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Letters to the editor for May 1, 2015


JESSE SPRINGER - Editorial cartoon for the issue of May 1, 2015

Chalk champions

As walkers, we would like to thank the chalk artist’s encouragement at Veterans Park in Scappoose.

Rich and Judy Phelps

Scappoose

Marijuana malfeasance

Last week, citing authority under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, the Columbia County commissioners declared a state of emergency and renewed their “temporary” marijuana moratorium in an ordinance that amounts to a personal restraining order against democracy (see “County OKs marijuana moratorium on 2-1 vote,” April 24). It should be noted that when voters approved personal marijuana use and cultivation last November, they rejected the Controlled Substances Act as it applies to cannabis in the state of Oregon. 

Don’t expect our county commissioners to figure that out anytime soon.

After all, it’s been 17 years since Oregonians approved medical marijuana late in the last century. In an effort to motivate foot-dragging politicians around the state, the Legislature last year offered a face-saving “get out of jail free” incentive: in exchange for passing a local moratorium, county officials would have one additional year to develop medical marijuana regulations.  The Columbia County commissioners jumped at the chance for further delay, but passed on doing their job.After nearly two decades, our commissioners are unique among their peers in requesting additional time.

The fear-mongering staff report that attempts to justify the commissioners’ illegal and antidemocratic emergency moratorium states that the ordinance seeks to eliminate a duplication of efforts and that failure to enact the ordinance would result in “irrevocable public harm.” However, an effort must first be made before it can be duplicated. As far as developing medical marijuana regulations during the timeframe of “temporary” moratorium No. 1, Commissioner Tony Hyde admitted, “We haven’t even started on those things. Frankly, I’m a little embarrassed by that.”  Commissioner Henry Heimuller disagreed, saying he felt the commissioners had given the issue “due diligence.” 

Heimuller apparently missed the irony that “due diligence” by the commissioners resulted in a state of emergency.

It’s hard to understand how inaction by the county commissioners can simultaneously be the cause of, and the solution to, the kind of “irrevocable public harm” that would justify declaring of a state of emergency. In reality, of course, no actual emergency exists. With temporary moratorium No. 1 expiring in a few days, the commissioners needed to give themselves a permission slip for inaction that was effective immediately and would circumvent the democratic process. Their solution was to grant themselves emergency powers by inventing a crisis, metaphorically pulling the fire alarm in a pathetic “dog ate my homework” diversion. 

Another year of cannab-inaction by our county commissioners will only reinforce the hard lessons we’ve learned from the enduring War on Drugs: marijuana has strong anti-motivational effects ... on good governance.

Jeff Campbell

Scappoose

Heimuller blowing smoke about his commitment to CC Rider

If CC Rider isn’t a priority of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners, it is not a priority for Commissioner Henry Heimuller, regardless of his claim to be a “cheerleader.”

Measure 5-243 increases the Natural Resource Depletion Fee by 35 cents, giving 10 more cents for road improvements and 25 cents to maintain CC Rider. That is $3.50 for a 10-ton load of rock. The current 15-cent fee has not been increased in 18 years. This is no property tax or sales tax.

According to Commissioner Heimuller’s letter (see Letters, “No conflict in my opposition to depletion fee increase,” April 24), he says public transit “is in my blood” even though he doesn’t support this measure. I asked Commissioner Tony Hyde what he and the other commissioners were going to do to provide basic transit services if this measure failed? He said they we’re going to continue to look for ways to provide funding, even though it hasn’t been a priority for them.

I say talk is cheap. There are no options. This is why I decided to do this initiative. If I had sat around waiting for these “options” to materialize, we would be losing our public transportation.

If this isn’t the best way to go, tell me what the options are. All I hear is, “I will work to find funding.” Our politicians have no answers.

I have been involved in my community long enough to know when there are funding problems. Again, that is why I decided to do this initiative. It’s a shame that our local and state legislators and the miners can’t work with me for the betterment of the basic services we all need in our communities.

Why isn’t CC Rider a priority to the commissioners and our state legislators? Why has it not been a priority? When the funding issue was brought up years ago, it was “never the right time.” Then it was the jail. Now it isn’t the right measure. Our commissioners and state legislators have no answers. There is no state transportation plan being considered and the federal plan is a mess, because of politics.

Heimuller says he doesn’t believe Measure 5-243 is the answer, but he doesn’t have any plan of his own. He promises to work on it with no idea of how to get it done. In the meantime we could lose CC Rider. Again, talk is cheap. Heimuller is saying that he is against targeting only one industry, but at the same time he is for having the taxpayers subsidize all of the jobs coming into our county. Columbia County is the only county in the state that has this fee, and you know why? Because at the time the measure was first approved by the voters, we had common sense commissioners doing what was right for our county. The miners’ trucks were breaking down our roads then, and they are today.

A lot of agencies single businesses for special treatment, a few of those agencies are the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and urban renewal agencies, such as the Port Westward urban renewal district.

What is the difference between this and the commissioners going after the taxpayers to pay for improvements at Port Westward? Remember, the timber tax makes companies and private property owners replant trees. Have these special fees forced any company to go out of business? Did they stop property owners from clear-cutting timber? No.

Does it mean that they shouldn’t be responsible for the impacts that they have on our community, i.e., roads, bridges and CC Rider? Yes, they should. It is just that simple.

I have said in the past that the miners have it so good in our county that they wouldn’t leave if we tried to drive them out. That is a truth. Our politicians accommodate the miners in this county. We are not trying to put anybody out of business, and we wish they would join in our effort to provide these services. If you, the voters, approve Measure 5-243, you will benefit. Those benefits will be improved roads and the ability to keep your public transit options available to you.

I’d like to see the miners join hands with us for the benefit of the county. If you believe in improved roads and keeping CC Rider running, please support and vote “yes” on Measure 5-243.

Thelma Bonar

Chief Petitioner Safer Roads, Bridges and CC Rider Transportation

Heimuller’s anti-depletion fee argument ‘isn’t credible’

I want to address two of Columbia County Commissioner Henry Heimuller’s arguments against Measure 5-243 (see Letters, “No conflict in my opposition to depletion fee increase,” April 24), which involves increasing the mining depletion fee to fund repair of county roads and CC Rider.  

First, he said, “I am philosophically opposed to taxing one particular industry [mining] to fund services that should be funded by the community at large.”

The depletion fee isn’t a tax on “one particular industry.” It’s a tax on all of us who buy gravel. The gravel companies agree, at least on their invoices. Gravel load invoices already show a section for the cost of the depletion fee. The industry’s been treating the depletion fee as a surcharge for years.

Heimuller continues: “Why would we tax an individual industry, adding a financial burden to them, knowing that they have to compete in a regional market ...”  

Gravel isn’t regional; it’s local. Gravel value diminishes completely to zero based on how far you need to ship it. A load of gravel coming from Gresham would not be valuable in Columbia County because it would cost $300 just in trucking. To argue local projects would look for outside the county suppliers because of an extra $4.55 per load isn’t credible.    

Local customers will pay it as a pass through.

Wayne Mayo

Scappoose

Disputing depletion fee opponents’ claims

This is in response to letters attacking the proposed increase in the county  depletion fee. 

When I was a boy, the price of gas was about 25 cents per gallon. Inflation has brought the price of gas today to around $3 per gallon, an increase of 1,200 percent. 

The depletion fee in 1996 was set at 15 cents per ton, with no inflation provision to keep the relative value constant. The average annual inflation rate from 1996 to 2015 has been 2.4 percent. Thus, while the gravel companies could increase their prices every year to account for inflation, the fee per ton stayed at 15 cents and got eaten away by inflation. The proposed increase would correct for this for now and for some time into the future.

Second, some letter writers attacked the depletion fee, claiming that it singles out the gravel industry while no other industry pays a tax or fee directed at it. This is not true. There is what’s called a “privilege,” or “severance,” tax on natural gas production, e.g. in the Mist Gas Field, paid by a major Texas corporation, with a substantial part of the revenue going to public schools. Also there is a “forest products harvest tax” that timber producers pay. And log trucks have an impact on roads. Similarly, there are taxes on whiskey, beer and tobacco in Oregon, most of the revenues from which go to cover the costs of regulating those industries. And there will probably be local taxes on the marijuana industry to cover the costs of regulating the industry and repairing the damages the industry will cause.

Finally, some claim that a 50-cent-per-ton fee will have a dramatic, adverse impact on the gravel industry in Columbia County. But note that the imposition of the 15-cent-per-ton fee — $1.50 per 10-ton truckload — back in 1996 didn’t. The industry is booming. Increasing the fee to 50 cents increases the fee per 10-ton truck by $3.50, not much more than a gallon of gas. And note that the largest gravel producer in Columbia County is CalPortland (aka Northwest Aggregates, Glacier, etc.), which is owned by a mega Japanese corporation with operations worldwide.

The proposed fee is 50 cents per ton, with 25 cents for maintenance of county roads and 25 cents for public transit. Both will help keep our roads in better shape and provide transit for many of our friends and neighbors.  Maddy and I are voting yes.

Michael Sheehan

Scappoose

Favoring a ‘yes’ vote on Measure 5-243

I write this letter to strongly urge a “yes” vote on Measure 5-243.  My husband and I bought a home, moved our residence, and relocated the main office of our business from Portland to Columbia County in March 2013. One of the factors that enabled us to make this move was the availability of public transportation with CC Rider to downtown Portland. 

I have a rare eye disease and commute downtown about 10 workdays per month using CC Rider as part of a self-employment consulting business that my husband and I own. I am told that, if Measure 5-243 does not pass, the CC Rider downtown routes might be severely cut back or eliminated. I have even heard that some people opposed to CC Rider have publicly commented that only “welfare recipients” and the like ride these routes. Although I am not opposed to welfare recipients riding public transportation, whoever has said these things is not on the morning and afternoon bus routes between Columbia County and downtown Portland. The buses are almost always very full, and most of the people riding are other middle-class professionals like myself. They pay either by buying monthly passes for an average of $110 per month or by the trip. 

The buses are in good condition, and the drivers are very capable. They are almost always on time or early, and give excellent customer service.

Eliminating the CC Rider routes to Portland would affect not only me but also hundreds of other professionals and students who commute to Portland. It would adversely damage commerce and property values in Columbia County and would eliminate jobs for those currently working for CC Rider. 

CC Rider is a very valuable asset to Columbia County communities and should be continued at current route levels. For this and other reasons, I am strongly urging a “yes” vote on Measure 5-243.

Thank you for your consideration.

Patricia Ayerza

Scappoose

DeShazer not telling the truth on port property tax

Port of St. Helens Commission candidate Colleen DeShazer has stated that the port’s property tax cannot be eliminated because it would affect the port’s ability to borrow money by issuing bonds. However, she has not addressed the issue of whether the tax can be suspended.

The collateral for the bond is the port’s bonding authority; the collateral is not the collected tax. The port’s creditors want to make sure that the port has the ability to repay their loans. The port’s ability to repay loans will not be impacted by suspending a tax when the port has millions of dollars in other assets and a net position of over $39 million dollars.The port runs at a profit and does not need our additional tax dollars. The money should just stay with the people and businesses of the Port District for them to use as they see fit.

I appreciate that Port Commission candidate Larry Ericksen is viewing this tax with a fresh eye and that he has logical reasons for supporting its suspension. I’m voting for him in the hope that he continues to take a hard look at how the Port currently operates.

Joanna Wagner

Scappoose

Why is Colleen DeShazer running for Port Commission?

Ms. Colleen DeShazer is an embarrassment to Columbia County due to her lack of interest in her responsibilities as a port commissioner and the poor decisions she has made both as a commissioner and as a Columbia County resident.

In her personal time, DeShazer has allowed the lining up of bloody cow heads along the road in front of her home, and refused to remove them when her neighbors complained. The heads were displayed in response to complaints from an elderly neighbor that she was using her property for commercial use in violation of zoning law — and she was. This disturbing act received national news press and was an embarrassment to Columbia County. Ms. DeShazer simply stated that if the neighbors didn’t like her actions, they should move.

Similarly, while acting as commissioner, Ms. DeShazer has told Columbia County residents that they should move if they do not like what the port is doing.

No public servant should ever treat the public in such a manner. Ms. DeShazer states that she wants to serve the public, but she has the worst attendance record of any port commissioner in the last 10 years. In fact, she has missed around one half of all meetings over a 12-month period prior to the current election cycle. After around 15 years on the port and a poor attendance record, clearly it’s time for her to move on.

Brian Rosenthal

Scappoose

Support for Carmen Kulp

I support Carmen Kulp for the Port of St. Helens Commission, Position 1.

Slow job growth and a weak economy has not been beneficial to Columbia County. This has forced many Columbia County residents to seek employment in Multnomah, Clackamas or Washington counties. Our currently elected port commissioners have done little to improve this situation.

Carmen has experience in banking and economic development. Her involvement in several Columbia County committees and organizations shows her commitment to our community. The port currently has strong assets, and a good inventory of undeveloped land for commercial and industrial businesses.

Carmen would promote the port as a good place to do business, which is not a visible focus for the current port commissioners. Environmental concerns and opposition to new and existing port projects have caused unrest in recent Port Commission meetings.

Carmen is willing to listen to all sides of an issue. She is objective and has critical problem-solving skills. Carmen can work with many diverse groups in Columbia County and bring opposing groups together.

Carmen will bring fresh ideas to the Port Commission, which are lacking among our current elected commissioners. She possesses the qualifications to serve as a port commissioner and deserves your support.

Ingrid Chamberlain

St. Helens

I’m not agnostic about Oregon or Columbia County

At the Oregon Transportation Commission hearing last July, Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, declared she was commodity-agnostic. She was testifying in support of ConnectOregon funding for infrastructure projects that would allow the movement of more oil trains through Columbia County. She made it clear what she meant in calling herself commodity-agnostic: she didn’t care what the trains were hauling through Columbia County.

Johnson was trying to defuse the vocal opposition not only to the trains carrying highly explosive Bakken crude oil to Port Westward, but opposition to giving millions of dollars of state funds to oil and coal corporations.

I was troubled by the implications of Johnson’s statement. Decisions that political leaders make or that they advocate for have consequences. To say that you do not care what commodity those mile-long trains of black tanker cars are carrying indicates that you also do not care about the potential negative consequences attached to that commodity. Even if the risk of a derailment in one of our towns is very small, the consequences are so horrendous that it’s not worth it. Then there are the long-term consequences of climate change. Are we so short-sighted that we will continue to do what will impose dangerous climate change on our grandkids?

Those who were around in 1969 may remember when the U.S. Army decided to ship nerve gas munitions from Okinawa, Japan, to Oregon. Gov. Tom McCall was not opposed to it at first. National security, defense, and the futility in opposing the Army and federal government were considerations. Given the formidable power behind the shipment, McCall could have claimed he was agnostic, ignored the possible consequences and let it happen, but he didn’t. McCall knew it wasn’t right for Oregon or her people. He fought it even when he was advised there was nothing he could do to stop it. But he did stop it.

Today, highly explosive oil trains are a common sight in Columbia County. The Port of St. Helens approved the oil trains without specifically reaching out to the people and asking what they thought of the project. The folks living along the tracks were not warned of the threat the oil trains posed if the tank cars derailed. The first responders were not given the specialized equipment needed to fight an oil fire. Our political leaders will not even make sure the responsible corporations have adequate insurance to cover the damage from a derailment and explosion. So far, our elected officials wring their hands and say there is nothing they can do. But really, if you are commodity-agnostic, there is nothing you “want to do.”

How do they get away with it? How can elected officials act like their decisions have no consequences? They insulate themselves from being held accountable by one word. Like a flock of chickens, they all cluck the same word: cluck, cluck, cluck — jobs, jobs, jobs. The word “jobs” justifies any and all consequences, like bomb trains. They think the people are so gullible that they don’t notice that the word “jobs” conveys very little real information, like what is the salary, is it seasonal or full-time, will the jobs be filled by locals or folks from outside, will there be training programs to teach the skills needed, will the jobs cause an increase in pollution, are there health and safety concerns and how many jobs will be lost in the creation of the new one? Creating new, good jobs that don’t put at risk what we value is a serious issue, but the way some of our leaders hide behind the word trivializes an issue that deserves serious attention, not a slogan.

Tom McCall has been called a moderate, and maybe he was on some issues, but when it came to Oregon and her people, he was a radical activist. The Oregon Bottle Bill, saving the beaches for public use, and land-use planning were not the hallmarks of a moderate. They were not the product of an agnostic, but of an activist.

We may not have political and economic leaders of McCall’s stature today, but we still have his example to guide us. That’s why I say I am not agnostic about Oregon.

Jim Lichatowich

Columbia City

CC Rider is needed in the community

We so need CC Rider for our community. People depend on our transit system to go to work and to school. Patients use it to access life-saving dialysis treatments.

CC Rider is part of our Columbia County infrastructure, and infrastructure is one of the things that large businesses look for before becoming part of a community.

Please help keep the economy of Columbia County strong.

Please help us keep our transit system and help with needed repairs on our county roads.

Please support Measure 5-243.

Bill Eagle

St. Helens

We should be thankful for incumbent port commissioners

We ought to be thankful for the three Port of St. Helens commissioners running for reelection to the Port of St Helens. These positions are unpaid and require long hours outside of the regular meetings. The position is truly one of volunteer service under a magnifying glass. Every word, opinion or decision is judged; often by others without the benefit of knowing the entire story.

In this election, a well-meaning challenger has suggested the port stop collecting property taxes. To do so would be very popular; but would immediately impact the port’s ability to sell and manage its bond program. There would be no more port-assisted businesses and on-going bond service would be negatively impacted.

Another challenger promises full and complete transparency at all times. While laudable, how many new businesses wish to have their financial records or proprietary information open for anyone to peruse. Port Commissioners Robert Keyser and Mike Avent, local business leaders, know the landscape and have been scrupulously clean in their management of the people’s business. Commissioner Colleen DeShazer continues to bring innovation to the commission.

Let’s keep the present commission intact and working for all of the Port District. They have earned our trust and our respect.

Paul Langner

Rainier

The depletion fee tax increase is not the answer

I was born, have raised a family, and worked my whole life in the gravel industry in Columbia County. My career — I am a retired after 42 years as an operating engineer and concrete and dump truck driver — was devoted to and depended on rock, gravel and concrete businesses located in St. Helens and Scappoose. My father also spent 30 years of his life devoted to this same industry.

To place the financial burden of operating a public transportation system on the rock industry is wrong. I know how competitive this business is and how small the profits are. The companies I worked for lost or won jobs by pennies.

To unfairly tax the sales of one industry for another poorly run public entity makes no sense. Raise the user fees or increase the gas tax by one penny and pass public transportation costs on to a wide base, rather than one industry. This is an unfair, hidden tax — a sales tax — on all of us and it will hurt the small businesses in this county.

I will vote “no” on this measure.

Steven A. DuBois

St. Helens

There is a ‘job-effect’ with Measure 5-243

There is a real effect on jobs regarding Measure 5-243, but it isn’t the jobs the miners would like anyone to think or talk about. 

CC Rider takes people to their jobs in addition to employing real people in our community. The miners’ concerns over a small increase in the depletion fee, which has not been increased or adjusted for inflation in 18 years, is a pretty pathetic argument for not voting “yes” on Measure 5-243 on May 19.

Many people don’t know that, without the passage of Measure 5-243, CC Rider and Columbia County Roads Department employment will be negatively affected. CC Rider has 27 employees. The road department has 21 employees. The issue of jobs that will be affected is always used by the miners as an overblown tactic to scare people into thinking that they will walk away from these valuable resources that they are mining, even as they expand their hours of operation.

Another issue is, how many jobs will be affected by riders who rely on CC Rider to earn their living? Last year, CC Rider transported 126,000 riders on its fixed-route services. On the demand-response service, CC Rider transported over 23,000 riders to doctors, grocery stores, banks, and many other local businesses. Mr. Jeff Kemp’s letter (see Letters, “Not buying the Measure 5-243 ‘bait and switch,” April 10) stated that CC Rider just uses the nicely paved U.S. Highway 30 when the service picks up an elderly or disabled person, or a sick person needing to go to dialysis. If that were true, then the buses wouldn’t get so beaten up using county roads. CC Rider uses county roads, just like everyone else does. 

I have heard that the miners conducted an opinion survey and are tailoring their campaign to focus on jobs. This is even in a climate of economic recovery in which they have increased the hours of their mining operations and now have more need of employees than ever. Maybe some of you were called and participated in their survey.

They used this same tactic the last time a proposal came up, and we fell for it. Shame on us.

If Measure 5-243 doesn’t pass, there could be cuts and reductions in service for riders who commute to their jobs from Columbia County, as well as for seniors, disabled persons and students.

Vote “yes” on Measure 5-243.

Matt Yost

Rainier

Superintendents support growing economy

The superintendents of Columbia County’s school districts would like to extend their support for continued economic growth opportunities in the area.

Columbia County has one of the highest jobless rates in the state. A lack of jobs affects local families looking for livable-wage employment, and the lack of opportunity affects the county as a whole.

Government services depend on the working tax base to continually provide the necessary services of police, fire, ambulance, libraries, parks and recreation, etc. Without a commitment to economic growth, these services, including education, continue to diminish.

Funding for school education is directly related to the number of students who attend public schools. Economic development encourages families to move to the area, thus increasing the number of school-aged children. This increase allows school districts to provide more opportunities for students to learn the basics of education, as well as continue to explore career opportunities through advanced electives, including vocational education, college classes and the arts.

There are many examples in Oregon of what the lack of economic development does to a county. Travel through some counties in southern and eastern Oregon and you will see where the lack of economic development, including the non-use of natural resources, have harmed the counties, possibly beyond hope of returning to their past days of growth. These counties formerly had many social services that are still provided in Columbia County, but they simply lack the funding mechanisms to continue to provide them.

Economic development allows for the continued improvement of the quality of life for all Columbia County citizens. Job opportunities benefit social services, increase educational opportunities, and expand the “social capital,” as citizens with good jobs close to home are far more likely to volunteer and promote pro-social behaviors throughout their area.

Thank you for taking the time to consider the benefits of actively searching for ways to improve the lives of Columbia County residents.

Lloyd Hartley

Clatskanie School District

Michael Carter

Rainier School District

Stephen Jupe

Scappoose School District

Mark Davalos

St. Helens School District

Aaron Miller

Veronia School District

Paul Peterson

NW Regional ESD

Bob Braud should retain seat on CRF&R board

This letter is in support of the re-election of Bob Braud for the Columbia River Fire and Rescue Board of Directors, Position 3.

Bob has been a valued member of the board since 2008. He has helped lead the district through some difficult economic times and has voted with the current board that has managed to keep our level of emergency service steady, even when faced with declining revenue.

Bob has been a trusted advisor and confidant to me since I moved to Columbia County in 2005. I find his business and personal ethics to be beyond reproach. I know he has been a volunteer on many important projects in the area and he takes his responsibility as a CRF&R board member especially seriously since the board decisions result in the success of the district, which affects all of us who depend on emergency services.

Apparently some detractors are calling for “change.” I hope you will keep Bob on the board because “change,” in this case, would detract from the steady hand with which this board has managed the CRF&R.

Please vote for Bob Braud’s re-election on May 19.

John Edwards

St. Helens

Motivated to vote for Melton et al

I have known Ronda Melton for almost 20 years. In that time, I’ve come to know and care for a hardworking and honest family.

They tell it like it is, they don’t hide from what’s right or wrong, and they’re not afraid to get involved in what needs to be done.

What has always impressed me about Ronda is the amount of dedication she showed to not only her kids, but to the rest of our group as well.  She was always there when we needed her, whether it was for a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to vent to, or if we needed a swift kick in the hind parts. Ronda was there to do it.

Ronda’s work ethic is one of the stronger ones I’ve ever been around. She’s always the first one there and the last to leave. She takes a great amount of pride in what she does, yet is very humble about her achievements. This is why I have no hesitation to vote for Ronda and anyone that she is associating herself with in the upcoming election. 

Ronda is a great person and will do well by this community; we are lucky to have her.

Please vote Marks, Melton and Schlumpberger for the CRF&R board.

Heather Crawford

Clatskanie

Incumbent port commissioners’ erroneous statements

I attend many Port of St. Helens meetings. I ask many questions. I never get answers. Never.

I listened to the KOHI call-in show last Friday, April 24, which featured the three port commissioners running for reelection. I called in with questions. I never got any answers. It appears the “call-in” show was nothing but an hour-long paid political announcement full of erroneous statements.

One commissioner stated that the port denied coal company Kinder Morgan access to Port Westward. That is not true. Kinder Morgan could not get the permits needed to transport coal. On top of this, the coal market bottomed out and Kinder Morgan ran into financial trouble. The commissioners had nothing to do with it.

Another commissioner, now running to be re-elected, gave an interview in which he stated the port directly employed or was responsible for 1,979 jobs in the county. I have asked Commissioner Robert Keyser four times for information to clarify these figures. I never received an answer. Patrick Trapp, the port’s executive director, now admits these 1,979 jobs was an inaccurate figure taken from a federal report and that the actual figures are much lower.

Keyser stated there are 75,000 landings and takeoffs from the Scappoose airport each year. Again, Patrick Trapp admits these are highly inflated figures.

At a recent port meeting, the question came up whether Portland & Western Railroad carried enough insurance in the event of a catastrophic explosion from the crude oil trains. The commissioners said P&W carried $400 million, but none of them was certain that was sufficient. In actuality, a person from the audience had done research on this question. The amount of money needed would be closer to $4 billion. If we know these answers, why don’t the port commissioners?

Have you seen a public correction to these erroneous statements? I haven’t.

It sickens me that these incumbents’ campaigns are being subsidized by the very companies who will benefit by their reelections — Portland & Western Railroad, Global Energy LP, Pacific Stainless, and Cal Portland.

It also sickens me that out-of-state and out-of-county companies can affect our political elections, and can affect who will be elected and whether or not we will vote for an increase in the depletion fee. I don’t want the United States to be a Third World country.

Please replace all incumbent port commissioners. We so desperately need new leadership.

People working to get Paulette Lichatowich and others elected to the port will be knocking on doors in the next few days. Please welcome them and listen to them.

Lichatowich can and will make a difference in the transparency of the port. Lichatowich will work to obtain good, clean and sustainable jobs.

Please vote for Paulette Lichotowich.

Nancy Whitney

St. Helens

Keyser is key to port success

I support the re-election of Robert Keyser as a Port of St. Helens commissioner.

Robert has demonstrated his ability to listen to the citizens of Columbia County and work toward economic development that is acceptable to everyone, as well as providing much-needed jobs.

The Port of St. Helens was created in 1940 by Oregon Revised Statute Chapter 777 for the purpose of development activities. Robert Keyser has worked tirelessly to fulfil his obligation to achieving that goal. A recent example would be the company that is considering bringing a $1 billion methanol plant to Port Westward. Not only would this provide family-wage jobs for 120, but is also environmentally sound. This is an example of the efforts of Robert, and his current colleagues, to carefully vet potential developers to ensure the right fit for the port, as well as the citizens of Columbia County.

The Columbia County economy is dependent on the Port of St. Helens to retain the jobs we currently have on their properties and to also create new ones. The mission statement of the port is as follows:

- Create and sustain jobs

- Diversify the regional economy

- Provide and improve financial return for the port district using marine, aviation, industrial, recreational, staff and financial resources with quality customers

Serving on the Port Commission is an incredibly important role and one that requires experience and knowledge. I have served as a Clatskanie city councilor since 2000 and know there is a learning curve for every newly elected individual to these boards and commissions, whether it is a city council, a people’s utility district board, a county commissioner or the Port of St. Helens.

It takes one to two years just to get a real understanding of the budgets, public budget laws and the respective workings of each of these groups. Re-electing Robert Keyser saves all of us from one to two years of less than total efficiency from any of the candidates running against him.

I ask you to join me in retaining the experience, knowledge and hard work we already have in Robert Keyser by re-electing him to another term as a port commissioners

Kathy Engel

Clatskanie

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