The Times gets readers' thoughts on common courtesy, COVID-19 restrictions, public education and more.

'Democrat' epithet is juvenile, counterproductive

There are a lot of Republicans who persist in referring to the "Democrat Party" while discussing the importance of working with "the other side of the aisle" to get something done for the good of Oregon.

The Democratic Party has been using that name since 1828, and calling it anything else is an epithet, an insult and in my opinion, childish.

Insulting the people on the other side of the aisle is a waste of time and effort. Time to grow up and get back to work.

LaVerne Landauer, Beaverton

Touched by strangers' kindness at Sherwood DMV

I just want to share something that happened to me today that shows the goodness in people.

I was in line at the Sherwood DMV waiting to be helped. I walk with a cane due to arthritis in my knee. There was a long line in front of us, and the couple ahead of me told me to sit down in a nearby chair and they would let me know when it was my turn to be helped. This they did.

I was so overwhelmed that someone would be so kind and helpful. I so hope they will see this letter and know how much this meant to me.

Yes, there really are many good people in this crazy world of ours. My sincere thanks to this couple.

Larry Daw, Tigard

Re-elect Eric Campbell to Sherwood School Board

While Sherwood now has some of the best school facilities in Oregon, the need to prepare students for new challenges continues.

The direction from the school board needs to include a solid academic curriculum, an environment for all students to grow academically and opportunities to participate in activities including sports, fine arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning opportunities. Paths for both college and vocational careers continue to be essential.

This requires school board members to bring excellent varied backgrounds and work together to lay out an outstanding vision for the Sherwood schools.

How many times have you heard, "We need to follow the science"? When visiting Sherwood schools, you may see students using 3-D printing machines or building and programing computers or designing and programming robots. Our family has enjoyed seeing Sherwood math students gain understanding and confidence around our kitchen table. These examples remind us that our children are able to acquire an understanding of what it means to follow the science as they learn STEM foundational basics. Sherwood has been fortunate to be able to offer a broad spectrum of technical offerings.

Eric Campbell should continue to serve on the Sherwood School Board given his support for a broad curriculum as he works hard to address individual needs. Eric brings STEM industry experience and vision needed to equip Sherwood students with educational components required for college and vocational paths. Eric has been part of the team completing the recent massive Sherwood schools facilities project on time and under budget. Working with the strengths of other Sherwood School Board members, Eric will continue to maintain and improve the rich education vision needed in the Sherwood School District.

Rick and Gail Pier, Sherwood

Not a fan of last week's cartoon

While I understand that a newspaper should reflect a variety of views and that political cartoons by their nature are supposed to be "edgy," the Hitch cartoon that appeared in last week's paper was definitely outside the bounds of acceptable.

To attempt to link U.S. voting rights, racism, Major League Baseball and international diplomacy into a one-panel image was ill-conceived and frankly distasteful in my view. I know nothing about the artist or his work, but I hope your paper does not make a habit of using these cartoons in the future if the last one is indicative of the general style and focus.

Having been a regular reader of your paper for many years, I expect better and would prefer to see more thoughtful and insightful material in the political cartoons in the future.

Thank you for listening to my views on this. I would be interested to know if other readers had similar opinions to my own on this issue.

John Bloss, Laurelwood

U.S. can take lead role in addressing global poverty

In the current pandemic, it is easy to get lost in the difficulties facing the domestic population. Meanwhile, individuals across the globe are combating the same issues with fewer resources and less developed infrastructures.

All people are feeling the effects of the pandemic, so now it is important to stand together and share resources.

The United States comes from a position of global power and overall privilege. By supporting foreign markets through foreign investments in the form of aid, the U.S. could widely expand the markets available for U.S. goods in the domestic markets or for goods in the domestic markets of foreign nations.

Moving forward, we can accept positions of brave leadership or of a cowardly bystander.

As an ambassador to the Borgen Project, I work to ensure representatives are fighting against poverty through U.S. foreign aid.

Besides expanding humanitarian and foreign aid abroad, the United States should consider improving the plight of the world's poor an important strategic interest.

Although the challenge is daunting, there are numerous examples of how far poverty-reducing efforts have come. Over the last couple of decades, we made impactful advances against poverty, so with greater support, we will be able to further reduce the suffering of the most vulnerable populations.

Kayla Barrera, Tualatin

COVID-19 restrictions are for our own good

I have been reading and hearing about business owners complaining about their county restrictions regarding opening tightened up again. They ask why they are blamed when the rise in numbers, in their view, is occurring due to private gatherings of those being less than careful.

If these business owners thought it through, they would have the answer: These same private, careless individuals are then going out to eat, or work out or wherever, and inevitably, someone passes along the virus.

Call the governor and her staff all the names you want, but the fact is, however uneven or seemingly inconsistent the roll-out restriction rules has been, enough Oregonians received the message clearly enough to keep our state among the five lowest, per million people, in caseloads and deaths.

I personally feel that, yes, the governor's communications office needs an overhaul, but here is another fact: Everyone, from the governor on down, has been on a learning curve with this virus, and now new variants have entered the picture. Yes, the Brown administration has made mistakes, but frankly, a lot of these errors can be attributed to having to educate oneself, and others, on the fly.

If these business owners really need to vent at someone, they need to look no further than their own community, because, whether or not they realize it, they are acquainted with the folks who are being lax, or outright uncooperative in observing safety protocols. So, these business owners need to impress on their local county and municipal officials to firmly remind everyone that all of us are responsible for getting all of us past this period.

No one is saying people cannot complain, but please, comply while you complain.

Brian McGahren, Tigard

Make a change by supporting environmental bills

This year, Oregon observes an Earth Day like no other.

Since last Earth Day, we have lived through the extended horrors of a pandemic, unprecedented wildfire destruction and painful reverberations of social unrest. Yet today, there are green shoots of opportunity: amazingly effective vaccines, broader dialogue about racial and social justice, and greater consensus about our climate emergency.

The Oregon Legislature is considering three bills that would accelerate our state's response to climate change in ways that would promote energy affordability, create new jobs, weatherize more homes and move us to 100% clean energy, all with a focus on equity and justice. Championing these bills is a grassroots coalition of organizations representing the indigenous, rural and low-income Oregonians and communities of color who have historically borne the brunt of climate change in the form of higher energy burdens and pollution.

These Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity bills (Energy Affordability, Healthy Homes, and 100% Clean Energy for All) have strong sponsorship and bipartisan endorsements but will need backing from Oregonians from all walks of life to get across the finish line.

Honor Earth Day this year with action by calling your legislator and asking them to support this legislation.

Evan Reynolds, Raleigh Hills

Keep Medicare Advantage healthy for the people it serves

We are looking to Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici to use her voice in Congress to advocate for Oregon's seniors by working to strengthen and protect Medicare Advantage, which is used by over 415,000 Oregon residents, including over 80,000 in the congresswoman's district.

Both of us use a Medicare Advantage plan for our healthcare needs, and we couldn't be more pleased with the quality of care. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, our plan ensured access to virtual telehealth appointments with doctors and specialists, all fully covered under our plan, giving us peace of mind throughout a stressful time for seniors.

Cost is another important consideration for us. Both of us being retired, we watch our expenses like most people. And while we live a comfortable lifestyle, we cannot afford to pay unexpected copays or expensive monthly premiums. Luckily, our Medicare Advantage plan keeps our costs low and consistent.

Congresswoman Bonamici should continue to support Medicare Advantage because of the way it protects seniors in her district, and across the state. We could not be more grateful for our plan and are looking forward to seeing it strengthen, not weaken.

Terry and Kathleen Tobin, Bethany

Place history and historical documents in proper context

History can be tricky. When we evaluate it, do we do so within the context of our present times or within the context of the times the event happened?

For example, some people are offended that the writers of the American Constitution did not include women or people of color. As such, they believe the Constitution should be discarded.

If you look at 1787 within the context of the times, I think you can easily make the case that the Constitution was the only game in town. It was very radical in its time.

That being said, it was not cast in stone in the sense that improvements could not be made to it.

I think it is time to decompress our hypersensitivity about history.

Scott Holland, Tigard

Supreme Court ought to reflect our country

From 1800, there has been more than a fourfold increase in members of the U.S. House of Representatives (106-435) including 118 women in 2021 (27%). There has been a threefold increase in states added. Our population has grown from 5.3 million to over 331 million. Ethnic diversity has increased by almost 25% (Hispanics 18.5% and Asians 5.6%). The number of whites has decreased (80-60%), and the percentage of African Americans has remained constant (12.5%). For every 100 females, there are 97.95 males. During the same period, the number of associate justices has increased from 6 to 9 (50%), with 3 women (33%), a percentage commensurate with that in the House.

I conclude that the Supreme Court does not reflect our country's women and ethnic groups proportionally. We should increase the number of justices from eight to 12, allowing the executive branch to appoint another African American and Hispanic, adding an Asian and at least 3 more women.

For those who allege this represents packing, I say the composition of the Court has always favored white men. It is time it mirrors the population. We are a nation of, for, and by (all) the people.

David Nardone, Hillsboro

Now is not the time to hamper drugmakers

I was recently vaccinated for COVID-19, and boy, was that a good feeling.

This past year has felt like a bad dream. But, thanks to the development of multiple vaccines in record time, it finally feels like the nightmare is coming to a close.

As we start to reopen and get accustomed to our "new normal," I hope we will all keep the importance of continued biopharmaceutical innovation top of mind moving forward. Because the reality is, without a robust American pharmaceutical sector, we would not be where we are today.

That is why I was troubled to learn that the Oregon legislature is currently considering implementing a "Drug Affordability Board" to set the prices of medications via Senate Bill 844. While establishing this board might play well politically for some in our Legislature, it is simply just not in the best interest of our most vulnerable patients waiting for new cures and treatments.

It is not hard to understand how allowing a group of appointed officials to set the prices of medications in Oregon could have a negative impact on funding dedicated to the research and development of new medications.

That being said, I do applaud our legislature for trying to address high costs for Oregon patients, but I encourage them to take a closer look at insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers who are actually responsible for the majority of out of pocket spending for patients.

I hope our legislature will do the right thing and find a better solution than SB 844 that doesn't leave patients waiting for new innovations out in the cold.

Rachel McClain, Sherwood

Don't let state rush into tolling highways

The Oregon Department of Transportation's Portland-area freeway toll plan is being rushed.

I live in West Linn, which is in the center of phase one of tolling. ODOT's plan is to start putting tolls on all our freeways in Portland area. Interstate 205 is just the start.

ODOT doesn't know or won't share the projected toll amount or set up cost of this plan. High-tech cameras, tracking, billing and receiving payments will be expensive. Every interchange will need a system.

The toll proceeds do not have to be spent on freeways or stay in your community. The diversion traffic will be substantial. I know the roads and one old narrow bridge across Willamette River in my area can't safely handle much more traffic.

We wasted $175 million on planning for the Interstate Bridge across the Columbia River. This could have been avoided by not rushing into it.

I call for an open forum on this whole project. Tolls could soon be from California to Washington, with zero control of what it buys.

Dave Farmer, West Linn

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