Letters to the Editor 9/13/23
Last updated 9/12/2023 at 10:03am
Haves and have-nots
To the Editor:
It’s all about the haves and the have-nots.
The Sisters City Council vote last week against approving a warming shelter says that a majority of the Council adheres to the view that the haves are not obligated to provide assistance to the have-nots. It’s a view of callous indifference toward those of lesser means. Just let them freeze to death.
The votes by City Councilors Michael Preedin, Gary Ross, and Jennifer Letz suggest the majority of citizens in Sisters believe in the fearmongering by shelter opponents. The next opportunity to vote for these councilors will give Sisters citizens a say as to whether or not they adhere to their position of opposition to providing public largesse to the less fortunate.
Council President Andrea Blum and Councilor Susan Cobb have a different opinion about what the Sisters citizenry believes. They apparently support the notion that those of lesser means deserve being helped by the haves. Voting to keep Blum and Cobb in office will be a chance for voters to say they don’t support the opposition to the shelter reflected by the votes of Letz, Preedin, and Ross.
These councilors could be wrong about what the citizens of Sisters believe. Let’s hope so.
To the Editor:
I am writing in support of the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter purchasing the building on Barclay. Sisters greatly needs an emergency shelter and daytime resource center to provide basic needs for our neighbors. Supporting this shelter is the best way for our city and community to show that we are truly a welcoming place. Supporting our unhoused neighbors is critical as summers get hotter and smokier and winters continue to be cold and uninviting for those living outdoors.
I know folks will have a lot to say to deter this shelter from coming to fruition, but I ask the City councilors to think about these statements and try to understand the underlying fears and lack of empathy in these statements. If we are truly caring for each other, we can see that a shelter is the best thing we can provide for our neighbors. It’s time to show that we value people over property.
According to the Sisters Country Vision, Sisters strives to “actively seek to improve our community’s quality of life, economic opportunity and affordability for all residents, and the facilities, programs and services that enrich and sustain our lives.”
We need more programs and services to support those living in poverty, and the proposed Cold Weather Shelter is just that. Additionally, the vision for a Connected Sisters, Strategy 4: Diversity and Inclusion states that the City will “bring Sisters Country’s less frequently heard voices into a more diverse, welcoming and inclusive community conversation, fostering greater tolerance in the community helping newcomers as well as long-time residents to feel valued and supported.”
Approving the Cold Weather Shelter is the best way to actually do what the Vision asks.
We need to come together as a community to support our neighbors and give them a place for reprieve from the elements and to provide basic needs. We are all residents of Sisters, whether we are housed or living outdoors.
Check your sources
To the Editor:
In reply to Art Mitchell’s letter of August 30 (Biden failures), I want to point out a few “inaccuracies” listed.
Claim: The president has signed no bipartisan legislation. To the contrary, I found quite a few nonpartisan bills pretty quickly:
• Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests in rebuilding roads, bridges, ports, and airports.
• Bipartisan bill to crack down on fraud in the COVID-19 relief program.
• Bipartisan PACT Act — is the most significant expansion of veterans health care and benefits in more than 30 years.
• Bipartisan bill to suspend the debt limit until 2025.
There were several other claims and accusations listed, some valid and some not. It was a pretty quick keyboard action on my part to research his claims, and I will leave that to readers to do the same. However, what does bother me most is that people just don’t want to take the time to check. They believe what they hear regardless of its validity.
At one time, this was known as plain old country gossip.
So, while we all know who Mr. Mitchell doesn’t want in office in the next presidential election, let’s hope he makes an informed and ethical decision on who should be sitting there.
As for me, I will vote for the candidate who represents all Americans, not just a select few groups of their choosing or religious affiliation. And I will not vote for a candidate who has acted so unethically that he has a buttload of indictments looming—and a penchant for bullying people when things don’t go his way.
In summary, before you pitch your tent in any political camp, please check sources. Weed out the bias from the facts. Unfortunately, we all will have to do the homework to get through the smoke and mirrors of the 2024 election.
There’s a saying that the person who can’t read is still far above the person who won’t read. It’s a good rule to follow. That saying has been attributed to author and journalist Mark Twain. However, that’s not true. Mr. Twain never said it.
Loaves and fishes
To the Editor:
The following “note” was attached to the petition that is making its way around the town of Sisters lately. I found it on one of Sisters’ public bulletin boards here in town. The petition is in opposition to the homeless inclement weather facility that has been discussed in length over the last couple of months.
Personally, my politics are neither left nor right but after reading this I felt that a much broader swath of Sisters citizens might take a moment and look deeper into themselves about how they view this ongoing situation:
“Someone’s willingness to help others says a lot about them. Conversely, opposition to something like this also says a lot. Welcome to the real world — change is inevitable. Do something to help or shut up. You should be spending your time/ effort helping others — not trying to stop people from doing so. If you are religious, you should be ashamed. DO BETTER!”
End of note!
Maybe ask yourselves WWJD? Story of loaves and fishes comes to mind!
It will be interesting to see where this ends up and as a town how we live with it.
Thoughts on shelter
To the Editor:
While I seldom find myself compelled to write a letter to the editor, the sentiments expressed during the recent City Council meeting on Tuesday, September 5, coupled with my own unspoken thoughts, urge me to share my perspective. I’ve been fortunate to play a role, in some capacity, at the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter (SCWS). Although I may not have initially felt a strong inclination to assist those experiencing houselessness, I am troubled by the distressing state of our communities in this regard.
My life has been enriched, and my connection to the community deepened, through my involvement with the SCWS. My life has taken an unexpected turn since I got involved with the SCWS. I’ve made connections with folks from all walks of life in our community – people with homes and those without. These relationships wouldn’t have happened without the SCWS. Houselessness, though, is a complicated and messy issue, and I won’t pretend I’ve got all the answers. The presence of tents, litter, and shopping carts can be disheartening consequences of this issue. However, the misinformation, half-truths, and fear-driven comments I witnessed at the recent meeting were far more disconcerting.
Some folks kept saying we should do things “the Sisters way.” It is my opinion, the SCWS has been doing just that since 2017. It is a collaboration of various faith-based groups, civic organizations, and concerned citizens working together to provide meals, build a sense of community, and offer a warm place to sleep. If you are worried about them veering off course, consider joining the board to help them stay true to their mission. If safety is a concern, become a volunteer and get to know the shelter guests on a first-name basis. You will see how that Code of Conduct works.
Our City has a tough job on its hands. The state hasn’t exactly given them a clear road map on this issue. I am not a fan of the State telling local governments what to do either, but if they are handing out over a million dollars to tackle a problem that is not going away, well, maybe we should accept it. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” comes to mind.
I commend the mayor, council, and staff for their diligent efforts in navigating these complex waters, with a special acknowledgment to Councilor Susan Cobb for her thoughtful and reasoned remarks during their deliberations.
We might have our differences in opinion, but that is okay. When we bump into each other at the Post Office, Bi-Mart, or church, let’s remember that we are all just trying to make our community better. We are in this together, and it is alright to agree to disagree.
SCWS co-chair 2017-2018
To the Editor:
I’m so disappointed that the homeless shelter in Sisters will probably not happen. The fearmongers are louder than the rest of us, even though, I believe, we who want it are in the majority. The shelter is simply a housing situation for those needing it in extreme weather conditions like cold, heat, and smoke. It’s about providing shelter so the less fortunate don’t freeze to death in their tents. It’s not going to affect your quality of life except maybe for the better, knowing you live in a community that cares about every community member, not just those with homes. It requires a little bit of empathy from you and that’s all.
What’s the alternative? Are you hoping the people living in the forest will just go away? Should we build a moat around the town with alligators or snakes to keep them out like Trump suggested for the border? Or maybe, after the meetings when citizens are freaking out about situations that may never happen, we should hand out pitchforks and run the homeless out of town?
Remember these are people who haven’t done anything wrong. Implying that they are sex offenders and felons is irresponsible and cruel. Any one of us at some point in our lives could have been in their situation. We are not better than them. In so many ways the reason we are able to live in this beautiful place, where the average home is worth $832,693 and rent averages $2,650, basically comes down to just plain old luck. We need to stop acting like we chose the right parents and worked harder than everyone else. But, hey, maybe you and your family members really are smarter, work harder, go to church, are fortunate enough to not have any serious health issues or mental illness. Maybe you don’t really care that much about the brother who has addiction issues. The thing is, it really doesn’t matter. It still does not give any of us the right to demonize the homeless and treat them with contempt.
Ex-president Donald Trump is a convicted sex offender and the owner of six residences. Owning a home doesn’t make him an upstanding citizen. Regardless, even he should be able to stay in a shelter in extreme weather, although I am looking forward to the day when he’s serving time in federal prison and wouldn’t need one anyway.