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Spotlight thanks, St. Helens stonewalling, the loss of civility, a note about modern-day propaganda

You are welcome

I want to thank reporter Nicole Thill-Pacheco for all the publicity she gave the Columbia Arts Guild and the Columbia City Celebration. We had our wrap-up meeting last night, Sept. 23, and this year we had our most successful City Celebration to date, no little thanks to all the articles Nicole and the Spotlight wrote.

As for the arts guild, the call to artists brought in new exhibitors, and some new members too. We had so many entries that we had to bring in extra display panels.

Dana Belisle

Columbia Arts Guild

Paying for zipped lips

I don't know how to read a financial spreadsheet. In fact, most likely, I don't know how to read any spreadsheet. I do, however, know how to listen and I know how to research.

A couple of years ago I noticed this lovely metal tree sculpture on the land alongside Strand Street in St. Helens. It's there again now if you want to take a look. I wanted to know who it belonged to and who paid for it. No one at City Hall would outright give me that information.

So, I filed a freedom of information form. The information was not forthcoming. I then filed a petition with the Columbia County District Attorney's Office.

The DA agreed with me that it was public information and that it should be released. It was not and that was two years ago. I am still waiting.

I filed another freedom of information form, along with the requisite $20, for the release of the aforementioned information on Thursday, Sept. 19. I was told the form would be passed along to the appropriate person. I continue to wait for that release. In fact, I don't even know who the "appropriate" person might be.

I received a response to my request on Thursday morning, Sept. 26, for the price and ownership of the metal tree on display on the waterfront property. Same old thing I received two years ago: "The City may be the custodian of part of the records requested. I have forwarded your request to the City Administrator and Finance Division for inspection of their records." So here we go again. This email was signed by Deputy City Recorder Lisa Scholl. I expect I will once again be contacting the district attorney.

What can they possibly be ashamed of making public?

City workers are now hauling in what appears to be tons of sand and gravel to the same public owned property alongside Strand Street. I want to know who is paying for this — public funds or tourism money — so I placed a call to St. Helens Financial Director Matt Brown. I did that on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 2:20 p.m. Mr. Brown informed me that I needed to get in touch with Sue Nelson.

If this continues I will have to consider starting a GoFundMe campaign just to receive public information.

I did receive an email from Matt Brown: "Greetings Nancy, - Events like Halloweentown and others managed by E2C should be self-sustainable, meaning they bring in enough revenue to cover their costs. That is the goal of every event. The E2C contract is paid solely by the Visitor Tourism Fund along with all expenses that are 100% tourism related."

I could dance around this one all day.

Here is another interesting tidbit: In June of 2016, the St. Helens City Council approved the purchase of a New York-style taxi cab in the amount of $7,500. It seems Tina Curry-Cannard, event director for St. Helens, owner of a company called E2C and resident of Vancouver, Washington, thought it would be a good idea for photo ops. City Administrator John Walsh stated at the time that

it would "mostly" be paid

for through the tourism budget.

So, we now have tons of sand and gravel being paid for by the city of St. Helens and being dumped and spread by city employees. We have underground electricity being connected to the publicly owned land along Strand Street and paid for by the city of St. Helens.

And we have additional fences being installed, all of this so that a company called E2C, owned by St. Helens event director Tina Curry-Cannard of Vancouver, Washington, can display a Fall Fairy Festival event and charge the people — who paid for all these expenses to begin with — to enter.

At which point one will be able to view the Fabulous Fake Styrofoam Stonehenge and the plastic tents. Or you can just peek through the metal fence surrounding this embarrassing display and save yourself $12 to $15.

If the city actually expects people to believe this type of event will make money for the city, then why do I have to continually pay for information I do not receive? Could it be because they do not actually want the public to know the monetary output for this nonsense?

As I have said many times before, who the hell is running the city of St. Helens?

Nancy Whitney

St. Helens

Is civility a consequence?

Upon reading last week's edition of the Columbia County Spotlight, I was struck by a citizen's commentary decrying the actions of Editor Daryl Swan, and I presume the media in general(see Letters, "Up your nose with a rubber hose," Sept. 20).

Most of us received schooling in being civil to others in keeping with the "Golden Rule" at age 4-6 or so, and I do worry that in our current time of incivility at the highest level of our government, this behavior is trickling down throughout our marvelous country. There appears to be an anger and resentment, particularly in rural America, as a consequence? 

My suggestion is for folks to take a step back and consider the Golden Rule, and if it is not part of their heritage, to just be respectful of others who have a different heritage, function or perspective.

If there is a God out there, I am pretty sure that he, she or it would provide a similar suggestion.

Joel Haugen

Scappoose

Propaganda rules us

Russia is not communist, nor is China; both are plutocratic oligarchies. China is an example of a people controlled by manipulation of their information sources. Chinese citizens I know revere their 'leaders', but rarely realize they are just wealthy dictators.

 Americans are told a holy "market" is our savior, by stunningly rich plutocrats who just buy their influence on society. Disagreement is called "anti-American" hate. Many Americans conflate "socialism" and "communism" with no knowledge of either — it is just dogma on their screen. Our social media is largely bought-and-paid for dishonesty.

In the 1800s, we sadly used whale flesh as a major energy source, then moved to fossil fuels. Not as wisdom, but for profit for a few people. Citizens United was not about citizens. Many revere our "flag" but ignore what our actions have really been. We are now a nation of the 0.1%, by the 0.1%, for the 0.1%. Freedom of speech is now just the loudest and most-repeated propaganda, made possible by money paid to liars and the will of fools to repeat lies to appear useful. In Russia, these are called "Apparatchiks."

 I am anti-communism because it doesn't work. The best path for the U.S. is recognition and care for the reality that we are a democratic republic that uses a few responsible socialist methods necessary for success as a nation and one species among many species. Individuals cannot build the infrastructure, observation systems and safety programs needed for survival. The U.S. benefits from many "socialist" systems: The VA, Medicare, Social Security, public libraries, welfare, the WIC program, food stamps, Amber Alerts, fire and police, and even systems like the SEC that try to rein in corrupt usage of capitalism.

Capitalism is not a useful method of governance and must be returned to its role as the grease in the wheels of society, not the engine. Wealth for wealth's sake is an immoral goal. There are too many of us, we use far too much of Earth's resources and we have already eaten our seed corn. Religion says we are "special"; big daddy in the sky will save us

from ourselves. Other species would disagree if they had a say.

We are currently on the path of failure and have known for decades that we are in trouble with human-caused harmful changes to the planet. It is money and greed that funds the lies, and much of it is spent to use your social media to convince you of falsehoods.

Charles Bickford

Deer Island


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