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Readers' letters

Measure 5-234 restores community’s safety

Within the next few days, ballots will be sent out to all registered voters in Columbia County. The sole issue on this ballot is one of great importance — a jail operation levy to found our county jail for the next four years. While one of us like to suggest new taxes, and certainly no one likes paying additional taxes, this issue is too large for we citizens to ignore any longer.

In November 1998 the voters in Columbia County approved a measure authorizing the issuance of bonds to build a new Columbia County Jail and Justice Center. The facility was completed in January 2001. A that time — as is well documented in printed media — the sheriff, the Board of Commissioners and the Jail Advisory Committee decided that the county should wait a couple of years to evaluate the actual costs in operating this facility before asking the voters to approve an operating levy.

Therefore, the commissioners agreed by resolution to continue to provide funding from the general fund that had been going toward operation of the jail in the basement of the Courthouse, as well as placing all funds collected from the rental of beds in the new jail to the operation of the facility. To date, this is the case. This new facility was designed and built to have at least a 20- to 30-year capacity for local needs, planning appropriately for growth.

Today we have reached critical mass. We are only able to fund 25 beds for local prisoners. We have only been able to keep the jail open and operating because of the rental of up to 80 beds to the federal government. These rentals are important to us; however, they are not a guaranteed source of revenue.

With the passage of Ballot Measure 5-234, we will be able to provide up to 100 beds for our local offenders that need to remain incarcerated, rather than being booked and released, only to re-offend in many cases. We have listened to our neighbors and it appears that folks do not have the desire to increase overall police services at this time, however, many do believe that we need to provide the basic foundation for law enforcement, court services and an appropriately funded and staffed jail. This funding will allow us to keep prisoners in jail, where they cannot re-offend, and therefore keep our county a safe and livable place to raise our families.

Please join us in supporting this very important measure to keep our jail open.

Henry Heimuller

Chair, Columbia County Board of Commissioners

Anthony Hyde

Commissioner

Early Fisher

Commissioner

DA supports jail levy

The primary duty of the District Attorney’s Office is to work with local law enforcement agencies and the courts to promote the safety and security of our communities. Fulfilling this responsibility has become increasingly challenging due to the limited ability to hold people in jail to face charges in court.

Individuals who are arrested and charged with a crime are too often released on their own recognizance with instructions to appear in court. The reason that they are not kept in jail is that there are insufficient operating funds to incarcerate more than a handful of people. These individuals should be in jail to face charges, not running free in our neighborhoods.

Using taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently is critical. I am supporting passage of the jail operating levy this November because I believe it will be a prudent use of public funds to operate a vital community service.

When a person is brought into the criminal justice system, our office reviews reports, files complaints and prepares the case for court. All too often defendants do not show up and warrants are issued, the person is arrested again and the whole process starts over. Not only is this a waste of tax dollars, it also burdens the Courts and is a threat to everyone’s safety and security.

We can put a stop to this by supporting the jail operating levy to provide the operating funds necessary to keep offenders accused of crimes in jail to face charges in Court.

Please join me in voting yes on Measure 5-234. Let’s put a stop to the revolving door by keeping offenders in jail

Stephen Atchison

Columbia County District Attorney

Jail levy doesn't add up

FYI on the jail: The three main metro areas of Oregon are Eugene, Portland and Salem. The surrounding counties are Lane, Marion, Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah.

Average jail bed costs are approximately $129 per day. Security accounts for $53.87, administration is $9.56, health care is $34.09, operations are $19.76, rehabilitation is $4.42 and inmate support is $7.02. For a 100-bed facility, yearly funding cost is approximately $4,698,280.00.

Being in close proximity to the Portland metro area, and considering that 74 percent of working county residents work in the metro areas and county employees are paid union wage rates, Columbia County operational costs are basically the same.

The current Columbia County ballot measure 5-234 proposes $4,298,414,319.00 for 2015, which means the county is funding only 100 beds of a 250-bed facility.

Considering that the federal U.S. Marshal's Service, like Medicare, reimburses the state, county and medical professionals at 60 cents on the dollar, and since 80 percent of Columbia County inmates are federal, local property tax payers will be on the hook for the $1,506,720.00 difference ($4,128 per day) between actual cost of service and reimbursement. Passing this ballot measure will not correct this payment deficit there for it becomes irrelevant and again a waste of county resources to bring in before the voters.

Joseph Turner

Columbia City

[Editor's note: As sources for his information, Mr. Turner said he used ehow.com, justiceconcepts.com and a Lane County judicial report avaialable online regarding jail operational cost.]

Stop the cycle of fiscal abuse

Political terrorism is something that the United States takes issue with in other countries, but for some reason not our own. It is an ongoing problem not only in our country but in our state, counties and cities. If you look up the word “terrorism,” you will clearly see the word means acts based on fear, threat, intimidation and subjugation and see how it is alive and succeeding at every level of our political system.

For history’s sake, let’s take a quick local review: First, we have one of the highest taxpayer supported fire districts, run by a fire chief who does not even meet qualifications for that position, in this state with one of the lowest population bases and, more importantly, one of the lowest rates of actual fire calls. Just look at your recently received tax statement to verify the amount you are paying if living in the Columbia River Fire and Rescue District. Yet we were presented with the fear-based tactic of securing fire protection that taxpayers voted to support indefinitely through that terrorist campaign.

Second, look at your tax statement again to see the highest taxpayer-funded receiver is our schools, in general. Once again a fear-based tactic to ensure that the schools would remain open, but with virtually none of the tax dollars going directly to the students while still cutting their extra curricular benefits. And yet the voters/taxpayers have supported that terrorism campaign over and over again despite the districts suddenly “finding” excess funds following the elections.

Next lets look at the special health district created on the premise of building a hospital, even though a hospital never met state criteria to the full knowledge of its self-appointed board. This terrorism campaign was so cleverly written that the taxes would not only continue indefinitely, but also whether a hospital was ever built and opened or not. Once again, voters/taxpayers voted to support that terrorism campaign, costing themselves millions.

In the last election we had another example through the 911 Communications district. You guessed it, we would probably have lost that “protection” if a tax was not passed to cover costs, and the voters/taxpayers bought into that terrorism campaign and voted to continue paying into another special district.

I think it is important to realize that your elected and re-elected politicians support all of these terrorist tactics, and yet amazingly they keep getting voted back into office. This applies all the way to the top of the political food chain. Just look at the government shut down if you don’t believe you are being held financially responsible by terrorism. Rather than living within our financial (taxpaying) means of support, they seem to have no conscious awareness of living within their budgets. I have said it before and believe it definitely applies locally; whenever a bond, district or other tax-based issue is presented to voters, it should include the provision of adding it as a line item in that city’s or the county budget. Otherwise, it can be spent anywhere and anyway the governing body (city councils or commissioners) deems necessary, no matter under what pretense it was originally collected. Please think about that, if nothing else, before you vote based on fear.

Currently we are looking at a terrorist campaign to support a jail already receiving funding even from federal prisoners. If the sheriff does not get his funding, he claims the inmates will be released and the jail may be closed. In fact, he had already released some prisoners at 8 p.m. when they had nowhere to go, no funds and no resources provided and available for them. Ask yourself if this malicious act on the sheriff’s part was done to simply add to the fear-based tactics of yet another of his campaigns or to prove some perverse point on his part.

How many times has this come before the voters?

I have lost count but have heard if it doesn’t pass this time he will try again in the next election. Wow. Will fear tactics to pass another terrorism campaign or even re-elect a person like this dupe the voters/taxpayers again? I sure hope not. I, for one, have had enough of all the politician-supported fear and terrorism tactic attempts to drain my pocketbook and will continue to say “NO” to all of it and all of them. I hope you agree.

Georgia Kuiper

Scappoose

St. Helens, stand up for yourself

Wow.

St. Helens, I don't know what to say.

I work for Integrated Services Network, an agency that provides supports to persons with disabilities. A group of our customers and support providers very excitedly created a scarecrow to be part of Halloweentown. It was placed in front of our office at 621 Columbia Blvd. on Friday afternoon, Oct 18.

About an hour later, we asked some school kids to please leave it alone. By late Friday evening, the head had been stolen. By Monday afternoon the entire scarecrow was missing. I know our business is not alone — other thefts have taken place.

Parents, go to the St. Helens Scarecrow website and take a look. Then check your kids — do they have Halloween stuff you did not buy for them?

If you or someone you know stole scarecrows around town, grow up and do the right thing. This is a reflection on the character of our community, and if it's kids doing it, certainly a reflection of the character of the parents in this town.

Our customers, who have developmental or intellectual disabilities, certainly don't deserve to be treated this way. Can you imagine their disappointment? People will cease to participate in local events if this continues. Again, I call on the community to stand up against this vandalism and theft and collectively show what we're made of.

Becki Bozart

Rainier

Deter the sex education agenda

Parents be warned about what is going on in our public schools. The radical left has pushed in the "new-and-improved" sex education that is being taught in health classes today to advance their social engineering agenda. The first session is all about "gender identity." That's right, kids need to first figure out if they are going to identify as a male, female, both or neither. Gender identity education means learning about transsexuals, transvestites and sex change operations.

Your kids will be roll playing heterosexual and homosexual situations that are used to promote interaction in various sexual scenarios.

Many parents and members of the community showed up at school board meetings this summer to express their concerns about these very disturbing sex ed curriculums that were going to be adopted and used in our schools. The views and concerns of those who showed up were dismissed and ignored with a disappointing 6-1 vote from the school board. We were told to simply "trust the teachers" with our children in this extremely private matter.

The "opt out" was always offered to placate the concerns of parents who found the curriculum highly inappropriate. We are now being threatened by High School Principal Eric Clendenin to lower the grades of the students who do not conform to his version of the "opt out" by completing much of the same material on their own. The threatening and intimidating tone of Clendenin is disappointing and unprofessional.

I strongly urge the parents of Scappoose to stand up to the agenda that is being forced upon our children. Ask your kids what they are being exposed to in "sexuality education" classes, and contact the schools to review the actual curriculum. Our public servants need to start serving the taxpayers. Do we really need 10 classes devoted to sexualizing and confusing the youth in our district? Maybe we should focus on real education like math, reading, American history and the Constitution.

Jeff Maloney

Scappoose

Rude reception

I called a teacher at Scappoose High School to ask why the health teachers had chosen the “Flash” sex ed program. There are nine programs to choose which cover the law, yet this is the most vulgar. She didn't have an answer for me, except she said, "Well, maybe we just don't believe the same as you do." Since we have already gone in front of the school board twice about this, and they told us that they were leaving it up to the teachers to decide, I figured I should ask the teachers why they chose this program. We ended our conversation politely, but all I could think of was, "Since when do the sex ed teachers get to teach what they 'believe'"?

Twenty minutes later I received a very rude phone call from the principal of Scappoose High School, Mr. Eric Clendenin. He cut me off, refused to let me speak, accused me of a formal trespass for calling a teacher, told me I was banned from the high school and campus, told me I’d be receiving a formal letter of trespass, then abruptly hung up on me.

I tried to immediately call him back but the phone rang and rang.

I’ve never been falsely accused before, not allowed to defend myself and then be "sentenced" immediately without even knowing what, if anything, I did wrong.

He wants to take away my First Amendment rights and ban me from my own kids' high school. I’ve lived in Scappoose 20 years and raised all eight of my kids here. One of my kids was even Associated Student Body president. In the conversation, I didn’t raise my voice, I didn’t threaten, I didn’t accuse. I stuck to the facts of the program.

Please email your name for a petition against him and “Flash”: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Brenda Fielding

Scappoose

The technology fallacy

So, think before you begin reading this: it may not sit well with you. But just like many of us, I, too, see technology taking over our lives.

Our tax dollars are going into more services without delivering an increase in the quality of life. After seeing and hearing how irresponsible our government has become, I’d say we should consider how we cast our votes. I know by the time elections come around again all this will have slipped minds, our thoughts turning elsewhere.

I also have seen in and around most offices — hospitals, business, and, yes, government offices — more then one computer, screens black, no one at the many desks. I’ve seen five people in an office, four different desks each with two computer screens. One computer on the desk with its screen up and no operator; seeing this reminds me how our taxdollars are being spent for equipment. I’m thinking, What a cost this must be for all these computers, and then for updating programs. I see technology — computers to be used to assist workers, but not to take the place of said workers. I can’t justify in my thoughts computers being seen as desktop ornaments. To me, it’s the same as having a guy with a big pile of dirt, five shovels, one hand and no where to put the dirt.

I see this happening as a cost in business with this new way of communicating. Much the same with the new patrol cars are now often SUVs computer-equipped with high performance engines. (Wow, just look at the yearly gas mileage bill.)

So, with all this within patrol cars and vans, why, then an office computer?

The police often work from the road in a patrol vehicle. With the new smart phones and tablets, there’s not much need for office space.

Most businesses could exist with folding chairs and a round table. Much the same as once was known as the King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table in the 13th Century. Amazing how time will repeat itself.

Maybe this could be a tax savings. Our red lights, one at Columbia an 18th Street the other at Old Portland Road and 18th. These stop lights at the time were put in service because of the mill, but there is not such a need today. I say the red light money and tax dollars could now be better spent on job creation. These lights could all be replaced by having stop signs put in.

Dean Ebert

St. Helens