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Good riddance to police zones

I applaud Mayor Tom Potter’s courageous decision to allow Portland’s drug- and prostitution-free zones to expire (Mayor was troubled by exclusion zones, Oct. 9). Ending the exclusion zones — based partly on a September report, which found that police ban African-Americans arrested for drug crimes in Portland’s three zones at higher rates than whites or Latinos — is a triumph. Potter’s stand is an important statement against police bias and a step toward eliminating racial profiling. The mayor and police chief also should end other police enforcement tools — such as pretext stops, warrantless searches and targeted curfews — which encourage and reinforce racial profiling. These policies, like the exclusion zones, allow the police to be the prosecutor, judge and jury and increase the degradation, humiliation and unfair punishment that flow from racial profiling. Jamie Partridge Northeast Portland There’s alternative to insider candidate Wake up and smell the coffee and vote Bob Ball for mayor (As expected, Adams will announce mayoral bid, Oct. 2)! Sam Adams’ scams are not going to be doing Portland any justice, especially if he is elected into a higher office. Mason C. LeMay Northwest Portland Two names could be better than one Why can’t the city simply designate César Chávez as an honorary name for North Interstate Avenue, and leave Interstate the official name (Chávez proposal faces its neighbors, Oct. 2)? That’s a common practice throughout the country, where roads have both an official name and an honorary name. The best examples are all the cities that have adopted “Historic Route 66” as an honorary name for the section of roadway in their community that once was part of the original Route 66. Peter Apanel Southeast Portland Forget tobacco tax; let fast food pay way I laughed when I saw how much paper was used to address only two ballot measures in the recent Voter’s Pamphlet. All that effort and argument for property rights and cigarette taxes … whatever happened to common sense, fair play and compromise? That is what this letter is about. I admit to nicotine addiction and am a recovering alcoholic; I advocated for new alcohol taxes even before getting sober. I am old enough to remember the price of cigarettes being equal to the price of a gallon of gasoline — less than a buck! Now to the point: Over the past couple of decades, we would be hard-pressed to identify any product that has been taxed as much as tobacco, and all in the name of children’s health care. While it is undeniable that secondhand smoke is a danger, especially to kids, how many children have ended up in the emergency room for abuse over a cigarette? And how many neglect or abuse cases occur due to the use of alcohol? Another area of concern is childhood obesity. Why not figure out a way to secure health-care funding through a “fast food tax”? Every time cigarette taxes increase, an insignificant number of people quit smoking … and over time, all those “insignificant” numbers add up and become significant. Unless the rate of new smokers increases while the rate of current smokers decreases, our tax source is not only finite, it is decreasing while health-care costs will continue to increase. Ultimately, taxing cigarettes has only one long-term outcome — making people give up their habit. When that happens, where do we get the funding for childhood health care? Ongoing taxation of tobacco, while ignoring other “sin tax” options, is nothing short of discrimination against a minority of the public. Smokers equate to roughly one in five people. No wonder it is so easy to pass this tax — four out of five people won’t have to contribute to the cost. How marvelously discriminatory. I support some of the past tax increases on my “sin of choice,” but it really is time to tell the alcohol producers to increase their contributions, and it is certainly past time for fast food to start ponying up some of the health care taxes as well. W.J. Bradford Southeast Portland