Letters to the Editor 7/27/2022


Last updated 7/26/2022 at Noon

Forest neighbors

To the Editor:

Your feature story covering homeless people around Sisters was both an eye opener and first-class local journalism (“The neighbors in the forest,” The Nugget, June 29, page 1).

Many of us see the encampments daily. It’s easy to dehumanize; it can be much harder to take the time to understand the true circumstances and outlook of our neighbors.

Thank you!

Winston Saunders

Sisters has two labyrinths

It would be sad if the Community Labyrinth doesn’t survive the new plans for the Transportation Hub between Highway 242 and Highway 20 because, in my opinion, a community can’t have too many labyrinths. For several years, Sisters Country has been blessed to have two labyrinths available to any who wish to walk this ancient contemplative path.

The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, located at the corner of Highway 242 and Brooks Camp Road, finished a permanent labyrinth in 2014, the same year the other labyrinth also became operational. Our nine-circuit, paved labyrinth was situated to have a stunning view of the Three Sisters. From the beginning, the congregation has hoped the labyrinth would be used by the wider Sisters community.

For easiest access, drive to the southernmost end of the parking lot. A short walk takes you to the labyrinth’s entrance. Brochures are available if you’d like some additional information. In brief, you can’t get “lost” on a labyrinth because it’s not a maze…it’s a path that “centers” you as you walk.

Labyrinths, as noted in last week’s Nugget article, are both ancient and contemporary and are now to be found on the grounds of hospitals, schools, parks, and retreat centers, as well as churches.

They are appropriately walked by any and all persons — by those of every faith tradition, by the “spiritual but not religious,” and by those who simply want to settle their busy minds.

It’s delightful to watch children run or skip the path.

You walk at your own pace, with your own intentions.

By their nature, labyrinths are inclusive and open to everybody — and that definitely includes the labyrinth at Transfiguration.

You can walk by yourself at any time, or as part of a group event.

If it happens (and we hope it doesn’t!) that the Community Labyrinth does not survive, the Transfiguration Labyrinth team would very much like to cosponsor ongoing solstice and equinox walks (which also have deep roots in Celtic Christian practices) as well as invite the public to participate in other guided walks throughout the year, some of which are connected to the church year (All Saints’ Day, Ash Wednesday, Eastertide, for example) and some celebrating national holidays (Fourth of July, Thanksgiving). We would love to collaborate with the Community Labyrinth committee.

But you don’t need to wait for a labyrinth “event.” The Transfiguration labyrinth is just waiting for you to come and experience a walk anytime. And so, for the time being at least, is the Community Labyrinth. As we’ve said before, you can’t have too many labyrinths in town.

Rev. Anne Bartlett, Facilitator, Transfiguration Labyrinth

Not stolen

To the Editor:

Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. It was not stolen from him. The facts are detailed in a report published this month titled “Lost, Not Stolen: The Conservative Case that Trump Lost and Biden Won the 2020 Presidential Election.”

The authors are “political conservatives who have spent most of our adult lives working to support the Constitution and the conservative principles upon which it is based: limited government, liberty, equality of opportunity, freedom of religion, a strong national defense, and the rule of law.”

They are listed on the title page and easily researched online. They include two former United States Senators (one is Gordon Smith of Oregon), three former Federal Circuit Court judges, Speaker Paul Ryan’s former chief of staff, a former Solicitor General of the United States, and a lawyer experienced at representing the Republican party and its campaigns. They created their report because they became “deeply troubled by efforts to overturn or discredit the results of the 2020 Presidential Election.” They declare any efforts “to thwart the People’s choice are deeply undemocratic and unpatriotic.”

They agree any claims that “an election was stolen, or that the outcome resulted from fraud, are deadly serious and should be made only on the basis of real and powerful evidence.” The report addresses specific allegations of fraud made in six states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

It provides details regarding the 64 legal cases brought by Trump and his supporters.

They prevailed in only one, a “Pennsylvania case involving far too few votes to overturn the results.” As a result, “Donald Trump and his supporters had their day in court and failed to produce substantive evidence to make their case.” The authors bluntly confront continuing false claims of a stolen election: “Even now, 20 months after the election, a period in which Trump’s supporters have been energetically scouring every nook and cranny for proof that the election was stolen, they come up empty.

Claims are made, trumpeted in sympathetic media, and accepted as truthful by many patriotic Americans.

But on objective examination they have fallen short, every time.” Their overall conclusion is “unequivocal: Joe Biden was the choice of a majority of the Electors, who themselves were the choice of the majority of voters in their states.” Examine the facts for yourself.

“Lost, Not Stolen” is at https://bit.ly/lostnotstolen and other online sites.

Cliff Brush

Conspiracy theories

To the Editor:

In reference to Wayne Schmotzer’s letter in the July 20, 2022 edition of your newspaper (“Conspiracy theory”). He states persons that have received three to four vaccinations against COVID “are the highest risk group for COVID infection, reinfection, and chronic infection.” He gives a citation for his source: C.J. Reynolds et al., Science July 2022. I read the article and it does not say this.

This article is part of an ongoing study of 731 health care workers in London that was started in March 2020. Intentionally this group includes subgroups with different histories of noninfection, infection, and vaccination. There is no mention of a group of individuals with four vaccinations (see “Study Subjects,” page 6).

Don’t worry Mr. Schmotzer, I am not going to call you anything.

Mark Yinger, Retired Hydrogeologist

Nice work

To the Editor:

Re: Letter to the Editor: Conspiracy theory (The Nugget, July 20. Page 2).

Nice work, Dr. Schmotzer! The best letter I have read all year. Every paragraph was spot on and indisputable. There is hope!

Brian Chugg

Egregious examples

To the Editor:

In his strident defense of freedom of speech in last week’s Nugget, Dr. Wayne Schmotzer asks the reader to consider how conspiracy theory is used in today’s politics. A pertinent question, indeed.

But then the good doctor walks the reader through six cases of, in his view, egregious examples of how “the left” controls the political narrative through claiming conspiracy. Unfortunately for his argument, none of the cases he cites involve a conspiracy, which, according to the “Oxford Dictionary,” is “a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.”

Where are the secret plans in any of the doctor’s examples? The obvious conspiracy that Dr. Schmotzer neglects to cite, because I’m guessing it doesn’t fit his view of the world, was President Trump’s well documented secret plans, aka conspiracies, to overturn the election.

The doctor’s assertion that young people must have open minds that can think for themselves should be among our highest aspirations as a society. Sadly, the doctor appears to have closed his mind to viewing the world in that manner long ago.

Jeff Tryens

Fire alert

To the Editor:

If you got a letter from the state Fire Protection Division, like we did last week, you might be scratching your head to learn your property has been classified as “high” or “extreme” wildfire risk. If you didn’t get a letter, thank your lucky stars, but don’t be too sure that you’re out of the woods, especially if you live in the woods!

Thanks to Senate Bill 762, and what appears to be a hastily thrown together “plan,” there’s a whole lot of confusion going on. I’ve spent more time than I care to admit studying the State’s colorful map, numerical risk values, and definition of wildfire risk factor classifications. Plus, I’ve driven around Sisters Country, with their colorful map in hand, trying to make sense of what feels like nonsense.

For instance, our recently built home, on a wide paved street in the city limits, has metal roofs, hardscape surfaces, and only one ponderosa pine that’s limbed way up. We have underground powerlines and a nearby fire hydrant. Yet our property is designated “high” wildfire risk? Okay, I thought if that’s true, tight neighborhoods in thickly wooded areas with exposed powerlines must be rated “extreme.” But no, according to the State’s map, they’re in the yellow zone and only “moderate” wildfire risk.

I even drove around looking to see if I was imagining things. But within the “moderate” yellow zone areas, I saw properties with bushy trees next to the house (some dead). I saw wooden decks with woodpiles. I saw pinecones, needles, and debris. Yet those homeowners received no warning letter from the State. Does that make sense?

Of course, there’s the appeal process, which I’ve already done, and I’m sharing appeal forms with neighbors, but the State gave us a relatively small window of time. And what if they are inundated with appeals? Will they even listen? Another concern is how these ratings will impact home values and homeowners’ policies. I’ve heard fire insurance could go up 25 percent or more, and some could be cancelled if rated “extreme.”

If the Fire Protection Division had taken the time to actually investigate what they were classifying, their system could be helpful. Especially since the plan is to allocate funds to assist at-risk properties. Although $220 million could be spread thin, or wasted, if they don’t apply it to the right places. Like how about thinning out trees that interface with powerlines in the forest? That seems to be a pretty extreme fire risk for everyone. Speaking of trees, here’s another conundrum — how do homeowners comply to the State’s demand to cut down and thin out trees when our “Tree City USA” designation just says “no” to tree removal?

Mostly I want to alert homeowners to the dilemma that SB 762 has created. I might be missing something, but the State’s ratings for Sisters Country seems very arbitrary to me. Like someone just printed out an aerial google map, grabbed up red, orange and yellow felt pens and started coloring. Did they have anyone actually here on the ground? Not in my neighborhood. In fact, I just discovered (after I sent my appeal) that the aerial photo used to rate our wildfire risk was taken before we built our home. So, I encourage you, if you were ranked “high” or “extreme” risk, do some investigating. Don’t wait to file an appeal if your rate seems unfair.

Melody Carlson

Leaning left

To the Editor:

I had to laugh when I read Jim Cornelius’s op-ed about “The political lens,” and the accusation from an anonymous reader that The Nugget leans left. Jim, when you refer to some random person’s negative post on Facebook as a “churlish little missive” it does, in fact, sound like your feelings were hurt despite your protestation. Mr. Cornelius may sincerely believe that the paper does not lean left but he, too, is looking at it both through his leadership of the paper and his own political leanings, which he describes as having no “political home.” Let’s focus on the content of the paper rather than the character of its editor.

An example from 2022:

In your front-page story on January 13, commemorating the January 6, 2021 riots, your writer, T. Lee Brown, wrote essentially a puff piece for District 5 congressional candidate Jamie McCleod-Skinner, and posted her comments, without counterpoint, likening January 6 to mass murders in Uganda under the dictatorship of Idi Amin. January 6 was many things, but it had no resemblance to Uganda under a military dictatorship. The article concludes with a shout-out to Indivisible Sisters, a hard left organization, as well as a link to their website. This was essentially an endorsement of the candidate and the organization, featured on your front page.

On March 1, March 22, April 12, April 19, April 26, and May 11, The Nugget posted letters to the editor offering support for Jamie McCleod-Skinner in what was an obviously orchestrated effort to draw attention to this candidate, as many of the letter writers wrote similar pieces to The Bulletin and other local papers within the district. The editorial staff makes the decision to post the letters despite the fact that they are clearly unpaid advertisement for the candidate, and I can only assume these letters will begin again as we approach the general election.

I did a search on The Nugget website for Lori Chavez-DeRemer, the Republican candidate who will face McCleod-Skinner in the general election for District 5, and could not find a single mention of her name in the paper throughout 2022. Why is that?

Perhaps the progressives are more prolific in their writing campaigns and find a willing vessel in The Nugget and other Oregon newspapers.

As Mr. Cornelius states, the complaints he receives from the left are “usually longer” than the mild criticism he receives from the right.

Maybe it is because people who have an interest in journalism and the like tend to be progressive, or are molded this way through education and media institutions.

Or, as Mr. Cornelius also states, it is likely that conservatives want to mostly be left alone, and the progressives are “determined to force-feed” their ideology on the rest of the populace.

Regardless, the editorial staff chooses what stories to run, and it should not be taken as an insult for readers to draw the conclusion that The Nugget leans much more left than right in the way its staff covers stories.

This is an example of just one issue for the sake of space and time, but it would not be difficult to find others where the political leanings of your writing staff are on full display. Since Mr. Cornelius has declared his political affiliations perhaps it would be good to hear from the other regular writers for The Nugget, starting with T. Lee Brown.

Steve Woodside


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