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Letters to the editor for May 16, 2014


Don’t throw in the towel on the jail

“Do the crime, do the time” used to mean something.

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to question a rookie police officer on his thoughts of the justice system. Was it what he expected? Did it measure up to his childhood dream of catching criminals?

I remember him telling me how frustrating it was to arrest a drug dealer, only to have them released before he was done filling out the police report. As disillusioning as that would be for any officer, he didn’t give up. He continued to press on, maintaining a positive and professional attitude. He was taught from early on not to throw in the towel when frustrated, and he never did.

I urge people who live in Columbia County, please don't throw in the towel on our local jail. Our police agencies need to have somewhere local to house criminals. We are privileged here in Columbia County to have some awesome police officers protecting us on a daily basis.

Please support our local police agencies by supporting the jail levy.

I have heard there is a commissioner candidate who has some creative ideas on how to possibly help fund the jail in the future. You have my ear, Wayne.

I feel privileged to have known a rookie, who never gave up, and never threw in the towel out of frustration. He did get to fulfill his childhood dream of making our streets and neighborhoods a little safer.

Alan Painter

Warren

Kitzhaber got it wrong

It makes me nervous when a candidate wants me to vote for them just because the governor appointed them. This is the same governor that has allowed a quarter of a billion dollars to go down the drain on the only heath care exchange in the country that has not yet been able to sign up even one applicant online. Oregon is now the laughingstock of the country and this fiasco has become the butt of many jokes, and rightfully so. The level of incompetence is incredible.

The bridge to Washington was another of this governor’s projects and, $200 million later, there is nothing to show for it.

I mention this because people make mistakes.

The governor got it wrong. I will be voting for Cathleen Callahan. We need a judge for Columbia County; we cannot risk another mistake from the governor’s office.

Marty Liesegang

St. Helens

Praise for Mayo

I've known Wayne Mayo for a good portion of my life. He's energetic and responsible. As a father, he has raised seven kids. As a pastor of a church I attended for 15 years, I've watched him speak into the lives of numerous others. As a citizen, he's served the community in many unpaid roles — one worthy of mention was Mayo’s service to takeover Enron and place the community’s electric service in the hands of Columbia River PUD, saving the taxpayers in the county in excess of $40 million.

Wayne Mayo's idea of a depletion fee earmarked for the jail is a smart one. Consider Alaska, where state resources like oil pay for much of the infrastructure. Our county resources should be thought of as belonging to the people, and the community should be the benefactor.

At 65 cents per ton of rock leaving the community, we could take into Columbia County an additional $1.92 million per year without being a burden on our residents.

Let's elect Wayne Mayo and get it done.

Todd Gregory

St. Helens

Fact check the ads

Political advertising can be deceiving. It is up to us as voters to dig deeper for the truth.

In her ads, Jean Martwick says she is dedicated to equal access to justice. Ms . Martwick was a criminal defense attorney and was paid with funds from the state of Oregon to defend those who could not afford an attorney. The point is, she was paid for her public service. It was not volunteer work.

Ms. Martwick has volunteered for Animal Aid Inc, in Portland, which she stopped in 2008. The teen court and mock court competitions she mentions were over 10 years ago and not in Columbia County.

Her claim of thousands of hours in the courtroom is ambiguous, as an average of 99 percent of all criminal cases plea out and there is no trial. Many, if most, of the local attorneys spend thousands of hours in the courtroom.

She is talking about starting a veterans court if she gets elected. Martwick’s voting record shows a lack of honoring veterans who have been protecting our freedoms by voting only eight times out of the last 38 times in the last 15 years. She has not voted at all since 2008.

Martwick is an experienced criminal defense attorney, but is overstating her courtroom experience and her community activities. Her disconnection from the community is obvious by her statement that she is fostering a disabled dog for Columbia County Dog Control. There is no such program.

Ceton Van Meter

Rainier

Wayne Mayo is engaged and experienced

Wayne Mayo as a successful contractor and an engaged citizen who will bring a welcomed perspective to our county commission. Wayne knows that financial resources — our tax dollars — are finite and need to be spent wisely. Coupled with this attribute is the moral character that will insure all the decisions he will make are in the best interest of all the citizens of Columbia County. Too often we elect people who mean well although don’t necessarily have the required skill set to advance an agenda based on sound economic principles. To create a vibrant economy balanced with the needs of county services is not an easy task. It takes the experience and discipline of someone has “paid their dues.”

What we can expect from Wayne is a thorough review of all the issues that come before the commission, looking at the pros and cons as to how they will ultimately impact the county as a whole. I think we all intuitively know that there is rarely a perfect solution to every problem. We therefore need someone who has the depth of experience and judgment to bridge the gap. Wayne Mayo is that man.

Lew Barnes

North Plains

How DHS District 1 spends your tax dollars

Recently DHS has rented a home in Scappoose and contracted services with Iron Tribe for strengthening, preserving, and reuniting families, what is known as Senate Bill 964. This bill appropriates tax dollars to a program to reunite families that have children placed in foster care. The responsibility of this spending has been given to DHS.

The home rented in Scappoose was for the amount of $2,000 a month, as stated by the homeowner. This is 22 percent higher than the estimated rental value for this property, as stated by Zillow at $1,643.

A home that has that high of rental value has an appraised value, again by Zillow of $311,760. This is 44 percent higher than the average appraised home value in Scappoose.

DHS with Iron Tribe were planning on placing up to 14 various family members in this home when they signed the lease in April, with occupancy starting in May. Due to the neglect of checking with local zoning laws, they will be limited to five unrelated family members unless the town grants them a variance. As it stands now, that is a 57 percent reduction of services given at this home.

These tax dollars are small compared to the hundreds of millions wasted on Cover Oregon and the Columbia Crossing, but indicate how our government has lack of oversight and respect of how tax dollars are spent.

Mark Eilander

Scappoose

Mayo’s depletion fee proposal makes sense

Good leaders need to be innovative and resourceful in finding viable solutions to issues and concerns. They communicate clearly and are forthright in how they present information, solutions and concerns. They take full responsibility as stewards of the taxpayers’ money whether directly or indirectly responsible.

The major responsibility of voters is to elect individuals who will work in the best interest of the people. When those elected fail to do so, then voters need to replace them. Wayne Mayo is one of those willing to do so.

His proposal of increasing the depletion fee will not immediately generate funds for the jail. If the levy passes, it won’t go into effect immediately either. Mr. Mayo is aware of this and the fee is for road repairs.

However, by properly collecting the fee combined with the proposed increase, it can cover the cost to repair roads and provide support for the jail. The difference is the burden falls on those who purchase and profit from the rock, instead of homeowners who cannot afford an increase in their property tax.

As a business owner, Wayne Mayo, understands you cannot wait until you have lost the revenue to look for replacement funds. You must always be generating new revenue sources. So many times people state that government needs to operate like a business. We have the opportunity to vote someone into office that knows how to operate government like a profitable business. Let’s do it.

Carmen Kulp

Scappoose

Support livable communities

The loss of our jail in Columbia County puts the livability of our communities at risk by compromising our peace and safety. Prosperity for families and our entire region is dependent on public safety.

Our Sheriff’s Office is preparing for the worst. We don’t know with certainty how the jail closure will affect us. Some scenarios are terrifying. Think of the mother and children on your street in an abusive relationship. When violence escalates to the point of physical assault and the police are called, the abuser will be cited and released. Police will instruct the abuser to stay away from the home and let him go. What happens next? It is not hard to imagine the very real danger this family faces.

Is this a place where we want to live? As residents of Columbia County, we need to take a hard look at what we value. Do we value community safety? Our criminal justice system depends on a promise: if you commit a crime and are sentenced to jail time, you will go to jail. If the most critical component of this promise — the consequence — is not there, then the system does not work.

If passed, Measure 5-238 will empower us to keep the critical promise of a consequence for those who commit serious crimes in our communities.

Please join me in voting “yes” on Measure 5-238.

State Rep. Brad Witt

Clatksanie

No jail, no consequences for criminals

A few years ago, actually many, I was seated in a sociology class at Oregon State University and we were discussing criminal justice and some of the variables related to unlawful behaviors. In essence, we learned that there are really only two interventions effective in changing criminal behavior.

The first is aging. Older people do not commit nearly as many crimes as younger individuals. Of course, we do not have much control over this factor.

The second is rapid and suitable consequences, or punishment, by the justice system. This we can impact.

Forget about the numbers and the tired history lessons regarding construction of the Columbia County Jail. Without a jail to house these convicted criminals, we place our friends, our neighbors and ourselves in jeopardy every day of the week and year. Without a jail, we will bear the consequences and they do not look good, regardless of the alternatives being suggested. Without a jail, we make our sheriff’s deputies work much more difficult.

My wife and I fully support the jail levy. We urge you to mark “yes” and support the jail in our county.

Paul and Judy Nys

Rainier

Petersen knows the law

I urge you all to write in Agnes Petersen for Position 3 Circuit Court judge.

She is a dedicated attorney who has served this community for most of her life. She has helped hundreds, possibly thousands, of Columbia County residents with vigor and determination.

The folks down at Salem wouldn’t put her name on the ballot. But Agnes Petersen knows the law, and as all the people that she has helped over the years know, a high-handed, bureaucratic, roadblock will not stop her.

Agnes Petersen was a founding member of the Oregon Women Lawyers and this is not the first time she has faced discrimination.

Her record speaks for itself.

Write in Agnes Petersen for Position 3 Circuit Court judge; eliminate age discrimination in the Oregon judicial system.

Bonnie Ram

Warren

Martwick knows what a vet needs

I am proud to be a veteran. I will be voting for Jean Marie Martwick. As a veteran, I know she is candidate who has supported and helped the American veterans.

When I was on the U.S. Nautilis submarine in 1959 during part of my years in the U.S. Navy, I was very close and personal for months at a time under the ocean with other vets, and soon found out what a veteran needs.

The veterans I served with needed people in office who cared about the veterans. Remember that the veterans are the ones who have saved this country and the world from tyranny and oppression.

She is the one candidate whose heart, soul and mind is on the welfare of the veterans of America. Which of the others have helped veterans get their benefits? Which of the others take care of a disabled veteran on a daily basis?

Join me for someone who cares about the United States Constitution and the rights we all have in it and care for the Veterans of America, especially those who are disabled.

Keith Forsythe

St. Helens

Judge Martwick is the best choice

I worked as a legal assistant for the Columbia County Consortium while Jean Martwick was an attorney there. Jean Martwick was a dedicated, hard worker. Whenever the administrator needed help with difficult clients or complex cases, Jean was available.

When she worked at the consortium, she averaged 250 cases a year representing children and adults who couldn’t afford an attorney. Those cases required that she work with many local agencies; such as Columbia County Mental Health, CASA for Kids, Women’s Resource Center, Parole and Probation and the Citizen Review Board. No other candidate has represented more people of Columbia County than Jean Martwick.

In the six years that she worked with the consortium, she has spent thousands of hours in Columbia County Circuit Court.

Judge Jean Martwick has the dedication and experience that the two other lawyers running against her lack.

Vote for Judge Jean Martwick. She has proven that she has what it takes to be a great judge.

Rayette Barger

St. Helens

My dad is great, and once saved a cat

Get out and vote. And vote for my dad, Wayne Mayo. He's a great man, a wonderful loving father and a good neighbor. He's taught me the value of hard work and has given me the confidence to face challenges. Also, he saved a cat once. #HERO! Love you dad!

Derek Mayo

SHHS Class of 2002

My dad, Wayne Mayo, taught me well

Everyone should vote for my dad, Wayne Mayo, for Columbia County commissioner, and here's why:

My father has taught me a lot that has stayed with me over the years. One of them being that hard work will always pay off, even if not immediately. Life is more fulfilling when you're not constantly seeking the next instant gratification. It's about the long view. How will an action or decision affect me in five, 10 or 15 years? How will it affect others? Is it worth the cost?

He's taught me that it is OK to want more. But, if you do, you can't be afraid of a little dirt on your shoes or paint in your hair and there's nothing more rewarding than a job well done.

My father is a man I trust. He believes strongly in family and community. He wants sustainable solutions to economical hardships so Columbia County will be a place for families to grow and thrive, as we did, for years to come.

He's not perfect, but he's never claimed to be. Please vote, and while you’re at it, vote for Wayne Mayo.

I love you dad.

Chelsea R Sprague (Mayo)

St Helens High School Class of 2003

Mayo makes the most sense now

I’m writing to encourage you to vote for Wayne Mayo. Wayne is a long-time business owner in our community who has spoken up many times, sharing his ideas to bring living-wage jobs to Columbia County. He will encourage prudence in the management of county funds and prudence in working to lower costs to the residents of our county. It is time to give him a chance to act on his ideas. I believe Wayne Mayo is truly honest and outspoken. I also believe he will make every effort to keep the public informed and the Columbia County commission transparent.

Nancy Reed

Scappoose

Jail, prison or both?

Unless I’m mistaken, federal inmates are supposed to be housed in a federal institution. This policy prevents the high-level offenders from potential contact with the small-time crooks. In certain cases, serious injury and sometimes death result from a lapse in staff security procedures, enabling more experienced, brutal inmates to get their hands on a naïve first-timer. The real poser here is, does the Columbia County Jail, in its allegedly understaffed state, actually qualify as a federal holding facility? And, if so, who dreamed up such a hare-brained moneymaking scheme, and how many members of Congress gave it their un-witting stamp of approval?

James Harris

Scappoose

Jail math doesn’t add up

After 12 years of military and four-and-a-half years of law enforcement service, I went to college on my GI Bill and received a degree in business management, first in my class, and a degree in accounting, third in my class. A year after graduation, I accepted a purchasing agent/accounts payable position for three state agencies simultaneously, where I paid the bills, wrote contract bid specifications and negotiated personal service contracts for seven years.

The local jail is no different from either of my state hospitals I worked for, or the state prison that was located across the street from my office. Jail operations require administration, security, food service, medical, and building and grounds maintenance. The minimum costs to open the door and put one prisoner in jail is to pay for 40 percent of the maximum beds available; with 255 beds, Columbia County needs to fund 102 beds at $127.50 — the Willamette Valley average — at $4,746,825.

The county commissioners and the sheriff have dedicated $1.4 million from the general fund. If they rent 30 beds at $78 for the U.S. Marshalls Service for $854,100, it would leave the county taxpayers responsible for 72 beds at $2,495,725 ($94.96 per bed). According to Ballot Measure 5-238, the first year cost of the levy is $2,287,572 which means if the ballot passes the county is starting the year with a $208,153 deficit. At that rate, they would run out of money within 26 to 28 months.

If the commissioners and sheriff fill more beds with federal prisoners, the loss will only compound higher.

The numbers that have been bounced around have confused voters. I would have supported the 102-bed minimum, but not the 60 to 80 federal prisoner agenda of the county commissioners and sheriff.

Joseph Turner

Columbia City

Callahan is the right candidate for judge

I am a former client of Cathleen Callahan and I want to let the voters of Columbia County know that she is the best choice for judge.

I met Cathleen in July 2010 when I hired her to represent me in a divorce. I knew the process would be difficult, as I knew my ex-husband very well. Our children had an attorney appointed to them; there were several pre-trial conferences; a first trial and settlement conference that took two days; a restraining order trial; an order of psychological testing; he was in jail for two weeks in jail for contempt against the court; he refused to physically appear at numerous court proceedings, including the trial he requested; and then too many status conferences and follow-up to count before the divorce was finalized. He argued over every word. He filed numerous documents and did not provide copies to Cathleen. Many of his documents were nonsensical and were clearly a product of him venting and his anger. He hired and fired, or was fired by, at least four attorneys.

Cathleen was with me the entire time. Not only as an experienced and dedicated advocate for the law and me, but as my educator and guide to the legal process. She was always calm when speaking with my ex-husband, and no matter what he did or said, she never gave up. My ex has even begrudgingly admitted respect for her. This is the type of judge Columbia County needs.

Tina Blixt

Yelm, Washington

Write-in Petersen

The citizens of Columbia County have a unique opportunity to write in the name of Agnes M. Petersen for Columbia County Circuit Court judge. Agnes Petersen has been an attorney for the state of Oregon since 1960. I have personally known Agnes for almost 40 years. In my opinion, Agnes Petersen is one of the most highly qualified candidates in the state of Oregon to be considered for the bench as a circuit court judge. Over the years, I have had many cases with Agnes and have always found her to stand for honesty, integrity and to be a strong advocate for her clients; she is fair and even-handed in negotiations.

Agnes would bring to the bench an open mind, the strongest legal background, the ability to make decisions and to follow the law. For these reasons, Agnes would make an excellent judge for the Columbia County Circuit Court. Agnes has practiced as an attorney in Columbia County for her entire career and is well respected by her peers and judges.

To the citizens of Columbia County, please write in Agnes Petersen as circuit court judge in the election against Jenefer Stenzel Grant.

Gregory B. Soriano

Soriano & Associates, LLC

Beaverton