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Successful American Legion fundraiser; our systems are rigged for corporations; problems with Antifa; Port Westward questions; news at the Scappoose Public Library; good, bad and ugly in St. Helens; more

Thank you for successful fundraiser

The American Legion Post 42 of St. Helens would like to thank those who supported us with our 2017 raffle. First-place winner was Brandon Jackson of the Scappoose area; second-place winner was Roy W. Harmon of St. Helens; and third-place winner was Anthony Karley of St. Helens.

We would also like to thank Skinny's Market in St. Helens and the Deer Island Store for allowing us to sell tickets at their locations.

Again, thanks to all of you that made our fundraiser a success this year.

J.H. Wellington

American Legion Post 42

St. Helens

Our local and national system is rigged to benefit corporations

Although the Spotlight's headline read, "Port Expansion Opponents Raise Access Issues," sitting in the audience at the Columbia County Board of Commissioners meeting on Nov. 8, it appeared to me that wasn't the real issue.

It seemed the issue was, and is, why are we forced to plead with our elected officials not to vote against our right to a livable community? Why would they vote to allow potential harm to our water, land and way of life?

The answer? Because it is how our system of government has been designed. To put it plainly, it isn't designed to meet the needs of people. It is designed to meet the needs of corporations. And the mechanisms employed to meet the needs of corporations are the local, state and federal authorities.

Laws and regulations are written to favor corporate pursuits. In the example of Port Westward we have small agricultural businesses living next to a fossil fuel complex where leases have been signed with crude oil, methanol and ethanol corporations. Who was there first? The farmers. Who receives tax breaks, loans and approval of every request they ask for? The corporations.

The crude oil in particular scared everyone, not just farmers. The trains had a propensity to fall off the tracks, catch fire, and in one case incinerate a whole town. But did all our protests and public concern stop the trains? No. What stopped the trains was the price of crude oil fell to the point it wasn't profitable. The company, Global Partners LP, then nimbly switched a permit for shipping crude oil to a permit to ship ethanol. And, you can rest assured, when crude oil prices rise, they will switch the permit back to crude oil with no worry about anyone stopping them.

The county commissioners meeting revealed a system designed to make it appear that people have a voice. This mechanism is referred to in the Community Rights movement as a "box of allowable activism." It provides an opportunity, but labels those participating as opponents. We are told citizens have all the power, but sitting in the meeting room it was obvious the opposite is true. Much to their credit, citizens came forward and presented arguments that fit inside the allowable box. If anyone attempted to stray from the box, they were politely escorted back in.

Decisions such as the Port Westward rezone are made according to rules not reflective of an equal balance of power between people and corporations. Ultimately, judges, senators, representatives, commissioners, city councils and board members will give us a plausible reason why they sided with industry. It usually sounds something like, "I cannot vote against (fill in the blank) because it meets all the legal requirements." It is the "my hands are tied" defense. To be clear, it meets all the legal requirements because those requirements were crafted to be industry-friendly. And, also to be clear, this is not just a Columbia County problem — it is a United States of America problem.

One means still available to us remains the ballot box. It is an important first step toward redesigning a system that reflects the power we are taught is inherently ours. Finding women and men willing to defend the rights of people closest and most subject to the consequences of decisions should be a litmus test for any potential candidate.

The force of law currently resides with corporations who love us and leave us at the drop of a percentage point of profits. There is much work to be done if we are to create a livable community where stewardship of the environment and sustainable industry is the basis for growth. This is the vision we encourage and will continue to work for.

We hope you will join us.

Nancy Ward

Clean Columbia County

Eagle ignored reality of Anti-FA

Regarding Bill Eagle's letter taking Chris Brumbles to task for his opinion on Antifa (see "Anticlimactic Antifa attack," A4, Nov. 10): Remove all of Eagle's deflection from the issue of rampaging fascist anti-First Amendment, (Anti-FA) anarchists pitching a fit that America elected the "wrong" president and you have — to quote the (D'oh!) sting-recorded mainstream media admitting their anti-Trump bias — a "big nothing burger."

`Eagle wants to focus on Soros and somebody named Alex Jones, while conveniently ignoring the very real images on our TV screens and the terrifyingly real terrorist tactics people driving through Portland have endured at the hands of Anti-FA thugs. He also conveniently ignored the complicit behavior of the governor, Portland's politicians, their police force and the "regular news outlets" (to which Mr. Eagle would direct us all) that allowed Anti-F.A. the run of the city. Until, that is, downtown business owners had incurred all the cost of property damage and rising insurance rates they could endure in furtherance of Portland's commitment to keep Portland weird.

Ignored by Eagle also was Anti-FA's very real call for anarchy in the streets all over America beginning Nov. 4 and continuing until their fascist demands that our duly elected president be unconstitutionally removed from office were met. It wasn't some "right wing websites" that alarmed those of us looking to a police force we, largely, no longer have faith in when it comes to protection from terrorist Anti-FA anarchists. It was our own eyes, our own experiences and Anti-FAs own threats that did that. A little over a year ago America elected the non-media, one world order, and political class-approved candidate. The minute these groups regained their post-election night meltdown composure, the effort to negate that propaganda-defying choice kicked into high gear.

Who cares who is paying for the Anti-FA's room and board? We just don't want them breaking down our doors to our homes and dragging us to the slaughter.

Kathleen Fisher

Scappoose

Questions swirling around Port Westward rezone

Regarding the Nov. 10 page A1 article, "Port expansion opponents raise access issues" and the reader's letter "Holding county commissioners accountable."

Port Westward, to expand or not, that is the question; or, are our elected officials capable of making an informed, capable, competent and non-corrupt decision? Is that a more pertinent question? 

I don't pretend to know or to cast aspersions, but I do call on voters to help bring out answers for both.  In my near ignorance of the matter, I must ask if — for such a potentially major endeavor in this area — the Port commissioners and county commissioners fielded input from many local and nearby municipalities in order to better and more efficiently get things going or not, or why haven't they done so?

Other questions:

1. Was Portland General Electric's response letter referenced in the article the first time either the Port or commissioners became cognizant of rail access being an issue — a critical issue — regarding the need or practicality of rezoning?

2. Had the commissioners planned for their Nov. 8th meeting to already hold a rezoning vote?  If so, what does that say about their oblivion regarding efficacy of the expansion? And, how far along would efforts and dollars be expended for the expansion, just to at some late point discover all was for naught?

3. Whom — what referenced Port official(s) — alleged that PGE's reply to a Port inquiry was "innocuous" and "was drafted only to clear up accessibility issues related to a water system," when railroad use and its maintenance should have been openly discussed, not just written off, as innocuous? How could the official(s) obviate this from their synopsis to the public of the PGE letter? Note that per letter, PGE has a long-lasting leasehold on land, and has not stipulated to the rail's use by Port; this being particularly concerning since as Spotlight's article stated "The railroad at Port Westward is a key piece of infrastructure if industrial companies (jobs) are going to transport bulk product into or out of the industrial park," that being via the deep-water dock at the site. Was the Port official's false assertion, IMO, the start or continuation of a cover-up for another potential boondoggle by the Port and/or county commissioners?

4. Per the Spotlight article, was the assertion by the Port of St. Helens' attorney, Spencer Parsons, that "the record contained "substantial evidence" that PGE would allow necessary access to infrastructure," meant to assure the public that both the rail use and deep-water port access were adequately agreed to by PGE, and that the rezoning should proceed? Per the article, "The deep-water, self-scouring dock is the only unique resource ... that could justify converting high-value farmland for industrial use ..."

5. Will you reading voters please better consider alternate primary candidates for elected offices in hopes of drawing out the facts of current officials' past actions and inactions — leaving aside their name recognition, party affiliation, friend, family or employment relation?

Harry Ottosen

St. Helens

Happenings at Scappoose Public Library

You may have noticed a new face at the Scappoose Public Library. The Scappoose Library Board hired Jeff Weiss in August as the library director.

Jeff comes from Indiana, where he served as a public librarian for 25 years. He has a broad experience from his background in the Muncie Indiana Public Library system. The board looks forward to working with Jeff through his strategic planning and his ability to work with our limited budget to make the changes needed at the library to accommodate the growth we expect to see in our community.

The library board would like to thank Dan White, the former library director, for his years of service. We would like to recognize some of the changes the library has gone through since Dan began working there in 2010. He spent many hours orchestrating the changes as library director, and his close work with the Oregon Library Association supported his vision and desire to keep the Scappoose Public Library current with ever-changing technology over the past 7 years.

The library has a new roof, the outside has been repainted, and signage and lighting have been placed on the back of the library building for visibility from the highway.

Dan was instrumental in keeping our library current with other libraries in Oregon through broadband Internet access in 2010. In 2011, the library began to offer digital e-books and audio books to cardholders through Library2Go, adding 30,000 titles to the collection. Some other building upgrades he was involved with include the grand opening of the Esther Wickstrom Teen Room, and a remodel of the children's area, along with upgrades to the public meeting room space. The library joined the Oregon Passport Program, allowing cardholders to use more than 100 participating Oregon libraries without charge —Dan was a member of the Oregon Library Association committee that developed and implemented the program.

We have had an upgrade in our library catalog, new shelving, LED lighting upgrades and many relocations of books over the years. Dan and the staff have worked hard to create a friendly, small-town library with current books and services to support the Scappoose Library District.

Please join the Scappoose Library Board, the library staff and Friends of the Library this Saturday, Nov. 18, as we celebrate the 88th anniversary of the library. There will be a book sale that begins at 10 a.m. and cake will be served.

Lisa Lewis

Scappoose Library

Board president

Stop stating the obvious

Every time a citizen submits a response letter challenging our right to dissent and reminding us that our right to openly disagree with our government was bought with American blood, they are stating the obvious and implying we are stupid and/or uneducated.

It's an attempt to chastise and censor opinions that conflict with their own. Such efforts truly dishonor and cheapen sacrifices made in the name of freedom.

William Allen

St. Helens

The good, bad and ugly in St. Helens

So, a friend and I were driving around the St. Helens area last week — she was driving — I was taking pictures.

I would like to give some praise to the city of St. Helens.

The city did a bang-up job for Spirit of Halloweentown. This is not my favorite holiday, but I spoke with people from Washington, the Portland area, Nebraska, California, etc. — most all of them dressed in costume — and it was delightful to hear their opinions of our town.

They loved the Columbia River as our background with the stone courthouse and city hall. Most had their pictures taken in the plaza.

They walked up Knob Hill to see some of the wonderful old homes still there, and they were wild about the old McCormick home at the bottom of this hill, totally in tune with the Halloween theme. Someone asked how old the magnolia tree in the front yard might be. I will find out.

I understand the city lost about $40,000 in this endeavor, but I hope with more experience and more volunteer help, this might be eliminated. I so appreciate the city's efforts on this project and on Gazebo Park.

However, $40,000 is nothing compared to the $100,000 spent on the art project on Highway 30 across from the Dollar Store. I have not spoken with a single person who has not laughed at this rendering of a salmon and whatever the other might be. One fellow even told me the "salmon" looked like a "dragon in drag".

I have heard that the Arts Department put these renderings on Facebook for public comment. There are thousands of us in the county who do not do Facebook in order to count how many "friends" we have. There are some of us who still have a life — and an opinion.

Let's move on to the demon which raises its ugly head every time I sit down to write — the toxic lagoon left to us by Boise Cascade — along with a multi-million dollar cleanup project. I continue to be of the opinion that Boise Inc. should be sued in federal court for this poisonous pond.

I have also learned the clarifier at Cascades went down, allowing all types of toxins to be added to the lagoon. The state Department of Environmental Quality became involved and now even more cleanup is needed in this area. I cannot imagine it becoming any worse, but apparently it has.

I believe it was in the latter part of September when I was walking my dogs on the old mill property now owned by the citizens of St. Helens. I noticed two young boys with one dog and two fishing poles walking through the gates of the chain-link fence going onto the property containing the wicked lagoon. I was quite some distance from them, but they continued up the side of the lagoon dike and were tossing their fishing lines into the water. Granted, they passed two signs, one for "no trespassing," and another about the lagoon being used to treat sewage.

Please put up a sign designating the water as being full of carcinogens, PCBs, and even "poop." Every kid understands that word.

Let them know that anything they catch, touch, or fall into can potentially

kill them. Put a fence around it!

While we are on the subject of the land now owned by the city, let's think about the nine-plus acres which the city has leased to a marijuana grow business. Pot is legal now and I have no objections to its use by those who decide to do so, as long as I don't have to smell it.

I attempted to get into this construction site last Friday. My friend and I were stopped by a fellow in a big white truck with no insignia on the sides. This fellow told us he worked for Cascade Paper and the City of St. Helens, which I know was highly improbable, and he promptly sent us on our way.

The company building this marijuana grow is ASCP LLC, which I have been told is licensed out of California. It appears they have signed a 50-year lease with the city with an option to purchase after seven years.

In actuality, ASCP LLC is an online company located in Norman, Oklahoma, which helps people or potential companies set up a limited liability company.

According to Investopedia, a limited liability company (LLC) is a corporate structure whereby the members of the company cannot be held personally liable for the company's debts or liabilities. Limited liability companies are essentially hybrid entities that combine the characteristics of a corporation and a partnership or sole proprietorship. While the limited liability feature is similar to that of a corporation, the availability of flow-through taxation to the members of an LLC is a feature of partnerships.

Let us all hope the city of St. Helens did a thorough investigation of this company. I have heard good things about the current St. Helens City Council and it appears the end of the "good old boy/girl" type of government may be nearing an end. No longer should people in charge of running the cities and county be allowed to profit from their leadership and backroom deals.

It seems I have a lot to say. I should probably write letters more often. Thanks for reading them.

Nancy Whitney

St. Helens

America's churches bound by free will

The latest issue being fomented on the political scene to energize Christian voters is the so-called muzzle on the pulpits of our churches that derives from a Lyndon B. Johnson-sponsored act out of our federal Congress. This act put limits on churches' involvement in political campaigns, endorsing from the pulpit this or that candidate, advocating as official church position a "yes" or "no" vote on ballot measures.

The Donald Trump White House and the Republican Party have advanced legislation to remove this "muzzle." The Democratic Party warns of more bloodshed in the pews if churches take political positions when pastors or church membership desire to affect public policy.

Forgive me if I see the typical dishonesty on both sides of this hoopla. I think it is all about two entrenched political powerhouses doing and saying things to get out the vote in the next election.

The truth is not on the table in this exhibit of political fisticuff. The truth is that God's church, the Body of Christ on this earth, has largely given up its own liberty. This "Johnson muzzle" only applies to those churches who come asking for it in the first place. We have come to a very sorry state of affairs when God's people go to the state of Oregon and the Internal Revenue Service and ask permission to be a state agency official church.

There is no muzzle for Christians who meet together, worship God together, read and teach from God's holy word, and do not go first to civil government offices and ask for a state benefit in exchange for that muzzle. America's churches are bound by their own free will.

Bob Ekstrom

Scappoose

Contract Publishing

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