Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Where are values?
I attended both the planning commission and the city council meetings regarding the proposed Walmart expansion. What sticks in my memory is the statement by a former planning commission member who said to the Hood River Planning Commission: "You get to decide the issue. It's your decision."
Unfortunately, the city council has reneged on its own authority. From my attendance at the meetings and my reading of the Hood River News report: "Cascade-Rand project in limbo," the headline should have read: "Walmart throws weight around, city council caves."
Perhaps it is true that, "Money had no place in the council's decision …" but at least that would have been an economic decision to trade virtue for vice. As it is, it's very hard to know what the values of the city council are, and what vision the council has for Hood River.
Clearly, this one decision will not change the face of Hood River, but this category of decision leaves the future in doubt. Was it the threat of Walmart's legal counsel, the specter of "vested rights" or naïve sympathy for what Walmart "thought" was implied? What exemptions await the next big corporate move?
It certainly was not the fact, that in 1991, the planning commission approved a 72,000-square-foot store, with no additional approval for a 30,000-square-foot expansion. To make arguments 20 years later for an implied permission, not substantiated by any legal decision but because it was included in the site plan, is simply egregious.
If approval were so easy come by, we wouldn't need a planning commission, a city council or an Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. We could trust every corporate "person" to act in the community's best interest just because it said so.
Mark S. Reynolds
Expansion is bad idea
The Walmart expansion is a bad idea for the following reasons:
1. It is not necessary; there are plenty of good places to buy groceries.
2. Walmart goods are shoddy, the food is cheap and highly processed, citizens pay for this in poor health and nutrition.
3. Walmart unfairly competes with American and local sources of production taking jobs, money and control away from us.
4. Walmart hires workers at rock-bottom wages and then encourages them to go on assistance - another tactic of unfair competition that costs us money.
5. There are already things you cannot buy in Hood River unless you go to Walmart or to The Dalles or Portland - let's not make the problem worse.
6. Traffic at the nightmare exit 62 intersection, light pollution and 24-hour noise from truck delivery is not something we need or want in our town.
7. Before you send your health and money to China and down the drain, think harder. Dump Walmart.
Greg Walden's choices for upcoming public meeting places says a lot. He must not want to explain his voting record to any significant number of his constituents. He has chosen two very sparsely populated counties and two towns with few people.
Rufus, in Sherman County (population 1,765), has 268 residences. Fossil, in Wheeler County (population 1,440), has 469 people.
Greg, why not your supposed hometown, Hood River (6,736)? Or The Dalles (12,314), Baker City (9,828), Ontario (11,316), Pendleton (16,970), Medford (74,907), or Bend (76,639)?
No, Representative (and I must use that term very loosely) Walden chose two counties with fewer than 3,300 people and two towns with fewer than 750 people. Oregon's 2nd congressional district has 769,987 people. What is he afraid of?
No thank-you letters?
Dec. 21 Hood River News letter policy states, "We will no longer publish 'Thank You' letters." In that issue and on the same page, a letter appeared with, "Thank you City Council."
Then again on Dec. 24, another "thank you" for the same cause, and again in the Dec. 28 issue, "thank the City of Hood River…"
Applying that ol' military explanation, "It depends on the terrain and situation," or is it, "Different strokes for different folks?"
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Cascade Locks brush fire
Video of a brush fire near downtown Cascade Locks which erupted Aug. 27, 2015. Enlarge