Last Sunday, on a scorching hot morning, Thrive Hood River volunteers picked up trash along a two-mile section of Highway 35, between China Gorge and Whiskey Creek Road. It was a record haul: 28 big yellow garbage bags, four tires, two pallets and assorted junk. We are part of the Oregon Department of Transportation Adopt-A-Highway volunteer corps and this is just one of the three sections of Hood River County highways that Thrive maintains. We decided to write an occasional letter to let you know what kind of trash we found as a way of raising awareness and trying to reduce its volume.
Cigarette butts are always the most common thing and are difficult to pick up with the grabbers we use. Other high-volume items are fast food containers like Dutch Bros. plastic cups, McDonald’s food wrappers, hot sauce packets (more than 100 this time) and straws. Beverage cans, especially Modello tall boys and hard cider, along with plastic bottles (sometimes filled with urine, yuck!) are always popular. Marijuana clutter from local dispensaries including plastic tubes to hold joints, plastic bags and warning labels are a new growth category as are COVID masks. We always find items that have blown off vehicles such as plastic shrink wrap, Styrofoam, building materials and fruit truck bin tags, so be sure to secure your loads, folks. There are also always surprises, this time a full wallet, something that looked like LSD and an empty blister pack of Viagra!
On the garbage and recycling front, there is some good news to report in Oregon. Senate Bill 582 just passed, despite vocal opposition from Rep. Bonham (The Dalles, R), and will require producers of paper, plastic and other materials to fund new initiatives aimed at collecting and recycling more of their materials — whether via existing programs or new efforts. It’s only right to require the companies that make and distribute packaging to help pay to recycle it and is the first law of this type in the country. Let’s clean up our act, locally and statewide!
Voting. Is it a right or a privilege? It is both and more. Importantly it is a responsibility. It is an individual responsibility that we should all take seriously.
It is a privilege that citizens in this country have and can be lost by not following our laws. It is a right that we have by virtue of our constitution, by being a citizen.
But it is also the individual’s responsibility to make sure that they make the effort and time to vote; that they are properly registered, knows how, when and where. Is that too much to ask? I think that most conservatives are merely asking for one citizen and one vote without any outside influence. It is also the responsibility of the county elections office to make sure that the voter rolls are accurate. Get rid of dead people and verify those on the rolls are local and eligible to vote, and when voting occurs as in Oregon and Washington, the signatures are verified. That is their responsibility.
“Disenfranchisement,” what a bunch of political BS. Voting seems to be the only are where you should not need an ID? Give me a break. I challenge you to give me one government program offered that you do not need an ID to use ... Just one.
As the previous owner of Postal Annex, each election cycle we get ballots for our box holders. Multiple ballots from areas they have lived in; ballots for deceased previous box holders, ballots for box holders who live outside the country. Each year you can read about elections both local and nationally which are decided by less than 10 votes. With this past election as an exception, national voter turnout has been decreasing. Historical high, 81.8% in 1876; recent high 57.1% in 2008. Maybe go back to teaching civics and civic responsibility in school? I want my vote to count every election, but only till I am pushing up daisies.
Freedoms infringed upon
Sheriff Bob Songer claims he is protecting the Klickitat citizens’ individual rights by refusing to enforce laws and mandates he personally deems “unconstitutional.” He has refused to enforce the requirement that individuals wear a covering on their personal bodies in public places, stating that masking is a personal choice.
I await his proclamation clarifying his support for equal rights for ALL the citizens of Klickitat County by stating he will apply this same standard of freedom and no longer enforce similar laws that target the rights of women in the community. By his judgment, clearly this standard must include women’s constitutional freedoms that have long been infringed upon by such oppressive standards as covering breasts in public.
This issue deserves immediate attention and action and should take precedence by Bob Songer because:
1. It does not risk killing community members.
2. The exact same action is legal for men but not women.
3. Women have been living under this unnatural bondage for generations, not just for one difficult year. If you haven’t worn a bra, let me tell you, they are WAY more uncomfortable and oppressive than face masks.
4. It would be shame for Sheriff Bob to be exposed as holding double standards if he should so choose to cherry pick only liberty that affect him to defend in his self proclaimed position as the personal interpreter of the writings of our Founding Fathers.
Being exposed to seeing breasts in public is no more obscene than the willful exposure to COVID-19 killing friends and family.
Did you enjoy the heat last week? Would you like those hot days to get even hotter and more frequent?
Then vote Republican.
I’m not trying to claim that the Republicans caused the heat. But far too many of them continue to deny that Climate Change even exists. According to a Gallup Survey released earlier this year, 82% of Democrats believe that Climate Change is already impacting us, but only 29% of Republicans agree. Fifty-six percent of Republicans believe that Climate Change will either never impact our planet or won’t occur within their lifetimes. Only 11% of Republicans believe that Global Warming will pose a significant threat in their lifetimes.
Only 32 percent of Republicans believe that human activities cause Climate Change — that’s actually worse than it was in the early 2000s, when 52% of Republicans agreed. In contrast, 88% of Democrats believe the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that human beings are indeed causing the problem.
Republican lawmakers reflect their constituents’ beliefs. According to the Center for American Progress, 139 Republicans in Congress “have made recent statements casting doubt … that the world is warming — and that human activity is to blame. These same 139 climate-denying members have received more than $61 billion in lifetime contributions from the coal, oil, and gas industries.”
It is sad to watch so many Republican leaders scoff at science while lining their pockets with dirty money. To the extent that their power undermines efforts to make our planet habitable, their positions are also dangerous.
School board & volunteers
I just completed a four-year term on the Hood River County School District Board. Prior to that, I volunteered several years on district committees ranging from facilities assessment to levy and bond campaigns.
The HRCSD Board has seven members, and I am so thankful for their shared work and commitment. The board and district have completed seven years of unmodified or “clean” financial audits; more than $70 million of construction, equipment, and safety improvements; expanded career track options at HRV; improved graduation rates; improved services available to all kids and families; and this year we completed contract renewals with all four of our employee groups — more than 600 employees as the largest employer in the county. Thank you to all six of my board member partners and to Superintendent Polkinghorn — we all had a share in these achievements.
Lately in these opinion pages, there is a group that is attacking one of my past fellow board members, Chrissy Reitz. Chrissy has a legal and appropriate PAC from a past State Senate campaign, that is the law and rules, and she is following them.
There are various baseless claims made, but I remind you, all seven board members shared the volunteer load, and our votes count the same as Chrissy’s. These attacks seem to originally stem from opinions voiced by my wife and I regarding county wide post cards and robocalls used by a candidate running for school board.
I know first-hand how difficult it is to find community members willing to volunteer the extensive amount of time for the school board.
Hence, our opinion is that if the local school board campaign norm becomes raising funds and organization for county-wide post cards and robocalls, we do not see that expanding the willing candidate pool in the future.
To you folks with nothing better to do then throw rocks at Chrissy — try volunteering in something that helps the entire community. If you cannot figure out where or how — ask the most community wide, kid focused, prolific volunteer I know — Chrissy Reitz.
Canals lose water
I’d like to reply to a letter to the editor from last week’s edition. The letter was in reference to the loss of irrigation canals (in the next few years) due to pipping. My opinion is that pipping is the best way to upgrade our irrigation system for the benefit of ecological and environmental purposes.
First of all, research from many online websites shows that the loss of water in canals is due to evaporation and ground seepage. The rate is 40-60% loss. As farmers, we can’t afford that kind of lossage. None of us can. This would not be “best practice” for agriculture and futuristic purposes.
As far as habitat is concerned, there were no canals in the beginning of agriculture production of this area, the rest of Oregon, nor the rest of our country. Canals weren’t built for that purpose, but that was what was an alternative attractant. I guess you could call it the “pseudo river” for animal habitat. But, that seemed to be the best practice at that time.
My point is, canals are and should be the last phase of another agricultural era. With research, we learn and are appreciative of learning and adapting to new practices everyday to make life better everywhere.
Please, keep in mind how we all can conserve.
The perfect example of Republican logic, a term I use loosely, has presented itself and is formulated as such:
On January 6th, insurrectionists attempted to overthrow Congress and potentially kidnap or kill lawmakers.
Republicans claim, in contrast to the “official story,” that it was actually BLM activists, anti-fascist protestors and, perhaps most perplexing of all, the FBI, that staged the attack.
Democrats in the House of Representatives then move to form a committee to investigate these claims and get to the bottom of what happened.
All but two Republicans voted against it.
Surely, if Republicans truly believe that it was a coalition of leftists and, again, the FBI, that staged this attack, why wouldn’t they want an investigation to identify and prosecute those people who tried in vain to overthrow the greatest country in the world?
The short version for the 21st century attention span goes like this:
D: “Far right militias attacked the government.”
R: “No, it was BLM.”
D: “Let’s investigate and find out if that’s true.”
R: “No thanks.”
Much Government! Very law and order!
Editor’s note: Benjamin Sheppard is employed as a social worker.