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Retailers don't play fair

by: Jim Clark, If minicasinos are shut down by a rule change, state coffers won’t suffer, one reader says: Video-lottery addicts will find another place to play.

That was a great piece on the Oregon State Lottery and the retailers who sneak by as minicasinos by selling lots of cigarettes at cost (Businesses double down, July 10).

The solution is obvious: The 50 percent revenue rule should be applied either to gross revenue (lottery sales vs. cigarette sales) or to net revenue (lottery sales commissions vs. cigarette profits). What they should be prevented from doing is comparing lottery net sales commissions to gross tobacco sales - that's the accounting equivalent of mixing apples and oranges, and it violates the spirit (if not the letter) of the law.

To be fair to retailers, they can even choose which way works best for them. Even so, based on the numbers in your article, this new rule would effectively shut down the minicasinos and send their gambling clientele to other lottery retailers with more balanced business models.

The state lottery need not fear revenue loss. Video poker is so addictive the gamblers won't stop playing - they'll just move to new locations.

Andrew Allen

Northwest Portland

There's a better way to honor the worthy

Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and now César Chávez?

The practice of renaming city streets as a political gesture, however well-intentioned, could be never-ending ('Chávez Avenue' sparks debate, July 27). Don't get me wrong - these are all worthy historical figures, and certainly more so than the numerous developers, landowners and daughters thereof after whom so many city streets are named.

But old street names do now have historical significance (after all, the heart of African-American culture here in the '50s was Union Avenue, not 'MLK').

It seems to me both less expensive and more appropriate to rename parks and buildings after those whom we now wish to honor, rather than renaming streets.

Robert Jordan

Northeast Portland

Letter writer's point was not comforting

Regarding Bonnie Hadley's letter 'What about right to be comfortable?' in the July 20 Portland Tribune: 'the right to be 'comfortable' '?!

You know, some people are 'uncomfortable' by the sight of a black man and white woman holding hands in public. And there was a time in this country (not so long ago), when such a public insurrection was met with brutal retribution … so that other people could be comfortable.

Hadley's statement is a blanket excuse, used to levy all sorts of atrocities against already maligned groups of people.

What about these two girls' right to not be subjected to such bigotry? I ride TriMet every day and always see heterosexual couples making out on the bus, MAX and elsewhere … in public. Are these people also not seeking attention?

Having to live in a society filled with hatred and bigotry makes me feel uncomfortable, but I deal with it.

Damos Abadon

Southeast Portland

School cafeterias can do better at recycling

In my naiveté as a first-year teacher in Portland Public Schools, I assumed that because students separate food waste from their Styrofoam trays that they were recycled. I was wrong.

My school has approximately 500 students. That's 500 trays a day for 169 school days totaling 84,500 trays a school year!

I did some research on the PPS Web site to find the district policy on recycling. Trays were previously recycled, but a 2004 document stated: 'Unfortunately, we are still unable to recycle polystyrene. We have done an exhaustive search … but have yet to find a viable option. We assure you that as soon as we can start recycling the trays, we will. Thank you for still keeping the Styrofoam trays separate, as this reduces the amount of space the trays use in the Dumpster and also keeps us and the students in good practice for when we are able to recycle the trays again.'

That was four years ago!

Consider the number of students in Portland and how many millions of polystyrene trays are thrown away each year. We all know how bad polystyrene is; it never biodegrades, it is a petroleum product and its production is riddled with negative environmental consequences.

There are many other options. The Styrofoam trays could be washed and reused; so could plastic trays. Thick unbleached paper trays could be composted or, if thrown away, would at least biodegrade. Corn-based plastics are an excellent option, as they eventually biodegrade and come from a renewable resource. There are even utensils made from potato starch.

Metro is changing our garbage and recycling regulations, and now would be a great time to work with it. I urge you to request that PPS choose one of the many environmentally friendly options for the upcoming school year.

Ana Tomblin

North Portland