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Water quality projects save city money

Readers' Letters
by: L.E. BASKOW A cyclist rides the path through River View Cemetery adjacent to 146 acres of undeveloped land purchased partly with city Water Bureau funds, a transaction that may soon end up in court.

The Water Accountability, Trust and Reform Inc. threat to sue the city for so-called 'noncritical' spending of stormwater fees is absurd. By broadening projects beyond pipes and concrete and using green stormwater management techniques, the Bureau of Environmental Services actually saves money.

Their green 'Tabor to the River' program will save ratepayers almost $60 million.

Acquiring 146 acres at River View Cemetery protects water quality, provides cold water refuge for salmon, protects critical fish and wildlife habitat, prevents development on landslide prone slopes, and provides Southwest Portland residents with much needed open space (Legal threat hits 'non-critical' spending, Nov. 17).

Partnering with Portland Parks and Recreation and Metro, thereby leveraging their investment, should be praised not panned. Being criticized, much less sued, for keeping dog feces out of the city's river and streams defies logic.

Creating a healthy urban forest canopy that captures water before it enters the city's stormwater system is yet another cost-effective feature of BES's stormwater program. Portlanders paid $1.4 billion for the Big Pipe project to remove sewage from the Willamette. The very efforts that WATR criticizes protects that investment, reducing future stormwater rates.

Rather than suing, WATR should be thanking BES and the City Council for integrating green approaches, creating healthier watersheds, cleaning up the Willamette and reducing overall spending.

Michael C. Houck

Director, Urban Greenspaces Institute

Northwest Portland

Bureaus' spending fleeces taxpayers

'The bureaus need to set their priorities' (Legal threat hits 'non-critical' spending, Nov. 17)? Will ratepayers getting fleeced by city of Portland bureaus have any say in bureau priorities?

Evidently not, considering not only the continued shell game where even the players can't keep up with where money goes, but also the watered-down terms such as 'non-critical' or 'inconsistent' spending, rather than more fitting terms like misappropriation, theft of services or collusion.

Any wonder banking's in such a mess when government looks as it does, on and off of paper? If a bank were found spending 'inconsistently' or raising fees, as was the case recently when $5 fees per credit card transaction were suggested, a special prosecutor and new legislation would ensue rather than just the annoyance of occupiers.

Enron, Worldcom and Arthur Andersen, at least, brought us Sarbanes/Oxley, but as Congress allowed itself avoidance of the 2,700-page Obamacare suppository, government is exempt of government audit. After all, who'd believe a government audit of government was anything beyond cover-up or a means of raising fees?

Then the city will come back complaining of all the money that is being spent on something frivolous like government accountability when there are tax dollars to be spent on infrastructure so that more people and business will come to Portland and generate more tax revenue to misappropriate.

Portland may be known for regarding sustainability, but no one would ever know that by Portland's unfunded and increasing debt. Portland shouldn't be allowed to levy any new taxes or engage any new spending until Portland is solvent.

Christopher W. Osborn

Southeast Portland

Portland following Greece's footsteps

Portland's economic model is not too different from that of bankrupt Greece: massive public borrowing, hosing state and federal government taxpayers and creating a populace overly dependent on government handouts instead of individual productive effort (Public's bucks give builders a boost, Oct. 27).

It took several decades for Greece's economic model to be called out, and Portland is likely to find a similar waterloo when the federal government and state government rein their lavish spending on Portland.

Bob Clark

Southeast Portland

Complaint abuses waste city time

'Liefeld says the city doesn't maintain a formal policy to cut off people who repeatedly file unfounded complaints. But, he says, if staff have investigated four unfounded complaints by one neighbor against another, on the fifth complaint they generally don't conduct as thorough an inspection' (Anonymous complaints serve up a heap of trouble, Nov. 10).

So it's four strikes and you are still not out? Someone files four unfounded complaints against the same entity and the city still investigates the next one - just not as thoroughly?

At what point is a false accuser 'out'? When does he/she have to pay for the wasted city staff time? Not to mention the time of the business owner/property owner.

There are benefits to a complaint-driven system, and there are benefits to keeping complaints anonymous. But it is surprising to learn that the only constraint to prevent abuse of the system is professional discretion. It seems to me that opens a whole other can of worms.

I'm sorry but four false complaints is abuse, and staff should be able to point to a clear rule that allows them to ignore number five and so on.

What's Saltzman's take on this?

Tony Fuentes

Northeast Portland

Neighbors should work out differences

Everyone should have the right to face their accuser, even if it's a neighbor (Anonymous complaints serve up a heap of trouble, Nov. 10). In fact, particularly if it's a neighbor.

Neighbors should be able to work out their own differences and not consume city staff time. Our taxes are already too high as it is - we don't need city staffers sucking up taxpayers' money to essentially impoverish other taxpayers out of business.

Jim Atwood

Southwest Portland

Regulations need to be enforced

The Bureau of Development Services is understaffed because our City Council devotes taxpayer dollars to pet projects instead of enforcing the regulations that are on the books (Snitch City, Nov. 3).

Little enforcement equals little compliance. In the case of many codes, lack of compliance puts Portland citizens at risk. Our city looks green and progressive, so who cares about hazards, right?

James Paul Brown

Northeast Portland

Law still has not been implemented

More than four years ago, in 2007, the Oregon Legislature enacted a law (SB 822) giving Oregon veterans hiring preference for public civil service positions with the state, counties, cities and certain other local government entities.

It was recently reported that a veteran won a settlement from the state because the Oregon State Hospital in Salem failed in 2009 to consider his status as a disabled veteran. As a part of the settlement, in addition to $2,100 and attorney's fees, the hospital agreed to train its managers to comply with the law.

According to the report, Cameron Smith, senior policy advisor to Gov. (John) Kitzhaber, acknowledged that the preference is not well-understood among public human resources representative or other levels of government - counties, cities, school districts.

I do not know who, if anyone, Kitzhaber holds responsible for ensuring the implementation of this four-year-old law. However, Oregon Revised Statutes 406.030 prescribes that the director of veterans affairs shall organize and coordinate the administration of all present and future federal and state laws pertaining to veterans. The director of veterans affairs has a large staff, has the publicly funded 'Vets News,' and has access to a large number of state and county veterans services to spread the word. Veterans' preference is not rocket science.

It is a disgrace that this law has not been fully implemented.

Robert H. Thornhill

Beaverton