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Power grabs can only hurt city more

I couldn't agree more with the editorial 'Area livability is tied to economy' (Feb. 10).

I am a citizen activist, spending much of my time working on issues of transportation and neighborhood quality of life. I have the freedom to do this because of the security of my employment in our region's high-tech sector.

I am astounded at how poorly our civic sector and business sector coordinate with each other, and I fear for our future if this continues.

We are in competition not with other cities or countries, but with other regions. And if other regions, whether Austin, Texas, or Singapore, align leadership and policy across all their sectors, they will outcompete us. Only a model of collective leadership, informed by all points of view, will make Portland/Vancouver a world-class region.

Instead in Portland, I see petty squabbles over control. Nowhere is this more evident than in the fight over voter-owned elections. A campaign finance reform system that was designed to empower leaders who until now have been sidelined by the ridiculous barriers of ever-escalating campaign finance is being challenged by a small set of downtown business leaders who are losing their influence.

Eighty-four big-business leaders and their associated companies and families have spent $350,000 in an attempt to put the repeal of voter-owned elections on the ballot. These same donors contributed more than $550,000 to the 2004 City Council races, $1 of every $5 in those campaigns.

I agree with you that the business community must speak up. It would be much better served to really talk with citizens, rather than attempting to buy influence. Such a shift would be rewarded with stronger leadership, more diverse and innovative elected officials and a much less cynical voting public.

Stop the power grab. Businesses should communicate based on the merits of their ideas, not the size of their wallets. The result will be fairer and more accountable elections and an opportunity to align all segments of our community toward our common goals: economic prosperity and quality of life.

Chris Smith

Northwest Portland

PGE acquisition: Let it go, Portland

I am one of the thousands of hands and hearts that keep your lights on every day. My co-workers and I are storm-tested. We've survived storms of uncertainty. We've survived the devastation of our personal goals. We've weathered the relentless storm of public opinion. And yes, we've survived a few nasty spats with Mother Nature, too.

We have not compromised our beliefs. We have not forgotten about you, our customers. We wake up each morning with hope Ñ hope that we can serve our community, rebuild our dreams and become who we once were.

Please support the return of Portland General Electric to our community of local independent businesses. Join me in asking Mayor Tom Potter and the City Council to focus on issues like schools, police and City Hall instead of PGE.

I am PGE.

Jarrod Morrison

Tigard

There's no such thing as free transportation

Your article on nonpayment of fees on the trolley is, to me, a perfect example of Oregon's problems (Streetcar taken for a ride, Feb. 7).

The sense of entitlement is amazing. Where do people think all the schools, roads, etc., that they attend and use came from in the first place? Having lived in many large cities, the idea of free public transportation is incomprehensible to me. What is wrong with having to drop a fare in when you get on the trolley or MAX even downtown? The idea that it costs too much to collect it or to check on whether you have bought a ticket is incomprehensible Ñ could volunteers do this, like they patrol misuse of handicapped parking?

The transit mall: Why not have a center enter/exit island with buses on one side of the island and the train/trolley along the other side (no entry or exit on curb side)? That leaves the third lane for cars to drive along the outside. Buses would just have to stay in line Ñ no weaving in and out.

Cherie Walker

Neskowin

City is changing, but for the better?

I agree that our skyline will be striking upon completion of all the high-rises going in (Changing skyline points to progress, Readers' Letters, Jan. 31).

And we can all marvel at its robustness as we're sitting in soul-crushing traffic jams!

Lisa Cox

Southeast Portland