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Help kids, schools; get involved

by: JIM CLARK, Rhys Scholes, a parent from Buckman Elementary, drums up support for schools at the intersection of East Burnside Street and Northeast Sandy Boulevard; another grass-roots campaign, Stand for Children, has mobilized in support of the levy on the November ballot.

Thank you for profiling Stand for Children team coordinator Kari McGee in your feature on the grass-roots efforts to pass a levy for Portland Public Schools (Schools mobilize levy campaign, Sept. 15).

Like McGee and 15 other Stand for Children volunteers, I went door-to-door to talk to my neighbors last weekend and plan to go again several more times before ballots are due Nov. 7.

While very few people want to give up cherished family time or the simple opportunity to relax on their weekend, I found people willing to listen, learn, ask questions and engage in real dialogue.

We talked about what's at stake for Portland's schools - the $33 million property tax levy approval will prevent the loss of nearly 400 teachers next year and will replace books as old as 20 years. We talked about how important strong schools are to our whole community, whether or not we have kids.

Stand for Children gave me the tools and encouragement I needed to get involved. If you want to improve the lives of children around the state, call Stand for Children, 503-235-2305.

David Gates

Rose City Park team coordinator, Portland Stand for Children

How sustainable is rapid growth?

There are a few points I'd like to address about several of the Portland Tribune's recent editorials and headlines.

First, I'm mystified why none of your editors nor any local leaders is challenging the wisdom of adding another million people to Portland in only a couple of decades. This rate of growth is foreign to Portland and is on par with the shortsighted boomtowns of the Sunbelt.

What's 'sustainable' about doubling the population in a single generation? Adding this many people requires careful planning, which I do not believe is possible in such a hasty climate.

Imagine the parking garages with 50 percent more cars, and the downtown bus mall with 50 percent more buses (and having to soon begin sharing space with MAX trains and even a car lane).

Of course, there are better solutions to traffic problems than increasing capacity, such as decreasing people's need to commute outside of their neighborhood. But in a boomtown, greed takes over and planners' intentions are quickly forgotten.

Second, accommodating rapid growth need not make us live in vertical canyons, like we're starting to see in the city center. The recent high-rise condo craze is bizarre. Has everyone forgotten about RiverPlace or the Yards/McCormick Pier (east of Union Station)?

Increasing density can be accomplished with mixed-use buildings only a few stories tall. Modest increases in density throughout the region can prevent moving the urban growth boundary; we do not have to build skyscrapers and radically alter Oregonian culture.

Third, your editors' description (Editorial, Happy 20th Birthday, MAX!, Sept. 5) of the area along the MAX line-Interstate 205 as full of 'substandard housing' and therefore having 'not lived up to its initial promise' is offensive to many of your readers who cannot afford to live in new, expensive housing.

Since you were not proposing that something be done to raise workers' wages or to reduce unemployment, you're basically saying that poor people should not be living along a MAX line, where they are visible and occupying valuable real estate.

Last week, while standing on a downtown sidewalk next to my office building, I was assaulted by an angry and drunk young man, who felt the need to punch a stranger in the face.

It would be easy for me to demand that we build more prisons or that we send more of the young poor to die in war overseas, but I'm stronger than that. I do not have a simple solution, but I know that relocating poor people en masse to distant pastures does not change anything, except their ZIP code.

And until your editors are willing to tackle this difficult subject - as is done somewhat by newspaper editors in Vancouver, British Columbia - they should be more careful how they criticize those who make do with less. Aren't the poor truly 'green'?

Wayne Larimer

Southwest Portland

Schrunk has been an effective servant

It's hard to imagine a more effective district attorney than Mike Schrunk (The DA's way, Sept. 5). He has managed his office brilliantly, while avoiding the limelight so cherished by most politicians.

I find it interesting that the only criticism of Schrunk, as vague and nonsensical as it was, came from the opponent he trounced in 1992. The fact that Mike Schrunk has chosen to avoid higher office is certainly our loss.

Gene McIntosh

Southwest Portland

Funding measure foretold loss of trees

In a Sept. 8 letter (Trees did much more good when living), Elena Frank wants us to believe that the Garden Home neighborhood lost out to the 'car-and-truck-traffic-above-all-else' mentality when 397 trees (Washington County figures) - not more than 400, as she claims - were cut to widen Oleson Road.

The fact is, 300 trees were cut to create space for bike lanes and sidewalks, and 97 were cut to create space for left-turn lanes for cars and trucks. The county also jogged the road to save a big sequoia.

The only way to have saved the tree canopy was to have left Oleson Road as it was. It's a plan I would have liked, which is why I was against the funding measure for Oleson Road.

Ken Woodard

Southwest Portland

Options exist outside car commuting

It was interesting to note that your 'Which commute is the worst?' story (Sept. 12) started out with a man living in Hillsboro and working in downtown Portland (at the Port of Portland no less!) who is complaining about his hour-and-10-minute commute.

I'm wondering why, instead of spending almost 2.5 hours in his car every day (presumably encountering road rage for a good percentage of the time), doesn't Bob Applegate use the MAX, cut down on his commute time, save on gas and parking, and get a little reading in as well?

Plus, I am sure the Port of Portland subsidizes TriMet passes. To illustrate my point further, if Applegate boarded the MAX at the farthest stop in Hillsboro (Hatfield Government Center) at 7 a.m., he could make it to the Old Town/Chinatown stop by 8 a.m. and walk the short few blocks to the Port of Portland.

It's time that people like Applegate unwed themselves from their cars and start taking alternative modes of transportation seriously.

Jenny Seilo

Southeast Portland