Letters to the Editor 8/16/23


Last updated 8/15/2023 at 10:01am

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To the Editor:

Really Mr. Cornelius? You are getting your leads from British tabloids now? A new low for The Nugget. With “Chinese” in the title, the yellow background caught my attention. When I saw “British daily tabloid,” I figured yellow journalism had been resurrected right here in Sisters. But after reading the article the tone definitely told me your rag is back in the McCarthy era of the Red Scare with paranoia abounding. The tipoff was “Parents Defending Education.”

A little online research into this venomous organization backed by right-wing billionaire dark money might have calmed your paranoia. You would better serve your readers if you would do an in-depth report about the dangers of Parents Defending Education. I’ll bet any of the students who benefited from the Mandarin language program at Sisters High School could help with your research. I’d even bet they could recognize being fed propaganda better than The Nugget can when dealing with British tabloids and extreme right-wing dark money nonprofits.

Dean Billing

Editor’s reply:

Re: “Chinese program under scrutiny,” The Nugget, August 9, page 1: The Nugget received multiple inquiries regarding the Daily Mail story featuring a graphic identifying Sisters among the recipients of grant funding from the Confucius Institute. When readers see national or international stories that include Sisters and ask The Nugget, “What’s going on with that?” We try to answer their questions. An in-depth interview with Superintendent of Schools Curt Scholl resulted in a story that lined out the background and nature of the Chinese language (Mandarin) program that has existed in Sisters for over a decade.

Mr. Billing’s … over-caffeinated … interpretation of the story notwithstanding, those who had questions seem to have been satisfied that they came away with a better understanding of the content and intention of the program.

Jim Cornelius

Editor in Chief

Defending hatcheries

To the Editor:

The “Study challenges impact of salmon hatchery programs” article that was reprinted from Oregon Capital Chronicle in the August 9 Nugget is lazy and one-sided journalism. Few statistics are used, and the ones that are used are out of context.

An example is citing the $250 to $650 spent for every hatchery salmon that returned. Hatchery fish are reared to mitigate the loss of fish from habitat destruction caused by the dams, farming, logging, and development. The hatcheries should only be getting enough fish back each year to maintain future production. The bulk of the fish are intended to be consumed throughout their life cycle on the way out to the ocean by birds and other fish, in the ocean by whales, fish, pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), and fishermen, and further targets by pinnipeds, bears, and man in the rivers and streams as they near the end of their life cycle. Hatcheries regularly get back more fish than they need for the next year’s eggs, and these fish are either donated to food banks or recycled into the streams to provide critical nutrients for plants, bugs, and fish. Measuring the cost of a fish returning to the hatchery disregards the benefits of the fish from those hatcheries throughout the environment and economy.

The argument that hatchery fish have not boosted natural fish is misleading, and intuitively wrong. It is misleading because the hatchery program was, as previously stated, to mitigate for the loss of harvestable fish, not to help native production. In fact, hatcheries go to great lengths to keep the two stocks segregated. The only thing that will help native stocks to increase is to restore the thousands of miles of lost spawning habitat currently blocked by dozens of dams. The dams that have fish ladders to allow fish upstream passage but still chew up a high percentage of the young smolts as they travel downriver through the turbines in the spring.

As already mentioned, both hatchery and wild salmon have many predators. It is reasonable to assume that a native fish has a better chance at not being consumed if there are also hatchery fish passing through in the same area. The chances of survival for an individual go up, not down, as the number of targets traveling with it increases. But how do you prove a native fish did not get eaten because a hatchery fish next to it was instead the one targeted by the sea lion?

I could continue on addressing the flaws of the article, but will end by looking at the “$9 billion” spent by taxpayers over the last 40 years. Much of this money is required by law, treaty, and/or court ordered to, again, mitigate the damage caused by the dams, and the expense is more than completely offset by the cheap power the region has enjoyed, the water for farm irrigation and municipalities, and shipping container traffic that would not be possible without the dams. Also, fishermen contribute a huge portion of the funding for hatchery operations through licenses and associated taxes, and the sport fishing fleet contributes billions of dollars to the state’s economy each year.

There are reasonable arguments to be made about mistakes hatcheries have made in the past and ways they can be further improved as the science improves, but eliminating hatcheries is not reasonable and has not benefited native stocks on the systems where it has been tried.

To learn more, I recommend visiting hatchery-wild-coexist.com. And no, I am not affiliated with them, just an avid fisherman that enjoys eating his catch.

Perry Packard

Kotek and Bunkhouse

To the Editor:

We really look forward to reading each issue of your newspaper. It is a standout among local news outlets and a real asset to Sisters Country.

However, I am scratching my head about two items in your August 2 issue. On page 5 you let your readers know that a poll has found “Kotek least popular governor in U.S.” Wow! After only six months, she’s already the most unpopular in the whole country! This is someone who had to deal with a legislature that couldn’t raise a quorum more than half the time and who is making an effort to travel to and listen to the concerns of all Oregon counties. It’s way too premature to be telling us how unpopular she is.

In “The Bunkhouse Chronicle” we learn that the “experimental” COVID vaccine was a means for people of low character and extremely high ambition to “cement their own power,” not a way of saving lives and keeping people out of hospitals. The columnist also contends that our President is a “demented octogenarian bigot, who is probably a felon.” This column largely consists of one inflammatory and unsupported opinion after another. What value does this add to the newspaper? We still love The Nugget,

Dave Astle

Better City process

To the Editor:

The following was presented as visitor communications at the August 9 Sisters City Council meeting.

There is a quote by the late Robert McNamara who served as secretary of defense under John F. Kennedy. It reads: “If we can’t persuade nations with comparable values of the merits of our cause, we’d better reexamine our reasoning.”

Yet here we are and I wonder have we learned nothing from the recent gas station controversy?

I am not speaking tonight advocating for one side or the other regarding the shelter, what I am more concerned about is the process or more specifically the lack of public process that City Hall seems to operate under.

A very recent example of this was a survey conducted a few weeks ago by Scott Humpert of the DMO Explore Sisters that was sent out quietly to only a select few in the community regarding the new plan for the branding and marketing and frankly the exploitation of Sisters as a destination resort.

When did City Hall ask all of the citizens of this town if we want our community to transform into another Sunriver?

Why is City Hall spending almost $350 thousand dollars a year to brand and market Sisters as a destination resort when that will only greatly exacerbate the very issue we are here tonight to talk about, the displaced, houseless, and unsheltered. Instead that money should be used to build actual infrastructure and facilities that serve both tourism and the entire community instead of subsidizing the wasteful and unnecessary marketing and promotion for a limited number of businesses.

In 2019 City Hall voted to pass Ordinance No. 497, which stripped away the owner-occupied requirement for STRs on accessory dwelling units, That single change in policy was highly destructive for small affordable housing units. Why was this done? You profited from this? This is extremely suspect to say the least and not at all supported by the community.

Real meaningful community input is extremely necessary and critical to a proper equitable outcome instead of something shortsighted and hasty being forced on one side or the other.

During the height of debate over the Space Age gas station there was an orchestrated effort on behalf of folks at City Hall, C4C, and The Nugget to diminish, deter, and suppress any harsh criticism of our elected officials and City Hall.

Is this really a good strategy for City Hall to employ against the vocal citizens of this community?

To ignore, discount, or only listen to a select few in the town or as the mayor likes to say the movers and shakers is unfair, unethical, and unjust. Everyone living in this town is a stakeholder to some degree. We have staked our lives, our homes, our businesses, our family, and our futures on Sisters and everyone should be heard from equally.

As my dear friend Emil Smith, a resident of Sisters since 1961, who now at 90 years of age said to me recently, “City Hall needs a hearing aid.”

Mark Dickens

Community Action Team of Sisters

Cold Weather Shelter

To the Editor:

The Sisters Cold Weather Shelter intends to operate an emergency shelter and resource center that will provide essential and lifesaving services for our unhoused neighbors. The facility will be run in a manner that is safe and respectful of all guests, neighbors, and community members.

Emergency Shelter:

• Winter operations are envisioned as in previous years November through March, 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.

• Volunteers will provide a warm meal and monitor from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

• Paid staff will monitor from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

• Guests will be required to adhere to a strict code of conduct that includes behaving in a respectful manner, refraining from drug and alcohol use while on the premises, and not loitering near the building or in the neighborhood before and after open hours. They will also not be allowed to leave the premises and reenter once they arrive for the evening.

• Separate sleeping areas will be provided for men, women, and families.

• Smoking will be allowed in a designated outdoor area only.

• Summer operations are envisioned on an as-needed basis. The shelter will be open during the day for any community member who needs respite from extreme heat or smoke. The shelter will also operate overnight when dangerous levels of smoke are present.

Resource Center:

• The center will provide essential services such as showers and laundry. It will also partner with county and other agencies to provide mental health, addiction, and housing resources.

• Paid staff and volunteers will operate the center for limited hours each week. Specific times have not yet been decided.

• All guests will be required to adhere to a code of conduct similar to the winter shelter.

Any changes to operations will be communicated on the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter website and Facebook page. An email newsletter is also being planned for future communications. To be included on the distribution list please email [email protected].

The Sisters Cold Weather Shelter is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization EIN # 32-0635347;

PO Box 1782, Sisters, OR, 97759.

Luis Blanchard

Respect and gratitude for Biden

To the Editor:

A columnist for The Nugget (“The Bunkhouse Chronicle”) once again wrote a column trying to convince us that our government consists of equally corrupt people on both sides. He declared that both President Biden and Donald Trump are probably felons. No mention was made of Trump’s 78 felony counts (so far) and several civil lawsuits including a sexual abuse charge that resulted in a guilty verdict and a $5 million dollar settlement.

In contrast, Biden’s crime is somehow related to the cocaine found at the White House. The columnist thinks it’s odd the Secret Service couldn’t identify who it belonged to and yet the FBI could identify and arrest almost 1,000 people from the January 6 insurrection even though they enjoyed “the anonymity provided by a mob.” I should point out, it’s been over two years since then and the FBI has gathered over 30,000 video files including police body cameras from five different law enforcement agencies plus all the selfies and videos posted on social media, videos we’ve all seen.

So, there you have it: the sort of circuitous thinking that would help lead to the declaration that Biden is probably a felon. Nevertheless, the truth is the President, a man who has been in the public eye for decades scandal-free, is a kind, smart man with tons of empathy, who is trying his best to help people. All you have to do is look at what he’s accomplished for the average American in his 2-1/2 years in office, even with Republicans trying to block his every move.

For example, the Biden-Harris administration raised the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2025. That would lift pay for 32 million workers, amounting to 21 percent of the U.S. workforce.

Medicare can now negotiate the price of some high-cost drugs. A month’s supply of insulin for seniors is capped at $35 and out-of-pocket pharmacy expenses are capped at $2,000 a year.

Student loans: Although the Supreme Court halted Biden’s plan to forgive federal student loan debt for roughly 43 million people, Biden’s SAVE program would help restructure student loans to make them more fair. Right now student loans are restricted in ways federal loans aren’t. For instance, you can’t refinance easily when interest rates drop. With a federal loan you can declare bankruptcy but not with student loans, and so students are saddled with a loan debt that will, in many cases, never be paid off. Also, some of the loans add unpaid interest to the principal so that the loan actually gets bigger, essentially paying interest on the interest. We bail out banks and corporations all the time. Why not students?

Reader, you might not agree with the details or maybe any of President Biden’s agenda. You might think he’s a criminal or demented or a bigot or any other loony idea you got from right-wing propaganda, but really you can’t deny his unrelenting commitment to the American people. President Biden deserves our respect and even our gratitude.

Terry Weygandt


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