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Letters from readers published July 25, 2014


Heaven forbid we stop corporate welfare

I would like to address comments made in local newspapers. I will agree to a fraction of the improvements that were needed at Port Westward and Rainier, but only to a certain degree. I understand that many industrial sites need to be shovel ready — OK, I get it — but after sinking hundreds of millions into a site such as Port Westward, don’t you think a corporation that wishes to build there needs to be assessed full taxes on day one? After all, the taxpayers just picked up the tab for hundreds of millions for these companies.

The taxpayers not only paid for the infrastructure improvements, but we miss out on tax revenue for decades because of urban renewal, enterprise zones and Strategic Investment Programs, and Connect Oregon, just to name a few. It is simply corporate welfare and we, the taxpayers, are still doing road improvements to the site.

I also believe when a business/corporation, such as Global Partners LP, comes into a community, and their product interferes with the safety and livability of the community, it is their burden to alleviate these impacts no matter the cost. That is what a responsible business does.

Likewise, it is the carrier’s responsibility — Portland and Western Railroad — to make sure their line is up to the most modern and structural designs.

For instance, if I decided to sell eggs and my business was booming, would it be the taxpayers’ responsibility to buy me more laying hens and the fencing to keep my hens safe? The answer would definitely be “no.”

People would and should have a fit about using taxpayer funds. We should all be as angry about funding corporations, which need no monetary assistance other than to shore up their profits for their shareholders.

My question is, How much more taxpayer funds are needed at Port Westward? One hundred eighty million dollars for the defunct ethanol plant, a million for a well, and millions in road building. The county debt interest includes $70 million plus, and Port of St. Helens debt is in the $35 million range.

We could have taken all that money and built a viable company ourselves and had it owned by the taxpayers and operated by county residents. At least we would have something to show for it. We could also have taken the money and paid the wages of all the people who we have supposedly created jobs for, and the cost would have been significantly less than what we have paid in taxes and tax break thus far.

Of course, that would be called welfare. Heaven forbid we take away corporate welfare and give it to real people.

Tammy Maygra

Deer Island

Legislators must take time to seek citizen input

We could not agree more with your assessment about the use of Connect Oregon monies (see “Connect Oregon is divisive for some,” July 18). You summed up our sentiments perfectly in the last paragraph, “The improvements in Rainier and at Port Westward may very well be necessary, but how our local, state and federal legislators ultimately regulate the use of that publicly funded infrastructure is something in which each of us should have a voice.”

You point to something fundamental — something we all believe. It is the mother’s milk of American politics. It is taught in our schools. It permeates our culture. It is the belief that We the People, are the ultimate decision-makers. Not the agencies that dispense our money. Not the Port of St. Helens, or the Board of Columbia County Commissioners, or state Sen. Betsy Johnson, or state Rep. Brad Witt. Not them. Us!

There is, however, a hook. We must be involved and we must educate ourselves about the issues because if we don’t, the people we elect will decide for us. That is exactly what is happening now. They have not asked us what we want so we must demand their attention. How? By any means you choose. Write letters. Send emails. Attend meetings. Vote.

We don’t pretend to know what the majority of Columbia County citizens want their future to look like. We are willing to trust that there is more wisdom in the group than in any one individual. We’re willing to abide by the wishes of the majority. We just don’t know what the majority wishes. And, neither does the port, or the commissioners, or Senator Johnson or Representative Witt. They need to ask us. We need to demand they ask us. And, then we can move forward into whatever future has been decided by We the People.

Nancy Ward, President

Clean Columbia County

Good people doing good things

On Tuesday morning one of our residents was “driving” her motorized scooter along Old Portland Road when her scooter’s battery died.

Our resident, who is 72, waved to a passing car for help. The driver, a young woman named Emily Scherdnik, pulled over and stopped. Emily then called our building from her cell phone and waited patiently with the elderly resident until we could dispatch our company van to pick her up. I later learned that Emily is just 16 years old.

Thank you, Emily, for your random act of kindness. You are a shining example of the fine young people of Scappoose.

Sasha Tinning

Community Relations Director

Rose Valley Assisted Living

In the spirit of Ivins

Molly Ivins was a newspaper columnist and a liberal political commentator born in California and raised in Texas. She was a remarkable woman. She wrote extensively for Mother Jones with humor and the absolute truth. She believed you have to have fun while you are fighting for freedom and justice because you can’t always win.

She believed in ridiculing the “fraidy-cats” and she believed in outrageous celebration when you “kicked ass” on an important political matter. She delighted in poking pins in politicians who where puffed up with their own importance. She died of breast cancer in 2007 at the age of 62.

My point in telling you about Molly Ivins is that I recently read some articles in various newspapers in which Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, and various other self-important politicians have stated that almost everyone in Columbia County is highly supportive of the Port Westward project. These people, to whom the politicians supposedly spoke, must have been found at the “invitation-only” meeting put on by Columbia County Economic Team to which opponents were not invited.

In fact, opponents were excluded.

Molly Ivins most likely would have said to not be a “fraidy-cat,” to stand up and tell these officials what you really think, and to not let fear ruin your future and that of your children.

We need to make our elected officials realize that most of the people in Columbia County are not supportive of having Columbia County turned into the armpit of Oregon. Of course, that continues to be slightly more difficult to do when Commissioner Earl Fisher continues to give us the designation of “noise makers” instead of actually listening to us.

We have a state-run grant program called Connect Oregon. Portland & Western Railroad has already received millions of taxpayer dollars from this program and yet the infrastructure of the rail tracks and bridges continues to need considerable upgrades. With all this taxpayer money being funded to the railroad companies, you would think P&W Railroad would be required to pay more than 5 percent of these upgrades while the taxpayers must pay the additional whopping 95 percent.

These taxpayer rip-offs never seem to end. Johnson, Witt, the Columbia County Board of Commissioners, the Port of St. Helens and the state of Oregon are “damned dead wrong” if they believe the rhetoric they continue to spread as truth will just be accepted and we will roll over to get our bellies scratched.

In the spirit of Molly Ivins, I, for one, will continue “kicking ass” and have fun doing it until I drop.

Nancy Whitney

St. Helens

Environmental rule-makers blowing smoke

This letter is in regard to the Thursday, July 17, Sustainable Life story, “Woodstoves may be as toxic as cigarettes.”

Sure: the slightest whiff of secondhand smoke from 100 feet away on a windy day is 1000 percent guaranteed to kill you.

Environmental rules appropriate for densely populated urban areas are out of place for sparsely populated rural areas.

A major storm can turn off the electricity for several days or longer. It is well to have some source of heat not dependent on electricity to function. In many rural areas, natural gas is not available.

Some of what is published in the name of environmentalism strains my gullibility past the breaking point.

Eugene Oster

Scappoose