Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Credit to Yasui
Things are hard right now and I understand that we have to trim here and there to keep programs going. I find it hard to understand 40 percent cuts to the Hood River County Commission on Children and Families and the loss of our Hood River County Prevention Coordinator, Maija Yasui, when our elected state officials are getting a wage increase. I agree we need reform. Let’s start with insurance reform and PERs which are the largest problem with the State, County, and City budgets. I am a City employee who receives both of these benefits and I am willing to make the statement that those two benefits have literally put a lot of our state programs in jeopardy. Citizens of this state are going to have a hard time accepting our leaders taking a pay increase while the citizens are having to do without. They were elected to protect the best interest of this state, not their best interest.
Maija Yasui has done more for this county than most people realize. If we were to add up all the hours she dedicates to her job she would be making less than minimum wage. She has had a hand in writing almost every grant that Hood River County has received.
Cascade Locks is especially blessed to have Maija Yasui. She is the reason we have a good alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention program implemented in Cascade Locks. She saw the need for additional help with our youth and spent the time to help us form a Drug Free coalition. She helped us form a strategy to reduce alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse. She found a funding source and wrote our first grant for us.
I know she has done this for almost every service provider and law enforcement agency in our county. The COP’s Grant, the Library Grant, the New Parent Services Grant, The Hope Grant, Drug Free Community Grant, Safe and Drug Free School Grant, just to mention a small portion of the grants she has written or helped write.
Maija has been a mentor and a good friend and it saddens me to see that she may have to look for other work. The tobacco money could not have been better spent than in the hands of Maija Yasui. Prevention works and saves the state money.
The tobacco money belongs and was intended for tobacco prevention and we need to leave it there.
To all those state legislators that we the people voted in, be a good captain and go down with the ship. Don’t bail ship and leave the crew to be eaten by the sharks. Not only should you start paying for some of your insurance cost and reforming PERS, you should also take a wage freeze because after all, we the people have, too. You are the captain of the ship; act like one.
Set up watersheds
It appears that Wasco County and the City of Portland had foresight enough to protect their watersheds. Apparently, Hood River County left that to wishful thinking.
Should the permit to Mt. Hood Meadows development be denied, there shall probably be further development applications.
A solution to that event may be to have the county and the water districts in the county attempt to establish watersheds for the varying districts. There may be such opportunities available to forestall the devastation of the district’s clients’ water sources.
War for profit
Okay. So the proposed war on Iraq is not just about securing oil for the United States. It is also about filling the pockets of our President’s corporate friends with lots of money.
The Friday, March 7, Wall Street Journal reports that the government is “tapping into a subsidiary of (you guessed it) Halliburton Co., Vice President Cheney’s former company, to oversee efforts to control oil-well fires” in Iraq should the U.S. attack. Industry analysts say the contract could be worth as much as $1.5 billion “to jump-start Iraq’s petroleum sector following a war.”
Let’s take a short historical look at Halliburton and Brown & Root, the subsidiary that has been “tapped” for these contracts. From 1997-2000, Halliburton’s subsidiaries sold $73 million worth of oil equipment and services to Iraq. That is more than any other U.S. company. Cheney later lied about his “Iraq connection” to Sam Donaldson and the media. Halliburton was able to make big profits on oil deals in Iraq when at the same time human rights groups could not ship life-saving medicines to the Iraqi people because of U.N. sanctions. About the same time, Brown & Root was fined $3.8 million for exporting goods to Libya in violation of U.S. sanctions.
Brown & Root won a 10-year contract from the Pentagon, titled Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP). It is a contract to supply and support our troops during war. It is a contract that reimburses B&R for every dollar it spends, plus a 1 percent base fee, and a performance bonus calculated on B&R’s costs. So, in a nut shell, the more of your tax dollars B&R spends the more profit B&R puts into its own pocket. No contractor in their right mind would enter into a deal like this except for our government.
According to the General Accounting Office, this led B&R to provide nearly twice the electricity needed to army bases in Kosovo and $5.2 million worth of furniture for the camps there. The furniture excess was so gross that the Army had to struggle to find places to put it and spent $377,000 just to process the order. The majority of the B&R contract employees were idle most of the time while your taxes paid for their offices to be cleaned four times a day. Your taxes also paid B&R for their billing of plywood at a cost of $89.98 per sheet (cost in the U.S. was $14.06).
B&R was also fined for defrauding the U.S. military by submitting false claims for delivery orders between 1994 and 1998 on 224 different projects. It also paid $2 million, in the mid-1990s to settle a lawsuit with the U.S. Justice Department which accused the company of defrauding the government during the closure of the Fort Ord military base. Dick Cheney did nothing to stop such fraud. Halliburton and its subsidiaries have been (and obviously continues to be) corporate welfare hogs.
So Bush and Cheney are still cutting deals with their “old buddies” all under the guise of homeland security. If you were a contractor would you deal with a company that concentrates on insider dealings, fraud, and corruption? We wouldn’t; but apparently this administration is willing to. Wake Up America, this war is only going to benefit those who profit financially from just and unjust wars.
Todd Lauble and Leslie Hoover-Lauble
I am very impressed with the letters by Elle Larkin and Kara Parker (March 8.) Both of these students had to do a lot of research on their specific topics. The writing is truly amazing for a 13-year-old and an 8th grader (this would be very close to 13.) They both have a very large vocabulary. It is obvious that both Hood River and Brighton schools have provided these students with excellent educations.
I think that the teachers of these individuals are to be applauded for their work.
I would like to respond to a couple of the specific points brought out. First, Elle, It is time consuming and hard to regulate movement of a TV from one room to another.
There would have to be someone in charge of equipment, a storage facility, and a method of keeping track of the equipment. Also, equipment that is moved stands a much greater chance of damage. Windows are cheaper than brick. Money gained from a bond issue can only be spent for the purpose of the bond. It may not be used for other purposes.
Second, Kara, low paying jobs are much better than no jobs. We have people living in Hood River who have been out of work for two years or more. They would welcome an opportunity for work. I would think that the people staying at the Columbia Gorge Hotel would prefer looking at a super-Wal-Mart to looking at a run down trailer park. Developed property pays more taxes than undeveloped property.
In conclusion I again applaud you both for excellent letters. You both show maturity beyond your age.
No war in Iraq
The following resolution was approved, with one dissenting vote, by the congregation of the Mid-Columbia Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at a congregational meeting on March 9, 2003:
As people of faith joined in concern and action for the welfare of our own community’s citizens, we reject the present march toward war in Iraq. While we condemn Saddam Hussein and his regime for their irresponsible, brutal and tyrannical government, we are convinced that war with Iraq would produce much more loss of life, widespread misery, instability and hatred than could possibly be justified by our wish to see him removed and his weapons destroyed.
Because there would be considerable loss of life not only among our and their military personnel, but also — inevitably — among the innocent civilian population;
Because an attack using the destructive force we possess would cause deep disruption and widespread destruction of infrastructures critical for life in Iraq;
Because there would inevitably be floods of refugees and countless broken lives and broken families;
Because only greater hatred and worldwide instability can result from our acts of war on a country which is not attacking either us or our allies;
Because we have not exhausted forceful but peaceful means to neutralize, in cooperation with the other major nations of the world, the present regime in Iraq;
We hereby declare ourselves opposed to the war and call on other citizens of faith to join in stating clearly to our nation’s leaders their opposition.
In this time of increasingly polarized viewpoints regarding the current world situation, it is prudent to remember that our beliefs and values are in many ways molded by our experience. I have lived and worked in five foreign countries on three different continents. I am also very well acquainted with the daily sacrifices made by the military and their families, having spent 18 years immersed in the culture of the armed forces as the daughter of a military officer.
As a 10-year-old, I frequently walked through slums in Ankara, Turkey to get to my friend’s house. I was deeply affected by the abject poverty of families I encountered — families whose government was spending millions of dollars on military machinery. More recently, in Honduras, I delivered medical care to a peasant farmer who had been maimed by a mine (one of more than 40,000 mines) planted a decade previously by Americans during the Nicaragua conflict. While in these countries I was always treated with the utmost kindness despite the fact that I, as an American, represented wealth, power, choice and privilege.
As I ponder the current U.S. policy of force trumping diplomacy, my experiences help me to formulate my opinions. I am convinced that if our goal is to truly rout terrorism worldwide, then the solution is humanitarian goodwill in the form of proven micro-lending programs, economic development, clean water, health programs, etc. Instead we are rapidly alienating ourselves from the rest of the world through our increasingly aggressive stance.
If your life experience hasn’t afforded you the opportunity to look into the eyes of a war victim — whether a Vietnam vet crippled by depression or a farmer maimed by land mines, then try to become informed by something besides our mainstream press. Please inform yourself for the sake of the innocent victims — our men and women in uniform as well as the citizens of Iraq where 50 percent of the population are children. Visit www.fair.org, www.csmonitor.com (Christian Science Monitor) or http://news.bbc.co.uk for a world view that our mainstream media elects to screen from us. You’ll be shocked to learn that front page news in many countries describes (among other things) our government intercepting home and office telephone calls and e-mails from U.N. delegates — an astounding breach that our media has kept from us. We are being regularly lied to and misled by our leaders and media. Sadly, history is repeating itself as one can easily remember the outright lies of Clinton, Nixon, and the Gulf of Tonkin to name a few examples.
As we struggle with these issues in our idyllic small town, rather than polarizing one another let us respect that each of us has rich and valid experiences which shape our world views.
We, as citizens of this great country, have an opportunity to make a positive international statement: we can choose imperialistic dominance, violence and complete disregard for international opinions or we can choose concern, generosity, tolerance and respect for the other nations of our planet.
I have lived in Hood River for over 10 years and have never subscribed to the paper. I’ve always read it, but not regularly. I now don’t want to miss one paper and that is for one reason — the writing of Janet Cook. Her work is a great asset to the paper.
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Planet Fly at Pfriem
The band Planet Fly plays at Pfriem in an outdoor concert. Enlarge