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Oh, Say Can You See? posted on 10/02/2017

“Nowhere else in history has there ever been a flag that stands for the right to burn itself.” – Ken Kesey

Colin Kaepernick is a football player who has been shunned for his kneeling on the sideline during the playing of our national anthem. His reason: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.”

Pretty straightforward. It’s what he believes.

We can take issue with Kaepernick’s display. We can make a case that it is somehow misplaced. We could suggest ways he might better serve his cause. But what we cannot do is attack his right to peacefully make his protest. (See Kesey, above)

We are aware of all the admonitions and warnings, like Samuel Johnson’s “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” But we are also imbued with the kind of patriotism from the image of Marines planting the American flag on Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima – and it still gives us great pride.

So why are these beliefs in conflict? If you believe they are not, please notify our President. He thinks otherwise.

At a September rally in that great inclusive state of Alabama, in front of his adoring acolytes, Donald Trump called Colin Kaepernick’s mother a crude, ignorant, deplorable name. Donald Trump doesn’t even know this woman, all the while calling out Colin for being her son. He went on to say that anyone who stands with Kaepernick should be fired. (Oddly, Kaepernick is unemployed at the moment – but that’s another discussion) The President followed that with a bellicose shout: “FIRE HIM,” as if capturing a signature from a reality television show. Surely not.

So, let’s dig one foot deeper in the overly fertilized field. Charlottesville. (We should never forget that moment.) According to Donald Trump, there were some “nice people” among the neo-Nazis, KKK and white supremacists. Our President believes things like anthems, gestures and flags are symbols of undying patriotism. Yet, these marchers were chanting “Blood and Soil” (anthems), giving Nazi salutes (gestures), and brandishing swastika flags. And somehow, that was OK, not worth mentioning, even though one of them committed murder.

We know our President doesn’t read, he’s admitted to it. But, certainly an adviser could explain the meaning of hypocrisy to him.

We look forward to one day, once again, witnessing “The dawn’s early light.”

– Larry Berteau/Publisher

Trump Revealed posted on 09/07/2017

Last month served to define Donald Trump. If you harbored any doubts about your objections to him, or if you were concerned over his commitment to your cause, in other words whatever your opinion was, you can no longer be confused.

The thinly disguised veil has been lifted.

To wit: The President pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who was found guilty of criminal contempt in a racial-profiling case. Arpaio was known for targeting and terrorizing Latino families. He was also a devout supporter of Trump, and marched arm-in-arm with him at the head of the “birther” line.

And: President Trump banned transgenders from the armed forces. This, from a draft dodger.

And: In the aftermath of Charlottesville, where neo-Nazis, KKK and white supremacists marched with torches and Nazi insignias, brandished Confederate flags, and bellowed anti-Semitic chants, President Trump proclaimed that those who protested against them were equally bad, then finished with actually saying there were nice people among the Nazi horde. At the time he failed to mention one of the white supremacists killed a counter protester.

Racial profiling, denying equal protection, and playing cozy with the KKK can be called playing to his base. But we believe it is simply base.

Terrifying Latino families, discriminating against transgenders, and finding nice people among Nazis is as concerning as this President’s unhinged behavior.

A small voice from a small newspaper on the Mountain may not carry much weight. But to be silent would be complicit.

Larry Berteau/Publisher


‘Made in America, Weak’ posted on 07/31/2017

Finally.

In case you missed it: The White House announced in late July “Made in America Week.” Imagine the jobs that are coming to America.

Currently Trump products are manufactured in 12 countries, including China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea, Mexico, India, Netherlands, Turkey, Slovenia, Honduras, getting the idea?

The “Donald J. Trump Collection” includes ties, suits, dress shirts, eyeglasses and too many accessories to comprehend. Some suits were advertised as “Made in USA” when in fact a label showed the suits were made in Indonesia.

Trump eyeglasses are made in China.

Not to be outdone by her father, Ivanka Trump has branded clothing that includes handbags, knitted dresses, woven dresses, blouses, shoes, etc. These items are made in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai.

And soon, labor activists like Hua Haifeng – recently arrested in China for illegally using eavesdropping equipment while investigating labor conditions at factories that produce shoes for Ivanka Trump – will be able to retire once released from prison.

We are truly moved by “Made in America Week.” When manufactured goods soar out of orbit, when unemployment numbers disappear from sight, when the federal budget is suddenly balanced, we will all know who to thank.

The Trump line is heading home. This is “very, very, bigly.”

Larry Berteau/Publisher

Ever Onward posted on 06/30/2017

Flushed with what we sensed was instant success, we trotted out our first version of The Mountain Times 10 years ago. While we basked in the first 15 years of our predecessors, we embarked on a new adventure full of optimism.

That first edition, though a harried one (we were forced to convert to InDesign software having spent our previous years of design time in the business wrestling with QuarkExpress), we made deadline (there’s no alternative, that’s why it’s called deadline) and our first MT was on the street.

We couldn’t help but filter among members of the community to check the pulse.

That’s when, sitting in the back patio of the Brightwood Tavern having a beer with a local logger, we got our introduction. To us, the lead story was a no-brainer: a rescue had been made on a local mountain, as a hiker was plucked from a horrible wilderness fate.

We bannered the headline:

Hiker hauled off Hunchback

We waited for the reaction. We didn’t have to wait long. The logger held his copy and looked over Page 1. If we had been more observant, we might have noticed the detached, mildly amused smile that etched its way across his face. “Or,” he said, quietly, as if it was just meant for the two of us, “it could be Hunchback hiker hauled off.”

Welcome to the Mountain. And, welcome to the humor of the now departed Tom Rutledge. As we look back, it is still our most precious moment.

Now we begin a new decade. We have flourished, but haven’t outgrown our pants. Seven years into his tour at the MT, Garth Guibord now operates as the Editor. Peggy Wallace was made Business Manager, which was an act long overdue. She had been exactly that and more for the entire 25-year run of the MT. And Tom Tarrants was brought in as Circulation Manager. That team, coupled with our faithful advertisers and contributors, takes the reins and leans forward being careful not to spit the bit.

Ever onward.

Larry Berteau/Publisher

Let’s stay involved posted on 06/02/2017

Last month’s election had some positive news, regardless of which side of the aisle you prefer (or perhaps you chose to use the aisle and exit the arena all together): more people were running for school board positions in Oregon since 2009. At the local level, this manifested in two races featuring multiple candidates and three with just one.

The willingness to run for the office and participate is a worthwhile endeavor, and we hope that those candidates who failed to join a school board, both locally and statewide, continue to engage in the district.

And for those readers who have thought about running for the school board (only two years left before the next seats open), or simply want to be more involved, there are many ways to get involved and make a difference, and none of them require having a child in the school district.

In the Oregon Trail School District, a budget committee meets every year, typically in April, to make the budget for the upcoming school year. Perhaps not as glamorous as the school board itself, the seven-member committee nevertheless performs a crucial role in the district, but almost always seems to be in need of members. And the committee will serve as a fine introduction to the financial mechanisms (such as PERS) that drive the district’s budget.

The Oregon Trail Education Foundation works on district-wide programming, while each school has a site council that works on figuring out ways to improve academic achievement and determining professional development.

And at the local level, the Welches Parent Teacher Community Organization (see Chalkboard, page 12) works in a myriad of ways to support learning and simply volunteering at the school can make a big difference (visit oregontrailschools.com for the volunteer application).

The next election cycle, we hope to see even more candidates vie for positions on the school board, but the time is now for those potential candidates to start to make an impact and get involved.

Garth Guibord/Editor

Flip-Flop Away posted on 05/02/2017

Admittedly we have been in the forefront of dissenters to the policies (and lack thereof) of Donald Trump the campaigner and president.

The bellicose attacks against Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen, and the pointed threats against North Korea aside, we are finding some positive signs.

These are being viewed by the mass media as flip flops. And they are many: China is a currency manipulator (campaign), China is not a currency manipulator (president); NATO is obsolete (campaign), NATO is no longer obsolete (president); I know more about ISIS than any of our generals (campaign), our military is doing a terrific job. Call them flip flops, and you are correct. But there’s another point of view.

Donald Trump the candidate had no more a world view than Joe the Plumber, except for the advantages of his foreign properties. But we believe there’s hope that he is actually, perhaps, getting some on-the-job training. That’s a frightening observation, but what isn’t frightening in the world today?

We’re not prepared to call it evolution yet, but another positive sign is that Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn have been tossed aside. It appears Carter Page is next. It’s encouraging that in recent situation room photo ops, Steve Bannon is sitting in the back row and there’s no sign of Kellyanne Conway.

This remains a fractured nation. But Trump can help by diverting his attention away from trying to hold together a fractious Republican Party only bent on reelection, and performing a flip flop that addresses all the American people.

Will this happen? We admit this can be called a Pollyanna approach. But Mr. President, step carefully with your military. Listen to Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley – who has risen to the heights of diplomacy by pounding her fist and staring her Russian counterpart in the eye (shades of Adlai Stevenson).

The president has the opportunity to flip flop on coal sludge invading our rivers and streams. Surely, he knows climate change is not a hoax. He can help fix the Affordable Care Act rather than repeal and replace. And he can learn a lesson from the Pope and realize that it is better to build bridges than walls.

We come to this place with the undying belief in America. And that is not a flip flop or a recent moment of clarity.

Larry Berteau/Publisher


Defenders of Miller Quarry are missing the target posted on 04/01/2017

The future of land use at Miller Quarry was etched in stone in August 2016 (Mountain Times, January 2017), following a process that was first carved out in 1995 then chiseled down to a new plan three years ago.

Last August, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wrapped up its Resource Management Plan which designated the quarry as a recreation management area – a designation that all but muzzled future target shooting at the site along the Salmon River.

This plan allows the BLM to determine what activities will take place on its property. The majority of Miller Quarry falls under the BLM umbrella.

The argument to continue the firing of weapons in the sensitive ecosystem range from personal freedom – a misguided notion often fomented by zealous Second Amendment advocates and gun lobbyist Wayne LaPierre – and the unsubstantiated defense that shooting enthusiasts at the quarry “carry out more than they carry in.”

The argument against the quarry being used as a gunnery site ranges from the fragile nature of the wild Salmon River to the issues of safety and noise pollution. Any casual observer can see the debris that is strewn along the banks of the river and the chewed-up trees being used as targets. Obviously, the “carry out” part of the program has failed.

Personal freedom comes in many hues. It includes the pursuit of happiness. We’ll defend those who desire personal safety and tranquility over those who feel addicted to blasting away at household electronics.

The BLM should keep its sights zeroed in on the target, that is, closing Miller Quarry to target shooting.

Larry Berteau/Publisher

We are not the enemy posted on 03/01/2017

First, let’s be clear, we are biased on this subject. We believe freedom of the press to be an essential ingredient to keep government accountable. The founding fathers believed in it enough to make the press the only constitutionally protected profession in America.

It follows that the words of President Trump that “the press is the enemy of the American people” is not only offensive, but it smacks of despotism.

That he cites Thomas Jefferson as his authority on making such a statement would be laughable were it not so wrong-headed. Let’s clear this up. Jefferson’s attack on the press came at a time when a pamphleteer published that Jefferson had consorted with Sally Hemmings, his slave, by whom he sired several offspring. Not surprisingly, Jefferson went ballistic and made his feelings known about such an irresponsible attack against him.

It should be noted that subsequent DNA testing has proved that the Hemmings are descended from Jefferson. Score one for the pamphleteer.

It should also be noted that Jefferson said that if he had to choose between “a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.” This aspect of Jefferson’s views must have been too inconvenient to include.

President Trump went on to say that “our press is allowed to say whatever they want and get away with it.” This, too, is untrue. There are libel laws. There’s also a legal standard known as “actual malice.” When a public figure sues a newspaper, it must prove that the statement was made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether or not it was false.

All this spells out the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press. President Trump should take a deep breath and conclude that the press was free long before him, and will certainly remain so long after. And historically, it has only been deemed an “enemy” by despots.

Larry Berteau/Publisher

Taking a step aside from politics (almost) posted on 02/01/2017

‘I met a girl who sang the blues

And I asked her for some happy news,

But she just smiled and turned away …

I started singin bye-bye, Miss American pie.’

 – Don McLean

 

We of a certain age (we know who we are) remember “The Day the Music Died.” Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper went down in a plane in Iowa in 1959. Rock and Roll lost three legends.

This was followed in 1970-71 when we lost pop stars Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Louis Armstrong and Jimi Hendrix.

But if 1959 was the day the music died, 2016 must surely be “The Year the Music Died.”

The list is staggering: David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, George Michael.

Had enough? Try: Glenn Frey (Eagles), Paul Kanter (Jefferson Airplane), Keith Emerson and Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire), Sir George Martin (Beatles producer), Buckwheat Zydeco (accordion king), Sonny James (country), Scott Moore (Elvis guitarist), Sharon Jones (Dap Kings), Phife Dawg (rapper), Joey Feek (country).

The list goes on, but you get the idea.

One tough year.


And there was November 8.

Larry Berteau/Publisher


Steve Bates
The urban-rural divide must be removed posted on 12/30/2016

Publisher’s note: Steve Bates is a 39-year resident of Boring. He is a two-time candidate for the Board of County Commissioners (BCC), Clackamas County. The following is his opinion regarding the BCC, and how it can be fixed – an opinion that finds The Mountain Times in complete agreement.

 

The four commissioners (one open seat to be appointed) reside within nine miles of the county seat: Oregon City. For perspective, Welches is 40 miles from Oregon City. Sandy is 23 miles away, Estacada 17 miles and Molalla 14 miles. All or part of the cities of Barlow, Canby, Wilsonville, Milwaukie and Happy Valley are outside of the nine-mile circle. This demonstrates that a majority of the population centers in the county are not proportionately represented.

For comparison, Multnomah County and Washington County have four commissioner DISTRICTS and a chair. Multnomah County has 1,705 people per square mile. Washington County has 731 people per square mile. Clackamas County has 201 people per square mile. One must ask, why does Clackamas County not have commission districts?

Districts would reduce campaign costs and increase competition. Districts would cause each commissioner to live in a different part of the county. Don’t Clackamas County residents deserve a designated commissioner to represent them? Would it not be best for the commissioners to represent specific communities and advocate for them?

It is easy to agree that the county needs to adopt commission districts. The suggested change was rejected by the BCC four years ago. It can be assumed that this decision was self-serving for the sitting commissioners.

The 2017 commissioners should fill the board vacancy with a citizen who resides outside the nine-mile circle. The urban-rural divide exists. Our commissioners must ensure that the rural communities in our great county are adequately represented.

By Steve Bates

Good Morning America posted on 12/01/2016

 “Don’t even hear the murmur of a prayer

It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.”

 – Bob Dylan

We woke up Nov. 9 to a new reality (show). The Apprentice President.

Now the cry around the land is to give President-elect Donald Trump a chance, as if he gets a do-over after a year and a half on the campaign trail spewing hatred, fear, bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, islamophobia, and perhaps the worst: publicly mocking the handicapped.

We should give him a chance after he promises to “drain the swamp” and proceeds in the early days after his election to “dredge the swamp?” There’s no other way to explain his proposed appointments. Rudy Giuliani? Jeff Sessions? Steve Bannon? Newt Gingrich? John Bolton? These old hacks have been at the bottom of the swamp well-past their “use by” dates.

There’s simply too much “other” in Donald Trump. To him, President Obama is one of the “others.” For five years, he led the anti-Obama birther movement, insisting he was not American born. Women he considers “not a 10” are others. Mexican Americans are others. African Americans are others. Muslim Americans are others. And the list goes on, ad nauseam.

Are we to suppose that Donald Trump was recently enlightened on the road to Damascus?

We believe women, immigrants, Jews, blacks, browns, gays, transgenders, POWs, veterans, handicapped – all are true Americans.

And we hold these truths to be self-evident.

Larry Berteau/Publisher

 

Tick ... Tick ... Tick posted on 11/01/2016

As we publish this first of November, the election looms just a week away. It is said this is the most important election in America’s history. Perhaps we could say that about every election, as the stakes seem to be raised at each turn of the calendar.

It is safe to say, however, that this election is terribly important. And time is running out, so we urge you to vote. It matters.

One last thought before election day is to return to the words of former Supreme Court Justice David Souter. It is worth noting he was a conservative appointment to the court by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. He retired from the bench in 2009.

Four years ago, (Sept. 14, 2012) he spoke at an institute for civic education in New Hampshire. He grew most passionate when asked about the school’s responsibility to teach young people the basics about their government. He said:

“What I worry about is that when problems are not addressed, people will not know who is responsible. And when the problems get bad enough – another serious attack, another financial meltdown – some one person will come forward and say ‘Give me total power, and I will solve this problem.’ That is how the Roman republic fell. That is how democracy dies. And if something is not done to improve the level of civic knowledge, that is what you should worry about at night.”

“Past is prologue” – The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Larry Berteau/Publisher

Most of all, VOTE posted on 10/01/2016

Endorsement: Mark Johnson (R-Hood River) for state representative HD 52. This is an easy one. Johnson has proved his worth to the Mountain community. He is here when we need him. Every time. This is a rare trait in local politics. He also has the agility to work across the aisle. He is a staunch advocate of our children’s education, and, consequently, their futures. We urge a vote to reelect Rep. Mark Johnson.

Unendorsement: We are obliged to coin a new word. The ineptitude of our Board of County Commissioners – the stalwarts of the Interstate corridor – is well documented. Three of the five appear on this year’s ballot. Jim Bernard and John Ludlow are vying for the board’s Chair position. It is imperative to not vote for either one. They are oblivious to the Mountain’s existence, much less its needs. Write in someone. The dimwitted dog that pals around with Mickey Mouse comes to mind. Also, Tootie Smith is seeking reelection for Position 4. Vote for Ken Humberston. Smith is a devoted member of the Interstate Cabal.

We urge Mountain residents to not be duped by Donald. We fear for our country, yea, our planet, should he darken the door of the White House in any capacity other than a walking tour. Even then, he should be accompanied by an adult.

Measure 97 deserves a Yes vote. Oregonians with health insurance reached 93 percent in 2015, up from 90 percent in 2014 – mostly due to the Affordable Care Act. We can help those who have been left out. Measure 97 would raise taxes on C-corporations with more than $25 million in Oregon sales, and direct those tax dollars to healthcare, senior services and education. The Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association opposes the measure, even though it would affect only 14 of its members. Vote Yes on 97.

Larry Berteau/Publisher

Dear Donald: posted on 09/14/2016

September 2016

This could have been a grand moment. What a time it could have been. The door of opportunity wasn’t just wide open. It was unhinged.

No one was getting a thrill out of Hillary. It was the perfect storm for a knight on a sturdy steed to swoop in. Instead, Donald, we got you – a man who should infuriate every genuine conservative, not to mention shock anyone who has even a cursory understanding of the First Amendment, women’s issues, minority rights, Islam, the military, the list is longer than Pinocchio’s nose.

Instead of a knight errant, we got a court jester.

Donald, you ridiculed a reporter with arthrogryposis that denies movement in his joints. You mimicked him at a campaign rally, throwing your arms wildly in the air, saying “Now the poor guy, you ought to see the guy.” The next day of course, you said you didn’t even know Serge Kovaleski.

You also told George Stephanopoulos that Vladimir Putin “is not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down.” You appeared stupefied when reminded that Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

Making a pitch to African American voters, you said: “What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump? You’re living in poverty … What the hell do you have to lose?”

Addressing the possibility of a Clinton presidency, you said: “If she gets to pick her judges – nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is.”

There are plenty more: “Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?” “They don’t write good” (referring to NY Times journalists). “I always wanted to get a Purple Heart. This is much easier.” And we didn’t even mention the wall, deportation police rounding up 11 million undocumented immigrants, or your taxes.

So Donald, it comes down to this: we wouldn’t be able to face ourselves if we woke up the morning after the election and found out we had something to do with Putin You in the White House.

Larry Berteau/Publisher

This Isn't Kansas Any More posted on 09/14/2016

August 2016

 ‘Just try and stay out of my way. Just try! I'll get you!’  – Wicked Witch of the West

In case you missed it, the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) put their heads together June 28 – in their most perfidious manner – in what is referred to as a policy session. This session was supposed to be a slam dunk. County staff, counsel and a mediator had already decided what the BCC should do: reinstate the Villages Board.

Instead, sort of like turning over a rock buried in fetid soil, the true design of the BCC’s intentions was revealed.

The BCC had three choices: disband the Villages Board; put it on hiatus; or reinstate it for the purpose of allowing the Board to move forward with August elections. The latter was agreed on and signatures applied to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) through mediation between county staff and counsel and Board Chair George Wilson, his attorney, and Board Director Carol Burke.

But the BCC had other ideas. It ignored the MOU and placed the Board on “hiatus.” The reasoning: Since the MOU, members of the Mountain community contacted the county staff wishing the Board to not continue.

That’s all the commissioners needed. They jumped through the window of opportunity like a frog on a mayfly. “If we have all these concerns about trust, getting the Board back together would be a mistake,” said BCC Chair Jim Bernard.

Commissioner Paul Savas was the lone voice of reason. “We get an agreement (the MOU), now we go against it … We owe the (Mountain) community some direction, some certainty.” I don’t think a delay without cause is good policy, he added.

Commissioner Tootie Smith was quick to extinguish the flames of reason. “Oh, there’s cause here.” Running away from specifics, she went on to say the record speaks for itself, and there was no reason the BCC needed to “address every little nuance” and there was no need ‘to comment on why we’re doing this.”

We imagine George Wilson has been called lots of things, but “every little nuance” is likely a new one.

It’s now clear. This is not a policy issue for the BCC. It’s a witch hunt.

 Larry Berteau/Publisher

County Commissioners Rule the Playground posted on 09/14/2016

July 2016

In the ongoing saga which is the Villages Board versus Clackamas County commissioners and staff, one thing is perfectly clear. Suspending the Villages Board was an act of hubris, one that was initiated by commissioners Jim Bernard and John Ludlow. It served no practical purpose, accomplished nothing, and resembled more an exercise in playground bullying than an act of governing.

The commissioners overreacted to a walkout of three Villages board directors, claimed to have local support which did not seem to exist beyond a handful of disgruntled reactionaries, and sent the local board packing while simultaneously spurring an expensive consultant company survey and forcing county staff into mediation with Board Chair George Wilson and his attorney – which also cost Mr. Wilson money.

To what end?

Instead of working with the Villages Board members – Wilson, Carol Burke, interim Pat Holbrook and newly elected Ben Bliesner – they tossed them all out. We leave their motivation to flap in the breeze, for now.

However, we applaud the diligence of Wilson and Burke for refusing to fold. We also take note that public and government affairs staff – Gary Schmidt, Amy Kyle and counsel Stephen Madkour – managed to navigate the murky waters and in a combined effort might have reached a new level of cooperation and understanding.

We are hopeful. We will watch and wait.

Larry Berteau/Publisher

 

Home Court Advantage posted on 09/14/2016

June 2016

Who do you root for? The home team faithful, or the visiting Visigoths? Whose side are you on, David or Goliath?

The ongoing scuffle between the Villages at Mt. Hood – assuming they exist – and the Clackamas County officials in Oregon City – consuming though they are – is without doubt an Us versus Them scenario.

First, a little perspective (and we emphasize “little”). The most glaring feature of the Mountain community’s relationship with the county is that there seldom is one. Perhaps we foster this somewhat with our air of self-reliance. So be it. But if we are to be held at arms’ length by the county for any reason, then don’t suddenly come meddling.

The rationale of the county’s decision to suspend the Villages Board and cancel a Villages election is specious at best. Public and Government Affairs Manager Gary Schmidt cites citizen complaints for suspending the Board. When pinned down, he admitted there were three, then backtracked admitting to a mistake and that there were only two – one of which was the late Bob Reeves. That left Fran Mazzara, wife of resigned Villages Board member Joe Mazzara – whose resignation was over disagreements with the Board chair. Whatever the complaint, find something in county statutes or Villages by-laws that indicates ONE person can launch such a county invasion.

Then, with the convenient suspension of the election, County counsel indicates the Board is no longer legitimate due to a lack of a quorum – convenient being the operative word.

Because the home team did not take this lying down, the county has agreed to mediation sometime later this month. It is our hope that cooler heads will prevail and the Villages Board will be reconstituted.

But admittedly, we are putting a lot of faith in a sling shot.

Larry Berteau/Publisher

 

The Power of One posted on 09/14/2016

May 2016

Everyone has an opinion, and we all know the homily that usually follows.

But that opinion is nothing more than a tree falling in the forest if you don't vote.

The Oregon primary election is set for May 17. This is not a face off. Democrats, Republicans and Independents must wait until the November general election to lock horns. But the primary will decide the contestants. To that end, we offer the following endorsements:

Democrat for President: Bernie Sanders

Republican for President: not Donald Trump; not Ted Cruz; that leaves the other guy who won't win anyway. It's the worst field we've ever seen. It's been referred to as the clown car. We've searched, but have found no evidence to refute the referral. The floppy feet fit all.

U.S. Senate: This is not, nor will it become, a race. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have served us well, and will continue to do so.

"All politics is local" in the inimitable words of Tip O'Neill. And despite evidence to the contrary (the "distance" between the Mountain and Oregon City), the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners is having an election and we have a window of opportunity to cut down on the disconnect.

In order of importance: (1) John Ludlow must be removed from his position of Chair. There's no great replacement but we give the edge to Paul Savas. (2) Tootie Smith must be removed from the board and Position 4. Ken Humberston is a good choice, so is Sandy Mayor Bill King. But let's not do Tootie a favor and split our vote. King is local. Vote for him. (3) Martha Schrader is our only true ally on the Board and she should be reelected in Position 3.

And finally, we urge passage of Measure 26-170, the Mount Hood Community College Bond. The college was established in 1965 and after 50 years has served more than 1 million students, and has not had a community approved general obligation bond in the past 40 years. On track record alone, MHCC deserves your vote of approval.

Your opinion has value. Your vote has power.

Larry Berteau/Publisher

 

The Whirling posted on 09/14/2016

March 2016

Well, we finally got their attention. It might not have been a cozy Christmas card that got it done, but at least their heads whirled as if attached to a swivel.

This government body, newly in the whirling, heretofore more tedious than illustrative, has, in their own words, come to our "rescue."

It took a highly contentious Feb. 2 meeting of the Villages at Mt. Hood board of directors to turn the trick. (Story in this issue.) Granted, it was less a meeting than a palace coup. There were more than 200 local residents as witnesses and participants.

What happened? One half of the board of directors revolted against the other half. We suppose it was a fair fight, three against three, but in this case the tie went to those in revolt. What remained was three members of the board (Board Chair George Wilson, and directors Carol Burk and Marilan Anderson) left standing. But not for long. The board no longer had a quorum to conduct business.

What followed was the "rescue" orchestrated by members of that governing body, the Clackamas County Board of County Commissioners -- specifically, in this case, Board Chair John Ludlow and member Jim Bernard.

Their solution: disband the Villages at Mt. Hood. Doubtlessly, we had their attention.

At this point, it matters less on which side of the purge your sentiments are directed. What matters is the county commissioners, those same ones who tried initially to stop legal marijuana sales on the Mountain because of a lack of sheriff's patrols and oversight, those same ones who said they had effective sheriff's patrols against recent break-ins in parking lots of local restaurants when in fact they did not (there's that whirling thing again), have now stepped in and removed the only advisory access we have to the county.

Whether you support the walkout of the three board members, or are in favor of the three left standing, we are the less for it. And it makes one wonder about the distance between the Mountain and Oregon City.

Incorporation anyone?

Larry Berteau/Publisher

As Big as the Mountain posted on 09/14/2016

February 2016


'Men who caught and sang the sun in flight ...

Do not go gentle into that good night.'

                                                -- Dylan Thomas

 

We're quite certain Bill Johnson did not go gentle.

He was 55 years old. He lifted off Jan. 21. He departed from an assisted living facility in Gresham, ravaged by a massive stroke that struck him down three years ago.

Bill Johnson's story was epic. A living tragic character of Shakespearean proportions. His desire to go faster than any other human being was the force that drove him to, indeed, be the fastest, and to ultimately lead to his destruction.

His skis weren't the only edge he caught. He lived his life there. He was rebellious, a shameless braggart, had a tattoo that read "Ski to die," and drove his competitors nuts. He told the world he was going to win the Olympic gold at the 1984 Sarajevo Games, and he did.

In 2001 he attempted a comeback at the age of 40. He wiped out on a practice run, suffering a brain injury. He fought through the injury only to suffer a stroke in 2010 that led him down a hill he never wanted to travel,

David Ligatich, a Mountain resident forever, remembers him well. "I met Bill in sixth grade at Welches Grade School," Ligatich wrote to The Mountain Times. "I thought I was protecting a long-haired blonde girl from a bully when he raised his hand and said 'I am not a girl.' That started a laugh-filled friendship that never ended. The term 'Bad Billy' did not apply to those he considered friends. I broke my leg, my big toe and my back following him skiing, to the point he finally said with a big belly laugh 'you go first from now on, I don't want you to get hurt.' He had a heart as big as the mountain."


 Larry Berteau/Publisher

 

 

 

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Another Year posted on 09/14/2016

January 2016

 

Another Year

Holiday cheer comes in many colors. The overturned truck was an unfortunate incident on the Mountain, but the pallets of pears provided a cornucopia of delights for the community.

The snow came, with all the flavors of the season: slippery roads, studs on tires, shovels liberated from the garage, crackling fires, but most important the snow brought a much needed winter wonderland to our ski resorts. And local businesses bustled with activity brought by the skiers and boarders.

Finally, the Mountain got its just desserts. An honest winter. And a glorious start to a new year.

While we are all going about wishing everyone Happy New Year, making resolutions we'll probably never keep (I promise to lose weight but never give up my penchant for self-indulgence), let us all resolve in this new year to:

1. Play at peace like a constant concerto;

2. Spread human kindness like an unstoppable virus;

3. Remember all those who have passed and hold their memories close.

Happy New Year from The Mountain Times to all our friends. And our wish is that we may all find ourselves back here, in this beautiful place, in another year's turning.

Larry, Fanny, Garth, Peggy, Tom & Fay

Our Ideals are Our Best Weapons posted on 09/14/2016

December 2015

The carnage that was France's touched the entire world. Like a searing sword it cut into civilization and the blood will not soon pass from our midst.

There have been the usual responses by world leaders. In a nut shell: "We will not tolerate this." Well, thanks for that.

And there have been the usual saber rattlers -- mostly from grumpy old men who never carried a saber -- exhorting our need to send in the troops. There's just one problem. Killing Muslim terrorists solves nothing. Hell, they blow THEMSELVES up. You can't bomb an idea, and their idea is that anyone who isn't them is a target.

So what do we do? We fight ideas with ideals. Enlist in the army of greatness. After all, it's that time of year; a time of good cheer.

Want marching orders? Try helping a neighbor with firewood. Take food to the local food bank -- Neighborhood Missions awaits your soldiers. Get the rich uncle who has everything a Christmas present of an adoption of a hungry child in Africa. Go to someone less fortunate and set another place at the table.

All the hijacked planes and suicide bombers are useless against this army. So lock and load with good cheer. The ideals that make us free are unassailable.

Be strong. Be hopeful. Someone very clever once said: "The opposite of war is not peace. It's creation."

This holiday season we will take up the flag of idealism. Consider yourself drafted.

Larry Berteau/Publisher

A Great Man in Our Midst posted on 09/30/2015
It matters not how religious you are, or aren’t. And it matters not what religion you embrace, or don’t. What matters is a man of peace, of the seraphic smile, of the love of all, has visited us and if we aren’t, we certainly should be, moved.

And nothing was more important than the address to the U.S. Congress of Pope Francis. Among other things, he said:

“A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

“In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.”

We hope and pray that Congress was listening.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
Fire and Fauna posted on 08/01/2015
A wave of late-July events reminds us of the dangers that exist on the Mountain.

In an event that was too late to make the deadline as a news story, a black bear incident was reported to The Mountain Times by local resident Mark Simmons. It seems the bear was hit by a car on Hwy. 26 at the east end of Rhododendron the night of July 28. According to Simmons: “I called OSP to report that it was lying in the middle of the road and dangerous being so large on a dark road.” Fran Lanagan, a permit administrator for the Mt. Hood National Forest at the Zigzag Ranger District responded to Mark citing the habit of bears raiding dumpsters in the area. “It is very sad,” she wrote in an email response to Simmons.

In this same news cycle the Lolo Pass Fire story appears on Page 4, this issue. Although the aggressive efforts of the Hoodland Fire District and Forest Service firefighters – with a big lift from a Type 1 USFS helicopter – beat down the blaze before it could blow up, it is a grim reminder of the tender nature of our precious forest due to the difficult drought we have suffered this summer. The cause of the fire is yet unknown, but sources have indicated that an illegal campfire could have been the culprit.

Shouting out warnings to the local community can be tiresome, especially for readers we suspect.

But it bears (wince) repeating. 

Bears don’t hang out around our homes because they’re inquisitive neighbors. And they don’t roam dumpsters because they’re trying to drum up business. They’re looking for food. Home owners need to keep their garbage cans out of sight and smell of our black bear buddies. 

And business owners must secure their dumpsters out of reach of our unsuspecting ursines. 

As to fires, come on people. Dry conditions and nature’s lightning sparks are quite enough. We don’t need to pile on. The Lolo Pass Fire destroyed a portion of our pristine forest. Fortunately, only a few campgrounds got evacuated. Next time? Must we be reminded again and again?

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
POT-pourri posted on 07/01/2015
As most likely we have all come to grips – be it with a gleeful handshake-high five or sweaty fearful palms – with the fact that Oregon voters have decided that marijuana shall be legal, it’s important for those who will take advantage of the new laws that they know exactly what those laws entail. For others, this will best be described as a futile gesture.

As of the date of this publication (July 1), the passed legislation of Measure 91 states if you are at least 21 years old, you can possess and use recreational marijuana. It’s legal.

Again, with the 21 years old caveat, you can also grow up to four plants on your property. You may also have in your possession up to eight ounces of usable marijuana (defined as dried marijuana flowers or leaves that are considered ready to smoke) in your home. It is now legal to possess up to one ounce in public. However, recreational marijuana cannot be used in public. A public place is defined in the legislation as “a place to which the general public has access …” A good rule of thumb is if a person outside your home can see you, you’re deemed to be in public.

Driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal. Such a DUII refers to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or drugged, including impairment from the use of marijuana.

Adults 21 and older can now share or give away recreational marijuana, or receive it as a gift. Along with growing your own, sharing and gifting are the only ways to legally acquire recreational marijuana. An individual can’t sell or buy it legally until licensed retail shops are opened. You can’t buy marijuana in another state and bring it into Oregon, nor can you take it from Oregon across state lines. That includes Washington. It is a federal offense to take marijuana across state lines.

On January 4, 2016, OLCC will be accepting license applications for those who want to operate retail marijuana outlets or commercially grow wholesale marijuana.

For those who think these laws are onerous, remember the pre-Measure 91 days. For those who believe they’re too liberal, be advised they’re probably more prohibitive than those laws that govern hedge fund managers.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
Tough Fire Season; Get Tough posted on 06/01/2015
Mother Nature has not been kind to us.

Our mountain ranges have no snow. We have had a near normal amount of rain, which has resulted in our grasses and shrubs “growing away, happily” as reported by E&E reporter Elizabeth Harball for Climate Wire.

Oregon’s Natural Resources Conservation Service reported that as of May 1 the state’s snowpack was 11 percent of normal, and snow was nowhere to be measured at 97 of the state’s 112 monitoring stations. 

Currently, 86 percent of Oregon is in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor reports. Seven counties have declared a drought state of emergency, while an additional eight counties have requested the same declaration.

Joe Sutler, Western region co-chairman of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, said that Oregon is at risk for a challenging wildfire season. “All the potential is there for big fires, little fires, that certainly (could) potentially tax our system,” Sutler said. The association recently sent a release to 17 Western states – Oregon included – advising them to prepare for the worst.

“The Western United States is experiencing its fourth consecutive year of drought and snowpack measurements in many parts of the West are under 10 percent of normal,” the release read. “The unfortunate truth is these benchmark variables are lining up for what could be an extreme fire season threatening large-scale losses to lives, communities, economies, landscapes, watersheds and habitat.”

The Oregon Department of Forestry has weighed in with dire warnings for our area. (See “Getting Burned” Page 8.)

There’s not a whole lot we can do about the sad snowpack situation. Nor is there much we can do if lightning lights up our neighboring forest. But there’s a lot we can do about practicing safe fire habits. We don’t have to list them. We live in the woods. We know what to do, and not to do.

Mother Nature has dealt us a difficult hand. It’s up to us to play our cards well.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau
Stop the Music, Grab a Seat posted on 05/01/2015
The highly volatile issue of medical marijuana dispensaries seems to have been settled – if that’s the right verb.

Keep in mind, there’s a difference between medical dispensaries and recreational facilities. Also, keep in mind the legalization of marijuana in the state of Oregon has already been decided.

But the armies of dissent are not taking the decision by Oregon voters sitting down. Or, they’re sitting down in their manner and dissenting.

Measure 91, which legalized marijuana, has a clause that gives counties the right to regulate the “time, place and manner” of dispensaries and facilities. Clackamas County commissioners determined that medical dispensaries would be limited to the metro area. Presently, two dispensaries operate on McLoughlin Boulevard in the Milwaukie-Gladstone area. For the commissioners, that’s enough. 

They made that determination in March. In April they listened to the public regarding their decision. Among the speakers were Todd Fulscher and Randy Rappaport, of Rhododendron. The two businessmen purchased a property in Rhododendron for the sole purpose of opening a medical marijuana dispensary. They received their license from the state, meeting all necessary requirements. But the County said no, citing its ability to determine “place.” Now, Fulscher and Rappaport are apparently abandoning their hopes of opening the business.

We’re talking about a medical dispensary, not a band of wild-eyed, cartel-infused brigades invading our community. The proper comparison is the advantages provided to those in the Mountain community that now enjoy the recently opened Williams Pharmacy.

There were others who spoke at the hearing, including a woman who told the commissioners of her daughter’s illness that is now being treated by medical marijuana – a prescription that has taken the place of 19 medicines she was taking prior.

Of course, there were others as well – so frightened by the evils of marijuana, so blinded by their antediluvian beliefs, that railed against the very thought of such a thing in our neighborhood. At least those individuals have the County to lean on. We advise remaining seated.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.

Connecting the Bold Dots posted on 03/01/2015
Bold does not fit in the middle. Bold thrives on the edges. When there’s a runaway team of horses, it’s the bold one who leaps into the fray, grabbing the reins, and bringing the team together.

Which brings us to the newly formed Hoodland Area Water Coalition (story on Page 1), and the ramrod Steve Graeper. His latest venture, beyond his other numerous contributions to the Mountain community – Rhododendron Water Association, Rhododendron CPO – Graeper has brought together major players of the 58 water districts that stretch from Alder Creek to Government Camp, and formed the Hoodland Area Water Coalition (HAWC).

As the MT story points out, the 2009 destruction of the Rhododendron water treatment plant – inflicted by the uprooting of a giant Douglas fir – was the catalyst. The RWA, spirited by Graeper and water master David Jacob, immediately turned to Lady Creek Water Association and a quickly crafted intertie restored water to the homes in a mere five days. 

Mulling this over for a few years, it occurred to Graeper and Jacob that all the water associations should get together and form a coalition of mutual benefit. 

The result: HAWC was formed.

Something much worse than the crashing down of a Douglas fir could well be on the horizon. Earthquake. Flood. A suddenly unstable Mount Hood. It’s unthinkable, but possible. And there’s nothing wrong with bold preparation.

We applaud the water districts that have joined the HAWC effort: Rhododendron, Alder Creek-Barlow, Arrah Wanna, Brightwood, Country Club, Government Camp, Hood Hideaway, Lady Creek, Minikada, Mountainair, Riverside, Salmon River, Sleepy Hollow, Timberline Rim, Welches and Zigzag Village. We urge the other water districts to connect for the mutual benefit of all.

There’s plenty of room aboard the bold boat that has been crafted.

Opinions expressed in View from the Mountain are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau.
The New Year and What Lies Ahead posted on 01/01/2015
With the dawning of a new session of the Oregon Legislature, there’s something for everyone. For Democrats, there’s the comfort of controlling both houses and the attendant pleasure of committee appointments. But there’s hope for Republicans facing this seemingly stacked deck. The Mountain’s two districts – HD 52 and SD 26 – are in the hands of incumbent Republicans Rep. Mark Johnson and Sen. Chuck Thomsen, respectively. Knowing the abilities of our two legislators, we feel confident in calling this a fair fight.

On the surface it would seem there is never common ground when it comes to what the future should be for our greatest treasure: the Mt. Hood National Forest. Russ Plaeger made his feelings known in an October commentary in The Mountain Times, and this month George Wilson responds (see Commentary to the right, this page). Plaeger is an unflinching environmentalist whose contributions to our community have been well-documented in the MT over the years – not the least of which was his work at the watershed council restoring our river side channels that presently offer safe haven for spawning coho. Wilson is a devoted cyclist who has spearheaded efforts to provide cycling venues and pedestrian safety in our communities. An important issue is what to do with our forest service roads. It’s a thorny subject as it is easy to side with both of them – depending on which one’s views we are reading at the time. But short of making a Solomon-like decision, we do not believe the “baby” should be cut in half. Rather, we implore Plaeger and Wilson find a way to solve the matter. We are unable to think of two people more qualified to compromise, nor more committed to our forest community.

Finally, in the New Year, it appears US-Cuba relations are thawing out. What does it mean to the average American or Cuban, you ask? Consider this: Cubans can look forward to Carnival Cruises, Pepsi, punk rock music, peanut butter and jelly in the same jar, and Mastercard. Priceless? Not so much. Americans, on the other hand, can look forward to Cuban cigars, Havana Club rum, terrific baseball players and fleets of classic American cars. Perdon Cuba. We win this one.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
Survey Said ... posted on 12/02/2014
We applaud 107 members of the community that responded to the Community Needs Survey published in last month’s issue – sponsored by the Villages at Mt. Hood.

The Villages Board of Directors are in the process of prioritizing their focus and greatly valued the local input.

The plight, or future, of the Dorman Center was front and center in the survey. The venerable structure was unable to be turned into a community center despite the assiduous efforts of the Hoodland Women’s Club. But the Villages board is not letting go, and deserve our interest and support.

In the survey, a community center with meeting space was listed as the No. 1 preference – 49 percent – by respondents. Allowed multiple choices, 44 percent want a park and ride for the Mountain Express; 38 percent favored a rest area with public rest rooms; 26 percent wished for a senior center and day care facility; and 7.5 percent an assisted living center.

But respondents didn’t stop there. Other write-ins included a playground, library space, tennis courts, pet boarding/rescue, park, pavilion using salvaged materials from current building, vocational training in coordination with community colleges, classroom space, enlarged community garden, cafe, teen program center, restored habitat, and a sign commemorating native peoples.

We have to admit, the stalwart 107 were not short of ideas.

Other questions included: a crosswalk on Welches Road near the post office (75.5 percent were in favor); a bicycle/pedestrian pathway on Welches Road (58 percent support); Lolo Pass and Barlow Trail to have pathways (35 percent); and pathways on Salmon River Road (41 percent).

Also, most respondents said bicycling tourism was either very important or somewhat important (68.5 percent).

The conclusion drawn by the Villages board is “there’s work to do.” 

The Mountain Times offers its full support.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.

Wildlife and Recreation Vs. Logging posted on 11/02/2014
The Mt. Hood National Forest (MHNF) is planting a mistaken footprint on our Mountain.

A shift is now required from focusing land management for logging, to watershed health, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities.

The good work of the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council is at stake. The council’s diligent preservation of our rivers and side channels – including the removal of invasive species that entangle our natural environment – is being eroded. Our plants and wildlife simply must be protected at all costs.

By focusing on maintaining and rebuilding logging roads, the roads leading to campgrounds and trailheads are being sacrificed. In difficult economic times – which the MHNF suffers from as well – it should be noted that our local community has changed. In Oregon, the outdoor recreation industry employs more than 140,000 people, while logging and wood-product manufacturing provides fewer than 30,000 jobs. 

Creative solutions, such as road-to-trail conversions, have long-term positive impacts for recreation visitors and the economy and ecology of the Mt. Hood National Forest, as Russ Plaeger, of Bark and formerly of the watershed council, pointed out in his letter to Lisa Northrop, forest supervisor of MHNF.

If all that sounds too complicated, just refer to the math in paragraph four.

We applaud the efforts of Plaeger, and those Mountain stalwarts that co-signed his letter to MHNF: Christy Slovacek of Christy Slovacek Music Studio; Tom and Sonya Butler of Mountain Sports; Don Mench, chairman of Mt. Hood Stewardship Council; Andreanne Rode of Otto’s Ski Shop; Amber Spears of Sissy Mama’s Bistro; Tracie Anderson and Tom Baker of the Skyway Bar & Grill; Hidee and Ryan Cummings of Wraptitude Restaurant; and Brenda Taylor of Zig Zag Zen Chiropractic & Yoga Studio.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
Decision: November 4 posted on 10/01/2014
We’ll be receiving our ballots for the mid-term election in the second week of October. Hopefully, these ballots will arrive in good shape, but under the unsteady hand of County Clerk Sherry Hall, nothing is guaranteed.

Which gets us to our endorsement of David Robinson for County Clerk. Hall’s checkered past continues to haunt our electoral process in Clackamas County. To wit: in 2004 Sandy voters received a few hundred ballots that failed to list three important annexation questions. When brought to Hall’s attention she failed to alert the public or the media of the error. In 2010, Hall placed two races on the May ballot instead of the November ballot. Ballots had to be reprinted to the tune of $120,000. In 2012 a temporary elections worker, on Hall’s watch, was accused of filling in ballots for Republican candidates. The worker landed in jail for 90 days. Hall, a Republican, was accused of cronyism, and was asked to resign. She did not. David Robinson is her opponent. In a candidates forum on the Mountain, Robinson held Hall accountable. We strongly support Robinson’s candidacy.

The State House and Senate races are not as clear cut. Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River) and Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River) are bidding for re-election. It’s murky business because of two strong opposing candidates Stephanie Nystrom and Robert Bruce, respectively, both Democrats. We are torn. Johnson and Thomsen – despite occasional votes with which we disagree – are stalwart defenders of education and the local economy, and have answered the call on the Mountain with impressive consistency. Johnson, especially, has proved his ability to working across the aisle. The Nystrom-Bruce camp would doubtlessly take up the slack of the occasional disagreeable vote cast by the incumbents. It’s a tough call, but we lean to re-electing Johnson and Thomsen. There must be a reward (and an occasional pass) for their commitment to our community. They’ve earned it.

Measure 91 is an easy call. It’s the 21st Century. Take the crime out of marijuana. Anyone remember the Volstead Act? Vote Yes, absolutely.

Last month we decried the campaign of Dr. Wehby, and urged a vote to return Sen. Merkley to the U.S. Senate. She has since refused to debate Merkley. We urge you (again) to refuse to vote for her as well.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
A Buckdancer's Choice posted on 09/01/2014
We’re heading into the mid-term election. November looms. And for all well-meaning, involved, it-actually-matters people, we will pay our buck and dance with you. It actually matters.

We start this month at the national level – we’ll work our way to state and local matters in the October and November issues. The fury over the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) is littered with political manure, so let’s start shoveling. The choice is an easy one. And here’s why.

To some extent (as all of us are acutely aware), today’s politicians are slaves to campaign financing and the donors who provide it. But in the case of Republican hopeful Monica Wehby, she is not just a slave. She is shackled to the shekels of Charles and David Koch – AKA The Koch Brothers. To the uninformed, the Kochs are oil billionaires, rich beyond avarice and greed. It is their undying intent to influence – yea, elect – any member of the Republican party that will be beholding to them and their anti-tax, anti-regulatory, anti-government agenda, that ultimately benefits their personal bottom line. It should be noted that the brothers’ father, Fred Koch, was a founding member of the John Birch Society. It should also be noted they are dumping more than 3.5 million dollars into Wehby’s campaign.

And Wehby has paid her buck and made her choice. She is campaigning on the promise to cut corporate tax rates from 35 to 25 percent, and for the insanely rich from 40 to 25 percent, with not the faintest idea how to pay for it. She is proposing a territorial tax system which would reward companies to ship jobs overseas. She wants to cut funding for education and is against a higher minimum wage and equal pay for equal work.

And then there’s Jeff Merkley, battling against every notion of Wehby and the inglorious Koch Brothers. He has fought the good fight in Congress – a battle that can be quixotic at times due to the body’s commitment to dysfunction. He is backed by unions, teachers, firefighters, conservationists, nurses, and more, including us. Heed Rowling’s words.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
We Need the Roads posted on 08/02/2014
Woody Allen had a moment in the movie Annie Hall where he’s describing his crazy sister during his growing-up years. He said she used to go out to the chicken coop every night and roost with the hens. When asked why his family didn’t try to get help for her, Woody responded: “We needed the eggs.”

In an awkward way, this gets us to the construction work on Hwy. 26 heading up to Government Camp – the so-called “U.S. 26 Mt. Hood Highway Safety and Preservation Project” as it is referred to by the Oregon Department of Transportation. We will avoid any attempts at an acronym.

ODOT swung into full construction mode in July, just the tip of the road grader’s blade for a project that will run from April to October, through 2016. The ultimate goal is to widen the highway and tack on a 1.6-mile concrete median barrier to prevent crossover accidents. (See story, Page 1.)

As we all know, it’s a mountain highway, and that part of the mountain that will be removed is a mountain of an undertaking, with a mountain of inconveniences already being provided.

To wit:
1. For a 2-mile stretch of the highway, only one lane will be open in each direction, around the clock, through Oct. 31.
2. Trees, dirt and boulders are being excavated from the work area around Mirror Lake, and are being transported to sites on Lolo Pass Road, Lauren Road and Road 31. This hauling will start at sunrise until 7 p.m., and is expected to continue through 2015.
3. The contractor will excavate as much as possible in the early going, but rock blasting seems inevitable – roughly estimated to begin the middle of this month.
4. Traffic delays of up to one hour are expected, backing up traffic as much as one and one-half miles – hopefully not as far as Rhododendron.

The complaints are already coming in. But we must endure the insanity. Remember Woody Allen (slightly distorted): “We need the roads.”

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
The Drum Beat of Equal Rights posted on 06/01/2014
One thing we have learned: never stand in the way of history. George Wallace would have been well served if he had applied that tenet the day he stood on the steps of the University of Alabama, denying entrance to a black student.

For when it comes to individual freedoms, history is an inexorable force. If you resist, you are on a fool’s mission.

On May 23, Judge Michael McShane extended the freedom to marry to all in Oregon. A rights group called Oregon United for Marriage was poised to submit the 160,000 signatures gathered to put a marriage equality measure on the November ballot. McShane’s decision changed all that, and the measure is no longer needed.

“We are confident that the freedom to marry is secure in Oregon and that we do not need to move forward with the ballot measure,” said Oregon United for Marriage deputy campaign manager Amy Ruiz. “It is time to celebrate this victory.”

Gay marriage does not require anything of its opponents. If a person’s religious beliefs are opposed to same-sex unions, that’s a belief, but that’s all it is. There are those who are still opposed to equal rights for African Americans. Heck, in the South, some are still fighting the Civil War. 

All Oregon’s law accomplishes is it forbids the government from discriminating regarding who can marry and who can’t.

And keep in mind, marriage equality isn’t just about marriage – any more than civil liberty isn’t just about civility. It’s all about tolerance, forbearance, acceptance. Not bad tenets for all to stand for, and we stand in that line.

History marches on, and justice keeps perfect time. Listen to the drums.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are 
solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
The Voice Not Heard posted on 05/01/2014
We are constantly amused when sports commentators point to a sparse crowd at an event, saying “Look at this crowd. It’s terrible.” Well, the “crowd” that bothered to show up is not “terrible.” It’s the no-shows that should be reviled.

And so it goes for the complaints directed at The Villages at Mt. Hood and the community planning organizations of the Corridor and Rhododendron that dot the local political landscape. These volunteer board members “show up.” And those who rail against them, as not being representative of the views of most of the local populace, need to take a deep breath, take a step forward, and show up to make their voices heard. Because there are some who did, and do, and they are not the “terrible” ones. They provide our only link, our only line of defense, toward self-governance.

Saturday, May 10, The Villages at Mt. Hood will hold its Town Hall in the Trees Room at the Resort at the Mountain. The event runs from 9 a.m. to noon. It would be a terrific idea if a crowd showed up. Three Board positions are vacant. This is your opportunity for your voice to be heard. If you choose to stay away, you will choose silence. Also, a Candidates Forum will give local citizens a chance to create a dialogue with candidates for office, including: State Senate District 26, State House of Representatives District 52, Clackamas County Board of Commissioners Positions 2 and 5, and Clackamas County Clerk.

Don’t be “terrible.” Join the “crowd.”

Regarding the May 20 election (ballots have already arrived or are on the way), we have strong feelings about a few of the candidates, and they have earned our endorsement. We urge the following votes:

Paul Savas (Position 2) and Jim Bernard (Position 5) for County Commissioners. We on the Mountain yearn to be heard. Savas and Bernard show up and listen. We do not always agree with them – in today’s political climate is that even possible? – but they are dedicated in their work and can be trusted. The same cannot be said for Commissioners John Ludlow and Tootie Smith, and the very fact they oppose Savas and Bernard is all the encouragement we require. And Rep. Mark Johnson earned our endorsement in his first-term candidacy, and he has done his duty. He works across the aisle, cares about the Mountain community, and is a stalwart defender of public education.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)
Get Off the Pot? posted on 03/01/2014
It appears to be the time to wade into the marijuana field. Colorado and Washington have already legalized it. And it appears to be ready for the ballot box in Oregon, as well as Alaska, Washington D.C. and possibly California and Arizona.

It also appears to not be a partisan issue (deep sigh of editorial relief):
– President Barack Obama “We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.”
– Evangelist Pat Robertson “I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat alcohol.”
– Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) “Maybe we should legalize it (pot). We’re certainly moving that way … I respect the will of the people.”

To take Sen. McCain’s last point, 55 percent of American people (CNN/Opinion Research poll in February) believe marijuana should be legal. Closer to home, 63 percent of Oregonians who are “likely to vote” support legalization (Greenberg Quinlan poll in May).

And no matter what the Oregon Legislature ultimately decides on the issue, state activists are confident they’ll get enough signatures for the November ballot. The outline of their initiative would legalize marijuana use for adults over 21, and residents would be permitted to keep eight ounces of pot at home and grow four plants.

On the legal front, since 1990 approximately 17 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges. In 2010 state and local law enforcement arrested 746,000 people for marijuana violations – an increase of 800 percent since 1980 and the highest per capita in the world. FBI statistics report that from 1990 to the present, 88 percent of marijuana violations were for simple possession. And we must keep in mind the economic lesson this reveals: it costs more than $40,000 a year to keep a person incarcerated.

Marijuana is often compared to alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are 100,000 deaths caused by alcohol annually. The number for marijuana, ZERO. And we all remember the effects of Prohibition on alcohol use. A simple analysis suggests such prohibitive efforts cause more harm than good.

It doesn’t seem overly complicated to us, but we will all likely get to decide in November.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are 
solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
Of Youth and Roses posted on 01/01/2014
A step forward is a step closer, though the goal is still unclear. We forage to learn, and knowledge is the reward.

With those bon mots, The Mountain Times is delighted to announce signs of growth within our humble offering to this magnificent community.

Our distribution numbers swelled in December to 8,000 copies by adding a new mail route in Sandy. The result: more than 500 new readers are now in our grasp. We will respond accordingly with news only found in our editions.

December also unfurled a new staff writer. The reporting of Madie Smith now graces our pages. Madie is a senior at Sandy High and an editor for the school’s newspaper, The Mountain Echoes. (We agree, it just sounds appropriate.) She is a busy and talented young woman. Besides her editor’s duties, she is the Key Club’s president; a member of the exalted National Honors Society; a member of the Spanish Club; and plays softball, racquetball and is on the cross country team. She does not shy away from crushing curriculum, taking advanced courses in English literature and composition, American literature, biology, pre-calculus, oceanic science, chemistry and wind ensemble. And most importantly, she can write.

We are proud to have her on board, providing a young and fresh perspective on news events important to the Mountain community.

*   *   *   *   *
OK, fellow Mountaineers, put aside your “Flatlander” jokes for a moment. The City of Roses has just topped “America’s 10 Best Cities for 2013” list. Portland brushed aside Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Raleigh, San Diego, Denver, Miami and Las Vegas that finished a mere 2 through 10, says the Movoto group which held the contest. As content editor Randy Nelson said: “Emerging from the smoke and sparks to claim the title of best city in America was Portland, Oregon.” Now, you can visit again the jokes. Portland was also named the second nerdiest city. Our opinion sinks into oblivion.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)
Being High on Timberline posted on 12/01/2013
A recent interview with author Auden Schendler has come to our attention. Schendler’s day job is Vice President of Sustainability for Aspen Skiing Company. He’s also the tip of the spear on global warming and its effect on the ski industry.’

How much does Schendler believe in global warming? “It’s not belief; it’s a fact and science,” he said in the interview. “I stand with the 97 percent of climatologists who conclude it’s a problem and it’s human caused.”

What will be the effect on skiing in America? “It’s going to get harder and harder to operate ski areas on the coasts and at lower elevations.”

He goes on to say Park City will be in worse shape than Aspen because it’s lower. “Colorado is becoming more like Mount Hood and Whistler; we’ll still have snow at the top, but down-valley and even the bottom of the mountain will be rainy, not snowy.”

This set off an alarm to us so we reached out to Jon Tullis, public affairs director at Timberline.

Although he was unaware of Schendler’s recent statements, that type of talk has been around. “They can’t stop talking about,” Tullis said. “They’ve done admirable things at Aspen, but this is a bit odd, or at least interesting.”

Tullis was quick to point out that comparing Timberline with Whistler was a tad odious. “Timberline has the advantage of being where we are. We enjoy amazing verticality, and a temperate rain forest. Whistler is completely different. They are close to water and their conditions are often warm and wet.”

Still, climate change is a concern at Timberline, and has been since the 1990s, he noted. “But when you consider climate change and global warming, you want to be high up.” And that’s Timberline’s advantage.

We believe that ignoring science – from evolution to global warming – is done at our peril. But we are also reassured by Tullis that Timberline has an altitudinal antidote – at least for the foreseeable future.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)
Ballou Remembered in a Bird's Song posted on 10/01/2013
If there can be a “Talk Like a Pirate Day” (with a nod to Dave Barry), then it must be OK to have a National Newspaper Week (Oct. 6-12).

So we will take advantage by stepping aside from local issues and talk about ourselves for a change. Whether we’ve earned it or not is entirely up to our readers.

The Mountain Times lost one of its own in September. Regina Ballou – who penned the Simply Gardening column along with Rochelle Simonds – lost her battle with cancer. (See a tribute to Ballou, written by Simonds, in the final installment of the column on Page 23 of this issue.) Regina was special to a lot of people, and her selfless love for all things Mountain was reflected in her writing. She never missed a deadline – which is the greatest way to garner the heart of an editor. There will forever be a missing space in The Mountain Times but our appreciation and affection will never go missing. We will remember her with every operatic trill of the Swainson’s thrush.

Here at The Mountain Times we endeavor to tell the story of this unique community. We can’t deliver all the stories, and our path is marked by that constant. But our mission is clear and unblinking. We have a responsibility to try.

In a time of failing newspapers throughout the country, this rigorous effort of ours is a beacon of hope. The Mountain holds us dearly in the palm of its hand, and our readers and advertisers extend the palm to us on a monthly basis. We value the opinions of our readers, and the support of our advertisers. We never take this lightly.

The backbone of the paper is its staff, columnists and contributors. Ad designer Peggy Wallace has been with the MT since it began. She is unwavering and her commitment to her work is unparalleled. Staff writer Garth Guibord takes on more stories than he should – and he accomplishes his tasks without complaint. His journalistic ability is as professional as it gets and the MT is fortunate to have him on board. Columnists Herb Miller (weather), Ned Hickson (humor), Victoria Larson (health), Sandra Palmer (books) and Taeler Butel (cooking) provide our readers with unique viewpoints found nowhere else in our area.

Editor’s heart soars like a thrush’s song.
Perils Just Mean Pitch In posted on 09/01/2013
Before we get all worked up – and yes, that applies to us as well – let’s take a look at this upcoming construction on Hwy. 26 headed up to Government Camp.

The story, written by Mountain Times staff writer Garth Guibord, which appears on Page 3 of this edition, pinpoints the Oregon Department of Transportation’s plans to blast away a 2.6-mile stretch of Hwy. 26, from Mileposts 49.4 to 52.2 beginning April next year. Traffic delays are inevitable. In the words of ODOT construction manager Wayne Statler, “ODOT recognizes that it’s going to be an inconvenience to the public up there.”

Do the Perils of Pauline await us?

First, the results of the “inconvenience” are as follows: The highway will be widened by blasting rock faces into the Dark Ages – a fine idea unless you’re a rock face. A concrete barrier will be erected in the 2.6-mile section for safety reasons. Turnouts will be cut into the barrier for emergency vehicle access. Lolo Pass Road (two pits), Laurel pit off Kiwanis Camp Road, the Tamarack quarry on Mount Hood and ODOT property at the intersection of Hwys. 26 and 35, as well as some US Forest Service property will get approximately one million cubic yards of dirt and rocks dumped in their laps – whether needed or not.

That brings us to “Is this all necessary?” Short answer: Yes. To anyone who travels this route to Government Camp, Skibowl, Meadows – or seeking an emergency stop at our lonely rest station – it is well known that it’s dangerous at best. Pauline’s problems pale in comparison.

Want proof? (We always do.) A study by an independent team of traffic safety, emergency response, and highway professionals performed a road safety audit of Hwy. 26 from 2002 to 2011, with the following results: crashes between Camp Creek and Government Camp number 301, in which 4 people died, 243 were injured, 29 seriously; crashes from Kiwanis Camp Road to Mirror Lake Trail numbered 109, 30 were cross-over crashes, 11 head-ons, 4 died and 88 were injured.

That’s plenty of proof. Let’s all pitch in. Pauline was a wimp.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)
Chip Off the Ol' Shoulder posted on 08/01/2013
(Chip seal is a form of surface treatment of roads – mostly in rural areas – that combines asphalt with aggregate. It is less expensive than asphalt repair, but doesn’t last as long. The rough surface causes increased tire wear and vibration and rolling resistance for bicyclists.)

A messy situation was averted when two reasonable men got together and hammered out a compromise. Like most compromises, we are certain that neither party was completely satisfied. But regarding the general public, we should be.

The conflict arose when the county decided to chip seal Barlow Trail Road the first week in August, which didn’t sit well with those who planned to bicycle the Barlow Road Ride slated for mid-August. The specter of bike tires getting trapped in the ooze of newly formed chip seal seemed like a situation rife for solution.

The conflict began when George Wilson, co-chair of the Villages Board and avid cyclist, took up the torch of at least delaying – if not eliminating – the looming Barlow Road chip seal project. Wilson argued there were more roads in the community in worse shape than Barlow Road, as well as it simply being a bad idea to lay down the chip seal just days before the Barlow Road Ride – an event that attracts many cyclists with, presumably, their funny pants stuffed with tourist dollars.

Wilson took his cause to a Clackamas County Commissioner Town Hall, but was shot down by the outspoken, often tumultuous chairman, John Ludlow, with a specious pronouncement: “Roads are for cars.” Undeterred by Mr. Ludlow’s churlish response, Wilson moved on, this time engaging with county transportation engineering manager Mike Bezner – and the gentle tap-tap of compromise could be heard from Oregon City to Welches.

Bezner agreed to delay the Barlow Road chip seal project until after the road ride. He also agreed to using a smaller rock size for a smoother roadway for cyclists.

Chairman Ludlow take note: roads are for more than cars. An exit off the Interstate would provide immediate examples.

(The opinions expressed in The View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)
Chant: ISO Has to Go posted on 07/01/2013
We don’t have to go back too far to remember how this works. Policy is being made regarding Group A, being administered by Group B, so Group C is brought on board to help Group B cobble together its Group A policy. The fact that Group C has a vested interest in the outcome of Group A’s policy is of little concern if you’re Group B and you’re also going to get what you want out of the deal.

Too complicated? Let’s make is easier. Group A is energy policy for the country. Group B is the Bush administration. Group C is a classy club of energy barons (think oil, natural gas, and other ghastly gasses). They get together in some dark room in the East Wing (think of a room dominated by a painting of Andrew Jackson) and create the guidelines for America’s energy future with the very ones who need regulation (Group C) determining what those regulations will actually be. (As long as we’re thinking Andrew Jackson, imagine a cesspool of regulations and safeguards swirling down the Jackson Room commode.)

But this isn’t a trip down a regrettable memory lane. This is now. This is the Mountain. And the Groups are taking us dangerously close to that contemptuous commode.

The news story appears on Page 1 of this issue. Refusing to stray from the Group theme, Group A is you, the insured. Group B is your insurance company. Group C is a deep-background organization called the Insurance Service Office (located not all that far, thematically, from the Jackson Room – in this case Jersey City).

Insurance companies hire the for-profit ISO to evaluate fire departments and fire districts in most parts of the U.S. Unfortunately, the Mountain community is in the “most parts” category of the country. (We know, it’s astounding, but true – in this case anyway.) When fire department ratings go down, insurance rates go up. The fact that the rating system is too bizarre for even the Oregon Fire Chief’s Association to figure out is not supposed to be of any concern to our maligned Group A.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The state of Washington refuses to recognize ISO, and has its own system run by a non-profit with no skin in the game. Oregon’s Insurance Commission needs to get in step. The scoundrels and scalawags have exited the Jackson Room. ISO should use the same door. Oregonians deserve better than these chaps.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)
Lead Med & Cupcakes posted on 06/01/2013
‘There’ll be one child born in this world to carry on, to carry on’
— Blood Sweat & Tears

One ship passes in the night, another pulls into safe harbor. Our woods are under siege and our schools get a shot in the arm. A man’s legacy is honored and a cowgirl’s cupcakes arrive just in time. Our local gardeners battle through tough times while vaudeville returns to a local theater.

These are the stories that dot this month’s Mountain landscape: sadness, hope, difficulty, laughter, ignorance, bliss.

The Wy’east Book Shoppe & Art Gallery closed its doors May 31. Shop owner Sandra Palmer fought through a sour deal perpetrated on her by the county. It made her shop vulnerable. A job opportunity provided a window of opportunity. She took it. We are the less for it. She is moving to southern Oregon. They are the better for it.

Williams Pharmacy is moving into the book store’s space. One business is unrelated to the other. There was no takeover – just another opportunity in the zany world of business operations. The Mountain has suffered through a time when pharmaceutical needs were miles away, often in times of desperate need. Jeff Williams has stepped into the breech, and we are the better for it.

Irresponsible gun owners have taken to our woods and made a mockery of what we hold dear: our very special environment. At the same time, a responsible gun owner has showed us the way to live in harmony with our guns and environment.

Despite health issues our two gardeners will continue their Mountain Times column – in their unselfish, “simply” manner.

A great man is honored by golf tournament organizers who refuse to forget.

Our high school gets a new principal, and a longtime public servant returns to his school board post – at a time when the state has found new monies for our children’s education.

And we can enjoy “healthy” cupcakes, and slap our knees in delight at the local theater’s offering.

This Mountain of ours carries on.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)

Get Well Soon posted on 05/01/2013
OK. Tempting though they may be, here are the worldly events we will not be commenting on in this issue’s editorial:

1. The opening of the George W. Bush Library. (Those who are familiar with the View from the Mountain know how difficult this is to pass on.)

2. The hysterical polemics issuing forth from the far right linking the Boston Marathon bombings to attempts at immigration reform. It’s as much an illogical syllogism as linking trash collection to raccoon removal.

3. Anything ever uttered by the gun manufacturer’s lackey Wayne LaPierre, with one exception. He wants to arm school employees but concedes they should be given background checks. Yet random gun buyers get a pass.

4. Mark Sanford

5. Chechnyans hate America because of our freedoms and fast-food outlets. The source of this drivel will be omitted lest we appear too one-sided in our opinions – and besides, the bar is set too low on this one.

So we avoided all these issues. Sort of.

Which leads us to our Hoodland community. Major events are in motion that will change all our lives. And, unlike the rest of the universe, for the better.

The doors are about to swing open on a Mountain pharmacy. (See story, Page 1) Its monicker: Williams Pharmacy, named for its proprietor Jeff Williams. It seems the good pharmacist has shrugged off his attempt at retirement and, with a helping hand from Villages board director George Wilson, and the Villages at Mt. Hood board in general, and the Mountain community, the pharmacy will open in late June or early July. We extend our hand of gratitude to those who made this possible. Think of it. A pharmacy. With not only medicines, but crutches, wheel chairs, immunizations and alternative medical information.

And soon we’ll have more effective cell phone capabilities. AT&T’s tower is a couple months away.

The Mountain is wired, and well.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
Mayhem in Mayberry posted on 04/01/2013
It’s a little ways out of our news coverage area, but close enough – and hilarious enough – to warrant comment.

March 15 – the dreaded Ides of March – brought about a stabbing on Howards Mill Road in Beavercreek. A Clackamas County Sheriff’s deputy responded.

So far, so good.

Then, suddenly, not so good.

According to reports, Tara Axmaker, 25, of Clackamas, exited the house, avoiding the deputy, sprinted to his patrol car, hopped in, and to what must have been her utter surprise and delight, found the keys in the ignition. Without apparent hesitation or compunction, Tara was off on the ride of her life.

She raced down Hwy. 213 and flipped on the police radio system. Along the way she passed a backup patrol car heading to the house where the suspected stabbing had occurred, and where the patrol car-less deputy awaited.

It only got better. According to Sgt. Adam Phillips, spokesman for the CCSO, she began belting out Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” as well as Jefferson Airplane songs over the police radio.

A Youtube poster who identified himself as Jonathan Gutierrez picked up police audio from the chase and posted it online. The audio was filled with a steady stream of singing, name-calling and profanity from Axmaker. In a high-pitched voice, she taunted police to “come and get it” and said she hoped the county insured the vehicle because she might crash it. Pursuing deputies can be heard reporting locations of the stolen car at “80 miles per hour and picking up speed,” as well as a dispatcher warning other deputies that a loaded shotgun and assault-style rifle were aboard. This post was reported by The Oregonian.

Axmaker’s ride came to a halt when she ran off the highway in Molalla. She was not injured. She was, however, arrested and lodged in county jail on accusations of attempted murder, aggravated theft, attempted assault on a public safety officer, vehicle theft, eluding a police officer, reckless driving and two parole violations.

We are left with only one question regarding the deputy whose patrol car was stolen. After the incident, did Andy take Barney’s bullet away from him?

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.

Charge of the 'Light' Brigade posted on 02/02/2013
That light at the end of the tunnel, after all, might not be a search party looking for survivors.

The residents of the Mountain may be considered a voice in the wilderness best ignored – as in maybe it’ll just go away, or at least become too hoarse to cry out – by most governing bodies and politicos that hold sway over us.

But the times might be changing. Oh, not in the platinum manner voiced years ago by Bob Dylan. No, nothing quite that radical, that clear-throated, that prescient. But nothing to be scoffed at either.

We met up with State Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River) and State Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River) last month in, where else, Hood River. These two gentlemen are our voices in Salem. Granted, they’re also the voices for others, but does that really matter? We are the stepchildren, the unwashed, the unpredictable, and as we said, the best ignored.

But now, perhaps, not so much. Something has changed.

We talked for a couple hours, and the senator and the congressman were engaged. They leaned forward. They listened. They responded. We even joked and didn’t have to force our laughter.

Thomsen and Johnson have been paying attention to the Mountain of late. They were instrumental in bringing government together to see the mistake in closing the rest area in Government Camp. Granted, the reporting of The Oregonian’s Rick Bella forced their feet to the fire – as well as other government officials – but they didn’t brush it off. Feet on fire can get your attention. But the end result was positive. The rest area is alive and well, as much as anthropomorphism allows.

More recently, Thomsen and Johnson were at the Town Hall meeting (story, Page 1) in which Villages Board Director George Wilson had assembled a large audience to hear of the possibility of local pharmacist Jeff Williams opening a pharmacy on the Mountain. The senator and congressman not only threw their support behind it, but offered meaningful ways in which they could directly assist in the effort.

That’s not the light of a search party.

That’s illumination.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.

Put Some Adults in the Room posted on 01/01/2013
As we take the first baby steps into the new year, it is time to act like grown ups.

And these first adult steps must begin with a discussion about guns. The December attack by a madman in Newtown, Connecticut, which took the lives of teachers and young children, demands it.

There are many factors to be considered. Mental health issues must be addressed. The apparent desensitization of our youth that springs from violent video games is an issue that should be on the table.But it starts with guns.

There is no silver (wince) bullet. But we have to move forward. The rhetoric spewed by Wayne LaPierre, vice president of the National
Rifle Association, is the ultimate form of sophistry. His answer – the man who makes a living by cozying up to the gun manufacturers in America – dismisses any attempt by President Obama’s formation of a task force that would examine ways to reduce gun violence.

LaPierre’s own words in an interview on “Meet the Press” are mind numbing: “If it’s a panel that’s just going to be made up of a bunch of people that, for the last 20 years, have been trying to destroy the Second Amendment, I’m not interested … the NRA is not going to let people lose the Second Amendment in this country.” His solution to prevent mass shootings on school campuses is to put armed guards in schools nationwide. Regarding any kind of gun legislation that addresses high-powered assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition clips, he tossed such ideas aside with a terse: “I keep saying it, and you just won’t accept it, it’s not going to work.”

We would remind LaPierre there were armed campus police at Virginia Tech, an armed guard at Columbine, secret service agents at President Reagan’s attempted assassination. And we would ask him if one of his children had died at Sandy Hook, would he change his world view?

Reinstating the assault weapons ban which was in place from 1994 to 2004 will not solve everything. Closing the gun show loophole that allows gun purchases without even a background check does not, in itself, make us safe. Banning multi-clip magazines is no panacea. But even if it saves only one child’s life, it is worth it. It will put the discussion in the hands of adults – something that is sorely lacking in the tangled web of defenses emanating from a merry band of lobbyists called the NRA.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)
All We Do Is Vote posted on 12/02/2012
What do we take away from the Nov. 6 election? Whichever side of the spectrum you stand – left, right, middle or bewildered – there is one thing we can all be proud of. Look at the numbers:

In the state of Oregon there are 2,201,035 registered voters. In the recent election there were 1,756292 ballots cast – an impressive 79.79 percent. But Clackamas County trumped the state with 191,126 ballots cast out of 229,236 registered voters. That’s a staggering 83.4 percent turnout.

With all the turmoil around the country regarding voter suppression efforts – and there have been some, despite the nattering nabob naysayers – the way we vote in Oregon should be a beacon to illuminate the country.

We don’t have to stand in line for hours. We don’t have to suffer under the bright lights of national television causing many Americans to cluck and shake their heads about our pathetic process.

And the signal that emanates from Oregonians to our political aspirants is a simple one. Let the candidate beware. We will show up. We will vote.

The only downside resides here in Clackamas County in the office of the County Clerk Sherry Hall. (See the history of her office on Page 6.) In an otherwise sterling election performance, Hall just can’t get it right. This should be remembered in the upcoming election. Yes, we vote. But we mustn’t forget.

*   *   *

Those who follow the View from the Mountain are aware (happily or painfully – it’s OK, we can handle it either way) we lean to the political left of center. Not so far that we might fall over, but just far enough to, hopefully, make our point. But we take no solace in the recent results of the election in how it speaks to the trend line of the Republican Party.

We believe the GOP is in trouble. The demographic demolition of the party among Latinos, African Americans, women, young people and gay men and lesbians is frightening. So we make a stand right here: GOP, get it together. This is one nation, and we’re all part of the main. Stop the hostile messages to America. We actually need you to be relevant. We can think of nothing more disappointing than to have the Democratic Party become overly fatuous. Step out of the 1950s. Even this liberal needs you.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
This Boat Will Float posted on 11/03/2012
There was a time in America when only white men who owned property, or were wealthy, could vote. By the time of the Civil War most white men could vote, whether or not they were property owners. Literacy tests and poll taxes were widely used. Most white women, people of color, and American Indians still could not vote.

Amendments to the Constitution creaked along through our history like a rusty wagon on a rutty road. The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote in 1920. The 24th Amendment, enacted in 1964, abolished poll taxes. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, supposedly removed all barriers from U.S. citizens in the ability to cast their votes.

But not so fast, America. Our voting rights are under attack again – like some wicked whip cracking over our heads from centuries long past. In 2011 legislatures in 30 states passed measures to make it harder for Americans – explicitly African Americans, Latinos, the elderly, students and people with disabilities – to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Government-issued photo IDs were required, a blatant attempt to unfairly burden these groups. It is no conicidence that the legislatures in those states were controlled by Republican governors and houses.

Fortunately, many of these attempts have been thwarted by the courts. Funny, unconstitutional acts occasionally go begging.

But if you are a witless party to this misguided party, you might want to take stock of where you’re headed. The direction over your shoulder is called “backwards.” The tide of history is upon you. And we all know, tides float all boats.

And so we heartily endorse President Obama for a second term. He hasn’t been perfect, no president has. But he has a steady hand at the boat’s tiller. We know where he stands. He does not waiver.The boat is moving forward. Former Governor Romney’s only qualification for becoming president is that he wants to be president. He stands for nothing. He meanders through the issues like a mole seeking the soil of least resistance.

But whatever way you lean politically, the most important issue right now is that you vote. It’s a right that should never be suppressed, or denied.
Damon and Johnson posted on 10/01/2012
There is a clear-cut choice regarding Position 4 in the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners race in the November election. 

It should be a priority for Mountain voters to elect Jamie Damon.

We have known (almost forever?) that rural communities in Clackamas County are often considered best-forgotten. With too few exceptions, the board’s concerns end at the urban boundary.

But Jamie Damon – appointed to a vacant position last year and a narrow winner in the May election that forced a runoff – is the obvious exception. She lives on a farm in Eagle Creek. She knows rural communities are often overlooked. When an event takes place in the Mountain community, she shows up. She understands the complexities that we all face on a regular basis in this place where the sometimes treacherous waters meet the delicate nature of our woods. Some may say she’s a voice in the wilderness, and that suits us just fine.

Damon’s ability to attract support throughout the county is best exemplified by her impressive list of endorsements, including mayors from Sandy, Estacada, Molalla, Happy Valley, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tualatin, Wilsonville (a mix of Republicans and Democrats); Clackamas County Peace Officer’s Association; International Association of Firefighters Locals 1159 and 1160; Sierra Club; NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon; County Commissioner Ann Lininger; Congressman Kurt Schrader; Oregon League of Conservation Voters; and the list goes on.

Damon is a strong proponent of veterans’ rights and a stalwart advocate for providing critical care and safe harbor for victims of violence and domestic abuse.

The Mountain Times urges members of our community to vote for Jamie Damon for Position 4 on the Board of County Commissioners.

*   *   *

The race for House District 52 is a tough call. Democrat Peter Nordbye, of Welches, is waging a spirited campaign against incumbent Republican Mark Johnson, of Hood River.

Nordbye’s calling card is a frontal attack on the loathsome role being played by big money in politics. We applaud him for that. It’s also true, on most issues, he would vote the right way.

On the other side, Johnson has proved to be a champion of bipartisanship – a breath of fresh air in today’s arena. His work with Gov. Kitzhaber and Senate President Peter Courtney, as well as his unwavering support of public education cannot be overlooked.

We choose the experience of Johnson – by a whisker.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
The Greatest Shame on Earth posted on 09/01/2012
There’s an old bromide that goes: “Nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be.” We suspect many of us can relate to this. The old days of Norman Rockwell’s depictions on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Fins, skirts and necker’s nobs on cars. We thought styrofoam was convenient, and pizza was a leaning tower in Italy.

Well, the trappings for old cars have disappeared. Rockwell’s works are in a museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. We know styrofoam for what it is. And we lean on the delights of pizza on a regular basis.

And we went to the circus. We marveled at the opening procession of elephants, and held our breath when the lion tamers took on the beasts in the cage. As we look back, most of us have only one possible negative thought about the big top:

Admit it, the clowns were a little creepy.

The horrors of circus animal training have been exposed. (Read the Op-Ed piece in this edition of The Mountain Times, penned eloquently by Catherine Doyle, Page 6.) And there’s a circus coming to town – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Portland, Sept. 13-16.

Ringling’s circus animal abuses are well documented. From the use of bull hooks to force elephants to perform human-pleasing tricks, to the execution of animals that fail to perform properly, to lions perishing of heat stroke as the circus train crosses the Mojave Desert, the horrors are unending.

Animal circuses have been banned in Canada, Costa Rica, Australia, Argentina, Austria, Singapore, Brazil, Sweden, Finland – even Colombia. Many U.S. cities have followed suit: in Washington (Port Townsend and Redmond), California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Connecticut.

So what’s wrong with Portland? Where is the forward-looking state of Oregon? And how about you? Are you going to the circus? We believe the shame must end. That starts with all of us.

It’s time to put animal circuses in the museum.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are
solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
Many Were 'Left Behind' posted on 08/01/2012
Relief is on the way for Oregon schools. The state has won federal approval for its plan to judge schools differently than has been previously required under the embattled No Child Left Behind law.

Next month, the state’s nearly 1,300 public schools will be graded in an entirely new way when the state reports how they performed last school year. And in 2013-14 all teachers and principals will be evaluated in part by their students’ test score gains.

This development will give Oregonians more control of their schools and lead to better results, according to Ben Cannon, education adviser to Gov. John Kitzhaber. “We’ll be using a tailored approach to schools in Oregon based on the actual challenges they are facing in the state,” he said.

Since the inception of NCLB, Oregon schools have been issued a yearly federal rating based primarily on whether enough of their low-income, minority, special education and limited-English students passed state reading and math tests. This meant that if a single group fell short in one subject, the entire school was deemed to have inadequate performance – and schools that received federal funding for disadvantaged students had to offer private tutoring or priority rights to transfer to a different school. That approach is now scuttled.

The more distance we can put between our schools and NCLB is a good thing.

by Larry Berteau, editor & publisher


Times Have Changed posted on 07/01/2012
Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall …

‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Bob Dylan

*   *   *

We believe everyone in America should have access to health care. We do not believe it is a luxury that should only be extended to the wealthy, the more fortunate or the just plain lucky. How that is to be accomplished is open for debate. But what is not open for debate is the politicizing of the discussion or a casual shrug of the shoulders because it’s too complicated.

The Supreme Court decision June 28 upholding the Affordable Care Act tilted the political planet off its axis. This did not come as a shock to anyone with a photo ID or a pulse. Pundits and politicians have the uncanny ability to make hay out of half-made straw hats.

But let’s make this perfectly clear. Any rational approach to the individual mandate – which is at the core of the Act – must consider the worst of the alternatives. Those who don’t play in the health care pool, without the mandate, simply go to emergency rooms. Worse, they go more because they have no access to preventative care. Do we need a tutorial on who pays for that treatment? We didn’t think so.

Also, do we need to be reminded of who is paying for the health care benefits of every elected official in this country? (See answer in last sentence of preceding paragraph.)

What does the Act do for Oregonians? First, it means we’re all in this together. That should make us feel a little warmer at least, if not all fuzzy inside. Oregon can now move forward in its plans to come to the aid of our uninsured (estimated to be more than 400,000). This will be funneled through the Oregon Health Plan and an insurance exchange for Oregonians and small businesses.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said: “The Supreme Court affirmed that health insurance is not just for the healthy and wealthy and that denying coverage to those who need it most has no place in the United States … It is my hope that moving forward we can trade litigation for innovation and come together around the idea that every American should have quality, affordable health care.”

Planned Parenthood of Oregon praised the Supreme Court decision saying it will have a “profound and concrete impact” on millions of people’s lives, calling the Act “the greatest advance in women’s health in a generation.” The organization cited the Act will provide insurance to 150,000 previously uninsured women.

Step aside and think on this: a clear, possibly rutty, path forward has been created, and we must hold those accountable who stand in the way.
The Old Door Needs Fixin' posted on 06/01/2012
The revolving door that continues to swing freely at the principal’s office at Welches Schools is getting squeaky – and it’s time for the Oregon Trail School District to apply some oil.

Since the departure of Mike Sutton in 2009 – which itself was a budget clearing early retirement deal – no fewer than three principals have shuttled through the school doors. And now, a fourth is imminent. To say this creates a problem is to understate the case. Here’s the stat sheet behind that door:
– Sutton departs in 2009.
– Michael McKinney comes and goes mid-term, 2010.
– Sutton emerges from retirement to finish 2010 term.
– Tim Fields is appointed August 2010 but never serves.
– Alex Leaver appointed in 2011, departs 2012.
And in all three cases (since Sutton), there is an air of mystery that shrouds the comings and goings.

In McKinney’s case, he suddenly announced that he was going to resign at the end of his first year to pursue his doctorate degree in education. It went downhill from there. District officials quickly determined his “effectiveness at the school was compromised,” and he was dismissed. District went on to say that things “started eroding” at the school. Then Superintendent Shelley Redinger told The Mountain Times “We learned of his ineffectiveness and took the lead … I might have had to do some damage control if we hadn’t done anything.” In the same interview, Redinger went on to say “In our search for a new principal we are paying close attention to the ‘fit’ aspect of the applicant. At Welches, being the principal is a lifestyle, not a job.”

The result of the district’s new approach: Tim Fields. “I believe Tim will be an inspiring instructional leader,” Redinger said of the new hire (April 2010). Fields resigned for “personal reasons” three months later. In the interim, he was the assistant principal at Rosemont Ridge Middle School in West Linn. Before he could clear out his desk for the move to Welches, he was placed on administrative leave. According to the West Linn newspaper, Fields was involved in an incident with another teacher. So much for the “fit.”

The district then turned to Leaver. He is now gone, a few weeks before the end of the 2012 term. He insists he didn’t want to leave, yet it has come to light he was applying for other jobs as early as last summer. We may never know the entire story.

Aaron Bayer has since replaced Redinger at district. It is now incumbent on him to hang a solid door in the Welches principal’s office. An anxious and hopeful Mountain community of parents and students awaits.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau.)
Scramble To Your Ballots posted on 05/02/2012
This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, uh, my brother’s crazy; he thinks he’s a chicken.” And, uh, the doctor says, “Well, why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.” – Woody Allen (Annie Hall)

Our isolation is sometimes embraced. It’s comfortable – like an old pair of work boots. In light of the turmoil that swirls around more urban areas, we can often sit back and chuckle at the absurdity as the flatlanders flail away in futility.

What difference would it make if we suddenly became concerned about Oregon City, or Clackamas, or anything west of Alder Creek? Who needs it?

Sadly, occasionally we do need it. Remember our rivers, and the flooding?

We have our own set of problems that have little to do with the rest of Clackamas County. And there are times – most times – that the county commissioners feel the same way about us.

But now’s our chance. A window of opportunity has opened and a fresh, rural breeze is blowing.

Clackamas County Commission Positions 3 and 4 will appear on the May 15 ballot. And we have our candidates.

Jamie Damon was appointed as an interim commissioner in June 2011. Now, she’s running on her own for Position 4. Since June, it’s been difficult to attend any sort of meeting or celebration on the Mountain without Damon being there. She’s lived in Eagle Creek for 16 years. She knows a little bit about rural communities. (Did you feel the fresh air?) In her own words she lists as a priority “Meeting the needs of the residents and businesses of rural, unincorporated Clackamas County.” Her actions during her interim appointment period back up her words. We urge you to vote for Jamie Damon for Position 4.

Poised for Position 3, Martha Schrader is returning to politics. She served as a Clackamas County commissioner from 2003 to 2009. She then served as state senator, District 20, from 2009 to 2010. She has been a farmer and a school librarian. She still lives on a farm outside Canby. She has been endorsed by the Oregon War Veterans Association for being a veteran’s advocate while serving as chair of Veteran Affairs in the senate. She has garnered endorsements from firefighters, unions, police officer associations, conservationists, and the list goes on. And did we mention she lives in a rural community? We urge you to vote for Martha Schrader for Position 3. We need ALL the eggs we can gather.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau.)
'Grow-Your-Own' Mode posted on 04/01/2012
Don’t look now, but the Mountain community is in growth mode.

Yes, we lost a few businesses lately – including Hoodland Video, the Soup Spoon, the Inn Between – but a few new ventures have sprung up to take their place.

Hoodland Sport and Fitness, plus Zig Zag Zen have opened in the Hoodland Shopping Center, determined to get us healthy, mentally and physically. And there’s nothing wrong with cleanliness: enter Dry Tech to keep our carpets in shape. (See Business stories, Page 11, this issue.) We urge all our readers to give these new ventures a look. It’s not like we couldn’t use a little of their services – especially after a long winter of inactivity and tracking mud through the house.

And while that is going on, the Rhododendron Community Planning Organization is flexing its boundary muscles. The process is underway – granted in the early stages – to quadruple the CPO’s borders.

According to RCPO Secretary Steve Graeper, the process has entered the public comment phase and an explanation of the process and various approvals required were presented at the March 24 CPO meeting. “Clackamas County has a specific guideline we must follow and it has ended up being a much more cumbersome process that first imagined,” Graeper said. “But we are following the process to insure everyone is heard and the boundary expansion is approved by a majority of those affected … this is by no means a done deal. We have merely entered into the public comment stage. After that comes community voting and then presenting the proposal to the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners if the majority vote in favor of the expansion.”

Here’s the growth outline: The current jurisdiction of the CPO is a one-square-mile section which includes the core commercial area of Rhododendron and about 250 cabins and homes in that area. The western boundary ends at the Zigzag-Still Creek Bridge on Hwy. 26 and the eastern boundary ends at Road 20 and East Henry Creek Road. The proposed expansion will add more than 500 new cabins and homes and quadruple the area. The expansion is mapped to add the area directly west of the current boundary to include homes and cabins in the Faubion Loop and Woodlands area, in addition to all of the Forest Service and Cabin roads 3, 9, 10 and 19. Also, the area would include Forest Service cabins east from Road 20 up to and including Kiwanis Camp Road 39.

It’s hard to say where all this is going, as some of this expansion assumes boundaries now served by the Mt. Hood Corridor CPO and Government Camp. We anxiously await their responses. But, growth is in the air.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau.)
Land (Sakes) Before Time posted on 03/01/2012
Seldom do we venture beyond the Mountain with an opinion. Maybe never. Until now. We can no longer stand idly by watching the GOP presidential candidates produce a sequel to the previously benign movie “The Land Before Time” without commenting.

It’s no longer a matter of whether one is a conservative or liberal, but whether one is living in this century – or for that matter the latter half of the last century. Have you been listening? And we’re not talking about Fox News or CNN or MSNBC or PBS and certainly not C-SPAN (admit it, you don’t watch C-SPAN). We’re talking about the actual words being spewed by the GOP candidates for the highest office.

So grab hold of your Orwellian suspenders while we snap off a few.

Rick Santorum (whose last foray into politics was to be soundly trounced by the widest margin of any incumbent in his run for the senate in Pennsylvania):

“I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely. The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country … President Obama wants everybody to go to college. What a snob.” He’s also against contraception, and believes women should not work outside the home.

What? Never have we heard such murky, antediluvian blather from someone running for office, and that includes any level of office, since, since George Wallace. Who is this guy? Can we toss it off because he said those things to Glenn Beck? Nope. Not even cavorting with crazies gets you off the hook.

Santorum also said that he “almost threw up” after reading President Kennedy’s 1960 speech regarding his commitment to the separation of church and state.

Santorum also said “Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is what the Democratic Party has become … they prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it’s not about life. It’s about … homosexuality.”

We’ve been unable to divine Santorum’s constituency, but based on his comments they must be homophobes, anthropoids, sexually deprived, theocrats, misogynists, and have it in for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. He may not be prehistoric, but he’s most certainly pre-Ozzie Nelson. If he wins the nomination he’ll carry two districts in West Virginia.

Which gets us to his primary opponent Mitt Romney. This is no contest. Romney likes to bankrupt companies, make lots of money doing so, is fascinated by the “height of trees” in Michigan, and has a wife that drives two cadillacs. Santorum can’t stand up to those bona fides.

Time marches on – without and despite them.

(Opinions expressed in View from the Mountain are those of the editor, Larry Berteau.)

Attaboy For The CCSO posted on 02/02/2012
Law enforcement is a demanding profession. At times it can be equally admirable. It is also a profession of high visibility and high expectations. It also suffers from the duality of when the job is done well it goes mostly unnoticed, but when mistakes are made they are magnified.

The officers and deputies of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office labor under these demands and expectations.

The job is made more difficult by continuous budget cuts and the amoeba-like boundaries of the county the office is asked to patrol.

We have been critical of the sheriff’s office in its seemingly overzealous approach in recent months in a DUII crackdown on the Mountain. This criticism was directed toward a particular deputy, and there was no intent to tar the rest of the force with the same brush.

Several members of the community contacted us with a similar complaint: Why not direct some of this newly formed enthusiasm to solving the rash of burglaries and break-ins that have plagued the Mountain for the past six months.

Which brings us to the “job well done that goes mostly unnoticed.”

Two men are in custody and stolen property seized by the sheriff’s office deputies (see story, Page 1). It was a perfect storm of local citizens rising to the occasion, notifying the sheriff’s office, and law enforcement’s quick response that, hopefully, has cracked the ring of robberies.

Any Mountain resident who has filed burglary reports is being notified – or will be soon – to come view the loot and reclaim their stolen property. The sheriff’s office has indicated that others who were victims in this crime spree – but did not file reports – can notify the CCSO and see if their property has been seized.

We applaud the actions of the sheriff’s office. So often, local citizens feel like the ugly stepsister in the county family. There are times when members of the community enjoy that feeling, even celebrate it. But we say, not this time.

The concerns raised by local bar-restaurant owners and employees during the DUII crackdown seem, for the most part, to have been assuaged. Now, with the same enthusiasm that alerted so many to the excessive actions during that time, let us applaud the sheriff’s deputies for their admirable attention to the burglaries.

(Opinions expressed in View from the Mountain are those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)
Club Now Turns to Crab posted on 01/02/2012
Times are tough. On that we can all agree. To some extent, we are all scrambling, scratching, trying to make a living, while simultaneously trying to make sense of it all. And as our gaze gets cloudy, distorted, it’s time to fix on what is good, what is right, and what is being done by a selfless group of Mountain women.

We are talking about the Hoodland Women’s Club. In a story written in the November Mountain Times, a quote rose in what was at first a “cute” description. But it resonated with us. Referring to the club it said “It’s not what the classic idea is of a women’s club – a bunch of women sitting around knitting.” We thank Diane Lokting for that remarkable illumination.

The most recent project tackled by these women is the new community center that is on the drawing boards – and attracting funding – to provide a tremendous addition to the Mountain. This new center will be the home of our library, the senior center, neighborhood missions, a Red Cross emergency shelter, the Clackamas County’s Women’s Services Domestic Violence Outreach, and much more. There are still stumbling blocks, but do not doubt for a moment the resolve of this group. They say it will open in April 2013. We believe them.

How they have found the time for this pursuit – when they already pay the utilities at the Dorman Center, support college scholarships, help provide for the Mountain Express Line – and can still put on the annual crab feed (coming Jan. 28, see the advertisement on Page 3) is simply more testimony to their resolve.

So we take a moment to thank them, and to single out their board members by name. We’re confident that public recognition is not part of their agenda, and that is even more reason to do so.

The Hoodland Women’s Club board: Marilan Anderson, Ann Holbrook, Judy Chambers, Dina Trachta, Nancy Dougherty, Nancy Spencer, Kay Baker, Deedee Godfrey, Barbara Novinger and Signe Merz.

And no editor’s opinion piece is complete without a call to action: GO TO THE CRAB FEED. It’s not a classic fundraiser. In Ann Holbrook’s words (the organizer) “It’s to bring the community together, have fun, enjoy an after-holiday feast, listen to music, and dance.”

This is the 3rd annual crab feed. Holbrook assures us it’s really improved from the first when the club was so overwhelmed, people had to stand in line for more than an hour. They’ve learned. They’re ready for us.

So put on your crab bib and dancing shoes, and get overwhelming.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are those of the editor, Larry Berteau.
Let's Balance the Scale posted on 12/03/2011
In an interview with The Mountain Times, Lt. Will Behan of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said “It’s a balancing act.”

Behan was referring to the increased patrols on the Mountain – in response to some members of the community’s request – and what has been perceived as overly zealous patrols by others.

We concede to the reference of a “balancing act,” but it appears the scales are tipped in a particular direction. The activities of Deputy Stephen Steinberg have seen to that.

Any discussion of a sheriff’s deputy stepping over the line in the performance of his duties on the Mountain must begin with a history lesson. The text book is titled “Deputy Brandon Claggett.” In 2009 Claggett was sentenced to seven years in prison for assault and numerous other crimes. The investigation into the case revealed he had taken a teenage girl on unauthorized rides and had emailed sexually explicit photos to her while on duty. It’s difficult to comprehend, but Claggett’s impact on the Mountain community goes beyond that. His methods of intimidation were unworthy of a peace officer. There are few individuals in the Hoodland area who do not know of someone who had an out-of-bounds experience with him. Kim Perry, owner of The Shack, said it plainly enough: “He is still very much in our memory. He betrayed our trust.” It is safe to say the Mountain still suffers a Claggett hangover.

Interviews with bar-restaurant owners, managers and employees, as well as ordinary citizens, reveal a disturbing pattern. According to these reports, once again, people are afraid. “Everybody’s scared to death,” said Ron Gambell, owner of the Brightwood Tavern. “My bartender’s afraid of this man,” said Skyway owner Tracie Anderson.

Some examples of Steinberg’s tactics are described in the Page 1 story. Other reports – from citizens (predominantly women) who are fearful to be identified by name – speak to being tailgated by a sheriff’s SUV with its high beams glaring into their vehicles. Rude behavior toward female bartenders dot the list. Pulling over drivers without cause – other than they were driving Hwy. 26 at night. Camping out in parking lots.

These reports, of course, are anecdotal – but are equally too numerous to ignore. To Lt. Behan’s credit, he told the MT he would talk to his deputies. We trust that will take place. We are supportive and dependent on our law enforcement officers. We do not condone, in any way, drunk driving. Nor do we condone a cowboy attitude by a deputy in our community.

There are livelihoods as well as lives at stake.

As Perry said: “This isn’t prohibition.”

The opinions expressed in the View From The Mountain are those of the editor, Larry Berteau.

A Nod to Jim Bernard posted on 11/02/2011
It’s always easy to criticize those in the public eye, and we have been as guilty of that as anyone – but hopefully innocent of piling on.

So it is with a certain amount of glee that we point to a positive when it comes to the embattled members of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. Their ability to snub the Mountain community has been well documented. But in October, one commissioner turned our head.

Jim Bernard was elected commissioner in 2008 after serving as mayor of Milwaukie for eight years. He always appeared to us as a sincere politician, as quick as any to make the seemingly insurmountable trek from urban county to our remote Hoodland area.

But when confronted by the relentless pursuit of the Hoodland Women’s Club to secure the site for the new Community Center (story, Page 1), Bernard was either overwhelmed or spurred into action. (We will give him the benefit of the doubt, and suspect the latter.)

When the session with the club and commissioners began to bog down in the political mire, Bernard rose to the occasion and whipped the project into shape. Now, it is as certain as a gang of Women’s Club members can make it (which is a considerable certainty), the Mountain will have a new community center by April 2013.

Thanks to the Hoodland Women’s Club, and to Jim.

The opinions expressed in the editorial are those of the editor, Larry Berteau.
TOURISTS: Gotta Love Em posted on 10/01/2011
The U.S. Forest Service has issued a visitor’s report that studies the economic impact on national forests and grasslands. It’s an exhausting report – one that rivals a congressional budget – but thanks to some digging by former Mountain Times Editor Steve Wilent, the breakdown for the Mountain community is quite interesting.

First, on a national level, recreational activities continue to make large economic impacts on America’s rural communities, contributing $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. So, imagine what our economy would be like without this bumper crop of bucks to regions like ours.

And the feedback, nationally, has showed that 94 percent of visitors were satisfied with their national forest experience. That means, that on average, 190 out of 200 tourists who visit our Mountain probably had a great time.

Not surprisingly, winter sports dominated the report for Mount Hood. Nearly half of our visitors (49.3 percent) came for the downhill skiing – most of whom came from Multnomah County. Viewing natural features, hiking and walking, wildlife viewing and fishing trailed the skiers, according to the report.

It comes as a shock to no one here on the Mountain that Hoodland exists in its present state primarily due to tourism. We can argue if this is good or bad, but most would probably give a nod to the positive side of the issue. When you live in a special place, it’s only natural that others will want to spend time in that special place. It’s the price we pay for the beauty which is ours 365 days a year.

So when we enjoy the beauty and recreational possibilities ourselves, let us also remind ourselves that the terrific businesses at hand thrive here, primarily, because of these tourists.

Now, if they’d only learn to obey our speed limits.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are
solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
10 YEARS AFTER posted on 09/02/2011
It  doesn’t seem possible that 10 years have passed since the infamous Sept. 11, 2001. So how far have we come? And what have we become?

We rallied together at that moment, shocked, horrified, angry and stricken with grief. For a moment we were one, standing firm on the inside, looking outward at the evil that dared to strike us. We knew we would never be the same. But we thought, at that moment, we would forever be together.

We mourned. Eventually, the tears dried, but the stains remained. The hatred was still palpable, but the angry wave crested. And we waited.

We may never know the options that were available in the war room at the White House. Surely, the inner circle of the president – and the president himself – must have been as stunned as we were. But eventually they acted – but in a most unusual manner.

We invaded Iraq.

This was the first misstep in the broken gait that has carried us on the 10-year path. Much has been made of the flawed intelligence that suggested weapons of mass destruction were rampant in Iraq. But not much has been made of the lack of intelligence that somehow connected Iraq to the 9-11 attack. Quite simply, there was none. No intelligence, no connection.

The invasion of Afghanistan carried with it a modicum of reason. After all, this was a country – along with Pakistan – that harbored real enemies and potential threats to the U.S.

And our stalwart soldiers suffered and died. And innocent civilians suffered and died. Our war chest swelled and our economy shriveled.

The end result is we have come far in years, but not in distance. That space between innocence and knowledge is called growth. And all we seem to have done is grow weary.

But there is hope. One sign of an era passing is when a central figure that shaped it writes a book. Dick Cheney, the bellicose draft dodger, has written his. Fortunately, it is not mandatory reading, for we already know his story – the man who never saw a war he didn’t love (Grenada, Nicaragua, Iraq, Afghanistan) except the one he was asked to serve: Vietnam. Five college deferments kept the hypocrite safe, coddled, as in his own words: “I had more important things to do.”

It’s 10 years after. Cheney and his ilk have exited the stage. Now, we invoke Todd Beamer: “Let’s roll.”

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)
Survey: Small But Insightful posted on 07/31/2011
The results are finalized for the Villages at Mt. Hood community survey. The sample size is something short of scintillating, but we do what we can with what we have. It does no good for the community to scorn low turnouts. After all, those who turned out did their job. It’s the missing we bemoan.

The final tally on the question we touched on last month regarding the community’s interest in finding out the pros and cons of incorporation ended up with 58 percent saying “yes.” And, as noted before, the most significant number was that less than 20 percent of respondents even bothered to answer the question.
CONCLUSION – Ditch it. The status quo rules.

Overwhelming support was shown for more recycling and green services. A total of 98 percent of respondents thought these services were moderately or very important.
CONCLUSION – The need to continue the Green Scene project is paramount. As always, funding is the hurdle, but don’t sell short the efforts of Doug Saldivar and Mary Soots. In the world of recycling and making the Mountain green, they are guerillas in our midst.

A full 88 percent of respondents thought more police presence on Hwy. 26 was moderately or very important.
CONCLUSION – It doesn’t matter. The state or county will not ramp up patrols, hiding behind the notion of lack of funding, or the patrols are adequate at present levels. Keep your lights on and your head low.

Eighty-four percent think it’s important to find more activities for children; 83 percent feel the same regarding the need for a community center; and 81 percent believe the need for more tourism-related services in important.
CONCLUSION – Teach your children well and play with them; find a benevolent contributor to step to the plate and fund a community center with his or her name in big letters on the front of the building; and do your best to help tourists who need information because the county has completely messed up in this regard for the Mountain community.

We are pleased that the younger population of the Mountain has been represented by the election of Kara Verdoorn and Nathaniel Ingrao to the Villages Board. Their task will be no easier than those who came before, but hopefully youth will be served and new ideas will spring forth. We urge them to ramp up our recycling capabilities; keep up the pressure for law enforcement patrols along our highway; support local programs that provide youth activities; keep a community center on your radar; work to expand tourist info services; and while you’re at it, try to find a sliver of separation through the Villages bylaws to be “representatives” of the Mountain rather than simply “agents” of the county.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)

Incorporation: Wild and Woody posted on 07/02/2011
The third rail of local politics most certainly is the flirtation with incorporation. In fact, it probably sinks to the dizzying depths of fourth or fifth rail, if there were such things.

In an ongoing survey being conducted by the Villages (the results of which will be published in the August issue of The Mountain Times), a question was asked of who was interested (or not) in our community taking on the celebrity of a city. At this point, the winner is:

APATHY – by a whopping 73 percent!

That is not a typo. Nearly three-fourths of respondents didn’t even bother to offer an opinion. They skipped over it like a child running its heedless ways. For those who dared to take on the question (ignoring the fact that it was an anonymous survey) the most glaring and repeated answer was “Why should we?” In fairness, a few intrepid (or deranged) individuals actually wanted it discussed and were interested in the pros and cons of citification.

The process of forming a city is as clear as the Sandy River at flood stage. It begins with a feasibility study. (That’s enough to turn off most clear-thinking humans.) It then proceeds to public hearings, followed by an incorporation petition, review of signatures by the county clerk, an incorporation election, the election of city officials, and ends up with incorporation in which the mayor files the articles with the lieutenant governor. There now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?

But it’s the idea of what is left out that intrigues us. Think of the zany possibilities. (Certainly, Mountain residents do not shrink from the zany.) What on earth do we do with our individuality? What of our ever-so-cleverly-named communities?

That’s why we’re here. Think New York City. No, Martha, not the crime and grime, the individuality of its boroughs. We have them already defined and neatly carved. The five boroughs of NYC, being Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island, would be adopted on the Mountain. Our five boroughs: Welches,  Brightwood, Zigzag, Wemme and Rhododendron. (We’ll get to Wildwood in a moment.) We elect a city councilor from each borough. And, of course, we must have a mayor, and our own police force (to rein in those mavericks on Hwy. 26 and gorge our city coffers).

Now it starts to get delicious. Can you imagine the city council meetings? It would certainly answer the question of: What do we do after dinner at one of our excellent restaurants? Well, we’d go to the council meeting and protest! What could be better?

And, to salve the savage, left-out beast, we name our city Wildwood.

And one day, when we grow up, we could have our own Tammany Hall.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau.)
Some Sodden Thoughts posted on 06/02/2011
Whew! We made it. We dodged the Rapture. The end of times turned into just another day in the times. There was an earthquake in the Bay Area, a volcano erupted in Iceland, another Republican dropped out of the presidential race – but not a single blessed one got carried off in an eternal cloud. It could be a time to be thankful, or, perhaps, a time to gather our earthly wits and get back to the marvelous rapture of living our lives in our normal, reality-based ways – Donald Trump excepted. However, if you are still unhinged, there’s a revised Rapture update set for October.

*   *   *

Although attendance was down in year two of the Mt. Hood Green Scene Sustainability Fair, nevertheless the intrepid volunteers were able to make a substantial haul. More than 7,000 pounds of recyclable goods were taken in. By anyone’s standards – Kirstie Alley withstanding – that’s a serious shedding of unwanted stuff. We congratulate the Green Sceners.

*   *   *

In the aftermath of the January Mountain flood, the public comment period will come to an end June 6. After the close, the Army Corps of Engineers is going to be issuing RGP applications. It is critical for flood damage victims that want to protect their property to adhere to all the permit guidelines. The RGB permit – specific to the Sandy River Basin – can be located at www.nwp.usace.army.mil/regulatory/home.asp. In addition, applicants will also need to obtain authorization from Department of State Lands by filling out their general authorization form. The website for the permit process is at www.nwp.usace.army.mil/regulatory/home.asp. Compliant engineered measures for the above permits can be found at www.wdfw.wa.gov/publications/00046/wdfw00046.pdf. That’s a serious collection of www’s, but no one said it was going to be easy.

*   *   *

The embattled Sellwood Bridge went the way of all things connected to the economy these days. OK, the bridge didn’t exactly go anywhere, but a $290 million effort to replace it was resoundingly defeated by Clackamas County voters. (The final margin was a not-so-subtle 63-37 percent “No” vote.) County residents were on the hook for a $22 million contribution that would have been made up with a $5 a year motor vehicle registration fee. The county chimed in declaring it would make no new effort to contribute to the project. Let this be a warning to those who would lean on us during difficult times. To voters, bridge work is an oral repair job.

(The opinions expressed in The View From The Mountain are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau.)
Govy Facing a Serious Challenge posted on 05/01/2011
The messy stuff just hit the fan in Government Camp. The cushy relationship between Govy and the county, apparently, has come to an end.

The ongoing budget crunch, the one that everyone (save major corporations and millionaires basking in tax cuts with more on the horizon) has been forced to deal with, has been called into play by the Clackamas County commissioners.

The result: Government Camp street lighting and sidewalk snow removal will no longer be provided by the county. The previous arrangement, which has been in place since 2006, had the county doing Govy’s lifting. The problem is, it’s a $20,000 per year hit on the county budget – and the county, like us all, is either busted, or close to it, depending on who spins the tale.

Nevertheless, the county’s position is clear as Mountain water. As County Commission Chair Charlotte Lehan said in an interview with The Oregonian: “There has to be a cutoff. And there has to be the political will. It needs to be clear that we’re at the end of the line.”

So what is Govy to do? And how does Govy do anything in light of the political schism that exists in that community? The residents voted down an attempt to incorporate in the May 2010 election. Prior to that, an attempt to create a maintenance district (more on that later) was defeated.

The choices are few, and certainly aren’t widely embraced by Govy voters. An urban road maintenance district could be formed – a county service district that is available in urban unincorporated areas. But funding for the district would have to come from an ad valorem property tax levy. They could also petition for a road district that would cover the snow removal issue, but the county would be the authority in governing the district.

Does anyone think Government Camp would approve either of those?

It is rumored that a community meeting is being cobbled together for sometime in May. The questions are: will they consider a service district option; or will they dare to visit (again) the topic of incorporation.

The robust attitude of Govy residents is certainly to be admired. But we wonder how much of that will carry over – or completely erode – when they are shoveling their own sidewalks or digging tunnels out from the General Store or the Museum.

We are less than enamored with the Clackamas County commissioners. If we were faced with sitting down with the commissioners, or Govy residents, we would quickly choose the latter. However, the time has come – unfortunately – for Government Camp to accept the inevitable and solve this dilemma. We not-so-secretly lean toward incorporation, if for no other reason than a Government Camp city hall meeting would be spellbinding.
Gravity Pulls Us To A Bike Park posted on 04/02/2011
This is a thorny patch we’re headed into, but if the rabbit never ventured in, the hounds would certainly catch up.

Of course, we’re speaking of the proposed mountain bike trail at Timberline. The public still has until April 4 to submit comments to the Forest Service on the proposal — so, like the rabbit, we head into the thicket, just under the wire.

Here’s the deal: The Forest Service and Timberline Lodge propose to construct a mountain bike park in a meadow below the lodge. They will contract with RLK Construction — builders of the wildly successful bike park at Whistler — to construct a lift-assisted downhill only trail system and skills park within and adjacent to the southern portion of the Timberline ski area special use permit boundary. The park will wind for 17 miles, and will include paths for three skill levels — including one to be avoided by the timid.

Naturally, there are voices of support and opposition. After all, if the Mountain community was polled on whether or not we should offer directions to tourists, there would be differing opinions. That’s part of our charm. And regarding the bike trail proposal, those opinions have dotted the opinion pages of the Mountain Times for a couple months.

The concerns are real. An environmental assessment has pointed out a few, including the possibility of stream erosion, loss of vegetation due to construction, and the fact that a herd of elk could be impacted.

However, it is our opinion that Timberline has been good stewards of the environment. We believe they will attend to the issues — they have even assured us of that.

So why take the risk? This one’s easy. To whatever degree the Mountain community thrives, it is primarily due to the attraction of our resorts. The fact that we could add fuel to that fire, in times when the economy is as fragile as, well, the rabbit without a thorny patch, we come down on the side of approving the mountain bike park. Timberline, guard the future, and ride on!

Opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are those of the editor, Larry Berteau.
We Are Half-Glassed posted on 03/03/2011
We made our position very clear in last month’s editorial, we are committed to better communication facilities on the Mountain, and (short of being committed indeed) are in favor of a new cell tower — one that provides emergency capabilities AND covers the residents up Lolo Pass Road.

To that end we pursued the progress being made, and found, not surprisingly, the glass was half empty — or half full. This is what we uncovered.

AT&T Mobility has leaped into the No. 2 spot in the nationwide mobile communications world, according to market watchers who rate such things, and are zooming upward toward the No. 1 share of the market. Verizon may have another notion about this analysis, but we digress.

Fitting of its newly discovered success, AT&T Mobility is a company that is so enamored with itself — and its communications acumen — they do not communicate all that well with those who seek information.

This led us to Adapt Engineering, Inc. (with a tip of the hat for the tip from Mountain resident Paul Munsell), a Portland company, and its environmental consultant, Beth Belanger. Adapt is charged with a subcontract to work on our murky cell tower hugger-mugger.

Belanger did not go willingly into our interview. “I can’t really talk about this,” she offered. However, it is known that Adapt, working with AT&T and the Bureau of Land Management, has erected an array of four rectangular panel antennas on top of the existing 129-foot power transmission tower owned by Bonneville Power Administration. The location is in an area known as Crutchers Bench, north of Barlow Trail Road and northwest of Lolo Pass Road. Belanger admitted to the extension and said this is already providing “better reception” for our Lolo Pass Road residents.

In early January, Adapt and AT&T, on behalf of BLM, provided the public an opportunity to offer feedback about the project. Again, according to Belanger, they got responses and “they were all positive.”

The next step (to carry us beyond the half-glass analogy) is to erect a separate antenna in the same area. This would undoubtedly get us near the top of the glass. As far as she knows, Belanger said they are progressing, but the new tower has not yet been approved by the county.

So the half-glassed relay continues. We urge the county to pour all its resources into the proper receptacle.

Opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are those of the editor, Larry Berteau.

Can You Hear Me Now? posted on 02/02/2011
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
Mark Twain

When it comes to living on the Mountain, we are all carrying a cat by the tail.

The attitude we all walk around with — that enduring duality — of wanting and insisting on our independence, free of the feds, the state, the county, came sharply into focus with the January flood. Suddenly, we needed help. We needed a road, a bridge, water, electricity, generators, gasoline, propane, and perhaps most importantly we needed communications. For many of us, all of that was lost — and, no matter how rugged, we needed.

The Hoodland Fire District — our intrepid first responders — went into crisis mode and were immediately stretched to the limit. We talked to one senior firefighter as the waters rose, who said “I’m in the 36th hour of my 12-hour shift.” He wasn’t complaining. Our firefighters don’t do that. But that crew had more to do than could be managed. Their work was extraordinary, and the tasks they performed too many to mention. But the Sandy, Zigzag and Salmon rivers were indifferent, raging away at their banks, charting new courses, isolating our community, and sweeping away three of our homes.

The stories of neighbors helping neighbors — like the rivers — flooded in. Lolo Pass Road was the epicenter of the disaster. More than 200 people were cut off. Yet, Mountain residents from other areas could be seen carrying supplies up the road to their neighbors.

But even then, we were overwhelmed.

Repairs are underway. Like the rivers, the crisis has receded. But from it all there is one critical lesson learned. We would have done much better — with or without outside assistance — if we could have communicated. A woman unable to get home from work that first night didn’t know if her husband and two dogs had survived. Another couldn’t contact anyone to get into her house and bring down her refrigerated medication — which was going off due to the power failure. What a horrible feeling it must have been for our elders or infirmed who were trapped, not knowing, not able to reach anyone.  Every member of this community has at least one of these stories.

Which gets us to cell towers. We are not interested in the pros and cons. The debate is over. This flood event trumps every argument. In this fragile, beautiful, dangerous environment in which we’ve all voluntarily taken to, we need to be able to communicate — at all times, no matter what.

We have a cat by the tail, and we have learned.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are
solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.

A New Year, and a New Way posted on 01/02/2011
Making resolutions is a New Year’s custom that dates back — at least — to ancient Rome.

Never at a loss for all things mystical, Romans conjured up a mythical king, Janus, and plopped him at the head of the calendar. They determined he was the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. Appropiately, they fashioned him with two faces — one on the front of his head and the other on the rear — so Janus could look back on the past, and forward into the future.

From that Romans took to asking forgiveness from their multitude of sins and enemies and took to exchanging gifts and making resolutions for the future benefit of all things Roman.

How successful were they? Well, Rome prospered for a while, but then came the fall. And what has tumbled down through the ages is the tradition of making resolutions for the New Year — with all the good intentions of a stalwart Roman citizen — only to see them dashed into ruin in our own time.

Perhaps the reason for these failed resolves is they were misdirected. A new guidance system is required. Let’s recalibrate for altitude and attitude.

With that in mind we offer the following New Year’s resolutions — ones that may stand the test of time.

No. 1 — We resolve to worry less about our waist line, and more about our waste line. Let us hitch our wagon to the locally organized Green Scene and get on board with sustaining our Mountain community. Think about it. Sustainability is an awkward word, but it has a nice ring. Somehow, it should rhyme with everlasting.

No. 2 — We resolve to exercise every day (our rights and responsibilities as good citizens). Let’s get in shape, and make this world a better place. We’re all in this together. Deep breath, bend the knees, hands over the head, rise as high as you can. That’s better.

No. 3 — We resolve to quit drinking (the Kool-Aid of casual conformity). Question all things. Look out the window and reflect.

No. 4 — We resolve to learn something new (about ourselves). We are not sheep. We are unique. Take a stroll down Robert Frost’s “the path less traveled.”

And finally, make this a different New Year — by making a difference.

The View From The Mountain is an opinion of the MT editor, Larry Berteau.
Time for the County Liaison to Step Down posted on 11/02/2010
We Mountain folk grow weary at the lack of enthusiasm expressed on a regular basis from the county toward our community. Simultaneously, we savor our spirit of independence toward outside forces. It is a righteous dilemma that we have earned, and been forced to endure.

The distance between the Mountain and Oregon City is not measured in miles — rather in degrees. Clackamas County — with Oregon City perched as the county seat — has created a separation that is only closed every few years, oddly, it seems, during election time. This year is no different. We will hear promises of more involvement with the Mountain community, more listening, more paying attention, most any rhetoric that can be mustered. We will all remain wary of such antics. After all, we are adept at spotting opportunists who coo in our ears.

As of this moment, the only (virtual at times) link to the county is the connection of the Villages at Mt. Hood board of directors — an all-volunteer group of dedicated community members who, at times, stumble and fail, but must never be reviled. They, like the rest of us, have opinions as varied as the tree canopy that shrouds us. We have recently learned they are more than advisors to the county. They have been reminded by the county’s liaison to the board — Christine Roth — that they are also “agents of” the county. This realization was a surprise to a few members of the board, and to us as well. This suggests a distinct conflict in the board members’ commitment, but we won’t dwell on that.

But we find it imperative to address a thorny issue that has recently reared its head: the request — and subsequent denial — of Sandra Palmer to receive what she believes was promised county funding for her tourist information center headquartered at her Wy’east bookstore. In September, a band of supporters showed up at a Villages board of directors meeting insisting the board re-issue a previously published letter of support for Palmer. Roth had directed board members not to speak on the issue due to the possibility of litigation, and as “agents” of the county might be held accountable for their actions. The ploy worked. Of the six board members, three abstained from the vote, effectively scuttling the board’s support for Palmer. Doug Saldivar, the board’s chair, shifted the vote to the community at a special Town Hall Meeting later in the month. As The Mountain Times reported, the community voted in a landslide of major proportions (110-6), that the board stand behind Palmer.

But due to the heated discussion at the board meeting, Roth sent a letter to the Villages stating she would not attend the Town Hall — citing the “tenor” of the previous meeting. We find that completely disingenuous. In our opinion, if the liaison to the Villages doesn’t like the way we do business here on the Mountain, she should let the county know her feelings, and resign her post. Roth’s actions in the past have fed this belief, her shoddy handling of the latest election of board members being a shining example. Her subsequent offering of a contumely “No comment” to The Mountain Times before a question was even asked (regarding her boycott), only served to cement our position and fire our resolve.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau.
Getting Kicks Out of Animal Tricks posted on 10/02/2010
Letter to the Editor

The compelling commentary by Deborah Robinson in the September issue of The Mountain Times regarding elephant abuse and the recent visit of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus was right on point.

It’s a sad state of affairs when we have to get our kicks out of watching wild animals perform ridiculous tricks.

It’s enough that circus animals are forced to perform demeaning “acts” or suffer painful beatings with bullhooks, whips and electric prods. And more than enough that these magnificent creatures are hauled around the country in boxcars 48–50 weeks of the year chained or housed in small cages, all for our “entertainment.”

Deborah’s commentary about a wailing baby elephant being torn away from its protective mother to undergo cruel circus training was enough to bring tears to your eyes.

That’s no way to treat a baby.
 
As animals can’t voice their opinions, their only hope is for us to speak up for them.
Even one voice can make a difference in their lives.

Boycott circuses with animals – don’t pay for their misery and sad existence. Instead, attend circuses without animals such as Cirque du Soleil, the New Pickle Circus or others that feature amazing acrobats, aerialists and jugglers.

There is nothing fun about the life of a circus animal.

It’s time that all performing elephants and tigers were retired to sanctuaries and do, well, just what elephants and tigers do naturally.

With dignity.

Frances Berteau
Welches

First Town Hall was Disappointing posted on 10/02/2010
Letter to the Editor

The evening of Aug. 23 was my first attendance at a Town Hall Meeting for the Villages at Mt. Hood.

When I showed up and presented my ID and PGE bill stating my business address, Coni Scott, president of the local Chamber of Commerce tried to deny me my voting rights by focusing on my Sandy PO Box instead of my actual business site address in Welches. She denied a friend who lives in the Mt. Hood Villages because he had a Sandy zip code (Alder Creek). No telling how many other people who came to support the Wy’east case were turned away as a result of her biased stand against Sandra Palmer and her appeal to the county to be fair and honest.

Why was someone against the tourism center being in Welches screening people who wanted to support it?

It was glaringly obvious to me that the board was not too interested in our business and tourism needs and had no enthusiasm for the issue at hand. It seemed that they had no interest in representing our needs as a business community dependent upon tourism. Maybe it had something to do with the county commissioners threatening the board? Watching our coerced representatives in inaction was disheartening and leads me to believe that we have no real leadership in the Mt. Hood corridor.

Who is this board of ours anyhow? Retirees? Or, persons wanting our area to grow and prosper?

As the neighbor of Wy’east Book Shoppe & Art Gallery, I get daily requests for visitor information and when I tell them that they need to drive another few miles to the Zigzag Ranger Station, or 17 miles to Government Camp, they are disappointed and get that lost look in their eyes. The businesses at the Rendezvous Shopping center enjoyed the activity generated by the Tourist Information Center here and we would like to have it back, where it does the most good for tourists on their way to places and Welches businesses.

I also noticed at the meeting last night that certain constitutional rights were being trod upon: mainly “Freedom of Speech,” by not allowing any “negative” statements — when in fact, they were the negative ones.

I am troubled and confused by the Town Hall meeting and feel that the business community in the Mt. Hood Corridor needs better representation — such as business owners on the board who understand how to get things done.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Diana L. Jones
Diana’s Trading Post
Rendezvous Shopping Center
It's Time to Say 'Enough' to Elephant Abuse posted on 09/05/2010
COMMENTARY
By Deborah Robinson
In the next few days, Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus trains will roll into Portland. On board, as usual, will be the elephants, this time in a wide range of ages from over 50 down to Barack, only a year and a half old. All of them have been performing with circuses for their entire lives, long and short, and it’s time to say “enough.”

It’s easy to understand some essentials about elephants. As the earth’s largest land mammals, everything about them is gigantic: intelligent brains, vast home ranges and extended families.

In the wild, elephants are constantly on the move, engaged 20 hours a day in exploring a rich and varied environment, looking for food, caring for offspring, and seeking out mates, friends and relatives. Extremely social, they live in large collectives that can include hundreds of elephants.

To think that elephants’ needs can be met simply by providing food, water and shelter is to disregard all we know about the complex nature of these animals. Like us, elephants thrive on family, friends and freedom.

Yet ever-growing piles of evidence including court transcripts, videos and photos, and the testimonies of former Ringling employees, show that Ringling’s elephants are deprived of everything natural to them. Though built for movement they are regularly chained in boxcars for, on average, 26 hours at a time — sometimes up to 100 hours without a break — while traveling across the country for 11 months of the year. At “home” in Ringling’s breeding center they may be chained 22½ hours each day. Standing for long periods of time, unable to move, on hard surfaces and in their own excrement, causes foot and joint problems that are the leading cause of euthanasia among captive elephants in this country.

Mountains of evidence demonstrate, too, that the elephants are constantly subjected to brutal training and management practices. Ringling’s routine abuse of elephants was put on record in recent federal court hearings as employees and even CEO Kenneth Feld acknowledged under oath and in sworn documentation that the elephants are hit with bullhooks, fireplace-poker-like instruments that have sharp points designed to inflict pain. Undercover video released last year showed Ringling’s elephants being hit with bullhooks backstage, immediately before performing. The handlers filmed lashing out at the elephants are still working with them.

The constant confinement, deprivation, and inability to make choices based on anything other than the avoidance of pain creates constant stress, causing abnormal behavior.
On more than one recent occasion elephants in circuses, including one with Ringling, have lashed out or bolted, creating grave risk to the nearby public.

Of all these abuses, nothing seems more heartless than tearing a wailing baby elephant away from his or her mother. But that’s what happens at Ringling’s breeding center, where still-nursing calves less than two years old are violently separated from their mothers and subjected to cruel training.

Elephants’ family bonds are intense. Daughters stay with their mothers for their entire lives, and sons well into their teen years. Circuses destroy those bonds. Most of Ringling’s elephants were taken from their families in the wild. Many of the group coming to Portland were born at the circus breeding center. Photos taken by a former Ringling employee show how young calves are dragged away from their mothers at an age when they still should be enjoying their mother’s coddling and protection. They are then subjected to abusive training meant to break their spirits and ensure complete submission to their handlers. For the rest of their lives, they, like all Ringling elephants, will live in constant fear, pain and deprivation.

Ringling changes its elephant line up on occasion, but recently the unit headed to Portland has included several very young elephants: Barack, another little boy named Irvin who is just five, and two who are only eight. These young animals are especially susceptible to injury, disease and death due to the crushing stress of circus life. Baby Barack, who started his life of travel and performance before his first birthday, has already survived one bout with a usually fatal virus, which could recur at any time.
It is argued by some that seeing elephants in circuses is “traditional.” History is replete with discarded traditions, now viewed with horror and contempt for the cruelties they embodied. Given what we now know about elephants’ needs, and the suffering they experience when deprived of those needs in circuses, we need to add performing elephants to that pile of discarded traditions.

(Deborah Robinson is the captive elephant specialist for In Defense of Animals at http://helpelephants.com/)
County Has Work To Do posted on 09/02/2010
The battle is joined in the Palmer vs. County flap over funding of the Wy’east Book Shoppe & Art Gallery for visitor information services provided by Sandra Palmer since 2008. The Mountain Times has reported the proceedings in previous issues, and another news story appears in this edition (see story, Page 11). Palmer proceeded to provide these important services on what she has admitted was a “verbal agreement” that funding was just around the corner. She has been denied — the county citing there was no written contract and that Palmer has “no legal standing.”

Perhaps the county is legally within its bounds to make such a claim. However, it is apparent that since 2008 the county has availed itself of Palmer’s services, guiding tourists to her shop. At the very least, it is evident that a partnership of some sort existed, and we feel the county has an obligation to make an effort to compensate Palmer in some manner for the expenses she has incurred.

But there is an overarching theme that has developed recently that the county’s tourism and cultural affairs office must address. The Mountain community collects lodging taxes for the county that are earmarked for visitor information services. Which side of the Palmer issue one takes, it matters not in this regard. The Mountain is not getting its tax collection dues.

The Zigzag Ranger Station provides some of the information for travelers to the Mountain — such as hiking trails, road closures and camping sites. But the rangers are not in the business of directing visitors to local establishments such as lodging facilities, restaurants and other businesses. To address this vacuum, the county issued a request for proposal earlier this year for those interested in providing these services. There were four respondents: Wy’east Book Shoppe, Sandy Chamber of Commerce, Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum, and Mt. Hood Adventure Park — the latter two located in Government Camp. The review board evaluated the proposals and recommended three (all but the Sandy Chamber of Commerce). Danielle Cowan, the newly appointed director of tourism for the county, selected ONE — the Museum.

The Museum does a terrific job. There is no quibble here with that choice. But a geographic anomaly was created in that choice. A traveler to the Mountain must journey all the way to Government Camp before information services are available. The fact that many visitors stay in the Hoodland area seemed of no import to the county. And since an award of $25,000 went to the Museum, that leaves approximately $35,000 left in the county’s tourism tax coffers. From the Interstate through Rhododendron, travelers are in the dark as to receiving information — information vital to our business community.

The county collects, now it must balance the disbursement. An anxious community is watching, waiting.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau.
Leaver Must Provide a Breather posted on 08/03/2010
One has to admit, the Oregon Trail School District knows how to grab headlines. It started with the school bond that voters approved to build a new Sandy High School. Then came the design plans — by design a laborious process. Then came the appeals that brought the process to a grinding halt. The appeal issues appeared to be settled — with attendant concessions — then a LUBA appeal reared its head and the construction remains on hold. (See story, Page 1.) So it goes.

Also, the OTSD has struggled laboriously with Welches Schools. Like the high school process, Welches has caused the district to jump through unanticipated hoops trying to fill the shoes of long-time Principal Mike Sutton, who took early retirement in 2009.

First came Michael McKinney, selected by OTSD to replace Sutton. But nothing comes that easily for the district. McKinney suddenly resigned in mid-term last year — the halting reason being a desire to continue his higher education. Fortunately — like a sports team with a deep bench — Sutton and long-time Vice-Principal Debbie Borge both came out of retirement and guided Welches through the 2009-2010 leadership storm.

OTSD went back to work over the summer and selected Tim Fields as the new Welches Schools principal. Good enough, one might say, but remember, nothing comes easily these days for the district. Fields, who had been serving as assistant principal at Rosemont Ridge Middle School in West Linn, was abruptly placed on administrative leave at that school. Though many rumors flew across the Mountain as to the reason for the dismissal, The Mountain Times could not verify any of them and they never came to print. The West Linn School District, and the middle school as well, refused to reveal the reasons, citing it was a “personnel issue.”

It was back to the principal’s drawing board for OTSD. Another hiring process later, Alex Leaver was tapped from Patton Middle School in the McMinnville School District, where he was serving as vice principal. (See story, Page 7.) Adding it all up, Leaver is the fifth principal (Sutton-McKinney-Sutton-Fields) to grab a musical chair at Welches since 2009.

It is difficult to place blame. We are familiar with the dedication of OTSD Superintendent Shelley Redinger. She has a terrific staff and they work hard. Their intentions are above reproach. Still …

We hope that Leaver is the answer to the dervish surrounding the Welches principal’s chair. He inherits a helping of Mountain community apprehension, though none is of his own doing. So we root for Leaver. After all, no matter how good of a bench a team has, at some point it has to count on its first string.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau.)
Kids: Let's Keep Them Healthy posted on 07/02/2010
There is a perception that if something is too good to be true, it probably is.

We are bent on presenting the exception to the perception.

There is new health care coverage that goes beyond the present Oregon Health Plan. It’s called Healthy Kids, and it provides coverage for uninsured children.

And if you fear the red tape of bureaucracy (and who doesn’t?), Healthy Kids cuts through that as well.

Healthy Kids is free or low-cost health care coverage for Oregon children who don’t have health insurance. Kids with current health conditions can also enroll. Eligibility is mostly based on income. Coverage lasts for at least one full year and can be longer so long as the child is eligible.

Coverage includes: medical, dental and vision care; regular checkups and preventive care; prescription medicines and medical equipment; and mental health and chemical dependency services.

Cost ranges from free to an affordable fee. If the family qualifies for the no-cost option, health coverage is free. Qualifying for the low-cost option means paying between 15-25 percent of the premium. If qualification is allowed due to a job loss, once the child is enrolled coverage for one full year continues even if the family level of income increases because of a new job.

For example, the no-cost option is for income less than $44,000 for a family of four. The low-cost option is for income between $44,000 and $66,000 for a family of four. If the family earns more than $66,000 there is no subsidy but an affordable premium is available.

The rules are simple. The child must be 18 or younger, live in Oregon, and be a legal resident. The income level depends on family size, so for smaller families, income is less. For larger families, income is more.

As for the red tape, forget it. Volunteers (such as Mountain resident Dick McQueen) are at the ready to assist with the application. They are available on Tuesdays, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, noon to 3 p.m., at the Sandy Senior Community Center, 38348 Pioneer Blvd. All they require are income records, child’s proof of citizenship, social security number or residency card, and proof of identity.

That’s it. It couldn’t be easier. Let’s keep our greatest resource — our children — healthy.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau.)
You'll Have to Crack Some Eggs posted on 06/03/2010
There is a scene in the movie Annie Hall where Woody Allen’s character describes the situation with his sister, who, after dinner heads out to the chicken coop and clucks her way through the night. When Annie asks why don’t you have her institutionalized, Allen responds: “We need the eggs.”

Which gets us to the Villages at Mt. Hood, the quizzical quasi-governing organization of the Mountain community. A recent example of the quizzical nature occurred at the May 15 Town Hall Meeting which was the venue for an election of three board members. There were three candidates for the three slots.

Sounds simple enough. The good news, or so it seemed, was there were actually three candidates willing to offer up themselves for the — all consuming, often thankless — volunteer positions. But at the Villages, things are seldom simple.

Rick Applegate and George Wilson, incumbents, were on the ballot, along with Carol Burk who was taking her second stab at election to the board. A pretty good turnout (more on that later) showed and cast 78 ballots. Voters could vote for one, two or all three of the candidates. As it turned out, they could also vote for none of them. (More on that later as well.) Complexity reared its head when a little-known fact emerged from the Villages by-laws. To be voted in a candidate had to acquire 50 percent of the ballots, plus one. Applegate and Wilson had never heard of the rule. Nor had board member Pat Buckley. Without doubt, it states in the by-laws that a candidate must garner “a majority of the votes cast.” The final count: Burk (50), Wilson (41) and Applegate (37). According to the by-laws, 40 votes were required to be elected. Burk and Wilson were in, Applegate was out.

The announced time of the meeting was 9:30 a.m. to noon. However, the vote count was announced well before noon. Also, there were (at least) four blank ballots, which, according to Christine Roth — county liaison to the Villages and the person entrusted with the election process — counted in the 78 total. This means that by voting for none, you are casting a NO vote for all three candidates. If you vote for one, you are casting NO votes for the other two — a strange twist on democracy. The MT is also aware of (at least) four would-be voters being turned away before the noon deadline. And, one more twist, there was no checking on would-be voters as to their residency and their right to vote.

Roth, exercising her own version of solipsism, told the MT that the polls closed at noon “by my watch.” Also, voters were turned away “after noon.” And, she thought there to be nothing wrong with the NO vote ballot. But, she said there probably should be some verification of residency, and that things perhaps “should be tightened up.”

We need the eggs.

The opinions expressed in the VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAIN are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau.
There's an Ill Wind A'blowin posted on 04/03/2010

'He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.'
-- Proverbs

Wow! Oregon’s been taking it in the shorts lately. Literally and figuratively.

The University of Oregon athletic department is in complete disarray. The football team lost more players than Harrah’s Club in a power outage. Ernie Kent, the basketball coach who made the Ducks a PAC-10 powerhouse, was shown the door like John Boehner at a Nancy Pelosi fundraiser. And who let him go? Yep. Mike Bellotti, the athletic director — oops, then he stepped down like a runway model with a broken 5-inch heel.

Inching a bit closer to the Mountain community, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department has had a worse year than the housing market. An off-duty deputy, Jeffrey Grahn, shot and killed three women (including his estranged wife) before ending his own life with a bullet to the head. Brandon Claggett, the Mountain’s “own” Weed & Seed detective, has been sentenced to seven years in the pen. The county forked over $1 million in a civil suit to the family of Fouad Kaady, who was shot seven times and killed more than four years ago by a Sandy police officer and, you guessed it, Dave Willard, a county deputy sheriff. A former employee of the sheriff’s office, Annette Smith, of Estacada, has been arrested for theft, forgery and official misconduct and is in county jail on $40,000 bail.

Welches schools has not avoided the pall that hangs over us. Certainly of a lesser extreme than the aforementioned items, nevertheless the revolving door which has become the principal’s office is of concern. Many were disappointed by the departure of Principal Mike Sutton at the end of the last school year. There was more disappointment when, after six months on the job, his replacement Michael McKinney issued his resignation at the end of this school year to pursue a higher education degree. Weeks later, the school district and McKinney agreed he should leave immediately because since his announcement he had become “ineffective.” Enter Tim Fields, newly hired for the upcoming school year, while Sutton has returned as interim to finish out McKinney’s term.

What does it all mean? We don’t think it has anything to do with 2012 end-of-the-world conspiracies. Hopefully, the UO will plow through its uprooted fields and plant anew. Hopefully, the sheriff’s office will take a look at its own woeful laundry and hang out a few clean sheets. And hopefully, Fields will take on the job at Welches Schools and provide the stability that was so carefully carried out during the Sutton regime.

Despite the howling, we are hopeful.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)


Chug-Chug of the Cell Towers posted on 03/02/2010
There is a pot boiling on the Mountain, the issue is bubbling over, and a proper solution is difficult to ascertain.

A group of individuals, dubbing themselves “Don’t Cell Us Out” has taken on communications giant AT&T (see story, Page 9) to stop the erection of a cell tower on Benchwood Lane. The owner of the property has agreed to the tower. The neighbors stand in opposition. A land-use hearing was held Feb. 18. The issue is stalled at the moment. There is more to come.

For background, 10 years ago there were 24 million cell phone subscribers in the U.S. Today, there are more than 200 million cell phones in use. To keep up with demand, during the same period cell sites have increased from 18,000 to more than 200,000 — and the numbers are increasing.

As inexorable as the growing need for service is the opposition to the towers. Opposition ranges from the aesthetic to health risks. However, under the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, only the location and appearance of the towers can be debated in such land-use hearings — not the potential health factors. The law cited studies on the subject have shown inconclusive evidence that radio-frequency emissions are harmful. Consequently, the law prohibits rejection of a tower based on health risks.

Progress is always prickly. We built a transcontinental railroad that linked east and west. The benefits of the railroad are undeniable. But it didn’t come without consequences. Land grabbing in the name of manifest destiny was, at times, unconscionable. And don’t forget that without the railroad there would never have been train robberies. We can make similar analogies with the automobile, wind turbines, even the kitchen microwave.

Which gets us back (finally) to cell towers. There will be cell towers on the Mountain, because there is a need for them. The benefit outweighs the consequences. The safety factor alone trumps all other arguments. Ask any firefighter, rescue person, ambulance driver, mountain rescuer, or elder living alone in the house.

“Don’t Cell Us Out” made excellent points at the land-use hearing. AT&T blinked and agreed to drop the height of the tower and to camouflage it as a Douglas fir. And maybe Benchwood Lane is not the best location. But don’t take this hearing as gospel that cell towers don’t belong on the Mountain. They are coming, as certainly as the railroad before it.

It’s a question of “when,” not “if.”

Deadline: Feb. 26 posted on 02/01/2010
We have certainly been among those who have taken shots at the Villages at Mt. Hood Board of Directors. That’s the stuff of politics. And our readers have not been bashful at bashing them — and that includes this issue’s public opinion offerings that have helped spur a Board response.

The Board celebrates its fourth anniversary in May. We know there are still those who believe the Board was created under a cloak of secrecy and has no standing. Nevertheless, we are not so foolish as to deny its existence — nor are we so arrogant as to call for its demise. Remember, whatever amount of antagonism you mount against the Villages, the county and state agencies will continue to make decisions about the Mountain community. Our only source of influence — of any kind short of attending meetings in the reverberating halls of Oregon City and occasionally howling at the moon — is the Villages. We can take a seat at the table, or sit on the porch and spit seeds.

Bingo.

We had the good fortune of a good friend reminding us on an unrelated matter, that, you don’t get to play unless “you have some skin in the game.” Here’s your chance. There are three positions on the Board up for election May 15 at the Town Hall Meeting. Applications are due Feb. 26. You can go online at the Villages’ new Web site and download an application. Go to: www.TheVillagesAtMtHood.com. That’s a FEB. 26 deadline.

That’s all it takes to get some skin. Those who refer to the antics of the Board as just that, antics, can get involved. Talk to your fellow complainants. Pick someone. Rally behind them. Get to the Town Hall Meeting and vote.

Because we assure you, the dedicated members of the Board will be looking for candidates as well. They will talk it up. They will rally. That’s what volunteers do.
A New Year, and then ... posted on 01/01/2010
Any man’s death diminishes me, because
I am involved in Mankind; And therefore
never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.
— John Donne

As the New Year crunches across the Mountain it brings with it hope, resolutions and sadness. Perhaps it is fitting, if not fair. Certainly it is not unexpected, but also not completely comprehended.

Mount Hood, that stern sentinel, has taken more lives. There is much talk as to the foolishness of the climbers, the taxpayer cost of the recovery attempts, and the senselessness of it all. But the cloud that emanates from the snowy flanks of the mountain is one of loss. There are three deaths. And less we think we are unscathed, be reminded of John Donne’s words that precede this editorial.

Another tragedy unfolded on Welches Road. A young woman is gone. So full of life one day, the next moment plucked from us. We are all the lesser for it.

Also, this editor’s sister went suddenly. It came out of nowhere. No illness. No slow descent into that good night. Robust one day, so vulnerable the next. She has left a hole in the editor’s heart. It will never completely heal.

Times like these it is especially important to trust in the better angels. Surely they will now guide us into this new year, armed with the resolve heaped upon us by tragedy, and aided by the hope that 2010 will shower us with grace and kindness.

So let us lift our chins a bit and add a jaunty skip to our step.

Let us gather every glint of sunshine and make it twinkle in our eye.

Let us touch as many hearts as we can, remembering all that has passed and rejoicing in all that is to come.

All of this while keeping a wary eye on that witch that circles the Mountain.

And a final reminder comes from the pen of George Eliot: “It’s but little good you’ll do watering last year’s crops.”

We are all doing this New Year bit together.

Peace.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.)
Where Do You Stand? posted on 12/02/2009

VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAIN


It’s one thing when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir outnumbers its audience. It’s another when The Villages at Mt. Hood does the same.

It wasn’t quite that bad, but it was close.

At the Nov. 21 Town Hall Meeting of the Villages, the board of directors was there, along with two guest speakers. An election was held for the open position on the board and a new member was voted in — unopposed. The recent survey conducted by the Villages was reviewed, commented on, all in preparation for an action plan to be implemented in the future. A free pancake breakfast was thrown in. The result: 19 community members showed up.

There is plenty of controversy on the Mountain regarding the legitimacy of the Villages. However, to fault those committed individuals who have stepped forward to represent the community would be unfair. The board has its accomplishments: Remember the quarry showdown with ODOT? And don’t forget without the board — spearheaded by chair Bob Reeves — we wouldn’t have MEL, our local bus service.

But when a tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one there, does it make a sound?

Which gets us to the point. What does the Mountain community want? There are many camps of opinion, enough to have their echoes called back to the Byzantine era. From here, they fall into the following categories:

1. The Villages is a bogus organization, voted in by a whopping 52 people who showed up at its formation. They are, simply, irrelevant.

2. We don’t need the Villages, or any other group, telling us what to do. We want to be left alone.

3. The Villages has no teeth. It is an advisory group only. It accomplishes nothing of substance. The board members are lackeys of the county. The only answer is to incorporate.

4. We need better direction, more involvement, the apathy must somehow be overcome. The board members of the Villages are our best bet. Show up.

Where do you stand? Is there a group we left out?

As for us, we know there is work to be done. The people’s work. There are issues. Water. Roads. Environment. Economy. Law enforcement. A Mountain is at stake. And right now, the work, for whatever reason, is pleasing to a very few. We will explore alternatives.

(The opinion expressed in The View from the Mountain is solely that of the editor, Larry Berteau.)
This Bark has a Bite posted on 11/09/2009
That rattle and roar that courses through Mount Hood National Forest may be getting muffled soon — or at least more isolated.

In late August the Forest Service released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Mount Hood Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Plan. In September two open houses were hosted (Portland and Hood River) to explain the DEIS and answer questions. Written comments were accepted through Oct. 28.

The plan is an attempt to balance recreation opportunities for OHV use with other recreational uses of Mt. Hood National Forest. From the comments the Forest Service has narrowed the choices to Alternative 3 and Alternative 4.

Alternative 3 — Includes eight areas, 325 miles of routes, 69 sites of new construction and is adjacent to 30.4 miles of wilderness areas, including Salmon-Huckleberry, Roaring River, Badger Creek, Mount Hood and Mark O. Hatfield. This route will cross 161 streams and cost $330,000.

Alternative 4 — Includes three areas, 100 miles of routes, nine sites of new construction and is adjacent to .5 miles of adjacent wilderness area, including only Badger Creek. This route will cross 46 streams at a cost of $90,000.

Bark is a non-profit watchdog group from Portland which for 10 years has been in the business of protecting the natural resources of Mount Hood and the surrounding forest. Bark believes that everyone has a right to use the forest, but no one has a right to abuse it. At the Rhododendron CPO meeting Oct. 17, Bark attorney Lori Ann Burd told those gathered that Bark was not an acronym, rather “the stuff on the outside of trees.” Then, she said wryly, it’s also a noise that tends to be heard.

Burd got our attention with her research on the subject — as well as her sense of humor. Burd cited a lab survey that 53.5 percent of visitors to Mount Hood are day hikers and for 22.8 percent it is their primary purpose. In contrast, only .16 percent say their primary reason for visits is for OHV use.

This information, plus the fact that Alternative 4 is less costly, more balanced, protects drinking water and rivers from the environmental impact of OHV use; and recognizes the needs of quiet recreationists such as hikers, anglers, hunters, picnickers and equestrians; AND the fact that the Rhody CPO and Mt. Hood Corridor CPO have endorsed Alternative 4; it was an easy call for us to throw in our throaty endorsement as well.

Vroom-vroom. Hold it down.
The Saddest Show on Earth posted on 10/02/2009

COMMENTARY by Frances Berteau

The Greatest Show on Earth, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was at the Rose Garden in Portland last month. The “Greatest” part applies to the trapeze artists and clowns who are talented and entertaining to the crowds.
But, the “greatest” part stops there. The Saddest Show on Earth belongs to the elephants and tigers who are forced to perform silly and unnatural acts to “entertain” the public.
Elephants are enormous and heavy animals, and being forced to balance on their front legs on an upturned tub, or rear up on command on their back legs, is often painful for them. If their performance is not up to par, beatings and punishment with sharp metal bullhooks will follow.
Tigers are terrified of fire, why on earth would they jump through a hoop of fire unless they were forced to?
Of course, the public is unable to see this ugly element of the circus, it all happens behind the scenes. Circus animals are not volunteers, and they don’t perform because they want to, they perform because they are afraid not to.
Moments before entering the ring, adorned in their head dresses, the elephants are struck with sharp metal bull hooks for seemingly no apparent reason. They are all in line and behaving themselves. Don’t believe this? Click onto www.circuses.com and see what really happens.
Some members of the public have also captured the abuses on video as the circus arrives in their town and posted it on the web. Check it out for yourself. There are numerous sites on the web to tell you the truth about circuses.
Ringling Bros. is currently involved in a federal lawsuit which alleges mistreatment of its animals, and over the years their animal care record is riddled with tragic animal deaths and USDA investigations.
Many countries no longer allow animals acts (there are nationwide bans in Costa Rica, Finland, India, Singapore, Sweden and others), and there are many localities in the USA that have banned circuses, our closest neighbor being Port Townsend and Redmond in Washington.
Green and progressive Portland should get with it too, and animal circuses should not be made welcome any longer in the city.
Traveling across country from show to show, Ringling elephants are transported, chained and confined in cramped boxcars for the length of the journey — maybe more than 26 hours at a time, and performing tigers are confined to cages their entire lives. No green grass or trees for them, just good old concrete.
When the public pays to see animal acts, it is paying into a practice that is cruel and outdated. Surely we can derive amusement from other sources, not watching wild animals perform ridiculous and painful tricks for our entertainment.  
It is sad to see the children file into the circuses to watch the performances. Children don’t realize what really happens, they probably think these are all happy animals doing this by choice, but we as adults should know better. What does it teach our children when they see submissive wild animals performing silly tricks. It’s akin to a bully in a school yard and suggests that this sort of behavior is OK. Shouldn’t we be teaching compassion?
It’s tragic that circus animals have to spend their entire lives on the road, chained or caged for public entertainment. Clowns and trapeze artists in the circus a definite yes, elephants and tigers no. Please patronize only animal-free circuses such as the Cirque du Soleil, or the Pickle Family Circus.
PT Barnum once said, “there’s a sucker born every minute.”
He was right.

Am I Still on Hold? Hello? posted on 10/02/2009

VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAIN

At some point the excuses start sounding hollow, and the specter of skullduggery rears its head. This is the case with Jim Jones, owner of Cascade Telecom Development and publisher of the Villages of Mt. Hood phone directory.

The original publishing date of the directory was November 2008. In June 2009, Jones told The Mountain Times it would be published by the end of the month (story in July MT). That deadline has come and gone, and still no phone book. In August (story in September MT), Jones responded to a rally of disgruntled advertisers at Meinig Park in Sandy and, after confessing to the crowd, “I know my integrity is in the toilet,” proceeded to write refund checks to a handful of clients. At the rally, Jones promised the boutique directory would be on the street by mid-September.

It’s October, and still no directory. You’re sensing a pattern here, we suspect.

So what’s the big deal? It’s just a phone directory. Most of us still have the 2007 book, right? OK. It may be a tad dog-eared, perhaps hog-chewed, but we still have it. Or, perhaps we don’t.

Here’s the big deal. Jones collects in advance of publication from his advertisers. For any new advertisers (since 2007), Jones has their money, but their ad is still floating around on a computer at CTD. To a business community like the one that exists here on the Mountain, this is a very big deal. To wit:

“He was always saying he was going to the printer at the end of the month … I don’t expect to get my money back.” — Andrea Galusha, Andrea’s Wine Gallery.

“(It’s) a lot of money to me. I’m a new business and it was really important to me to get the word out. You might say I’m just a tad upset.” — Sally Schneider, Weddings and Other Bloomin’ Occasions.

“You pay for something, you expect to get what you paid for … I’ve been ripped off.” — Kelley Mackenstadt, Mogul Mountain Pizza.

The list goes on.

Jones claims he has been ill. There is no reason to doubt this. But former employees have told the MT the illness is not as grave as he has let on. No matter. He showed up at Meinig Park, he can certainly return phone calls. Advertisers need to know his plan — his real plan — as to how he figures to make things right. An immediate 12-month phone directory would be ideal. Giving back the money would be helpful. Playing it straight is mandatory.

(The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau.)

The Education Express posted on 09/09/2009
As we welcome our children back to school we are required to examine the yearly progress reports recently issued by the Oregon Department of Education as mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

At first blush, the sincerely titled Adequate Yearly Progress standards should bring us to our feet and we should start a Mountain version of the “Wave” for Welches Middle and Elementary schools. This should be tempered, however, by a Mike Myers finger to the side of the mouth reaction to the report for Sandy High.

Here’s what the report says: Welches Elementary and Middle schools have “repeatedly met all targets.” Sandy High has “repeatedly missed targets and are on the troubled list.”

There are five standards for the state ratings: 1. unacceptable; 2. low; 3. satisfactory; 4. strong; and 5. exceptional.

The tested categories are: 1. test administration; 2. student performance; 3. attendance dropouts; 4. four-year trend; 5. overall.

Welches Elementary, with 283 enrolled students, received a 5 in test administration, 4 in student performance, 3 in attendance dropouts, 2 in trend, with a 3 overall. Welches Middle, with 146 enrolled students, netted identical scores. Sandy High, with 1,337 students enrolled, managed nearly identical scores of 5-3-3-2-2, but was deemed “troubled.”

If this suggests to you there may be something wrong with the system, we agree. And we are not alone in this assessment. Nearly everyone in the business — administrators and teachers — agree.

NCLB is no way to run a railroad. The flawed directive defies description in this limited space. But imagine the system to be an actual railroad. The federal government put down the track. The state and the school district are commissioned with running the railroad, staying on schedule, all the while coaxing a few more miles out of a poorly designed engine.

There is some hope. The Obama administration and a task force at the state level are hammering away at the tracks with a program called Rise to the Top — funded by federal grants. The program provides motivation, including teacher incentives and merit pay for student progress, according to Debbie Johnson, Director of Teaching and Learning at the Oregon Trail School District.

“There will be changes,” Johnson told The Mountain Times. “It will not be so punitive.”

Let’s hope Casey is at the throttle of the onrushing Education Express.

The opinions expressed in The Mountain Times are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau
A Dickens of a Time posted on 08/03/2009
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …’    
    A Tale of Two Cities — Charles Dickens

It may not be Paris and London, as in the Dickens story, but as metaphor, it could just as well be.
 
The Page 1 story of the Youth Corps is a certain reflection of the “best of times.” These are hard workers, provided jobs by federal stimulus funds, and as their crew chief said, they like to get their hands dirty.

At the same time — an image of the worst — is Brandon Claggett’s Page 1 story. He claims he has a mental problem and can’t take it any more. We hope he gets help. We also hope the psychiatric assistance renders him capable of standing trial. A reckoning is due.

It is also the season of light. A lot of it. Fire danger is at a peak and we need no other reference than the probability of an August like last year. Oregon suffered under the terror of 5,000 lightning strikes. The Gnarl Ridge fire was the closest to us — and we were lucky. We urge all the Mountain community to exercise caution.
 
There was despair as well. The passing of Kayla Shultz shocked us all. We understand the inevitability of our tour on earth, and it is always sad when it comes to an end for family and loved ones. But it is especially difficult when one is taken so suddenly, and at such a young age. We offer our sincere condolences.

In the incredulity department, it is bewildering why we still see dogs left in cars. With the summer heat wave it is a deadly dose for our canine friends. We have a Dickens of a time understanding this most simple of concepts.

View from the Mountain is the opinion of the editor, Larry Berteau
Happy 4th posted on 07/03/2009
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, launching 13 colonies onto a turbulent sea — a voyage to freedom.

The heroism of the patriots of that daring era are well documented. The time between then and now is a history lesson gorged with great deeds and misdeeds, the fabric of a people yearning to be free, even though we can’t truly define the term.

So, 233 years later, how are we doing? How is this experiment in freedom getting along? Are we free? Or, if not free, are we at least reasonable?

Every time is difficult, but we can probably all agree that this time is especially challenging. We are still: fighting two wars on foreign soil; smarting from the ignominy of 9/11; reeling from the collapse of our 401Ks and retirement dreams; concerned, angry, baffled, or doubtful over climate change; wondering if pestilence, plague, and every Old Testament horror is just around the corner. Spare us the boils.

Hell, as The Mountain Times reported in the June issue, even the cost of whiskey’s going through the roof.

Hey, it’s the Fourth. Get out your flags, even though they were made in China. Light up your fireworks, even though — you got it — they were made in China. Maybe it would be best just to stick with the hot dogs (most of them came from Iowa), and the chicken (Georgia, Arkansas or Texas), and the baked beans ((North Dakota), and potato salad (Idaho, Washington). Even though they make us sound geographically challenged, at least it’s America.

But we are free to choose. That much we have been able to preserve. Nothing is mandatory. Everything (including reality TV — wince) is possible.

In our opinion, we haven’t done too bad. There are a few items we’d like to ellipse from the young Republic’s resume, but we have persevered, if not completely overcome.

So let’s make a deal. Let’s make this Mountain community a better place in another year’s turning. What do we have to lose? Pride is a fine potion — and is best served with a slice of patriotism. Be safe.
View From The Mountain: BE VIGILANT, PITCH IN posted on 06/04/2009
 "It's a fine mess you got us in now, Olly."

It doesn’t matter how you phrase it. The gory truth is that the budget for our children’s education has been slashed. Cut. Garroted. We are feeling the effects on the Mountain, at Welches Schools and Sandy High. It is safe to say that our school district has been proactive and probably done all it could. But the numbers are as awful as an American Idol marathon – the reality as stark as a Joan Rivers infomercial.

There is no easy fix. But a quick review of how we got ourselves into this imbroglio might provide some clarity – based on the assumption that knowledge is power.
Unfortunately, that clarity comes at the expense of having to type the dreaded words: Measure 5. Before Measure 5, property taxes accounted for 60 percent of the K-12 budget. Voters could determine the tax base at the local school district level, allowing for a permanent tax base for school funding. This method had its advantages, but inequities arose due to high tax bases in affluent and industrial districts at the expense of rural districts like our own.

When the anti-tax mavens reared their heads (Measure 5) the ensuing property tax cuts shifted the major burden of school financing over to the state. (The general fund’s share of K-12 education doubled after Measure 5.)

What has happened in this century is that the state has gone belly-up. There are many reasons for it, but before you get your reactionary rods glowing, it hasn’t all been due to wasteful government spending. Consider: (1) tax breaks for corporations shifting the tax base disproportionately to homeowners; (2) loss of manufacturing jobs; and most importantly that (3) the overwhelming tax beneficiaries from Measure 5 were big business and corporate lackeys from out-of-state who paid no taxes.
 
None of this solves the problem. When good times return, it will get better (more revenue). But in the meantime it is important we do two things. One, be vigilant. Don’t be taken in by the anti-taxers. Evaluate ballot measures and get smarter. We all want better schools and lower taxes. But there’s a pitfall there that must be avoided: we don’t get something for nothing. And, two, help out. There is no substitute for adult substitutes. Pitch in. Help at the school. There is much we can do. No excuses.

Our children are our greatest treasure.

The opinions expressed in The View From The Mountain are solely those of the Editor, Larry Berteau.
View from the Mountain: Let's Play Ball posted on 05/02/2009
“Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.”
 

The original source of this quote is much in dispute. We lean toward Will Rogers, but the source is not relevant to this editorial. What is relevant is how it pertains to the Villages at Mt. Hood and its board of directors.

 

Three positions are being contested at the Villages Town Hall meeting at 9:30 a.m., May 23 at Welches Elementary. (We were incorrectly informed in last month’s issue that the meeting was to be held on May 17. More on that later.) Incumbents Pat Sharp and Shirley Dueber are candidates, plus new hopefuls George Wilson and Doug Salvidar. Former board member Robert Baker decided not to run.

 

A lot of people complain about the Villages board, but few do anything about it. We certainly do not always agree with them, but we heap praise on those who serve, and those who show up. We always keep in mind that these are volunteers. No one makes a career out of serving on the Villages board. And we do not abide those who throw stones from outside the political stadium. To the latter we say: Stop tailgating in the parking lot. Take a ticket and grab a seat. Or better yet, suit up.

 

To the candidates and the other six sitting board members we urge, above all else, a dedication to communicate with the Mountain community. This newspaper is a source. (And correct, timely information is critical.) The Villages Web site is another — though we lament its labyrinthine style making it virtually impossible to navigate. There are sites around the Mountain to post flyers.

 

It feels, at times, that the board is cloaked in secrecy and prefers to remain that way. This may not be the intent, but in politics perception is paramount.

 

Despite the lack of involvement, people in this community care. We have learned this in our one year on The Mountain. There is work to be done on both ends. The Villages must reach out. The citizens must reach in. We are confident we will be best served by an informed and involved community, and a responsive Village board.

 

With everyone in the game, the outcome may not always be a win, but the contest will have been well played — rain or shine.

 

And when we express ourselves through the use of baseball metaphor, you know how serious we are. The editor is a hopelessly earnest baseball savant.

 

View from the Mountain: Revolution in the Air posted on 04/02/2009
For many of us in the Mountain community, we feel powerless. We are the unincorporated, forgotten, backwoods stepchildren of the county. The only time we get attention from government agencies is when we’re in the way and must be stepped over, stepped on, or scraped off.

 

We are the woebegone.

 

But something happened on the way to the wobbly pile. Suddenly, in a matter of hours, Prometheus pilfered fire from the ashes of Olympus. Victory was snatched from the jagged jowls of defeat.

 

OK. We exaggerate a bit. It probably won’t make the history books. But it is at least chronicled in this edition of The Mountain Times (story, Page 1), and if it happens to get lost in the musty halls of the Oregon Department of Transportation, we will be here to remind them.

 

Here’s what happened. When the ground shifted on Hwy. 26 in Sandy during the winter storm ODOT’s response to the slide was to let out a bid for the excavation of rock and gravel to restore the embankment. ODOT moved swiftly — some may even say stealthily — but it caught the eye of Villages board member Rick Applegate.

 

The environmentally sensitive Miller Road Quarry was the designated blast area and disposal site for the restoration effort. No one asked us. Worse, no one even told us. But Applegate, in his best impersonation of Paul Revere, sounded the alarm and called for an emergency meeting of the Villages board and did his best to notify the community. It all came down in a day. But the board agreed to the meeting, and an overflow crowd showed up at the meeting place.

 

A beleaguered ODOT spokesman stood under fire from the locals and did his best to respond. That mostly came down to "I apologize" — a phrase that was uttered five times during the meeting.

 

Applegate was followed by others, including George Wilson, Keith Schacher, Michael P. Jones, Dick Bauer, Sheryl Robinson, Jim Hench, Randall Paul, the list went on. Bob and Margaret Thurman had handouts reminding us of the historical importance this area holds for the community. These Mountaineers carried water for us all.

 

ODOT blinked. The transportation titans decided not to blast rock from Miller Road Quarry.

 

Once again, it should be noted this wasn’t exactly a bunch of wild-eyed revolutionaries plotting against a king over pints of ale at Tun’s Tavern.

 

But it sure as hell tasted like it.

The opinions expressed in the View from the Mountain are solely those of the editor, Larry Berteau

Letter to the Editor -- Frances Berteau, Welches posted on 03/16/2009
As Bob Barker reminded his viewers to "have your pets spayed or neutered," on "The Price is Right," the time has never been more serious than now. U.S. animal shelters must put to death nearly 4 million dogs and cats every year because there are simply not enough homes for them all.

You can help prevent this and it’s as easy as ABC — Animal Birth Control.

Your beloved pet’s offspring could end up in a shelter, euthanized, abandoned to slowly starve to death, or live a life of neglect and loneliness on the end of a chain.

Surely this is not what responsible pet owners would want. Often these litters are the result of cherished pets, but sometimes efforts to find good homes fail.

There are benefits that come with spaying and neutering too. You won’t have the mess that comes with a female being "in heat" or the wandering habits of unneutered males. Or a cat wailing outside your bedroom window all night is no fun — just the result of an unneutered tom trying to find his date.

Millions of pets being put to death each year through no fault of their own is a tragedy.

Please help curb pet overpopulation and make that appointment with your vet to have your pet spayed or neutered.

It’s as easy as ABC.

 

Frances Berteau

Welches

View From The Mountain, editorial: FOR'UM and AGAIN'UM posted on 03/01/2009
We have received a letter and a couple phone calls excoriating The Mountain Times (more explicitly, the editor) for publishing the commentary written by Steve Graeper, president of the Rhododendron Community Planning Organization, on page 5 of the Opinion section in the February edition.

We have been taken to task for not reporting all sides of the issue. Further, we’ve been deemed untruthful, unethical, disrespectful and thoroughly lacking in integrity.

It should be noted, like many attacks of this kind, the letter was unsigned, the callers unidentified.

The letter suggests we didn’t do our job, and that many in the community are offended by Graeper’s op-ed article — and our printing of it. We feel an explanation is owed to those who may share the anonymous writer’s complaint.

The Opinion page is not a News page. It is not reporting. Our masthead spells it out clearly: Letters to the Editor (and commentaries) are welcome and encouraged and will be printed except for those that incite hate or reflect bigotry. The Opinion page is reserved as a forum for our readers and we do not interfere with or discourage their input. We do not seek out opinions. We do not necessarily agree with them. But we print them. This is the community’s newspaper.

It seems our anonymous writer and callers believe we should have reported the other side of this issue. As we didn’t “report” it in the first place, it’s not even a discussion piece.

We have also been accused of having a bias on the matter. Our bias appears in this column only: View from the Mountain. It’s called an editorial. Mr. Graeper’s bias is his own — it’s called an op-ed — and so it goes to all our contributors who wish their voices to be heard. If someone has a different opinion on the issue brought up by Mr. Graeper, consider this an invitation.

To our anonymous writer who accuses us of bad journalism: that’s not bad journalism. That IS journalism.

Lastly, the number of letters and commentaries sent to The Mountain Times that have not been published by this editor: ZERO.
 
And in every case, the writers had the clear purpose and conviction to sign it.

VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAIN -- Community rallies in time of need posted on 02/01/2009
In times of great difficulty communities are like ships at sea. They either rise with the tide, or sink. The recent winter storm blast that hit the Mountain community was a tide of significant proportions.

 

We are pleased to report the boat is afloat.

 

There were many tales of citizen response, selfless acts prompted by nothing more than a spirit of helping neighbors in a time of crisis. These ranged from an individual’s snow blowing efforts in Twinberry Loop, a logger’s snow plowing on Deer Park Road, food deliveries to marooned families, Red Cross vans roaming through remote neighborhoods to lend a helping hand, and HEART and scout volunteer sandbagging crews.

 

And hats (and ski masks) off to the intrepid work force of PGE. Their trucks covered The Mountain like trenchant crocodiles at a moat convention.

To all our extraordinary citizens, The Mountain Times salutes you.

*   *   *


DITCH THE NITCH

Oregon Republicans are deciding who to lead them through the rubble of defeats suffered in the November election.

 

To the Grand Old Party (GOP) we offer some Grand Old Mountain (GOM) advice. There hasn’t been more need of a sharp turnaround in the Northwest since Lewis and Clark pitched a tent at Dismal Nitch, hard on the banks of Cape Disappointment.

 

There still may be enough Republicans in America to follow the (dismal and disappointing) diatribe of hidebound harangues emanating from the Hanni-tease of the world, but they are seriously out of step with the clear thinking, frontier flavor of most Oregonians. Then-Senator Gordon Smith, in 2006, made a (seemingly) serious attempt to distance himself from the neoconservative ideologies of Washington. But it was too little, too late — and too many lockstep votes from the previous six years.

 

Think Tom McCall. He was the 30th governor of Oregon and dedicated himself to environmental clean up, marshalled the Oregon Bottle Bill and fought successfully for public ownership of Oregon’s beaches. He was progressive. He was a Republican.

 

So, to the GOP, from the GOM: Think.

The opinion expressed is that of the editor, Larry Berteau

VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAIN - Separating Weeds from Seeds posted on 01/03/2009
In October Clackamas County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Claggett, 37, resigned, ending a 14-year career with the department. It was alleged he had inappropriately touched a woman while she was riding in his patrol car. According to a sheriff’s report Claggett had taken a teenage girl on rides while he was in uniform and driving his patrol car – at least five rides over a three-year time frame. An internal investigation report also indicated the deputy had sent sexually explicit photos of himself to the girl via his cell phone.
Claggett was placed on administrative leave in July after the department received allegations of misconduct from the Department of Justice. In September a criminal investigation was completed and presented to the District Attorney. The DA’s office chose not to pursue the allegations. "The elements just weren’t there," said Jim Strovink, information officer for the sheriff’s department.

 

Next, the sheriff’s department took up an internal investigation. That investigation ended in November when Claggett resigned.
This event may have passed over the Mountain community without much notice, except that Claggett had been working the Mountain as the department’s chief drug enforcement officer – a program known as "Weed and Seed."

 

As these things go, any good that may have come out of Claggett’s work on the Mountain has been buried in an avalanche of opinion about his misdeeds. Stories have spread throughout the community, and although they are anecdotal in nature, they do not flatter Claggett’s career.

 

We are of two strong opinions on the matter.

 

First, we are aware of the difficulty of the work of law enforcement. To protect and serve is a sworn oath not shared by other professions. On that note we urge all members of the community to be cautious to not tar other law enforcement officers with the Claggett brush. To underline this point we need look no further than the December tragedy of two heroic Woodburn police officers who gave their lives in the line of duty.

 

Second, it is the perception of many that Claggett’s actions have been tossed off by the department, and that regular citizens – unfortunate enough to have been investigated under the umbrella of similar misdeeds – would not have been afforded the opportunity to simply resign and walk away.

 

We share that perception.

 

Law enforcement is a tough business. We want law enforcement to be as tough as the law demands — on everyone — in order that we can support it completely.

View from the Mountain is the opinion of the editor, Larry Berteau
LETTER TO THE EDITOR by Thomas Rutledge posted on 01/03/2009
Having no objection to constructive criticism, I appreciate Mr. Koberstein’s input to clarify the issue of former-Deputy Brandon Claggett.

I apologize if the intent of my letter in the November edition of The Mountain Times was not clear.

I will summarize the thrust of that letter by saying the population of this county has no patience or tolerance for amoral or crooked cops. The circle-the-wagons mentality and protect-our-own-attitude of some members of that enforcement department leaves the taxpayers wondering what kind of law enforcement they are paying for. It also fuels the perception of an unbridled culture of corruption within that department.

I stand charged with being "out in left field" and "having an emotional view of the Brandon Claggett situation." Whether left field, right field, or in the dugout, I view everything with a wide-angled lens before making judgments.

As for being emotional, I’ve lived through one jungle war and a half-dozen bar fights. At my age I don’t get emotional about anything except this country I fought for and the destructive power of the corruption that I see tearing this country apart.

 

Thomas R. Rutledge

Welches

LETTER TO THE EDITOR by Charisse Tooze posted on 01/03/2009
I work in Rhododendron. I depend on the Internet a lot for my work.

Currently I’m stuck with slow dial-up. I’ve been calling Wave Broadband almost every month since they bought Charter Communications to get an affirmative answer as to when they will be installing broadband service here.

However, every time I speak with a representative, they push back the installation date. They first told me they would install the service September or October 2008, now I hear it’s scheduled for spring 2009.

I called Verizon, with whom I already have phone service, and they are planning on installing broadband in the area, but they are keeping the installation dates quiet, said a representative, since they don’t want the competition (Wave Broadband) to know when or if they will be installing.

So, are Wave and Verizon going to be waiting for one or the other to start service?

Each could be waiting for a long time if no one makes the first move.

It would be nice if both companies would simply give us the truth, telling us if or when they will be installing so their customer service becomes a first priority rather than their engagement in secretive competition.

Whatever company dares to start first, I will be loyal to them.

 

Charisse Tooze

Rhododendron

LETTER TO THE EDITOR from Mail Carriers posted on 01/03/2009
To all our good friends that are on the Mountain Postal Rural Route, a friendly reminder:

For your safety and that of your mail carriers please be aware that your carrier is NOT responsible for the maintenance or clearing of the approach to your mail box.

Please keep your mail box approach free of snow, trash cans, cars and other obstacles such as high weeds etc. Remember, your carrier is not required to get out of his vehicle to deliver your mail to a blocked or an unsafe box.

Your mail box must be in good condition. The address numbers must be clearly visible from the street. Your mail box must be easily accessible. The mail box must have a latching door, set to the proper height and your box must be one that is approved by the Post Master General.

If you have any questions there is a printout available at your local post office of requirements for height and type of approved mail boxes.

If you have an MBU (multiple box unit) again please be sure it is safely accessible and cleared of snow and weeds and other debris. This is for your safety and that of your carriers. Your HOA should be responsible for this. If you do not belong to a HOA then please take pride in your neighborhood and make sure you boxes are clean and clear of all obstacles.

Remember, your mail box is a reflection of pride in your home and of your neighborhood.

Thank you. It has been a pleasure serving you.

 

Your local Mountain
mail carriers

LETTER TO THE EDITOR by Mike Washburne posted on 01/03/2009
This is in response to the letter written by Mark Koberstein published in the December Mountain Times.

The issue is that ex-deputy Brandon Claggett was allowed to walk away after the internal investigation started. As Mr. Koberstein wrote "Once the internal investigation began, Brandon quit."

Gee. I wonder why.

It is all well and good for Mr. Koberstein to defend a one-time fellow officer whom he may have been friends with. However, the perception will always be that while Brandon Claggett will be lucky to get a job as an unarmed security guard, he still did not have to pay the piper.

 

Mike Washburne

Welches

LETTER TO THE EDITOR by Bob Decker posted on 01/03/2009
Had a few thoughts on a couple of subjects if I may; the first being the topic regarding the Oregon Trail District Bond that narrowly passed.

So there is no misunderstanding, I’m not against schools. But I have to be honest and say that in my opinion the tax increase we are facing in support of the new school is an abusive one; not only in the amount of increase it will represent but the duration as well.

This is for me as a taxpayer and homeowner the single largest increase I’ve ever seen at any one time in my life, so far. It tends to support the liberal, entitlement kind of mentality we see far to often in today’s world.

In retrospect it would have made more sense on the part of educators, the School District and the State to have invested and saved over the past 31 years for the future needs of repairs and new buildings than to have saddled the taxpayers with this enormous, all-at-once tax.

I’m also not expecting the cost to come in as expected nor should anyone else. Teachers will be back for increases in their contracts and new bonds will no doubt be sought along the way.

Regarding teacher contracts: It was interesting how the Oregon Trail School District resolved their desires during the summer as opposed to the fall and winter time frame for all to see. They wasted no time settling. I’m not against teachers but it would have been more Democratic and transparent for the community to have had some input into the matter.

Collectively as we go forward people are going to be in trouble trying to meet their tax obligations and keep their homes, pay for health care, save for the future and provide for their families. Irrespective of the goal to provide new schools for kids, this tax is an irresponsible one whose constitutionality is questionable. This could have been accomplished in a more common sense approach with less hardship had there been some planning going on over the years.

The other topic of interest is that in case no one has noticed we are rapidly losing our so-called capitalistic way of government with the new wave of socialistic bailouts deemed necessary to salvage our economy. Some prominent voices are saying that the sooner we get rid of capitalism the better because it doesn’t work.

Certainly, giving in to socialism would insure that we would in fact achieve universal health care which is in place in other countries such as Canada and France, to name a couple.

In closing, one thing is for sure as represented by a political cartoon I noticed in a past Reader’s Digest. One of the figures is saying to the others "That’s the real genius of democracy. The voters are ultimately to blame."

 

Bob Decker

Welches

View from the Mountain...Sail Away posted on 12/30/2008
On a resolute day in 1619 a Dutch ship escaped a battering storm and pulled into harbor at Old Point Comfort – now Fort Monroe, Virginia.

With sides heaving from the weight of slaves – and dripping with irony – the White Lion tied up at a paltry port populated by colonialists. The local population was short on laborers, the White Lion’s captain was short on food and supplies. A deal was made.

The slaves from Sierra Leone were swapped for precious goods and the seeds were sown for the dark period in American history of indentured servitude of blacks from Africa.

The era would weave through the framing of our Constitution – which allowed slavery – and continue through the times of Nat Turner, Dred Scott, Harper’s Ferry, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil War, Jim Crow, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Act, before grounding itself November 4, 2008.

When it woke up November 5, the world was changed. Barack Obama, an African-American son of a Kenyan father and white mother from Kansas, was elected the 44th president of the United States.

All our problems have not suddenly disappeared. There is much to do. There is a "fierce urgency."

But just as certainly, after 389 years of sadness, the White Lion has jerked free of its mooring, its rudder in tatters, and is aimlessly drifting out to sea.

* * *

While we are on the subject, author and TV personality Dick Cavett wrote recently that Sarah Palin "is a person with no first language." On that note we offer a direct quote from the Alaska governor on the campaign trail:

"Sitting here in these chairs that I’m going to be proposing but in working with these governors who again on the front lines are forced to and its our privileged obligation to find solutions to the challenges facing our own states every day being held accountable, not being just one of many just casting votes or voting present every once in awhile, we don’t get away with that." —
Sarah Palin

We couldn’t have said it worse.

(View from the Mountain is the opinion of the editor, Larry Berteau)
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