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Movies mean money

by: COURTESY OF MGM, “Feast of Love,” filmed in part at Fresh Pot on North Mississippi Avenue, may not have struck it big at the box office, but it added $8 million to local coffers.

Phil Stanford's diatribe about films made in Portland (P-town's no hit at the box office, Jan. 29) ignores the real value of those movies: income and jobs.

Whether obscure or Oscar material, films made locally are winners in one important respect: economic impact. 'Feast of Love' alone spent $8 million directly, and hired 100-plus local crew members and 756 extras.

That's money in the pockets of local businesses, technicians and actors, with ancillary revenue benefit to the city.

Do you think New York City cries in its beer about the mediocrity of films made there? Not when their film and TV production industry is worth more than $5 billion and 70,000 jobs.

Even on Oregon's scale (11,000 jobs and economic impact of just under $1 billion), the numbers are impressive. We don't have control over artistic product, but we can attract more productions and improve the odds of landing a film that will finally deserve big box office.

Portland should be proud of its increasing feature film and commercial production, and of its growing cadre of accomplished crew and service providers.

I'll take the occasional bridge closure any day if it means more people are earning decent money paid by the film industry.

Kvetching about the quality of the final product or the way we look onscreen won't bring in the business - and that business is what ultimately will up our chances of hosting a film that's a critical and popular success. So stop whining already.

Anne Mangan

Southwest Portland

Lunchroom myths are alive and well

Regarding the story 'Real truth about myths (Life With Children, Jan. 29), as a retired Portland Public Schools custodian with 37 years' experience, I can relate to the myths generated by students after eating some of the foods prepared in the school cafeterias.

My favorite myth comes from Clark Elementary School, where I worked in the '80s. The lead kitchen assistant would prepare for breakfast scrambled eggs in a shallow flat pan, the eggs being about 1-inch thick, which were then cut in 3-inch squares and served to the students.

The one constant complaint from the kids was in asking me why the 'cook' kept serving powdered eggs.

I kept telling them, to no avail, that they were not powdered eggs, and I finally had to say to the kids: 'Powdered eggs come from paper chickens. Do you see any paper chickens in the kitchen?' I never heard the words 'powdered eggs' mentioned again.

Lanny R. Olin

Fairview

Will bill collection lower our rates?

In response to the article 'Water bureau squeezes delinquents' (Feb. 1) about how the deadbeats cost others, will the ratepayers get a lower rate on their water and sewer bills now that city Commissioner Randy Leonard is collecting all that money from deadbeats?

Will we see any relief from Portland's high water and sewer bills?

Jan DeFrancesco

Northeast Portland

PBR's a badge of honor, folks

Regarding Tom Bielavitz's confusion as to Pabst Blue Ribbon's popularity here in the People's Republic of Portland (PBR me? PDX me instead, Letters, Feb. 5), as seen by someone who has been to many of this fine city's establishments that serve the 'swill':

First off, many of the creative types who clutch their PBR tallboys come from middle- to upper-middle-class families.

This city definitely gives off a working-class vibe, with the Brahmins in the hills looking down on the laboring grubs, and the ordering of this particular beer gives people a sense of being 'one with the little guy' so they don't feel guilty about their higher artistic pursuits.

Indeed, not only is PBR a badge of honor with Portland's hipsters, but it's also a tool for the growing legions of 'anti-hipsters' to differentiate themselves despite similar backgrounds.

Second, PBR is exceptionally cheap. Not every 20-something emigrant here is a trust funder, so while it is far from the only inexpensive brew around, PBR does show the intelligence of the brewer's marketing department in flogging its wares toward the underpaid and underemployed.

And finally, for all its bland corporate nature, that aspect makes PBR easy to throw down the chute - and not too bad-tasting to boot.

I myself will shell out for our wonderful local micros, but when the carpet gets a little thick on the tongue, I, too, will find myself asking for the Ribbon.

So for all the perception of Portland as 'radical,' sometimes necessity means taking another look at an industrial lager.

Ken Jamison

Northeast Portland

Charter schools are a fix, not a problem

As reported in 'Charter schools could get scrutiny' (Feb. 5), school board member Ruth Adkins and the district's charter school manager, Cliff Brush, apparently have decided that public charter schools are a problem, despite the overwhelming popularity of the city's public charter schools and the district's admitted lack of data to support its critical conclusions.

Sound public policy typically requires that conclusions be derived from data, that decisions be based on evidence, and that policies follow from facts. But not in this case.

Beyond the problematic approach is the question of why they're attacking public charter schools in the first place.

If many parents choose to enroll their children in charter schools - and they do - this is not a problem, this is an indication that charter schools are offering a much-desired solution.

Lost in these unfounded attacks on public charter schools is any mention at all about what matters most to parents and taxpayers, that is, the quality of education provided in whatever mix of neighborhood, charter and magnet schools exists in the district.

Quality - and how best to achieve and measure it - ought to dominate this discussion. That is what the board and district staff ought to be putting energy and resources into, rather than launching baseless attacks on public alternatives to the traditional, establishment educational structures.

Tom Powers

Southeast Portland

Pet projects add to local budget woes

I keep hearing and reading about the economic plight of the government in both the city of Portland and Multnomah County.

We have new programs we want to add, many others we have but can't afford, and it seems both the city and county are bankrupt (not officially, but realistically).

I used to think that special interest groups were always big business, like the oil companies, but here we do it differently at the same cost.

I can think of a few groups that appear to have a great deal of influence in our town, such as the bicycle lobby, light-rail fans, affordable housing supporters, homeless advocates, bus boosters and public-restroom partisans, just to name a few.

I don't disagree with all of these groups, but I am concerned about the amount of tax money they use annually.

Erik Sten and Tom Potter, perhaps, were smart to step down before it hits the fan here.

There are too many pet projects, too many special interest groups getting much of what they want, and the taxpayer is caught with little choice about what comes next, except maybe sell and move to Clark or Washington County.

Barry Adams

Southwest Portland