Objections to tax bill; Superfund backroom deals; commissioners believe in fairy tales, unicorns and job growth projections at Port Westward; Our two-party political system is showing its stress cracks

Objecting to the proposed 'tax reform' bill

"This is not the art of the deal, it's the art of the steal," noted U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley.

As a historian and resident of the Chapman area of Scappoose, I see dire precedents in the proposed tax "reform" bill. Now in reconciliation, the bill, if passed, will cause great suffering to regular U.S. citizens.

Adding $1.5 trillion-plus to the federal deficit, it will automatically trigger cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, harming the disabled, veterans, children and the elderly. Removing the mandate for the Affordable Care Act will result in 13

million Americans losing health coverage.

The bill's benefits to the middle- and lower-income classes are temporary and illusory. By 2019, households earning $30,000 or less will pay higher taxes. People will be double-taxed, federally taxed for state and local taxes already paid. Homeowners will lose mortgage deductions (and perhaps their houses). Graduate education will become out of reach for many of our kids, blighting their chance of later professional success.

These are just a few of the losses we will suffer. Gains for corporations and the wealthy, however, will be massive and permanent. By eliminating the estate tax and alternative minimum tax, accelerated income inequality will destabilize society, and possibly bring on another depression, according to one analyst.

I'm not against lower corporate rates, but there will be no "trickle down" effect (that never works); instead, corporations will plow surplus funds into dividends, executive bonuses and automation, hastening job losses.

Appeal to U.S. Rep. Greg Walden to put voters over donors.

Dr. Margaret Trenchard-Smith

Columbia County Coalition

for Human Dignity


Backroom deals to avoid Superfund cleanup

Do you recall letters I and others wrote some time back about the Superfund (toxic waste) which is being proposed for the St. Helens waste water ponds? We now have a new wrinkle in this twisted tale.

It seems President Donald Trump has appointed a new head to the Environmental Protection Agency. His name is Scott Pruitt and he has been a partner to those in the oil industry.

Since Pruitt took office, the EPA and a large group of the Portland Superfund site polluters have written a secret agreement that could result

in the long time polluters having

less responsibility in the cleanup process.

Both the Oregon Department of Environment Quality and American Native have objected that they were not part of this group.

The "secret" group — Pre-RD (remedial design) — has now been identified by the Portland Tribune: Arkema is French owned and manufactured DDT on the Willamette River for years (see "Polluters in the driver's seat for Superfund cleanup plan," Steve Law, Nov. 8, 2017); Evraz Oregon Steel is a Russian-owned manufacturer; Exxon/Mobile appears to be part of a group known as the "Marine Group," which apparently hides the true identities of one or more companies.

These companies have created some of the most polluted places along the Willamette River.

Why should we be concerned? Because the Willamette flows into the Columbia River and both continue past nearly every city in Columbia County.

So, here we are, with a federal "good old boy/girl" backroom deal attempting to avoid paying for the cleanup of poisonous, toxic chemicals affecting our life, our wildlife and the future of our world. All backed by the Trump Administration.

Where do these people believe their descendants and ours are going to live? Oh, that's right — it's all about jobs and money.

I want to express my thanks to my friend who brings me copies of the St. Johns Review and to the Portland

Tribune who lets me read online

and to the Columbia County Spotlight who publishes my letters to the editor.

All are incredibly good sources for the truth.

Thanks for reading.

Nancy Whitney

St. Helens

Editor's note: The Spotlight and Portland Tribune are sister publications and part of the Pamplin Media Group. Copies of the Portland Tribune are available at the Spotlight office, located at 33548 Edward Lane, Suite 110, Scappoose.

Commissioners to launch rocket to prove job growth plans

With the idiocy now shown regarding Port Westward, Columbia County has again been given a demonstration of how poorly some political representatives prepare for the very real future that is coming to our county. A future that presents us with genuinely important choices that must not continue to be driven by fairy tales, greed and personal desires or beliefs.

 I luckily grew up in northwest Oregon woods (which no longer exist due to similarly archaic thinking), and have been employed in an intellectual career. I have spent as much time in the natural areas of northwest Oregon as the commissioners have spent breathing. I voted for these commissioners, and I deeply appreciate Commissioner Alex Tardif's courage and thought in voting against this obsolete and corrupt support for the 1940s-era white elephant called Port Westward, which has very problematic issues surrounding any use as a competing port to Portland and other existing cargo-handling systems on the Columbia River.

 Commissioner Magruder, who many thought would be a steward of the desirable and essential river, forest, agricultural and natural systems that are the real wealth of our county, stated that the Columbia River is "underutilized," and Port Westward can "handle Panamax ships."  The only people that would agree about under-utilization of one of the world's most important river systems are those who think the horrifically abused Mississippi, Hudson, Ohio and most other U.S. rivers are things of natural beauty today. The Columbia has been denuded, over-fished, channelized, polluted, and dammed — all of which are issues our children will have to try to correct. The belief that Port Westward is a useful docking location for Panamax ships ignores a fundamental problem — cargo ships use the water for their basic transit, but must have safe and effective methods for transiting that cargo to land locations. Originally intended for local timber products during World War II, this facility only has access to a limited road system (Highway 30) and a limited rail system; neither goes through unoccupied, worthless, or hazard-resilient land. All cargoes must go through our cities, towns, neighborhoods and forests, all of which are very susceptible to hazards ignored by the commissioners. By the way: Climate change is happening.

In order to assist Magruder and Heimuller in future decisions, I suggest citizens with unused hearing aids or old earphone sets just mail those to them at 230 Strand St. #331, St. Helens 97051, or drop them off personally. Please don't shout at them, though — it might further damage already poor hearing.

 Since it may be that the lack of ability to listen to the people is irrevocable, or if you don't have any old hearing aids or earphones, then another learning process may be of use — Send the two mistaken county commissioners who believe the "good old days are just around the corner" 10 old pennies to help pay for their membership in this well-known organization: "The Flat Earth Society," found online at It's a better place for their "expertise."

Charles Bickford

Deer Island

Bridging the political divide

In March 1972, after 19 months in Vietnam, I was welcomed home by grungy long-haired protesters throwing animal defecation and rotten tomatoes and calling me a war monger and baby-killer, yet less than a year later, January 1973, Roe vs Wade was finalized in the Supreme Court, and women and their doctors have killed thousands over the last 45 years.While the federal government deployed me to Vietnam in 1970 and Germany in 1978 to stop the onslaught of socialism into the Western hemisphere, the federal Department of Education allowed socialism to be taught in colleges since 1964, and later in high schools as an alternative form of government.

As a registered Democrat, I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2008, yet after the election of Barack Obama, DNC Chair Rep Debbie Wasserman-Schultz declared that progressive liberal socialists had seized control of the Democratic Party.

During the 2016 election, I heard candidate Donald Trump talk of building a great wall along the southern U.S. border to stop illegal immigration, yet after his presidential inauguration, it is the progressive liberal socialists who have built a new "iron curtain" along the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails to segregate the predominantly progressive liberal socialist coastal regions from the conservative "heartland" of America.

Now, as a registered non-affiliated voter, I can no longer participate in Oregon's closed primary system, but only vote for whatever losers Oregon allows onto their general election ballots from a primarily broken down two-party system. As a disabled veteran who served under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, both Republicans, and President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, I am extremely distraught by the direction our country is going and the partisan abyss between the country's two major parties. Even Oregon's own elected representatives are calling for resistance against our own government at their town hall events.

The 2018 election season will quickly be upon us, yet the country has still not even accepted the results from the last election.

Where are we going and or what type of government will we have? Around the 2020 election cycle, the Millennials generation, those under 35, will be the new majority, and the Independent and non-affiliated voters will make up nearly 40 percent of registered voters.

Are there really only two sides of politics — conservative and liberal? No wonder our Founding Fathers were against forming political parties.

Joe Turner

Columbia City

Contract Publishing

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