The article (Nirvana? Possibly not, Feb. 12) boldly states that most people moving to Multnomah County come from Washington and Clackamas counties, not California. Yet, it also mentions that Washington and Clackamas counties are still attracting 'significant numbers of taxpaying outsiders.'
How can you make the case that Californians are not a major immigration presence when you fail to address the influence of those nearby residents as commuters and consumers? Furthermore, what is to say that the people hopping into Multnomah County aren't recent Oregon implants? Sophia Tzeng, featured in the article, is one such example.
Real estate bubble is deflating
I've always suspected that the projections of massive population growth in the region were wishful thinking and justifications of the developers, politicians and planners (Nirvana? Possibly not, Feb. 12).
Unfortunately, a large segment of our economy is based on unsustainable growth for growth's sake. Add Realtors, bankers, construction workers and architects to the developers and planners - they all add up to a powerful political force.
Luckily, the real estate and financial bubble is finally deflating and all this uncontrolled growth and speculation is temporarily cooling.
Now is the time for all these growth-dependent folks to look for jobs that are more sustainable, like rebuilding our existing crumbling infrastructure, health care and green energy.
Some businesses are eco-responsible
I was thrilled to see two of my favorite indulgences featured in Sustainable Life (Green Dilemmas • Chocolates vs. cut flowers, Feb. 12). However, I was very surprised in progressive Portland to see that the winner in your article appeared to be neither flowers nor chocolate, but rather mainstream consumer practices.
When evaluating 'Human Cost,' writer Eric Bartels asserts that the flower industry pays workers better wages than they could get elsewhere - and also notes that cocoa farming is rife with child labor.
The synopsis under 'Health Benefits' was just as surprising. Chocolate has 'inevitable' sugar? A quick perusal of co-op aisles in Portland turns up companies such as Stirs the Soul, which uses agave syrup and raw cacao for its products.
While it takes a little more work, it's not that hard to find socially and ecologically responsible businesses in our neck of the woods. Want your candies delivered by bike? You can find that. Want your confectioner to know the cacao grower? You can find that, too. But as long as you categorize factory-made products like Moonstruck's with small, local enterprises like Alma and Sahagun, you'll be looking for green in all the wrong places.
Urban chickens welcome
At the height of our environmental activism in the mid-1970s, we gave our young daughters five baby chicks for Easter (Urban chickens top green pecking order, Sustainable Life, Feb. 12) . The chicks thrived under the warmth of a lightbulb and the watchful eye of our girls. When they were ready, they were moved to a large fenced area near our garden where they could scratch and peck through our compost to their heart's delight, giving us large, beautiful brown eggs in return. Everyone loved them, except for two neighbors who were offended by chickens in Eastmoreland. They protested to the City Council and, under the then-current local ordinance, forced us to get rid of our lovely hens. But the county health department and a majority of the council liked what we were trying to do, so we worked to get the ordinance changed - which it was - but, alas, not in time for us.
Bird flu coming to a city near you?
Are we sure we want to bring poultry into American cities (Urban chickens top green pecking order, Sustainable Life, Feb. 12)? With the threat of avian influenza and bird flu, is this a threat to public health? The flu jumped from birds to people in urban areas of Asia.
Camano Island, Wash.
Good clown, big heart
Great to see Angel is still making people smile (In Character with Angel Ocasio, Feb. 12). I appreciated Angel when I was part of the Salem Downtown Association Summerfest in the 1980s and for several years he brought laughter to the parade goers. He's a fine clown and a better person, with a heart bigger than his smile. Make 'em laugh, Angel, and best wishes.
Poor digital reception is old news
Even if they have a converter box and a good antenna, there are thousands of people living in areas where digital reception is going to be unacceptable due to hills, trees or tall buildings (Digital switch baffles a bunch, Feb. 12). If those problems don't kill reception completely, something as ordinary as a moderate wind or someone walking across a room can knock out a signal at any given moment.
It's not as if this is something that television broadcasters are just now learning about; I first learned about all of this more than a dozen years ago while listening to Harry Shearer's program on National Public Radio, when he read directly from a broadcasting industry trade publication detailing the technical problems with digital signals. After months of fighting with my digital TV, I now keep my antenna on a lazy susan in the middle of my dining room table so I can constantly adjust the direction.
School paid twice in Mueller scam
The saddest part of (Volunteering ... to steal? Feb. 19) is that Portland Public Schools actually paid the outstanding debts of the Benson Booster Club that we assumed were already paid. We are not talking small change either.
One thing that really chaps my hide - my son and I spent hours and hours fundraising for that money, but then it turns out that we have to pay for it again through our already financially strapped school system. I hope you see a cell, Anna. Maybe that will finally get through to you.
Benson Booster Club
Due diligence over background checks
I do not believe background checks will change the incidents of embezzlement and theft in parent groups at schools, soccer clubs, swim clubs or Little Leagues (Volunteering ... to steal?, Feb. 19). The Oregon Parent Teacher Association believes that the way to combat these crimes of opportunity is for these groups to implement and enforce sound financial policies. The Oregon PTA has rigorous requirements for our volunteers, including annual leadership training, liability and bonding insurance coverage (carried by every local unit), and common sense and due diligence.
Are these policies the ultimate in theft prevention? No, as your article rightly points out. But they certainly provide a roadmap to parent-teacher associations and other parent groups to minimize and prevent many such crimes of opportunity.
Oregon PTA believes that parent involvement is paramount to the success of children and the more barriers to their involvement, the further behind our children and schools will fall.
Every day, parents across the city and state are doing good work to ensure their children and Oregon's schools will not fail. Background checks may give everyone a sense of security, but should not be considered the solution that your article implies. Oversight and due diligence to sound financial policies are the answer - not additional barriers to parent involvement in our schools.
President, Oregon PTA
Learn languages to live globally
This is a great idea. Early childhood is the right time to learn a second language (Moms want French school in Portland , Feb. 19). I am raising my son bilingually and the other children at day care are using words from the second language simply because they are around him.
Learning a second language early - any language - will make learning a third or fourth language later in life easier.
We must realize the world is getting smaller and the next generations will need to be able to communicate with other people in their languages if we hope to remain globally competitive.
Portland needs a cultural heart
I relocated from Portland to Quebec last year, and am studying French myself. This topic is very personal to me, although I no longer live in Portland (Moms want French school in Portland , Feb. 19).
French is the only Western European language that begins to compete with English in terms of the number of people speaking it. Many words in English come from French. And yet the French culture is very, very different from our culture in the United States.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that as a culture we are not only ignorant about French culture, we are arrogant without even knowing it. Politically, the arrogance was expressed by President Bush when the French wouldn't go to Iraq. Do we really want to continue down the road of such cultural arrogance and ignorance?
The Sustainable Life story 'Portland 'bike queen' finds worldwide niche' (Feb. 12), about Mia Birk working to transfer bike friendly Portland to other cities, shows how, with vision, things can change for the better. I vote for a Portland with cultural heart!
Learning French in school is wise choice
I would love to have my children learn French in a public school. Interestingly, and likely a fact that not many here realize, French is ranked as the second most influential language in the world - after English - when looking at six different factors: number of primary speakers, number of secondary speakers, number and population of countries where used, number of major fields using the language internationally, economic power of countries using the languages and socio-literary prestige.
Gang focus should be on neighborhoods
If city Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Police Chief Rosie Sizer are both concerned about working on the gang issues, why don't they start with their neighborhood associations (Police, others work to tackle new gang issues, My View, Feb. 19)? I have lived in the Cully neighborhood for 30 years. I've gone to the meetings just to come away thinking nobody really cares about our neighborhood.
I think crime prevention coordinators need to get more involved at meetings. If you look at the agendas, you'll find that only 5 or 10 minutes are given at the end of the meetings; this should be top priority. Block watch does not work these days in Cully and we need to come up with a different way of communicating between neighbors and the association, like a blog.
Until the neighborhood association can work more closely with the police and the crime prevention coordinator and hold slumlords responsible for their renters' gang activities, everything will stay the same.
Lou Ann Eschete
Gangs moving west
This is just great. I moved downtown to get away from the gangs on the east side and now they follow me downtown, right to the steps of the Portland State University campus (Gangs find new turf: downtown, Feb. 19). All the college students will be preyed upon by the gangs. What parent would want to send their teenage daughter to PSU if there's a gang haven just outside the campus? The cops better do something about this fast.
Transit Mall needs vibrancy
This issue transcends politics. It's about drug deals and guns in the heart of Portland (Gangs find new turf: downtown, Feb. 19). Will the Transit Mall be a run-down and abandoned corner of town, choked by bus exhaust and filled with suspicious characters? Or will it be an inviting shopping point for Portland, filled with lights, lots of pedestrians, some police officers and a sense of vibrancy? We all want the latter.