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Letters to the editor for Sept. 30, 2016

What I want from the PUD

I attended the monthly Columbia River People’s Utility District meeting Tuesday, Sept 20. Many of us were disappointed with the actions of the PUD directors and expressed our feelings in comments toward the end of the meeting.

Another audience member commented our rates were low and the PUD has a balanced budget. He wanted to know what else could we possibly want.

I am pleased the budget is balanced and my electric rates are low. I will also add I am pleased with the service I have received over the years.

What else could I ever want?

I want a board that fulfills their job and does it in a fair and open manner. For instance:

1. Search for permanent general manager. One of the main responsibilities a board has is hiring a general manager. For the first 30 years of its history, the PUD had two general managers, Fergus Pilon (1984-2003) and Kevin Owens (2004-2014). Since then, we have had three interim general managers, and we are still waiting for the board to start a proper search for a permanent general manager. The board abruptly replaced the first two interim general managers without these actions being on the agenda and without either of them asking to step down. Recently, the board extended the current interim general manager’s contract for another year, and the board has not even hinted they are planning to do their duty and start the search for a permanent general manager.

One could argue if a proper search was done for a general manager the bulk of our PUD’s legal problems — including a $7.1 million lawsuit against the PUD, three of the current PUD directors and the current interim general manager — may never have occurred. In addition, much of the dissension amongst directors and the public may have been avoided.

Would it have automatically healed all the problems that have been stirring for years? Probably not, but I suspect it would have created an environment where healing may have occurred.

2. A board that works to build consensus instead of being vindictive. Most of the board votes are unanimous, which makes sense as most decisions are obvious, but sometimes they are not obvious and that is fine, especially when decisions are discussed openly in a respectful manner. When board decisions are not unanimous, differing opinions should be openly expressed and respected without attacking those who dissent.

The recent actions of a majority of the board in reprimanding a director for expressing his opinion and letting others know that he believed things were not done properly is deplorable and definitely something I, for one, find unacceptable. Earlier this year the board rushed through a new governance policy that one could argue, and the current board just proved (see Sept. 23 Spotlight, “PUD board actions defy good government”), was designed to block honest and open discussion about our PUD.

Yes, for decades I have been happy with the service the PUD has been providing, and its low rates. But I also expect a board that is open, acts in a way I can respect, and reflects well on our community.

Sadly, that is not the current board.

Dave Ehrenkranz


Vote for Margaret Magruder

Recently I had the opportunity to meet Margret Magruder, who is running for a seat on the Columbia County Board of Commissioners. This lady is the real deal. She is running for the seat being vacated by Earl Fisher, who has announced his retirement. I was especially impressed with her because:

1. She is not coming to the board with a special, personal agenda. She wants to continue her many years of public service to the county and continue to contribute in a positive and helpful manner.

2. Her credentials as former city councilor and a long-standing member of the county’s budget committee make her well-suited to this very important job on the county commission. With the departures of both Fisher and Tony Hyde, and there being only three votes, her expertise and acumen will be of critical importance.

3. She is a life-long citizen of Columbia County who raised her family here and continues to be a small-business owner in the family business started by her great-grandparents

4. She resides in north Columbia County. While this is not a prerequisite for success, it does help to have the residents in the north represented by one of their own.

5. She is known for being a consensus-builder and this is a critical attribute for a board that only has three votes, especially when two of these three will be new voting members in January.

I urge your readers to support Margaret Magruder for Columbia County commissioner.

Bob Braud

St. Helens

Wayne Mayo as a great dad, great public servant

Columbia County, what a place.

Great people, long history, wonderful options for recreation, and a landscape that is second to none.

Wayne Mayo has been an active member of Columbia County for most of his life. Being in the construction industry for most of his professional life, he has met and worked with folks from many backgrounds. He’s lived in much of the county, from Scappoose to Deer Island.

I have learned a lot from this man. He was always a great father to me and my siblings and he’s always treated people with care and respect. I cannot count how many times he has helped someone in distress on the side of the road, brought Easter baskets to local businesses, or picked up hitchhikers. 

He’s a family man, a good neighbor, and would do a great job working to help your family thrive as a county commissioner.

Some politicians would see a shoeless man, stomp their feet and demand something be done. My dad would go out and buy the man shoes.

Derek Mayo

Round Rock, Texas

No support for socialism, communism, high taxes

In a few weeks Oregonians will receive their ballots for the 2016 election, and only a few days ago President Barack Obama made his last speech before the United Nations General Assembly. Usually I don’t pay much attention since I don’t have much regard for the United Nations, but this speech contained some troubling terms that should be considered.

He brought up the necessity for member nations to support the Paris Accords in addressing climate change and global warming, and focus on renewal energy — yet he did not mention the fact that it takes more carbon-based energy to manufacture solar panels and windmills than the renewable energy they generate over their projected lifespan. He discussed positive aspects of global trade and globalization — yet did not mention the millions of unemployed, underemployed and citizens who have totally dropped off the employment rolls. He slammed countries and politicians who support nationalism, and want to control their borders to ensure security, instead of open and porous border for free movement of all people, both friendly and terrorists.

He spoke concern about the political instability in the middle east — Libya, Egypt and Syria, and about Russian involvement, yet he did not mention that he, along with former Secretary Hillary Clinton, supported the Arab Spring and the Syrian

rebels which directly led to the rise of ISIS.

And to top things off, he mentioned with great pride the advancement of progressive liberal socialism and how it is changing politics in America and across the globe, showing open disdain toward the majority of the American citizens who believe in democracy.

As an independent voter I do not care for Donald Trump, but having served on active duty during both the Vietnam War and the Iranian Revolution, I can never support any form of socialism or communism that Obama and Clinton represent — which also disqualifies Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders. And for all those ballot measures dealing with taxes that will also be on the ballot, I just say “no.”

Joseph Turner

Columbia City

Aggregate tax is bad for business

Here we go again with the aggregate tax.

This time around, they’re calling it Measure 5-255. When we voted it down last year, it had a different name. And when we voted it down the time before, it was called something else.

No matter what you call it, this measure is bad for Columbia County. Please vote no.I work in the construction industry. My family depends on my job, which would be at risk if the backers of this measure had their way. Even if I didn’t have my family, myself and my co-workers to think about, I’d still see 5-255 for what it is: An unfair tax on a single industry to fund something completely unrelated to it. It’s like taxing dentists for every tooth they pull, and using that money to build a county shop.

This is a terrible precedent and would become a barrier to anyone wanting to do business here. With a fundraising policy like this, you’d always have to wonder who the next target would be.

Measure 5-255 is bad for business and the future of Columbia County. Please vote it down.

Jeremy Russell

Columbia City

Congress.org is free and awesome

I want to encourage everyone to sign up on Congress.org to receive weekly updates via email on our representatives’ votes on bills before Congress and the Senate.

It’s free.

It is eye-opening. On Monday, I learned that Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, voted “no” on a joint resolution to prohibit a roughly $1 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, including well more than a hundred Abrams tanks. It appears the sale will be made.

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici voted against a bill that specifies it is the policy of the U.S. government not to pay ransom or release prisoners for the purpose of securing the release of U.S. citizens taken hostage abroad, and it generally prohibits the U.S. government from providing to the government of Iran, either directly or indirectly, any cash or other promissory note. It requires the administration to obtain a Department of the Treasury foreign assets license before setting any pending financial claims with Iran, and to publicly disclose each such transaction and payment.

Thankfully this vote passed.

Sign up today. The email includes upcoming votes as well.

Nancy Reed


A dark day for historic church fans

July 27, 2016, will go down as a dark day in the history of Columbia County.

In the early morning hours, hearts were broken as Yankton residents stood by watching heavy equipment mow down and completely destroy their iconic 113-year-old Yankton Baptist Church, reducing it to a pile of jagged wood, laying amidst a cloud of historic dust.

For several years, The Old Yankton Church Historic Preservation Organization (OYCHPO) and the Yankton Community Fellowship (YCF, a group that worships on another portion of the property) had been embroiled in an ongoing dispute regarding the future of the old church building. The OYCHPO saw value in saving and restoring the structure to create a district museum in which to preserve and display historical documents, pictures and cultural information of the Yankton area. YCF disagreed.

Built in 1903 with land donated by The Tarbell Family, the Old Church was once the hub of the community and brought many meaningful memories to the founders and their descendents, who to this day, continue to live nearby. Memories of when the Old Church was used for services, baptisms, youth activities, ice cream socials, weddings and memorials.

As news of possible demolition spread, it resulted in a storm of on-line posts and responses in social media and nearby coffee houses. Conversations that started out friendly, too often turned to nasty and disrespectful bashing. The elders of YCF failed to see any value in saving the building. Pleas from OYCHPO and residents simply fell on deaf ears. Once in court, the elders hardened their convictions and totally defied court recommendations to participate in mediation with a third party. The preservationists showed—YCF did not.

Words cannot describe the heartbreak this senseless act of destruction has caused, and sadly, once destroyed, no amount of regret can bring back any historic building.

To those who played any part in the decision making and demolition of the Old Church, I say:  Shame on you!

Mary Minor Carlson

St. Helens