County leaders must do better

Our county commissioners are failing us. Public health is one of their foremost responsibilities. And while they may be forgiven for not adequately preparing for COVID-19, their failure to effectively respond cannot be overlooked.

In fact, state officials specifically cited Polk County’s increasing number of new cases and inadequate contact tracing as causes for concern. New cases jumped 33 percent in just one week—well above the 5 percent threshold established by the state.

And half of all new cases couldn’t be traced to a known source—again, well above the recommended threshold of 30 percent. Responsibility for these failures belongs to those whose duty is to lead: Commissioners Craig Pope, Mike Ainsworth, and Lyle Mordhorst.

Meanwhile, responsible Polk County residents have gone to extraordinary lengths to contain the spread of COVID-19. We’ve stayed home, we’ve worn masks, and we’ve been vigilant about social distancing and hand washing. We’ve done so even as the pandemic has cost many of our friends and neighbors their jobs and businesses.

Polk County will suffer irreparably unless our county commissioners step up and do better. If they can’t—or won’t— maybe they should be the ones who are out of work.

Dave Weston


‘All lives matter’ ignores history

I read with interest Mr. and Mrs. Lifto’s letter to the editor. It sounds so reasonable until you think of what they are really saying. “All Lives Matter” is something you can say to be able to ignore the history of our country, the history that includes the deliberate mass murder of the brown people who lived here before the settlers arrived and the enslavement of the black people who arrived here during the early days of our country. Their lives haven’t mattered and still don’t in an economic system designed to exclude and prevent them from achieving their dreams and goals.

Freedom is not free, yet as we have seen recently, black and brown people are not free from violence towards them from the police forces of our country. Police feel free to lie about how they treated people as they interact with them, safe in the knowledge that their bosses won’t press charges or their union will protect them. Only when there is independent video do we learn the truth of what happened. This is  an example of the systemic way our country treats people who are not white.

Finally, making government work like a business isn’t logical. Capitalism is our economic system. Democracy is our governmental system. They are not the same nor do they behave the same. We have seen now what happens when you corrupt a democratic country, running it like a business, the stock holders (wealthy friends) get the country’s wealth. Common people get little.

Diane McBurnett


Don’t paint police with a broad brush

I stand in support of Dallas PD, Polk County Sheriff’s and OSP officers.

I am more than disgusted with the broad brush of real and perceived brutality that a few protestors have used to paint over our law enforcement personnel. I spent almost 28 years on the streets of Portland, where I daily worked alongside PPD officers. Not to say it doesn’t exist, but I never witnessed a single instance of police brutality. I never ceased to be amazed at the officers’ usually calm demeanor and restraint when being challenged by miscreants of all colors, political views and sexual leanings, all while receiving deeply disrespecting comments about the officer and his mother.

Do police make mistakes? Of course. Are there some who shouldn’t be wearing a badge and carrying a gun? Of course. Should some be prosecuted for crimes they’ve committed? Of course. Do some departments need better training? Of course. No argument from me.

Defund police? Eliminate the OYA (Oregon Youth Authority)? Reduce prison populations? Really?

Why not find out who your new neighbors are going to be before making those kinds of decisions? Do you care about the poorest segments of our society? They are the ones who will pay the highest prices for such knee-jerk wisdom. Enough said.

Local peace officers, thank you for your daily efforts to make Dallas and Polk County a place that is safer and more livable for all its citizens.

Paul Cole


Letters Policy

Letters to the editor are limited to 300 words. Longer letters will be edited. Election-related letters of all types are limited to 100 words. Writers are limited to one election-related letter per election season. Election letters from writers outside of Polk County are not accepted. Each writer is restricted to one letter per 30-day period. Letters that are libelous, obscene or in bad taste will not be printed. Attacks by name on businesses or individuals will not be printed. Letters to the editor that are obvious promotions for a business, products or services will not be printed. Itemizer-Observer does not guarantee the accuracy of facts presented by letter writers; dissenters are welcome to respond. Letter writers who disagree with other published letter writers should maintain a civil discourse and address the subject, not the author. Letters that quote facts or use quotes from third-party sources must include the original source in the letter. These original sources might not be printed, so might not count against the overall word count (100 for election related letters, 300 for other letters), but will be required so the news room may double check claims made in letters. Letters, like all editorial material submitted to the newspaper, are edited for length, grammar and content. Letters must include the author’s name, address and telephone number. This includes letters submitted via the I-O’s website. Names and cities of residence are published; street addresses and telephone numbers are used for verification purposes only. Letters must be submitted from individuals, not organizations, and must be original submissions to the I-O, not copies of letters sent to other media. Letters of thanks to businesses, individuals and organizations are limited to 10 names. The deadline for letters to the editor is 10 a.m. Monday. Letters submitted may not be retractable after this deadline. — Reach us at: Mail: Editor, Polk County Itemizer-Observer, P.O. Box 108, Dallas, OR 97338. Fax: 503-623-2395. Email: Office: 147 SE Court St., Dallas.

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