Byrne: Walden lacks imagination and leadership

To the Editor:

Oregon’s mighty District 2 is the seventh largest in the nation and makes up more than two-thirds of our entire state. Congressman Greg Walden was first elected to represent us in 1998 following 10 years in the Oregon Legislature and six years as Representative Denny Smith’s Chief of Staff in the United States Congress.

With that kind of resume and political experience, one might expect District 2 to get a return on our investment. As in a tangible benefit for us, the people whom actually live, work and raise families in the district.

I am sorry, but I don’t see it. Greg Walden represents the interests of the telecommunications, pharmaceutical, insurance and fossil fuel industries.

His salary — paid by us, the taxpayers — is nothing compared to the millions he has collected from out-of-state corporations and Washington insiders, and his voting record shows it.

Greg Walden has essentially run away from his own health care bill — a bill that threw thousands of kids, grandparents and young mothers off the Oregon Health Plan and rewarded the super-rich with massive tax cuts. But wait, there is more. As chairman of the powerful Energy & Commerce Committee, he is pushing fossil fuels infrastructure while dismissing solar and wind. At the risk of overstating the obvious, sun and wind is what we have.

Net neutrality is next, with hearings scheduled in September. Greg Walden’s biggest donors are lined up to cash in. We will pay big money for content, delivery and access. No one in this district is going to benefit.

Congressman Walden, you have wasted 20 years in Washington, D.C., enriching yourself at our expense. Your tired phrase “growing the economy” actually originated with Bill Clinton in 1992. Lack of imagination and leadership are not particularly valued in the rural West — where heart and competence actually matter.

Michael Byrne

Democratic Candidate, Oregon Congressional District 2

George: USFS collaboratives refuse diverse participation

To the Editor:

Forest Service “collaboratives” do not want to grant Eastern Oregon residents a vote at the table. They want people to “participate” but not to ask for a vote in the process — that’s why now, finally, when residents of Grant County ask for voting status, the Blue Mountains Forest Partners come out with defamatory statements of residents being “untrustworthy,” hoping to marginalize those trying to participate in a meaningful manner.

My mom had to sit through a shaming by the Blue Mountains Forest Partners because she was “untrustworthy,” because her son questions the collaboratives and how they use economic hardship to justify restricting motorized
access to the mountains of Eastern Oregon, how they use “vegetative treatments” to “restore” the forest while restricting motorized access when they help the Forest Service “develop projects.”

The collaboratives are supposed to be civil and open to diverse public input, but if that input does not align with the collaboratives’ stated goals, they become personal, nasty and petty.

The question is, can we get logs to the mills without “rewilding” Eastern Oregon? We did it for decades and grew some of the healthiest wildlife populations around. Unfortunately, the environmental community turned that on its head with their litigation strategy, and they now get to drive their message through these collaboratives, while excluding public input through voting membership.

To paraphrase a collaborative board member: “My grandmother always told me, you are the company you keep.” The other lesson most of us learned from our grandparents was “the only thing you have is your word.” Unfortunately, collaboratives members never learned that lesson, because every time they give you their word, they backtrack from it.

Eastern Oregonians should not be shamed upon requesting voting member status to “diverse and inclusive” groups, but unfortunately, that’s how collaboratives operate in Eastern Oregon.

John D. George


Howell: County should take another look at option of inland port district

To the Editor:

I am very disappointed with the news concerning the UCEDC. I am more disappointed that way back in 1996 we spent a large sum of money on the feasibility of creating an inland port district. The Union County Commissioners at the time thought it too risky to put on a ballet. (Risky for their re-election, that is.) At least that is what remember. Had we voted and decided to create a port district, much of the controversy we now have could have been avoided. Further, it could have attracted other interesting businesses here. And those businesses already here would have better standing for opportunities.

How about it, commissioners? Dust off that study and have another look. Ports are not immune from trouble either. We will never have the Googles and Amazons show up here. Nor the food processing and transportation jobs in our neighboring counties. We could be bold and try something that is an economic leg up, though.

Curt Howell

La Grande

Cimon: Legal settlements should be handled by attorneys

To the Editor:

In my recent letter to the editor about the theft at UCEDC, I incorrectly identified the sheriff as the law officer quoted in The Observer story about the missing $21,000. My apologies to Sheriff Boyd Rasmussen. In fact, it was Police Chief Brian Harvey who was quoted. Otherwise, I stand by my original words. Statements about legal settlements need to be handled by city and/or county attorneys. It is not the job of law enforcement to handle public relations for those agreements.

Norm Cimon

La Grande