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Portland's track record for managing large, complicated utilities should make east county residents think twice before they support that city's effort to purchase Portland General Electric. É

'Portland's water-billing problems provide an obvious example of the shortcomings of big-city bureaucracies. Beyond that fiasco, the city's record also is tarnished by its slowness to correct sewage overflows into the Willamette River and its contentious relations with suburban neighbors when dealing with Bull Run water issues.

'To be fair, Portland has improved its Bull Run performance and its communications with other communities. But a takeover of PGE would raise similar concerns all over again.

'Of the 742,000 customers served by PGE, more than 500,000 are outside the city of Portland. Whoever controls the utility will have increased clout when it comes to economic development and recruitment of industry. The city of Portland may be the only entity capable of buying PGE. But even if that's the case, management of the utility must be contracted to an outside company.'

Ñ From an editorial published March 8 by the Gresham Outlook