Readers of The Times are concerned about climate change, 'vaccine passports' and more.

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Former state rep focused on obesity

As a former legislator and someone who cares deeply about the well-being of their fellow citizens, I hope Congress will move to address the obesity epidemic facing this country.

Obesity is a complex and treatable disease that it is a leading contributor to some of the major causes of death, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.

According to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), in 2017, 29.0% of Oregon adults were obese. That proportion has almost tripled since 1990, creating real financial pressure on our health system and critical safety net programs like Medicare.

There have been amazing advancements in treatments for obesity, including FDA-approved anti-obesity medications and effective behavioral therapies. However, outdated Medicare policies do not cover any anti-obesity medications nor do they cover behavioral therapy unless it is administered by a primary care physician. While these barriers that prevent widespread access to proven and effective obesity treatments exist, people will suffer needlessly.

There is a bill in Congress, the Treat & Reduce Obesity Act (TROA), that will allow a variety of qualified practitioners to effectively treat obesity through behavioral therapy and will authorize Medicare coverage for FDA-approved anti-obesity medications that complement that therapy.

This is a timely issue, as COVID cases are on the rise and those living with obesity are at greater risk if they contract the virus. The emergence of the omicron variant underscores the need for immediate action.

Congress should pass TROA and help ensure that effective obesity treatments are widely available.

Margaret Doherty, Tigard

No more gas stations, period

The "Proposed Bethany gas station draws ire from neighbors" headline is appalling.

I should say it would "draw ire" from anyone alive in Oregon today.

Read our Nov. 22, 2021, story on the gas station proposal in the Bethany area.

We are on the brink of climate catastrophe, as is easily seen by the heat dome in June, the catastrophic ice storm in February, the years of severe drought and minimal snow pack. We should not be considering building another gas station, because we must leave oil in the ground.

If we don't change our ways quickly, and that means no more gas-guzzling vehicles, we will quickly be in a situation that will no longer seem reasonable to fix.

As a climate-conscious city, we cannot allow another gas station to be built anywhere. Citizens, stand together for your future, your children's future and our one and only earth.

Eileen Sleva, Hillsboro

An open letter to Tigard City Council

I was confused about the Dec. 21 agenda Item seeking to clarify the meaning of "consecutive years." It seems entirely clear to me what the intent of the 12-year term limit statute is. So why is the City Council suddenly taking up this matter, four days before Christmas, with virtually no public conversation leading up to it? [Ed.: This letter to the editor was received Monday, Dec. 20, the day before the Tigard City Council meeting.] The optics are not good. It's very troubling that the city manager, city attorney and anyone else involved in this agenda item's language thought this was a good idea.

Redefining the term "consecutive years" to mean that any break, including resignation one day before a term ends, resets the 12-year term limit clock is not only a perversion of the city's term limit statute but also sets the terrible precedent of allowing any council member to run indefinitely, essentially rendering all term limits void. It will become the new standard for any sitting council member to resign a day before their term ends if they have any inclination to run again.

It is evident that quite a bit of work and research went into this agenda item, which makes it even more troubling. It was 93 pages long. You anticipated the questionable ethics of having at least two council members voting on an issue that would directly benefit themselves. I'm still trying to figure out how the Oregon Government Ethics Commission signed off on this.

In closing, I completely understand the potential shortsightedness of limiting a mayor to a single term after serving two terms as a city councilor. I also appreciate the problematic dynamic of being a mayor elected in an off two-year election cycle. These are reasonable matters to discuss for amendment in the city charter. But the city and council should do this through public conversation and the election process — not by stealthily slipping it in at the 11th hour with no public feedback and using highly questionable wordplay on the definition of "consecutive years."

I believe Tigard deserves better.

Michael Antonelli, Tigard

'Vaccine passports' are discriminatory

In response to opinion "Private-sector COVID mandates deserve praise," I point out that you are praising the breaking of several federal and state laws with respect to places of public accommodation.

Read our Dec. 15, 2021, editorial on private-sector COVID-19 mandates.

Any requirement for a vaccine passport is illegal under U.S. Title 52, Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on a perceived medical condition, disability or religious views. It is a violation of the Fourth Amendment right to privacy to require documentation of vaccination status. It is unlawful to deny entry to persons with disability or perceived medical condition under U.S. Title 42, Section 12101.

Under 2020 ORS 659A.403, "all persons … are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges … without any distinction … or restriction."

You cannot discriminate based on a perceived medical condition, disability or religious views. Attempting to prevent entry, restrict, detain or confine without consent based on a medical condition is "involuntary servitude" in the first degree under 2020 ORS 163.264, a Class B felony with the penalty of up to 10 years in jail and/or up to $250,000 fine.

I could go on, but I'm sure you get the picture. Any mandate requiring a vaccine passport in a place of public accommodation violates at least five federal laws and 13 Oregon state laws. It might be better to find something legal to praise.

Paul Johnson, Blooming

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