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City gives raises to those making the layoffs

I work for Portland Parks & Recreation and was one of the recipients of the 2.9 percent cost-of-living adjustments.

Your articles (Mayor keeps pushing pay raises, Feb. 5; Broke city may reward top brass, Jan. 15) have illustrated Mayor Vera Katz's callous disregard for the people who actually do the work in this city.

We are the men and women out in the rain dealing with daily operations while a lot of the people that would receive raises of 25 percent sit in offices developing recommendations on which workers to lay off to balance the budget. The pay hikes for some of these people are close to my annual income.

The midmanagement people working at the city are very well paid in comparison to the private sector, which is what city officials always compare our represented positions to when denying our raises. I keep wondering where all the revenues received during the previous decade of prosperity went.

Why reward the people behind the decisions that bankrupted the city? To do so in the face of layoffs of the workers is incomprehensible to me.

Doug Rolls

Southwest Portland

Apathy is at root

of school problems

Columnist Promise King's naive assessment of the fundamental causes and solutions to overcoming the low academic achievement problems of minority and poor students in the Portland school district astounds me (Boycott won't help our schools, Insight, Jan. 29).

To attribute the low academic achievement rates to the glorification of the ghetto culture and emphasis on sports activities is not only insulting but disturbing. All minority and poor students do not play sports. It is obvious King did not grow up in the 'ghetto' or for that matter attend a so-called 'ghetto school.' If he did, he would understand how poor and minority students are written off and considered expendable as potential contributors to society.

As a volunteer mentor at low academic achievement schools in Northeast Portland, I have worked with students and entire classes who are scored on homework when in fact the lesson plan for the week's homework has not been covered or taught by the teacher. I have seen the apathy and lack of motivation by teachers and administrators to ensure students succeed.

There are always two sides of an equation. It seems to me the school board has demonstrated a terrible lack of interest for years in collaborating in a mission strategy with the community to ameliorate the low academic achievement of students.

The only voice of reason and support from the school board voiced in the public, including your paper, comes from school board members of color. Where does the rest of the board stand to demonstrate their concern or strategies to overcome the problem?

Similarly, the Education Crisis Team should continue to meet with the board in the negotiation process to form an alliance with the teachers' union to accept the mediator's report recommendations.

However, I do not accept the admonition of Promise King in calling the efforts of the crisis team as mindless activism. It sounds like Mr. King has become an apologist for the school system for the lack of dedication and funding for high-quality dedicated teachers in the poorer school districts.

Louis J. Boston

Northeast Portland

Police deserve credit

for defusing situation

Regarding your Jan. 8 article, 'Bogus report derails Portland protest,' I give praise to the Portland Police Bureau. If they actually started the rumor regarding President Bush's no-show, they prevented a dangerous and potentially violent confrontation.

I do not support lies, treachery or duplicity in attempts to quell the American right to free speech. I do side with peaceful protesters, a lack of which in the Northwest has made our region infamous.

The right to free speech is something we, as Oregonians and citizens of the United States, must exercise and respect. It is a privilege and a part of life we don't want to lose.

Stephanie Jensen

Northwest Portland

Wake up to attack on

reproductive rights

Under the guise of improving prenatal care, the Bush administration is attempting to overthrow women's constitutional right to abortion. Women Ñ and the men who love them Ñ need to wake up. The quiet majority must be quiet no longer.

Unintended pregnancy happens as a result of contraceptive failure, abuse or denial. It happens to women of any reproductive age. It can happen to you, your partner and your daughters.

Find out how you can help protect women's right to choose and take action today.

Susan Bexton

Southwest Portland

Northeast Portlanders

ride to the rescue

There is a good Samaritan couple living in the vicinity of Northeast 50th Avenue and Fremont Street. I do not know their name, but I would like to publicly thank them for coming to my aid on Sunday, Dec. 30.

I was visiting in Portland and made the mistake of getting off the MAX airport train at the wrong station and was denied access back on the train at the next station. I walked from the Mount Hood station to Interstate 205. At that point, this gracious couple saw me, a senior citizen in my late 70s, walking on the freeway and gave me a ride to my daughter's home.

I am forever grateful for their kindness. I would also like them to know that just today, I received an apology from Tri-Met.

Virginia Campbell

Castro Valley, Calif.

School cuts push

morale lower

I am the parent of a West Sylvan middle school student and a Lincoln High School student. Getting a good education is emphasized in our household, just as in both my husband's and my childhood homes.

When my daughter was a first-grader, she started school with 39 other little first-graders. Desks were crammed so tightly it was hard to walk about the room. The kids kept their supplies in pizza boxes. The mothers organized an 8 a.m.-to-2:15 p.m. rotation so the overwhelmed teacher could have assistance.

This lasted two months, during which time the kids learned very little, until an additional teacher was found. It was the beginning of my experience with school funding cuts.

Since then, I and many parents like me have been breaking our backs raising funds to replace those lost by Measure 5 by putting on auctions, scrip sales, art sales and phone campaigns and sending letters begging other parents for donations.

Working with only one other parent, I raised $41,000 over three years through sales of scrip. One-third of that money went to the Portland Schools Foundation, two-thirds to my children's elementary school. The time invested amounted to a part-time job.

All the while was the hope that next year the Legislature would restore funding levels, that next year there might be money for 25-student class sizes, for a band program, for new textbooks, for enough staff to clean the schools.

I'm so discouraged by the Legislature's lack of action that I'm about ready to vote with my feet. How many other frustrated parents are thinking about an alternative to public school? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what will happen to the school system then. A part of me says the state will wait for a train wreck before fixing this problem. I sure hope not. Who in that group of timid lawmakers is going to take the initiative?

Jennifer Lakey

Southwest Portland

Amtrak suffers

double standard

In response to news that Amtrak could be cutting long-distance routes (Amtrak girds to roll back service, Feb. 5), can anybody explain to us why taxpayers' money spent on roads and highways, airports, air traffic controllers and airlines is considered an investment while taxpayers' money spent on Amtrak and freight railroads is called a subsidy?

Julia Ause

Northeast Portland