Thursday, July 28, 2011
I just sat down today with my first book from the newly reopened library. It was like exhaling after holding my breath underwater, except that it was for a year instead of a minute.
What a relief! All at once I felt at home, at peace, and just a little bit more patriotic.
Granted, since last summer we haven't gone without books in our house; we always have tomes of mysterious origin hanging around that I haven't read, and favorites I've only read once.
Of course there was always the option of a trip to the bookstore, but it's not the same. Nothing replaces the triumph of coming across a book I wasn't even looking for that ends up changing my life - and I discovered it!
Remember too: One cannot take GED practice tests at a bookstore.
Call me a sap, but I get such a sense of community when I am at the library, and even when I am not. Just to know that it is there if I need it is a great comfort.
Thanks goes to everyone who voted to create the library district, and all those who have worked to make opening the library a reality (and early at that!). Now, back to the book...
It seemed like a simple request to the person who is representing you and me in Congress: "Where do you stand on the issue of healthcare in regards to national funding?"
I posed this question to Congressman Greg Walden on his official website this March in order to clarify his wishy-washy posted stance on the matter.
In the letter I described how I, a very healthy and physically fit constituent of his, had been denied access to health insurance due to a minor shoulder injury from a snowboarding crash and because I get sore muscles from working that require a $4 prescription approximately once a year.
Apparently the person our district has chosen to represent us is too busy with the incandescent light bulb debate and naming post offices across the country to be bothered to state his position clearly in one of the big issues our nation is facing.
This is particularly disturbing considering that I regularly write to and get responses from Sen. Wyden, who has not only a district to answer to, but a whole state.
Political stances aside, people who do not have the ear of their representatives are not fairly represented. Hopefully the Republicans of District 2 will think long and hard before running their de facto candidate in the next cycle.
Cascade Locks' struggle
I am very concerned about recent editorials I have been reading in the paper over the last month regarding issues in Cascade Locks. This is no small concern, what is happening to our community, with the excessive large cuts to our fire and emergency services department, which severely crippled that department.
As one citizen who addressed the city council stated, "First our fire/EMS, what next? Are we now going to have to round up a posse to go after law breakers?!"
And as funny and ludicrous as that is, we should not just laugh it off because there appears to be a purposeful dismantling of the City of Cascade Locks by the hands of a majority (not all) of the current council.
Recent letters suggesting "disincorporating the city" is a hint of the hidden intentions; and so with the recent major crippling of the fire/EMS, and the continuous loss of personnel, it appears the dismantling has already begun. So more and more citizens are becoming involved with the current issues in our city, whereas they were not prior.
There are those who hold a society back and those who propel it forward. Those taking part and currently speaking out, and who support possible recalls of some of the council members are not "kids arguing over a toy," but are individuals who believe in the advancement of a society.
Something of great concern is taking place in Cascade Locks.
Shortly after President Obama was inaugurated, Rush Limbaugh said, "I hope Obama fails" (doesn't that border on treason?). Soon thereafter, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that the singular top priority of the Republican Party was to defeat Obama in 2012.
It is difficult to gauge how much the virulent opposition to Obama has been due to racism (the Southern Poverty Law Center documented a big spike in hate groups following Obama's election). But, in any case, it appears that the Republican Party is trying to hold the economy hostage. It calculates, probably correctly, that a weak economy and high unemployment gives it the best chance of winning in 2012.
That the Republicans care more about winning in 2012 than helping the country's economy and, in particular, are "blocking jobs," was being discussed in the Washington, D.C., newspapers recently. The Republicans' proposal of no tax increases and deep spending cuts must be behind their willingness to sacrifice the country's welfare for their own benefit - unless they are ignorant of past history.
Do they not know that a similar austerity program by President Hoover during the Great Depression only made it much worse?
Are they ignorant that it took huge income tax hikes, especially on the rich, and heavy government spending, particularly on government-created/funded jobs (e.g., the WPA, CCC, World War II, and business reform and encouragement), to recover from the Great Depression and get the private sector going; and that a large cut in spending in 1937 temporarily derailed the recovery?
Are they ignorant that, as recently as 1993, tax hikes that they claim are so harmful to growth turned out very much the opposite after President Clinton implemented them?
Adding to the problem is that the large corporations and banks seem to be in cahoots with Republicans in keeping unemployment high. Despite big profits, they are not adequately creating jobs; but rather wringing greater productivity out of their workers without commensurate wage increases.
Many CEOs are chafing over new regulations passed in July of 2010, even though those regulations may be inadequate to prevent another catastrophic 2008-type economic collapse. Those regulations do, however, represent first steps in reversing the previous 30 years of rampant deregulation that led to the collapse.
Well, this is an update of the ignorant moves done by the present council. Last month Chief Pricher was forced out of his fire chief position, from having his salary cut. When he left the city he said he would stay as a volunteer assistant fire chief and volunteer paramedic.
Today the mayor told Pricher to turn in his gear, keys and passwords within a week or there would be legal action against him. This leaves our town without a medical professional.
Pricher got $2.6 million in grants for the station, and lots of the gear and supplies; he has saved lives in this town, has trained and professionally organized a great bunch of devoted volunteers. He also has set up a mass casualty disaster unit and is respected for his talents throughout the Gorge and Portland.
Firing a volunteer with these talents not only makes no sense, but is a final blow to our EMS department.
Out of place
After a couple of years reading your feel-good, do-good blasé editorials, I am insulted that the editor feels the need to inform the readers, our town and our duly elected city council what is appropriate behavior. I feel there should have been a disclaimer in the July 16 editorial stating that the (publisher) of the paper is a resident of Cascade Locks.
Recall is in order
I read Mr. Munkoff's letter to the editor published on Wednesday, July 13. Mr. Munkoff calls for the unincorporation of the City of Cascade Locks and a merger of the Port of Cascade Locks with the Port of Hood River and under their authority.
Interesting. I guess that would be like the founding fathers of the United States deciding after they fought a war and established a nation, to swim the Atlantic right up the Thames River to the palace of King George III, low-crawling up to his throne and begging him to take us back.
Thank you Mr. Munkoff for that wisdom! I believe taxation without representation would be okay with Mr. Munkoff, too.
Clearly the school board of Hood River closed two of our three schools under the same concept. They do not live in our town and their decision does not affect their children, either. Perhaps Mr. Munkoff agreed with that decision also. It fits his philosophy.
Well, I disagree with Mr. Munkoff and anyone else who holds the same opinion. What we need is a local government that protects the citizens, their property and lives and not just the self interest of elected officials. Those on the city council who voted to destroy the leadership of our local fire and emergency services and to publically humiliate and demoralize our volunteers need to resign immediately and allow others to be elected who will protect us.
Mayor Fisher and council members Haight, Pruit, Benson and Cramblett need to resign. They have demonstrated that they have chosen not to protect the people they serve. Certainly a recall is in order!
Chaplain (Major) Patrick Stuart, USAR (Ret.)
I would like to express my gratitude to everyone involved with the production of "Jesus Christ Superstar." It was my good fortune and a great pleasure to experience your performance of this extraordinary musical.
Thank you for enriching my life this summer with the fruits of your labor and all of your tremendous talent.
We know who enemy is
Fifty years ago, humorist and philosopher Walt Kelly famously had Pogo state, "We have met the enemy and he is us."
Now, Pfc. Bradley Manning, a 23-year-old soldier, has been subjected to inhumane treatment in order to break his mind and spirit. Manning's crime: Allegedly leaking a treasure trove of minimally secret documents to Wiki-leaks.
These documents have exposed the seamy underbelly of U.S. diplomatic high jinks, military malfeasance, corruption, murder and torture.
Manning was held in solitary confinement, stripped naked every night and denied a pillow or blanket for 11 months in a brig in Quantico, Va. He was awakened every hour on the hour and not allowed to fall asleep or exercise during the day.
For one-half hour a day he was allowed to march in a 6 foot by 12 foot concrete, windowless room. He was held without charges, access to legal aid and family.
This kind of treatment has been defined by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as torture and is the reason most of the civilized world will not extradite prisoners to the United States.
Manning was finally charged with (wait for it) "Aiding the enemy" (a charge that carries the death penalty). Since we, the people, are the benefactors of Manning's heroism, we, by definition, must be the enemy.
Barack Obama, who campaigned on "hope and change," has enhanced the felony of George Bush's draconian assault on human rights and protections under the U.S. Constitution.
I am proud to stand with Bradley Manning and Julian Assange as "enemies" who stand for transparency, freedom of information and sunshine as the best disinfectant for corrupt government.
Home Valley, Wash.
Help Gorge Groms
Support our youth, come to Stonehedge Gardens on Tuesday, July 26, at 6 p.m. and make a donation to the Gorge Groms. There will be a great barbecue dinner, live marimba band and silent auction items.
Hood River's youth windsurfing program is world-class and needs your support to grow and serve more kids. Having rigged sails, wetsuits, boards, helmets and booties available to our kids throughout the summer is such an asset to our community.
If you've ever enjoyed the benefits of this wonderful amenity, come and have a fun night and support Hood River's youth. Hope to see you there!
Give locals a break
To the City of Hood River: Why don't you let local residents with proof of local residency buy an annual parking permit for a nominal fee of like $30 per year valid at all downtown meters?
Second question would then be a suggestion of raising parking meter fees to at least $2 per hour, therefore greatly increasing the revenue into the city!
It's time the tourists start paying for the services that us local taxpayers are being tapped out financially to supply.
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Oil train car being transported by truck
A damaged rail car from the June 3, 2016 oil train derailment and fire is transported from the crash site via truck on I84. Enlarge