Was the streetcar bridge fiasco preventable? Probably. (“Questions linger about who could be responsible for trolley bridge’s failure,” March 19.)

by: FILE PHOTO - Lake Oswego's dam is visible in the foreground of this photo showing crews dragging the old trolley bridge truss out of the Clackamas River and breaking it up into pieces on land.I recall a newspaper account in the Oregonian perhaps 10 years or more ago which included a photograph of Clackamas County’s Director of Emergency Services in a boat surveying the bridge with I presume structural engineers from Southern Pacific who then owned the bridge.

The bridge was thought to be all but a wreck. Right. What to do? Nothing, as it turned out, or at least nothing of a permanent nature.

Your article mentioned the OC Lagoon. Good grief! I haven’t heard that for ages. It was all the rage then, like many ideas, it went down a long, dark alleyway to die a quiet death.

Dennis Radke

Oregon City

Editor’s note: This newspaper ran a story about a decade ago, and another warning story headlined “Falling down? Bridge draws concern,” Feb. 20, 2013, which detailed the history of how in the early 2000s, Union Pacific was required to perform emergency erosion and structural support measures due to erosion under the bridge, but no additional reinforcement measures have reportedly been taken since.

Abortion access makes for healthier population

I’m writing in response to Shelby Bennett’s misleading letter about the services provided by Planned Parenthood (“Whose embarrassing problem?” March 12).

For nearly a century, Planned Parenthood has provided health care to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Here in Clackamas, more than 95 percent of its services involve lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, Pap tests, STD treatment, vasectomies, menopause information and sexual health education.

One in five women will turn to Planned Parenthood at some point in her life for professional, nonjudgmental and confidential care. By replacing fear with facts, misinformation with education, Planned Parenthood protects teens and helps parents who don’t know how to talk to their kids about sexual health.

When a woman is trying to make the extremely difficult, deeply personal medical decision about whether to end a pregnancy, she deserves accurate medical information about all her options. The last thing she needs is to be emotionally manipulated. Bennett’s letter contains junk science about a link between abortion and breast cancer that simply does not exist. The truth is, study after study has shown increased access to safe, legal abortion is linked to better physical and mental health; decreased levels of poverty and abuse; and improved economic outcomes both for the woman and for society as a whole.

Planned Parenthood does more than any other organization to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and keep women healthy. If people like Bennett truly want to reduce unintended pregnancies, they would work with Planned Parenthood to increase access to affordable birth control and comprehensive sex education.

Bennett says she cares about the women and children of Oregon. As a grandmother and volunteer for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, I care too. I also care about accuracy and adherence to truth.

Joan Hamilton

Oak Grove

Meek for clerk

I am withdrawing my candidacy for the office of Clackamas County Clerk in the primary election.

My reasons are straightforward: I am endorsing the candidacy of Mark Meek, a very capable businessman, community leader and fellow veteran.

I have known him for several years and am confident he will do a superb job. Of those remaining in the race, Mark is the superior candidate. He is smart, knowledgeable, manages a detail-oriented business, and is known for his integrity and hard work.

Mark’s 20 years in the community and related public service are above reproach. He is the best person for the job.

Cyndi Lewis-Wolfram


Party politics

Ask any Oregon Republican, and they’ll tell you that the Dorchester Conference is where the fun is.

First off, you’ve got the beach, and the fun city of Seaside. Then you’ve got the meeting of the clans, appearances by big names in Oregon Republicanism, the speeches and debates, the booths, the lunches, and finally, last but not least, the after-parties.

Dorchester has always contributed to the sense that there is a viable Republican Party in Oregon, especially since 2002, when Gordon Smith’s reelection to the Senate marked the party’s last statewide victory. In good times and bad, Dorchester is where Republicans go to discuss, strategize, kick up their heels, and, hopefully, unite.

But this year, for the first time in recent Oregon political history, a considerable phalanx of socially conservative Republicans RSVPed with a resounding no to Dorchester, and threw their own party on March 8 at the Monarch Hotel in Clackamas. (See last week’s letter from Clackamas County Republican Party leader John Lee.)

It’s all about the Great Divide, an internecine schism that causes Democrats to salivate and political analysts to warn of a future defined by Progressive Left unification and permanent GOP marginalization.

The dynamic — which pits the establishment wing against the more socially conservative wing — works the same in Oregon as it does nationally, but it’s particularly problematic here. Oregon Republicans are outnumbered just enough to ensure that any divisions which manifest in an election will only set the future record of Democratic victory in stone.

In the breakaway corner stand social conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage and untrammeled abortion rights as part of a larger vision. They are joined by fiscally responsible Republicans who decry lax immigration policy, evaporating debt-ceilings, and the specter of a centrally-governed progressive transformation. There is a wealth of issue overlap between these two groups.

In the other corner stand the establishment Republicans, known in some precincts as moderates, or even liberals, and Republicans in Name Only (RINOs). These politicos purport to have seen writing on the wall about the way the country is moving.

They worry about alienating Hispanic voters with tough immigration policies. They make noises which signal they are prepared to welcome same-sex marriage under the big tent. They secretly wish that abortion could be on the back-burner, indefinitely, so the party can concentrate on not being perceived as waging a war on women.

In Oregon, establishment Republicans are given to worry when assault rifles are auctioned at signature events. They roll their eyes when conservative notables bang the “birther” drum. Their concerns have merit, as a Democrat-friendly media is only too happy to highlight these missteps and broad-brush the entire party as extreme.

The breakaways counter that the Republican Party is in danger of becoming irrelevant not because it is too conservative, but the opposite. They point to what they see as a compromise of principles and dearth of conservative leadership.

At the Monarch Hotel event — dubbed a Freedom Rally — a lively assortment of speakers took the podium. Among them were five-term state representative and former gubernatorial candidate Kevin Mannix, current House District 54 representative and candidate for Jeff Merkley’s senate seat Jason Conger, and National Right to Life President Carol Tobias.

Some say the GOP’s contentious “conversation” is good for the party. A meaningful discussion is certainly warranted in light of recent big-ticket Republican losses and demographic and cultural change. But despite President Obama’s Affordable Care Act horror stories, and despite the fact that the outlook is guardedly good for Republicans in the 2014 midterm, the GOP conversation is taking place against a backdrop of entrenching liberal power.

In Oregon, social conservatives have apparently had enough. They’re not interested in Dorchester’s discussion about same-sex-marriage inclusiveness. They assail Republicans who maneuver to demote right-to-life issues to secondary status. They’re convinced that the real war on women is being waged by forces that seek to neuter and denude what makes America a great nation, and replace it with a dangerously intrusive socialist democracy.

One of Rush Limbaugh’s axioms is that “conservatism works, every time it is tried.” One need only look to Wisconsin to see the truth of that. Gov. Scott Walker took a courageous stand, banked millions in budget surplus, and sent the nanny-state crowd packing like boorish guests at Downton Abbey.

In Oregon, there is plenty of reason for hope. But if the neo-moderates and social conservatives can’t find common ground and unite behind a compelling message, we may never find out if conservatism works here, because conservatism will never get its turn at bat.

And that’s no fun.

Mark Ellis


We welcome submissions from readers on local issues for our Opinion page. Please send your thoughts by noon Friday to Raymond Rendleman at [email protected] Keep Letter to the Editor submissions under 400 words; longer submissions will be considered for Community Soapboxes. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar, libel and appropriate taste. Letters must be accompanied by a full name, a telephone number and street address for verification purposes. Readers are also invited to call 503-546-0742 with story ideas and comments.

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