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St. Johns Bridge deserves glory

Many thanks for the article on the renewed efforts to light the St. Johns Bridge (St. Johns Bridge revamp no light task, Jan. 14). I was one of the lucky 400 to find the Ray Atkenson print under my Christmas tree Ñ a welcome addition to my nine other 'bridge things': pen and ink drawings by local artists, images by a variety of photographers, St. Johns Parade posters featuring the bridge, a U.S. Bank print from many years ago.

St. Johns residents have a great sense of ownership about the bridge, and it is reflected in our daily world: in the masthead of our community newspaper The Review, in the new wrought-iron fence in front of James John School's playground,in the letterheads and logos of many local businesses, on the arched signs announcing events at both entrances to St. Johns Ñ even in the offices of my dentist and attorney!

I commend the folks who would like to light our bridge.

Barbara R. Parmelee

North Portland

Psychics, economistsare evenly matched

Letter writer Matthew Stockton fails to see the humor in the psychics' economic forecast for Portland in 2005 (Here's a prediction about psychic readers, Jan. 11). He says that ' 'psychic' phenomena have never been empirically verified' and that 'it was surprising to see such content in the business section.'

Yet business publications are full of mainstream economists' predictions about the business cycle that fail to materialize. Perhaps Stockton believes that economists do science like physicists. On the basis of highly predictable outcomes, physicists are very good.

However, there is nothing similar in economics. Economists don't know with any degree of certainty what will happen and will disagree about most everything.

Perhaps the Tribune could ask some local economists about Portland's economic future and at year's end compare their predictions with the psychics to see who guessed best.

Richard Bolcavitch

Lake Oswego

City needs creativity,and a backbone

The answers to the 'big-box debate' are included in your recent article's quote from a Chicago study: 'National chain stores drain dollars from the local economy' (Big-box debate isn't over yet, Dec. 28).

If more consumer dollars are likely to stay in Portland with local businesses, why bow to the request for tax credits ($40 million to Home Depot) or sell the land for 'less than the amount the city will have to pay to prepare the site for development,' as would be the case with the Lowe's proposal? As for banks being unwilling to loan money to companies with no credit, Portland businesses could underwrite some of the project. The Portland Development Commission needs to put a stop to the stranglehold that national chains keep on retail development.

I paraphrase the words of city-livability guru Jane Jacobs, author of 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities,' when she spoke in Portland: We do not need leaders with vision. We need leaders who listen to people. What do people want and need for the city to work for them? Listen up, PDC. And lend an ear, City Council.

Sharon E. Streeter

Southeast Portland

You bet council hasa say in development

Assertions quoted in 'Big-box debate isn't over yet' require a response.

The statement was made that a decision from among three proposals rests with the Portland Development Commission. Some feel it is proper and legal for the PDC to pick from among the competing proposals, free of the influence of the City Council.

This is bunk. The saving grace of Portland's inefficient commission form of government is that citizens abused by city agencies may take their case to their elected representatives. The PDC is within the mayor's portfolio. Members of the commission are nominated by the mayor and confirmed by the council. The mayor has significant influence over the actions of the commission's staff, and with the commissioners.

The Burnside project is vulnerable to legal challenge, making its success dependent on public support. That support is critical since City Council involvement is mandatory. There is a legal argument that the project conflicts with the urban renewal plan for the area. The conflict emerges from the content of the central east-side urban renewal and comprehensive plans. Urban renewal projects must, by state law, be consistent with the comprehensive plan.

The proposal could be subject to six public hearings, at least two of those before the City Council. The council's decision further could be appealed.

A decision without broad community support will face failure before ground is broken.

Michael Harrison

Fellow of the Institute of American Certified Planners

Northwest Portland