Featured Stories


Letters to the editor for 4/1

Angels among us

The evening of March 16 I stopped by Fred Meyer to pick up some groceries. While checking out at U-Scan, I realized my wallet was at home. 

I wanted to extend a “thank you” to the woman standing in line behind me, who generously offered to pay my $37.19 bill. 

Angels among us, dressed like ordinary people.

Sasha Tinning


Is this ignorance or arrogance?

For 20 years my land, situated on Westport Slough and the Columbia River in Clatskanie, was zoned for commercial use. This year, my land was increased approximately .88 acres and rezoned residential — all done by the tax assessor’s office.

I was baffled — where did the extra land come from and how could the zoning be arbitrarily changed with no hearing, and no notification to me?

I went to the Columbia County Assessor’s Office and asked them to point out where this extra land came from, or could they point it out on the survey map. I also questioned their right to arbitrarily change my zoning from commercial to residential. Answer: We are not able to tell you where the extra land came from and we can change the zoning to whatever we want.

I asked to speak to Sue Martin, the tax assessor. Andi Jurkiewicz, the appraiser, joined in the conversation. I asked Sue the same thing. Answer: I hired my appraisers and I back them in their decisions — Andrea said what she did was right. End of discussion.

I, of course, am not satisfied. I went home and looked up my property online. I now find that they have changed my zoning back to commercial, except they have carved out two buildable lots and zoned them residential with an assessment of $81,100. The two building lots are in a designated floodplain, a designated flood-way, a designated wetland and a designated wetland buffer zone. They are shown on the survey as 20-foot wide and 280-foot long, narrowing in that distance from 20-foot wide to a width of 3 feet and abutting the slough one-half the entire 280 feet. One lot is appraised at $69,300 and the other is appraised at $11,800.

Back to the Assessor’s Office I go. I asked to speak to Sue. Again, Andrea joined in the conversation. I asked them both how they can assess me for two buildable lots when the facts are I can’t legally build on the them because they are in a flood zone, flood way, wetland, and wetland buffer zone, not to mention being only 20-foot wide. Answer: Andrea — we can do what we want and we are right, and would not discuss my issues. Sue — I back my appraiser’s decisions.

I went home, looked up and printed all the relevant statutes on the flood and wetland restrictions, along with maps showing where these designated restrictions are on my land, and showing without a doubt it is illegal to build in these areas. I took these back to the Assessor’s Office and asked Sue Martin if she would just read them and answer some questions when I returned.

I returned a couple of weeks later and asked Sue if she had a chance to read my information. She told me she hadn’t and would not spend any more time on this and whatever her appraisers did was right and that was that.

The Assessor’s Office has very few restraints on what they do, but they still need to follow existing law to reach their decisions. If this is how they do their appraisals, how can we have confidence in any of their decisions?

But the most troubling thing about this is their arrogance in basically telling me to lump it or leave it.

Sue Martin is in charge of her employees and, as such, should be willing to discuss their actions in an unbiased way, and to discuss how they reached their decisions, instead of refusing to even discuss it and telling me if I don’t like it, to appeal it.

So, instead of leaving her office with the feeling I got listened to, or an understanding of what they did, I leave with the bad feelings of a another arrogant goverment office with no respect for the public.

Bill Buol


Betsy Johnson: A Voice of Reason

In the past I have been in the unfortunate position of feeling compelled to publicly expose the insanity and magical thinking of local and national citizens and politicians. This has earned me many enemies. Nevertheless, I take comfort in a famous quote from Winston Churchill that I shall not repeat here.

Regardless, I believe it is a natural human desire to want to make friends rather than enemies, but it is much easier (and rational) to make a friend of someone who appears to be worthy of friendship. Happily, I now find myself in the much more agreeable position of discovering someone who appears to be a rational being, so in the interest of being “fair and

balanced” I would like to say a few words about Betsy Johnson.

I have read Betsy’s opinions in this publication and I have found them to be refreshing. While I do not agree with her on every issue, I have found that many of her positions are well-reasoned and demonstrate a depth of understanding that is truly uncommon.

I look forward to hearing more from her in the future. A voice of reason is needed now more than ever.

Roy A. Fuller


Stop passing the buck

A recent article described three major accidents on Cornelius Pass involving tanker trucks carrying toxic and or explosive substances where the trucks have flipped

over breaking the tanks, releasing their dangerous contents.

More than 10,000 people a day use Cornelius Pass Road between Highway 30 and Germantown Road. Recent tipovers have released loads of gasoline, magnesium chloride and other toxins at great risks to drivers and to residents of the pass.

It is worth noting that these poorly designed tanker trucks are not allowed to pass to or from Portland on Highway 26 or Cornell Road, which inevitably shifts this dangerous traffic to Cornelius Pass.

We are told that the Oregon Department of Transportation, Multnomah and Washing counties don’t have the funds to make necessary safety improvements to the pass and significant improvements are not likely anytime soon.

One of our state senators says there is nothing that can be done. This is clearly incorrect and the following alternatives are available were the state more interested in our safety than the interests of these big trucking companies and the major entities that won the dangerous cargoes being shipped.

1. Require that the tanks carrying the materials be made such that if the truck flips the tank will not rupture;

2. Prohibit the passage of such dangerous trucks on Cornelius Pass Road, as they are already prohibited on Highway 26 and Cornell Pass Road to and from Portland, or;

3. Require the trucking companies to pay to improve the Cornelius Pass Road to the extent necessary to make it safe to allow their shipments.

Refusal to adopt one or more of these alternatives is ongoing proof that our legislators and regulators care more about the owners of these toxic loads and their trucking companies than about the safety of the 10,000 people of our counties that use the pass every day, plus the people that live near Cornelius Pass Road.

Mike Sheehan