Monday, January 16, 2006
Tails you lose
Heads I win, tails you lose!
Bush asks a group of over a dozen ex-Secretaries of State and Defense:
“What should we do to solve the Iraq problem now?” Why he invaded Iraq is not up for discussion. Bush now asks what to do.
If the plan succeeds, he is a big hero. If it fails, the failure is their plan, not his. Heads I win, tails you lose.
I hope that this group is smart enough not to fall for his bait, and let him develop his own way out of the mess he created, acting against all contrary advice.
A concerned senior citizen,
Anatole S. Fetisoff
Interior Secretary Gale Norton needs to investigate every aspect of an application for a proposed casino in Cascade Locks. There are many unanswered questions.
The indictment and certain confessions of Jack Abramoff, lobbyist for Indian gambling, opens the door to investigation of Indian casinos and the political financing of them.
Although Rodger Schock, chair, Hood River County Commission, declares that he knows of no elected body opposing the casino, this authority has not been substantiated by an advisory vote of the people of the areas they represent. It is curious why no political body, including the governor, opposes the casino development. Were the trades and payoffs too lucrative?
Secretary Norton needs to define “need for economic development.” Is it a need when people choose to move to areas where there are few jobs available? Perhaps they have made the choice to live there because of the area’s beauty and serenity? Are those areas obligated to change the environment because of so-called need even though it may destroy the purpose for locating there in the first place? Is the carrying capacity of the area being jeopardized? And, although within the city of Cascade Locks, should such development be allowed when it may negatively affect the surrounding Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, the area that must be traveled in order to reach Cascade Locks?
In a time of upheaval among political leaders, Secretary Norton must be certain illegal political lobbying has not tainted the application for a casino in Cascade Locks.
Jack Abramoff and his cohorts have been accused of pitting Indian Tribes against each other in the closing and operating of casinos, receiving huge sums from both to ultimately help neither. Could he have been involved in profiting from a proposed casino in Oregon?
His connections with Tom DeLay and other leaders are well known. Does it extend to the Secretary of Interior?
Tribal casinos have been hit by the corruption of lobbyists who are seeking money and power.
It is hoped that the Warm Springs Indians have not been affected by this corruption, and that decisions of elected officials have been free of influence.
Casino: bad idea
I feel compelled to address two recent letters to the editor that appeared in the Hood River News on Jan. 4.
The first was by Cascade Locks City Councilman Rob Brostoff. He claimed that I was mistaken about something though he never stated what I was mistaken about. He also made reference to “obfuscations.” I challenge Mr. Brostoff to actually come up with something that we are “mistaken” about or that we are obfuscating. On the contrary, Mr. Brostoff is either woefully misinformed or engaging in his own “obfuscation.” The truth is that the proposed site does sit in the National Scenic Area. Cascade Locks, in its entirety, sits comfortably right in the middle of it. If you live in the Gorge then you live in the Scenic Area; if you develop in the Gorge, then you develop in the Scenic Area. While different rules apply within urban growth boundaries, a 500,000 square foot casino will have devastating effects on the ecosystem and air quality of the entire National Scenic Area. It really is that simple.
The second letter was from Lynae Hansen of Cascade Locks. First I would like to state that we are NOT funded by any other groups whatsoever. We have not taken money from the Grand Ronde Tribe, the Restaurant Association, or any other group. It really is sad that the casino supporters feel compelled to attempt character assassination to shore up their weak position. When comments like these are made, they really give up the argument and concede the upper ground. We are not opposed to families, jobs, or education. We are not opposed to social services, higher education, or protecting the environment. Do casino supporters realize that the 6 percent community fund would be spread over 13 counties, including Multnomah County? Do they realize that the schools would have to “apply” for money from the tribe and there is no guarantee they will get it? Just ask the Vernonia school district. Do casino proponents honestly believe that the 17 percent that would go to the state guarantees their children a “higher” education?
If the casino is not built in Cascade Locks will families suddenly not be able to provide for their children?
Do they understand that at some point casinos begin accruing higher social costs than what they pay out to the communities? (See “Casinos, Crime, and Community Costs,” by Earl L. Grinols and David B. Mustard, 2005.) Do the casino supporters understand that this is not just a Cascade Locks issue, but will affect the entire Gorge and all its communities? Do those people not have a say in what affects them?
Do casino supporters realize that acid rain is already a problem in the Gorge and 3 million-plus visitors will only add to that problem? Do they care that sensitive species such as bald eagles, osprey, and an assortment of flora and fish in the vicinity will be affected by the casino? Last time I looked in a dictionary exploitation and protection were two different words with two different meanings.
While I have known Lynae for many years and respect her opinion, her letter is an example of the misinformation being fostered onto Columbia Gorge residents. A casino anywhere in the National Scenic Area is a bad idea for all communities in the Columbia Gorge.
Recall tribe plight
It is interesting that in all the rhetoric against the proposed casinos there is no concern for the Warm Springs tribes and their financial plight. Years ago they were consigned to the reservation and apparently everyone hopes they and their problems will stay there and just disappear.
It saddens me to say that this is the selfish “We have ours and you can’t have any” attitude that has grown in the Gorge in recent years.
Fight the lobbies
I was in for a shock when I attended Sen. Ron Wyden’s recent “Town Hall” at The Dalles Senior Center. Seventy minutes into the scheduled 90-minute event and no one had raised a question about the biggest hoax of recent times — the Prescription Drug Bill. It didn’t appear that the subject would even come up in a room full of mostly senior citizens.
Then a gentleman who had already used his allotted one question, stood up and interrupted saying, “What about the Prescription Drug Bill?”
Sen. Wyden said that he had voted for the bill because it was a “start” but that it was a flawed bill. He added that he and Olympia Snowe were co-sponsoring a cost-containment addition to the bill which would allow federal bargaining power for bulk purchases.
What Sen. Wyden didn’t say was that the bill is “corporate welfare” for the pharmaceutical and health care industries and is an increase in premiums and a lowering of benefits to those covered. Nor did he mention the $400 million cost to taxpayers over the next decade.
Although he had earlier been asked the difference between a campaign contribution and a bribe he didn’t say anything about the Justice Department investigation of alleged bribery in the House of Representatives regarding the vote on the drug bill.
We are hearing a lot about outright bribery involving Indian gaming laws and off-shore sweatshops but we are not hearing much, in mainstream media, about the drug industry’s lobbyists (the most numerous in D.C.) nor about their $650 million in “contributions” to politicians in recent years.
It seems that we have the best government that corporate money can buy but we aren’t getting any bargains. The party that brought us Credit Mobilier under Grant, Teapot Dome under Harding, Watergate under Nixon and Iran-Contra under Reagan now brings us Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham and this drug bill fraud.
I think it is time we started holding politicians of both parties accountable on such matters as health care, education, pre-emptive war, secret spying and power of corporations. If you care, let Congress hear from you via mail, phone or e-mail.
Casino a good idea
I get so tired to hearing the “anti’s” and “naysayers” on the casino issue.
I think the vast majority of us, me included, think that bringing a clean, environmentally safe employer to the Gorge is a good thing.
And as far as Richard Randall’s comments go, not all the people who visit casinos have gambling addictions or are thieves. Most are just like me and my wife. We like to visit on occasion as a change of pace. We gamble a bit.
We enjoy any entertainment, the glitz and glamour. And then we head home.
People with gambling addictions can already visit any convenience store in Oregon and bet on the lottery.
This casino will be a huge “win” for Cascade Locks. It will offer jobs, economic stability, and growth — all of which have been lacking in this struggling economy. And the increased retail traffic will be good for everyone currently in business.
Every elected official in the area supports it, which is good enough for me.
Plus, the casino is not being located on some archeological treasure. It has been sited on property that was created from the spoils of building part of Bonneville Dam — property that is virtually undevelopable without someone like the Warm Springs tribe, who can afford to build an overpass over the Union Pacific railroad that handles as many as 22 trains a day.
So, for all of us average folk, the minority that is screaming “no casino” do not represent the rest of us. We are firmly in support of Cascade Locks’ future.
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Lawnmower torches Arbor Vitae on Portland Drive
The riding lawn mower driven by Norma Cannon overheated and made contact with dry arbor vitae owned by Lee and Norma Curtis, sending more than a dozen of the tightly-packed trees up in flames. The mower, visible at far right, was totaled. No one was injured; neighbors first kept the fire at bay with garden hoses and Westside and Hood River Fire Departments responded and doused the fire before it reached any structures. Westside Fire chief Jim Trammell, in blue shirt, directs firefighters. The video was taken by Capt. Dave Smith of Hood River Fire Department. Enlarge