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Jefferson County Jail levy and school board races the focus of opinions from our readers

Jail levy a must

I was a prosecutor here back in the '90s when we had a jail that held 24 inmates. That is close to the number of beds we will have again if we decide not to pass the upcoming jail levy. Twenty-four beds didn't work then, and it won't work now, especially with our population growth.

There were few actual arrests. Most people suspected of committing a crime were issued citations to appear in court instead. Thirty-three percent of the people issued citations would fail to appear. Warrants would issue, but the person was immediately released and given another date. Then fail to appear. This clogged the courts as nothing could resolve.

Community service was ordered in almost all sentencings because jail wasn't an option. When a probationer didn't do community service, the only consequence available was to order more community service. Drunk drivers were arrested, but released to a sober party immediately. Occasionally, that same drunk driver would get arrested for driving again after being released.

Once the 100-bed jail was open, things changed immediately. Nearly everyone showed up for court. Judges decided whether release was appropriate. Judges also decided whether community service or jail was an appropriate sentence. Police officers would decide whether to hand a person a citation or take them to jail.

Having an appropriately sized jail is one of the necessary tools in the criminal justice system. Not every suspect needs to be arrested and not every person convicted needs a sentence in jail. But when jail is not an option and everyone knows it, the system has no teeth. Please vote for the jail levy.

Sheryl Blackman

Madras

Voting Richards for board

With the fast approaching May election, I'd like to express my appreciation to those who have stepped up to put their name on the ballot. In regards to the 509-J School Board election, I encourage you to vote for Kevin Richards.

Kevin has no personal agenda or preconceived limitations. He simply wants to help all students across the 509-J School District receive an excellent education and be prepared for their next step after high school graduation.

Mr. Richards has vast personal experience and educational background that will be of great value when setting policy for our children's future. Kevin grew up here and is a successful product of our school system.

Kevin holds strong family values, has children in our 509-J schools, is here for the long haul and willing to help. He will represent all of our families and look out for all of our kids.

Please join us in voting for and supporting Kevin Richards for our children and schools.

Tom Brown

Madras

Age of the easily duped

In the April 17th edition of the Pioneer, an editorial note appeared beneath a letter from chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party Jim Rahi that characterized the dispute over whether not Mr. Rahi exists as "having a little fun." I am writing to protest that characterization. I can think of no more serious question in all the modern world than the question of whether or not Mr. Rahi exists. Indeed, the very fate of Western civilization may hang upon it.

We live in the middle of what some very smart people have coined an "epistemological crisis": that is, a crisis in not only what we know to be true, but how we know it. The promise of our high-tech society was that we could finally know anything and everything, and we'd know it all far better than our premodern forebears ever could.

However, the reality is precisely the opposite: Never in history has it been so easy to dupe, mislead, and manipulate citizens on such a massive scale than it is today. Fake news of every political stripe races through social media like wildfire. Carefully photoshopped images and frighteningly real "deep fake" videos can circulate for days or even weeks before anyone bothers to question their authenticity.

The Chinese government uses Silicon Valley tech to tightly control the news and even track the daily movements of over a billion citizens. Cases like the "Pizzagate" shooting, last year's WhatsApp-driven mob lynchings in India, and the senseless measles outbreak (incubated by insular social media communities) all portend a future where we become less critical, less open to debate, and more reckless with the truth than civil society ought to be. The public square, where rational discourse is nurtured and spread, is vanishing, replaced by dimly-lit electronic dens of conspiracy. It's not an exaggeration to say this "epistemological crisis" is really a crisis of democracy itself.

Circling back to where we began, the purpose of my original complaint against Mr. Rahi's letter was to hint at this crisis. By identifying global warming as a simple "hoax" rather than the complex, diverse, and unsettled field of scientific study that it is, the letter reduced a topic of immense complexity and profound consequence (whatever one believes about it) to that of a Facebook conspiracy theory, thereby absolving us of the careful thought and nuanced discussion it and other topics require.

When I asked the question about whether or not Mr. Rahi exists, what I really meant was another question: In light of our society's increasing inability to discern valid sources of truth and methods of reason, how do we know anything is true at all? My worry is not only that we can't know, but that we no longer even care.

As to whether or not Mr. Rahi exists, I renounce my skepticism and grant that he very likely does. I have been personally approached by many trustworthy individuals in the community affirming his existence, and while my principles require I doubt whatever I read in the paper, I cannot doubt the word of such honest and dependable men and women. I have been assured Mr. Rahi is not only very real, but also very congenial and good-spirited. I have even been assured (and this is true) he can be found every year at Christmas driving a large sleigh and delivering good cheer to all, a Christmas carol always ready on his lips, his kind laughter echoing over the snowy hills and filling the cold night sky with warmth like a roaring fireplace, almost as if he were Santa ... Claus. Huh.

Well, perhaps it's best not to think too hard about that one.

Chris "C.T." Casberg

Madras

Local businesses help South Wasco

Thank you to every local Madras business that donated items for the raffle at the Shaniko Hoot, Holler and Sing. Rio Restaurant and Madras Brewing Co. The raffle, food and T-shirt sales raised over $600 for the South Wasco County School music program. You have contributed to make our community a better place filled with kids learning and performing music.

Patrick Flaherty

Clarno

I'm voting Richards

Supporting Kevin Richards for Position 5 of the 509-J School Board is my pleasure. I have known Kevin since he was 5 years old. I watched him grow from a little boy, to a teenager, to a young man as his 4-H leader. His drive and amazing capacity to be responsible yet concerned for others from the time he was a little boy to the father and involved citizen in our community today has not changed. These strengths will make him an outstanding school board member.

He has had the opportunity to be educated in the 509-J school system and expand his knowledge from college and his early career choices, which allowed him to travel the United States and world with a career other than farming. We all make choices in our lives, and Kevin made the choice to move back to Madras to raise his family and enroll his children in the 509-J school system.

It is important when you cast your ballot to elect someone that will be open to every person's concern(s) as a school board member. We need a school board member that will listen with heart and value each and every member residing within the 509-J School District with purpose and meaning, and work tirelessly for the education of every child attending a 509-J school. That is why I am supporting Kevin Richards for Position 5 of the 509-J School Board.

Mickey Killingsworth

Madras


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