Does hype go beyond bioscience?

Readers' Letters
by: L.E. BASKOW, Letter writers weigh in on issues surrounding the Biomedical Research Building on the OHSU campus, funded by $200 million in state bonds, which was intended to jumpstart a bioscience industry in Portland.

Where do inflated numbers stop? I just read your article on bioscience in Portland (Bioscience bust?, May 14). I have a question for you: How different do you think your article would have been if you'd been writing about renewable energy, Oregon's other supposed big love/drawing card?

Would you likely have found similar hype and inflated numbers, or is the interest there more real and being translated into actions more effectively?

Rick Gresham

Camas, Wash.

Bioscience is not biotech

Peter Korn points out in 'Bioscience bust?' (May 14) that some pretty odd jobs in fertilizer production were included as 'bioscience' employment in advocacy for another South Waterfront biotech skyscraper. Clearly there is also another kind of 'fertilizer production' involved in the logic used to justify a new public investment, but it seems that few high-tech jobs have actually been created directly from the large original investment.

Though the statewide job stats were recently defended in the Two Views 'State money reaping rewards' (June 4), but arguments about standardized job codes miss the point. Bioscience is not biotech. Statewide agricultural job classes ought not to be used to measure success at South Waterfront. High-tech jobs were promised.

Universities are not intended to be the engines of commercial growth for a region or state - and generally do not create companies, no matter that there are a few shining and very visible exceptions. Oregon does continue to suffer without the new tech-oriented university needed for the Portland area years ago. Washington County is where the tech industry is, and that's where we need a university.

But state university politics killed off this concept several times. PSU at least is stepping up to the plate in engineering.

As the founder of a local tech company, I suggest it would be foolish to launch any new company under a Portland city government with such unrealistic attitudes toward business. The special costs of Portland preclude consideration by commercially prudent companies. For those who somehow missed the memo, the availability of endless capital for venture 'gamblers' largely ended last year.

We shouldn't discount the 42 jobs reportedly created from the first project - they represent the individual stitches in a strong micro-weave fabric of appropriate and sustainable economic technology development. But it is probably neither economic nor appropriate for taxpayers in Oregon to involuntarily become further involved as venture capitalists in an additional project.

Thomas E. Mintner


Bioscience could be the next tram

It seems that daily some proposal is being made for more taxpayer assistance for MAX, streetcars, hotels, sport teams, and on and on. I cannot help but think about the tram when I see OHSU asking for more money (Bioscience bust?, May 14).

Note, too, that OHSU announced earlier this year they are going broke and had to lay people off.

There are many other pressing issues to consider before handing out more assistance. Then there is that nagging question that no one wants to answer: Where are the private investors, if all these special projects are such a grand idea?

Rick Durbin


Children need a balanced education

I'm 40, and when I went to school the focus was entirely on basic skills that children need to become successful adults - grammar, literature, mathematics, history, civics, sciences, art, music, and physical education.

We got grades, sometimes we failed, and we learned our lessons from failure. We weren't coddled for the sake of 'self-esteem,' and we weren't pushed in a single direction by an overzealous public school board or PTA.

The age of 8 is not the time to focus on a specific area of expertise (Moms push for environmental school, May 21) Give kids a solid foundation in a little bit of everything, then let them make up their own minds which direction they want to go.

I'd like to see this school's detailed curriculum. Are they going to teach basics, or is this just an excuse to indoctrinate children with the dogma of the environmental movement? What other programs will they offer to present a balanced education?

As a former college professor, I have seen the negative aftereffects of new ideas in education that emphasize ideology over basics - my 19, 20 and 21-year-old students couldn't even form a complete sentence or spell properly.

I'm an ardent supporter of environmental responsibility, but I am highly skeptical of using taxpayer dollars to fund a 'new church of environmentalism,' especially at the expense of a solid education in fundamental skills.

James M. Gregg


Helping the hungry is much needed

What a cool idea! I hope regular people can volunteer, too, and not just criminals (Former Poor Farm will help feed county's poor, May 28). Although putting criminals to use to help society is certainly a good idea as long as they can be secured to the site.

I hope there will be follow-ups to this story as progress develops. I enjoy reading about something positive. Helping hungry people is much needed in Oregon.

Carmen Lohkamp


Hunters can help help reduce rodents

To help in rodent reduction and improve production results, this newly refurbished farm should allow local hunters to help with rodent reduction (Former Poor Farm will help feed county's poor, May 28). I have regularly helped local orchards in Washington County by hunting squirrels. Not only do they eat up the profits, they cause much root damage under the filbert nut trees.

Additionally, if you want local organic meat, Western Grey Squirrel is regulated game by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Many recipes can be found on the Internet.

Chad Moore


Poor Farm needs anti-theft measures

It would be foolish and shortsighted to operate such a garden without anti-theft measures in place. From the article 'Former Poor Farm will help feed county's poor' (May 28), it's not clear this is a concern in the minds of garden advocates.

Daniel Roberts

Northeast Portland

Prom night a dream come true

Glad to hear it was a special night, Jaime (Homeless to sparkly: a teen's prom journey, May 28). You and Logan are a beautiful couple.

Please realize that your situation may be different than many others your age, but you are not responsible for that and you are no less valuable than them. I hope your situation stabilizes and you are able to live your dreams.

Kelly Smith

Southeast Portland

No 'vote' on Hillsdale business plan

In one of the last times the Hillsdale Business Association tried to improve their shopping strip mall, they attempted to sneak a utility tax onto all residential property owners' bills who lived within the business association's own self designated radius of potential 'customers' (Plan offers vision for Hillsdale's center, May 28).

The neighborhood association leaders worked in concert with the business association to try to pawn this off on unsuspecting residents who learned at the last moment that they had been left out en masse on the 'vote' to approve the stealth tax.

Nice try in attempting to get the residents to pay for your business improvements, Hillsdale. This time find a more honorable way to pay for your dream.

Ann Friday

Southwest Portland