The war in Ukraine, overtime pay for farmworkers, and a gubernatorial candidate's comments top the list.

NATO, U.S. should be helping Ukraine even more

If we just want to make Russians suffer, we might be doing enough. If we want Ukrainians to be slaughtered, cities reduced to rubble, and Russia and China's neighbors to be too terrified of being "aided" by the West to do anything other than obey Moscow and Beijing's commands, we are.

There is no excuse for not using every tool that will not lead to war. Including military pressure such as full mobilization, massing forces where they could help, and doing things that, like continuing to provide weapons, cannot be retaliated against without an attack on NATO soil. Examples: using NATO bases for Ukrainian planes and drones and an enforceable no-fly zone as soon as possible — as advocated by a former NATO supreme commander. Russia, which has not yet cut off gas or launched cyber-attacks, will not launch war across NATO borders, much less a nuclear one.

NATO's defense budget is over six times Russia's already stretched, demoralized, under-performing military's in real purchasing power. What is the point of having such might when desperately needed and not using it? If we had such a military advantage in 1939, should we have said "Sorry, Czechoslovakia, we have no treaty with you?" Or spared the world Hitler's horrors? Are we waiting for another Sarajevo massacre? It's coming.

Andrew Schmid, Lake Oswego

Passage of farmworker overtime long overdue

During the pandemic, our world has dramatically shifted. Through it all, one group has provided stability: farmworkers. These laborers continue to work with enormous risks to provide food for all Oregonians. Unfortunately, dangerous conditions are not new for farmworkers: toxic pesticides and herbicides, climate change-driven weather like heat domes and wildfires, dramatically decreasing air quality, and little protection against COVID-19 have long been present.

Despite being crucial to Oregonians' food supply, farmworkers make approximately $20,000 annually, forcing them to keep working in hazardous conditions. These obstacles facing farmworkers and their families in Oregon date back to the Federal Labor Standards Act of 1938, which created the concept of overtime, ended child labor and established the minimum wage. However, this law deliberately excluded these provisions for farmworkers and domestic workers, denying fundamental rights to frontline workers.

But the 2022 Oregon Legislature has passed House Bill 4002, which finally puts Oregon on a path to equality. The bill establishes overtime pay for farmworkers, giving five years for the industry to adapt to standards already in place for nearly every other worker, and creates a tax credit to support the industry through this transition.

Without farmworkers, none of us would be able to sustain ourselves. HB 4002 was long overdue, delivering equity, economic stability, and justice to thousands of farmworkers across the state that have been overlooked for so long.

Yusuf Arifin, Northwest Portland

Mayor Pulliam's words on equality are ringing hollow

Dear Sandy Mayor Pulliam: Spare us your pretense of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. To paraphrase your quote in an article ("Sandy mayor responds after news about past sexual activity," Feb. 7), you have "never looked to align (yourself) with organizations that are anti-LGBTQ+" and yet you're a member of the Republican Party!

The Oregon GOP is as bigoted as the rest of the right-wing across the country. To wit, here's another quote for readers of The Gresham Outlook, taken directly from the Oregon GOP party platform: "The Oregon Republican Party believes that the traditional family, formed through the marriage of one man and one woman, is ordained by God our Creator and is the foundation of our society. This environment is optimal for raising children to be responsible, self sufficient, productive citizens." (And that's only their preamble, the tip of the hate-filled iceberg to their dedicated section against me & others who are LGBTQ+.)

Any Oregon voter who is truly "pro-liberty" and "pro-individuality" should do the right thing and vote Democratic come November. Democrats don't just say the right words when it comes to liberty and justice for all — they back it up with actions, including legislation.

Christian Burgess, Gresham

It's time for Oregon to ban mega-dairies

I have hiked in the Gorge for several years and recently learned about an issue that is impacting the scenic area, our climate and calling into question the kind of Oregon we want to see in the future.

There is a concerning trend towards allowing more mega-dairies, operations where 2,500 or more cows are raised in confinement, to come to Oregon. These new massive operations have very few checks on their air and climate impacts. Contrary to regenerative pasture-based farming, mega-dairies pool large amounts of manure giving way to ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter and methane pollution in our air. Air doesn't know county lines, so when these gases are emitted they end up polluting our entire state.

In Oregon, livestock manure is the most significant source of ammonia, the same ammonia that causes haze in the Gorge. Breathing these fumes is bad for our health and can lead to all sorts of respiratory problems. But that's not all. Last summer we had 115 degree weather in June. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is supercharging climate change. And American livestock production is a leading source of methane, made worse by the rise of mega-dairies and other factory farms.

As we fight climate change and protect our air, we cannot underestimate the impact that mega-dairies will have on our state. Continuing to allow these operations to move into Oregon threatens our public health and moves us further away from our climate goals. Do we want an Oregon that supports climate smart community based agriculture — or more industrialized food production? The Oregon I call home wants the former and I would like legislators like Sen. Rob Wagner to take up this issue in the next session by supporting a moratorium on mega-dairies.

Kate Miller, Lake Oswego

Wyden's 1,000th town hall was no big deal

A front page article in the Columbia County Spotlight, "Wyden in Columbia County" went on to describe how Sen. Ron Wyden held his 1,000th town hall, but is that fact really newsworthy?

Attending town halls in Eastern Oregon hosted by Sens. Bob Packwood and Gordon Smith, and Rep. Greg Walden, Republicans, I found the majority of the attendees were Republicans. Attending town halls hosted by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Reps. Peter Defazio and Susan Bonamici, Democrats, I found the majority of the attendees were Democrats.

Political town halls are not much different than going to church where the pastor preaches to the same congregation. There are those few 'guests' in the room but mostly the politicians are talking to their own party members, and they talk of how they represent the "majority." Well, the fact is they don't represent the majority, it's their party and the record shows they vote almost all of the time the way their party wants them to vote. And that's the way the American system works.

Joe Turner, Columbia City

Why wasn't everyone inside during snow?

During the February snow storm, I went to the warming shelter, which was open because of the snow. They had people inside the building but others were still out asleep on the sidewalk in the snow, in the cold. I just felt all of us taxpayers should be aware of this. I have a video of it.

Daniel Knight, Oregon City

Kudos to Milwaukie for natural gas ban

Thanks for explaining ("Milwaukie natural gas ban regroups after 'scare tactics,'" Clackamas Review, March 1) that requiring clean energy sources in new construction won't impact existing homes and is a critical piece of stopping climate change. Even more importantly, thanks for revealing the motivations behind the groups against requiring clean energy: financial self-interest.

Who's against this common-sense policy? You named fossil fuel and real estate industry representatives. These groups are resistant to changes that might (or might not) impact their own bottom lines. They pay lip service to the idea of reducing carbon emissions, yet favor slow-moving, inadequate half-measures that will not save any of us, including them, from the impacts of climate change.

Let's weigh the options: Legislation encouraging clean energy sources, rather than methane (aka "natural") gas in new construction will benefit every single person in Milwaukie. Relatively few people will benefit financially from "business as usual." Absolutely nobody will benefit from more heat domes, bigger wildfires and worse.

I commend Milwaukie Mayor Gamba and Councilor Hyzy for their efforts to combat industry scare tactics, protect citizens' health and prevent the worst effects of climate change by banning methane in new construction. The whole state should follow do the same!

Miriam Garcia, Northeast Portland

Congressional delegation is right on Medicare issue

When I decided I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology, I knew I was committing my life to health, especially improving the health care options that are available to vulnerable communities.

Mental health tends to fall under the radar for older age groups, but thanks to programs like Medicare Advantage (MA), seniors can access the services they need to keep their mental health strong. By providing wellness programs and gym benefits, seniors can remain social and feel connected to their communities, which has a serious impact on mental health. Especially following the isolation that was induced by the pandemic, mental health resources and champions of mental health stability have never been more important. I'm glad to see Medicare Advantage is tackling both of these components head-on.

In Oregon, we are fortunate that our members of Congress are strong supporters of Medicare Advantage, which makes sense since our state has one of the highest rates of enrollment in the country. Currently, more than 450,000 Oregonians are enrolled in MA plans, representing over 50% of all those over 65 or with disabilities. Based on personal experience, I'm not surprised to see the popularity and growth. These plans offer great value and satisfaction for many seniors and provides an essential piece of our health care system.

It's not every day people take the time to show gratitude for their elected officials or highlight what is working in government. However, I applaud our elected officials in Congress for their support for these vital services and urge them to continue to find ways to offer more choices and options for seniors.

Carol Greenough, Tualatin

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