After retiring from the military, I set about starting the next phase of my life as a civilian, and I settled into the home that I built north of Sandy.
I was happy to enjoy the slower pace of life in my peaceful rural setting. After a while, I started looking around and noticing that things were not as good as they could be. I heard about troubling things coming out of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners office, and I decided to do something about it and throw my hat in the ring for commissioner.
A few years ago, the county had a budget surplus and was in good financial shape. Somehow, under its current leadership, the county has seen that surplus evaporate. It has been replaced with $20 million in deficits the last two years. That was in a time of record revenues coming into county coffers, and even before the Covid-19 crisis and resulting business shutdowns and closures began battering the economy.
As I learned more, I realized that the reason officials were talking publicly about the need to “right size” our county government is because politicians were overspending on pet projects and hiring unnecessary consultants to do work that was never a priority for county residents.
I noticed, and was hearing from people throughout the county, that their commute times were increasing over time. Some people I talked to said their commute times had even tripled. This, despite the fact that the commissioners voted to impose a vehicle registration fee that they said would be used to support road improvements. Continue reading
Born on this day in 1942, Patrick “Tad” Tadina enlisted in the US Army, served as a Ranger in Vietnam from 1965-1970, and was awarded two Silver Stars, ten Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts.
Only 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing just 130 pounds, the Hawaii native spent five years in Vietnam leading long range reconnaissance patrols, or LRRPs (pronounced “lurps”), deep into enemy territory.
Frequently disguised as a Viet Cong guerilla – he carried an AK-47 and wore black pajamas and sandals – Tadina was able to infiltrate enemy positions and get dangerously close to communist units.
And when he did, the dedicated Ranger and his elite warriors were always ready. Fighting in close-in jungle engagements and deadly ambushes, the Rangers inflicted heavy losses on the VC and North Vietnamese soldiers.
Remarkably, throughout his five years in country, Tadina never lost a team member. “When you’re out there in the deep stuff,” he told a reporter in 1985, “there’s an unspoken understanding . . . it’s caring about your troops.”
Serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, 74th Infantry Detachment Long Range Patrol, and Company N (Ranger), 75th Infantry, Tadina became the longest continuously serving Ranger in Vietnam and a Special Forces legend. Continue reading
Autumn of 2020 marks the 175th Anniversary of the first attempted crossing of Mt. Hood’s Oregon Trail and the 173rd Anniversary of the first toll road—known as the Barlow Trail—over the Cascade Mountain Range. The Barlow Trail was the final overland link of the Oregon Trail that allowed emigrant travelers a cheaper, quicker but still dangerous alternative to rafting their covered wagons down the Columbia River.
“Oyer-un-gun” was the “Place of Plenty,” according to the Shoshone. “Oregon Fever” and the promise of rich farmlands available by Donation Land Claims, lured thousands of pioneers to the Willamette Valley. By 1844, Oregon City was the seat of the newly-founded American Provisional Government. Anyone wishing to file a land claim had to come to Oregon City.
During the 1830’s and early 1840’s, the Gorge was the most dreaded portion for pioneers who made the trek from “back east” to the fertile farmlands of the Willamette Valley. Prior to 1845, wagons could reach The Dalles, but from there the emigrants had little choice but to make a raft of pine logs, buy a raft from enterprising Indians, or rent a bateaux (a flat-bottomed boat with flaring sides) from the Hudson’s Bay Company for around $80. They would dismantle their wagons, load all their possessions on rafts, and then float the Upper Cascades. Many lives were lost on the Columbia River, the relentless winds overturned many a raft, and there were impassable rapids that had to be portaged. The steep canyon walls rising from the water’s edge and the turbulent rapids at the “dalles” (a French word meaning flagstones) defied passage. Continue reading
Years ago, I had two major hobbies: dogs and antiques. I read, showed, and loved my dogs; and collected the antiques, primarily glass and porcelain. All my friends were involved in one or the other. I wrote about the dogs and bought and sold the antiques. Busy life – happy wife! I had a friend who enjoyed the dogs and she was a great help to me. I was training two puppies – brother and sister – by taking them out to places where they could meet and adjust to people.
My friend would have one and I would have the other on leashes. People would “ooh” and “ahh” and pet; and the puppies would look cute and wiggle all over! Our favorite place to go was a pet supply store. The particular day I am writing about was also a day when I was to begin packing fifty pieces of rare porcelain to send back east to the buyer. So, the day began with the puppies. We stood in the store by a pyramid of water filled glass bowls. Each one contained a fighting fish. All of a sudden, one of the fish flipped up and out of its bowl and it landed in front of my male puppy Ming who promptly grabbed it.
I managed to pull the fish out of his mouth and dropped it back in the bowl where it floated ominously on its side. The nightmare had begun. I walked off with Ming and my friend went the other way with his sister. A few minutes later she found me and told me I had to look at the baby ferrets. So off I went. The baby ferrets were so Continue reading
The Navajo Nation and New Mexico vs. incompetence and bad faith in the USEPA
On August 5, five years to the day after suffering from a 3-million-gallon spill of heavy-metal-laden toxic wastewater from Colorado’s Gold King Mine, the State of Utah announced a settlement of its claims against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several EPA contractors (who thus far have not been held responsible, accountable or liable) for their alleged negligence in allowing the spill.
The notorious, devastating accident turned Cement Creek and the Animas, San Juan and Colorado Rivers yellow all the way from Colorado through New Mexico and Utah and into Lake Powell. The settlement is good news. Yet those whose memories of are faulty at best may not realize that the EPA is still in the throes of a consolidated lawsuit filed by the State of New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and a group of 295 Navajo farmers and ranchers (and 16 other individuals) who were harmed by the spill.
Indeed, the Obama Administration made it very clear early on that neither the EPA nor the Federal Emergency Management Agency would provide just compensation for the damages caused by the incident, in which an EPA contractor using a backhoe to dig away rock and debris from the adit (mine portal or entrance) opened the floodgates. The spill happened because no one had done any testing to determine the height, volume or quality of water inside the mine. Continue reading
Five years after the infamous blowout, EPA finally settles with Utah over Gold King pollution
On the fifth anniversary of the notorious spill of 3 million gallons of heavily contaminated acid mine water from the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and State of Utah announced an agreement that ends the state’s lawsuit.
Neither the EPA nor the contractors involved at the Gold King spill site are entirely off the hook for their alleged missteps that resulted in downstream damages. Lawsuits filed by the Navajo Nation, the State of New Mexico, and a group of Navajo farmers and ranchers have been consolidated, and discovery is proceeding, with a projected trial date sometime in late 2021.
Pursuant to the agreement, Utah will dismiss its legal actions against the EPA and the United States; mining companies Kinross Gold Corporation, Kinross Gold U.S.A., Inc., Sunnyside Gold Corporation, and Gold King Mines Corporation; and EPA’s contractors: Environmental Restoration, LLC, Weston Solutions, Inc. and Harrison Western Corporation. EPA also agreed to strengthen Utah’s involvement in the EPA’s work to address contamination at the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund Site, which includes the Gold King Mine and other abandoned mines.
The agency further agreed to act on the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s application for $3 million in Clean Water Act funds for various projects, including the development of water quality criteria for Utah Lake, septic density studies, nonpoint source pollution reduction projects, and nutrient management plans for agricultural sources. Continue reading
As violent riots damage Portland for the 100th day, the Multnomah County Republican Party (MCRP) reminds Portlanders of the words of Republican President Ronald Reagan: ” All of [this] began the first time some of you who know better, and are old enough to know better, let young people think they have the right to choose the laws they would obey as long as they were doing it in the name of social protest.” Just like the 1960s Berkeley professors chided by President Reagan, the Portland Public Schools have raised up a generation of ignorant, arrogant and entitled young activists who want to act out on the streets rather than do the hard work of making legislative change using reason and compromise.
With two rioters apparently setting themselves on fire Saturday night by throwing Molotov cocktails at the police, and state police required to resort to tear gas for crowd control in residential neighborhoods, it is now clear that the de-escalation strategies of Governor Brown, Mayor Wheeler and other prominent Democrats are an utter failure. President Reagan had it right back in 1968:
“I am sick and tired of the argument about whether some effort to enforce law and order is going to escalate anything at all. The plain truth of the matter is this has to stop and it has to stop like the day before yesterday. And it’s going to be stopped whatever it takes.”
While the large numbers of arrests Saturday night show at least some willingness on the part of the State Police to step up and restore order, so long as District Attorney Michael Schmidt is permitted to unilaterally and unconstitutionally repeal the most useful laws for restoring law and order, no progress will be made. The MCRP again calls upon Governor Brown and Attorney General Rosenblum to use their statutory authority to remove Portland’s riot-supporting District Attorney from all riot-related prosecutions, and prosecute the violators directly, focusing on prosecuting the organizers to the fullest extent of the law.
Some people love to fight. I never was one of them. I enjoyed wrestling and sparring during Karate class, but I never felt like I could really get hurt. Today, my biggest fight is against gravity just trying to get up from the couch. Sometimes gravity pulls me back, but usually I win.
There is a verse in the Old Testament that is remarkable (there are many, in fact). After the Hebrews were led out of Egypt, they approached the southern border of present-day, Israel. Intending to invade the land, they sent twelve men ahead of them to scout the land and report back about the battles they would face. If you are familiar with the Old Testament, you know that when the scouts returned, “they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.’” (Numbers 13:32)
Even though God told them to move forward, the Hebrews were too fearful to do so. Only two of the scouts, Joshua and Caleb, had a positive attitude to trust God for victory. The nay-sayers won out, and as a result the band of Hebrews wandered in the desert for 40 years. Everyone who had been twenty years or older died during those forty years. Only Joshua and Caleb were still alive of that generation. Joshua took over the leadership of the Hebrews after Moses died. But whatever happened to Caleb? Continue reading
The tyrannical governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has declared war on the church of Jesus Christ in the Golden State. He is looking to claim his first victim in the person of John MacArthur, the longtime pastor of Grace Community Church.
MacArthur is ignoring the latest edict from Gov. Newsom, which totally bans indoor worship services. However, Gov. Newsom’s diktat does not have the force of law, since he has zero legal authority to issue coercive mandates like this. We live in a republic, not a dictatorship, a fact that seems to have escaped the governor’s attention.
Most state legislatures have granted their governors temporary authority to issue emergency orders for obvious reasons – an emergency may be sudden and unforeseen and require some kind of government intervention until the legislature can convene to deal with it. These emergency orders typically expire after 30 days, and must be renewed by the state legislature or the governor’s emergency authority lapses. Newsom’s 30 days ran out a long time ago.
So he may think he can act with emperor-like power over the church, but he can’t. Not in America.
He has compounded his problem by targeting MacArthur’s church for mean spirited reprisal. The church has been operating its parking lot on a long term lease with Los Angeles County, a lease that has been in effect for 45 years with no problems. The governor has evidently decided that if he cannot shut the church down, he’ll just evict it. The church has until the end of September to abandon the parking lot or the county will sweep in and confiscate everything on it that isn’t nailed down. Continue reading
President Trump is frequently accused of lying. But he doesn’t have a monopoly on falsehood. Look around the Portland region and you’ll see our local politicians lying to us. We live in our own Pinocchio-land.
Metro’s “Get Moving 2020” ballot measure is a $5.2 billion tax increase disguised as a transportation measure. It’s a permanent tax on the total compensation paid by every private business and nonprofit with more than 25 employees. Metro says it’s a payroll tax, but it’s much more. It will tax every dollar you earn — even the money you save for retirement.
Comedian John Oliver says, “If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.” And, that’s what Portland City Council has done with a major charter change packaged as some minor housekeeping.
Portland says the amendment merely clarifies the charter. In reality, the amendment will open a spending tap with water customers on the hook for ever rising water bills.
Portland Public Schools deserves its own wing in the Hall of Pinocchios. PPS put a $1.2 billion bond measure on the November ballot. About $200 million of the new money will be used to fill cost overruns on the projects funded by the 2017 bond.
How did PPS run $200 million over budget? Simple: PPS lied to us. The school board intentionally low-balled cost estimates to fool voters into approving the measure.
This year, voters must put an end to the billions of dollars of fibs our local politicians are telling. Pinocchio learned his lesson about lying; it’s time for our politicians to learn theirs.
Eric Fruits, Ph.D. is Vice President of Research at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.