Letters to the Editor for May 10, 2013

Vote Johnson, support Reynolds, keep Veldhuisen; throw out "gun grabbers" more...

Reynolds writes

Regular attendance of the school board members is necessary because the business of the school board must be conducted in public with debate and discussion. Elected members of the school board have an obligation of transparency. Decisions cannot be made remotely. School board members need to be in attendance at the public meetings.

This is one reason that I’m running as a write in candidate for Position 6. I want to re-build trust with the district community.

Mary Reynolds

Hood River

Veldhuisen qualified

We citizens of Hood River County have been fortunate to have Jan Veldhuisen Virk serving us on the county school board for the past 14 years.

Jan’s ability to analyze issues objectively, coupled with her effective communication skills and respect for others, make her a terrific asset to our school district.

Having raised three daughters in Hood River, Jan has become closely acquainted with the schools themselves; and her many years working with the administration have given her insight into the management of those schools.

She’s chaired the board several times, been through the process of hiring three superintendents, and co-chaired almost all the local option levy and bond campaigns. Jan’s experience will serve us well going forward.

Jan’s record shows that she has the ability to ask hard questions and make tough decisions. And, that she has the maturity to deal with confidential matters responsibly. But her innate sense of fairness and willingness to treat all sides respectfully is perhaps the most important trait in a public servant.

Jan has demonstrated that she is able to keep communication lines open with all sides, whether or not they agree with her decisions.

I am glad she’s willing to serve another term, and hope you will join me in supporting Jan Veldhuisen Virk for the Hood River County School Board.

Jennifer Euwer

Hood River

Vote for Johnson

Mark Johnson deserves our vote for the Hood River county School Board, Position 6. Over the past eight years on the board, he has shown that he has the leadership, experience and in-depth knowledge about education that Hood River County needs now, more than ever.

He’s well respected, trusted and relied up on by other members of the school board, as well as members of our community. When Mark is serving in Salem as our State Representative, he is a strong advocate for Hood River County, fighting for increased and stable funding for our schools, more innovation in our classrooms, and increased opportunities for our kids at every single level from K-12 to higher education even at our local community college.

Even Governor Kitzhaber appreciates Mark’s work on education issues. His write-in opponent, who speaks about a vision and a plan for Hood River County, has no experience working within our Hood River County school system and lacked the initiative to even file as an official candidate in time for this election—that doesn’t sound like much of a “plan” to me. Because of this, her supporters have relied on inaccurate and negative attacks against Mark, something our community shouldn’t stand for.

We all know that all school districts are facing challenges in the days ahead. In these times we need proven leaders who have demonstrated leadership, and competence and know their communities. Mark stands up for our schools and will continue to work hard and put our kids first. Voters should support Mark Johnson for Hood River County School Board, Position 6 on May 21.

Glenn Taylor

Hood River

Keep Veldhuisen

Please join me in voting to keep Jan Veldhuisen Virk on our School Board. Now more than ever we need the experience, commitment and energy that Jan brings to the board.

When Jan was first elected to the board in 1999 her three daughters were already or would be attending May Street School. Yet Jan knew that she was not just advocating for her own kids, or May Street kids, but all kids of Hood River County School District.

The burden to do right for all our kids has been and continues to be a priority for Jan. I attended school board meetings for over six years.

I also worked closely with Jan on the 2008 construction bond and local option levy and know first hand the knowledge she brings to the issues that have faced the district in the past.

I also know the hard work ahead that will require her leadership, compassion, respect for community members, parents, teachers and all school employees, while knowing her ultimate concern is for the kids of our district.

Jan knows the time commitment that being on the board involves. Hours of preparation, reading, phone calls, discussions happen before the bimonthly board meetings.

In addition, there are countless evenings spent on superintendent searches, community forums on budget, facilities, and boundary changes.

Jan is stopped in the grocery store, school functions, on the street, receives many phone calls and letters. People come to board meetings wanting to express their feelings and opinions on issues and I believe at the end of the day people, including myself feel we were listened to, heard and respected.

With a new superintendent coming on board, two new board members, a new principal and VP at the high school, and difficult decisions to be made on budget and other issues, we need Jan’s leadership, now more than ever.

Debbie Dorich

Hood River

Pass on politics

We all know that politics can be a very ugly game. The recent attacks on Mark Johnson on these pages are proof of this. School board elections are intended to be non-partisan and non-political.

So why are we seeing such negative and personal attacks being directed toward Mark? Do we really want these kinds of tactics to become the norm for all school board elections in our county?

Mark Johnson has served eight years on the school board. This is an unpaid position that requires many hours of sacrifice away from work and family. The current state of the school district finances has been building over a number of years. Mark has the courage to address these difficult issues head on – and as a result, he has been the brunt of personal attacks questioning his dedication.

Mark’s years of experience and recent time in Salem make him extremely qualified to navigate the difficult decisions facing our school district.

The need to allocate limited resources between providing critical services and insuring the viability of retirement benefits requires the ability to make these decisions. We need Mark Johnson – he cares about education in Hood River, he has served faithfully and we are lucky to have him.

When you cast your vote for School Board Position 6, make it for Mark Johnson.

John Brunk

Hood River

Re-elect Johnson

Mark has certainly done a credible job as a school board member. I haven’t heard any disparaging comments about his performance until the heat of this campaign.

The union leadership has chosen to brand him negatively when the board, as a whole, has had to tackle some very difficult issues about closing schools, finances, redistricting and PERS.

They have made those decisions in the best interests of the county and children — as they were elected to do.

Governor Kitzhaber has appreciated Mark’s involvement in public education at both the local and state level and believes that it has been good for both.

Partisan politics has no place in a school board election and Mark should be re-elected for doing a good job.

Fred Duckwall

Hood River

Write in Reynolds

I am writing to voice my support for Mary Reynolds, the write-in candidate for Position 6 on the Hood River County School Board. In the interest of full disclosure, I am Mary’s husband.

Mary has a direct and honest approach to education and to community. She is a teacher because she loves working with children and wants to contribute. She is highly qualified and has a Masters degree in Education. She is in the classroom every day and has been for 24 years.

Although Mary is running a campaign for school board, her campaign is not just a campaign. It’s a conversation about what kind of education we want for our children. By voting for Mary, we can begin to have that conversation and make a small change to support local democracy.

Write in your vote for Mary Reynolds, Position 6.

Mark Reynolds

Hood River

A green scene

This is from the “Now-I’ve-seen-everything–department” and I’m 65, did combat in Vietnam, was a TV reporter, a playwright, an actor, a husband, a wind surfer and even a UPS driver.

Today, I went to the dump with a load of yard waste (to Hood River Garbage) and as I’m unloading, a fellow around my age rides up to the pile on a bike with one of those two-wheeled kiddy-carts attached and in the cart is a trashcan. He opens it and takes out a handful of yard waste and tosses it on the pile. I said, “Now there’s dedication,” and he says in a growly voice, “either that or stupidity.”

On my way home I see him peddling away a good distance from the dump. I figure that man is either the world’s greatest environmentalist or what he said. Of course, that can be said about me too, only forget about the environmental part.

Al Brown

Hood River

Vote for Veldhuisen

Thank goodness Jan Veldhuisen is running for re-election to the school board! Jan has been an exceptionally dedicated school board member for 14 years, and I am thrilled that she is running again.

Jan has been an unfailing champion of our community’s children, making sensitive and well thought-out decisions for the benefit of all our schools and all our kids.

With the chronic under-funding of schools at the state and national level, we can’t help but be upset and anxious about education cuts.

Given this situation, Jan’s vast school board experience and proven dedication are critically important. There will be more tough decisions to make in the coming years and I will be voting for the candidate that I know is always willing to listen and to weigh all sides of an issue before making the best decision.

I hope you will join me in re-electing Jan Veldhuisen to the school board.

Karin Tauscher

Hood River

Re-elect Johnson

Voters in the Hood River County School District have twice elected Mark Johnson to serve on the school board. They would be wise to reelect him for a third term.

I met Mark through my service on the State Board of Education as he entered the Oregon Legislature. Mark’s experience on the local school board gave him a depth of knowledge seldom found in a freshman legislator. He quickly became a key leader in securing a package of legislation to streamline delivery of services, increase parent choice and strengthen accountability.

Mark is smart and calm and bipartisan. The legislation he helped pass in 2011 had the support of Democrats and Republicans alike along with Governor Kitzhaber. Mark is the kind of leader who brings people together to solve problems and move forward – the kind of leader needed during these challenging times for schools.

Mark is an innovator. He has brought favorable attention to Hood River schools in Salem. The partnership between the Hood River County schools and Columbia Gorge Community College to advance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education has drawn the attention of Chief Education Officer Rudy Crew as a model for improving education throughout the state.

This month, the Oregon Education Investment Board, which is chaired by Governor Kitzhaber, will be hearing about the district’s plan to build a middle school STEM academy and advance a comprehensive program through high school and into community college to connect students with well-paying jobs. Mark has advocated for a suite of after-school activities, partnerships with industry and dual enrollment opportunities that could make this effort a model for the state.

My guess is that Mark’s service to date – outstanding as it has been – is just a prelude to what is ahead should voters re-elect him for another four years. Hood River schools are on the move and Mark is a key part of the team that is making this happen.

Duncan Wyse

Portland

Former member of the Oregon State Board

of Education

Johnson needed

Mark Johnson deserves your vote, and I’ll tell you why.

First, the concocted notion that the budget woes are the fault of one board member is simply wrong. I read the audit report from the school district; the “fault” lies squarely on the shoulders of Nick Hogan, the CFO.

Having Mark Johnson as a State Representative and school board member has an enormous advantage, as he knows what is going on at the state level, that affects our budget and policy locally.

Mark is an advocate for our children on both the state and local level. Mark (and the current school board) supports PERS reform as it’s the main culprit that’s causing the never-ending school cuts.

My elementary school kids now have just one day a week of music and PE; and classroom sizes of close to 30 as a direct result of the PERS burden. Two of our schools closed as a result of the PERS debt passed along to us as a result of state policy. It’s only going to get worse- our kids are losing and PERS must be dealt with, our board and Mark Johnson recognize this.

We need Mark Johnson’s experience & perspective now more than ever. So please, vote for Mark Johnson – not some woman from The Dalles who’s running on a whim for one purpose: to represent the union – not our kids.

If you, like myself, feel that our tax dollars should be spent in the classroom, to benefit the kids, vote for Mark Johnson.

Kristine Wilhelm

Hood River

Oust ‘gun-grabbers’

Think Manchin-Toomey’s defeated bill requiring “Universal Background Checks” was a good idea? WRONG! One of the big lies liberals like to spout is that “Universal Background Checks” (UBC) will not lead to “Registration” and later “Confiscation.”

One of the main reasons they cite is that all records of the sale, once the background check is finished, are purged from the system. This is a blatant and deliberate LIE. England, Canada and Australia used this exact method to register then confiscate certain guns.

I am an Oregon FFL holder. When I bring a new gun into my store I am required to enter it into my “Acquisition and Disposition” book called the A&D book. When I sell that gun I am required to enter the NAME of the buyer, their home address, their DOB, the gun type, caliber and serial number. I even collect their FINGERPRINTS. Law requires that I keep that A&D book available for inspection by the ATF for a minimum of 20 years.

Liberals lie and say that the records are purged because the state police who handle the 4473 (NICS check) generally do not keep these records. Personally, I don’t believe they purge ALL records, but they don’t have to! We FFLs are required to keep these records for them. When time to register guns arrives, all the ATF needs to do is collect our A&D books.

If you are buying into the “Universal Background Checks” myth, you need to rethink that position. All law abiding gun owners in America need to work together and defeat any politician from either party that supports this bull-plop.

Here in Oregon Greg Walden is a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment, but both Wyden and Merkley have indicated by their votes on the UN gun ban and Mancini’s UBC bill that they support this attack on legal, honest gun owners. Merkley is up for re-election in 2014. Let’s be sure that him and other gun-grabbers lose their cushy positions.

Cliff Mansfield

Odell

Systems failing

Thermodynamics’ famous “Second Law” states simply that all systems tend inexorably to break down. What is ordered becomes disordered, and what is neatly constructed falls apart.

This is true of all systems in the natural universe, and we can see it in operation as well in human-constructed civilizations.

In particular, our American civilization currently is providing a perfect illustration of ever-burgeoning decay. Our country is slowly but surely sinking into total disorder. What other conclusion can we arrive at in light of an apparently continuous succession of macabre and horrific developments in our nation’s existence?

Spectators at the Boston Marathon are slain by bomb-wielding religious lunatics, and soon thereafter we learn that some young women were imprisoned for a decade by a Cleveland-area degenerate.

We have a national government that is obviously not operating in a decent and satisfactory manner. “Mere anarchy”, as they say, “is loosed upon the world”.

America’s Founders delighted in comparing the Republic of their creation with a machine that would “run of itself”. They truly flattered themselves that they had brought into being a political entity so perfect it would hum along smoothly into the farthest and most remote future.

This vision, alas, has run aground in the 21st century because we appear to have a populace totally bereft of civic virtue. Read the headlines, scan the blogs, listen to the self-serving twaddle of the politicians, and quietly contemplate this civilization‘s lapse into utmost indecency.

The “machine” constructed by our Founders is lying in tatters along the roadside!

Frank W. Goheen

Camas, Washington

School, gun safety votes urged

The League of Women Voters of Oregon believes the time is now for the Oregon Senate to pass two very important pieces of public safety legislation—SB 700 (Universal Background Checks) and SB 347 (Allows school districts to limit guns in K-12 schools).

Polling shows that the vast majority of Oregonians favor these common sense steps to keep our communities safer, but unfortunately our legislators are being swayed by a small but vocal minority.

We are running out of time this session. The League urges the silent majority to speak up and send a quick email to Senator Chuck Thomsen (sen.chuckthomsen@state.or.us) as soon as possible to ask for his support.

Robin Wisdom

Salem

President League of Women Voters of Oregon

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