Letters to the Editor 04/28/2022 | Letters to the Editor | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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Letters to the Editor 04/28/2022

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Guest Opinion: In Response to "Firefighters Feuding," News, 4/7
There have been three news articles regarding the fighterfighters' union staff becoming unhappy with Fire Chief Mike Supkis and the board's management of the 115 square mile fire district and the nearly 1,000 square mile ambulance service area. In July 2021 my elected term expired and I left the fire board after serving 10 years.

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  • @mbphotographybend enjoys some sunny rays at the Oregon Coast. We applaud the effort of getting out and enjoying all Oregon has to offer! Thanks for tagging us on instagram this week, we love to see how Central Oregonians get out to enjoy the rest of the state. Share your photos with us and tag @sourceweekly for a chance to be featured as Instagram of the week and in print as our Lightmeter. Winners receive a free print from @highdesertframeworks.

The following are some facts regarding the District and Chief Supkis:

Collective bargaining agreement for 2022—both the district's and the union's lawyers have been working hard and continue to work on reaching an agreement.

Since Chief Supkis started in 2010, he has successfully written and the district was awarded 35 grants totaling $1,974,902. His most recent grant for $42,000 for up to 18 P25 portable radios which Deschutes County agencies and fire districts use. Each firefighter has their own P25 radio plus the district's other radio system that communications with the Oregon Department of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service, which the P25 system does not include.

Since July of 2021, as a volunteer to the district I have written grants and the district has been awarded $982,000 in federal and Deschutes County grants. I have applied for the district for $4,602,000 in federal and county grants to remodel and expand truck parking and add new dorms for firefighters at two stations, a new water tender, a new type 3 wildland fire engine, two new ambulances and support for the student program.

Prior to my being appointed to the board the district was in debt. Due to the board's and Chief Supkis' proactive financial management the district has been debt free since 2013. The tax rates per thousand have not increased in 24 years.

The district has hired eight firefighter/paramedics in the last four months. The district survived the 2008 recession without any changes to firefighter staffing. The district did a compensation review of similar size fire districts resulting in wage increases for fire fighters.

La Pine Fire is a small organization with two chiefs and 24 firefighters. Many of the staff have been employed for 10 to 20 years, hence there isn't a lot of turnovers which limits promotional opportunities.

In August 2021, five firefighter/paramedics gave two-weeks' notice and accepted lateral and promotional positions with Redmond Fire and two others announced their retirement. The district has plans to add 18 FF/paramedics that costs $13,000,000 over five years.

The district has a student program supporting up to 12 students attending COCC working on an associate degree in Fire Science and an Emergency Medical certificate.

I have known Chief Supkis for over 10 years and he is an excellent fire chief. He has been in the fire service for nearly 30 years.

I support the board and Chief Supkis' efforts to provide quality and cost-effective fire, rescue and emergency medical services.

—Jerry Hubbard


RE: Reduce, Reuse, Rebate: The Three R's of Urban Water Conservation News, 4/21

This morning (4/21) the Snotel Snow/Water Equivalent for the Upper Deschutes Basin is at 97%. In the Deschutes Basin there is no "extreme drought" and the governor's declaration should be rescinded so more water stays in the river.

—Geoff Reynolds

Who Pays for All the Ads and Flyers?
Are we the only ones who feel overwhelmed by the incessant Kurt Schrader ads on television? Additionally, upon returning from a five-day trip and going through our mail, we found no less than seven glossy, expensive Schrader flyers. On the drive home we got a call from what was described as, an "independent survey." As it turned out, it was an obvious and clumsy effort to promote Schrader and malign, with commonly used Republican slurs, his opponent Jamie McCleod-Skinner, indicating, untruthfully that she is pro Critical Race Theory and pro defunding the police. This should not be a surprise for someone who spoke of the impeachment of Donald Trump after the January insurrection as, "a lynching." And, it seems a great deal of content in his ads is disingenuous. While he claims to support clean water and air, he has voted with Republicans to strip EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gases. And, despite claims to the contrary, he has voted against permitting Medicare to negotiate prescription prices. Perhaps this obviously big money backed slanderous and cynical approach is the way nominations were secured in his old, largely urban, district but they are new to us. Interesting that many of the ads claim he is, "no politician" but a farmer and veterinarian." His campaign, seeking his eighth term in Congress, is remarkable in its cost and ugly intensity, surely seems as though he is an old-time pol of the worst sort.

—William Carwile


RE: Farmworkers Overworked News, 4/14

I was frustrated by the article "Farmworkers Overworked," because there is absolutely nothing new in our knowledge of the way our nation's farmworkers are mistreated, under protected and super-exploited. The study's author concludes how OSHA, farms and the collective public can be held responsible. I would insist we replace 'can' with 'must,' as this racist and systematic exploitation must be immediately brought to a stop. I would like to hear more about how each of can bring such pressure to bear. 

—Toni Morozumi

Letter of the Week:

Toni, you bring up a valid point. While I don't presume to know all the answers, one place to start might be with "knowing your farmer." Small local farms may also employ farmworkers—but it's easier to find out when you buy direct at the farmers market or at our markets focused on local goods. Come on by for your gift card to Palate!

—Nicole Vulcan

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