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Letters published April 22, 2016. Note: Clarification of letter assertions published earlier follows


Of, By and For

These words ring as true today as they did 153 years ago when President Abraham Lincoln spoke them at Gettysburg. My interpretation of what Lincoln meant is that “of the people” refers to qualified citizens; “by the people” means elected by the majority of fellow citizens; and “for the people” meaning our elected leaders will do what is in the best interest of the people they represent, and for our country.

Complicating what seem like simple principles are the immense amounts of money being spent, career folks who want to maintain their power/status, and lobbyists with undeserved influence over elected officials. We don’t want to recreate the wheel every two or four years, but surely we can achieve a better balance; and, we can benefit from Lincoln’s “of, by and for” principles.

How do we do this? More people need to vote and also do their homework before exercising their “right” and obligation to vote in every election. Looking back to the 2012 election cycle, 21.9 percent of eligible voters in Oregon voted in the May Primary election and 64.2 percent of the voting eligible voted in the November general election. This information can be found at www.electproject.org.

Oregon’s closed primary system does adversely affect primary turnout, but — come on folks — 22 percent is plain pitiful.

Other states are not much better, although, by golly, my birth state of Minnesota had the highest 2012 turnout at 76.4 percent in the general election (Minnesota has a caucus instead of a primary). Among developed countries in the world, the United States ranks 31st (53.6%) in 2012 voter turnout; Belgium is number one at 87.2% in 2014, according to Pew Research information found atwww.pewresearch.org.

Let’s start with the May primary and practice good citizenship going forward.

Joel Haugen

Scappoose

[Editor’s note: Joel Haugen is the organizer of the Good Citizen Challenge, an initiative intended to increase voter turnout in the May primary election. For more about the Good Citizen Challenge, please see ad on Page A11.]

Measure 5-251 is only viable option for CC Rider

The key words of Measure 5-251, formation of the Columbia County Rider (CCR) Transportation District, are, “to provide a stable, ongoing source of funding for CC Rider.”

The current funding sources are rider fees, city and county contributions, and dollar matching grants. These are highly variable and undependable funding sources that have led to past service disruptions and harsh funding cuts.

Two proposals attempt to address the stable funding conundrum. One is Measure 5-251 appearing on the May 17 ballot. The other is an ongoing initiative to increase private-sector aggregate supplier depletion fees.

Proposal one, Measure 5-251, provides very stable funding by applying a 23 cents per $1,000 of assessed value property tax. Current measure projections indicate revenue of $900,000 in funding generated in the first year. The measure has the benefit of seeing the CC Rider funding grow along with Columbia County as new industry and residential developments occur.

Using existing statistics, it can be shown unequivocally that proposal two, a depletion fee, will never meet the stable funding needs of CCR. A fixed fee is applied to each ton of material transported. The current fee is 15 cents per ton. The depletion fee initiative would raise this to 50 cents per ton, with half of that going to support CCR.

Reviewing the Columbia County aggregate annual tonnage production figures from 1993 to 2015 reveals that they are all over the board. Ignoring the 1993 first-year startup value, the lowest tonnage figure, in millions of tons, was 1.83 in 1994, the highest, 4.25 in 1997. The in-between values change annually, and sometimes drastically, with no clearly identifiable pattern.

In constant 2015 dollars, and applying the 25 cent-per-ton CC Rider fee retroactively, CC Rider would have received over $1.5 million in 1997 and approximately $732,000 in 1994. The 2015 fee would have provided $660,000. Unknowable year-to-year funding makes long-term budgeting essentially impossible. Note, the depletion fee initiative provides for a cost of living adjustment, but this would have little impact on the annual funding variability.

Depletion fee supporters insist the aggregate suppliers will be in business forever. Are we prepared to bet the future of CC Rider on this premise? Unlike a property tax assessment, we have no way of knowing if future depletion fee funding will grow in tandem with the needs of CC Rider, or exist at all.So we are left with unstable local funding, unstable depletion fee funding, or Measure 5-251.

If Columbia County residents are serious about supporting a quality, robust public transportation system, and a brighter fiscal future, Measure 5-251 is the only viable option.

Please vote YES on Measure 5-251.

Bill Allen

St. Helens

Voting for Conn

Susan Conn is the best candidate for the Columbia County Board of Commissioners, Position 1. Susan isn’t owned by any special interest groups, understands how city, county and regional governments work (that means she will hit the ground running and not have to waste time figuring out how things are done), and she has a long history of working to improve our community.

Susan worked tirelessly for 14 years on the Commission for Children and Families, the organization that oversaw programs like Head Start and Healthy Start. She is a key player in the Crisis Intervention Team bringing life-saving crisis response training to our community, law enforcement and first responders.

Susan is for kids, libraries, parks and education, senior citizens, families, farms and healthy business development; she supports our law enforcement communities, community mental health and wants to grow healthy businesses that support family wage jobs. But here is what I believe is her most important trait, Susan is a worker — that means she’s excellent collaborator, helper and advocate; she’s willing to listen to all sides of small, large and thorny issues before making decisions and taking action.

Susan doesn’t grandstand, make bold promises to special interest groups, and she isn’t a good old boy.

Susan Conn is the people’s candidate because she believes all the citizens of Columbia County deserve a great place to live and work.

Cecelia Nunn Haack

Scappoose

Contributor’s connection to gravel company raises truthfulness concerns

A letter was printed in the Spotlight from Joel Yarbor, a candidate for county commissioner, impugning my integrity, and I feel I must address that issue (see “Candidate calls foul on letter writer's accusations,” April 15).

Mr. Yarbor has denied accepting campaign contributions from gravel companies.

Once again I ask for your patience with this brief explanation. The following paragraph is an excerpt taken directly from an online ad.

“Teevin & Fischer Quarry LLC has been in operation since September of 2006. The company is owned by Shawn Teevin, who also owns Teevin Brothers Land and Timber, LLC in Rainier, Oregon and Thomas Fischer, who also owns TFT Construction Inc. in Scappoose, Oregon.”

Continuing with a TFT website quote: “TFT Construction has the capabilities to crush concrete, asphalt and quarry rock.” Sounds like a gravel company to me.

OreStar is the website provided by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office to allow the average citizen to keep tabs on campaign finance information for all candidate contributions and expenditures. According to OreStar, TFT Construction gave $2,500 to the campaign to elect Joel Yarbor. So it appears Mr. Yarbor can no longer deny he receives money from gravel companies or those owning gravel companies.

Further, I don’t know the details of Mr. Yarbor not being reelected for a second term as county commissioner. I do know, without a doubt, that I had nothing to do with it. Perhaps the internal investigation into his poor choices may have been his downfall.

Remember people: Transparency, integrity and an honest concern for Columbia County are the key components in electing a good commissioner.

Brady Preheim has all these qualities. He has been involved in bettering the county for many years. He has been a Ford Family Community Ambassador since 2007. He has been a chairperson of CASA and the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce. He has been on St. Helens Urban Renewal and Scappoose Economic Development committees, ane he has run his own business for over 18 years.

He will offer open and transparent leadership. He stood up against the wasteful hospital project and he opposes wasteful spending at the county jail. He will restore trust in county government.

Preheim is definitely not a career politician. He cares deeply for Columbia County and the people who live here. He knows we can do better.

As an addendum to further clear any misconceptions in my relationship with Brady Preheim: Yes, I am his aunt. I am proud to be his aunt. I am not his campaign manager. Since I have known him from birth, I am in an excellent position to judge his character. I readily admit that he is outspoken, as am I. However, he is the brightest and most honest person I have ever known.

He will make an outstanding county commissioner.

This time, vote Preheim.

Nancy Whitney

St. Helens

Marine Board directed by radical left legislators

The Multnomah Channel issue is symptomatic of two or three overarching issues.

1. The Communists who now control our state from the governor’s office to the corrupt Multnomah County commissioners and their staff have realized that the boating public represent a segment of the population who still desire to use our navigable waterways for recreation. This is counter to the radical’s desire to eliminate or discourage such activity as it does not fit their perception of control. The State Marine Board, as an agency, used to represent the boating public and sought to educate us. Its mission statement is being redirected by the radical left legislators who control their policies and purse strings. Just like our forest roads, the board members wish to diminish our use of the waterways. Hence, we see bad ideas promoted by them. This draft petition should have died on some logical thinking staff member’s desk there. I predict they will continue along

this path of overregulation from now on.

2. Having been a boating safety instructor for over 30 years I have seen a degradation of the Oregon State Marine Board’s public outreach efforts as the above disgusting process plays out in harmony with the radicals who control the agency.  Public education of proper boat operation is all but missing from the landscape with a weak reliance on the Internet courses to obtain a boater’s card. I do what I can personally now to educate on a one-on-one basis. As a result of the failure, and what I consider a failure of my own organization to adequately promote boating safety classes, we now have a lot of undereducated boat operators.

3. The petition creates a 500-foot buffer zone around structures and moorages and plays in to the foolhardy/overregulation playbook. Proper signage and a refocus of our already hardworking law enforcement, and a realization by individual boaters of their own responsibilities, are ways to mitigate this particular issue. Just because you are a fisherman, guide or recreational boater does not exempt you from knowing the navigation rules. The 200-foot buffer is very adequate, and I speak from over 30 years of mooring boats on the channel and seeing damaging wakes effects. By being ignorant of the rules, powerboaters and fisherman play right into the radicals who seek to remove us from what they consider their own utopian domain: our public waterways

4. You see, the radical never knowingly tries to pass regulations to affect them personally.

5. While attempting to testify at the hearing on this issue, I was cut off short when I linked the political aspect in my comments. The State Marine Board staffers did not want to hear this. It was very telling when a representative of a 10,000-member guide and angler group here in Oregon said his organization was given no chance to collaborate on any change to the channel regulations. No notice whatsoever. So much for the State Marine Board’s integrity.

Let’s see what comes out of the Salem cesspool next.

Bob Nicklaus

St. Helens

Defining ‘someone’

What a difference a U.S. Supreme Court ruling makes! The 1973 ruling that transformed abortion from being a crime to being a legal activity hinged on the concept that there can exist a human life without that life being “someone.”

The consequence of accepting that idea has so much finality to it that many of us shudder and quake in our moral innards. Many others say, “Look, good people make mistakes. There are exceptional situations we have to deal with. People are only human.”

Yet, the questions persist after all these years, “What does the brutal premise of Roe v. Wade indicate about our own humanity? Is something else of essential importance being destroyed along with the not-a-someone human life? What kind of a someone does all this make me?”

Bob Ekstrom

Scappoose 

Clarification: Campaigns trade barbs over financial reporting

A letter to the editor published last week (see “Candidate calls foul on letter writer's accusations,” April 15) written by Columbia County commissioner candidate Joel Yarbor claimed that Yarbor had not received campaign finance money from any gravel company, as was earlier asserted in a letter written by Nancy Whitney.

“Contrary to Nancy’s assertion of monetary

benefits, there have been none,” Yarbor wrote in his letter.

Yarbor further criticized Whitney for making similar assertions on KOHI 1660 AM radio alongside commissioner candidate Brady Preheim, and said of Preheim, “Making up facts and misstating truths are not qualities the county commissioner position should embrace, ever.”

Following a review of the Secretary of State’s website, the Spotlight confirmed in an editor’s note that, based on the reported campaign finance information for Yarbor, there was no gravel company specifically mentioned in the list of Yarbor’s campaign contributors. On the surface, it appeared Yarbor was vindicated in his defense and that Whitney had erroneously stated he had taken gravel money.

At least on the surface. In a follow-up discussion with Whitney, and after further research into one of Yarbor’s campaign contributors, TFT Construction Inc., we learned that TFT Construction and its owner, Thomas Fischer, have associated business and ownership interests in Teevin and Fischer Quarry Inc., which is a Clatsop County-based rock and gravel quarry that does have a gravel mine operation in Columbia County. Indeed, a link to Teevin and Fisher Quarry appears on the TFT Construction website, and vice versa.

When contacted, Yarbor said Fischer is a family relative and that he did not consider TFT Construction’s link to Teevin and Fischer Quarry when he drafted his response letter.

“The insinuation in [Whitney’s] letter is that I was in cahoots with Morse Bros. and Knife River because I put my signs down in front of them,” Yarbor said.

Of Fischer, Yarbor said, “Yeah, he does own the little gravel pit over the hill with Teevin Bros., but he’s a construction company, he’s family, and I got money from him.”

TFT Construction contributed $2,500 to Yarbor’s campaign.

Yarbor also said he believes Whitney is working on behalf of Preheim to “destroy” his candidacy.

Whitney is candidate Preheim’s aunt. Her name as of Thursday morning, April 21, appears on the Secretary of State’s OreStar website as the treasurer for the Preheim campaign, though in a follow-up discussion she said she is no longer working for the campaign and that her name, as it appears on the OreStar website, is an error she is working to correct.

For Preheim’s part, he said he believes Yarbor knew of the relation between TFT Construction and Teevin and Fischer Quarry and chose not to disclose that fact.

“I think clearly you did,” Preheim said. “It doesn’t take a whole lot of research to figure it out. It’s a gravel company, and of course they’re related.”

Darryl Swan, Publisher and Editor