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Letters to the editor

Complaints against commissioners simply political rhetoric

The volunteer concept is alive and well in Washington County through organizations such as FFA, while the truth of the history of the fairgrounds and the Fairground Boosters is a much different story than Lyle Spiesschaert or Matt Pihl paints (“County not doing right by fairgrounds volunteers,” News-Times, April 23 issue).

While the fairgrounds were built on donated land, the county and the taxpayer now own it and are responsible for it. Thus, the county has to operate it in a responsible way, which the Fairground Boosters were in conflict with. There are lots of articles about the issues and the contentious history, but needless to say the rosy picture Lyle and Matt try to paint is false. The buildings that were torn down were falling down, yet all they did to try to revamp them was to paint them, hardly what was needed.

Also, the Fairground Boosters’ eventual demise was not due to the commissioners, but rather the Fair Board eliminated their status as an organization. To further prove the point that this is simply political rhetoric to stir up unfounded angst against the current board, you need to look no further than a few years ago when Lyle was a big supporter of the event center when it was going before the voters, saying:

“The forethought of those who acquired this great property, and now those who have presented this comprehensive plan, deserve our support to fully utilize this investment. They have purposefully kept the cost to the bare minimum. I believe support of this measure is actually an economic stimulus package for Washington County that will benefit us immediately. It will also assure that future generations have a place to gather right here in our own county. There is no other facility of this type in the county. It is long overdue and I believe the time is right, the price is right and it is the right thing to do.”

Who wrote these words? None other than Lyle Spiesschaert, the co-author of the recent commentary against the changes at the fairgrounds that implement the master plan he references. What has changed? Only that the county leadership has found a way to construct these improvements without increasing taxes.

Isn’t this the kind of leadership we want? The hypocrisy of Mr. Spiesschaert’s turnabout is a symptom of how far some people will go during election season to disparage candidates. It is truly a shame this is happening. 

He’s right on only one thing: We need to select commissioners who believe in people, their role in the fairgrounds and that can deliver on what the people have been wanting for a long while. And that would be both Andy Duyck and Bob Terry.

Bob Horning

North Plains

County has balanced approach with Duyck, Terry

We wholeheartedly support Bob Terry, District 4, and Andy Duyck, chairman, for re-election to the Washington County Board of Commissioners. We direct every voter to the Voters’ Pamphlet to compare who is supporting each candidate and their opponents, and their respective backgrounds.

The core function of the county government is public safety, transportation, land use planning and Clean Water Services. Each of these are among the best managed in Oregon. The Washington County Sherriff’s Department is nationally accredited. Clean Water Services has been recognized nationally as an efficient and effective organization. Clean Water Services is investing $18 million in the Fernhill Wetlands this summer.

In addition to the core mission of Washington County, a substantial amount of county funds are spent to address social issues in the county. This is done by funding agencies, whether nonprofit or government, already effectively delivering needed services rather than duplicating services.

What we enjoy currently with Washington County is a balanced approach to problem-solving. We urge you to support and retain our outstanding Commissioners, Bob Terry and Andy Duyck.

Al and Janet Young

Hillsboro

Terry’s work has benefited all citizens

I’ve known Bob Terry for a number of years, and he has my vote for county commissioner. Bob has been a volunteer for this county and its citizens for years. He has provided time and money to organizations such as Washington County (serving on the budget committee), Oregon International Air Show, various chambers of commerce, A Child’s Place, the Tualatin Watershed Council, Oregon Association of Nurseries as well as many others.

His work on the Washington County Budget Committee has benefited all citizens of this county by helping to assure county agencies are held accountable to their budgets. He has helped put Washington County in a position where the county does not need to borrow funds to operate from July through November when property tax moneys are received.

I’m supporting Bob Terry for County Commissioner, District 4.

Marv Garland

Hillsboro

Death should not be shrouded in secrecy

The front page of the News-Times’ April 16 issue startled me: “Five days, five deaths.” I knew about three of them, but one seemed to be shrouded in secrecy.

A “recent Forest Grove High School graduate” whose parents “work for the district,” died nameless and with no cause of death cited. I looked for a continuation of the article for details, but saw none.

The death of a child is community news and does deserve to be treated with respect. But hiding the name and circumstances is not responsible journalism.

What happened? Who? What? Why? When? Where? How?

Mary Whitmore

Forest Grove

Furse clearly helped make light rail to Hillsboro a reality

The record is clear: In addition to community leaders such as U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield and Hillsboro Mayor Shirley Huffman, Elizabeth Furse played an important role in bringing Westside Light Rail to Hillsboro.

In the 1990s, Furse was recognized by TriMet’s general manager as well as the Oregonian for her work on the issue.

“Furse shepherded through the House a bill that not only recognizes the full 18-mile line, but also gives Tri-Met greater flexibility in paying for the project.” — Oregonian, May 27, 1994

“The language Congresswoman Furse has secured in the House bill is a momentous accomplishment for any member of Congress. But for a freshman, it’s simply astounding.” — Tom Walsh, TriMet general manager, May 27, 1994

Look no further than the Sunset Transit Center if you need more proof. A plaque hangs in honor of Furse, “for her commitment to public service, perseverance and leadership in helping to build the Westside Light Rail Project from Portland to Hillsboro.”

I support Elizabeth Furse for Washington County Commission because she has a history of getting things done and working to make our community a better place.

In an election season where accusations will fly, I urge voters to look at the facts.

Peter Welte

Aloha

Duyck, Terry have facts wrong on homelessness

At the April 28 county commission candidate press conference/debate at Pacific University, both incumbents, Chairman Andy Duyck and Commissioner Bob Terry, District 4, repeated a familiar refrain they have made in the past: that helping those with mental health issues will go a long way in solving the homeless problem in the county.

Such a comment is either based on a profound ignorance about the causes of homelessness or a desire to minimize the issue of homelessness by resorting to the stereotype of the homeless as those down on their luck, those suffering from mental illness and/or addiction.

Either way, both Duyck and Terry have their facts wrong. While those suffering from mental illness are at risk of being homeless, a much larger group of residents in the county is at risk 24/7 to joining the ranks of the homeless.

National studies indicate that one-third of the homeless suffer from mental health issues, so the majority of the homeless are victims of an economy that has left them on the margins and all too often out in the cold. But let’s assume the Duyck/Terry spin is correct that increasing mental health services will reduce homelessness.

The problem is that there is no community mental health system in the U.S.A., Oregon or Washington County. That was promised in the 1960s as we decommissioned state mental hospitals, including Oregon’s mental hospital in Salem. But that promise has never been kept.

The Duyck/Terry line is very deceptive. Anyone who has had a loved one with mental health issues knows there is no such entity but a fragmented network of service providers that all too often defaults to our county and state prison system! Using the prison system to solve mental health or homelessness is not a solution, but a failure to find a solution.

Duyck, in a meeting with fellow elected officials in western Washington County, said earlier this year that “local governments need to pick up some social services.” What this means is not clear. But on the campaign trail, it’s easy rhetoric to mask a failure to step up to the twin issues of homelessness and mental health.

Duyck has been a commissioner for over 20 years and chairman for four years. Voters have a right to know what the Duyck/Terry plan is and to show us the money to pay for it. Until then, it’s simply empty talk from the cheap seats!

Russ Dondero

Forest Grove

Furse played major role in securing light rail funding

In the summer of 1998, TriMet named its new Sunset parking facility, light rail platform and plaza at the confluence of Highway 26 and Highway 217 after former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Furse.

TriMet did that because, especially after the retirement of U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield, the Westside MAX would not have been finished on time, on budget and all the way to Hillsboro without her help.

One thing Lila Ashenbrenner has right in her recent letter to the Hillsboro Tribune (Letters, April 23 issue), is that it takes many people to build a light rail line. And surely that includes former U.S. Rep. Les AuCoin, Sen. Hatfield, members of the Oregon Legislature, Hillsboro mayor and TriMet board member Shirley Huffman, numerous professional and technical staff from TriMet, Metro, the city of Hillsboro and Washington County.

But it was Congresswoman Furse who secured, by herself, consistently, year after year from 1993 to the opening of Westside MAX in 1998, the appropriations needed to construct the project from the U.S.House of Representatives.

Without the support of the U.S. House, congressional funding for the project — regardless of Sen. Hatfield’s strong support in the Senate — would have been unattainable. 

In those years, when light rail transit was fighting to secure itself a place in the federal funding of large capital projects, the competition before the congressional committees was fierce in the extreme. Sen. Hatfield needed a partner in the House to be a fierce competitor. Rep. Furse was that partner.

During her tenure, the House Committee on Appropriations, at her insistence, approved these amounts, which were then brought before the entire House and the members voted their approval: 1994: HR 2750, $83,500,000; 1995: HR 4556, $98,000,000; 1996: HR 2002, $130,140,000; 1997: HR 3675, $138,000,000; 1998: HR 2169, $63,400,000; 1999: HR 2084, $11,062,000; Total: $524,102,000.

After Sen. Hatfield left the Senate in January 1997,  it was then largely left to Furse to deliver a strong enough funding package from the U.S. House that it would survive the rest of the legislative process, through the U.S. Senate and eventually earn a presidential signature. 

The bulk of the funds were delivered to TriMet during her term in office. The local match, other TriMet funds and congressional funds before and after her term brought the total to $963 million. She earned the honor of having the Sunset transit facility named the Elizabeth Furse Plaza.  And the entire metro region is in her debt.

Dick Feeney

Portland

Note: Dick Feeney served as TriMet’s executive director of government affairs from 1978 to 2003.

Duyck is committed to the people of the county

I’m writing on behalf of Washington County Chairman Andy Duyck. For many years, Andy Duyck has served faithfully as a responsible chairman committed to community growth and prosperity.

Under Duyck’s leadership, our county recovered quickly from the recent recession; the unemployment rate has been cut in half; and the budget reserves have been increased by nearly 20 percent. Chairman Duyck is committed to our county and its people, but he’s also committed to preserving the future by maintaining the high quality of life we enjoy.

As a rural farmer, he understands the balance between protecting heritage and expanding boundaries. Duyck realizes government cannot be all things to all people, but he works to maintain safety, satisfaction and sanitation for our entire community.

Because Duyck realizes the future of our country rests on the shoulders of our children, he assisted in devoting an additional $10 million to our county schools, ensuring that the next generation will receive a world class education.

As a concerned citizen, I urge you to support the future, by voting for Chairman Duyck this election!

Elanee Smythe

Hillsboro

Follow the money before casting your vote

The late Tip O’Neill’s quote, “All politics is local,” is no more important than in the Washington County Commissioners’ elections.

Both sides have their supporters and opponents. Each side will claim their candidate is a saint and the opponent not so much. Some will back a candidate they might not be all that enamored with but who represents a certain ideology they wish to promote. But the most telling way to determine who to vote for is the old adage, “Follow the money.”

Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have opened the floodgates of campaign contributions to obscene levels. Now those with the means to do so can exert their influence louder and be more prolific than those without. Repeating a lie often enough won’t make it the truth if people know what the real truth is. Is the person who donates $10,000 more likely to be listened to than the $10 contributor? Will certain decisions be made that will benefit that person, knowing that a negative decision might kill that donation the next time around or, even worse, go to their opponent?

All politics is local. Decisions made here affect your life more than those made in Washington. Who are the big money contributors? What have they gained in the past and what do they wish for the future? Has your life become less crowded, less polluted; the infrastructure and schools well maintained? Have certain people “made out like bandits” while you get stuck with the bill?

Giant billboards and PR consultants don’t come cheap. So you’ve got to ask, who’s making an investment and why?

Jeff Holmes

Banks

A poem to help you vote

Voters of Washington County: Are you confused about the upcoming commissioners’ races?

Here’s a poem to help clarify the issues.

“If the voices you want to be heard are yours,Vote Allen Amabisca and Elizabeth Furse.

If high taxes and congestion are your cup of tea,Vote Andy Duyck and Bob Terry.”

It’s that simple.

Lark Brandt

Hillsboro




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