Wednesday, April 9, 2003
Trade a waste
I have attended several court hearings regarding the land trade between Hood River County and Mt. Hood Meadows. This seems to be what is going on:
County’s first position: We obeyed the law, and trading away County land for $325/acre is a good deal for Hood River County citizens.
County’s second position: Maybe we didn’t obey the law, and maybe $325/acre isn’t such a good deal (but we’re sticking with it). However, we punished all our citizens the same, and so no one was specially punished (no one has legal standing), and therefore no one can challenge us no matter how badly we did.
County’s third position: OK, it’s a bad deal, and we didn’t obey the law, but we’re a home rule County and don’t have to obey the law. We can make any bad deal we want and make up the rules as we go along.
County’s fourth position: Everything is a mess, we violated the law, and the deal is bad (but we want to stick with it). Now we want to rewrite the contract after the fact to make it legal, without reopening the deal to public scrutiny.
Why should anyone care? Well, it is a square mile of our land that was traded away, it was our $1.2 million dollars the county paid to Mt. Hood Meadows, our county officials are wasting our money in court to do the wrong thing, and our County Commissioners are responsible for the matter.
Look into schools
Some years ago I attended an away track meet with my son. He said, “Look at all these people from Hood River. They drove a hundred miles to watch me run. I wonder what message you adults think you’re sending? I don’t recall seeing any of these parents at the last PTA meeting.” I got the message and thought about what he said. A kid can get help from grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, siblings and total strangers to learn baseball, but good luck finding help with algebra. I became proactive in my kids’ educations. Every student is an individual. One size doesn’t fit all. Soon I was asking questions the school system didn’t want asked and wouldn’t answer. It appeared to me that the schools wanted blind support for the status quo (their conventional wisdom). They wouldn’t accept suggestions or input, even when it pertained to dealing with my child. I know they are professional educators. They told me so repeatedly. However, I have spent a lot more quality time with my child than any of them, and I have a better idea of what works with my child.
I wrote to the Oregon State Department of Education asking questions several times. I even tried certified letters. I have yet to receive a reply from the state. I then asked the U.S. Department of Education the same questions. They answered my inquiries and referred me to the TIMMS reports to substantiate what they said. An ex-teacher gave me a copy of “Focus on the Family” by Dr. James Dobson, April 19, 1998, that addressed public school issues. There were many references, which I looked up; among them was the TIMMS reports. I urge you to research the TIMMS reports online. It’s a good starting point and truly revealing. I have looked at a lot of other reports along the way.
In the past, conventional wisdom taught, the world is flat, the sun travels around the earth, the moon is made of green cheese, and the American public education system is the most effective, efficient in the world. I personally have not traveled into space to disprove the first three conventional wisdoms listed above. I am depending solely on other peoples’ research. In the case of public education, I attended public schools and observed the experiences of my kids and their friends. I have also looked at other peoples’ research. On the basis of personal experience, along with other peoples’ research, I have drawn conclusions. How much do you have to read to believe that the world is not flat? Look it up. Do some research. Your school’s guidance office doesn’t have all the answers. After looking at the evidence, if you conclude that the world is flat, that is your right.
Michael F. Fifer
Is Iraq worth it?
There is more than one way to support our troops in Iraq. Cheering them on, waving the flag, and calling them heroes has its place (though at times it seems to resemble the way we act at sports events). Many of us in the peace movement, however, find another way of supporting our troops more meaningful.
In late 1950, some of us who had been in the service at the end of World War II were called back into active duty. I was sent to join an infantry company at Fort Campbell, Ky., for a refresher course prior to being sent to Korea. We were told that we were going up against a tin-horn dictator and “a bunch of gooks” who would run before American firepower. They said we were better trained and better equipped and that most of us would be home by Christmas.
They did get one thing right. Most of us were home for Christmas — in pine boxes. Ninety percent of my company was killed in the first two weeks of fighting.
Can you imagine what many of us feel when we see our young men and women being cheered (as we were) on their way overseas? Have we forgotten so soon? The memories of our dead buddies cry out to us that war is a grisly business, not an occasion for cheering and patriotic displays — no matter how sincere and well-meant. Our troops deserve better than that.
As I recall that time over 50 years ago, I wish to God that our countrymen and women had cared enough for us to protest and stop our ill-advised deployment. We didn’t need their cheers and flags on the way to the docks. We needed them to rise up and fervently say “NO” to that tragic war of choice — the war that we now call “the forgotten war” because it is too painful to remember.
Was Korea really worth it? Was Vietnam really worth it? Is Iraq really worth it? Let’s support our troops!
I was rather surprised to read the progress of the waterfront planning project as outlined in the paper last week. First of all no one even seemed to know the port was presently working on this plan. We were last told the plans were thrown out as “too expensive” and now it is in it’s last stage? This seems very surprising. Why isn’t the general public more informed about this?
After spending two years on the waterfront planning committee and hearing several years of public testimony of the visions for the waterfront, it did not seem to coincide very well with all the plans for industrial and heavy development that is currently outlined in the present plan. I did not see any mention of the previously proposed park for Lot 6, nor was the river walk was mentioned. Is this still part of the plan?
Of course, I understand the plans for light industrial and density housing, but we are also concerned about the impact on views and retaining an inviting and environmentally friendly recreation area. Again I believe Hood River residents feel that the waterfront is our most important asset and should be a jewel of the community. And by making it a show place for water access, and light recreation we will be able to use it as a tool to draw companies and private business to our community. Especially in these times of economic struggles, we have to be forward thinking and lure development and new businesses with a few lasting carrots that other areas cannot offer.
I hope that the port has not taken a stance to sell-out and solely look at the area as a profit and loss endeavor.
Why do people resort to name calling and labeling, instead of trying to explain a point of view? Is it because they really have nothing to say? I understand there are differences of opinion. Our constitution guarantees their free expression, but all this name calling seems childish to me.
To those Bart Cohn (April 5) has labeled “left,” or “tax and spend,” I add my voice to your chorus. I am left, but maybe not all the way left. Sometimes I actually think of myself as center. A couple of times I even found myself in agreement with the right. I guess Mr. Cohn must be right, whether far right, or slightly right, or how often, I couldn’t say. And what this has to do with anything I don’t know.
My dictionary says liberal means not narrowly restricted, generous, open handed, unprejudiced, favoring progress or reform. Conservative means opposed to change in social or political institutions, moderate, cautious, traditional. Neither of these are dirty words, or concepts and I wish people would stop trying to make them such. Discussions are about issues not labels.
Regarding “Tax and Spend,” it’s what governments do. You can’t run a government, or military without spending taxes. And right now current budget math doesn’t add up. By cutting taxes and increasing spending, more funds come from debt and deficit spending.
As I recall, it was the right who said the budget should be balanced. In fact they proposed a constitutional amendment in the Contract with America. If that had passed, I wonder how we would have afforded this war? Anyway, a more liberal president, who the left considered to be more center, and the right considered too far left, took this idea to heart and government spending was brought in line with revenue. Now, the right leaning leadership has decided that all their passionate past arguments for living within our means don’t fit with current federal plans, and has jettisoned the whole concept. I’d sooner call that hypocritical than the recipients of Mr. Cohn’s derision.
I extend my deepest sympathy to Cliff Mansfield (letter, April 5) for being sickened because of his perception of others. The worst illness of all, one that is inflicted by oneself.
Now, let us move from his foolish tirade about Hollywood vs. D.C. to qualifications.
Many of us who are incensed with the use of violence to solve differences or for retaliation, are well educated and hold many academic degrees.
However, this alone does not qualify one to be a supporter or dissenter to the resolution of conflict by killing, nor does it give one the credentials to the belief that resolution to dispute may be attained through non-violent methods.
It is unfortunate that so many minds have been brainwashed by military training.
Because of the frequency of deadly wars, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Granada, Panama, Gulf and others, a large number of the American population, mostly male, has indeed been trained to kill to resolve differences. It is perfectly legal and expected until again the soldiers return to civilian life where such behavior is condemned.
Those of us who oppose deadly warfare do not oppose the innocent young men and women fighting this war. We are opposed to the methods they have been trained to use and their inability to resist such methods because of the commandments made by their superiors.
Each day as we see the pictures of the young men and women who have lost their lives, we cannot help thinking of the carryout boys at the grocery store, the paper carriers or the young neighbor next door who mowed the lawn. They no longer have an opportunity to carry out their hopes and dreams. All because of orders made by superiors who consider military power to be the ultimate resolution to human conflict.
I am deeply distressed that Mr. Bush chose to send American troops into a war in Iraq.
However, that cannot be undone. Therefore, I feel we have an obligation to support the troops in meaningful ways.
I urge you to write to our Congressmen urging them to support our troops by passing legislation providing that they and their families have, and will have, adequate medical (including psycholgical) care, and that the financial hardships placed on families will not have devastating effects upon them.
At a time when the government is cutting benefits to vetrans of other wars, we need to insist that the troops sent to Iraq have the security of knowing we support them with deeds, and our tax dollars, as well as with words and signs.
Your words to our Congressmen may make a difference.
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I Can't Keep Quiet singers at "Citizen Town Hall"
‘I can’t keep quiet,’ sing members of an impromptu choir in front of Hood River Middle School Saturday prior to the citizen town hall for questions to Rep. Greg Walden. The song addresses female empowerment generally and sexual violence implicitly, and gained prominence during the International Women’s Day events in January. The singers braved a sudden squall to finish their song and about 220 people gathered in HRMS auditorium, which will be the scene of the April 12 town hall with Rep. Greg Walden, at 3 p.m. Enlarge