Letters - May 3

‘Ingenious’ new tax

Our Oregon legislators have arrived at a novel approach toward arresting the financial woes of our State. Recently momentum has gathered in support of HB2836, a bill that would add three percent tax to our auto premiums. The money is supposed to be earmarked for State Police — Patrol Divisions. It appears this is a “trickle up” form of economy.

The three percent tax would require additional computer programming on the part of each insurance company operating in Oregon. Special capturing of the premium and tax would have to be in place. Secondly, each insurance accounting department would have to administer the tracking and paying of the tax. More tax forms would be designed by the state. New trust accounts would be established at banks to retain the tax money. New forms would have to be signed by each client informing them of the tax.

I believe through this new tax additional employees will be hired to administer the taxation. How can this be bad for our economy? Of course, our insurance premiums are already at a point that 25 percent of the drivers on the road in Oregon choose to not have it. Is it possible that our uninsured motorist rates will increase? Why, that means higher premiums. That means increased tax. That means more employees for the state and insurance companies. I can see this is ingenious! Hooray for our legislators!

Charlie Vanden Heuvel

Hood River

Look to trench

The following things have been cited by others, but rarely, and it doesn’t seem to be sinking in with we the people. They are fairly simple facts, not angry accusations or unsubstantiated allegations. As Yogi Berra said so famously, “You could look it up.”

During Vietnam, George Bush was a draft dodger by any definition of the word. As a businessman he did dubious oil deals with Enron, becoming best friends until very recently with Kenneth Lay, who may turn out to be the biggest white-collar criminal in world history. Later Bush failed with his own companies, Arbusto Energy, Bush Exploration, Spectrum 7 and finally Harken Energy, where he was caught with the goods of insider trading, by selling out for $840,000 shortly before its crash cost investors $2 million. He was not prosecuted by the SEC, whose chairman had clear, close and long-standing connections to Bush’s father, who was then president of the United States. Full documents on the matter remain sealed to the public.

Next he drove taxpayer dollars into a baseball stadium which he personally profited from. He was governor of Texas, where he left both the environment and social system worse than he found it, while signing the execution orders of more than 100 men, including the retarded (and many remaining on death row are being discovered innocent by DNA tests.) He was elected president by a court-decided (5-4) technicality, while losing the popular vote — in fact, 154 million eligible voters did not cast a vote for him.

Last but not least, as he himself admits, he’s not the brightest bulb on the marquee.

President Bush’s alleged strength was that he could bring people together. After two years as president, the country is more politically divided than it has been since Vietnam, and more economically divided than at any time in its history. Not to mention in the worst shape in decades.

These are his credentials for his role as self-appointed ruler of the world. Along with his faith that his God backs his agenda.

And I didn’t even mention his one, maybe two drunken driving arrests, before he found his God.

How on earth it can be considered unpatriotic to question the leadership of a man with such credentials, I’ll never know. “My president, right or wrong,” has never been the American way, because it supports ignorance. What happens if he is terribly, terribly wrong?

Bush supporters say he has character. He has lifted a tyrant off the backs of the Iraqi people, which is a wonderful thing, out of context. But his motives need to be examined, and the costs to the American people need to be challenged.

There is a Mexican proverb, “Entre dicho y hecho, hay un gran trecho.” Between the word and the deed lies a big trench.

We’re not looking at that trench, and we should be.

Sam Moses

White Salmon

Keep boundaries

I think the citizens of Hood River County would benefit from knowing what the Oregon League of Conservation Voters’ website has to say about House Bill 2689, now pending. Understandably, your coverage of a recent local forum reported arguments from the forum’s sponsors — the bill’s supporters. The counter-arguments need to be heard as well:

“HB 2689 — Allows urban levels of industrial, commercial, or residential development, as well as hotels and motels, in so-called “rural development zones” outside urban growth boundaries. This means that anything from manufacturing plants to destination resorts to subdivisions to Wal-Marts could be built far from population centers and existing infrastructure, thus effectively eliminating the urban growth boundary.“

Evidently the bill, as written, would have impacts far in excess of helping jumpstart Hood River County’s economic development. Urban Growth Boundaries are one of the most sensible innovations ever to come out of Oregon. Some flexibility in agriculturally related rural development may be appropriate, but growth boundaries should not be subverted to accomplish it.

Sam Lowry

Hood River

Making readers

As the coordinators of the SMART (Start Making a Reader Today) programs at Mid-Valley and Parkdale Elementary Schools, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the wonderful people in our community who have generously shared their time by volunteering with the program this year. The time they invest each week in our community’s children is so important and appreciated. It makes a huge difference in the lives of these children. Thank you!

For those not familiar with it, SMART is a literacy program operated by the Oregon Children’s Foundation that serves K-3rd grade students in schools all across the state of Oregon. In our community the program has been active in both Parkdale and Mid-Valley Elementary Schools these past two years. Volunteers from the community donate at least one hour a week and are paired with two students, with whom they read a half hour each. Each student has two volunteers and so benefits from a full hour of one-on-one reading time each week. Mid-Valley Elementary has 51 students in the program and 45 volunteers; Parkdale Elementary has 36 students and 35 volunteers. Statewide, more than 8,000 volunteers read to nearly 12,000 children in 256 public elementary schools in 24 counties. These programs that serve our children so well would not be possible without the dedication of our community volunteers. They are the heart and soul of the program. They understand so well that learning to read allows one to learn for a lifetime of pleasure and enjoyment. Thank you volunteers!

For information about becoming a SMART volunteer next year, contact Linda McMahan at Mid-Valley Elementary School, 541-354-1691, or Jenni Donahue at Parkdale Elementary School 541-352-6255.

Linda McMahan

Mid-Valley SMART Coordinator

Jenni Donahue

Parkdale SMART Coordinator

Keep sports, music

If football and wrestling bring in revenue, why do they need funds from the school budget? Football and wrestling can support themselves. Football has always been the sacred cow of the athletic department. How many kids go on to play football after graduation? Not all boys play football and no girls play.

Let’s support sports that kids will use throughout their lives — golf, swimming, tennis, track, skiing. It’s wrong to deny students the opportunity to participate in these sports.

And don’t cut the already basic music programs in our schools. These are vital parts of education. My children went through Hood River schools and now my grandchildren are going through the same schools. I support the schools and encourage all you grandparents out there to support school funding.

Jean E. Thompson

Hood River

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Latest video:

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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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