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The News-Times also hears from readers about Washington County's district attorney, deadly diseases and more.

Editor's note: Have a letter to share? Email your thoughts to Editor-in-Chief Mark Miller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Letters should be no more than 400 words. All submissions must include the name and hometown of the author. Commercial solicitations and campaign announcements will not be accepted as letters to the editor. Submissions should not include profane or defamatory language. We may lightly edit submissions for style and clarity.

Consequences aren't equal in Washington County

It's reasonable to expect the district attorney to play by the rules. After all, that's what we pay them for; to dispense justice equally, and respect our rights as citizens. However, under DA Kevin Barton, some citizens are more equal than others.

Barton's first test came in 2018, and he failed miserably. A certain Deputy Rian Alden committed two counts of second-degree assault. In plain language, an inmate was beaten to the point of brain damage simply because the inmate got mouthy with the deputy.

Oregon State Police investigated the incident. But when the findings of the investigation were presented to DA Barton's office, no charges were filed! That's right, none. That is until the jail video was viewed on the news, which embarrassed Barton greatly. [Ed.: Alden is awaiting trial on the aforementioned assault charges, as well as charges of first-degree official misconduct and unlawful use of a weapon. The misconduct charge was filed prior to the jail video being leaked to the public.]

However, I would not recommend you try this at home. After all, violent crime is a no-no. And Barton is extremely proud of his conviction rate. Because, to him, it's like a scorecard, and justice is but a game. Thus the regular joe can expect hell if he crosses the law in Washington County. But the people Barton protects need not worry at all.

C. Jack Callahan, Aloha

World TB Day should be a wake-up call

Thursday, March 24, is World Tuberculosis Day, commemorating the approximately 1.5 million people killed by this horrible disease every year.

In 20 years, global efforts to eradicate tuberculosis and other preventable diseases, led by groups like the Global Fund, have made enormous progress. The Global Fund alone has saved 44 million lives since 2002.

That progress is now in jeopardy. When the world shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it disrupted access to diagnostics and treatments for tuberculosis. One million fewer people were treated for TB in 2020 than in 2019 and, for the first time in a decade, annual tuberculosis deaths rose.

This must serve as a wake-up call. Members of Congress, including Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley, must go on the record in support of a $2 billion per year pledge from the U.S. at the Global Fund replenishment conference this year so it can continue its vitally important work.

2022 can be the year we end COVID-19 once and for all, but it must also be the year we get the world back on track to end tuberculosis and other preventable diseases by ensuring everyone, everywhere has access to lifesaving tests and treatments.

Michael Kalkofen, Beaverton

Keep up the fight against Alzheimer's

The number of Americans living with Alzheimer's is growing — and growing fast.

According to the Alzheimer's Association 2022 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, more than 6 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's. In Oregon, there are more than 69,000 people living with Alzheimer's disease and more than 130,000 family members and friends providing care.

My family experienced the devastation of Alzheimer's firsthand, after both my Grandpa Dave and Great-Grandma Betty were diagnosed with this terrible disease. No family should have to watch their loved one forget their own name, or lose the ability to carry on a conversation, walk or even eat. Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging.

In recent years, Congress has made funding Alzheimer's research a priority and it must continue. It is my hope that Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici will support increasing funding for Alzheimer's research at the NIH by $226 million for the 2023 fiscal year.

To learn more about the Alzheimer's Association, available resources and how you can get involved in the fight to end Alzheimer's, visit alz.org/advocate.

Shane Smith, Cooper Mountain

'Don't Say Gay' sends an unmistakable message

With the passing of Florida House Bill 1557 — more commonly called the "Don't Say Gay Bill" — I would not be allowed to teach.

HB 1557 "prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity" in kindergarten through third grade. I wouldn't be able to introduce myself as anything but a straight woman. I couldn't be nonbinary and I certainly couldn't be trans and use he/him pronouns. I couldn't discuss any romantic partner that didn't fit the heterosexual norm. I couldn't live a life — I am less than human.

My passion, my direction in life would be destroyed, gone because of my identity. My whole life, everything has gone back to teaching — my life would be ruined.

I love my kindergartners more than anything, their lives and happiness mean the world to me, and the thought of that being ripped away is devastating. Through hell and back, the light at the end of my tunnel has and will always be the possibility of making their futures better. They deserve more — they deserve everything I didn't have and more.

I am privileged to be writing this from a state and city where this bill does not have a direct impact on my life, but I can not stand by and ignore the horrific results of this bill. I grew up without any queer representation in my life. Alone and scared, I sought to cut the unnatural feelings out and ignore them in hope they would go away. They don't; they can't. I see the looks, I hear the hate spewing from your lips — intentional or unintentional, your words and actions scar deeper than any knife.

This is what Florida has condemned their children to: a stigmatization of queer narratives and a pain no child should ever feel. A sharp tap here and long bludgeoning there as words are hurled at a soundboard ready to collapse.

Banning the outright discussion of the LGTBQIA+ community shows those most impressionable that their queerness is hated and unworthy of love. It forces them into silence that some never break.

When society is yelling one thing we feel alone whispering the other. Forced into a life of despair, loneliness and self hatred. We are teaching our kids that being gay is something they should feel ashamed of.

HB 1557 does not protect students from teachers "forcing gender identity or sexuality"on them, but instead teaches them the LGBTQIA+ community is not deserving of respect and love. It teaches an entire state that I am less than human and deserve to be ignored. That I am not deserving of the same rights and privileges that straight people have. And that my existence is inappropriate for children.

Flynn Williams, Tigard


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