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Letters to the Editor 2/25/21

Better days, inequities in our democracy, removing dams & focus on your health

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Editor's note:

Last year, just days after Oregon got its first reported cases of COVID-19, I put an offer on a house in the Orchard District. As a first-time homebuyer, it felt crazy to do so at that time—and people tried to talk me out of it—but as we've seen over this past year, 2020 did not bring a real estate crash like other calamities have wrought on Bend in recent memory. Now, seeing homes get snapped up sight unseen or for much more than they were a year ago, I feel like one of the lucky ones, to the extreme.

Fun shot of the Edison Sno-Park shelter, from @iamerica4! Tag us on Instagram @sourceweekly for a chance to be featured here, and in the Instagram of the Week in our Cascades Reader newsletter! - @IAMERICA4 / INSTAGRAM
  • @iamerica4 / Instagram
  • Fun shot of the Edison Sno-Park shelter, from @iamerica4! Tag us on Instagram @sourceweekly for a chance to be featured here, and in the Instagram of the Week in our Cascades Reader newsletter!

This week we've set aside an entire section focused on the neighborhoods of Bend (with info on Sisters and Redmond, too). With Bend not relinquishing its "Zoom Town" status anytime soon, finding a home has become like a gladiator race, with the spoils being a roof and four walls. With it, the already-dire inequities our region experiences will only get worse—and it's only in our vigilance as citizens of this community that we will be able to advocate for those struggling hardest for the most basic of human needs.

Meanwhile, since we're on the topic of neighborhoods, we've taken some time also to highlight some of the changes found right in the heart of Bend, in the midtown area. As restrictions ease somewhat, we hope it gives you some inspiration for a new local business to support right now. Have a great week!

Better Days Ahead

Recently a food cart and beer station opened in my neighborhood (shout out to the Yacht Club). A spot that I enjoyed visiting on occasion. Maybe more than "on occasion," but that's a different story. I digress, as I walked down to the food carts I would pass a house that flies three flags (from lowest to highest): The American flag, M.I.A./ P.O.W. flag, and then flying the highest was the Confederate flag. This anti-American, racist, offensive display really bothers me. But here's the point. I walked by two weeks ago, and the Confederate flag was replaced by one of those American flags with the blue stripe. I don't know the resident's heart or motivation, but I do know how it impacted me. To me it's an incremental step toward civility and for that I'm eternally optimistic for our community and our nation. 

—Brian Marlowe

It's time to end the inequities in our democracy

For generations, we've been told that money is power. It's an axiom that continues to drive our politics. Despite being able to vote for our elected officials, once they reach public office, they're all too often swayed by lobbyists and big money interests. Instead of representing the people, lawmakers spend the majority of their time fundraising, relying on large donors and holding court with corporations. 

That can change, but only if Congress passes the For the People Act.

The For the People Act is a bold anti-corruption and democracy reform bill that would strengthen our democracy by reducing the influence of big money in our politics. It would enact limits on donations from lobbyists and increase the power of campaign contributions from everyday Americans by creating a small-dollar donor matching program.

These changes would open up new opportunities for different kinds of candidates to run for office—candidates that come directly from our communities and understand the problems we face. Instead of being beholden to the donors and lobbyists with the fattest wallets, our elected officials will be working for the people.

Without this type of bold democracy reform, our political system will never be truly democratic or fully representative and our government will continue to work only for the privileged few. It's past time to build a better system for all Americans — which is why I'm urging Congress to pass the For the People Act.

—Linda Mutch

Bring salmon and orcas back by removing dams

Representative Mike Simpson and his staff are taking action on the science from biologists, who, for over decades, have explained the need to restore the lower Snake River by removing the four dams in the lower Snake River. By removing these four dams, we will restore 140 miles of significant river habitat and reconnect salmon to 5,500+ miles of pristine, protected rivers and streams in the wildlands of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Restoring the lower Snake River will ensure the return of more than one million adult Snake River chinook each year to Northwest coastal waters to help feed starving orcas and help struggling fishing communities.

Restoring this historic river will result in the largest salmon recovery project in the continental U.S. I applaud Representative Mike Simpson for taking critical steps that benefit salmon and steelhead restoration extend far and wide: from the communities who depend on them for food and livelihoods, to the 130 different species that rely on them and their nutrients to thrive. 

I ask for Senators Murray, Cantwell, Wyden and Merkley to refine the framework and advance it as legislation that improve our water quality and infrastructure; restores the lower Snake River and its salmon and endangered orca; invests in our regional economy and communities; fulfills our federal treaty and trust responsibilities to Northwest Native American Tribes and honors their livelihoods and cultural values; and ensures a reliable, affordable and clean power system for the Northwest! 

—Kyle Alhart

RE: Focus on your health, Letters, 2/18

To somewhat paraphrase Christian Baresic's thoughts: "I can't help but wonder what this pandemic would've looked like . . . if we had maintained sustainable levels of public health funding over the decades, if we had had intelligent, competent, and compassionate national leadership, and if we had an equitable economic system not premised on pushing vulnerable populations into harm's way."

Nice letter, but borderline elitist (blaming victims of the pandemic) and prematurely anti-vax.

On the latter, it's not (as C.B. asserts) that "experts have openly admitted the vaccines will not likely prevent transmission." Rather, the data simply isn't in yet to support this contention. We will know in several months if the new vaccines do as good a job at preventing virus transmission as they currently seem to be doing in blocking or mitigating the effects of the illness in those who get COVID-19.

The CDC now promises it "will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available" on vaccine-produced immunity.

—Foster Fell, via bendsource.com

Letter of the Week:

Foster, thanks for that counterpoint. Come on by for your gift card to Palate!

—Nicole Vulcan

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