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Streamside care benefits us all

Compliments to the Tribune on its coverage of the controversy regarding Portland's Healthy Streams Initiative (Activist channels land fury, Feb. 26).

One of the points that has yet to be clearly made in this ruckus is the cost of irresponsible streamside development to other taxpayers in cleanup and restoration, costs that get spread out over the city, and sometimes the region, because of the actions of a relative few.

In the instance of toxic contamination sites under the Superfund program, the cost of cleaning up waste from private enterprise is spreading nationwide. The notion that the initiative would take away 'people's most prized possessions without any scientific basis' and that it will 'decrease land values, chase investment out of the city and steal people's property rights' is, in most cases regarding this initiative, flat-out wrong. In many cases, good stewardship of streams and other natural resources significantly increases property values.

It also is worth noting that the photo showing Bennet Langlotz in a wetlands area in his neighborhood beautifully illustrates the problems that result when homeowners plant non-native species. The entire area shown in the picture is overrun with ornamental English Ivy gone wild, slowly killing the trees and shrubs it covers while crowding out native vegetation that support the diverse terrestrial and aquatic life that would otherwise thrive in that area.

This is a problem from private lands that has spread to public lands throughout the region. It has large cost impacts to neighbors, the larger public and to our ecosystem's ability to provide clean water, clean air and pleasurable and productive lands, not to mention healthy fish runs.

We owe ourselves, our economy, our neighbors and our children and grandchildren better land and stream stewardship because the two are intimately connected.

Peter Lavigne

President, Rivers Foundation

of the Americas

Southeast Portland

Two-bit bags could solve Oregon tax debt

Oregon should follow Ireland's recent lead and pass a 25-cent tax on every plastic and paper bag given out at the grocery and other retail stores. This would, as the bottle bill does, help keep Oregon greener and reduce the cost of cleanup and disposal. It also would raise millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Bag manufacturers could make and sell reusable designer bags, with or without ad revenue from companies wanting their logos on shoppers' beautiful, reusable bags.

Al Hayward

Troutdale

Drivers as likely as bikers to break traffic laws

I must take exception to the letter from Jerry Griffin (Coexistence is impossible until bicyclists are licensed,March 1). There are bicyclists who disobey the rules of the road, such as running red lights or not signaling turns, just as there are motor vehicle operators that disobey those same rules. Neither group has a monopoly on this.

Griffin assumes that licensing bicyclists will end their illegal behavior. But do licensed motorists obey all the laws? I really don't think so!

Taking his logic further, if we shouldn't spend money on bike lanes 'until bicyclists in general É police themselves,' then we shouldn't spend any money on roads because motor vehicle operators aren't self-policing, either.

Griffin is right that we all Ñ bicyclists and motor vehicle operators Ñ must self-police and obey the laws. The same vehicular laws apply to bicyclists and motorists. Bicyclists can be, and are, ticketed for violations. We don't have enough police to ticket every lawbreaker, bicyclist or motor vehicle driver. It then becomes a personal decision by each of us.

Terry N. Crawford

Tigard

Custodians' influence felt far past schools, students

I oppose Portland Public Schools interim Superintendent Jim Scherzinger's proposal to contract Portland school custodian jobs to a private company (Budget would ring the bell a final time for two schools, Feb. 26). Our public employees not only care about our children but keep them in a safe, clean and healthy learning environment.

A 'cost-saving' private company would mean drastically lowered wages and benefits and the resulting low morale, high absenteeism and rapid turnover of employees. Short-term, disgruntled workers would not be invested in the schools or the students.

At this critical time of economic downturn, our community needs more living-wage, union-protected jobs, not fewer. Families need breadwinners with job security. Neighborhoods need stable families. Businesses need consumers with confidence and money to spend. The members of SEIU Local 140 deserve our support.

Jamie Partridge

Northeast Portland