Friday, May 3, 2013
Board members dedicated
As a school board member, I am extremely saddened that Kelvin Calkins, Union President and May Street teacher, would attack a board member, Mark Johnson, in the manner in which he did in the April 27 issue. His attack was on the entire board, although his topic sentence was focused on Mark. I, as a board member, took the negative comments personally. Most of the statements presented in the paper were extremely subjective and have no evidence of truth.
Recently, the board has made some very tough decisions about PERS, boundaries, closing schools, hiring a Superintendent and finances. No board member has taken this lightly, including Mark. The board has focused on what is best for children and voted to assure that the children receive an education that will prepare them for the real world. (The board is proud of the accomplishments of the administrators and staffs.)
The board takes their work very seriously and spends hours doing research, reading, calling, talking to patrons to acquire information to help them make decisions that are as sound as possible. Busy schedules often cause board members to be absent from a scheduled meeting, but this does not mean that they have not weighed in on the issues. I personally contact board members on many issues when I cannot be present for a meeting so that they can express my opinion if necessary. I contacted Mark the day before the meeting that Kelvin refers to and discussed the boundary recommendations. Although he was not there to vote, he was represented. I have a high degree of respect for Mark’s work locally and at the State. Mark always has the education of the students at his forefront and works hard. Different opinions on issues, if people work together, make a stronger organization. Kelvin has clearly demonstrated in his letter and remarks to the board that he has no intention of being part of the solution for any of our issues.
Many decisions that the board has to make are not popular with Union, such as the PERS issue, but we have to not focus on self and fix the broken system. I can assure you that after four years serving on the board, I am totally convinced that Mark, and every board member loses sleep, time away from families and ponders the hard issues from their heart before they cast their votes.
Mark Johnson has been an outstanding board member and should receive your vote in the May election.
Odell Area Board Member
In response to Fishing Freeloaders, the game wardens go to Laurance Lake daily from what I see. I live close by and see them going by and I also go there a lot. If you do not see them it does not mean they are not there. They have many lakes and rivers and wildlife area’s to cover. They also have good binoculars and instincts. Sure, they cannot get everybody and they cannot just sit at one lake all day. Taking natives out of Laurance Lake is a big NO, NO and so is using bait: It is in the fishing regulations and is posted at entrance to the lake. I would nonchalantly write down a plate number or get a picture of the vehicle with plate number and forward it to the proper authorities.
One county park
I noticed that the “little” park below the library has been mowed. I do believe the park across the street from my house probably has more square footage. Why hasn’t MY park been mowed? What does it take to have city funds used for the whole city and not just a few “special” interests?
Editor’s Note: the Georgiana Smith Park is maintained by Hood River County, with funding from Hood River Library Foundation, and is not a city park.
Parks are essential
The recently mentioned Hood River city park maintenance concerns are fundamental and far-reaching, extending significantly beyond the neighborhood parks and requiring new funding options or restructuring.
Within the city park network, affected are also the city’s downtown parks, Tsuruta Park and others. The problem is as much a budget shortage as an allocation issue.
Neither Urban Renewal funds nor TRT (Transient Room or Lodging Tax) revenue can be used for park maintenance.
As the designer and co-project manager for several of the downtown city parks, as well as the county’s and library’s Georgiana Smith Park, it pains me to view the inevitable decline of the plantings and spaces enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
The parks were constructed with considerable energy, expense and volunteer contributions. The city has expanded much effort into solving this dilemma and its public works crew has my full appreciation. I understand that basic city services such as sewer and water, and street maintenance have priority. However, in my biased opinion, our public parks are a tremendous asset to Hood River and downtown, not just aesthetically, but also as a place to gather, relax, socialize and enjoy our great outdoors.
I find it ironic that the upcoming State Street Urban Renewal project specifies more landscaping and planters, with no current funds for the maintenance of the planters already in place at Second Street Pocket Park.
Notice: Danger of failure
To the Guardian of: Mark Johnson I am writing this letter to inform you that your student, Mark Johnson, is in danger of failing School Board. His current average is 59 percent based on attendance and participation.
As a member of this essential class, Mark lets the entire group down when he chooses to skip class to vote the party line. While it is apparent that his real passion is the dismantling of PERS, the voters in Zone 6 are counting on Mark to represent them in these tumultuous times. An absent representative is an ineffective representative.
Mark has a leadership role with the group. The other six members need him to help provide financial oversight. In that area, $1.4 million is absent also. Don’t misunderstand me: no one thinks Mark has anything to do with the missing money, but I can’t help but wonder if the error would have been reported sooner if Mark had been present more.
There is hope. It is a sign of maturity to realize that you have too many irons in the fire. Mark needs to decide whether he has the time to vote with his party 91 percent of the time in Salem, or attend school board meetings as he promised his constituents.
To aid him with his decision, I will be writing in Mary Reynolds in Zone 6.
A response to Johnson
This letter is in response to Mark Johnson’s “Another Voice” in the April 24 Hood River News. While I agree that we need to support our schools, I do not think that Mark Johnson is the person to turn to for advice on school funding for the following reasons: 1) Mr. Johnson states that he “cannot in good conscience vote to raise taxes when we have not done our best to reform PERS.” PERS reform affects the retirement of firefighters, police officers, teachers and other public employees. The tax increase he refers to would affect business owners and the wealthy.
I think it makes more sense to spread the increased cost of funding schools amongst many of our citizens rather than one group. He offers no other source of revenue except PERS reform. 2) Although I am a homeowner and do not have children I have always voted to increase my property taxes when the increased revenue is for our schools. I trusted that our school board was being careful with our money. I take particular offense to Mr. Johnson’s statement that “we have to use that money wisely” since Mr. Johnson and the school board were unable to watch how the school district budget was spent. They were unaware that they were over budget until it was too late to fix the problem.
I have heard that the school board will have a financial oversight committee and will be getting monthly detailed budget reports; why did these not already exist? I am not an accountant but I do know that you NEVER leave one person in charge of finances. That you ALWAYS have a system of checks and balances. Mr. Johnson and the entire school board (and the financial director) should know this. Where is the wisdom there?
Mr. Johnson you did not “do your best” managing the school district’s money. That is why I am voting for Mary Reynolds as a write in candidate for your position on the school board. I urge everyone else concerned about the education of our children to do the same.
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Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest 2016
Kiteboarders in action during the pro competition Friday at the 16th Annual Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest in Stevenson. All photos by Ben Mitchell. Enlarge