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Conformity has no part in public art

I question your motives in choosing to publish Richard F. LaMountain's 'Out with the abstruse, in with relevance' (Insight, May 16). While competent in grammar and structure, it relays an opinion that is not only undereducated but also hateful toward the arts. Though blockaded into a corner by Lois Allan's excellent rebuttal, 'Public art should speak to modern world' (Insight, May 16), and a wonderful, modern interpretation of Portlandia, I feel there is still more to say.

LaMountain states the public art that meets his approval 'conforms to the classical Greek paradigm of beauty, contour and perfect proportion.' Yet conformity is not art. Conformity is the antithesis of art, which is at its heart, expression.

His demand that 'Portland should devote its precious public spaces É to realistic, understandable work that affirms Western culture, local and national history' is misguided as well. Reaching far back into local history to the time before Westerners arrived, Kenny Scharf's 'garish' totem poles more closely reflect the native culture than any of the works he supports.

The ethnic makeup of modern Portland is not exclusively Westerners, either. Last year's celebrated public installation of a bronze Chinese elephant sculpture proves that.

Erik Impson

Northeast Portland

OHSU's priorities

are off-kilter

Oregon Health & Science University announces its plan to shut down the Oregon Poison Center because of a lack of funds to operate it. The cost: $1.3 million annually.

At the same time, OHSU continues with its plan to build the aerial tram from Marquam Hill to North Macadam. The cost: $15.5 million to build and $1 million annually to operate.

It is not a question of having or not having the money to operate the poison control center. Rather, it is OHSU choosing an unnecessary carnival ride over what is supposed to be its core mission: health care.

If House Bill 2709 funds poison control from 911 dollars, the Oregon Legislature should strike funding earmarked for OHSU from other sources.

Larry Beck

Southwest Portland

Early closures, tax break: There's a link

What an irony, Hillsboro schools close down 17 days early for lack of funds. A town in the heart of Intel-land, whose primary employer demands employees be well-educated and prepared for a life in high tech. As a taxpayer, do I feel guilty?Ê Heck, no!

What else can we expect when the primary employer is receiving a state tax holiday? It isn't a case of 'Should we raise taxes?' It's a case of those well-endowed corporations not paying their fair share. It's nice when a company comes to town and provides employment for the area. But when it adds more to the cost of maintaining schools, roads, etc., than it gives, it becomes a parasite.

Jim Werner

Southeast Portland

Assumption based

on paper use is idiotic

I must respond to letter writer Kurt Weber's comments about use of paper in Portland's public schools (Follow paper trail to bigger woes, Readers' Letters, May 23): Did you ever stop to consider that many teachers encourage their students to use the blank side of a homework paper for extra answer space, to work out your long math equations and show your 'proof,' etc.?

Why are you so willing to jump all over the school district without even a moment's notice? For you to somehow arrive at the wild conclusion that the Portland school district is still secretly rolling in money and spending irresponsibly from the simple fact that colored paper is being used is the height of idiocy.

People like you look for any reason, any excuse, no matter how small or far-fetched, to justify your opposition to Measure 26-48. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda, had it right when he stated that if you repeat a lie enough times, people will eventually come to believe the lie is truth.

John Cozzolino

Northwest Portland

Reading problems

have many sources

Christopher Fromherz notes that 'the literacy problem has worsened in the last 10 years' (Oregon must heed its citizens' need to read, Insight, May 23). That should not be unexpected. In a study from 1993, the College Entrance Examination Board reported education majors had some of the lowest SAT averages. Additionally the Jan. 9 issue of Education Week notes that 'almost 40 percent of secondary students' in Oregon 'are taught by a teacher without both a major (in the subject being taught) and certification.' The number of students 'jumps to almost 60 percent in high poverty areas,' and Oregon gets a 'D-' for improving teacher quality (edweek.org).

Couple that with the revelation of education historian Diane Ravitch in her new book, 'The Language Police,' about the quality of textbooks, which have been dumbed down to the point of dishonesty, and it is no wonder we have an increased problem of illiteracy in the nation.

Michael H. Wilson

Libertarian Party of

Multnomah County

Southeast Portland

High-end store

closings hold lesson

So, two more downtown stores are closing (Two more downtown retailers close shop, May 23). The regional director of Barcelino blames his Pioneer Place store's failure on Sept. 11, the struggling economy, high rent and a variety of factors. Others say the 'larger economy' is to blame.

In addition to the fragile economy, perhaps retail stores fail because they don't stock merchandise we need. Perhaps Oregonians recognize that buying more stuff doesn't necessarily lead to a fulfilled life. And perhaps consumers just recognize overpricing when they see it. These are factors the developers of the 'giant retail complex' at the Memorial Coliseum should consider.

Karen Reddick Yurka

Southwest Portland