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Letters 2/3-2/10


Phony Walden

As events unfolded on the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, Congressman Greg Walden alternately tried to duck for cover over his position by espousing a peaceful end to the standoff, while at the same time making it clear that he supports dismantling of the federal protections of public lands (as the terrorists did). Yes, he wanted a peaceful end to the standoff, but he also would support the takeover of those lands by private industrialists like the Koch Brothers, who bankroll his office in Congress. [Editor's note: Congressman Walden was a recipient of $11,000 from Koch Industries in 2014.] In fact, the mills no longer exist to recreate the logging industry of the 1950s and 60s. The Kochs would like to conduct extractive mineral mining, widespread logging and more and be laughing all the way to the bank, at taxpayer expense. Walden is a failure. His job is to represent ALL the voters of his district, not just the disenchanted fringe who detest the government and have tried to use force to advance their agenda. Congressmen Walden needs to be voted out of office, and we can do that in November.  We all deserve better.

~Dave Stalker

Bendites Don't Walk

Reading the pamphlet, one is led to believe that we are an active outdoor culture, but we're conspicuously uncomfortable with pedestrians. If I stand at roadside waiting for a chance to cross the street, somebody will stop for me. This holds in almost any situation, no matter the danger and regardless of whether or not it will save me time. It's insipid. People get weak in the knees for the poor beleaguered soul on foot. I don't know. Maybe it's just one of those cultural peculiarities that cannot be explained. But it is conspicuous.

~Steve Edwards

Occupiers Don't Speak for Hammonds

Now that the armed occupation in Harney County is seemingly ending, I would like to make a point that unfortunately has been overlooked. That is the persecution by the government of Steve and Dwight Hammond, who were resentenced for an alleged arson in which a fire spread off their land, in this case to government land, which is a common occurrence with controlled burns. It happens with fires set by the BLM and Forest Service regularly.

To this observer, after reading the court's summary, the government's case against the Hammonds is shaky.

The resentencing of the Hammonds smacks of double jeopardy, and raises the question of fairness of [mandatory minimum sentences] in the first place. The Hammonds need defenders. This has been made all but impossible with the focus of attention being on the Bundyites and their occupation. In addition, many people have assumed an identity between the Hammonds and the Bundyites. This is false. The Hammonds have insisted that the occupiers do not speak for them.

This case poses a serious threat to civil liberties. The Hammonds should be freed. There is a petition for their clemency, which I urge defenders of civil liberties to sign. It is savethehammonds.com and is sponsored by the Oregon Farm Bureau, among others.

~George H. Johnson

In Response to "Barely Getting By" (1/28)

The minimum wage issue is very tough. It's a really difficult situation. The corporations control the country, the government, and for all practical purposes, the world. Everyone else has basically been disenfranchised.

The prevailing attitude in this country is "I've got mine, so leave me alone." Most people in this country actually believe that people who are on the street are there because "they want to be [and] that is the lifestyle they have chosen." And, most people in this country who have never experienced homelessness look at the issues of affordable housing and homelessness as issues that are unsolvable, even though a lot of other nations around the world have addressed these issues successfully.

The bottom line is that these issues are direct offshoots of the capitalistic system combined with a democratic system where both are controlled and dominated by the corporations and the rich. They go on and on about "free markets" when anyone proposes any kind of regulation to make the system more equitable to those on the lower end of the economic totem pole. The truth is, the markets are not free and the corporations and rich who have almost total control over them know this explicitly. And then people get dissatisfied with the government and turn to "saviors" like Trump and Clinton, and the myth keeps being perpetuated. Is there any help for it? That is the question.

~Marco Munez

In Response to "Getting Off of Coal" (1/28)

Thank you for editorializing positively on the legislative effort to get Oregon off of coal power, the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition bill (House Bill 4036). It requires Pacific Power and Portland General Electric to stop serving coal-fired electricity to Oregonians by 2030. In addition, the bill doubles the state's renewable energy standard to 50 percent.

Coal is a major source of greenhouse gas pollution for Oregon, about 25 percent of our carbon footprint. Pacific Power, which serves Bend, Redmond, Prineville and Madras, gets more than 60 percent of electricity from burning coal. That doesn't line up with the values of folks in Deschutes County. HB 4036 replaces polluting power with cleaner energy—like wind and solar. Doubling Oregon's renewable energy will also create economic opportunities, like good-paying jobs building solar power in the high desert. 

Clean energy advocates, the large utilities, and the state's consumer protection group in charge of protecting ratepayers -- Citizens' Utility Board--all support the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition plan. It cuts pollution, grows clean energy, and ensures reliable, affordable electricity for Oregonians. It's a win-win-win.

In addition, this legislation re-affirms Oregon's commitment to energy efficiency, creates opportunity for more electric vehicle infrastructure and increases access to solar power for more Oregonians at home, even if they can't install panels themselves. Now it's up to lawmakers. I encourage anyone who supports HB 4036 to contact your representative and senator. Let them know you want clean electricity for Oregon. 

~Brad Reed

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