Letters to the Editor for January 22, 2011

Jan. 22, 2011

Cascade Locks wants casino

In response to Tom Rousseau's anti-casino letter of Jan 12, I would like to comment on the 2008 professional polling firm he refers to. They came to my house while we were having some pro-casino friends over for dinner. They began their poll, discovered all six adults present were pro-casino and then tore up our questionnaires. It was obvious to us that they did not want our voices included in the poll. Prior Cascade Locks City polls put the support for the casino at 67 percent. A port election where one candidate was very pro-casino and the other was very anti-casino resulted in an 80 percent vote for the pro-casino candidate. There is support for the casino in Cascade Locks and just saying there is none won't change the facts. If the EIS is full of holes, gaps and etc. as mentioned, why weren't those items brought out during the extraordinary review period? It is pretty simple: There are no gaps or holes and simply saying there are does not create gaps and holes. While I can understand that residents of Hood River may not wish the casino in their city, we do want it in ours. How would the city of Hood River like it if we began a campaign to end wind surfing and skiing near Hood River because of the problems attached to those activities? The increased traffic caused by those activities causes pollution in the Gorge. Maybe we should also advocate for shutting down Multnomah Falls as over a million visitors a year visit there and cause further pollution and congestion. Oh, it is OK for you to have yours, but we can't have ours? When the anti-casino people begin campaigning against other Gorge recreation and activities they will have some credibility, but in the meanwhile they seem to be following the Grande Ronde Tribe's agenda to prevent any competition. Arni Kononen Cascade Locks.

Save education

Hood River school district's economic woes are part of a much larger picture; it includes almost every school district in the state of Oregon. Also most cities, counties, and ports; some are worse than others, partly due to poor forecasting with PERS, and PERS side accounts (the issuance of bonds by school districts). Even larger than PERS is the cost of health care, which continually goes up much faster than the rate of inflation. The end of federal stimulus dollars, the real estate crisis and people being out of work and unable to find jobs have also contributed to the problem, as pointed out in your article. Tax revenues haven't kept up in response. In some districts the citizens have voted in additional taxes, such as happened in the Reynolds district a few years ago and Portland Public Schools. David Douglas issued bonds and invested the proceeds when the market went south, thus incurring a double hit. At some point we have to stop cutting programs; kids are already getting a meager education compared to what was available 50 years ago. Music and art programs have been cut, athletics cut or the costs shifted to participants; does this start to show up in poor performance in core subjects? The grades children are getting could be related to this; looking at the graduation rate, is there a relationship? Math has a relationship to music - it's learned subliminally from music - art teaches abstraction; why should the children of Hood River County compete at the next level with kids who have these things available to them? People working and paying taxes now have an obligation to do what's necessary to ensure that our children get a good public school education; it's important for them, and for the future of our country; it was provided for those who went through public school by their parents. Hopefully we can help our school district overcome its deficit and not have to trim more than it already has over the years. Rob Brostoff Cascade Locks

Proud of Walden

Yes, Greg Walden does speak for me and I am very proud to call him my Congressman. Our country's financial picture is a joke and an embarrassment to level-thinking people. The economic condition of our country has dictated our priorities and he articulates all this very well, as I saw for myself when he was on CSPAN recently. He has sound judgment and will not be liked by many people who want the spending to continue. Marilyn Brennan Hood River

Death knell for casino

It is not looking good for a casino in Cascade Locks, regardless of how the proponents try and spin the potential final blow to their plans. First, the Secretary of the Department of Interior has to approve a Fee-to-Trust land proposal for any off-reservation casino before the governor of that state can approve a compact between a tribe and that state; not the other way around as exiting Gov. Kulongoski attempted to do two weeks ago. It is clear the proponents panicked, knowing that the soon elected three-term Gov. Kitzhaber would not sign any compact between the Warm Springs Tribe and the state of Oregon which would kill this horrendous Gorge proposal. The recent PR by the Warm Springs is misleading. They state the compact between the State of Oregon and the Warm Springs, "… has been deemed approved by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior," which isn't true. Secretary Salazar did not respond to it; which is not the same as approving it. Regardless, now Gov. Kitzhaber has veto power over Kulongoski's backdoor attempt at shirking the proper procedure. Spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff from the DOI released a statement stating, "The department will not make a final decision on any of the nine pending applications, including the Warm Springs Tribes' application, until Echohawk has completed this process later this spring." Larry Echohawk is the assistant secretary of the DOI in charge of the review process for those applications. There is no place for a 65 city block-sized casino within a National Scenic Area (the casino site is in an urban area inside the NSA) adjacent to a federally designated wilderness area. So, over 10 years later and over 25 million dollars wasted by the supposed impoverished Warm Springs tribe, where is plan B for the city of Cascade Locks? And the tribe? I have a few suggestions for the so-called deprived WS tribe: 1) put a huge NASCAR track on the reservation 2) get a company like Nike or Columbia Sportswear to set up a factory on the reservation, since they are a sovereign nation, maybe they won't have to pay taxes; or finally 3) how about putting wind turbines all over their reservation, instead of polluting the scenic Gorge with them? Paul Smith Washougal, Wash.

Hope for the future

There is hope. My wife Leslie and I got the chance to chaperone 46 young men and women ages 16-18 to Hawaii for a week. There were five other adults with us. These young adults are foreign exchange students from countries around the world and are part of the E.F. program that Leslie and I are a part of. At first I was a little apprehensive about going, but Leslie convinced me that it would be a great opportunity and I would enjoy it. She was right. The first thing I noticed was that nationality and race went out the window; that these people came together as a large family of siblings. There was no quarreling, and nobody put anyone else down. They each looked out for each other. They worked as a team and played as a team. And as I took all this in, it dawned on me that they are the future of this planet we call Earth, and that there is hope for the future. Maybe the folks in Washington, D.C., should go on a field trip with some of these young people and learn how to get along and work together. Reed Melby Hood River

Community rallies

My youngest son is one years old. He sings. He cries. He falls. He climbs. If you are lucky, he will give you a hug. If you are really lucky, you can hear him trying out a new word. It is amazing. Last Saturday a group of friends, family and strangers gathered at Springhouse Cellar to celebrate the life of my husband, Corbin Shays. Through his battle with cancer, we had help every step of the way. For his celebration of life and Corbfest we had a huge room full of Hood River-style support. I write to tell you what a phenomenal community we have and to reflect upon how I can become a better person from this experience. I have always heard stories about people doing greats deeds of service in times of disaster; humanitarian aid in Haiti and heroism during 9/11, for example. At the same time, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and consumed by my daily life - the house dirty, the fridge empty, the To Do list growing. When cancer became a big part of our lives, we wanted to make sure that living life trumped the disease. Our community made this possible through kind words, nourishing food, big hugs and quality time. My family is so very fortunate that the Gorge is a place that chooses action over despair. Our people make the time to help others. Our local businesses participate and deserve our support. I am not sure I can ever repay all of these generous deeds, but I can tell you I am going to try. If you were with us last Saturday to raise a glass, through words, in spirit, with a kind deed, or through a huge donation - thank you for helping my family sing, cry, fall and climb. I know we will recover but never forget. With Corbin gone my family faces new challenges. I am positive that the people of our community will help us find a different path down a new road. We owe you a hug. Melissa Shays Mosier

Good deeds appreciated

There are tough days when we all get harried. I had one of those days on Martin Luther King Day when in town doing errands. There I was in Safeway, trying to pay for my groceries, when to my horror and embarrassment, my debit card was not in my wallet to pay! That's when I realized that I must've dropped or misplaced my card somewhere; but where? I was totally panicked thinking of the worst: Would someone steal my identity or raid my account, depleting any resources? Apparently, I had accidentally dropped my card (that was in my hand with my list of errands, grocery list, coupons, etc.) on the sidewalk in front of the Dream Street store in the Cascade Avenue Mall near Safeway. Fortunately for me, I was rescued by not one but other good Samaritans, as well. One person found my card on the sidewalk and took it into the Dream Street store. The store owners/employees took the initiative and checked the local phone book to see if a name might fit the name on the card and did track me down. What a relief and blessing to know that there are some honest and caring people in this world and our small town! Thank you to the person finding my card and to the owners of Dream Street for tracking me down! This gives me such a renewed faith in humanity! I love living here, want to thank the Good Samaritan, and appreciate the Dream Street owners/employees so much! Thank you for saving my day! Pat Frantz Parkdale

Dispenser needed

I would be very grateful if the city would install a doggie waste bag dispenser in the field adjacent to the drycleaners and the power substation on Union Street. Many people who walk or jog with their dogs along the Indian Creek Trail park next to the field and use it as a starting point. My dog loves to play fetch and it's a great field for that, except for all the dog waste that's polluting it. There are dispensers along the trail just a short walk either way, but I think having one in the field would encourage owners who don't have bags on them to clean up after their companions. I will gladly volunteer my time cleaning up the field if a dispenser is put in, to provide a "clean slate"! Merrie Richardson Hood River

Change takes time

New Year's is a time for resolutions. But it is a time we should exercise due caution in making life changes - especially for the better! Very few principles of life can be applied equally to the world of public affairs as well as to personal matters. But virtue is one of them. And the tragedy of virtue is that in both personal life and in politics, the pursuit of virtue - moral excellence - so often leads to error without us realizing it. I think this is because we do not understand the complex dynamics of virtue. I have known men and women elected to public office sincerely desiring to do the right thing and to make significant changes, but whose ideals, policies, actions and laws result later in more harm than good. I have also noticed in myself the same dynamic at work. As in Greek tragedy, when pursuing a commendable goal, we so often find ourselves not only falling short but tragically betraying our own vision. St. Paul saw this puzzling trait in himself when he wrote, "I do not do the good that I want, but the evil that I do not want is what I do." (Romans 7:19) We see this also in public life. This suggests that we do not understand the biblical nature of virtue. It is not like our secular two-dimensional view, where good intentions and good actions move us closer to good results. Biblical virtue is multi-dimensional. Every good contains the seeds of its own downfall. The greater the good, the greater the potential for evil. Virtue creates its own propensity for weakness, often blindness. Even the saint - especially the saint - is tempted not to see the corruption of the good he or she creates or embodies. So it is with the good-intentioned public servant who works diligently to pass a law of great public worth, only to become increasingly blind to flaws that will limit, if not undermine, its effectiveness. Some call it pride; some hubris; some the power of evil. So in this New Year, both for ourselves and with respect to our hopes and expectations for more enlightened public policy, let's remember that effective and lasting change comes slowly, sometimes very slowly, and with great difficulty. Let's not be impatient. David C. Duncombe White Salmon, Wash.

Sorry to offend

To those whom I may have offended with my comparison of President Obama to a groundhog: As most everyone knows when you are in public office you are going to be joked about. I was only trying to put a little humor in to our lives. If you can't laugh at or about people in the public eye, then we have sunk pretty low. We live in a troubled world and I believe that a little humor makes it a little bit easier to face life. Again I'm sorry if I have offended anyone. Jim Drennan Sr.

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