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Missile program would be a waste, getting fleeced with Columbia County tax assessments, enough already with tax-happy Oregon, on candidate stumps

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:  - 'I watched people attempt to defend themselves from a higher tax rate without the proper appraisal, they had no way to defend themselves. This was very sad to watch, especially considering this county is so poor anyway.' - Daniel Knutson, Scappoose

Missile program would be a colossal waste

Wayne Mayo's March 31 letter to the Spotlight, "Missile defense should be a priority," raises some interesting issues.

First, Wayne would like the United States to deploy the mobile missile defense system known as THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, to protect the West Coast of the United States. Wayne seems to have forgotten about the existing United States' strategic missile defense, known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense, or GMD.

The precursor to GMD was President Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in 1983. We spent $30 billion on SDI and received exactly nothing for our money.

In 2002, President George W. Bush initiated GMD. The Bush administration exempted the GMD system from many of the standard oversight, accountability and financial transparency requirements. The GMD system has cost over $40 billion and the probability of it actually knocking down a missile is essentially zero. Even if it could knock down one in five missiles — the best-case scenario I could

find — would you sleep better at night?

The THAAD system works fine on unsophisticated missile systems, but has never faced sophisticated and relatively cheap spoofing countermeasures. THAAD is also incapable of intercepting long-range ICBMs so, at $1.2 billion per deployed platform and $22 million annual sustainability costs, deploying units on the West Coast would be an incredible waste of money. Perhaps we could request the funding for two platforms and retire the state of Oregon budget shortfall, with a little left over to actually do meaningful things.

Wayne also expresses concern for China's response to a purely defensive weapons upgrade in South Korea. The Chinese are not concerned about defensive missiles, they are concerned about the AN/TPY-2 X-band radar utilized for fire control. The radar mode can easily be switched from fire control to a very long-range forward-based mode which can track a missile in its boost phase and pass data back to the U.S.-based dysfunctional anti-missile system. Before you say you are OK with this, ask yourself if it would be OK for China to place an equivalent system in Cuba.

Lastly, through innuendo, Wayne casts aspersions on China's intentions, politically, and as they relate to North Korea's nuclear ambitions. I have a visceral distaste for individuals or groups that purport to represent the motives or positions of those with whom they clearly disagree or dislike. Looking around our country and the world, the all-too-obvious results are the inability to separate fact from fiction, intolerance, hate, divisiveness and a total breakdown of meaningful communications.

I grew up believing we were better than this. Many of my fellow Americans prove me wrong daily.

William Allen

St. Helens

Getting fleeced

I am a 59-year-old man who has had to reinvent himself due to employment discrimination for those of us who are of older ages. I am a contractor now who survives in Columbia County and am trying to grow my business.

My story is about Columbia County and personal property taxes that their Assessor's Office assesses and then raises each year. This last year they raised my taxes for my floating home three times more than the year before.

First off, Measure 50 is supposed to only allow a 3 percent increase per year. So now I had to appeal the decision that the tax court charged me and pay the tax money anyway or face charges. So, to make an appeal, they set a court date and you go in and face a board of people and state your case as to why they should lower your taxes.

Most people who appeal should get an appraisal done before the court date to show what an independent appraisal amount would be. The county has their own appraisers who come from a different appraisal school. The kick is that most people cannot retain someone to do the appraisal before their court date due to the backlog of work that appraisers have and new rules installed for them after the 2008 housing failure. This gives the appraiser the ability to gouge the client for the amount of the appraisal because you need them now or your going to find it difficult to defend yourself in tax court due to not being able to afford or retain an appraisal before your court date.

This enables the county to win every appeal before it even makes it to court.

I won my appeal only due to a lot of time and money spent to defend myself. The problem is, most can not win, and to me it's like a bully taking advantage of little people. I have my judgement now but still have no money returned to me as of this date.

How can this happen?

Who tells the county that they are in violation of the law?

This is just one example of many I can give you on the fleecing of Americans.

Shame on us!

Daniel Knutson

Scappoose

Enough already

Being a senior citizen and still somewhat of a car nut, I read in one of my car magazines the Oregon State Legislature wanted to put a $1,000 impact tax on vehicles that are older than 20 years.

The House Committee on Revenue rationalized that older vehicles cause disproportionate wear on Oregon roads and would thus impose a tax every five years on vehicles that are two decades old or older, with the exception of antiques and some special interest vehicles.

Thankfully the hearing on the bill was not scheduled and effectively stopped the proposed bill in its tracks.

What's next, a tax on wheelchair and cane use on public sidewalks?

Is this state going tax happy or what?

Ron Ross

Deer Island

Former commissioner helped Port thrive

I am supporting Robert Keyser for Port commissioner.

I first met Robert many years ago when, as a Port commissioner, he toured our facilities at the Scappoose airport. He showed a genuine interest in seeing our company be successful and let us know how much he appreciated the fact that we hire locally and use many local suppliers and services.

When the economic downturn hit our industry, Robert and the Port were proactive in working with us to help ensure we could not only survive the tough times we faced, but be ready to continue our success one the region's economy and our business recovered. Since then, we have not only succeeded, but have outgrown our original facilities. Working with the Port, we have moved into a newer and larger facility and are continuing to see increasing demand for our products.Thanks to his leadership and the support of the Port of St Helens, we are once again seeing our business thrive. Robert Truly cares about small business in Columbia County. For these reasons, I ask you to join me in supporting Robert Keyser for Port commissioner.

Steve Ruege

CEO, Composites

Universal Group

Scappoose

Wants change on the Port Commission

The upcoming Port of St. Helens election provides an opportunity for a major change in our community. The old boys' club has been making bad decisions for too long. Let's break through this and vote for change.

I'm supporting Megan Kunkel-Hallstone for Position 5. As a farmer she will provide much-needed representation for the agriculture segment of our county.

She is open to more transparency and public input. She has pledged to bring voice, vision and values to the Port.

Join me in voting for Megan for change.

Carroll Sweet

Scappoose

Vote for transparency, future of Port

Last Saturday, we visited with friends and met new people while drinking coffee and eating pastries at the Brown Butter Bakery in Scappoose. I love baked goods and I couldn't resist those buttery things that were so good. But one of the nice memories I will have of the day is seeing good people wanting to talk to a candidate about the future of the Port of St. Helens. We were there to support Melinda Bernert in her campaign for Port commissioner. Melinda is a hard-working, small business owner that will be a strong leader as the Port moves forward in building a stronger economic base in Columbia County.

This election is special because it is giving the people a clear choice: Do we return to the practices of the past or move toward a better future?

A vote for Melinda is a vote for the future and a vote for transparency at the Port.

Paulette Lichatowich

Columbia City

Contract Publishing

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