Songer’s sad words

I’ve never met Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer, but after reading his delusional, divisive words as reported in the July 29 Columbia Gorge News, I thought what a mess our country would be in if we had a president like that. Oh, wait, we DO have a president like that! As a result, our country is experiencing its most tragic mess in several generations. Real leadership requires intelligence, wisdom, compassion, courage and — perhaps most of all — humility. Read the deeply wise yet humble words of Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address, delivered during the most difficult time in American history. Then read the wannabe tough-guy words of pretenders like Songer and Trump. See the difference?

Richard Iverson

Hood River

Divide and conquer

Reading the various letters to the editor in our paper tonight, sadly, the words “divide and conquer” come to mind. As a country, we are being dangerously manipulated into taking sides on all fronts. Our president calls those who don’t support him all sorts of horrible names, our news media is delivering propaganda that fits best with the narratives of its viewers on both sides, and no one really knows the truth.

What I do know is that we are all people, most of whom love our country, though we might not agree on how to run it. We all love our families and want to love our communities where we live and get support. As humans we want what is best for our families, our health, our environment, our economy and our education system. We need a government that cares for and represents all of us, not just some of us. I don’t believe we have that government in the White House or Senate right now.

I am a patriot; I love my country and want to see each person living here thrive and strive for happiness. I consider myself a democrat — not a socialist or a communist. I decry the destruction of federal property and feel the government has a right to protect that property that is supported by our taxes. I also believe in BLM; it’s about time we stand up for reform. I don’t support the federal government coming to our state against our will and savaging our people. For those of you who tend towards smaller federal government, supporting this action feels to me like hypocrisy. I support women’s reproductive rights as well as the Second Amendment. What I don’t support is putting guns in the wrong hands and taking away that precious and loved life after it’s born.

Susan Bellinson

Hood River

Land of plenty

We are facing tough times in our country, probably some of the toughest in our history. The effects from COVID-19, racism and climate change are creating hardships on top of hardships. People are anxious and, in many cases desperate, resulting in anger directed toward who and whatever they feel is at fault. The various media don’t seem interested in easing tensions and, instead, stoke fears much of the time, creating divisions when we should be striving for unity.

I wish there were simple solutions to the whole mess but none of the problems will be eliminated until people realize that we all need and want the same thing: Security for ourselves and our families. This is something no American should deny their fellow citizens. Instead, we should try to eliminate any obstacles that keep people from achieving their fullest potential and support things that help rather than harm. We need to stop listening to the nay-sayers and fear-mongers and embrace the reality that we are still living in a land of plenty and when we all do better we all do better.

Michael Hustman

White Salmon

Keeping juries safe

“The men and women who are called upon to serve on juries in both our federal and state courts have maintained a standard of fairness and excellence throughout the history of our country. They have demonstrated a vision and a will toward the administration of justice that is a wellspring of inspiration” (U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, 1962).

As our society and our community strive to deal with these uncertain times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the judicial system has been equally affected by systematic changes that we are seeing throughout all of our daily lives. The court system is a creature of routine that relies heavily upon the procedural safeguards that have been enacted to ensure that all legal system participants are afforded equal justice. Probably the most fundamental aspect of our judicial system involves the jury system used by the American court system. As noted by the Honorable Tom C. Clark, Texan and former justice of the United States Supreme Court, “The jury system improves the quality of justice and is the sole means of keeping its administration attuned to community standards.”

As we slowly ease our way back into our new normal, it is imperative that the court system continue to provide a forum for our citizenry to settle their disputes in a consistent, fair and evenhanded manner that represents our community standards. In order to effectively provide a safe and meaningful access to the justice system, we recognize that importance of reinstituting jury trials within our court rooms.

While jury trials have been placed on hold over the past few months, the Judges of Skamania and Klickitat county have been using the intervening time to prepare to safeguard our facilities and adopt practices that limit the risk of pandemic exposure to our jurors. We have been working with the other dedicated stakeholders who are doing their best to assist us daily to find short, medium and long-term solutions to keep our jurors safe upon their return to service. Together, we are conducting on site assessments of our facilities with public health officials to establish, amongst other things, (1) protocols for assembling jury pools in a safe and effective manner consistent with current health guidelines for social distancing and masking; and (2) procedures for proper cleaning and maintaining our facilities. The collective goal is to provide a safe environment for jurors when the time comes for reinstituting jury trials.

Please be assured that all of the judges in Skamania and Klickitat County recognize the concerns the public may have in participating in our jury system in the near future, but it cannot be said any stronger that “our justice system cannot function without the help of our citizens who serve as jurors.”

Justice in our Municipal, District and Superior courts depends on jury participation. We certainly miss our jurors. We look forward to the day when they are welcomed back. In the meantime, the entire team is working very hard to ensure the facilities they come back to are clean, healthy and safe for everyone. We are making plans to reinstitute jury trials in the near future and will continue to provide updates to our community members about the steps being taken for a safe reintroduction of jury trials in Skamania and Klickitat County.

Randall C. Krog

Skamania/Klickitat County

Superior Court Judge

Thanks for News

Thank you for combining three papers into one to make a great paper, that is willing to cover both sides of issues concerning community and political affairs. I must disagree with the letter titled “Paper not the same." I respect her opinion, but I believe by combining the three papers, it brings the three communities together and has already proven there is room for liberals and conservatives and in between, which is the only way to report the news and accept “letters to the editor.”

When the new printing first came out, a friend from church said I should buy one and give it a chance and I'm so glad I did! Thank you to all who have worked so hard to organize and put this together. You have a new customer!

Jeri Rector


Running for future

My name is Devin Kuh and I am excited to announce my candidacy for State Representative District 14 Position 2. I am running for office to offer a progressive option who will fight for the most vulnerable in our communities and ensure that education, healthcare and economic opportunities are plentiful and fulfilling for all. Furthermore, I will fight to protect the environment in our district so it is able to provide for us and our families for generations. We need an economy and government structure that works for every person living within our district. Our current representatives have failed to do this. I have degrees in Math and Economics from Whitman College and have taught high school since 2013 for World Class Academy and The Bush School. When school’s not in session I work as a guide and instructor for Wet Planet Whitewater. I just completed a master’s degree in teaching math and science. Seeing the issues our district faces was a call to action for me. I knew I must get into this race and provide a different voice to my community members. One that centers on the health and wellbeing of us, our children, and our planet.

The world has changed too much in the past six months to continue with the status quo. To those with a more progressive view of the future for Southern Washington, I will work for you. Please join me in safeguarding our future.

Devin Kuh

White Salmon

Importance of BLM

An acquaintance recently drew my attention to the simple phrase “words matter,” a helpful reminder I’ve tried to take to heart.

Recently, I’ve been troubled by one particular word, the meaning of which conjures up horrific and brutal images. I do not want to lessen the word’s heinous history because it is important, I believe, even necessary, to remember when we, the human community, acted in inhuman ways.

The word I am struggling with is “genocide.” In my lifetime it has destroyed innumerable members of our human family from the “final solution” of Nazi Germany, to the killing fields of Cambodia, the Serbian execution of Bosnian neighbors, the Rwandan Tutsi slaughter, the Disappeared Ones of Argentina. The list marches on and on.

Coined in 1944, genocide, at its base means an “intentional action to destroy a people in whole or in part …”

Do we dare apply the term genocide to today’s current events?

Can we see in the actions which led to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dion Johnson and countless others, patterns of genocidal destruction?

Look further, just below the surface, and you’ll see sanitized genocidal acts: Real estate redlining, discriminatory hiring practices, restrictive voting requirements. Dig a little deeper and you may recognize genocidal consequences when health care becomes unaffordable and unattainable, when arrests and incarcerations do not match the crime, when those at the bottom become shackled by hopelessness.

Wherever there is an intentional act to “destroy a people in part or in whole,” it is genocide, and we should be horrified.

This is why the Black Lives Matter movement is so important. It has risen up for the purpose of stopping a genocide and keeping the truth of what is really going on before us.

As one Portland protester observed, “I didn’t like seeing the graffiti on certain landmarks, but if that’s what you’re focusing on, you’re getting mad about the wrong things.”

Gary Young

Hood River

Delay and deceit

It has happened. The Great Violator has, via Twitter, made clear his desire and intention to delay the election until, presumably, he sees fit.

Experts have repeatedly compared to Donald Trump’s rhetoric to that of past fascists, and I have repeatedly echoed the words of those experts. I have repeatedly warned that Donald Trump was going to try and delay, if not cancel outright, the 2020 election, and behold! It has come to pass.

The good news is that he has absolutely no electoral hope in Hades to win this election, if it is indeed free and fair.

So, if he wants to move the date of the election, I say we move it up. I’m ready to vote his deceitful derrière out right now.

Experts have repeatedly compared to Donald Trump’s rhetoric to that of past fascists, and I have repeatedly echoed the words of those experts. I have repeatedly warned that Donald Trump was going to try and delay, if not cancel out right, the 2020 election.

Benjamin Sheppard

Hood River

Benjamin Sheppard is employed as a social worker.

Least we can do

Today, I witnessed first hand the blatant disregard for other people’s well-being. Three women in a local grocery store refused to wear masks. When the store manager approached them, they used a “medical” reason for not being able to wear a mask. In truth, only a very small percentage of Americans have a legitimate health reason for shunning a mask. In fact, many people who suffer from chronic health problems benefit from wearing a mask to fight the virus.

Whether you are a Republican or a Democratic, don’t we all want the same goal: To see the COVID numbers decrease so schools and places of business can reopen to their potential? If you aren’t wearing a mask, you are helping to spread this virus, plain and simple. And if it’s too invasive on your rights as an American, consider how you would feel if you infected a close friend or relative because of your refusal to slip on a mask for 20 minutes while you were out in public.

Lastly, look around at other people out in the stores. You can’t tell who among them has cancer or other disease you cannot see. They are the high risk population that also needs to shop for food and supplies. No one has the right to decide that not wearing a mask is more important than those people who have been fighting for their lives. Just put on the mask. It’s the least we all can do.

Mary Jensen


Steps for health

I am one of many in the Mid-Columbia Gorge who appreciates the high quality of life available here due to abundant resources, breath-taking scenery, and fine, hard working people. During this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I am heartened when I see folks out and about who care enough for the well-being of our citizens and our economy to wear masks in public and to maintain social distancing. Those behaviors are choices, after all.

I urge everyone to make the choices that will get our children back into schools sooner rather than later, that will protect others — including the elderly and those with chronic health conditions, and that will allow our local economy to open up safely and thrive. Although imperfect, these measures can protect our people and help flatten the curve : 1) Stay home if sick. 2) Cough or sneeze into your sleeve. 3) Wear masks in public spaces. Avoid touching your face. 4) Stay at least six feet away from those outside your household, when possible. 4) Wash/clean your hands frequently.

I applaud all efforts to act on behalf of the wellbeing of our schoolchildren, our families, our high risk populations, and our local economy.

Sue Pennington,

Citizen member, Klickitat County Board of Health

New dose needed

Last week I turned on Fox News to hear the true, unbiased story about President Trump and the intelligence test so many liberals are talking about. Much to my surprise, Fox pundit Chris Wallace appeared to be making fun of the president and his test results. Once I heard the “really difficult” questions, it all made sense.

Healthcare workers like me use the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) as a screening tool for patients suspected of having cognitive impairments which could limit their ability to take medications safely, drive, or use their phones to call for help.

“Acing” the MoCA only means the president can properly manage the medication prescribed for his delusions of grandeur. As for handling world diplomacy, managing nuclear weapons, or behaving in a mature, respectful manner, not so much.

As an aside, I am no doctor, but I suspect an increase in dosage could be therapeutic.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Term limits needed

“A government by representatives elected by the people at short periods was our object and our maxim … where annual election ends, tyranny begins.” — Thomas Jefferson to S. Adams, 1800.

Congressional term limits have been an ongoing conversation among Americans since the framers of our Constitution began their work. There have been term limits bills placed before our Federal Legislators, but none have resulted in a Constitutional Amendment to halt the rising number of career politicians. This is not a “partisan” issue. This is an American problem, and it is up to WE, THE PEOPLE, to act.

What is interesting to note is that, when surveyed, over 80 percent of Americans are in favor of term limits. Also interesting is how many times incumbents who have been in office for 30-plus years are voted back into office. Why is that? Some possible reasons:

Many Americans believe that Congress will never vote for term limits on itself. However, in 1995, the House passed a Constitutional Amendment limiting terms. It didn’t pass, because any constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds supermajority vote.

Some folks will say that an election is a natural term limit. Unfortunately, when it comes to campaigning, the incumbent has an edge on the challenger, in that there is plenty of financing for his campaign from lobbyists. The challenger is faced with paying his own campaign costs, sometimes through donations or fund-raising at a grass-roots level.

We need experienced legislators in Washington. While this is true, and has been long-held standard by many Americans, it is also true that new ideas breathe life into a stale organization.

I support Congressional term limits, because I see our Congress forgetting who they REALLY work for: Us, the American people.

With the election coming up in November of this year, please remember that this is not JUST a presidential election. There are congressional seats being considered, as well. Do your homework. Check to see how long your legislators have been in office. Are you happy with their representation? Email your legislators in Washington, D.C. If we don’t speak up, who will?

Gayle Davis


Lack of leadership

We now have 150,000 deaths in the U.S. from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump’s lack of leadership and a national response in dealing with this out-of-control pandemic has moved Biden into a commanding lead over Trump in the latest polls, NOT because of the impeachment of the president, NOT Trump’s involvement with Russia in interfering in the 2016 election, NOT the Mueller report which concluded the president obstructed justice, NOT the payment to a porn star and a playboy bunny to buy their silence of their affairs with the president prior to the 2016 election, NOT the Hollywood Access tapes where Trump described his sexual assault on women, NOT the sexual assault and rape charges filed by several women against the president, NOT the 20,000-plus documented lies by the president, NOT the assault on the rule of law and the Justice Department, NOT the assault on NATO and our allies, NOT denying climate change and pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, NOT for being silent over Intelligence reports of Russia putting a bounty on our brave soldiers in Afghanistan, NOT for taking Putin’s word over our own Intelligence Agencies, NOT for Trump’s verbal assault on women and especially women of color, NOT for calling the free press an enemy of the people, NOT for threatening to not accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, NOT for putting unidentified federal troops dressed in camouflage detaining and tear gassing peaceful protestors on the streets of Portland, Ore., NOT for withdrawing from the World Health Organization in the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years, NOT for commuting Roger Stone’s prison sentence to buy his silence in testifying against Trump, NOT for illegally profiting from the power of the presidency by using tax payer money for secret service and staff staying at various Trump properties, and NOT for separating children from their parents at the Mexican border.

Maybe voters have become exhausted and tired of all of it and decided it is time to restore leadership, dignity, respect, decency, empathy, honesty, and democracy to the Presidency and the country.

Robert Havig

White Salmon

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