The story on the price of trash cans, showing that TriMet is paying $645 to $915 per can while the city of Portland pays $238, was very interesting (Talkin' trash, Feb. 17). Portland, it seems, should be very proud; city maintenance workers make trash cans themselves, while TriMet pays a private vendor for its much more expensive cans.

Ironically, Steve Buckstein of the Cascade Policy Institute weighed in to criticize TriMet's high costs. Cascade is a think tank that consistently argues that governments could save money by contracting services out to private vendors. In this case, TriMet took Cascade's advice, the city didn't, and the city is saving hundreds of dollars per garbage can.

The next time Cascade calls for a government service to be privatized, opponents will have a rallying cry: 'Remember the trash cans!'

Steve Novick

Citizens for Oregon's Future

Southeast Portland

Portland casino-is too big a gamble

In 'Sculpting the perfect Portland' (Insight, Jan. 30), one proposed suggestion for funding parks relied on allowing an Indian casino in Portland.

Oregon is already heavily addicted to gambling dollars, and it is easy to see why gambling is so popular, with no taxes being raised as the budget grows. This is easy money compared to trying to persuade voters to accept higher taxes.

But this easy money isn't free, as some might think.

The costs of gambling are almost impossible to figure, and the toll gambling takes on individuals and families may never be known. The newspaper accounts of individuals with gambling problems are just the tip of an iceberg. The victims of gambling quite often are not gamblers but their spouses and/or children, who live on cornflakes because Mom or Dad blew their paycheck on video poker.

It is disgusting that our government has chosen to prey on people's weaknesses to pay the bills of all Oregonians, and now at least one person in Portland thinks that entering into a Faustian deal for park funding with gambling dollars is a good idea.

If people want to improve the parks and their funding, put it on the ballot for all the voters in Portland to decide, and if it passes then all the people of Portland will pay for it rather than preying on people's vices.

Faust lost his soul to the devil. Is Portland willing to gamble its soul away?

Andy Reid

Southeast Portland

If skyline grows, so will city's image

In the article 'Fight about height' (Jan. 20), one person made reference to a part of Portland becoming 'Little Hong Kong.' I find this amusing.

In visiting other parts of the country I have discovered that the city of Portland does not measure up to cities of similar size when it comes to the downtown skyline. I believe this translates into a negative business and cultural 'small town' perception.

The four cities adjacent to the size of the Portland market (per Arbitron) are Pittsburgh, Denver, Cleveland and Cincinnati, all cities with more significant skylines. Not only are these cities viewed as centers of regional business activity, home to national corporations and Fortune 500 companies, but all of the cities close to Portland's size have both major league baseball and pro football teams.

Perception becomes reality. This fact becomes critical in terms of the way Portland is viewed by the business community, tourists, convention delegates and the general populace. One worried individual in the article stated that developing tall buildings will 'forever change the character of the city.' This could be good. I believe that as a city matures, the character should grow with it.

Maybe in lieu of trying to constrain the height of a new building, a taller, mixed-use 'signature building' could be proposed in the downtown core. This building would be tall enough to become a landmark on the skyline, yet not overwhelm the scale of the city.

Portland is now a medium-sized city. Rather than stunting growth and fighting progressive movement, it should, through careful planning and design, start acting like a mid-size city. It's time for positive change. I want to hear a major league umpire yell 'Play ball!' and to have Portland's skyline Ñ in addition to some of its antigrowth citizenry Ñ grow up!

Paul Dix

Issaquah, Wash.

Pro-sales tax? Answer-these questions first

In letter writer Helen Kreigh's statement 'We can find money for needed services' (Insight, Jan. 16), she espouses the virtues of a sales tax as the easy fix for all our education problems. Seems like an easy fix, but I have some questions before accepting this suggestion.

• How much money, per student, do the schools need to give all children a good education?

• How much money, per student, do the schools currently get, from all revenue sources?

Until these two simple questions are answered fully and honestly, we taxpayers have no way of knowing if the schools are getting too much money or not enough money, or if the current education budget is just right.

We don't buy anything Ñ except government Ñ without asking and knowing first: How much?

Peter Robedeau


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