Road rules

With a growing population comes a lot of behavior that was rarely seen on the streets of Hood River in past times. Driving has become more “interesting” than ever.

So it was especially gratifying to see Karma served almost instantly, going west on May Street the other day.

I had just crossed the Rand Road intersection when a white pickup in front of me stomped on it and went around another car in front of him, and continued to speed down the road.

As if by magic I saw the colored lights on a Hood River Police vehicle flashing behind me, and I pulled over and cheered as he went after the law breaker.

I am not a person who necessarily obeys the speed limits to the letter. But do always stop at stop signs, signal for a turn or lane change, and never practice distracted driving by using my phone.

And I notice these days that my fellow citizens of this wonderful community are often very casual about letting other drivers know what they’re planning to do.

Pennie Burns

Hood River

A sad silence

Friends, I have sad news. Three weeks ago, in a letter to the editor in this space (“Defend truth”, Feb. 3), I invited the official Republican party organizations of both Hood River County and Wasco County to reject the jaw-dropping claim by the Oregon Republican party that the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. was assaulted on Jan. 6 by left-wingers, not by right-wing supporters of Donald Trump.

This “false-flag” claim by the state-level GOP was so absurd that all 23 Republican members of the Oregon House of Representatives — 23 Republican representatives, mind you, not Democrats — came together to reject it immediately.

In my Feb. 3 letter I promised our local Republican neighbors that, if they joined in rejecting this false claim, “I will publicly congratulate them for taking a patriotic, constructive stance.”

Sadly, neither organization has said a word — not in this paper, and not on their official websites or Facebook pages.

How is it patriotic or constructive— or even “conservative” — to remain silent while your state-level Republican leadership spreads dangerous falsehoods?

Perhaps the next time you see a member of those two organizations, you might ask them that question.

Or, if you don’t want to wait, you could ask the Hood River Republicans at or the Wasco County Republicans at

Mike Hendricks

Hood River

Free speech

Recently some individuals and groups have had their right to free speech blocked by various social media platforms.

An extremely pertinent question arises as to whether or not this sets a dangerous precedent for every one of us moving forward. As communication models change it appears that a very small, select group will have tremendous power to regulate free speech.

Seinfeld TV character George Costanza once said, “Jerry, it isn’t a lie if you believe it.” Does that premise allow a president to claim victory in an election lost by 7 million votes (Trump, 2020)? Does it allow him to incite a violent, armed resurrection (Trump 2021)? Does it allow a U.S. Representative to post that the Parkland school shooting was staged (Marjorie Taylor Greene, 2018)?, or that certain Democratic officials and FBI agents should be executed for opposing the Trump agenda (Taylor Greene, 2019)?

In 2013 NSA contractor Edward Snowden challenged the notion of free speech in a very different manner.

Snowden discovered that our government was spying on individuals and governments around the world under the guise of post-9/11 protection. For his own personal reasons he stole over a million documents to prove this. Snowden gave up his entire life and his personal safety not to steal and reveal secret information, but to let the world know that the secret was the information being collected.

He became a traitor to many Americans and a courageous whistleblower to others.

There are very different sets of circumstances, but they all speak to the idea of free speech.

Given the complexity of the words and actions of former President Trump, Taylor Greene, Snowden and others, I think we should consider the value and meaning of free speech in our country moving forward.

It is only a matter of time before the limits to free speech are tested again.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Biden EOs

First, President Biden has deliberately been misquoted by the extreme right on what he said about executive orders verses legislative action. Yes, it is true he has issued a slew of EOs. I have not found a good list of showing all his orders but the one I did find showed about half of them he issued to undo the orders issued by Trump, Thank heaven for that!

Trump and his administration did more to undermine our democracy than any other administrator in the history of this country. What is sad is Republicans in Congress went along with it lock, stock and barrel.

Gary Fields

Hood River

Let sport clubs open

I want to write in support of Dianna Risley’s article/letter asking Gov. Brown to allow reopening of indoor fitness facilities.

I have belonged to The Dalles/Gorge Athletic Clubs for many years and most recently have been working there to rehab my shoulder and arm after rotator cuff surgery.

Members and staff have been unfailingly supportive and helpful. People I didn’t even know have been kind.

Teachers like Erin and Morgan have encouraged me to come to their classes when I could barely lift my arm.

And now the governor has shut me and many others out of the very facility that had been allowing me to regain strength and stay healthy.

Without access to the machines, weights, pool and classes I am slipping backwards, losing range of motion, balance and flexibility.

It’s very discouraging, and not my idea of healthy.

It’s really unfair to close these small businesses, again. They should be allowed to be open. To be there for those of us that choose to patronize them. I have not heard of anyone contracting the virus here at our local clubs. The staff have worked very hard to keep it safe.

Members should be allowed to make their own choice as to when and whether or not they choose to exercise at a clubs.

Come on Governor Brown, it should be my choice, where I go to exercise. Let’s get these facilities back open.

Vickie L. Ellett

The Dalles

Decency or greed

I’ve heard the slogans, “America is the greatest country in the world,” and “America is exceptional.” Do these sayings mean anything at all with Trump’s presidency, and his impeachment acquittal?

Seeing the devastation on Jan. 6, and what the insurrectionists did to the Capitol building, urinating and defecating inside the Capitol, that “sacred” place, and to the police who were trying to protect the Congress, made me question those slogans.

I remember the public shame Trump gave to NFL player Colin Kaepernick for kneeling and disrespecting our “sacred” American flag. Kaepernick was not showing disrespect for the flag, but attention towards the injustice of black citizens and the US military.

Donald Trump does not care about the American flag. He used the opportunity to disgrace a black man in front of our entire country.

Trump’s supporters beat Capitol police and terrorized anyone who stood in their way — with that “sacred” flag — all following his orders. Trump did not shame them.

While campaigning, Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone, and would not lose any voters.”

Trump likes to grab women by their genitals. The numerous blatant lies Trump continues to tell. The racist remarks he told about the Mexican people, the Middle Eastern nations, the African nations. Let’s not forget making fun of disabled people. What did the religious Right do ... still voted for this man.

What is more important to the American people ... insidious behavior, greed, or decency? What message are we, as a Nation, really teaching the young?

America the greatest country in the world ... really?

America is exceptional... NO!

America is neither of those.

Diana Grotte

White Salmon

Solar farm invasion

The Klickitat County EOZ energy overlay zone ordinances were written in 2004 for wind with solar as an after thought. Now solar is here and two commissioners, Jacon Anderson and David Sauter, still refuse to enact a no cost six-month moratorium that Citizens Educated About Solar Energy (CEASE) has asked for to update the ordinances, which will protect the citizens. Even though both agree it is needed.

The final environmental impact studies, some dating back to 1965, are still being used to permit solar projects. Every site for a project is different so new studies should be done for each.

CEASE ( spoke with Gwen Clear, the state environmental protection agency representative responsible for environmental studies on energy project. CEASE brought to her attention the end of life environmental impact of toxic solar panels and she was unaware of this issue.

The Lund Hill solar farm near Bickleton was permitted without this environmental issue taken into consideration. Will this continue?

Environmental impact studies are done for plants, animals, water, and other issues. But studies are never done concerning citizen impact. We need a new study called a CIS: citizen impact study. This would be conducted to show the negative impacts any new solar project would have on the citizens.

Commissioners say they are concerned about the citizens so why not do this? Let their actions back their words.

CEASE has continued to inform the commissioners of the toxins in solar panels and lithium ion batteries and that no method exists to dispose of them. They show little concern. They have not offered a public town hall meeting to address citizens concerns.

The environmental impact study for the Lund Hill solar farm does not address the disposal or recycling of the half million toxic solar panels. Twenty years from now those panels will be a environmental disaster and a costly environmental clean up for our citizens.

Will this lack of concern and planning on the commissioners part continue? Citizens: ask the commissioners when will you start doing your job?

Greg Wagner


Citizen powers

Thanks for the local connection to deal with poverty and financial troubles, especially exacerbated by the pandemic over the last year. (‘Agencies continue to fight poverty through the pandemic and civil unrest’ by Leslie Naramore, Columbia Gorge News, Feb. 10.)

On the national level, the new relief bill proposed by President Biden would expand the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, helping 17 million Americans climb out of poverty and finally end the taxation of 5 million Americans into poverty.

We can make sure this bill passes by calling and writing our members of Congress and asking them to vote for it. Our calls and emails can make all the difference.

Imagine childhood poverty cut in half. These tax credits have the power to do just that, and citizens have the power to make sure it passes!

Willie Dickerson

Snohomish, Wash.