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Public has no seat at the table

Readers' Letters
by: JAIME VALDEZ, George Balaesh was a pilot in Romania, but he drove trucks and taxis and did other odd jobs in Portland until he bought a Lincoln Continental in 1997 and went into business as a town car operator. That was before the city imposed permit limits, a topic of much debate recently.

I read your piece on permits for new taxis and town cars with great interest (Chasing the dream, one fare at a time, March 11). I found it rather perplexing that your reporter seemed entirely disinterested in what consumers might think about the state of Portland's taxi and limousine industry.

Speaking as a very frustrated consumer, I would say that in my experience there are far too few taxis in Portland, especially in the evenings. Hailing one off the street is invariably an exercise in frustration. And ever tried to get one on a Saturday night? Forget about it; dispatches won't even answer the phone.

Now I know why: Because something called the Private For Hire Transportation Board of Review feels it's their responsibility to ensure that established businesses succeed in stifling competition in the name of industry 'health.' Surely it's no coincidence that of this board's 14 members, no fewer than seven members (out of 14) are representatives of taxi companies or taxi drivers.

You didn't read that in the Tribune, nor was it reported that a single seat on this board is reserved for the 'riding public.' And wouldn't you know it, there happens to be a vacancy on the board at this very moment for, you guessed it, the riding-public seat!

I'm not sure what is more galling - the fact that this board, dominated by industry insiders, gets to decide what consumers want or need, or the fact that the Tribune's reporters are seemingly such willing shills for an industry that's had it's own way for far too long.

Morgan O'Toole

North Portland

Illegal cab operators are a public risk

Peter Korn's recent article references a private for hire transportation moratorium which has been in place since 1989 (Chasing the dream, one fare at a time, March 11). He doesn't mention that a demand study was conducted again in 2009 and the findings clearly show the private for hire transportation industry is at capacity. Adding any further vehicle permits to an already saturated industry would weaken a vital component of transportation in Portland.

What's more, many town cars and shuttles are illegally operating as taxi cabs because drivers have been unable to sustain themselves in the economic downturn.

Mr. Korn's article also dangerously and irresponsibly indicates that applications for more vehicle permits were denied on the basis of ethnicity. Every member of the Private For Hire Transportation Board of Review spent hours reviewing those applications and seriously weighed the implications of any decision. Perhaps Mr. Korn could write an article on the influx of illegally operating, unpermitted taxis, shuttles and town cars. These illegal operators are not subject to background checks, vehicle inspections, proof of insurance or safety tests.

A customer who unknowingly enters into an illegally operating, unpermitted vehicle is essentially hitchhiking and perhaps handing over their credit card information to a person who doesn't have a problem breaking the law. It would be a great public service to inform the riding public about the risks of illegal operators posing as legitimate taxis.

Aryn Seiler

Night Driver, Taxi Cab Representative on the

Private For Hire Transportation Board of Review

Northwest Portland

Pay fine, get permit - it's that easy

Not only is Koychoy Saepharn operating illegally by sub-leasing a city-permitted vehicle, the city recently re-permitted two town cars under one company name that were not permitted and were operating illegally until this month (Chasing the dream, one fare at a time, March 11). They were not commercially insured and were picking up passengers from hotels and taking them to the airport. The city did, however, renew their permits after they paid the city a $750 fine for operating illegally prior to renewing their company permits.

I think Koychoy has a good chance of getting a permit for her vehicle. The city is obviously more intent on collecting fines and permit fees than it is in enforcing its own code and preventing illegal drivers and vehicles from operating.

In this article, the Tribune reports 'drivers with established clientele will get preference, as will drivers such as Saepharn who have only been able to drive by sub-leasing permits.' So if you really want to get a company permit with the city of Portland, just lease one illegally, rack up some fines and eventually they will give you preferential treatment.

Jason Paulucci

Southeast Portland

Cab driver told to mind own business

Regarding the story 'Is it a bribe, or is it a tip?' (March 25), I am a taxi driver in the city of Portland and have been for many years. I am a female in my 60s and am afraid to sit on a hotel stand in the early morning. A few months ago, at 5 a.m., I saw a doorman blatantly accept a 'gratuity' and let him know I saw it. Next thing I know, he and the driver came up to my cab and threatened me to mind my own business.

Sandy Munchel

Southeast Portland

You'll get no favors from me

Shane Abma, city commissioners, hotel managers, taxi cab supervisor, et al:

I have since left the taxi industry due to (the bribe/gratuity issue) and other nonsense, but if I see you in my waiting room I will surely make you wait in line a little longer than most (Is it a bribe, or is it a tip?, March 25). If you would like to go to the front of the line, please give me a gift basket of $10.

Thank you.

Matthew Schoenblum

North Portland

Use of adoption language offensive

I am writing regarding the language used in 'One less footprint' (March 11). You wrote, 'The family is adopting an 11-year-old girl from China, making it their third adopted member of the family - sixth if you count dogs.'

Equating the adoption of a child to the adoption of a dog is extremely offensive. I love dogs as much as the next person. And, yes, I do consider our dogs members of our family. However, to write about adoption of a child and a dog in the same sentence is unnecessary and hurtful. Imagine being the child reading this article in a few years and seeing that you are thought of in the same manner as one thinks of an animal. With one sentence, you have cast aside the trauma all adopted children suffer and put it on the same level as a dog or cat in need of a home.

When writing about adoption in the future, I beg of you to educate yourself on the language you use. Better yet, go to a workshop held by Adoption Mosaic and understand some of the issues that adoptees face in today's society. At a minimum, give the executive director Astrid Dabbeni a call, read the line from the article to her and have her explain all that is wrong with it.

As an adoptive mother, I have found her ability to articulate adoption-related issues to be both invaluable and mind opening.

Megan D. Smith

Northwest Portland

Adoption helps Earth and the children

My hat is off with a deep bow to the Chadney and Rooney families who have chosen to adopt rather than conceive children (One less footprint, March 11). Potential parents should consider the adoption option when planning a family, especially large ones. With more than 100,000 children just within this country awaiting good homes, I can't think of a better way to be good stewards of these children, as well as steward's of the Earth's resources and needs, than to bring these kids into our homes and love them as our own.

Ric Drury

Northwest Portland

Every person affects the planet

This (story) is a great example! When I'm ready for a child I plan to adopt as well (One less footprint, March 11). We need more people to understand how much of an impact each person makes. Look at family trees - how many people ultimately are brought into the world as the result of one person. Too many.

Dominic Aiello

Beaverton

Adoption article elitist, snobby

Really? Comparing the adoption of a child to the adoption of a pet. Brilliant. Clearly you know zero about adoption.

What a horribly elitist, snobby and 'look how great we are' article.

And when will writers stop (writing) 'her adopted child,' and just say 'her child?'

And enough of the comparison to movie stars. There were people adopting long before it became a so-called fad.

Kerry O'Reilly

Portland