Unfounded petition

I am disappointed to see a petition circulating to “defund” the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office on account of the fatal incident 1,600 miles away in Minneapolis. As a resident of our far-flung, lightly-policed county, I see no reason to reduce the law enforcement presence here, let alone agree to their demands. Yes, “demands.”

I note that one of the signers of the “we demand” list is Joanna Turner, of Trout Lake, who is running for a seat on the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners. I hope voters will take this into account as they consider their choice. It’s also worth mentioning that two of the six leaders of the county’s Democratic Party signed the “we demand” petition: Kirsten Dennis, of White Salmon, and Linda Roland, of Trout Lake. This party seeks political power here, so the public-policy views of their leadership should be known.

And I counted 11 signers who don’t even live in the county, including two from Canada, one from Portland, one from Hood River, several from Underwood and Carson, and one from Seattle. I think they should stick to initiatives where they live, and not try to interfere with our local affairs. The petition objects to the fact that the county spends 8.5 percent of its budget on the sheriff, which is more than other “we demand” priorities. Why not propose tax increases to cover that list? My guess is that the petitioners know that their “demands” would fail. Instead, they seek to reduce our protection, in hopes of spending the money on their ideas. In reality, the sheriff’s department will not be defunded; if implemented, the end result would surely be future tax increases.

Past that, I look especially dimly on the petitioners’ unfounded accusations of racism and sexual harassment against Sheriff Bob Songer. They offer no evidence. As misguided as I think the petitioners’ “demands” are, I object to their insinuations and attacks against the sheriff. This approach is par for the course in places like Seattle and Portland, but should not be part of the discourse here. We can, and should, disagree, but these calumnies ought to be out of bounds.

Charles Pluckhahn


Young Samaritans

I just want to share a positive note about an act of kindness. When a load of paneling slid out of the back of my daughter’s pickup and landed in an intersection midtown The Dalles, three cars pulled over immediately, their passengers emerged in full force to help us. Two young women in one car and a couple of young men in separate cars immediately came to our rescue. And here I might add a police car passed us in the other lane and kept on going, not offering help in any form.

Cars became backed up quickly in both directions of the intersection but not one horn was honked nor any cross words yelled as traffic passed in the open lane. There was laughter exchanged as these Good Samaritans helped my daughter gather the sheets strung across the main street and loaded them one-by-one back into the pickup.

One young man retrieved a strap from his rig, that he had just purchased (still in its package) and added it to the ones we had, then refused reimbursement for it when my daughter offered him cash, then they all stayed until the load was strapped down correctly. It was as if they were all friends, not strangers brought together by a fluke accident. I see more and more goodness coming from this younger generation and less and less problems that they are accused of; due to the guilty few. This proves there are still parents who believe in the old school method of bringing up their children.

Mildred Lykens


Protecting, serving

It’s a shame that a few bad cops use unlawful tactics that end up sullying their co-workers — who have worked tirelessly to make a difference in human relations and keeping citizens safe — and subjecting them to endless hatred and violence against them. All of law enforcement has been tossed into the same basket and labeled the enemy. They are the target of bottles, bricks, vulgar labels and bullets. They get criticized for protecting property and lives when they use crowd-control devices.

Tell me, how else do you manage an angry and threatening crowd? It’s dangerous. Several officers in Portland and other major cities have been injured throughout the protests.

This “defund the police” campaign is an emotional knee jerk reaction. Who’s going to respond when you call 911 and someone’s breaking into your house or threatening your family? Community policing? Please remember: Law enforcement officers are humans. They love, grieve, have families. They took an oath to protect and serve, and they do that with pride and dedication.

Mike Billets

Hood River

Photo op

Tuesday morning, President Trump spoke for quite some time prior to signing an executive order supposedly in response to the worldwide protests surrounding unfair treatment and unfounded killings of black people. He demonstrated a complete lack of “great and unmatched wisdom” (Trump, 2019) while failing to address any of the actual issues the rest of the world is screaming about.

Just to be clear, and in spite of Trump’s “incredible” speech, some clarifications for those who value human life: George Floyd did not die because of low unemployment rates. It was because of well-documented racial biases in policing practices nationwide.

Rayshard Brooks was not murdered because pork futures crashed, or a lack of school choice as a (Trump made up) “civil right.” Contrastly, many charter schools and voucher systems drive more kids to already successful schools and take money from those most in need, where incidentally, black people often live.

Breonna Taylor did not die because of the “China virus” or because a rich stock market investor graciously offered minimum wage jobs to some of “The Blacks” (Trump, pick a time). She is dead because two poorly-trained officers shot a sleeping human being eight times, and because qualified immunity gives law enforcement a get-out-of-jail-free card for most unlawful behaviors. A professional counselor has at least five years of training and uses a pen to speak with someone experiencing psychological issues. Law enforcement officers often have just six months of total training before they are issued a lethal weapon and sent out into every conceivable situation. It hardly seems fair.

In 1989, Trump used his own money to buy a full-page ad in the NY Times suggesting the young men of color in the Central Park Five case should receive the death penalty. Years later, all five have been exonerated, yet President Trump refuses to admit he was wrong or apologize to anyone. I guess this was just another photo op.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Don’t defund, train

I am 12 years old, and I have wanted to speak up about what is going on in Washington and other states. In my mind, I think the one of the largest problems in communities today isn’t racism, but how the police are trained. I also believe that the news is only showing the clips with white police officers beating down on black citizens. That doesn’t mean that racism isn’t still an issue here, but it does mean that something needs to change.

I think that change needs to start with the training of the police because they are trained to be on high alert at all times. For good reason, they are also trained to shoot when a situation get out of hand. First of all, I think instead of training to shoot at the chest when someone is running they should shoot at the hand or foot to at least stop the criminal. I also think they should be trained more like Marines where they talk to the bad person and try to change their mind instead of using full force right away.

Instead of “defunding” the police, we should be funding them more for better training. Bad situations would go way better if the police were trained differently.

Charlotte Evans

White Salmon

Please bring guns

In response to Nicole Goode’s letter to the editor (June 10): I am very happy to live in a community where its members are willing to protect it. I feel safe in a community where the law abiding citizens are carrying guns and willing to protect each other.

I, however, would not feel safe in a town where the criminals are in charge, doing as they please with no one to stand up to them. Perhaps you would feel more comfortable in a city where there are criminals out of control. Where looting and businesses being set on fire,buildings being painted with graffiti and complete chaos is let be. May I suggest Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, or if you’d like to remain in Oregon, how about Portland or Salem? Those places seem better suited for you.

And yes, people are allowed to walk around with rifles and pistols. Its our right as Americans, its called the Second Amendment. Would you have taken the time to write a letter to the editor if our town had seen the rioting and destruction that has been plaguing our country? Or would you have condoned it in some way? My guess is the latter. So I say to the Grandpa with the gun thank you — and please bring your friends!

Sonnet Hinman


All lives matter

All lives matter! Scripture tells us that humans are created in the image of God and thus matter. Skin color doesn’t matter.

So how about the Black Lives Matter movement? Yes, people of the black race do matter! However, the BLM movement seems to pressure people just for criticizing them. Some want to abolish valid law enforcement, too. Violence erupts when people resist arrest.

So how about law enforcement? They perform the very important function of enforcing legitimate laws in harmony with the U.S. Constitution that protect people. Yes, there are some bad law enforcers, but they are a small percentage. The good ones deserve our respect and encouragement. How many citizens are willing to frequently risk their lives for others? Certainly, good training and character are essential, too. Let’s value lives without playing favorites.

Donald Rose

Hood River

Community and COVID

My first google search of the definition “community” states it’s “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” I could dig deeper ... But I will get to my question. It is a question. I am truly puzzled by a segment of our community — not all, but some. I have been wondering about our community’s disregard for masks and social distancing for a while now. Particularly, bright young people in the Gorge region who either misunderstand or knowingly disregard the importance of social distancing and wearing masks, and instead hang out closely and unmasked together. Maybe I am a little sensitive, because my Mom just passed away from complications due to COVID while isolated in assisted living in another state. But believe me — I get it — I was a lifeguard. I hung out at the beach with my friends all the time as a teenager. Maybe some don’t have grandparents in the area and feel 100 percent healthy, or don’t see how they could affect their immediate community. I know some of these kids and parents. So I ask WHY? Why the disregard? I am really just trying to understand… Our COVID cases in Hood River just doubled from 35 to 70 this week. I understand the exponential nature of COVID. Do you? I wonder if our community of parents, young people, and elders could reflect on what’s going on with the lack of awareness or otherwise concern for how a virus travels in a community and how we all need to do our part. We are not just gambling with personal and community health either. The desperately needed reopening of our local economy depends on keeping cases low. We are only as strong as our weakest link. So, I implore you, let’s be strong together.

Katie Skakel


Then and their

Re: June 10 Columbia Gorge News, page 2, “Thomsen recall folds up short of needed signatures” was very good news for not only for District 26, but also for the State of Oregon! 

In my opinion, “had the shoe been on the other foot," an exploratory statement would have been included in this article underlining the fact that the Democratic Party under the leadership of their “then” Senate President, Kate Brown and the Republican Party likewise was the controlling majority, led her Democratic Party via exercising this same “walk-out” tactic.

Alan Winans

Hood River

Setting the record straight

I need to respond to the inaccurate reporting found in the June 17, 2020, edition of the Columbia Gorge News. The article, titled “Governor orders ‘pause’ on HR request,” stated that Hood River County has seen an increase in cases of COVID-19 and that Hood River County was managing simultaneous workplace outbreaks emanating from two companies. Diamond Fruit Growers was incorrectly named as one of those two companies. Here are the facts:

Diamond has one employee that has tested positive. Diamond has two additional employees that did test positive, but both were classified as close contacts to individuals that tested positive who do not work at Diamond.

Diamond has tested approximately 150  employees, and all have tested negative except for the one previously stated positive case.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will report new outbreaks of more than 20 cases at a worksite in its daily news releases Monday through Friday. All outbreaks of five or more cases will be reported and updated once a week in the COVID-19 Weekly Report, which is public record. Diamond Fruit has never been listed by OHA as having an outbreak.

No reporter from this newspaper contacted Diamond to verify information.

Diamond Fruit takes the safety of our employees to heart and continues to take all measures possible to ensure the safety of our employees from social distancing, face coverings, hand washing, gloves and sanitation. We are very proud to say that when this virus was introduced into our facilities from an outside source we stopped it from spreading to our employees. For this newspaper to report that Diamond Fruit Growers has an outbreak of COVID-19 is inaccurate reporting.

David Garcia

President, Diamond Fruit Growers

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