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Dont fall for Blazer line

The solution to the Blazers' financial problems is easy: Cut salaries by 10 percent to 20 percent, and raise ticket prices.

Seriously, wasn't this so predictable? Owners have let their employees' 'wages' exceed market demand. Many second-tier cities have been extorted by team owners. I hope Portland officials aren't so naive, ultimately letting the hammer fall on the taxpayer.

Should the Blazers leave town there are many possibilities to fill the void: Pilots, Vikings, Ducks, Beavers, NHL hockey, a renewal of the Far West Classic, the Pac-10 tournament, etc.

Steve Baker

Southeast Portland

Party members ought to choose candidates

I was disappointed to read your editorial endorsing the call for 'open primaries' (Open up primaries to all state's voters, Insight, Feb. 24).

This country and state have thrived under a generally accepted two-party system for decades, and if parties are going to be the major mechanism for translating the will of the voters into action, it seems obvious that each party must select its own candidates for office.

How the party does that has changed. Before the Progressive reforms of roughly a century ago, that selection was done in tightly closed caucuses, the notorious 'smoke-filled rooms.'

The creation of the party primary was meant to lay that selection in the hands of party members generally. It was not meant to gut the party system in favor of what appears to be general elections followed by a runoff.

I see no reason from history or outside observation to believe that an open system would produce 'better candidates and É more responsive public officials' as the Portland Tribune seems to think.

James Shand

Southwest Portland

Portland shops, then regrets the bill

The decision to redesign Portland's transit mall must be contextualized within Portland's recent record of urban transportation development (TriMet: Mall critics had poor data, Feb. 21).

The Portland streetcar, the aerial tram and the MAX yellow line are some of Portland's 'shining examples' of urban development; however, the construction and maintenance of these projects have created serious financial burdens.

According to the executive director of Portland Streetcar Inc., the streetcar's yearly revenue is around $115,000, though running the streetcar costs the city $1.3 million a year. According to the Portland Aerial Transportation Inc. board, the new budget for Portland's aerial tram is $55 million, up from an initial budget of $15.5 million. The $350 million MAX yellow line, which projected 13,900 riders every weekday, actually averages only 11,800 riders per weekday.

These statistics are not merely isolated incidents. They are representative of Portland's pattern of inaccurate budgeting and financial planning. Portland's already stagnant economy does not need another overpriced, underutilized transportation project, especially if the intended design is likely to cause massive disruptions to otherwise successful local businesses.

If Portland's pattern of inaccurate budgeting in transportation development projects is not addressed, we should consider ourselves forewarned of the bleak and very expensive outcome.

Shelley Buchanan

Southwest Portland

Wrestlers, promoters put on a great show

I just wanted to thank the Portland Tribune for covering the recent Portland Wrestling show at the Armory (Wrestling renaissance, Feb. 17).

I was also there enjoying the wild matches in the ring, and I'm glad to see that the show is finally getting some well-deserved recognition. I especially liked how you wrote about Portland Wrestling's roots. There are still many of us native Oregonians around who appreciate this sport and would like to see it survive.

And thanks to Frank Culbertson, who seems to have pulled this whole thing off with flying colors! He does a magnificent job as announcer and certainly has his heart in the right place, which is providing quality family entertainment.

Thank you again for recognizing one of Portland's oldest pastimes. Oh, the photos in the paper were awesome, too Ñ great job!

Steve Miller

Southeast Portland

Students can't wait for years for fixes

I strongly disagree with your Feb. 17 editorial, 'Tax appeal is all tapped out,' in which you state 'it's time to wake up' to public opinion on school funding tax appeals and to the need for more budget cuts.

Those who need to wake up are those who think that the Portland Public Schools can afford to make more immediate cuts and 'take time' to resolve the school funding problem.

I am a parent of a child who will enter kindergarten in Portland Public Schools in 2006. I visited our neighborhood school last week and was informed that because of the anticipated budget cuts, each teacher would have 35 students in his or her class next year.

This is appalling. Every year in a child's life and education is important, and our students right now deserve our investment as much as students two or five years from now.

I applaud Mayor Potter's efforts to find a workable solution now, not later, even while long-term solutions also are explored. Finally, although I may be a minority in my support of taxes based on recent polls, I question how much the media has played a role and continues to play a role in blaring the 'no more taxes' horn.

Endi Hartigan

Southeast Portland

Background checksare easily done

I'm writing about the Multnomah County jail's release of Richard Paul Koehrsen before it did a background check on him (Inmate's release sets off PR scuffle, Feb. 14).

I find it interesting that in October 2002, I entered Canada for the first time since 1952. I had only my driver's license for identification (I now have a passport). I was sent to Customs, which did a background criminal check on me; in less than five minutes I was on my way.

I am sure that things have been speeded up since then with advances in computer technology, so why can't a check be done on everyone getting released?

John Lee

Northeast Portland

Let's get on with voter-owned elections

Thank goodness voter-owned elections are safe for now. Portland residents weren't fooled when PGE, Qwest, the Oregon Restaurant Association and developers dumped $350,000 into the effort to overturn a reform that increases accountability in government, creates fairer elections and reduces the influence of big-money contributors on City Hall.

It's not surprising that they missed the mark. They had virtually no grass-roots help with their signature-gathering process, so they relied heavily on paid signature gatherers who only had so many places to gather signatures.

It's hard to say what they will do next, but we know that businesspeople don't invest $350,000 for nothing. Be on the lookout for another power grab by Portland's financial elite.

Meanwhile, let's engage in the new, issues-based City Council races. May the voter-connected candidates win!

Jamie Partridge

Northeast Portland

End transit fares, not Fareless Square

Reports of the demise of Fareless Square are becoming disturbingly common (A possible farewell to Fareless Square?, Feb. 14).

They range from Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto's suggestion that Fareless Square is a terrorist threat (based on the preposterous argument that lacking the ability to ask for a ticket, police have no reason to approach a suspect) to the Sources Say reference to 'little birds' telling of TriMet plans to eliminate the square, to my own 'little bird' inside TriMet who told me the agency was firmly committed to eliminating Fareless Square.

Doing so would be a truly bad idea.

Fareless Square is a great convenience to folks like me who work and shop downtown. It does a great deal to encourage transit use. Without it, I and thousands like me would doubtless frequent stores downtown far less often than we do now. As a case in point, before the extension of Fareless Square to Lloyd Center, I rarely went there. Since the extension, I've made the trip many times.

An examination of online data suggests that TriMet most likely doesn't recover more than about 20 percent of its operating expenses from the farebox. Pondering this, it occurs to me that rather than eliminating Fareless Square, perhaps we should eliminate fares altogether. If our goal is to maximize mass-transit use, this would be a definite step in the right direction.

Francis P. Ferguson

Northwest Portland