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The News-Times publishes letters about Betsy Johnson, public education, land use and more.

Oregon deserves better than anti-environmentalist Johnson

Betsy Johnson has been my Oregon senator for many years. Because I oppose environmental poisoning of our forests with 7 to 8 pounds of toxic herbicides an acre and the use of leaded fuel in private pilot education out of Hillsboro Airport, she has refused to answer my emails, phone calls or see me when I go to the Capitol.

She and her husband own the Scappoose airport. Their pro-aviation stance includes encouraging Portland Community College pilot training programs that fly lead fuel using planes over our organic farms, orchards and schools. She has used her position on transportation to make sure her aviation interests are expanded.

She also stood on the Capitol steps holding a sign to support big out-of-state corporate logging interest. Wall Street timber companies like Weyerhaeuser, that poison our forests, have used propaganda to convince our local loggers that Timber Unity is there to protect their jobs when nothing could be further from the truth. We have shipped their milling jobs overseas.

Sen. Johnson has a 41% score on the Oregon League of Conservation Voters' 2021 legislative scorecard, and has a lifetime score of 64%. It gets worse every year. She voted against 100% clean energy for all, electric vehicle incentives, recycling modernization, energy-efficient appliances, and upholding our strong land-use laws by allowing luxury homes to be built on exclusive farmland.

If she refuses to legislate for the health of Oregon and refuses to correspond with voters, as she has refused to talk to me, then she is unsuited to sit in the Senate or the governor's mansion.

Ellen Saunders, Manning

Schools should teach facts, not feelings

I have delayed responding to a "My View" column by Lowell Greathouse titled "In defense of public education" (published Aug. 12, 2021) for too long.

This may no longer be relevant, but that title is very misleading. It gives the impression that the public education itself is under attack, and by inference blames that attack on the concerns raised by parents over the question of critical race theory and its use in the school curriculum. That is yet another example of editors seeking to bend the intent (and in some cases, the content) of articles so they line up with their own biases. [Ed.: The author submitted the title that was used along with his commentary.]

Refer to the commentary submitted by Lowell Greathouse and published online Aug. 8, 2021.

Of course, too, I disagree with the piece's author as he sought to justify the techniques used in the New Think teachings in public schools. He as much as admits that these techniques are meant to twist a student's views to The Approved View when he says "education is more than learning what to believe. It is about learning how to think."

Contrary to his notion, I believe that schools should teach facts, test to see that the students have learned those facts, and leave them to their own thoughts about them. Students are rational beings, capable of arriving at a reasonable conclusion as long as they are unconstrained by whatever currently approved political correctness filter is being employed.

Parents need to become involved. Look for yourself at the curriculum in use in your schools. Take the time to read as much of it as you are allowed to (and then ask "why is it I cannot have access to the entire course?").

Harold Hutchison, Forest Grove

Chevron station doesn't belong in this neighborhood

Who loves land use zoning? Well, it is tough to love. But, it does have a purpose. Or at least it should.

There is a Chevron station proposed at Northwest 185th Avenue and West Union Road north of Highway 26 in Washington County. And the applicant is asking the county for a variance to reduce setback requirements because "a smaller building footprint would significantly impact the financial feasibility of the project." I think the variance should be denied because the fuel station is simply too big for the zoning it resides in.

The neighborhood commercial zoning codes for the area says its purpose is to "provide for the shopping and service needs of the immediate urban neighborhood." And the county code puts limits on the size of grocery stores, banks, professional offices, and more to ensure that facilities aren't oversized for the stated zoning purpose.

Inexplicably, however, there are no limits on the size of a fuel/gas/service station in these "Neighborhood Commercial" zones. And so this developer is proposing a Chevron station in this "Neighborhood Commercial" zoning that is only two pumps smaller than his Woodburn Chevron, which had the second-highest gasoline sales by volume in the entire Pacific Northwest and sold 3.5 million gallons of fuel in 2019.

Washington County code should put limits on the size of service stations and deny this variance. Otherwise the zoning should just state no purpose at all.

If you want to learn more, visit nabgas.com.

Nisha George, Bethany

Washington County needs to protect sensitive areas

Gas stations store tens of thousands of gallons of fuel in underground storage tanks. And these tanks regularly spill and leak. According to the Oregon DEQ's annual report between October 2020 and September, 3% of the 1,800 regulated tanks leaked.

And it isn't just the tanks that leak: the pipes, dispensers and delivery mistakes cause leaks too.

Unfortunately, there are no protections in Washington County's land use and zoning code to ensure that these leaks happen far away from sensitive areas or ground water.

And why does this all matter now? Well there is a proposed Chevron station at the corner of 185th Avenue and West Union Road in the growing Bethany area of unincorporated Washington County. And the site plan places the storage tanks within 80 feet of the wetlands of the Rock Creek Greenway that also feed into the beloved recreation areas of Bethany Lake.

We don't need a gas station at this location, and the county must update their zoning to better protect sensitive sites like wetlands, streams, rivers, flood plains, schools and parks.

To see the application docs and other perspectives on this, see nabgas.com.

Brandon Philips, Bethany

Johnson doesn't stand up for environment

I am surprised at Pamplin Media's recent editorial regarding Sen. Betsy Johnson running for governor of Oregon.

Read the Pamplin Media Group editorial, originally published online Oct. 26, 2021, about Betsy Johnson and her gubernatorial campaign.

Sen. Johnson's voting record shows that she is an anti-environment candidate, which should alarm any voter. Oregon's future is at stake, and Sen. Johnson has voted against 100% clean energy for all, electric vehicle incentives, energy-efficient appliances, upholding Oregon's strong land-use laws to allow luxury homes to be built on exclusive farmland.

We need a governor who will continue to lead on protecting Oregon's environment and address climate change with effective legislation, and Sen. Johnson does not meet this criteria.

Ann Scherner, Tigard


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