New Orleans needs us

by: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES, One reader praises the locally organized Flight of Friendship for giving the New Orleans tourism industry some needed business and for spreading the word about the need for skilled craftsmen and travelers who are there to work, such as these volunteers who cut wood for Habitat for Humanity last August.

As a member of the Oregon hospitality and tourism industry, I read the Feb. 20 article 'Friends, it's time to fly' with interest, having spent three weeks last December and two weeks this month in New Orleans helping a Hurricane Katrina victim.

I'm heading down there again in March and April to help a 100-year-old woman reoccupy her home of 70 years, which her late husband built (currently she's in a FEMA trailer). It's been some of the most satisfying work I've ever done.

Hats off to those 'friends' from Oregon who go down to spend some money - hopefully, it will help the small businesses of the city.

I give these friends even more credit for mentioning the dire need for 'people with experience in construction and sustainable building, plumbers and electricians especially.' Even if you are not a pro you can really help. … I've experienced it firsthand. And are folks ever grateful.

As I see it, we can't allow this need to fall off the pages of the media. For these folks to sustain themselves, their homes need to be rebuilt and occupied. I'm confident there are hundreds, if not thousands, of retired craftsmen who could help rebuild New Orleans.

The word just needs to stay out there, and someone needs to organize the effort. Don't count on the federal government to do that - just ask any resident of New Orleans, and soon you will discover it is politics as usual: talk, but little action.

Please keep New Orleans as part of your 'ink'… it really counts.

Ken Hennrich

Southeast Portland

Phillips' math isn't bad, just misused

Superintendent Vicki Phillips is a thoughtful and purposeful education leader. She continues to burnish the district's reputation among internal and external stakeholder groups.

Regarding the Feb. 23 article 'Portland superintendent uses bad math, some say,' the 'bad math' is merely a reflection of using the wrong tool (the proposed budget) for the job (the lobbying effort).

Budget estimates, under the Oregon State Local Budget Law, are not guesses or lobbying tactics. It is the administration's stoic/sober view of a municipal organization's fiscal circumstances, given known or likely revenue and expenditure patterns.

In this case, the administration openly states that its inclusion of the $6.3 billion revenue estimate is meant to put pressure on the Legislature to provide a higher allocation. This is clearly inappropriate.

On the brighter side, the administration proposes a level of contingency that relatively safeguards the district against this revenue risk.

One solution is to revise revenues, in line with Gov. Ted Kulongoski's proposal. Second, revise contingency to reflect the more likely state revenue number, mindful that 5 percent of operating expenditures ensure only a minimal level of budget security.

Should the district continue to lobby the Legislature and governor to enhance its fiscal and administrative flexibility? Absolutely.

Should mere guesses and posturing replace the consistency and soundness of a legally required budget document? Absolutely not.

Tony Larson