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Letters to the editor for Sept. 12, 2014

You’re welcome

This is a thank-you to the reporters who write for the Spotlight.

My guess is local government operates without oversight and is prone at times to self-serving decisions. I think maybe your reporting is the only avenue the public has for knowing what is happening and why. If that makes our commissioners reconsider before they act, or be held publicly responsible for what they do, then you do us all a huge favor.

I am beginning to believe keeping the cronyism out here under control is an absolute necessity if we are to maintain our current clean, safe, natural, rural life. Keep up the good work.

Mary Parkhill


No more ‘trickle-down taxonomics’

With the funding challenges our county faces, including education, health care, police, fire and jails, wouldn’t it be nice to adopt a “Fund Columbia County First” policy?

Property tax bills continue to rise, yet we are continually told the county is short on funds to pay for essential services. I’ve talked to politicians who blame the state for mandating that our local taxes be sent to Salem for redistribution around the state.

This reminds me of the “trickle-down economics” of the ’80s. Now we have “trickle-down taxonomics.”

And if we don’t spend our money the way the state says, they will withhold it from us. The federal government does the same to our state. It’s an upside-down system fraught with abuse and corruption on nearly every level.

How about turning the system right side up? Let’s make sure all the property taxes we pay stay in our home county to cover essential services. If any money is left over, we can send it on to the state, as long as they don’t spend it foolishly on websites that don’t work and bridge plans no one wants.

While we’re at it, let’s pay all our income taxes only to the state so they can fund the state budget. What is left over would be sent to the federal government. We’d just have to tie the state budget to population growth to avoid having a 110 percent increase in the state budget, as we have had in the last 10 years.

The Oregon Legislature would have to strike laws and implement others, but that is what legislators are supposed to do.

Instead of top-down government, this would return control to local towns and counties where the people can decide how their money is spent.

Larry Ericksen


Mayo reads the WSJ, but does he get it?

Recently Wayne Mayo, candidate for Columbia County commissioner, wrote one of the most bizarre letters to the editor I have ever read. The topic of his letter was an article he saw in the Wall Street Journal about “dumping” (see Spotlight “Letters”, A4, Aug. 1).

“Dumping” is a term used to describe the practice of a corporation flooding a market with products at prices that don’t even cover the corporation’s cost of production. Mayo obviously did not understand what he was reading — he wrote that he thought dumping was a “tremendous idea” because it would lower prices for consumers.

Dumping is a predatory business practice designed to drive competitors out of business. In the ‘90s, Japanese steel companies began dumping steel products in United States markets, causing American steel companies tremendous financial damage, which resulted in thousands of American steel workers being laid off. Not such a “tremendous idea” for our economy or our workforce.

Why would companies engage in this practice? To eliminate competition, allowing these predator corporations to dominate a market and then increase prices and profits. President Bill Clinton asked Congress to levy a 40 percent tariff on Japanese steel to protect American industry and American workers, and the Japanese stopped their dumping practices.

It is interesting to learn that Mr. Mayo reads the Wall Street Journal; but it is obvious that he doesn’t have a clue about what he is reading.

Keith Forsythe


Pacific Industrial Service Inc.

St. Helens

Mayo’s depletion fee proposal is a bad idea

In response to the Sept. 5 letter to the editor in the Spotlight from Wayne Mayo, the first clue should have been when you typed the first words, “State of Alaska put a depletion tax.”

An initiative to place greater fees on local aggregate miners, as you suggest, would be just like your other two initiatives. You gathered signatures and got issues put on the ballot that were not county issues, but federal issues, and the time wasted and the litigation costs were very expensive to a county struggling for dollars.

The majority of any tax dollars collected from your proposal would come from Knife River and Cal Portland, both of which have operations outside of the county. It would be easy enough for them to mine aggregate elsewhere. We already burden them with the only depletion tax in the state of Oregon.

This idea will cost jobs and tax revenue, and to ridiculously ask the gravel miners to respond to you in the paper ... I would think they would respond in the form of lawsuits should such a measure pass.

With over 75 percent of our wage earners leaving the county for work already, unfairly taxing our largest industry that provides family-wage jobs is not the answer. I just hope somebody else doesn’t take your idea and go gather signatures with the hopes of getting this on the ballot to fund their pet project. Several years ago, a similar measure made it to the ballot and Columbia County voters rejected it by a margin of more than two to one.

Also, the state of Alaska owns the mineral rights on state property and it gets a royalty from the oil companies that remove the minerals, not a tax on private property.

Jeff Kemp


Mr. Fuller, please read preamble to the U.S. Constitution

I am writing this letter in response to Mr. Roy Fuller’s verbal attack on William Allen (See “Why climate change skepticism is warranted,” Opinion, Sept. 5).

Mr. Fuller’s letter shows that he is more interested in using belittling and demeaning language to characterize people who don’t share his world view than he is in presenting a rebuttal.

Mr. Fuller states, “Unfortunately for Mr. Allen, his religion is not science, but propaganda masquerading as science. The first problem is that true science is not about consensus or majorities of opinion ... history of science is full of stories of a lone individual challenging the authority of the establishment against all odds and ultimately prevailing. This is potentially bad news for those hawking climate change ...”

There certainly is truth in this example of one person’s hypothesis being ridiculed, but then, as more evidence is presented, people’s minds are changed and the hypothesis becomes an accepted theory. A perfect example of this is a hypothesis of the noted scientist Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927). In 1896, he formulated what is now known as Arrhenius’ greenhouse law. In its original form, Arrhenius law states, “If the quantity of carbonic acid (CO2) increases in geometric progression, the augmentation of the temperature will increase nearly in arithmetic progression.”

As Mr. Fuller predicts, attacks on Arrhenius soon followed. Up until the 1960s many scientists believed the oceans would absorb generated CO2 and thereby prevent global warming. But, as data was collected, the validity of Arrhenius’ law strengthened. We are now at a point where 97 percent of climate scientists are convinced of Arrhenius’ theory, and, as Mr. Fuller might state: Against all odds, Arrhenius has prevailed.

The problem is Mr. Fuller is arguing on the side of the scientists of the 19th century. He has become, as he states, “(one) of the others whose opinion is corrupted.”

Few people deny the existence of global warming, although many believe it is not man-made. In determining if global warming is man-made there are certain facts that should be considered: CO2 is a greenhouse gas and contributes to global warming; atmospheric levels of CO2 have climbed from an average of 310 parts per million in 1950 to over 400 parts per million as of April 2014; and fossil fuels generated 40,000 million tons of CO2 in 2013.

In arguing that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should not be promoting a scientific viewpoint, Mr. Fuller states that our Constitution’s Founding Fathers wanted the federal government to have very limited powers; military for defense, a court system, a criminal justice system, and the power to facilitate trade between the states.

To see what the Founding Fathers actually wanted, one has only to read the Preamble to the Constitution. It’s one sentence, 52 words long. It states in general terms the Constitution’s fundamental purposes and guiding principles, and courts have referred to it as reliable evidence of the Founding Fathers’ intentions.

It states, “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States.”

I believe Mr. Fuller completely missed the parts about promoting the general welfare and securing the blessings of liberty to our posterity. If scientific facts indicate that global warming will have a detrimental impact to our general welfare and on future generations, our government has a constitutional duty to report that information.

We should have already concluded the discussion on the existence of man-made global warming, and moved on to a discussion of what to do to mitigate its effects.

Greg Lines

St. Helens

Climate change — skepticism or willful ignorance?

I expected one or more denier responses to my opinion piece (see “County leaders must take a stand on climate change,” Opinion, Aug. 29) and Roy Fuller of Scappoose obliged me (see “Why climate change skepticism is warranted,” Opinion, Sept. 5).

His letter appears almost cogent to the casual reader, but the devil is in the details. On closer inspection, it is clear that Mr. Fuller has established himself as the final arbiter of what constitutes fact and fiction, science and religion. He totally denies the validity of decades of data and thousands of scientific research papers, throws in a smattering of negative suppositions, a reference to a thoroughly debunked “Climategate” incident, an invocation of the Constitution and the hazards to our freedoms of addressing climate change, and he’s done.

In my estimation, the letter consists of poorly reasoned personal opinion based on willful ignorance. It is impossible to have a rational discussion with the Roy Fuller’s of the world because every contentious issue represents a moving target. The rules of engagement are continuously changed to thwart any challenge to their irrational world views. I could never have a coherent conversation with Mr. Fuller and I would not try.

Let me pose an important rhetorical question to Mr. Fuller and all deniers. Assuming there is only a scant chance that climate change is real, in stark contrast to the overwhelming evidence, wouldn’t a moral person at least acknowledge the possibility and the attendant costs to society? Per current global climate change projections, millions of our fellow human beings will suffer dislocation, increased exposure to disease, a scarcity of food and clean water, a seriously degraded quality of life, and death. No one will walk away unscathed.

How does any socially responsible human being value his or her self-righteousness and conceit above the general welfare of mankind? Short answer: they don’t.

William Allen

St. Helens

There is consensus on climate change

In his letter last week (see “Why climate change skepticism is warranted,” Opinion, A4), Mr. Roy Fuller calls climate change science a religion. He goes on to state that the science is “not science but propaganda masquerading as science.”

Upon doing some research, he could have found that there have been thousands of studies using accepted scientific methodology, and the overwhelming results have been that humans are contributing to climate change.

Mr. Fuller states, “True science is not about consensus or majority of opinion, but about unbiased focus on facts.” Scientific consensus, however, is reached when scientists can no longer credibly argue against a theory. In the case of climate change theory, after thousands of fact-focused studies, the theory has not been disproven. Because scientists have been unable to disprove the theory, there is a consensus on climate change.

Mr. Fuller also claims the data should be viewed with skepticism because “whenever government moved away from its proper role, corruption would be the inevitable result.” There are thousands of scientists from at least 80 different countries in both private and public organizations, doing this research. All of these organizations falsifying research would require an impossible conspiracy of scientists from countries such as Iran, the U.S., Russia, and China.

Mr. Fuller claims that the University of East Anglia was engaged in “wholesale falsification.” The fact of the matter is, while scientists at the university were initially accused of falsifying data, after several investigations in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom, there was no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct uncovered.

It would appear the climate change science “is about an unbiased focus on the facts of reality” and the deniers’ beliefs are based on faith — or maybe the religion of denial?

Mike Herron

St. Helens

Port, county need to reconsider their priorities

The Land Use Board of Appeals, or LUBA, was created by legislation in 1979 and has exclusive jurisdiction to review all governmental land use decisions, whether legislative or quasi-judicial in nature. “Quasi” means “seemingly,” and “judicial” means “appropriate to a court of law or a judge.”

A simpler explanation is that LUBA has the power to help the little people fight the big boys.

LUBA made an important decision last week. They rejected the proposal by the Columbia County Board of Commissioners and the Port of St. Helens to rezone beautiful farmland near Port Westward in Clatskanie and turn it into an industrial zone. LUBA sent the proposal back and told the port to start from scratch.

Please bear in mind that the people own the public land, which is managed by the Port of St. Helens. The port is our caretaker. It is time we all let them know we are not happy with their management skills. Let them know you do not want your county turned into the armpit of Oregon. Tell them you do not want them to resubmit the Port Westward zone change to LUBA.

Global Energy has now received an OK to send 50 trains of Bakken crude oil per month to Port Westward, trains that will travel through Scappoose, St. Helens, Columbia City, Rainier, and all areas in between.

That is 50 trains into Port Westward and 50 trains out — 100 trains within a 30-day period, each well over one-mile long. On the trip to Port Westward, the trains will be full of highly explosive crude oil.

This is a huge safety issue.

I attended a board of commissioners meeting last Wednesday. It was a very short meeting with the commissioners telling us of all the meetings they attended and all the good things they learned and all the statewide boards to which they have been appointed.

Columbia County Commissioner Henry Heimuller, however, let us know he actually does listen to the people and that he had been instrumental in getting a sign put up at Highway 30 and Bennett Road. A terrible tragedy did occur there, and I totally sympathize with this family because I also lost a beloved son to a tragic accident.

What I don’t like is that he used the action as a political ploy.

Heimuller continued to state that he was very interested in safety issues and that he was going out behind Goble that very day to watch road crews fill potholes.

Perhaps he should put up a sign along the tracks saying: Danger, explosive trains! Problem solved, right?

Think about it. These issues are not the real safety issues, but Bakken oil-filled tank cars are.

Nancy Whitney

St. Helens

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