Letters to the editor
The passing of an anti-poverty warrior
It should be noted that former Rep. Bruce Hugo of Scappoose was an effective anti-poverty warrior.
In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan eliminated the federal war on poverty, cutting the funding of anti-poverty Community Actions Programs in half and transferring the remaining funds to a state block grant with no mandate to spend the funding on anti-poverty programs.
Community Action Team and other Community Action Organizations across the state faced bankruptcy and elimination. With Hugo's help, Oregon's Community Action agencies were able to pass a bill requiring Oregon to pass the remaining block grant funds through to Oregon's Community Action agencies, including Community Action Team.
Without Bruce Hugo's legislative leadership, this bill would not have passed and Community Action Team may not exist today. Since the 1980s, Community Action Team has helped thousands of families rise above poverty and prosper.
Bruce Hugo lives on in the lives of these people and future generations. Thanks Bruce!
Former Executive Director,
Community Action Team
Annexed floating home residents should be allowed to hold PUD office
I was happy to read in a Spotlight article dated Feb. 24 about the Columbia River People's Utility District ballot measure for possible annexation of the floating homes along the Multnomah Channel getting on the May ballot (see "PUD: Annexation vote likely, but new voters can't run for office yet").
This is great news. That area is served by the PUD but is not eligible to vote in the PUD's elections. In 1999 that area tried to get annexed, but some deadline was missed and it never got on the ballot. Then the ball seems to have been dropped by the PUD, even though the subject has come up periodically.
This past election Nancy Ward threw her name in to represent the ratepayers of Subdivision 1. She managed to get a good two-thirds of the votes. Then we are told by the PUD board that she wasn't eligible to run and, therefore, can't be seated. The board members said there wasn't anything they could do about it.
So the rush was on to get that area annexed ASAP and so, with some push by some ratepayers, the board has now managed to get the annexation question on the May ballot.
Now I read in that article that the PUD's attorney says that even if that area is annexed, someone from the annexed area would not be eligible to run for two years. As I understand it, PUDs are pretty independent of almost any state oversight. With all the money the PUD pays its attorney, one would think he could figure out how to get around that particular residency requirement if the person could prove that he or she has lived in the area for two years. After all, 20 years is a long time to go without representation.
If the ratepayers of the PUD have an opinion on this matter, I would that that they contact their PUD representative, even if they do not live within Subdivision 1, and let him or her know how you feel.
Let them know you expect better of them.
What is the Scappoose School District board doing?
I have heard that the schools in Scappoose School District will be over capacity in the near future due to both current plans to build over 200 new homes and general population growth. Because of this, we will have to build another school, and issue a levy in order to pay for it.
A levy is a nice way of saying a property tax increase.
I had accepted this new tax as necessary until I noticed a banner on the school district's own website titled, "Open Enrollment."
The Scappoose School District announced that it has space to accept up to 135 students in various grades from outside of the district, plus no limit on kindergarten applicants. According to the school district's website, the school board set these enrollment numbers.
If there was temporary space available in the schools, a short-term plan could make sense. However, this is not a temporary program. According the school district's website, these students would be considered permanent residents once admitted and until they choose to leave.
The school district is under no obligation to educate students from outside our district, so why are the school board members making a long-term commitment to educate them? This commitment will leave the school district stuck with finding space for these students in the future, even if we have to build a new school to do it.
The last school we built cost almost $30,000 per seat, so we are talking about a potential liability of over $4 million to educate students from outside our district. What makes this even worse is that property owners would get to pay a new tax (in addition to the existing school levy) to pay for space for these students, while the open enrollment students' parents would get a free ride because they live outside the taxing district.
Let your school board representative know you do not want to pay more taxes to enable students from outside our district to attend our schools. The Open Enrollment program should be suspended or changed at once because we will need the space for our own students in the near future.