Letters to the Editor: May 21, 2020
NW Bicycle Safety Council caps a 25-year mission
Wear a helmet! Those are the parting words, repeated too many times to count, over the past 25 years of NW Bicycle Safety Council's history here in the Portland metro area. Safety, particularly in the form of wearing properly fitted helmets, has been our passion.
Bicycle safety is not a unique niche in a bicycle fevered area such as we live in. But it's a message taken on by Portland Wheelmen Touring Club and then assumed by former NWBSC president and founder Bruce Buffington of Beaverton. His own fall off a bike, while helmetless, caused an epiphany that he worked on tirelessly for decades: Helmets, properly fitted on heads, large and small, do a job and protect brains.
Through the years, over 17,000 helmets were placed, free of charge, on heads around the community. Working with Beaverton police, there was often a bike fair of some sort at a local elementary school or events such as Bike Beaverton. The obvious connection is that safe riders, outfitted with a helmet, are in fewer accidents and hopefully are not just lawful cyclists but age into becoming safe motor vehicle drivers as well.
If I may share the sentiments of former volunteer and advocate Gary Brannan:
"Since Bruce Buffington created NWBSC over 25 years ago, he and its volunteers have done far more than simply give helmets away, they've promoted the value of them, personally fitted them, conducted clinics and bicycle events, including instruction to folks of all ages, collaborated with local law enforcement, offered free bicycle registration, maps and other pertinent literature, collaborated with the Portland Bicycling Club, one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest, in the formation of a helmet committee to extend the range of 'bicycle safety consciousness,' coordinated their activities with Legacy Emanuel Hospital's 'Trauma Nurses Talk Tough,' donated helmets to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots local drive, and even created and conducted a local television program, 'Cycology Today,' which focused on bicycle safety and life in our bicycling community. For some time, Bruce choreographed, produced and conducted the program, and then turned it over to Ann Morrow, past president of the Portland Bicycling Club and president of NWBSC, who has been a 'rock' in the council for most of its life."
The mission of NWBSC will also continue, with a transfer of assets to the nonprofit Bike Clark County in Vancouver, Washington.
Ann Morrow, Vancouver, Washington
Postal Service is under attack at the worst possible time
Mail-in voting is clearly the way we need to vote now especially for president.
The minority is now attacking the post office, trying to shut it down in-time for their election tampering season.
Years ago, my uncle worked at the post office when messing with retirements and pensions was in style. Republicans set up some strange system for the post office that sent its budget into a tailspin.
Now, when we are depending on mail to let us stay home and avoid spreading the virus, some fools want to defund U.S. Mail. This is one of the worst things we could do right now.
I urge Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, Sen. Jeff Merkley and Sen. Ron Wyden to support the U.S. Postal Service.
Alden John Snow, Gales Creek
Action needed to stop exploitation
Recently, a bipartisan group of 33 attorney generals, including Oregon's Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, signed letters to five of the top online marketplaces. These top law enforcement officers are writing to Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Walmart and Facebook because while Americans are physically distancing and trying to stay healthy, retailers are charging outrageous prices for basic necessities.
As "Complaints flood Oregon's new coronavirus price-gouging hotline" from The Oregonian showed, we are facing dramatically higher prices. Items like hand sanitizer, thermometers, and masks are being sold for 50% or more what they usually cost. This sort of price gouging is illegal during emergencies like we're in now.
State legislators are now also calling on these companies to implement three solutions to protect the public from predatory price gouging.
• Set hard caps on prices based on the 90-day average before an emergency is declared.
• Trigger price gouging protections independent of, or prior to an emergency declaration.
• Create and maintain a "fair pricing" page/portal where consumers can report price gouging incidents to the company directly.
These companies have the technological capability and responsibility to crack down on price gouging and prevent it from occurring in future crises. In this time of crisis, everyone needs to do their part, especially some of the largest companies in the world.
Kat Altaffer, Southwest Portland
Coronavirus shouldn't make it harder to vote in Oregon
Where did the ballot boxes go?
Trying to drop off my ballot in Hillsboro today, there was no box at Shute Library, no box at the Washington County building on First Street, no box at City Hall!
I stopped twice to ask people and finally found a box next to the jail — after 40 minutes of hunting. There was nothing on the Washington County website that I could find, either, and another dead end on a state website, too.
I have lived here and voted for decades in this county. Yes, there is COVID, but it should not prevent people from voting.
This is worrisome, considering we have a general election in November.
Sue Bliss, Hillsboro
Slaughter system is bad for environment
Concentrated animal feeding operations, otherwise known as CAFOs, are incredibly detrimental to animal, environmental, and overall human health. It is a wonder to me how they are so commonplace in America.
This is one of the most upsetting topics when it comes to America's industrialized agricultural system. They promote the use of monocropping to feed scores of abused animals, which is detrimental to soil health and air quality. Not only that, but CAFOs have permits for point source discharging of pollutants. This means they can dump their excess waste into a nearby river or stream. This has huge effects on delicate stream ecosystems as well as greater implications on larger ecosystems.
This fact is also a huge human health risk. If this waste makes its way into a rural town's waterways, the risk of infection from bacteria like E. coli becomes likely. The treatment of the animals on these sites is also abhorrent, often packing animals like chickens and cows shoulder to shoulder and feeding them loads of antibiotics.
It's astounding to me that CAFOs and all of their flaws have become so normalized and mainstream that they don't really make headlines anymore.
One thing I try to do to avoid supporting these types of feeding operations is what's known as "voting with your dollar." Doing research and choosing to buy from companies that don't support these farms is essential in order to take profits away from farms that exploit animals, the environment and humans.
It's also super-important to bring attention to these issues, it's something that I wish more new outlets did on a regular basis, possibly before the ill-effects have done damage to the surrounding area.
The importance of community action cannot be understated when it comes to stopping the development or expansion of CAFOs. Small communities are most likely to be affected, and with careful organization, these small communities can create great change that support human and environmental health.
Nicolas Stevens, Forest Grove
Two kinds of people in our community
Bravo to the many citizens who have responded to this pandemic with respect and compassion for their fellow citizens. While we would all like to get back to business as usual, this is not going to happen in the immediate future. Already reports of spikes in cases in countries that have "reopened" are making news. We need to take time and continue to follow common sense practices — wearing a mask in public and social distancing — especially if we want to see more businesses open.
To those citizens who refuse to wear a mask while grocery shopping, wake up! Perhaps you don't have an older family member, a pregnant wife or a child, but many of us do. Perhaps you don't know anyone who is continuing to put their life at risk so that you can get your groceries, but many of us have loved ones performing these services.
You are part of a community whether you want to be or not.
How selfish and inconsiderate to suggest that your rights are being infringed upon when so many are taking risks for you. This has nothing to do with rights. It has to do with showing some respect for others who are performing a service for you at risk to their own life. We are all part of one community and need to act as one community.
Eileen Sleva, Hillsboro
An open letter to Gov. Kate Brown and Washington County commissioners
After reading the article in the May 14 Times, it appears the only thing holding Washington County back from opening is the lack of contact tracers. And that could be 2-4 weeks away.
I have some questions:
1. When did the county first learn that contact tracers were required?
2. Why didn't the county seek help from other agencies to fill this need?
3. How many people can not work in Washington County?
4. Has domestic violence shown an uptrend since mid-March?
5. Have suicides increased since mid-March?
6. How many people are going to have serious financial problems not working for 2-3 months?
7. Will that lead to serious health problems for them?
Stay home, save lives, go broke.
Please, please open Washington County again fast.
George Thompson, Beaverton
Recognizing Bonamici's advocacy for vital healthcare program
First, I would like to extend my gratitude to Rep. Suzanne Bonamici. She has always been a champion of the Medicare Advantage program, which provides quality health insurance to seniors.
In 2019, I experienced a serious health situation that required the services of several doctors, surgery and physical therapy. I had access to the most advanced medical care because of my Medicare Advantage coverage.
I appreciate that Medicare Advantage offered me peace of mind in a challenging time. I did not have to worry about paperwork or approvals which can be confusing and complicated.
The Medicare Advantage program worked well for me, and I feel confident that it will continue to provide for me in the future. During this COVID-19 crisis, it's reassuring to know that I'm protected, should I need it. I feel better knowing I have Congresswoman Bonamici watching out for me, too.
Suzie Herburger, Raleigh Hills
Who is hoarding the garbanzo beans?
Our struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in ways we never foresaw. One problem we now endure is shortages. Toilet paper, soap, disinfectants, frozen pizzas, the list goes on.
When we go to the grocery store, we see empty shelves. The grocers strive to restock foods quickly, but some patrons fear what they see today will be gone tomorrow. So, prudent shoppers buy more than what they need immediately, just in case.
I never fully realized how deep the disruption has become until last week, when I went to the store to buy garbanzo beans. I like hummus, a condiment often served in Greek and Lebanese restaurants. It is filled with protein and vitamins and few calories. A good snack. Hummus has become an important part of my diet. The dish is easy to prepare, and garbanzo beans are the principal ingredient. I use them frequently, but I was out.
At the shelf, I reached for three small cans of the beans but then I saw the sign: I could only take two. Not long before, they were selling 10 cans of garbanzos for $10. But I thought then buying all those at once would be greedy. Imprudent?
For garbanzo beans are now subject to rationing, as tires and gasoline during World War II.
I should not have been surprised. Stores are warning us that staple foods such as meat and fish may become less available. I guess hummus fans must share the burden.
We hear many loud complaints about who is responsible for our predicament. Yet, despite President Donald Trump's intimations, I am sure Barack Obama is not responsible for the shortage of garbanzo beans.
As I wrote this paper, I was down to one can. I thought I had better go back and see if I could score another one. Lots of beans were on the shelves, white beans, cannelli beans, red beans, black beans, navy beans, baked beans. But no garbanzos.
Am I being punished for trying to do the right thing?
Richard Botteri, Beaverton
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