Letters to the Editor for December 31, 2011

Where are our values?, Walmart expansion a bad idea, Where's Walden, more...

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

Hood River

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.

Laurie Balmuth

Hood River

'Where's Walden?'

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?

Gary Fields

Hood River

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?"

Alan Winans

Hood River

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Latest video:

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

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