Housing need

 We greatly need affordable housing in Hood River, for all kinds of folks — but the need is greatest for those of the most limited income. The city has made affordable housing, including low income housing, its number one priority for a decade, but no new low-income housing has been built in 9 years. Thankfully, the city now owns land on Rand Road that can be dedicated to that.

Low-income housing is meant for people earning 80 percent or less of the area’s median income. In Hood River, that means a wage of under $19 an hour for a single person working full time, or an annual income under $57,000 for a four-person household. There are many, many individuals and families living at 80 percent or less of median income here — essential members of our local communities who work and contribute in education, health care, recreation, hospitality, government, social services and caregiving, among others. I am grateful for everything they do, and I want them to be able to live here, in the community where they work. (Commuting costs from The Dalles, where housing is also very difficult to obtain, could easily eat up a quarter of one’s earnings.)

“Affordable” housing for anyone is defined as spending 30 percent or less of one’s household income on rent or mortgage, plus utilities. Obviously, affordable housing for low-income people needs to be created and reserved for them very intentionally. Currently, there are about 600 low-income households on the waiting list with the Mid-Columbia Housing Authority, with a 1 to 4 year average wait.

I am adding my voice in asking the City of Hood River to dedicate the new housing to be developed on Rand Road to low-income households.

Tina Castañares

Hood River (Odell)


Henry Clay, the early 19th century Senator from Kentucky, observed that “politics is not about ideological purity or moral self-righteousness. It is about governing, and if a politician cannot compromise, he cannot govern effectively.” Sen. Chuck Thomsen’s walkout from the Oregon Legislature would seem to indicate he has not read Clay’s words, much less taken them to heart. His staunchest supporters would have benefitted from the passage of a bill that was a historic compromise between environmentalists and timber interests. It could have quadrupled the amount of acreage available for harvest and thinning. Funding for fighting wildfires was on the docket. Another bill would have provided relief to agricultural producers from the new state business tax.

Far from being rushed to a vote, the climate bill that was the motivation for the Republican walkout underwent 35 hours of public hearings, a statewide tour with public town halls, and six hours of floor debate. One form or another of a climate bill has been bouncing around the state legislature for the better part of a decade. It’s hard to come up with a bill that has undergone more scrutiny. The suggestion that the bill was being rushed to a vote is a fib.

Beyond bad politics, in the world most of us live in, it’s simply disqualifying to not show up for work and expect to keep your job. Sen. Thomsen should step down. If he can’t see on his own that he’s lost the ability to govern effectively, perhaps the recall effort underway will make this clear.

Steven Hawley

Hood River

‘Couldn’t be bothered’

Even though I’ve not always agreed with Sen. Thomsen’s decisions, I’ve respected his commitment and willingness to serve as our senator — until he chose to walk out. In doing so, he broke the promise he made to represent us in the legislature. He stopped going to work, and yet he collected his taxpayer funded salary and daily stipend. I’m curious to know if he pays his own employees even if they don’t show up to work.

Today (March 9) I saw a sign in Hood River saying that working people stand with Sen. Thomsen. Are there working people in this county who will be paid even if they choose to not come to work? I’m also curious to know what people who support Thomsen’s walking out tell their children about following through with promises they make. Is this really okay? What values are we teaching our young people?

I hope Sen. Thomsen knows what his action has meant for the people of this district. Because he chose to walk out, bills were blocked that would have provided critical services for us, like funding for homeless shelters, search and rescue, and wildfire management. Each of these is a big issue right here in Thomsen’s own hometown, but he couldn’t be bothered. And, of course, his continuing refusal to act on climate change will burden us same taxpayers who unwillingly paid for his recent vacation.

Because he’s unwilling to do his job, it’s time that Sen. Thomsen is recalled and replaced by someone who will show up and do the work, even when it is difficult.

Vicki Nunenkamp

Hood River

‘Recall Thomsen’

I get it that our elected representatives have strong views and sharp differences of opinion on important issues. What I don’t understand is why it’s okay for one team to stay in the locker room rather than taking the field and making their best effort. Our legislature is the place where important public policy decisions should be debated vigorously and reasonably, where compromises should be worked out, and where elected representatives respect the fact that their counterparts on the other side of the aisle were also elected by the voters and have a right to stand up for their views. Running off and hiding to avoid debate is nothing more or less than dereliction of duty. It’s unacceptable. It’s not what we elected our officials to do. They can’t represent us if they are absent without leave. This year is the second time that my Senator Chuck Thomsen has run off and shirked his responsibilities. I’m signing the petition for his recall. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that our elected officials show up for work. Let’s get somebody who will!

Pamela Sterling



I am outraged that Sen. Chuck Thomsen didn’t show up for work (again) to deny the fairly elected Democratic majority the ability to conduct any business. If Sen. Thomsen thought the best way to represent our district was to oppose the proposed bill on fighting climate change, he could have offered amendments or ultimately cast a “no” vote. Instead, he and the rest of the Republican minority are grossly abusing the intent of the quorum rule and attempting to impose de facto minority rule on the state. Their absence also caused other common sense legislation that is critical to our district to be tabled, including funding for wildfire management and community mental health treatment.

Like most people, I would be fired if I didn’t show up to my job. If Sen. Thomsen isn’t willing to perform the basic task of showing up in Salem to represent us, then he needs to be removed and replaced by someone who will. Please join me in supporting a recall of Sen. Thomsen as a step toward restoring basic democracy in Oregon.

Christian Danielsen

Hood River

Should be recalled

Sen. Chuck Thomsen has broken his promise to represent us in the legislature. He chose to go on vacation in Arizona but continued to collect his taxpayer-funded salary and daily stipend. He must be recalled and replaced by someone who will show up and fight for our jobs, our schools, our healthcare and our future.

Since Thomsen chose to walk away from his responsibilities again, many important bills were blocked in Salem. These bills would have supported the Hood River Warming Shelter, Search and Rescue operations in Hood River County, child abuse prevention and treatment, wildfire management, flood recovery in the Pendleton area, NORCOR jail services and many other critical needs in our state. 

Running away will not resolve these issues. If elected officials are unhappy with a bill, they should work to improve it or simply vote “No.”

If Thomsen refuses to represent us, he should be recalled and replaced by someone who will.

Beth Flake

Hood River


Sen. Thomsen has been described as a lazy, uncaring, irresponsible member of the state Senate. A quick review of his record will show this is not the case. Sen. Thomsen served as a volunteer fireman for 36 years. These volunteers attend to citizens and visitors 24/7, involving night calls to car wrecks and burning buildings and forests, and people needing assistance in their homes before an ambulance can arrive.

He coached softball and basketball for years and later refereed matches. He was instrumental in getting batting cages built at the high school. He served as a county commissioner for years.

He was a member of the Hood River Rotary Club for decades, serving as an officer, and ultimately president.

He is one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever met. All this character assassination is unfounded.

Dick Reed

Hood River 

‘Hunches and hoaxes’

Earlier this week, the president was asked about the coronavirus and the number of deaths worldwide. Trump responded by dismissing both the science and the math. He said the World Health Organization is reporting a “false number” and that he had a “hunch” the percentage of people dying was far less.

Has the Deep State extended around the world now in an attempt to discredit him? Does the president no longer believe in science OR math? The same middle school math used to determine the president’s low unemployment rate is the formula used to calculate the percentage of people who died from the virus. Apparently the laws of math are just suggestions to the president.

Meanwhile, an actual trained scientist pointed out that Pence’s team arrived unprepared and unequipped to greet Americans returning from an unsafe area of China. She was rewarded for trying to keep Americans alive with a transfer. Is that how we are #KeepingAmericaGreat?

I have a hunch. If President Trump wins in 2020 we will continue to have an altered reality on facts. Words like “covfefe” and “bigly” will become popular and thousands of years of human understanding of science, math, and language will be flushed down the toilet. This whole presidency has felt like a hoax for quite some time now. #MAGA #KAGA

Steve Kaplan 

Hood River

How to vote

Biden or Sanders, Biden or Sanders? Who do we vote for?

My rule of thumb is this: Who is the money lining up behind? Go with the other candidate.

The class of people who are so wealthy that they can buy political candidates will never have the interests of the vast majority of the country, the laborers, and the poor.

Conservatives and the wealthy find common cause in the belief that the wealthy are the only minority group worthy of protection, as evidenced by blatantly anti-democratic institutions such as the senate and the electoral college, meant to diffuse popular will, to say nothing of tax payer money being used to bail out failing corporations.

By comparison, every time a movement has tried to share power with the disadvantaged, whether that be the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the abolition of child labor, civil rights, bodily autonomy, gay marriage, or labor unionization, the right has rallied to try and stop it.

Many Americans do not know that our government paid reparations to slave holders who were forced to emancipate their slaves, yet to this day, conversations about reparations for the descendants of enslaved people is still a political minefield.

I’m going to vote for Bernie Sanders because health care is a human right, and a meta-analysis of 22 studies of different single payer plans indicates the U.S. would save $600 billion in costs by switching to a single-payer system.

Remember those conservatives from a minute ago? They were against tax dollars being used to fund public primary education. This was, luckily, a fight the left won. Now that we’ve seen the value of an educated populace, the next logical step is free public college.

Now I am closing with a question of axiomatic principle: If you could eliminate poverty, making it a relic of the past like slavery or child labor, would you?

Benjamin Sheppard 

Hood River

‘Don’t worry about it’

I recently moved into town and am new to the area. So far relocating to Hood River has been (sic). Downtown’s super pretty during Christmas time, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood create an amazing backdrop in the area, but I have one gripe: It rains too much.

As a Wenatchee native, I’m accustomed to a dry climate almost year round where precipitation is minute.

When it rains here it’s usually not for one day. It rolls through the entire week bringing me gloomy, depressing and somber moods. It also ruins the mountain views. I guess a few days of rain in combination with the region’s forest geography creates that “Pacific Northwest” aesthetic, but I mean, I feel pooped if it’s for five days straight. Down with rain, or I mean, up with rain and down with sunshine!

Ivan Robles

Hood River


Wake N Baked closes on March 24. Jessica and the Angels will be missed. Why? I believe it’s because they have a good business model. I want more places to have the same.

For them, it started with a good location but that’s not enough to keep the business going. In their model they’re respectful to people, welcoming customers with a genuinely caring greeting while dishing up quality food, consistently, for a good price with a side order of humor. Their customers keep coming back and Jessica remembers them and what they order on a regular basis, same with the coffee. Their model allows sharing camaraderie, gossip, and laughter. The breakfast and lunch menu is changed sometimes to keep us interested.

They keep to their hours, keep the cafe clean, and provide wonderful smells. That’s the standard ‘rules’ I feel are necessary but it’s not the prime ingredient to their model. The special “thing” that makes the place come together, I believe, is the people. We all like the owners and, for the most part, each other for the short times we are together so we spread the word about the cafe. First timers and strangers are often swept along with the conversations that occur between customers. I think it make them feel they’re in a good place. Showing movies of all genres, old to new, prods entertainment and fun especially when it is tailored to customers. They do a good job at supporting the community.

All and all, it’s a good feeling place and I hope to find another such model somewhere near and settle in but meanwhile, I’m staking out my table one last time on the 24th to say all my goodbyes and enjoy a free-baked good of my choice. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Cherie Walter

Mt. Hood 


Is it fair to say that the leaders of the United States and North Korea share one common trait: “DON’T TRADE ON ME!”

Alan Winans 

Hood River