Department (Share & Care). The Columbia Pacific Food Bank received $7600, from the evening’s paddle raise which is traditionally donated to them.

We wish to especially thank several of the key contributors to the evening’s activities: Santa Merle Pence, for his HoHoHo duties; Columbia River Fire and Rescue Volunteer Firefighters for the support throughout the evening as well as set-up; St. Helens High School Kiwanis Key Club for their service; and Mrs. Schaffer, 2nd grade teacher at Lewis and Clark Elementary, who assembled students’ hero quotes featured in our decorations. And, of course, no local auction would be complete without the auctioneering talents of Mark Kuhn – many thanks to Mark. Additionally, I personally wish to thank our committee’s board and volunteers. It is truly an honor to work with such a dedicated team who put in countless hours each year to make the evening magical.

Save the date (and that ugly Christmas sweater – as that’s our 2020 theme) for next year’s auction on Dec. 5th.

 

From: Harry D. 12/17/19

If you are so understanding and want to help the man living in the park, then invite him in to your own home for a shower, dinner, watch a movie, let him crash on the couch, and in the morning slip him $50 bucks! Buy him a tent to put up on Columbia Blvd.! To you, the people who are so understanding and concerned about the homeless, ask yourself where is this man defecting and urinating? In your park, that's where!

From: Robert B 12/14/19

WWJD... What would Jesus do if he encountered the beggar, the transient, the outcasts of our society? Would he shun them or would he offer a hand out or a hand up? These are our fellow humans and there is not one of us that couldn't find ourselves in this same situation. This is someone's son or brother or father. Judge this man and you yourselves shall be judged someday.

From: Dave K. 12/12/19

There is at least one HOMELESS PERSON living in CAMPBELL PARK.....He has been living there for several months now....have called DISPATCH/POLICE DEPT/and PARK SERVICE on this person and nothing seems to be done about him....He lives by the picnic/playground area in the wetland at the end of the driveway by the covered picnic areas.....he sleeps on the playground equipment sometimes.....also hangs out in the restrooms.....behind or in the back corners of the tennis courts, and in the covered picnic table areas.....I have been walking my dog through the park every morning for years and now have to worry about some homeless looney hiding out down there talking to himself....Reported him a bunch of times and he is still there.....as of a couple weeks ago I now have seen 2 of them down there at different times of morning/day/eve.....WE DONT NEED A HOMELESS CAMP IN OUR HOOD.....PLEASE CALL DISPATCH/POLICE DEPT to report them, maybe they will leave the area before they start stealing or worse around the neighborhood.....Don't want to be heartless YADDA YADDA YADDA but this is a good family park that doesn't need to worry about HOMELESS TRASH messing it up. I have reported this information to the police. Description of person involved – Hair: wears hat, Top: dark grey coat, Bottom: what used to be khaki pants but filthy, Shoes: unkown, Age: 30s 40s maybe....not sure, Build: average, Race: white, Sex: male, Other details: haven't gotten close enough for detail....I avoid the area he/they happen to be hanging out at any givin time Description of person involved – Hair: hat, Top: unknown only seen 2nd person once, Other details: only seen 2nd person once...no details

From: Sylvia F. 12/9/19

I see that the City of St. Helens has erected new signs along Columbia Blvd and the Riverfront district.  The signs are pretty and give you the impression of the sort of signs you would have seen in our town during the early part of this last century.  The only problem is that you can’t read them. Someone told me that the signs really weren’t designed to be read from a car; that they are for pedestrians or people on bicycles.  This may be so, but for a driver they can also be a traffic hazard… 

This sort of reminds me of the art that was place on Highway 30 bridges.  One sign (which appears to be damaged) is supposed to represent timber and the salmon cycle and the other is some obelisks with interesting symbols and writing on it.  The sad thing is that there is no way that you can view or appreciate them, since they are placed along the highway where there is no place to park and certainly no pedestrian should tread if they want to be safe. 

Art is made to be viewed and signs are made to be seen.  As far as I can tell neither can happen with these signs, or with some of our Highway art. 

I hope this thought will be taken into consideration if new signs or art is planned for our city.

From: R. Patriot 12/3/19

Dear Miz Morton.

I can see that you’re one of those snowflake liberals who believes in free love, free abortion and free contraception.  Sex education is something that is the responsibility of parents not our liberal government run schools. If these parents don’t want to teach   their own damn kids, then the kids can learn the same way I did, from my friends in the street.  We don’t need government and government schools taking over our lives.

Planned Parenthood funded by George Soros and other wealthy far left oligarchs want to promote the socialist gay agenda and destroy our democratic republic with their commie nonsense. They want  to allow brown skinned villains from S**t hole countries to swarm over our borders, breed with white women and weaken our moral fabric with their disease,  immorality and total lawlessness.

I sure as H*** don’t want our schools giving them contraceptives and trying to lure our innocent children into a world of immorality, perversion and gay sex..

We need to teach our children, not the schools.  God, gut and guns are what made America strong.  Not George Soros, Planned Parenthood or gay sex.

God Bless America and God Bless our President Donald Trump.

 

From: Ann Morton 11/17/19

(Written in Response to a letter in the Chronicle complaining about teaching Sex Education in our local schools).

Dear Mad,

I read your editorial and I would like to comment in defense of sex education for children. First of all, this education should be the job of the parents. The problem is that parents do not do this well. They wait too long, they are embarrassed, or they think ignorance will protect their children’s innocence.

I am a Woman’s Health Nurse Practitioner/CNM and I have raised five children. I gave my children explicit sex education by the time they were eight, using proper terms for their body parts and sexual activity. They comported themselves pretty well, protecting themselves and others. I showed them textbook pictures of sexually transmitted diseases and talked to them about the exquisite pain women have when unwanted pregnancy occurs. I am pro-choice, but no pro-abortion. With the proper sex education and free/available contraception) including a long-term implantable contraceptive for men) the decision to have an abortion would be rare.

Although homosexuality has been around since the beginning of human history, the issues of sexual identity has become a relatively new and public phenomenon. I personally don’t care what sex a person identifies with, nor do I care what sexual preference a person has. What matters to me is the way they conduct their lives, having respect for the feelings of others and maintaining health boundaries. Another phenomenon that has become a huge problem for us is the internet. It has presented difficulty for kids, especially their ability to maintain their boundaries and their privacy.

I also appreciate your religious feelings, but sex education in schools should not be based on religion. That is why the public-school system bans religious teaching. That also should be done at home. I hope this will clarify someone else’s viewpoints, and I hope your daughter feels more comfortable with the information she gets at school. Growing up is not easy, but constant communication within the family is paramount.

 

From: Nancy Whitney 11/16/19

Letter To Barbara Quinn:

 

Barbara - Your email to me and my additional comments were published in the Columbia County