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Grigorieff more than a footnote

by: L.E. BASKOW, The body of George Grigorieff, homeless for more than 20 years in the Portland area, was found by Carole van Dyke at Portland’s Lone Fir Cemetery

Thanks to Peter Korn for telling George Grigorieff's story (Hard life, cold death, Jan. 15). I'm also 63 years old, but I'm not homeless like George was. I served in the Navy during the Vietnam war, but never went there. I lost three friends to that war and it looks like George Grigorieff is another casualty - one who won't be counted in the statistics. Thanks for making sure that he did not end up as just a footnote to a story about a storm. Looks like our lives ran somewhat parallel, although unremarkable, until the military intervened. I was the lucky one; George, not so lucky.

Bill Foust

Northeast Portland

Senseless tragedies can be avoided

Regarding 'Hard life, cold death' (Jan. 15), I personally know of a friend who is mentally ill but luckily resides in the assisted living facility Macdonald House in Old Town. I have lived in Portland since 1986 and have seen the same homeless people on the streets for decades. We need to change the laws for hospitalization of the mentally ill so these kinds of senseless tragedies and ruined lives for people living in poverty can be avoided. We the citizens, in our warm homes, have blood on our hands for the misery we let endure year after year.

Tim Sandvig

Southwest Portland

Story adds the human element

Regardless of your opinion about homelessness, mental illness, the Vietnam War or a host of other issues the article 'Hard life, cold death' (Jan. 15) touches on, Peter Korn did an excellent job of capturing the life and death of George Grigorieff. You would have to be pretty numb to not be moved by this story and its several subplots. Thanks, Peter, for reminding us what being human is all about.

Edward C. Broyles

West Linn

Casualties of war affect families, too

Another casualty of the war in Vietnam (Hard life, cold death, Jan. 15). How many similar ongoing casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will we have to endure over the next 30 years?

And it's not just these recent 'bad' wars. My cousin married a man who returned from WWII 'a changed man,' according to contemporaries who knew him before the war. Flashes of the happy, outgoing, friendly soul amidst the more common drunkenness, anger and near violence were the only glimpses of what he had been before his service in 'the good war.' He died in a house fire, started by the cigarette he'd dropped in an alcoholic stupor. The lives of his children have all been far more difficult than they should have been. Call them, too, victims of war, even of a 'good' one.

Thank you, Peter. Your story has made me think a lot - and better - about those in my own family who have been swept from spoken recollection.

Jerry Rhodes

Vancouver, Wash.

Compassion needs to be tempered with common sense

While my heart goes out to those who find themselves on the streets, the problems homelessness creates for Portland residents is an issue that merits serious discussion (Hard life, cold death, Jan. 15).

Numerous times we have found feces in our yard or on the porch. Angry or violent confrontations break out when you ask them to move along; compassion wears thin when you deal with this sort of thing on a regular basis. After a homeless drug addict broke into our home and robbed us, we walled and fenced out the problem and added a high-tech security system and cameras. Is this the way we have to live in order to feel safe in Portland?

There needs to be some discussion about dealing with the homeless problem compassionately, but with the well-being of all citizens in mind. The goal should be to safeguard the lives and protect the property of ordinary citizens, as well as those in dire circumstances. There must be some changes made to the way homelessness is handled in our city.

Christina Unzicker

Northwest Portland

New approach to homelessness needed

Homelessness is both a chronic and complex issue. While I'd like to think Portlanders can put an end to homelessness, it is not realistic. We can and should, however, take responsibility for positively impacting other people's lives. I have a project to develop that will make a difference for some of Portland's homeless population.

While I agree with Rich Rodger's My View 'We cannot fail those living on the city's streets ' (Jan. 15), I choose to look at the larger picture. One way to help is to not give money to panhandlers. Rather, consider giving food coupons to the Sisters of the Road Café or donate to Street Roots, which gives the homeless an opportunity to stand on their feet.

There are many success stories of people who have recovered, gotten off the streets and regained their lives. More than a problem, chronic homelessness is a disease that needs treatment - a new approach to achieving success for Portland's future.

Jacqueline Lerner Aderman

Tigard

A flat tax rate should be instituted

The article 'Tax man pays no heed to deflation' (Jan. 15) fails to address the fact that ballot measure bond increases are added to our property tax bills and are not subject to the 3 percent limit. In fact, the Children's Levy, which passed this last election, even stated in the voter's manual that the tax was likely to exceed the 3 percent limit.

Yet, all of the tax increase measures were voted into effect in the middle of some of the worst economic times in our recent history.

Also, the property tax rates are not equal throughout the city either. They range from a low of 29 percent to a high of 61 percent, based on an assumption that those in the higher-rate neighborhoods can pay more than those in the lower-rate neighborhoods. This assumption is faulty, as it does not take into account the changing life situations of the residents nor is it actually based on any real income figures.

People who work hard all of their lives to pay off their homes are being taxed out of their homes, even if they have lived in them for 30 years and have paid them off. This inequity should be corrected and a flat tax rate instituted throughout the city.

Ann Friday

Southwest Portland

We must live with the measures we pass

I think people need to understand that we in Multnomah County support our initiatives to improve our community (Tax man pays no heed to deflation, Jan. 15). Year after year, as measures come to the ballot that foster our well being, we gladly vote to raise our property taxes. That's the progressive way. Further, that's why we have put our Democrat friends in office to carry the torch to enhance our way of life.

Harry Doyle

Northeast Portland

Tax increases will add to foreclosures

Regarding 'Tax man pays no heed to deflation' (Jan. 15), I'm on a fixed income and was just notified by my mortgage company that my monthly mortgage payments are going up $80 per month starting March 1st because of all the property tax add-ons passed by the voters in the last election (Oregon Zoo, Children's Levy, etc.).

President Obama and our local leaders are so concerned about foreclosures caused by variable-rate loans resetting their interest rates - what about people who will face foreclosure due to all the tax increases approved by our overly generous electorate?

Geoffrey Davey

Southwest Portland