Letters to the Editor: April 29, 2021
Hillsboro School Board member backs Wilson for PCC
I am writing in support of Kristi Wilson for the Portland Community College Board — Zone 7. Kristi is the best choice to be a voice for students and set policy for PCC.
As an elected official in the Hillsboro area, I have gotten to know Kristi over the years through our mutual passion for education. Through her involvement with the Hillsboro Youth Advisory Council and the Career and College Pathways Steering Committee, I have seen her support numerous youth and create pathways to help them build a better future. She has over 20 years of experience building workforce programs and recognizes the changing landscape of education and workforce. Kristi is committed to help students navigate these systems and find the opportunities they need to succeed.
Furthermore, Kristi is a trusted community partner and thoughtful leader. She has already been working with PCC staff and programs for numerous years, listening to student and staff needs firsthand. Her thoughtful and inclusive approach to leadership will serve PCC well as the board cultivates strategic partnerships and considers critical policy decisions that impact the lives of over 60,000 students.
Beyond that, as a PCC alumna, she brings a unique, lived perspective that will make her successful in representing Zone 7. She understands the importance of enhancing opportunity and access by removing barriers and creating intentional efforts to support historically underserved residents.
I look forward to voting for Kristi Wilson for PCC Board — Zone 7, on May 18, and I urge you to join me.
See Eun Kim
Director, Hillsboro School District
Spross is best choice for Hillsboro School Board seat
As a former Hillsboro School Board member, I know how critical it is to have excellent board members.
Jaci Spross is the best candidate for Position 6. She is a dedicated volunteer who always put students first.
I have known Jaci for years, and I respect how dedicated she is to our community and children of all ages. She has a great record of rolling up her sleeves, researching the issues, listening to students and staff, and really putting in the time. She leads with integrity and compassion. I appreciate the perspective she brings to board work and her ability to ask the hard questions.
We need board members who are looking out for all students. Please join me in re-electing Jaci Spross for Hillsboro School Board. Ballots are due by May 18.
Kim Strelchun, Hillsboro
Time for major changes on the Hillsboro School Board
As a former member of the Hillsboro School Board, I am very concerned about what has happened in our schools over the past year.
The district has done far too little to restart live, full-time classes — at a time when most states, and even Oregon private schools, have been teaching classes in person with no major issues. Our current board failed to effectively oppose the unjustifiable state restrictions last year, and failed to restart full-time classes in a timely manner even after the state gave permission in January.
To change this, we have four excellent candidates running together to replace the board majority, and truly represent the families of Hillsboro. Please join me in endorsing and voting for Joe Everton, Ben Wolfe, Mary Phelps and Monique Ward, who will make it a priority for the schools to actually perform their primary job.
Erik Seligman, Hillsboro
Consider carefully choices for school board
The education of the young is among our most important responsibilities. Learning is a choice made by a child that will follow them the rest of their life. It is most likely to occur when those most motivated and closest to the choice work together. This includes teachers, parents and students.
People become teachers out of a desire to fulfill the mission of education and to experience the legacy of joy that they found in their favorite teacher. Teachers need the help and partnership of parents to be successful.
Parents aspire for their children have the greatest opportunity in life as possible. They trust teachers for their professional and student-centered advice and instruction. No student wants to fail themselves, or their teachers and parents, and hopes to enjoy their approval and encouragement.
Beyond this team of teachers, parents and students, all other influences have the potential to become background noise distracting from the mission of learning. This may include diktats of federal and state government, teacher unions and even school boards themselves.
Public schools were formed with the teamwork of teachers, parents and students in mind. This has progressively been diluted by outside special interests. This has been accelerated by moving both financial sourcing and curriculum to the state and national level. This is completely opposite of focusing critical decision making at the district, school, classroom or team (teacher, parent and child) level.
It is important to have a school board comprised of independent individuals. These individuals must have the willingness to protect children in their individual learning process from special interests outside of teachers, parents and students. This requires a special kind of individual with the humility and courage to deny their own biases, and subject themselves to trust teachers and parents, allowing them to work together for what is in the best interests of students.
This is not an idealistic or utopian vision of how things ought to be. It is a recognition of the system with which those who are most motivated to achieve the most favorable outcome. It can be described as a win-win-win for the special team of educators and society as well.
We former Hillsboro School Board members encourage citizens to skeptically evaluate each candidate seeking election to the school board. We encourage citizens to support those candidates who support and trust teachers and parents. Our students are counting on it.
Mike Niehuser, Stone Rose and Monte Akers, Hillsboro
Right-wing board candidates will hurt Hillsboro schools
If you've been following the Hillsboro School Board elections this season, you may have noticed that there are some seats that are being contested by candidates supported by the Communities for Sensible Schools (CfSS) PAC. This seemed rather innocuous until it came to my attention that at least one of these candidates, Joe Everton, was reaching out to far-right groups on social media seeking their support in these allegedly non-partisan elections.
The CfSS website looks innocent building most if its messaging towards returning children to school during the COVID-19 pandemic against the recommendations of experts and public officials. However, the mostly meaningless drivel of buzzwords was mingled with some worrying phrases such as "the business of education" and "robust opt-out" for comprehesive sex ed (CSE).
A bit more digging into the public filings for CfSS PAC and the people associated has made it exceedingly obvious that the CfSS is a right-wing, partisan PAC masquerading as a nonpartisan actor.
Make no mistake — the CfSS mission is to force already-stretched teachers to do more with smaller budgets, gut Hillsboro's CSE for the radical right, and ignore experts on matters of public safety for our children.
Vote no for CfSS candidates.
Christian Robertson, Hillsboro
Not a fan of last week's cartoon
While I understand that a newspaper should reflect a variety of views and that political cartoons by their nature are supposed to be "edgy," the Hitch cartoon that appeared in last week's paper was definitely outside the bounds of acceptable.
To attempt to link U.S. voting rights, racism, Major League Baseball and international diplomacy into a one-panel image was ill-conceived and frankly distasteful in my view. I know nothing about the artist or his work, but I hope your paper does not make a habit of using these cartoons in the future if the last one is indicative of the general style and focus.
Having been a regular reader of your paper for many years, I expect better and would prefer to see more thoughtful and insightful material in the political cartoons in the future.
Thank you for listening to my views on this. I would be interested to know if other readers had similar opinions to my own on this issue.
John Bloss, Laurelwood
U.S. can take lead role in addressing global poverty
In the current pandemic, it is easy to get lost in the difficulties facing the domestic population. Meanwhile, individuals across the globe are combating the same issues with fewer resources and less developed infrastructures.
All people are feeling the effects of the pandemic, so now it is important to stand together and share resources.
The United States comes from a position of global power and overall privilege. By supporting foreign markets through foreign investments in the form of aid, the U.S. could widely expand the markets available for U.S. goods in the domestic markets or for goods in the domestic markets of foreign nations.
Moving forward, we can accept positions of brave leadership or of a cowardly bystander.
As an ambassador to the Borgen Project, I work to ensure representatives are fighting against poverty through U.S. foreign aid.
Besides expanding humanitarian and foreign aid abroad, the United States should consider improving the plight of the world's poor an important strategic interest.
Although the challenge is daunting, there are numerous examples of how far poverty-reducing efforts have come. Over the last couple of decades, we made impactful advances against poverty, so with greater support, we will be able to further reduce the suffering of the most vulnerable populations.
Kayla Barrera, Tualatin
COVID-19 restrictions are for our own good
I have been reading and hearing about business owners complaining about their county restrictions regarding opening tightened up again. They ask why they are blamed when the rise in numbers, in their view, is occurring due to private gatherings of those being less than careful.
If these business owners thought it through, they would have the answer: These same private, careless individuals are then going out to eat, or work out or wherever, and inevitably, someone passes along the virus.
Call the governor and her staff all the names you want, but the fact is, however uneven or seemingly inconsistent the roll-out restriction rules has been, enough Oregonians received the message clearly enough to keep our state among the five lowest, per million people, in caseloads and deaths.
I personally feel that, yes, the governor's communications office needs an overhaul, but here is another fact: Everyone, from the governor on down, has been on a learning curve with this virus, and now new variants have entered the picture. Yes, the Brown administration has made mistakes, but frankly, a lot of these errors can be attributed to having to educate oneself, and others, on the fly.
If these business owners really need to vent at someone, they need to look no further than their own community, because, whether or not they realize it, they are acquainted with the folks who are being lax, or outright uncooperative in observing safety protocols. So, these business owners need to impress on their local county and municipal officials to firmly remind everyone that all of us are responsible for getting all of us past this period.
No one is saying people cannot complain, but please, comply while you complain.
Brian McGahren, Tigard
Make a change by supporting environmental bills
This year, Oregon observes an Earth Day like no other.
Since last Earth Day, we have lived through the extended horrors of a pandemic, unprecedented wildfire destruction and painful reverberations of social unrest. Yet today, there are green shoots of opportunity: amazingly effective vaccines, broader dialogue about racial and social justice, and greater consensus about our climate emergency.
The Oregon Legislature is considering three bills that would accelerate our state's response to climate change in ways that would promote energy affordability, create new jobs, weatherize more homes and move us to 100% clean energy, all with a focus on equity and justice. Championing these bills is a grassroots coalition of organizations representing the indigenous, rural and low-income Oregonians and communities of color who have historically borne the brunt of climate change in the form of higher energy burdens and pollution.
These Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity bills (Energy Affordability, Healthy Homes, and 100% Clean Energy for All) have strong sponsorship and bipartisan endorsements but will need backing from Oregonians from all walks of life to get across the finish line.
Honor Earth Day this year with action by calling your legislator and asking them to support this legislation.
Evan Reynolds, Raleigh Hills
Keep Medicare Advantage healthy for the people it serves
We are looking to Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici to use her voice in Congress to advocate for Oregon's seniors by working to strengthen and protect Medicare Advantage, which is used by over 415,000 Oregon residents, including over 80,000 in the congresswoman's district.
Both of us use a Medicare Advantage plan for our healthcare needs, and we couldn't be more pleased with the quality of care. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, our plan ensured access to virtual telehealth appointments with doctors and specialists, all fully covered under our plan, giving us peace of mind throughout a stressful time for seniors.
Cost is another important consideration for us. Both of us being retired, we watch our expenses like most people. And while we live a comfortable lifestyle, we cannot afford to pay unexpected copays or expensive monthly premiums. Luckily, our Medicare Advantage plan keeps our costs low and consistent.
Congresswoman Bonamici should continue to support Medicare Advantage because of the way it protects seniors in her district, and across the state. We could not be more grateful for our plan and are looking forward to seeing it strengthen, not weaken.
Terry and Kathleen Tobin, Bethany
Place history and historical documents in proper context
History can be tricky. When we evaluate it, do we do so within the context of our present times or within the context of the times the event happened?
For example, some people are offended that the writers of the American Constitution did not include women or people of color. As such, they believe the Constitution should be discarded.
If you look at 1787 within the context of the times, I think you can easily make the case that the Constitution was the only game in town. It was very radical in its time.
That being said, it was not cast in stone in the sense that improvements could not be made to it.
I think it is time to decompress our hypersensitivity about history.
Scott Holland, Tigard
Supreme Court ought to reflect our country
From 1800, there has been more than a fourfold increase in members of the U.S. House of Representatives (106-435) including 118 women in 2021 (27%). There has been a threefold increase in states added. Our population has grown from 5.3 million to over 331 million. Ethnic diversity has increased by almost 25% (Hispanics 18.5% and Asians 5.6%). The number of whites has decreased (80-60%), and the percentage of African Americans has remained constant (12.5%). For every 100 females, there are 97.95 males. During the same period, the number of associate justices has increased from 6 to 9 (50%), with 3 women (33%), a percentage commensurate with that in the House.
I conclude that the Supreme Court does not reflect our country's women and ethnic groups proportionally. We should increase the number of justices from eight to 12, allowing the executive branch to appoint another African American and Hispanic, adding an Asian and at least 3 more women.
For those who allege this represents packing, I say the composition of the Court has always favored white men. It is time it mirrors the population. We are a nation of, for, and by (all) the people.
David Nardone, Hillsboro
Now is not the time to hamper drugmakers
I was recently vaccinated for COVID-19, and boy, was that a good feeling.
This past year has felt like a bad dream. But, thanks to the development of multiple vaccines in record time, it finally feels like the nightmare is coming to a close.
As we start to reopen and get accustomed to our "new normal," I hope we will all keep the importance of continued biopharmaceutical innovation top of mind moving forward. Because the reality is, without a robust American pharmaceutical sector, we would not be where we are today.
That is why I was troubled to learn that the Oregon legislature is currently considering implementing a "Drug Affordability Board" to set the prices of medications via Senate Bill 844. While establishing this board might play well politically for some in our Legislature, it is simply just not in the best interest of our most vulnerable patients waiting for new cures and treatments.
It is not hard to understand how allowing a group of appointed officials to set the prices of medications in Oregon could have a negative impact on funding dedicated to the research and development of new medications.
That being said, I do applaud our legislature for trying to address high costs for Oregon patients, but I encourage them to take a closer look at insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers who are actually responsible for the majority of out of pocket spending for patients.
I hope our legislature will do the right thing and find a better solution than SB 844 that doesn't leave patients waiting for new innovations out in the cold.
Rachel McClain, Sherwood
Don't let state rush into tolling highways
The Oregon Department of Transportation's Portland-area freeway toll plan is being rushed.
I live in West Linn, which is in the center of phase one of tolling. ODOT's plan is to start putting tolls on all our freeways in Portland area. Interstate 205 is just the start.
ODOT doesn't know or won't share the projected toll amount or set up cost of this plan. High-tech cameras, tracking, billing and receiving payments will be expensive. Every interchange will need a system.
The toll proceeds do not have to be spent on freeways or stay in your community. The diversion traffic will be substantial. I know the roads and one old narrow bridge across Willamette River in my area can't safely handle much more traffic.
We wasted $175 million on planning for the Interstate Bridge across the Columbia River. This could have been avoided by not rushing into it.
I call for an open forum on this whole project. Tolls could soon be from California to Washington, with zero control of what it buys.
Dave Farmer, West Linn
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