Featured Stories


Letters to the editor published June 26, 2015

We must make a stronger effort for racial justice

As many people are this week, we are horrified and grieving at the loss of nine precious lives in Charleston, S.C., including senator and pastor Clementa Pinckney.

A white man targeted historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, murdering members of a Bible study group, thinking he was a foot soldier in a race war.

The Black Lives Matter movement has shown us that the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and many others at the hands of armed police and vigilantes are not random events. Anti-black racism is a deep sickness in our country with historical roots in slavery that are very difficult and emotional to think about, but that we have to understand in order to move forward.

By the numbers, our county is very white, which is a reason we have to make an extra effort to take a stand against racism and for racial justice.

Each of us can talk to our neighbors about current events, tell stories of the courage of the African American community and their allies who have risen up to honor black lives. Each of us can work to make this county less hostile and more welcoming to the black families and other families of color here in our community, and to those to come.

We have a lot of work to do, but it is work worth doing.

Amanda Aguilar Shank and Joseph Lewis


The port’s ‘trust deficit’

I listened to an interesting interview with former President Bill Clinton on Sunday morning. He was asked his opinion of what was happening throughout the United States with all the police shootings and the shooting of police.

His answer was right on point: trust deficit.

Elected officials are no longer trusted. It’s as simple as that. People want answers and they don’t get them.

Trust deficit. Those are two mighty important words. They can be applied to matters closer to home. When you are concerned about the trains traveling through Columbia County because they have a potential to explode, you want to know who will pay for the disaster when this happens. You assume the oil companies and the railroads provide plenty of insurance. You would be wrong.

For months now, private citizens have asked these questions of the Port of St. Helens commissioners, and did not get any answers. The commissioners “just assumed” the insurance coverage was sufficient.

Well, it isn’t. Another trust deficit.

We were told $400 million in insurance was carried by Portland & Western Railroad to cover any disasters in Columbia County, whether it be an explosion of an oil train or Bakken crude spilling into the Columbia River. This may seem like a lot of money, but in actuality it is a drop in the bucket.

The disastrous explosion which occurred in Quebec killed nearly 50 people and the clean up is already in the billions of dollars. As my letter published in local newspapers a few weeks ago said, I don’t want to get stuck paying for mistakes made by the railroads, oil companies and the Port of St. Helens.

For many months, perhaps even closer to a year, I have been one of those people with questions for the port about insurance coverage. I never received an answer.

However, here is some good news. At the last port meeting, the current commissioners decided they would heed the warning about insufficient insurance and voted to pass Resolution 2015-23.

Resolution 2015-23 has increased the amount of attorney fees which will be paid in legal costs for the port commissioners — both past and present — to defend their decisions in the course of their duties. This would include the decision to allow under-insured crude oil shipments through Columbia County.

A public official may be personally liable for an action in torte.

However, under the Oregon Tort Claims Act, public officials are to be defended and claimed harmless by their public body for actions taken in their official capacity except for malfeasance in office or willful or wanton neglect of duty. If the shoe fits ...

The port commissioners who approved the Global Partners LP oil terminal at Port Westward do not appear to care if your home, business or school blows up, or if you lose a member of your family, but they sure as hell don’t want to lose any of their own possessions to lawsuits when they are found to have been responsible for allowing “bomb trains” into our lives. This is a really big trust deficit.

It appears the Port of St. Helens Commissioners did not ask enough questions prior to making decisions that could leave the county on the line for billions in cleanup and reconstruction if an oil train derails.

They neglected their duty to the citizens in favor of industry.

How can we trust them?

I am hopeful that new voices on the commission will restore responsibility and fairness within the Port Commission.

Nancy Whitney

St. Helens

Antifreeze poses health risks

May I take this forum to remind local residents that automotive antifreeze is an “attractive nuisance” that is fatal when ingested.

What makes it attractive is its pretty green color, much like Kool-Aid, and a sweet taste.Who is it attractive to? Kids and pets.Why do I bring this up? On Wednesday, June 24, I chanced upon a puddle of antifreeze in the Grocery Outlet/Ace Hardware parking lot in Scappoose. Out of due concern, I contacted the acting managers of both Grocery Outlet and Ace Hardware, asking that it be cleaned up right away because of its lethality.

The spill was eventually cleaned, after a delay of 15 to 20 minutes since my initial report and my starting to clean it myself with paper towels from one of the stores.

I am appalled that it was not deemed to be an emergency situation.

Please, if you see antifreeze on the ground, soak it up with kitty litter, Safe-T-Sorb or absorbent disposable toweling right away so that it cannot create a potentially life-threatening situation.

Carol Waterman


Disney critic should also look within himself

I am writing in response to Wayne Mayo’s letter to the editor in the June 19 issue of the Spotlight (see “A pink slip for Mickey,” Letters). While much of what Mayo states from the New York Times’ article is accurate, and actually verbatim, the issue was resolved and noted in the Times a week-and-a-half later.

It does sound like Disney tried to take advantage of a jobs program to allow immigrants with “advanced technological skills” to be recruited to work in this country. My issue is with Mayo’s assumption, stated at the end of his letter, that these legal and illegal immigrants will “take advantage of our generous welfare system without shame.” That, to me, is a huge leap of Donald Trump-like reasoning, especially when these are people with advanced technological skills.

This was particularly galling when it is printed during a week when a young misguided man shoots up a Bible study class because the people don’t look like him.

We need to be better role models for our youth and not perpetuate baseless prejudice in a ridiculous effort to claim superiority.

Unless you are Native American, Mr. Mayo, we are all immigrants.

Carroll Sweet