Dear Governors Inslee and Brown,

I am a physician working for the last five years at a critical access hospital in Southern Washington and I am writing to voice my deepest concern over your recent vaccine mandates.

I am pro-vaccine and I have had the Pfizer COVID-19 shot series. I have spent countless hours reading and researching journal articles, CDC data, watching video presentations, participating in CV-19 task force meetings, medical staff meetings, discussing and helping to advise on organizational protocols and forming committees to deal with the medical, logistical and ethical ramifications of responding to the pandemic.

Our hospital has done well in the face of adversity, being one of the first in our region to roll out CV-19 testing, a comprehensive vaccination program, and staying up to date on the most current guidelines and practice regarding the virus.

However, like many other hospitals in the state, and across the country, we have seen record turnover of our staff, losing valuable people for many reasons.

While I believe that the vaccine is safe and effective in drastically lowering the probability of severe illness and death from COVID-19, I do not believe that we can force people to get this vaccine.

I know that we are at a critical tipping point right now with healthcare facilities being at near 100% capacity with widespread bed shortages, staff shortages and burnout among healthcare workers. We have to stem the CV-19 tide somehow, right?

However, I cannot say this with any more urgency: If we mandate vaccination, it will further destabilize our healthcare system.

With this vaccination mandate, we are truly on the brink of losing yet more valuable people and I see a grim situation developing as a result. People who could normally get treatment for things like pneumonia, sepsis, dehydration, heart attack, etc. will be put on a waitlist and our health outcomes will be worse.

While I can understand the reasoning for this vaccine mandate, I would say that I cannot see the wisdom in it. I see it doing more harm than good.

Nathan Armerding

Hood River

Strong Climate Rules for OR

Yikes! Climate change effects are getting more and more catastrophic, and our window to act effectively is closing fast. We’re reeling, in Oregon and across the country, with unprecedented heat, drought, fires, and human suffering. Scorching temps here in Oregon shattered weather records and led to dozens of heat-related deaths.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is currently finalizing rules for the Climate Protection Program, but their draft version is insufficient to ratchet back greenhouse gases as needed. The draft rules give a free pass to major polluting industries, caving to the industry whining and protestations. It is absolutely unconscionable for the DEQ to trade off our future to augment the earnings of climate-polluting industries.

There are many good things to celebrate in the draft rules — creating new accountability for the oil industry and other polluters, creating a pollution cap on natural gas for the first time, a declining threshold for fuel suppliers, and the idea of Community Climate Investments (CCI).

But the climate change stakes are high. We need and deserve boldness, strength, and commitment from the DEQ and Gov. Kate Brown on the Climate Protection Program rules:

1) Follow the science. It tells us we must cut our climate pollution by 50% by 2030. Create strong targets and an ambitious cap ratcheting down annually.

2) No passes for any polluters! Hold large industrial sources accountable with mandatory declining emissions reductions. Require industrial sources to follow the cap. Include gas power plants, the state’s largest single climate polluters, which are currently exempted from the program.

3) Invest in projects that result in real, verifiable pollution reductions. Require Community Climate Investments (CCIs) to result in a 1:1 overall reduction of climate pollution or co-pollutants. Clearly define what kinds of project investments qualify, and ensure that the price of CCIs reflects the real cost of project implementation.

My children and grandchildren will have to live with the world you create with these final rules. DEQ and Gov. Kate, do it right, please. The price for “caving” is way, way, way too high for us.

Rhonda Starling

Mosier

Support our Nurses

I recently found out that the nurses from MCMC hospital in The Dalles are working under an expired contract. According to a handout at a recent demonstration there, the priority items under negotiation are safe staffing, better patient care and fair wages.

These are basic and reasonable but also very important issues. Not only for the nurses but for our community as well.

It has been reported that the shortage of qualified nurses all across the country, primarily due to COVID burnout, is getting worse. It is an extremely demanding and in some circumstances dangerous job and physical, mental and emotional exhaustion is all too common. Our health care system nationwide is under great stress and nurses are foundational.

They are primary caregivers every time we, or our loved ones, need medical attention. They are manning the front lines of defense against the COVID epidemic. Our community depends on them now more than ever and at the very least they deserve safe working conditions and a fair wage.

This is not asking too much!

MCMC administrators should settle up as requested ASAP.

John Jablonski

Lyle

Findlay is wrong

State Senator Lynn Findlay claims to be Pro-Life but his actions indicate otherwise. His continued pushback against masks and vaccines while thousands of Oregonians die and continue to die shows he is Pro-Death. How many Oregonians have to die before the GOP stops pandering to the anti-science, conspiracy nut jobs infesting what was once the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower?

Debra Lutje

The Dalles

Exploitive politics

The speed shown by the GOP in exploiting the deaths of U.S. service members in order to reap political benefits stands in contrast to their failure to pursue justice in investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

It tells me all I need to know about the Republican Party.

Larry Jacoby

Hood River

Bentz shows weakness

At recent town halls, Rep. Cliff Bentz listened to constituents claim that masks and vaccines are unnecessary, even dangerous. Bentz did nothing to correct this misinformation, even as counties in his district have the highest rates of COVID infection and death in Oregon. He could have explained about the correlations between low vaccination rates and high rates of hospitalizations for COVID, or that scientific evidence demonstrates the safety and effectiveness of masks and vaccines, but he chose to let the lies stand.

Last week, Bentz voted against the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a clear signal that he approves of the GOP’s efforts to suppress votes of some. In 1965, overwhelming bi-partisan majorities in the House and Senate voted for the original Voting Rights Act. Its passage dramatically increased voter turnout, especially among Blacks and other minorities. The John Lewis bill improves on the original by extending Congressional oversight to all states. There was no defensible reason to vote against this bill, and yet he did.

Bentz also voted against the budget package that includes benefits for those in greatest need. Though a very vocal advocate for millions of dollars of assistance to farmers in his district, Bentz apparently doesn’t believe in assistance for the vast majority who are non-farmers.

He voted against expanding Pre-K programs and childcare benefits; against free community college; against Pell Grants; against paid medical and family leave; against expanding Medicare benefits. In short, he voted against the families in his district in order to protect the ultra-wealthy from paying their fair share of taxes.

Worst of all, Bentz continues to enable the Big Lie. As his Town Hall attendees expressed conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, Bentz did not have the courage or the decency to tell them the truth — that Joe Biden won a completely free and fair election.

Why? Because he is weak.

Real leaders tell the truth, even if their followers don’t want to hear it. As Mitt Romney said, “That is the burden, and the duty, of leadership.”

Deborah Ferrer

The Dalles

Thank you educators

To all the Gorge educators heading into this new school year: We see you. We appreciate you. We know you are facing the impossible, yet again, and we know you will succeed. You will move mountains, just like you did last year and like you do every year. It’s your specialty, and you don’t get enough recognition for it. So thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottoms of our hearts. Thank you for teaching every child. Thank you for giving a special hello to the one who is having a rough morning. Thank you for calmly listening to another upset parent. Thank you for doing what needs to be done to keep our kids, and yourselves safe. Thank you.

Marisa Cieloha

White Salmon

Humanly Impossible

The Scriptures have been so maligned, abused and thrashed by pastor and the church system it is nearly impossible to convince one single evolutionist to touch them let alone read study and discuss them. Why the evolutionist? Even though evolution is the most pathetic, most ridiculous and most impossible explanation for life on earth the evolutionist still has one redeeming quality. The evolutionist can be reasoned with.

I was one and I have seen three other evolutionists, in 40 years, abandon the useless hate-filled theory for the worthy truth found in the books. The churchgoer is impossible to reason with for they are plagued with a very nasty disease — superstitions.

The books are true and honest and worthy but most folks judge them by the superstitious behavior of the church system. The church system which began with Emperor Constantine of Rome has injected the common vulgar superstitions of the times into their interpretations. The results are of such stupidity that it is impossible for the non superstitious evolutionist to swallow one single word from the books.

The entire book and message is thrown into the garbage by the evolutionist because the church system operated by pastor base all their beliefs on ancient superstitions. There is one single reason why you can trust the Hebrew Scriptures. Israel. Not one single person has seen evolution or will see evolution but all humans can see Israel.

The Hebrew prophets began writing 1,500 years before Yahshua was born that the Jews would enter the land, be removed from the land and be brought back to the land. Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel foretold it. In very plain and easy to understand chapters (chapters are the key) they explain that the nation of Israel would be politically resurrected on the mountains of Israel… the West Bank…the “occupied land.”

There is no other miracle contained within the books that you can see for yourself that validates these books as being of divine origin. It is humanly impossible for Israel to be in existence today. They have someone on their side. Ask me about those chapters…soon.

Gary Fischer

The Dalles

Request for truth

As members of the Citizens Advisory Council for the Klickitat County Fire District 3 (KCFD3), we wish to comment on recent testimony given by county residents during the hearing for Under Canvas. At that hearing, a number of persons submitted public comment after taking an oath to be truthful.

Such testimony included statements that KCFD3 frequently did not respond to all fire calls, that firefighters were not competent and that business transactions are carried out in a manner shielded from the public.

Inasmuch as these comments were made by individuals who had affirmed that their testimony would be truthful, there is no way to characterize these statements other than that they were offered as deliberate lies.

We realize that mendacity has become much more common in public discourse than in more honorable times, but it does not follow that honorable people should now remain quiet in the face of such actions. The comments are a matter of public record and may be found in the records of the hearing examiner posted under the Planning Department at klickitatcounty.org.

Similarly, all proceedings of KCFD3 are a matter of public record and all meetings are open to everyone. We refrain here from publicly identifying those who gave false testimony but expect to see some sort of public apology by them to personnel of KCFD3.

Many of the members of the council have attended all KCFD3 Commission meetings for the past eight years and are almost always the only citizens of the fire district in attendance.

During that time we have learned, and developed, great respect for the selfless commitment of all KCFD3 personnel to the safety of all of us, and of their continued and tireless efforts to improve that service.

They deserve our respect, not your lies.

For the council,

Lloyd Olson

White Salmon

Anything but masks?

Normally, we celebrate the start of a new school year but recently small groups of people have marked the occasion by protesting. Although these protests are allegedly nonpartisan, our local Republican Party has taken a leading role in promoting them.

Their signs are ominous and their voices are angry and it seems as though they’ve suffered a personal affront.

One such group recently shut down a Goldendale School District school board meeting and prompted a call to law enforcement, because their behavior was so abhorrent.

Their fury stems from the decision to require masks at school. But when we peel away their rhetoric about freedom and liberty, what remains is an appalling threat to our community’s safety. According to medical professionals, COVID-19 is expected to kill approximately 98,000 more Americans by Dec. 1 — but that number could be cut in half if everyone wears masks in public spaces.

I have no doubt that these are dedicated, loving parents. It’s disheartening to watch them demanding the “right” to increase their children’s odds of contracting a potentially fatal disease that spreads more readily than the common cold. In July, there were 38,000 cases a week of coronavirus among children; a more recent week ended with more than 180,000 such cases.

Meanwhile, FOX news commentators Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson encourage their listeners to ingest Ivermectin, a deworming medicine for livestock, as an alternative to vaccines. And by golly, many of them are doing just that — sometimes resulting in the need for poison control services.

Anything but a mask, eh?

Rick George

White Salmon

Thank You

I would like to thank the Hood River School Board members, Superintendent Polkinghorn and all of the teachers and staff who are working tirelessly (and in some cases as volunteers) to break down equity barriers so that all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

In the current climate, where almost everything seems to turn into a political fight, I am so grateful to people who maintain their focus on the health and welfare of kids and the importance of ensuring that each kid has a clear path toward a quality education.

I recently listened to part of the Hood River School Board Work session from July, specifically the discussion about equity issues, followed by the School Board meeting on Aug. 25, where those issues were again discussed.

I was impressed with the summary of work that has been done over the last several years, and I would urge anyone who has questions about what “equity” means in the context of our public education system to listen to the recordings of the working session and the meetings.

As a couple of the board members said, the word “equity” has been “so politicized” that it is now viewed as a bad word by some people.

When you listen to Superintendent Polkinghorn and the board members talk about the work and the goals that underlie the word, however, I’m not sure how any reasonable person could argue with the benefits to kids and the school district as a whole.

I was also impressed with the new board members, who are asking substantive questions and making an attempt to learn about the issues they are facing now that they are on the board. I know from experience that it is difficult to come into an existing group with opinions that might be different than mine, but I always benefit from the collective experience and wisdom of that group if I give it a chance, and I appreciate that the new members are doing that. I look forward to seeing what evolves this year.

Jen Hackett

Hood River

Support civil discourse

As a District 21 School Board member, I would like to thank all of the people who have turned out for both of our two listening sessions as well as the board meeting.

There will be a response back to the many questions we have received; as these were listening sessions, we have to go through the videos and capture the questions asked to make sure that we can answer them. I would like to say a special thank you to all the parents who came after work to speak so passionately about championing their children’s needs.

I would also like to thank the dedicated staff of our medical community that showed up to the Aug. 26 board meeting. Undoubtedly, these medical professionals had already spent stressful, overburdened workdays on the front lines caring for people of this community who are struggling with this disease, yet they still took time out of an exhausting day to provide their insights.

However, I would also like to say that when people are speaking at the board meeting, no matter your viewpoint we all need to engage in respectful behavior. The audience listened quietly and respectfully during the parental testimony, but when it was the turn of the medical professionals to speak, there was a lot of scoffing, laughing and disruptive behavior.

To our doctors and nurses: I am so sorry there wasn’t more respectful behavior from some audience members. Your work is incredibly important to the well-being of our community, and I for one appreciate it.

Dawn Rasmussen

The Dalles

How long, America?

How long must we the people standby and do nothing as our country is slowly being dismantled from within? How long must we put up with this intentional division of we the people.

When 9-11 happened we the people banded together over a common enemy. We have a common enemy now so where do we stand? The hypocrisy of this current government knows no boundaries. If you believe this current government has your best interests in mind you might want to rethink that.

In eight months we have watched our economy spiral down and prices go up. We have went from the ability to sell excess oil to begging OPEC to bring down the prices. We have seen our country locked down and travel restricted due to the manipulation of a virus in order to infect humans and create the current chaos. We have seen this government try to push through trillions of dollar packages that are 80% pork and pet projects for which our tax dollars will go up.

We have seen people not willing to work because they make more on unemployment and in turn our shelves are devoid of products, businesses closing due to lack of help, and yet we sit and do nothing.

Making unconstitutional mandates that threaten people with job loss and benefit loss if they don’t follow the mandates. Those mandates are a complete power trip and nothing more. Those who are in fear because of what the media pushes may need to reevaluate the source of that fear and stop being misled.

Now America has lost face, trustworthiness, and we are totally embarrassed throughout the world due to this current government.

We have practically laid out a red carpet for terrorists to come and do whatever they want to our country and we do nothing. Our southern border is beyond crisis.

Americans are dying because of the inept and unqualified leaders we have. Why would we vote into office people who hate America ? Is it going to take another 9-11 in order for Americans to wake up and see the truth and maybe, just maybe, do something to make us the America we need to be or do we need to pack up and be put into reeducation camps so we will be the sheep they want us to be?

How long, America?

Don Marby, RMC US Navy Ret.

Mill-A, Wash.