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A new reward for driving less

by: Tribune File Photo, Bicycle and cars try to share the road along Hawthorne Boulevard. Letter writers offer opinions about a Portland insurance brokerage that is rolling out a “pay-as-you-drive” auto insurance policy that is cheaper for people who drive less.

People like me, who own a car but drive it only occasionally, might finally be able to stop subsidizing folks who drive 10 times as much (Company plans pay-by-the-mile insurance, April 9). I think I've put 40 miles on my car in the past three weeks.

I put forth the effort and time to bike to work every day possible, and I would love to finally see a substantial financial reward for that.

Meghan Humphreys

Southeast Portland

More driving means better driving

Those who drive more typically also have better driving skills; we get more practice (Company plans pay-by-the-mile insurance, April 9). But, of course, to those who are only concerned about 'green,' that makes no difference.

I'd rather have a person with a good driving record who drives 40,000 miles a year get a good rate, rather than one who has a not-so-good record and drives 5,000 miles per year.

It's not a matter of charging those responsible for costs to the insurance company (those making claims). No, it's another form of social engineering - we will charge you more simply because you drive more, with the accident situation being secondary to the mileage driven. It's OK. It's Oregon - where common sense takes a back seat to ideology.

Michael C. Wagoner

Hillsboro

Bullying won't go away on its own

Why didn't the parents confront the school's principal and the parents of the problem child right away (Battling bullies, April 2)?

I would have had a police officer involved the whole time and set up a meeting with all parties involved, including the principal's boss. If that did not work, I would have waited for the child to come out of the school and confronted this person myself.

The problem with public schools is they are afraid of lawsuits, so they will blow it off as long as possible hoping it will go away.

Troy Holub

Southeast Portland

Solving bullying starts at home

There was a story on a recent national TV news show about how a middle-school principal solved bullying in his school (Battling bullies, April 2). He had all of the students submit a list of names of bullies anonymously. The same eight names showed up on most of the lists.

He and the staff worked with the bullies and discovered that they all had problems at home and were taking their frustrations out on others at school. So, the school staff tried to solve their problems, plus they worked with the bullies to give them social skills and got them involved with clubs and after-school activities.

The problem with bullies decreased so markedly that one victim, who had transferred to another school, returned to her neighborhood school.

What was so impressive was that by concentrating on a small group, they solved a schoolwide problem and made life pleasant for everyone - even the former bullies.

Marilyn Finn

Southeast Portland

Medical profession needs transparency

Doctors have hidden from and tried to be above any kind of review from outside their own ranks for decades (Doctors fret about online reviews, April 2). As a result, doctors and hospitals have historically kept to themselves the mistakes of their employees and peers.

This kind of transparency has been lacking in the medical profession and should be welcomed by all. It would likely not have come to this rather clumsy 'review' process had physicians been willing many years ago to allow themselves to be treated like all other service professionals.

That's what a doctor is - a service professional. They provide us a service, nothing more.

Ben Sturgill

Southwest Portland

Awareness is key to prevention

Good for you, Tamara (Rubin), for pointing out this obscure but real risk factor for lead exposure (Chickens eating lead not so 'sustainable', March 26). For those who need evidence of the human health risk posed by lead-contaminated chickens, you can find out a bit more at: http://jvdi.org/cgi/reprint/15/5/418.pdf

While it is true that lead-based paint dust inside of older homes represents the foremost hazard for children (via ingestion, not inhalation), I wonder if our embrace of the healthful aspect of raising our own foods (i.e. eggs from urban chickens) might obscure the potential risks.

For those looking for more information on lead hazards in and around the home and interested in resources to address these hazards, Portland has a number of public and private agencies dedicated to lead poisoning prevention. Feel free to contact the Community Energy Project at www.communityenergyproject.org to learn more.

Perry Cabot

Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Community Energy Project

Northeast Portland

Urban renewal is not a cash cow

I don't think it's time to let urban renewal die. Urban renewal areas have had some great success in the past (Two sides continue debate on 'blight', March 26), but they can't be treated like cash cows. There are areas in Portland that are in serious need of help, and urban renewal should be targeted to those areas. Rockwood is struggling. Areas in Old Town/Chinatown have crumbled to the point where they practically resemble ancient ruins - and not in a good way.

Urban renewal zones need to be evaluated on a range of concrete, factual criteria, not the whim of politicians. The area near PGE Park is not blighted.

Return urban renewal to its important role as a distributor of growth to make all of Portland vitalized and productive.

Michael Caputo

Southwest Portland

Let the renewal slush funds die

Urban renewal districts were intended to allow local governments to improve areas that were in serious disrepair and a blight on surrounding properties (Two sides continue debate on 'blight', March 26). After a period of time, the improved area would again be contributing to basic services such as fire, police, schools, et al.

In Portland, urban renewal has become a slush fund for projects only the chosen few can profit from. It is time to let them die.

John A. Vieira

Northeast Portland

What's the impact on family budgets?

I would like to know the cost of this for the average household (Climate change plan in trouble, March 26). If my natural gas and electric use averages $180 a month with equal pay, will it increase to $300, $400? It could be that the supporters of this don't want to discuss the impact on family budgets.

The actual personal monetary cost to households should be discussed.

Brian Hunter

Hillsboro

Two birds with one stone

We are undergoing unprecedented climate change due to the increase in carbon dioxide levels (Climate change plan in trouble, March 26). The vast majority of climate scientists believe reduction of human-generated carbon dioxide is critical to moderation of this mounting catastrophe.

We are also experiencing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. State, county and municipal governments, transportation agencies and school districts are having to deal with financial shortfalls.

I believe it is safe to say that we need both less atmospheric carbon dioxide and more revenue for public institutions. How about a fossil carbon tax - a tax-calculated per BTU of fossil carbon sold within Oregon?

In the classic 'sin tax' fashion, we can both reduce the use of fossil carbon and provide funding for public needs. Since this tax would operate independently of any possible cap and trade system, neither would be mutually exclusive.

If we are truly interested in dealing with the dual crises of global climate change and public financial distress, then a serious evaluation of a direct fossil carbon tax needs to be made.

Roy Hartley

Southeast Portland

Review not fair to Bella Gioia

We would like to first thank the Tribune for the Bread and Butter review of our restaurant, Bella Gioia - the picture is great. We did, however, want to address a couple of issues presented by the author of the review (Italian that's just OK, March 26).

First, to clarify: the stuffed agnolotti is actually filled with braised Piedmontese beef and Oregon pork - there is no chicken at all. We don't know if the knowledge of this would have impacted Anne Marie DiStefano's enjoyment of the preparation, but it's important that ingredients are reported accurately. In addition, the sauce is a classic Italian beef ragout cooked at low temperature for many hours, and not overwhelmed with thick tomato paste, garlic and onion.

Second, she refers to 'out-of-season' tomatoes used in our salad. Italian food would be lost without tomatoes, which sadly are not in season year-round in Oregon. We aim to have the freshest ingredients possible in all of our dishes, finding fresh produce in other states, but we must deal with the reality of the season.

Last, we acknowledge that particular evening was not a good one for our panna cotta, but we like to stress the fact that it's very important to try a restaurant several times before you come up with a personal opinion on it.

Indeed, we would like your publication and its readers to know that we altered this recipe way before the review, and we welcome everyone to come to Bella Gioia and enjoy it.

Altea Marin, owner, Bella Gioia

Northwest Portland