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: Joe Turner 9/6/19

As part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, assault weapons were banned in the United States from September 1994 through 2004. During this period, guns designed and manufactured with pistol grips and high-capacity magazines were restricted to

military, police and properly

licensed dealers. Handguns were also limited to 10-shot capacity magazines.

The assault weapon ban subsection of the Violent Crime Control Act sunsetted (expired) in September 2004, an election year, of which Congress — both Senate and House — failed to address this expiration. Over the following year, assault weapons and magazine manufacturers started flooding the market with their merchandise, taking full opportunity of the lack of leadership in Washington, D.C.

Since 2013 there has been one mass shooting, defined as a shooting with more than four people being shot, per day — though not all were with assault weapons. Other than the shooter, I feel that our politicians have the most blood on their hands by using mass shootings as a tool for getting re-elected and to project their progressive liberal socialist agendas, along with the national media outlets showing the carnage repeatedly to boost their ratings.

From Pete Kuntz 9/2/19

On Riverkeepers and climate change”  A new, detailed version of the Green New Deal’s energy plan shows it can more than pay for itself, with two-thirds of the cost paid by private investment (vox.com May 18, 2019). The remaining third will be massively counterbalanced by a $500 billion annual increase in US GDP (IPCC).

That will be mainly because when solar and wind energy are scaled up nationwide, they’ll be “essentially free” by 2030 (Financial Times, UBS, Aug 2018). Clean energy will also create over 8 million high-wage, local, permanent (40-year) careers (Stanford University’s solutionsproject.org), many millions more than fossil fuels.

The cost of doing nothing will be future climate disasters that will do over $160 trillion in damage to the US economy (Forbes, April 2019). Climate disasters have already cost US taxpayers over $1.6 trillion, now accelerating to hundreds of billions a year (NOAA.gov).

Just a half-degree increase in global temperatures will cost the US $13 trillion and we’re already locked into at least a 2C degree increase (National Academy of Sciences).

Clean energy will also cut back on the over $800 billion carbon pollution costs Americans every year in medical bills (forbes.com) and the over 200,000 American deaths it’s caused in just one year (MIT.edu).

The Green New Deal’s energy plan means free energy, millions more good jobs, better health and a safe and prosperous future, all at no cost to us.

“The Green New Deal is affordable; The cost of inaction is incalculable”—Forbes


From: Nancy Whitney 8/27/19

I like the word “conundrum”. I like the sound as it rolls off my tongue. I like the meaning of the word; a confusing and difficult problem or question - a riddle.

With the assistance of a very helpful gentleman at the elections department at the courthouse, I found the following information: there are 38,842 registered voters in the county. Of that 38,842 registered voters, 67.5 percent or 26,218 voted in the last general election; 33 percent or 12,818 voted in the last primary election; and 25.6 percent or 9,944 voted in the last district election.

And there is the conundrum. Why would anyone not vote in any election which has the possibility of effecting their life?

OK. Donald Trump actually lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes and the electoral votes put him in office anyway - and that problem has not been addressed. And, yes, that definitely has negatively affected our lives.

But, closer to home - - - - -

St. Helens City Councilperson Keith Locke moved to Salem over one year ago and yet continues to set on the city council - supposedly to see that the marijuana growing plant, which he strived to make a part of St. Helens, comes to its full fruition. This reasoning, even though according to all reports, there is now enough available marijuana to last for many years into the future.

The St. Helens City Council, as a whole, continues to hold behind door and out of state meetings in an attempt to cover their behinds over mistakes made in the past; allowing Boise Cascade to sell the City a piece of property “as-is” with a poisonous lagoon on it; collaborating with Boise Cascade to build a water treatment plant far beyond the size needed and then getting stuck with the upkeep - thus forcing huge water bills onto the public.

And the big one: Actually, holding an illegal public meeting at Maul Foster Alongi, the company who is attempting to sell the idea to St. Helens that accepting the sludge from the Portland Harbor Superfund will solve all their problems.

So, yes, there just might be a few reasons to become discouraged with casting your vote but you cannot make any improvements without replacing those who have failed.

I had a friend suggest to me that it might be a good idea to combine the outstanding leadership in Scappoose with that of St. Helens. After all, we combined the fire departments and that seems to be working out just fine.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

From: Bill Eagle (retired NRCS District Conservationist)  8/19/19

I was appalled, amused and disgusted by a letter from Kathleen Fisher in the August 15th Chronicle.

I thought that it was appalling to see her accuse Riverkeepers of being liars and “using nefarious tactics” against small farms. I have dealt with both riverkeepers and worked with farmers for over 40 years. I may or may not entirely agree with them about everything, but I have never found them to be liars or nefarious in their tactics.

I was amused by her defense of Port officials not recusing themselves (or at least declaring a conflict) when they are the recipients of donations from special interests.

It may be legal, but its appearance borders on bribery and by law elected officials need to declare a conflict when one exists.

Lastly, I was disgusted by a lady who describes herself as “Columbia County GOP Communication’s Director,” freely telling blatant falsehoods about the “Green New Deal.”

The Green new deal is an economic stimulus package to move the US Economy away from nonrenewable energy over the next several decades. The $93 trillion figure is one that came out of a right leaning think tank.

Senator Ed Markey, the Democratic sponsor of the resolution, cited “The National Climate Assessment” when he claimed that without any action, climate change will result in a 10% GDP loss by 2090.

Neither of these estimates are accurate or completely scientific. What isn’t true is Kathleen Fishers statement that it will “end all air travel, and require the slaughter of all cattle and put an end to the consumption of beef.” These are real “pants on Fire” whoppers.

Judging from some of Kathleen Fishers earlier statements in various media sources, I would make the assumption that She does not believe in man caused climate change.

The American Metrological Society just issued a report that in 2018 Carbon dioxide levels and other major greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide have risen to levels the planet hasn’t seen in 800,000 years.

Kathleen, the GOP and big polluters, like Koch and Exxon, may not be worried about global warming effects, but it is already reaping disastrous results upon us, like melting glaciers. mega storms, plant and animal extinctions, floods and crop failures. This is just the beginning.

If you truly love the earth, our children and humanities future, then you may want to consider that there may really be some value in the concerns of Riverkeepers and a “Green New Deal.”


From: Kathleen Fisher 8/17/10

Every one of the quotes Mr. O’Hanlon attributes to the Columbia County Spotlight, (7/31/19, letters to the editor), are actually only the outlandish claims made by the Riverkeepers reported on by the Spotlight. O’Hanlon’s bald-faced attempt to lend journalistic credence to Riverkeepers ridiculous claims by attributing them instead to the Spotlight can easily be debunked by either just asking the staff or editor at the Spotlight or by reading the Spotlight article of July 19, 2919, titled ‘Climate groups, Global Partners at odds over permits’, for yourself.


Lying is just one of the many underhanded tactics used by Riverkeepers et. al. to achieve their desired results regarding our Columbia County waterways and those of the entire nation.  For an eye-opening look at their power and nefarious tactics see: https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/25-waterkeeper-alliance/ Too busy to do that? Here are the cliffs’ notes:

Riverkeepers litigious attacks by their army of lawyers on small family farms along US waterways, and any energy resources they have set their gun-sights on, force the farmers to band together in an effort to fend off the attacking Riverkeeper Goliath. Whereupon the Riverkeepers vilify them as ‘factory farms’, attack their farming methods and call for the end of their livelihood and the use of their property. Ditto for the energy producers.


Re: recusal of Port members who receive campaign contributions: The Supreme Court has established that political campaign contributions are free speech rights and thus are our constitutionally protected exercise of our First Amendment. Mr. O’Hanlon’s objection is to the Constitution. As is always the case for Leftists when it serves their purposes.


Re: Quoting AOC. Really? You’re going to quote the Socialist who demands America adopt her “Green New Deal” that is projected to cost $93 Trillion over the span of 10 years, end all air travel, require the slaughter of all cattle and an end to the consumption of beef. Really?


From: Joe Turner 8/8/19

“We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.” - Thomas Jefferson


“Nothing can more affect national prosperity than a constant and systematic attention to extinguish the present debt and to avoid as much as possible the incurring of any new debt.” - Alexander Hamilton


“Avoid occasions of expense . . . and avoid likewise the accumulation of debt not only by shunning occasions of expense but by vigorous exertions to discharge the debts, not throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.” - George Washington:


“I go on the principle that a public debt is a public curse, and in a Republican Government a greater curse than any other.” - James Madison


“The consequences arising from the continual accumulation of public debts in other countries ought to admonish us to be careful to prevent their growth in our own.” - John Adams


Starting in July 2019 banks in Europe and Indonesia started reorganizing to restructure their debt load while the U.S. Federal Reserve lowered the interest rate and soon congress will vote to abolish the debt limit to keep our government open for business. Our congress is taking us down the road to becoming a third world nation with hyper-inflation, a “crisis of confidence” as described in online Wikipedia. Sort of like Columbia County trying to establish a transit district with only 100 daily riders to Portland Metro. Stupid is as stupid does.



From: Nancy Whitney 8/5/19

I was having a conversation with a fellow the other day about the difference in the development of Scappoose and the non-development of St. Helens.

This man grew up in St. Helens and graduated from the local schools. He is now a businessman in Scappoose and he and his wife live in that area.

Our conversation included disappointment in the downfall of St. Helens - the closure of so many businesses. How many of you remember Kiblan’s clothing store, the Style Shop, the Lemon Racque, Mode O’Day, Heinie’s Bakery, J.C. Penny’s? The list could go on and on. And there are no replacements for these businesses. Most have been boarded up, torn down or filled with resale products.

Don’t get me wrong. There are a couple of really nice resale stores in St. Helens in which I love to browse and I have found treasures. Unfortunately, there are over 30 closed businesses and, try as they might, these couple of businesses cannot cover the retail losses.

This fellow and I also discussed the ongoing development and good government leadership in Scappoose - the industrial development - the new parks and well planned celebrations - the streets which are lined with mown grass and well-kept trees.

The St. Helens City Council has had to deal with enormous disasters created by our past civic leaders creating almost insurmountable problems. I realize that much of the industrial wealth in St. Helens has left - nearly decimating our economy. I realize that Measure 5, passed when Boise Cascade Paper Mill, Armstrong, etc., were still running in St. Helens, has left a disparity between St. Helens and Scappoo’s ability to raise taxes at the same percentage rate each year.

At the time of Measure 5, because of fiscal need, Scappoose was granted a higher percentage rate than St. Helens thus being able to continue to collect a higher tax over the years. New business is happening in Scappoose because of new development.

I also realize that St. Helens is so short of money not only because of Measure 5 but also because of the huge environmental issues with which we must deal.

But . . .

Before I begin this next segment, I want to reiterate that I love St. Helens. The location of the downtown area along the Columbia River is breathtakingly beautiful. My husband and I have lived in our home for over 44 years. And, no, we don’t want to move to Scappoose.

However, this river view is hidden behind chain link fences which can be totally blocked off from the public for inept celebrations and which, not too long ago, was topped by barbed wire. The land at the Old Mill property has been under “feasibility studies” for over five years now. The promise of walking paths, trees and grass has been put behind the need to “cover up” the toxic lagoon on this property with solidified waste from the Portland Harbor Superfund - hazardous waste for which St. Helens might receive nearly fifty million dollars.

If this project can be safely and cleanly accomplished, and last “forever”, why doesn’t Portland keep it?

We have one council member who bought property in Salem well over a year ago and moved there with his wife. Keith Locke continues to serve on the local council - even after giving two dates for his resignation - and supposedly lives on property he still owns in St. Helens for just enough time each month to continue this disservice to St. Helens. Give me a break!

We have another council person, Steve Topaz, who is suing or intends to sue the City of St. Helens because his basement has flooded and he claims shoddy work done by city crews is the cause. Topaz lives in the old St. Helens Sentinel Mist newspaper building. In high school in the late 1950s, I worked in that building part time as proof reader. Some of the type setters were in the basement and there was always flooding going on.

If problems cannot be worked out amongst the members of the St. Helens City Council, how do they intend to work out problems for St. Helens?

Their ventures into creating jobs for St. Helens citizens involves a grow plant for marijuana, Halloween Town, and setting up plastic tents on a fenced off piece of citizen owned property and holding a Fairy Festival, complete with a metal tree, Styrofoam Stonehenge and charging twelve bucks to get in.

The City of St. Helens is paying out $10,000 per month to an events director. Positions held by City Council members and the mayor are supposedly volunteer elected positions and yet they are being paid a total of nearly $70,000 per year as stipends for their service as elected volunteers.

The Oxford University Press depicts stipend as “ fixed regular sum paid as a salary or as expenses to a clergyman, teacher or public official”. It befuddles me, since council members must live within the city limits, how it could possibly cost any member nearly $1,000 per month to get to a council meeting. One can get to the council offices from anywhere in the City within ten minutes.

I do not claim to know the answers to these problems in St. Helens. Regrettably, it appears, neither does the current city administration. This has gone on far too long. We need to replace the entire ensemble at the city council.

From: Richard  Ellmyer 8/3/19

 As Donald Trump rants, journalists who are the “enemy of the people” but MAGA hat wearing registered Republicans who are now undeniably part of the Trumpian party plan to degrade and dismantle our American democracy. Honorable Oregonian Republicans such as Tom McCall, Norma Paulus, Vic Atiyeh, Oswald West and Mark Hatfield are turning over in their graves, horrified that their Republican party has sunk into a moral abyss.

 Oregonians who remain registered Republicans:

A. Support a continuous stream of LIES by the President as acceptable.

B. Support Donald Trump’s Obstruction of Justice, disrespect for law and other criminal behaviors.

C. Support racism and racists.*1

D. Support Russian interference in our Oregon and American elections.

E. Support transfer of America’s wealth from the poorest and middle class to the richest citizens and corporations.

F. Support taxpayer-funded, unnecessary, welfare payments to farmers as bailouts for Trump’s misguided agricultural tariffs.

G. Support protecting Donald Trump above protecting the Constitution of the United States of America.

H. Support Attorney General’s Barr’s first loyalty to Donald Trump instead of the Constitution.

I. Support Mitch McConnells stopping the work of the senate by prohibiting important bills from reaching the senate floor.

J. Support our American Presidency run as a ratings based Reality Show not as a responsible branch of government.

K. Support nepotism, ignorance, incompetence, self-enrichment and blind loyalty as qualifications for Presidential appointees.

L. Support foreign authoritarian dictators over American allies.

M. Support the objectification of women as sex objects and targets.

N. Support Trump’s public insults, name calling and bullying as acceptable Presidential behavior.

O. Support cruelty as immigration policy — separating children from their desperate refugee parents and caging them in deplorable conditions.*2

P. Support Donald Trump as an exemplar of adult behavior to the children of Oregon and America.

 Q. Oppose affordable health care for ALL Americans.

R. Oppose a woman’s right to control her own reproductive organs.

S. Oppose voting rights for ALL American citizens.

T. Oppose paper backup ballots. 

U. Oppose requiring candidates to notify the FBI of foreign agents’ offers to help with their campaigns.

V. Oppose the facts about the danger of climate change on Oregon, the United States and our planet.

W. Oppose traditional, long-held Republican views on free trade, tariffs and the national debt.

X. Oppose America’s allies and treaties.

Y. Oppose our American intelligence agencies.

Z. Oppose Christian and Jewish values, traditions and behavior. It is hypocritical to claim Christian or Jewish values and be a registered Republican.

 This list of values which can now, after 2 1/2 years of hard evidence be indisputably connected to every registered Oregon Republican, does not reflect the values of the overwhelming majority of Oregonians and Americans. These Trump imposed Republican values are UNAmerican and UNpatriotic.*3

 Oregon’s registered Republicans, indeed, all registered Republicans, are no longer benign actors. They are a clear and present danger to Oregon and American democracy. They must be publicly recognized, identified and treated as dangerous political pariahs.

 Impeachment? YES

Nancy Pelosi, a highly competent and experienced coach, and her team are well trained for this engagement. They must now charge onto the battlefield of values. It’s the right and righteous thing to do.

 Politics is a contact sport. The game must be played as if your life depended upon it. And it does.

 Richard Ellmyer


From: Nancy Whitney 7/9/19

How is this any way to inform the citizens of St. Helens of coming events???

Directly quoted from discovercolumbiacounty.com, - the only outreach of information from St. Helens event director Tina Curry-Cannard – “Consider yourself warned. Yes we are blocking the street (1st Street) and preparing for a heck of a good time ... blah, blah, blah”.

The “party” will take place on Saturday (5-7 pm) and Sunday (2-4 pm) on July 13 and 14. Residents were not forewarned. Businesses were not forewarned. She is just shutting the street down and having a party. No questions on what impact this closure will place on residents and businesses. It’s just happening.

How totally arrogant.

I have asked this question many times before but who the hell is running the City of St. Helens? The answer appears to be three people who don’t even live in the city or the county - two of whom do not even live in the state: the city manager, the city finance director and the city events director.

Secret meetings and surprise parties appear to be the norm for St. Helens City Government. I, for one, am sick of this flagrant misuse of city rules and city funds.

I hope the rest of you are too.


From: Robin Galloway 7/1/19

St. Helens city councilman Steve Topaz is spreading misleading information about the city council and some actions which they have taken. While some of his remarks are sprinkled with a dusting of truth, his remarks are not totally factual. He likes to twist the facts to fit his remarks. He does this because he has had a failed lawsuit against the city. While I agree that he was right in his suit, the judicial system felt otherwise. While I agree the city made his problem worse, maybe they should have fixed their part of the problem, the judicial system felt otherwise. Mr. Topaz needs to move on and stop beating a dead horse to death. He has been elected to do good things for the people in the city, not continuing to reflect his personal hard feelings against the city which he was elected to serve.


From: David Nash 6/20/19

Living with a cat for the first time, you quickly pick up on its behavioral quirks, many of which are common among other cats. What you soon find out is that cats aren't Republican. Here are 12 reasons why not:

1. Cats are curious about what you do in your bedroom, but they don't try to legislate away your freedom to do it.

2. Cats may take away your cushion, but they'll give it back to you with a gentle push.

3. Cats give you attention and sympathy when you're sick.

4. Females are treated with importance in the cat world.

5. Cats make use of solar power, often all day long.

6. Cats lick their own problems and take care of other cats too.

7. Cats don't blame black and brown cats for their troubles.

8. Cats know how to ration their resources.

9. Fat cats are not at the top of the cat hierarchy, are not cat role models, and have more trouble surviving and thriving, not less.

10. While Republicans blindly follow authority, it is said that getting Democrats to act in unison is like herding cats.

11. Cats don't foul their own nest.

12. Cats are popular and well-liked on the Internet and elsewhere.


From: Nancy Whitney 6/12/19

ILLEGAL, UNANNOUNCED ST. HELENS CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS. How far will the council members of St. Helens go to force the acceptance of toxic waste from the Portland Harbor Superfund down our throats?

Literally down our throats. According to the United States federal Superfund program, this waste in the Willamette/Portland Harbor contains hazardous substances and pollutants including PCB, DDT, arsenic and other carcinogens (cancer causing) contamination. If not contained safely beyond all expectations, there is a distinct possibility it could leach from the proposed site into our water and into the Columbia and we would be fishing in it, swimming in it, inhaling it and drinking it.

The method proposed by Vancouver company, Maul, Alongi, Foster is to surround the toxic waste with a rubber liner and encase it in concrete. No one knows how long this “fix” will last. It has not been tried and proven over any length of time.  And how well did that work out at Hanford?

Speaking of Maul, Alongi, Foster - that is where the illegal, unannounced city council meeting was held last week. Wow - what a surprise! Council members were obviously aware of what would occur if they held an open meeting here - in St. Helens - the very spot about which they are holding behind door meetings. So much for accountability and transparency.

Back in January 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency announced they were “engaging in affirmative action to remove contaminants from soil or water” at the Portland Superfund. Don McLaren of the EPA declared there would be an “active remediation” plan as a “protective remedy” to get rid of PCBs, DDTs, dioxins, etc.

He said there would be no Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) with this plan and all material dredged must be stored in a “licensed upland facility”.

Enter St. Helens. As I have previously stated: “Our city council wants the citizens to accept these chemicals rejected by Portland and add them to our toxic lagoon on publically owned property because we will be paid to do so. The city can then build a sewage treatment plant, a beautiful park, condos, docks, walking paths, businesses - all on top of this chemical dump. I don’t know what else to call it.”

St. Helens signed an “as-is” agreement when they purchased this land from Boise Cascade. That is the problem with which they should be dealing. Former St. Helens Mayor Randy Petersen and some of the same council members who are in office today, signed off on the over-sized water treatment plant, the poisonous lagoon and the continued contamination by Boise paper. That is what needs a solution - and that solution is not adding more poison to that which already exists.

St. Helens does not need to become a “licensed upland facility”. Instead of writing all those grants for feasibility studies why not write a grant to find a really good team of lawyers who handles this type of “as-is” contracts and challenge what Petersen and the city Council signed a few years back?

The St. Helens City Council cannot be held accountable for what was allowed to be dumped into our rivers and streams in the past - but they sure as hell are responsible for what will now be dumped into the waste lagoon and, ultimately, into the river.

Boise Cascade and the St. Helens City Council need to accept their share of the responsibility.


From: Nancy Whitney 6/11/19

The City of St. Helens and the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce have really outdone themselves this time.

Remember when St. Helens was touting the great time to be had at the Museum of Oddities located at the Chamber of Commerce in the old railway depot in St. Helens?

Well now they are spreading the great times around to city merchants by filling the front windows of businesses with the preserved heads of dead deer, wrapped in blankets and setting in wheelchairs.

Imagine how you would feel to enter a restaurant to have a good meal and having to look at this pathetic apparition. Or to shop in one of your favorite stores and have the glass eyes of a once proud animal staring blankly out the window. I know how I felt and I was totally repulsed.

I cannot decide whether this is a worse affront to an animal or to a human with special needs. Either way it is totally a degradation of a living creature.

The city council wants to put St. Helens on the map? Well, they certainly have managed to do a bang-up job.

From: Wayne Mayo 6/10/19

The frustration of major media outlets and Congressional Democrats is boiling over since Mueller’s investigation regarding Russian collusion concerning the Trump campaign came up empty.  The President didn’t claim executive privilege, didn’t withhold documents, didn’t block testimony, didn’t give pardons, didn’t fire Mueller.

But Special Prosecutor Mueller in his Swan Song said this: “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so... We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.” 

How can anyone prove they did not commit a crime that’s not described? 

It was an investigation that should’ve never been opened. It was based on a dossier made up by a Trump hating foreign agent Steele and secretly paid for by the Hillary campaign.

The FBI even leaked the document to friendly media outlets and when the story broke, pointed it out as corroborating evidence to the FISA court.

1. That is prosecutorial misconduct using the unlimited financial and technical resources of the government to go after political enemies.  

The FISA court meant to protect Donald Trump’s rights allowed those rights to be trampled on by a partisan DOJ-FBI-CIA.

Regarding the “coverup:”

A West Texas Reporter once put it this way:

“While we recognize that the subject did not actually steal any horses, he is obviously guilty of trying to resist being hanged for it.”

rom: Sylvia Fine 6/4/19

I always feel a little uneasy when I hear about our City Council having Executive session meetings in places in other cities other than our own and then discover that their “Executive Session” has nothing to do with their stated reason to have the session. If I read the paper properly the supposed reason for the meeting was to purchase land,  but they really were meeting about turning our sewer lagoon into a hazardous waste dumping site.

My concern is that they really don’t want the publics input into this awful idea.  If we take Portland’s contaminated waste, what will happen to us in the future.  Will we have another love canal?  What good is this land to us if we fill it with someone else’s poison? If we have use for it once it is filled, will that open the city up to future law suits.

It would appear that we are planning to bring upon ourselves some short term profits and may be buying for ourselves long term head aches.

I do wish that the City would be a bit more transparent about their plans for the sewer lagoon and I also wish that the City would be willing to listen to the people who reside in this City. 

No matter how much the city will get paid for unwanted Portland contaminated wastes, will it really be worth it in the long run.

We need to see how it will affect our cities health, our children and our future.


From:  John Stec 5/22/19

I took the liberty of calling the County Commissioner's office to ask some of the same questions that have been raised in other discussions regarding Cornelius Pass.

I am but one person and have the same problems getting my facts straight as anyone else - but here is my best summary of my discussion with Commissioner Henry Heimuller. Please note that he is chair of the Northwest Area Commission on Transportation.

I stress again that this summary is based purely on my own notes and reaction to the commissioner's remarks.

1. Cornelius Pass falls within the purview of Multnomah County - and therein lies the rub. ODOT, Washington, and Columbia County, while having some input into the project, are not in a position to call the shots. Multnomah County officials are.

2. The impact on "freight movement" - normal, non-job related commerce - may have an impact on "on-time delivery". This may mean that nearly everything coming down Route 30 or over the pass, ranging from US mail to Amazon deliveries, could be adversely impacted. The magnitude of potential economic impact is not clear.

3.  The project was originally slated to be spread over a two year period - presumably allowing time off for winter. It is now on a compressed schedule with substantial penalties for late completion.

4. There will be a temporary light placed at the intersection of Newberry and Rt. 30. The escape lanes near the midpoint of Logie Road and Rocky Point Road are assumed to be helpful during this period.

5. We are past the point of no return. It is too late to change the scope of the project, including timing, without incurring significant costs for contractual and engineering changes.

6. As individuals we have few options. Our best bet is to try to condense our trips, talk to employers about options, and generally attempt to cope. In two years we'll all look back on this as a survived experience.

7. After two years ODOT assumes responsibility for the Pass - maintenance, regulation, and improvement. Again I stress that these notes are my summary and therefore subject to error. I have tried to avoid editorializing in this post. Please do not waste everyone's time by shooting the messenger.


From: Nancy Whitney 5/20/19

A few years back, the citizens of St. Helens voted against having a city manager but instead opted for a city administrator. At that time, it was understood that the persons overseeing the individual city departments would be members of the city council - and that each department head would report to that person on the council who had been appointed as overseer.

That is how it has remained for a few years until recently. City Administrator John Walsh of Lake Oswego has been the administrator for nearly seven years. Recently it was decided by members of the city council that Mr. Walsh would now be in charge of all city departments and all department heads would report to him - thus, in my opinion - making him the city manager.

It is my belief that this change in job descriptions goes against the St. Helens City Charter. I also believe that it was improper for the city council to make this decision simply to prevent one of their members from using the public works department for their own benefit. Surely there are ethics rules in place which must be followed. Who is in charge of those who are supposed to be in charge?

Now, let’s talk about water leaks. Over two years ago, the City of St. Helens hired a company called Western Partition to replace the liner in the city’s reservoir on Pittsburg Road. For over two years Western Partition has been attempting to seal the leaks in the reservoir. This is not a once in a while problem - this is an everyday problem.

I spoke with Sharon Darroux, engineering project manager for the City of St. Helens. Ms. Darroux tells me that any amount of water pumped into the reservoir past 46,000 gallons will immediately create a leak - thus leaving the reservoir nearly 2 millions short of full capacity. With the wildfire season fast approaching, this is very disconcerting information.

She states that Western Partition has been very responsive to these problems but the leakage has not been corrected in over two years.

When I asked why another company was not being brought in, Ms. Darroux stated that the liner is under warranty from Western Partition and, for financial reasons, must be used.

As the water is pumped into the reservoir it is treated with chlorine so that it is safe for usage in homes throughout the area. So, when the leakage occurs, this water only has one way to go and that is downhill - into the ground water and culverts along Pittsburg Road - and into Milton Creek - which, in turn, means a goodly amount of this leakage is spilling into Milton Creek - into a natural habitat for fish, fowl and other wildlife.

Ms. Darroux assured me the leakage leaving the reservoir is detoxified by a device at the reservoir and will evaporate before reaching Milton Creek. However, when I asked how often tests in Milton Creek were conducted, I was told doing tests on the creek were “not in the plans.”

My last question to Ms. Darroux was who was paying for the millions of gallons of water which must be pumped into the reservoir to keep abreast of the needs of the city. She replied that the city does not charge itself for the lost water.

Further, she stated that Western Partition might be willing to pay for this water loss and, if not, there might be the possibility of a lawsuit to recoup this loss. Although, as Ms. Darroux states, a lawsuit is not now in the works. In any event, according to Ms. Darroux, the citizens of St. Helens will not be charged for this water loss.

I sincerely hope this is the case so that the citizens, already stuck with replacing the poisonous pond at the waste disposal plant and the waste disposal plant itself, will not be forced to pay the costs of millions of gallons of lost water. I don’t think I can afford a garden this year.

I spoke with Ms. Darroux again on Monday morning. I asked why the city was not keeping the citizens apprised of all these problems with the reservoir. I was pleased to learn they plan on doing so possibly through Facebook and Twitter. She put me in touch with Crystal Farnsworth who I believe to be the communications person for the city.

When I spoke with Ms. Farnsworth, I asked why the information would not also be put on the city’s website since there are many people who do not waste their time with Facebook and Twitter and who, actually, do now own a computer. I was told by Ms. Farnsworth that no plans had yet been discussed with her to publish the information about the reservoir and she had no idea where it would be published.

But you want to hear something really wonderful? A couple of weeks ago, I went with my family and friends to the new Plymouth Place restaurant. It was a warm Spring evening and the downtown area was overflowing with people visiting all the great shops and eating places, walking along the river, laughing and talking to each other.

We didn’t need Failed Fairy Fiascos or Styrofoam Stonehenges. Our city is beautiful without these apparitions. The only shortcoming was the total lack of parking space. So, come on, city leaders, take the fence down and add a little parking. If you ever receive any of the grants for which you have applied, then you can rethink the parking area. But let us enjoy it while we can.


From: Nancy Whitney 5/13/19

It’s been awhile since I have written. I’ve had a bout of Influenza A,  followed by pneumonia. And - yes - I did have all the vaccinations recommended by my doctor.

Anyway, I am all better, my garden is in and I have a lot to catch up with.

Let’s begin with the election for the Port of Columbia County. Way back in 1847, George Perkins Marsh was repeating that “man cannot at his pleasure command nature”, yet it is certain that climate itself has ... been gradually changed ... or deteriorated by human action’s.

One hundred and seventy-two years ago there was a concern for the future of the world and for 172 years the fact has been ignored that climate change is the most disastrous single thing humans have ever done to our planet and the overuse of fossil fuels is the largest contributor.

But here we are - stuck with Port commissioners (with no term limits) - who continue to base their management of the Port on allowing and encouraging fossil fuels to be the mainstay of the Port Westward facility, which by the way, is owned by the citizens of Columbia County, not the Port of Columbia County. Crude oil and methanol, along with other explosive materials are shipped in tank cars on a daily basis to further this development. I do not have the space to present how many, many explosions have occurred in the United States and Canada with these tank cars.

There has not yet been an explosion in the county but that most certainly does not mean it will not happen. The railroad track runs directly through Scappoose, St. Helens and Rainier. The explosion, when it happens, will be catastrophic. Your insurance will not cover damage to your homes and your vehicles. Many will be injured and killed and the railways and companies shipping material continue to be grossly under insured.

How long can our Port and county commissioners continue to expound they are very concerned about the environment in Columbia County, while at the same time advocating for fossil fuels to be shipped through our county to Port Westward?

Once again you have a chance to replace Port of Columbia County board members with new people with new ideas - people who will in actuality be open and transparent with their decisions - with no backroom deals.

I strongly urge you to vote for NANCY WARD and CHIP BUBL for commissioners for the Port of Columbia County, thereby replacing the incumbents. I have known both these people for many years and I know them both to be open, transparent - and honest.

And I am just getting started on next week’s letter to the editors.


From: Sari Swick 5//11/14

Revenge of the Coastal Elites

How California, Oregon and Washington are winning the fight against Trump’s hateful policies

“To Trump, everything “Out West” is like occupied territory. Almost daily, he issues legal missives and executive orders intended in some way to make life worse on the West Coast.”


Are we winning?  We certainly appear to lag way behind our coastal neighbors when it comes to doing proactive effective legislation. 

Why haven’t we moved our primaries up to March as well?

A Presidential candidate should not be allowed on our ballot before submitting their recently filed tax returns.

We should elect to stay on DST to save energy.  Without that in the winter months it’s dark on the way to school and work, and also dark on the way home.

As part of the History/Civics curriculums, students in the Senior HS classes, and college levels should be offered voter information and applications.

We need to fight Trump’s attempts at trampling over our beautiful state to enrich his cronies.

Oregon should set an example for other states to follow in protecting our country and constitution from the malfeasance emanating from Washington, D.C.



From: Cathy Pitkin 5/3/19

What were the port commissioners thinking when they decided years ago that the transportation of fossil fuels to Port Westward was a good thing for Columbia County?  Among other concerns (potential of exploding oil trains) did they consider or even care about traffic issues?  For years Columbia County citizens have complained about trains disrupting traffic.  Basic traffic issues - being held up by long oil trains while trying to get to work, to school or the doctor, just to get home or across the tracks.  The Port has remained silent. But now the port of Columbia County is looking for resources to fund a traffic study.  What has taken them so long?  The timing is interesting.  Three incumbent Port Commissioners are running for reelection.  Coincidence?  May we have confirmation that the study will include a representation of local citizens?

If Chip Bubl were a commissioner, he would.

From: Richard Ellmyer 4/30/19

State Rep. Andy McKean, Iowa’s longest-serving Republican, said he was registering as a Democrat because Trump sets a “poor example for the nation.” He says he can no longer support President Donald Trump and the views of the GOP.

McKean also criticized Trump’s financial policies, his “erratic, destabilizing” foreign policy and his inaction on environmental issues as reasons for his departure. He also highlighted Trump’s offensive rhetoric, calling the president a “bully.”

 “Furthermore, [Trump] sets, in my opinion, a poor example for the nation and particularly for our children by personally insulting, often in a crude and juvenile fashion, those who disagree with him, being a bully at a time when we’re attempting to discourage bullying, his frequent disregard for the truth, and his willingness to ridicule or marginalize people for their appearance, ethnicity or disability,” the representative said.*1 

Mr. McKean, 69, became one of several state lawmakers who have abandoned the Republican Party in recent months, citing Mr. Trump as a factor. At least four state lawmakers in Kansas switched allegiances after the midterms, as have a California State Assembly member and a state senator in New Jersey.*2  Are any of Oregon’s elected Republicans ready to join these enlightened elected Republicans who are disenchanted and disgusted with Trump and the Republican party? NOPE. Not a one.

 After reminding all of Oregon’s elected Republicans about some items in the news about which they are surely very familiar (see below), I asked them the following question:

 Is there anything in Trump’s undeniable narcissistic personality disorder behavior since his inauguration, his retreat on his promises to not touch Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, his order to the DOJ to oppose the Affordable Care Act with the potential result being the denial of health care to more than 20 million Americans, including 372,000 Oregonians, the multiple revelations of Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice in the Mueller report and the entrance of Bill Weld into the Republican primary, that individually or collectively has persuaded you that Donald Trump has not upheld his oath of office to faithfully execute the laws of our country and is therefore not fit to be President of the United States of America?

 They all indicated, NO. They are proud to wear their MAGA hats while proclaiming that Donald Trump is still fit to be President of the United States of America. These craven Oregon Trumpian leaders*3 have proved time and again that they will abandon facts, the law, competent if not good government and the basic principles of our American democracy to advance their primary objective as a political party which is to transfer as much of America’s and Oregon’s wealth to the richest individuals and corporations especially those in the Republican donor class. The common good e.g. protecting the planet, its air and water is anathema to them. Their values are not the values of our great state of Oregon and our country. Oregonians need to challenge these deniers and defilers of our democracy with their votes and voices.

 Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare*4

Trump said he wouldn’t cut Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare. His 2020 budget cuts all 3.

 President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget breaks one of his biggest campaign promises to voters: that he would leave Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare untouched. “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Trump told the Daily Signal, a conservative publication affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, in 2015.

 Trump’s 2020 budget proposal aims to spend $1.5 trillion less on Medicaid, $25 billion less on Social Security and $845 billion less on Medicare over the next 10 years. 

 The Mueller Report

When former Attorney General Jeff Sessions told President Donald Trump that a special counsel had been appointed to conduct the Russia investigation, the president responded: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”*5

 These are not the spontaneous thoughts of the innocent but the instant, uncontrollable, unalloyed lament of the guilty.

 Republican Senator Mitt Romney*6 I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President. I am also appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia—including information that had been illegally obtained; that none of them acted to inform American law enforcement; and that the campaign chairman was actively promoting Russian interests in Ukraine.

 Republican Bill Weld*7 Republican primary challenger former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, says Donald Trump is a "one-man crime wave” who “committed obstruction of justice.”

 Oath of Office - The President’s Primary Responsibility*8 Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution requires the President to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” This clause, known as the Take Care Clause, requires the President to enforce all constitutionally valid Acts of Congress, regardless of his own Administration's view of their wisdom or policy.

 Richard Nixon - Articles of Impeachment*9 By far the most important article of impeachment approved by the House committee on a bipartisan basis was Article II, which called for the punishment of Nixon for abusing presidential power by using the executive agencies (such as the Internal Revenue Service) to punish his enemies and for failing to uphold the oath of office to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” It also said, significantly, that a president could be held accountable for a pattern of abusive or even illegal behavior by his aides.

 Trump’s Propaganda Machine’s Fox News’ Senior Judicial Analyst, Joe Napolitano, Says “TRUMP OBSTRUCTED JUSTICE.The president's job is to enforce federal law. But ordering obstruction to save himself from the consequences of his own behavior is unlawful, defenseless and condemnable.*10


From: Stephan Topaz 4/18/19

The April First Thursday presentation about child abuse by the St. Helens Police department was excellent. The combined presentation of Officer Jose Castilleja and Amelia Kescher of AMANI was very well done. Not really a great statement. The very great importance of the presentation was in describing how complicated the problem is, and how one must quickly and quietly get professionals involved.

The complication is that just helping causes a remembrance to the tragic set of events in the abused. Also complicating the helping process is the fact that the helper may know, maybe related to, or even had this type of tragedy in their own lives. There are many reasons for this set of complications keeping one from not wanting to be involved. Now the broader view is that the community, you personally do not want to be involved, you are afraid, you could lose a friend, or your past will reemerge with the hurt that it brings, only to help an abused child.

An even broader view of these complications is that these same reasons for not helping can be said for suicide prevention, child homelessness, school drop outs, and drug addiction. The community is the first observer of these problems and with Oregon being at the top of the list for many of these problems it is time that the community comes together to help our neighbors in need, just by being an observer and reporter of the problems.

The small attendance at this presentation on child abuse would seem to indicate that we are aware of this problem locally and do not want to be involved for it will, for a number of reasons cause us to remember the pain that we had, or are now experiencing. It is now time to overcome these present and past fears and come together as a community to help each other.

From: Charles Bickford 4/12/19

'For everybody in the county, please don‘t believe that your favorite talk show dingdong tells the truth. Money rules, and it is far easier to get it from foolish people'

Mine has been a life of study in science and engineering while living in natural areas. I left Tektronix Research at the PhD level; I was an electrical engineer in high-tech, with work focused on ion beams, electron microscopes, mass spectrometers, etc.; I was an electrical engineer designing military microelectromechanical systems (MEMS); I have served as the vice president of research and development, and have inventions, patents and scientific papers to my name.