LETTERS: Dialogue with lawmakers aids community progress
Three businesses organizations — Gresham Area Chamber, West Columbia Gorge Chamber and East Metro Economic Alliance — gave our community an opportunity to hear from our state legislators about their view on the recent session.
Thank you Sen. Chuck Thomsen, R-District 26, and Sen. Monnes Anderson, D-District 25, for clearing your schedules to address the audience. Unfortunately our state representatives were not able to attend. Rep. Mark Johnson, R-District 52, and Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-District 51, apologized immediately that they were unable to attend and eagerly offered to come at a later date.
Rep. Carla Piluso, D-District 50, and Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-District 49, may have had last minute conflicts and were unable to appear. The difference between them was that Gorsek offered to come at a later date. No such offer was made by Piluso or her office. Perhaps this was just an oversight.
Important bills were filed last session and important issues are still on the table. I hope the representatives will make the time to come to speak to the business owners and managers who live and work in East Multnomah County.
Dialogue between elected officials and the business community is critical to the health and welfare of where we live.
Are we filling landfills with historic artifacts?
I read the story about the Troutdale Elementary "final curtain" in the Tuesday, July 11, edition. Were any of the materials in any of these schools recycled or removed for reuse? This would be the best thing to do rather than fill the landfill with materials that can be reused. The pictures and the story seem to say that it was all trashed. Would an article on recycling efforts be a good story? Maybe Sharon Nesbit could come out of retirement for this one.
It's a very sad time for us. Both of my children grew up in the Reynolds School District, from kindergarten to graduation, and I volunteered many a day when they were little. I have many happy memories in this little school. We have lived in the neighborhood for many years so watching it all unfold pulls at my heart strings.
A faithful reader.
Follow the money on Rep. Mark Johnson
Our state representative Mark Johnson worked tirelessly this session. Unfortunately it was on behalf of Union Pacific Railroad based in Omaha, Neb., and not on behalf of the people in his district.
Union Pacific actively supports more oil trains through the Columbia River Gorge and opposes measures to improve oversight of train emergency response. Apparently, so does Rep. Mark Johnson.
Johnson received $7,000 in campaign gifts from Union Pacific last year, including $5,000 after the Union Pacific oil train derailment and fire in Mosier. All through the session, Johnson opposed HB 2131, which included common-sense measures to require robust oil train emergency response plans, fees assessed to the railroads, proof of financial responsibility for oil spills and open public disclosure.
He voted against the bill in the House Energy and Environment Committee. He ignored the advice of the Legislature's in-house lawyers who said the bill was legal and instead got his legal advice from Union Pacific's lobbyists.
He worked to make oil spill plans secret and off-limits to the public, then voted against restoring public disclosure on the floor of the House on June 30. His votes, debates against rail safety and other supporting documents detailing his actions are accessible on the Oregon Legislature's website. His campaign contributions can be reviewed on the Secretary of State's campaign finance webpage.
Please call Johnson and let him know that the record shows he is not on the side of community safety from oil train derailments, is not representing his district and it better change in the 2018 session and beyond. His number is 503-986-1452.
Soda tax would hit some harder than others
Proponents of a tax on sweetened beverages in Multnomah County apparently realize now how unpopular this idea is because they are delaying their efforts to collect signatures for a ballot initiative later this year.
Rather than postpone this effort, their time would be better spent finding other ways to fund their pet projects than to single out one group of products for a sales tax that will unfairly hit small business owners and people who work hard to make ends meet.
While the proposed tax may not seem like much, it adds up, particularly for small grocery stores and restaurants that must pay this tax up front.