As a nurse in Oregon for the past 20 years, I support efforts to improve the Nurse Monitoring Program and enhance cooperation between nursing board officials and criminal justice authorities.

However, I resent the assertion by elected officials and by the Portland Tribune's editorial staff that the nursing board's makeup Ñ with a ratio of seven nurses to two public members Ñ be changed as a major step in correcting the problem.

The call to add more non-nurses with supervisory and/or administrative authority seems to suggest that nurses are not capable of governing themselves, which creates more than a whiff of sexism given that the majority of Oregon nurses are female and given that there has been no call for similar changes for the Oregon state boards of physicians, dentists, pharmacists and other traditionally male-dominated health professions.

(The Oregon Board of Medical Examiners has nine physicians with one public member; Oregon Board of Pharmacy has five pharmacists with one public member; the Oregon Board of Dentistry has six dentists with two hygienists and one public member.)

The members of the Oregon State Board of Nursing face complex challenges given the diverse population it governs, from advanced practice nurses with master's and doctoral degrees to certified nursing assistants whose minimum educational requirements are 75 hours of class work and 75 hours of clinical, which is notably the highest minimum in the entire nation.

Sadly, nursing assistants typically make around $9 an hour (only $18,720 per year) doing backbreaking and, often, heartbreaking work. A single parent working as a nurse's aide would be considered a member of the 'working poor,' and thus belongs to a vulnerable population.

Rather than looking only to the nursing board to protect the public, we need to address how we in this society value and devalue the people who care for our fragile and disabled citizens.

Larisa Jeffreys

psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner

Northeast Portland

Let individuals decide about fluoride

Thank you for the article regarding fluoride in the drinking water (Fluoride foes get validation, March 24).

Doctors can provide prescriptions for anyone who considers fluoride to be a healthful supplement. But for those of us who consider it an unnecessary health risk, please keep it out of our water.

We know, for example, that soda has a negative impact on our teeth, yet we can decide whether to consume it, a right not granted to us when it comes to what's in our drinking water.

We need to be left to make our own decisions on the benefits and risks of what we consume, not have anything forced upon us through our water supply.

Kathleen Husvar


Profits drive building of big, new houses

Your story about huge infill houses was interesting but did not say why these are being built (Big homes put squeeze on neighbors, March 17).

The reason is money. There is little or no profit for anyone building small houses, especially in existing areas with high-cost lots. The banks are probably unwilling to lend on small projects, and government wants the tax money.

Then most of the new home buyers in areas like you described in your story are people who can afford to pay for houses like this. It is getting very hard for the average working person to afford to buy an unsubsidized house.

Bill Hall

Northeast Portland

Tap the tram's riders to close funding gap

I don't know who or which group is the most responsible for the mismanagement and gross underestimation of the tram costs (Deadline for tram funding nears, March 21).

Going forward, that is immaterial, but it would be useful perhaps in avoiding similar incompetent behavior in the future.

Instead of bickering over which group should pay for the overage costs, I think there is a better and fairer way to pay the cost.

Simply institute a toll to ride the tram for each and every passenger. When enough has been collected to pay for the overage and to establish a self-funding maintenance fund, remove the toll.

This technique worked well to build and maintain both of the Interstate 5 bridges over the Columbia River.

I think it would work well here as well. It is a user-pay plan and is the fairest way to allocate the costs of the tram to those who benefit the most from its use.

Robert Johnson


Sheriff's data is hardly out of reach

Sheriff Bernie Giusto complains that he doesn't have the data to manage absenteeism, overtime and comp time (Sheriff's dearth of data hinders office, March 10).

Here's a suggestion: Hire a computer-savvy high schooler and ask him or her to create a simple Excel spreadsheet program. Hire another teenager to come in a couple of hours a day to enter all the relevant data into the program.

Presto! Instant information at very low cost and no more lame excuses about not knowing what's going on.

Greg Hadley

Southwest Portland

City leaders are asleep at the wheel

What if the slick frontmen of the tram situation (Tram session delayed, Feb. 24) convinced a sleepy Portland Development Commission about how little it would cost Ñ knowing they could pull open the curtains after 33 percent of the project was done and say 'Golly gee, it's gonna cost more.'

Anybody who does any kind of building, whether it's small or large, wisely buys or secures materials at the immediately available price because any contractor knows that prices do go up. So something is very stinky and fishy along the ol' tram line; the emperor ain't got no clothes, he is as naked as can be.

John Masuo

Southeast Portland

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