by: L.E. BASKOW, Earlier this month, Steven Nash (middle) and David Sherwood were among the hundreds of couples registering as a domestic partnership. Although another registrant wishes the status conferred the same rights as marriage, he does appreciate the option.

My partner and I consider our relationship more than just roommates. We have been together more than seven years, moved across country, paid bills and mourned together.

Despite this, we have only recently been viewed as more than just roommates in the eyes of the law.

Before the domestic partnership law was enacted by Oregon lawmakers (Injunction lifted on Oregon domestic partnership law,, Feb. 1), I could not legally see my partner in the hospital, nor could one of us inherit all the things we have purchased together.

We could establish wills and powers of attorney and all the other legal contracts that married couples are not required to do. But those contracts can be challenged in court by a surviving partner's family because roommates have fewer rights than family or married couples.

I have seen this occur on more than one occasion with the court siding against the partner.

A legal domestic partnership does not offer committed same-sex couples the same rights as marriage, but it does offer more peace of mind.

Joey Kerns

Northeast Portland

It's wise to watch petroleum association

As a business owner in Portland, I want to be informed about transportation issues, and I appreciate your coverage of the efforts of the Portland City Council and Sam Adams to secure funding to maintain our system.

However, I do think the article on Paul Romain and his willingness to support a statewide gas tax missed an opportunity to discuss the matter fully (Gas tax boost OK with road fee critic, Feb. 12).

It has been reported that Portland's maintenance backlog is so significant that the state gas tax would need to be raised in the neighborhood of 27 cents to achieve the revenue that the city needs.

While the article reported that Romain wants to get rid of the local jurisdictions' efforts to maintain their streets, he made no mention of how these cities will make up the difference if these important fees disappeared.

Portland is the most populous city in Oregon, with one of the oldest street systems. We move the goods of the state and help drive the economic engine of Oregon.

Like many of the crippling tax policies passed in Oregon, Romain's efforts are shortsighted. If the Oregon Petroleum Association actually wants to solve the problem, it should consider partnering with Portland rather than publicly promising to be neutral on the issue.

We have heard for years that gasoline dealers will support an increase in the gas tax, but for 14 years we have seen no results from this. What the Oregon Petroleum Association and its lobbyist want is to take local control away from our ability to meet our own safety and maintenance objectives.

I believe a gas tax can be an important tool to fund road repair and maintenance. However, it is naive to think that the Oregon Petroleum Association will stand by its word, or help residents of Oregon raise enough money to fix these urgent problems.

Richard Satnick

Owner, Laughing Planet Cafe

Southeast Portland

Pet owners need to accept responsibility

I want to thank Lee van der Voo for the story 'No shelter from the storm' (Feb. 12).

It brought to light the continuing struggle that animal advocates and shelters deal with on a daily basis: A growing number of people do not fully commit to the animals they acquire. Many people have settled in to living a throwaway existence and, unfortunately, sometimes that includes children and animals.

Whether the responsibility of Multnomah County Animal Services ultimately goes to the city or not, the fundamental problem of too many unwanted animals still will need to be addressed.

As with so many issues that plague any city, education is paramount. Animals are sentient beings who do feel pain and do experience loss and depression. They are social creatures that need to be included in the lives of their human families.

The last paragraph of the article truly says it all: In a nutshell, we are the problem, not the animals.

Jennifer Shirley

Northeast Portland

Rebuilding offers chance for new ideas

Lee van der Voo's article about Multnomah County's animal services program (No shelter from the storm, Feb. 12) omits the information that drives current criticism.

Over the course of the four years that Michael Oswald has served as the agency's director, the rate of euthanasia for dogs at the Multnomah County shelter has increased by 50 percent, while the frequency of adoptions has dropped by 36 percent. Cats have fared no better.

If Portland really has one of the lowest euthanasia rates in the nation, credit should go to the Oregon Humane Society and the many volunteer animal rescue groups, not a county government seeking to hide its own failures behind others' volunteer efforts.

Portland should welcome the opportunity provided by Commissioner Randy Leonard to 'build animal services from the ground up.' Nothing less is needed.

Fortunately, there is an existing blueprint for this 'ground up' reconstruction. It was developed by the national expert on humane sheltering practices - Nathan Winograd - and has been successfully adopted by other communities.

That blueprint provides the solutions demanded by Leonard and deserves to be implemented in Portland.

There is no doubt. Multnomah County Animal Services could do better. It did when management sought solutions instead of excuses. The problem does not lie with the pet ownership community, derided by animal care technician Stephanie Collingsworth, or the mythical increase in the numbers of 'dangerous dogs' often cited by Oswald.

Instead, the problem lies with the agency itself and, given that fact, only a 'ground up' reconstruction will achieve results.

Robert Babcock

Lake Oswego

County's methods deserve exposure

Thank you for bringing this animal welfare struggle to the public (No shelter from the storm, Feb. 12).

Joan Dahlberg brought Multnomah County Animal Services into the 20th century when she exposed its barbaric use of the decompression chamber at the agency where groups of cats and dogs were packed into it to fight one another for the oxygen as it was being sucked out.

I am amazed that Dahlberg could stomach the mass killing.

Gail O'Connell-Babcock is taking the next step into the 21st century as she exposes the mind-set that finds excuses to kill even readily adoptable dogs and cats out there.

Roger Troen

North Portland

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