Readers sound off on politics, Zenith Energy and nurses under pressure from COVID-19.

Democrats devoid of independent thinkers

I will never vote for a Democrat again.

I am a conservative Republican, but five times I have voted for a Democrat. The Democrats are the "big tent party," with a wide range of Democrats from moderate Democrats to extreme radical Democrats. You would expect there would be a few strays when it came time to vote, but no, they vote in lockstep together.

There are no independent thinkers in the Democratic Party at vote time. You read all the time about needing only a certain number of Republicans to change their votes to win a vote, (but) it is never about Democrats changing their votes.

I am not a robot, and I do not want my representatives to be programmable robots.

John M Stark

North Portland

Nurse burnout a problem in age of COVID-19

Even local heroes sometimes need a break. That's what many hospitals and clinics around the country are learning in the age of COVID-19. The added rules to follow from the CDC and respective hospital policies in addition to the anxiety as a frontline employee are taking their toll on the estimated 2.86 million nurses around the United States.

According to a 2018 study published in the Psychology, Health, and Medicine Journal, nurses are the top profession for burnout due to feelings of a lack of control and unreachable goals. This was true before COVID-19. So what happens to nurses who have been working diligently to care for their patients during the age of COVID-19 for over a year? Feelings of burnout are intensified — dramatically.

Regulations and best practices for COVID-19 have changed a few times over the past year as data was made available. Nurses had to be ready to adapt to changes quickly and educate patients on safety guidelines. Nurses must also wear appropriate PPE, sometimes making breathing demanding or communication difficult. There is also the constant fear of catching COVID-19 at the front lines, potentially spreading it to loved ones, and being temporarily sent home for the quarantine period.

So what can be done to help nurses survive the stress and pressure of COVID-19? Thank them. Not just for helping, but for choosing to be there during uncertain times and continuing to provide care for their patients. Ask them how they're doing.

Managers of nursing teams can offer additional rewards for outstanding work and acknowledge their team for getting through the last year.

COVID-19 did not make 2020 easy for anyone, but nurses were the ones at the front lines to make sure the rest of the people could stay healthy through it all.

Terrence Hunt, RN-BSN


City should shut down Zenith Energy facility

If I wanted to cut down a tree in my yard that was greater than 12 inches in diameter, I would have to get a permit from the city of Portland. If I failed to do this and cut down the tree, I would be fined and required to buy a replacement tree.

Zenith Energy, a company that ships crude oil through Portland to distant refineries, has been enlarging its facility despite a city ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure, operating on an expired air quality permit and, as of this year, starting construction without a necessary stormwater permit required by the Clean Water Act as outlined in a recent article about Willamette and Columbia Riverkeepers plans to sue Zenith Energy.

Portlanders get permits to cut down trees not because of the penalties but because they care about the community and our canopy of trees. But Zenith doesn't seem to care about the community. They have been expanding during a pandemic when they think no one is watching and they seem to think they are above the law.

City of Portland, it is time to hold Zenith accountable and shut them down.

Cathy Spofford

Southwest Portland

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