Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Common sense comeback
Thursday, Aug. 11, an unemployed man at the Walmart entrance held up a cardboard sign that said, "Obama gave me this job." Which brings me to the awful assault on common sense of late. It hasn't had much respect.
However, if common sense makes an energetic comeback in November we get to have a new president!
W.H. Davis Jr.
Has anyone else recognized that Greg Walden has two faces? Like all Republicans, he claims the American people want government spending cut - drastically. Obviously this applies to only social services and not to corporate profits provided with taxpayer money. This is the face he presents to the public. If he would only face the other way we would see something different entirely.
Walden has voted for keeping oil company subsidies at $4 billion a year. He voted to increase the military budget by $19 billion a year. I guess the U.S. war industry is in danger of going broke without this increase.
Walden voted against allowing Medicare "shopping" for lower drug prices. He thinks paying whatever pharmaceutical companies want to charge, without competitive bidding, does not add to government spending.
Now he is grandstanding to get the government to pay federal timberland counties for "lost revenue" due to reduced timber harvests.
Walden is very picky about where spending should be cut. It must not cut any profit from any corporation. What Walden and the current parsimonious Republicans in office refuse to see is, yes, we all would like to see less government spending; but at the same time we want the government to collect enough taxes to pay for what it spends.
Oops, that would mean cutting tax loopholes for the very rich and the highly profitable oil and gas industries.
Thanks for trying
An open letter to Mayor George Fischer, councilmen Cramblett, Haight and Benson and councilwoman Pruitt: Thank you, thank you so much, for trying so hard to put us on a solid foundation of a balanced budget and begin to pay some of what we owe, all without adding a single penny to our utility bill.
To those of us who are getting by on unemployment or Social Security or even those who have jobs, but find it takes two salaries to get along, it means a lot.
I awoke in the middle of the night and ask my Father in Heaven what He thought of these problems the city is having and He seemed to say, "Don't worry; no weapon formed against you will prosper and every tongue that rises against you in judgment, you will show to be wrong. (Isaiah 54:17)
Surely the good people in Cascade Locks can see that when you run out of money, you don't keep spending. After all, what can you do, fake it till you make it? (If you do?)
Thank you once again, so much.
Time to review policy
The school board's retire/rehire of teachers isn't just double-dipping. It's really triple-dipping because, somewhere along the line, somebody else remains on unemployment or welfare. And, perhaps most importantly, it means the school district isn't doing its job of preparing present teachers for promotion and/or not bringing in new blood and ideas.
While on the subject, the school board might want to review the entire policy on early retirement, such as requiring notice of a full academic year in order to allow time for recruiting and/or training.
Re: Letter from John and Marilyn Brennan (Aug. 13):
I will first refer to the portion of this letter that stated that the top 10 percent of earners paid 70 percent of federal taxes.
This may be true, but these same top 10 percent had 73 percent of the net worth of all Americans. The bottom 20 percent had 15 percent of the net worth.
Cuts in capital gain taxes and dividends have resulted in the top 400 earners in America having their effective rate being 20 percent or less. This is far less than the effective rate of 35 percent that those making over $372,650 are supposed to pay.
The real reason that the Tea Party has to accept blame is because of their "Take no prisoners" attitude. In politics, a refusal to negotiate will only result in chaos. Look at the results of their recent stand on the budget. Did it save us money? Actually, any hoped-for reduction in expenditures will only go to increased interest costs as a result of the downgrading of our credit.
This fact should be easy for most of us to understand. After all, the same happens to us if we attempt to borrow money and have a low credit rating. In some cases even insurance rates go up with a decrease in your credit score.
The top 10 percent of the adult population own 70 percent of the wealth in the U.S. This is second only to Switzerland. Finland is 10th, with 43 percent owned by the top 10 percent.
We need a more even distribution of wealth in our country. John is correct by stating that if this wealth distribution continues to accelerate than there will be riots. I do not agree with his belief that we should tax the poor more. I do think that any tax credit should be non-refundable.
The bottom 90 percent owe 73 percent of our total domestic debt. They pay more in taxes because the interest they pay on this debt is NOT tax deductible.
Ironically, usually people find it more difficult to collect from the rich than they do from the poor. This group tends to be the late payers.
I am very frustrated about the three retired employees being rehired immediately following retirement. Now we are paying them very high salaries as well as a lot of money for their well-deserved retirement through PERS.
Our school system has been in dire straits for several years and continues to be underfunded. Each year my child brings a significant amount of supplies to school and has fees for activities as well, even though my property taxes have risen 50 percent in 10 years. We just eliminated several teaching positions as classroom sizes grow larger.
I believe the school board did its job by allowing this to occur since there was no legal reason to block the process based on legal representation they received. If I were a teacher I would be frustrated after hearing year after year about budget cuts limiting what they can do in the classroom only to see this further drain on the system.
These three employees all have an excellent reputation to the best of my knowledge and all perform difficult and necessary jobs. I am certain what they are doing is legal.
With all due respect, however, I have to question the timing of this as well as the ethics with respect to the financial ramifications of their decision. As educators you must understand the constant struggle between educating our children and working within the ever-shrinking budget?
In light of the school system's financial problems I respectfully ask you to consider some other financial arrangement aside from the salaries published in the paper. Perhaps a tax-free donation to the district taking only the amount from your current salary and added to your PERS figure to equal the amount it would take to equal last year's salary?
I realize I have no right to make assumptions about any of your personal or financial situations. I am speaking for myself and I suspect some other families in the district who want the best for their children.
Several of your editorial comments in "Pay Points" on Aug. 13 certainly bordered on the "unfair and ill-timed."
There is never a better time to correct the misplacement of an employee on the job or salary scale than - right now! Budgetary woes are not an excuse for delaying such an action.
To suggest that the duties of the employee could simply be adjusted shows a lack of understanding of how the "slack" has to be taken up by fewer employees as the school district is forced to cut back as the budget is reduced.
I applaud our superintendent and the school board for making the right decision to correct this error and for not trying to sweep it under the rug.
The $3.25 per hour of pay that is due to this employee is hardly a "big increase" and won't break the school budget. Conversely, it will certainly send a positive message to other employees in the district that our school district seeks fair and timely solutions when it comes to correcting personnel issues even under tight budget constraints.
Need policy fix
As past employees of the Hood River school district (an administrator and a teacher) we strongly object to "double dipping" ("Split School Board approves 'retire rehire," Aug. 13). It is hard to believe that there are no other qualified personnel available, especially in this economy, to fill vacant positions.
This practice gives the teaching profession a bad name and should be banned as the state of Washington did. We hope our Rep. Mark Johnson will work on this issue right away and that the local school board will rewrite the policy immediately.
Marv and Ruth Turner
Kudos to 'Mockingbird'
I want to express my thanks to Plays for Non-Profits for their fantastic production of "To Kill a Mockingbird," the proceeds of which support Hood River County's libraries.
The response from the community to the play has been amazing! All 10 copies of the book at the libraries have been checked out throughout the run of the play.
I was blessed with the opportunity to usher at the final showing on Saturday. The actors did an amazing job bringing the classic piece of literature to life on stage. Gregory Gilbertson (Atticus Finch), Taylor Simonds (Scout), Sheila Dale (Calpurnia) and the many other actors really captured the essence of the characters and the deep currents of racial tension in 1930s Alabama. Kudos to director Lynda Dallman and the whole cast and crew!
We're also very pleased to be the new home of the famous tree in which Boo Radley left treasures for Scout. The tree used in the production now has a place of honor under the atrium in the library. Come take a look at it!
Hood River County Library District
Fund peace, not war
Politicians can raise the debt ceiling but they cannot raise the dead. Currently, 59 percent of our U.S. government expenses are military and our nation is discouraged because we are borrowing money for war.
Most of us would willingly pay taxes if we were given evidence the money promoted peace and helped prevent poverty, disease and death. War does not prevent war.
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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge