Suspect Packages

Smells arise from two places

Two suspicious packages: a parcel laden with foul fish odor and a looming set of tax measures out of Salem.

Strange how two disparate news items can bear the same odorous stamp.

As described on page A1 in this issue, Hood River Post Office was shut down for several hours Friday while authorities checked, and cleaned up, a stenching parcel that oozed what turned out to be fish viscera.

It is tempting to make light of the situation — but this fish taint t’aint funny.

Less than a week after Sept. 11, one has to respect the fears of postal and law enforcement officials when it comes to a bad-smelling piece of mail.

The scent of things from Salem is that of a tax increase bill that could be sent to voters later this year. At press time, the Legislature was mired — still — in disagreement over a proposal to ask voters to bump up the top personal income tax rate from 9 to 9.65 percent and corporate taxes from 6.6 percent to 6.9 percent over a three-year period, as a way to reap about $315 million this budget period.

Such a request would come at a time when school officials statewide are banking on passage of Measure 19 on the mail-in ballot Tuesday, to defray looming education cuts by $150 million; supporters fear that Measure 19 and Measure 20 (the cigarette tax increase request) will fail because statewide voter turnout is expected to be less than 40 percent.

Given the sparse turnout, it is evident voters are already reticent about having to make decisions they feel the Legislature should have the backbone to accomplish — yet another tax election could be coming.

Which means that, while many Oregon voters oppose a tax increase and others favor one as a budget fix, it is not the proposal itself that smells suspect, but the way it came about:

After months of wrangling with the steer, the cowboys sent it back to the cookhouse for branding. And that’s no way to run a round-up.

The fitting response for many voters will be vote the dudes off the ranch; ironically, the fear of voter fallout from raising taxes that apparently drove so many legislators might pale compared to voter wrath over 2002’s unprecedented, five-session stampede of indecision.

Meanwhile, let’s hope the authorities catch whoever sent the smelly fish package; this person’s fitting punishment should be to help county election workers tote all those ballots from post office to courthouse, when a tax increase election day comes.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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