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Letters to the Editor for March 23

Support the National Popular Vote plan

Oregon has an opportunity to help achieve the goal of having every vote for president be counted equally by adoption of the National Popular Vote bills, House Bill 3517 and Senate Bill 885. The League of Women Voters will testify in support of HB 3517.

The League of Women Voters of East Multnomah County supports changing the Electoral College's current allocation system to one where states agree to cast their electoral votes for the candidate who wins the national popular vote. The U.S. Constitution gives states the authority to choose its own system of picking electors and over our history states have used a variety of methods for doing so.

Under the National Popular Vote bill, all of the state's electoral votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes - that is, enough electoral votes to elect a president (270 of 538).

Under the current system, the presidential candidates have no reason to pay attention to the concerns of voters in states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind. This bill preserves the Electoral College, while ensuring that every vote is equal and ensuring that every vote will matter in every state in every presidential election.

In 2004 a shift of 60,000 votes would have elected Kerry despite Bush's nationwide lead of 3,000,000. In 2008, candidates concentrated more than two-thirds of their campaign visits and ad money in the November general campaign in just six closely divided 'battleground' states - with 98 percent going to 15 states. This makes two thirds of the states mere spectators!

By acting together, states can choose to elect the president who wins the national popular vote.

Marlene Byrne

President

League of Women Voters of East Multnomah County

Gresham

Music that brings everyone together

Had a wonderful experience recently at Mt. Hood Community College (hearing the Mt. Hood Pops perform). Much in our current lives is so troubling and discordant, it was soothing to hear and see this group of musicians work together (after what must be enormous investment in time and energy) to demonstrate how such a diverse group can work together to do something for everyone. I say diverse as unlike most of us in the audience who were (to put it kindly) not young, the orchestra had a wide range of ages to go along with the range of instruments and (I would guess) many different political, religious and other cultural and personal values.

But no matter - they performed as one, and we enjoyed music composed hundreds of years ago by masters who couldn't have imagined our modern circumstances, and others who composed more recently, for this commonly shared and most agreeable evening.

Dick McQueen

Brightwood

Campaign issue critical for country

I totally agree with Rep. Greg Matthews (Proposed legislation would strengthen Average Joe's voice in Oregon elections, Outlook Saturday, March 10) when he states that 'campaign spending in Oregon is spinning out of control; voters in our state suffer under the second-highest (per capita) campaign costs in America, coming in second only to New Jersey.'

I would go one step farther and say that campaign spending in America is out of control and besides negative advertising, is one of the main factors that turn voters off. For the little guy who either wants to run for office or who is donating to a campaign, he doesn't have a chance against the mega donors of big corporations or big unions, which in a lot of cases expect favors for their bucks. So, what is the point of voting if your vote is being bought by out of state donors, who could care less about what happens in Oregon.

I also agree with Rep. Matthews when he states that 'we have got to do something about that before Oregon voters decide, battered by all that expensive noise, that their individual voices won't make a difference, so perhaps their votes won't either.'

Any effort to rectify this problem has to be done on a nonpartisian basis. That's essential. If we get into political squabbles between democrats and republicans about who should be able to donate and how much can be donated, then we will never find the solution.

I feel it is almost immoral how much is being spent on these elections. Are we going to lose the individual voices that do make a difference? Information is important, but at what price?

I personally resent campaign money coming from outside sources being used for negative advertising. Oregonians know what's best for Oregon, not fat cats in, say, New York.

The voice of the individual is critical if we are to continue to have our system of government.

Louis H. Bowerman

Portland

Facility raises concerns about safety

After reading the article in Sunday's Oregonian on mental health, I have to wonder how many people in the East Gresham area were or are aware that there is a facility in our midst that is a 'secure locked-down 16-bed residential treatment facility for those with severe and persistent mental illness'?

The article goes on to say that 'It's the only place that provides long-term secure treatment for the seriously mentally ill that's a step down from the State Mental Hospital.'

When this 'Treatment Center' opened there was no mention of this activity. What about all the people who live in that area? Is their safety a concern? This center is located in a residential area with citizens of all types living in close proximity. There are apartment buildings, private homes and churches all within a thousand feet of the place.

Was the public informed that this place would be used in this manner? Is the city of Gresham even aware of this? If so, where were the public hearings on land use held and why wasn't there any public input about this? When the place opened it was not what it is today, and I have to wonder who is responsible for the change.

I pose this question - Who will guarantee the safety of the general public around this facility? I look forward to a constructive answer.

C.K. Holton

Gresham