Clean Moneys worth it
- Pamplin Media
- Portland Tribune - Opinion
Voter Owned Elections Ñ public funding campaign reform, which was adopted by a decisive City Council vote Ñ was a priority for Erik Sten (A lot of dirt clings to Clean Money, Insight, April 18).
However, he wasn't the only one who wanted it. A broad grass-roots coalition sent 10,000 postcards of support to City Hall and packed council chambers at every public hearing during the 18-month process leading to Portland adopting this reform that levels the playing field, reduces the cost of campaigns and limits special interest influence.
Candidate Emilie Boyles' campaign-spending violations and the signature-gathering practices under investigation are violations of the Voter Owned Elections ordinance as currently written and by no means are a result of loopholes in the law.
Indeed, the violations have been caught far more quickly than the violations of the big money private contributions system by the likes of U.S. Rep. Tom Delay, R-Texas, and lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Money in Politics Research Action Project executive director
Concept is sound, but law needs work
It is quite a shame that the Clean Money law appears to be poorly crafted (A lot of dirt clings to Clean Money, Insight, April 18). It allows the detractors to trumpet the problems in an effort to kill the whole concept.
The question to ask is, If the law handled these pretty simple situations so that fraud and gaming were dealt with swiftly and fairly, would it still be attacked by the same folks? Probably.
In Arizona's statewide Clean Money system, fraud and misuse of funds have been put to the test and the voters were the winners. With a representative ejected from his office and a felonious act punished, Arizona's Clean Money system has truly cleaned up elections, providing a level playing field and a dynamic government.
It appears Portland's Clean Money law wasn't written well. Clean it up and see what it can do then; don't throw out the baby without trying a bath first.
James Bennett Saxon
California Clean Money Campaign volunteer
Marina del Rey, Calif.
OHSU needs more secure bike parking
Oregon Health & Science University is investing millions in state-of-the-art medical research facilities, and the average person might assume OHSU invests in employee wellness and smart transportation solutions.
OHSU claims that 5 percent to 7 percent of its employees bike to work Ñ that would be 450 to 630 bicyclists. Roughly 280 bike parking spaces are available and, of those, only 100 meet the city's definition of secure, long-term bike storage.
Secure spaces are overflowing. To get a space, employees are forced into a quarterly lottery system with a six-week administrative process between quarters, meaning lockers are unavailable for 24 weeks each year. Most bicyclists don't have access to secure parking, and 25 percent ignore OHSU policy, parking bikes inside buildings to avoid theft.
Clearly, demand is not being met. Although OHSU meets code, it should meet demand because bike commuting has many benefits Ñ healthier, more productive employees, lower employer health-care costs, improved air quality and reduction of the need to park cars, an ongoing problem for OHSU.
For about $100,000, a minuscule percentage of what the university is investing in the aerial tram to the South Waterfront district, quality bicycle storage could be provided for all bicyclists.
Since 2002, only 32 lockers have been installed. Because 10 to 12 bikes can be parked in one car space, providing adequate bike parking is a wise investment that pays off with tax credits and would be a reminder that Portland businesses support healthy transportation options.
Kari Hexem, Ellen Peck and Hannah Cross
OHSU Bike Commuters Group members
Real traffic issues need some attention
Almost every day I get caught by the traffic light at North Lombard Street and Interstate Avenue, and I am forced to notice the bulletin board that I have seen around Portland recently: 'We'll make you even later, tailgater,' it proclaims. The photo depicts a law enforcement officer writing a citation to the driver, who happens to be a large, rubber alligator Ña very funny waste of money.
For Portland to maintain its motto as 'The City That Works,' the traffic issue needs some real attention. I am not referring to the two-hour gridlock on the highways; while this is annoying, no one is going to die at 2 miles per hour.
I am talking about people driving as though other cars were traffic cones on an obstacle course, about people jamming up behind you so close that you can tell whether they use Verizon or Nokia, about cars going 45 mph up and down the North Williams-Vancouver avenues corridor through the school zone where my son attends elementary school.
Other cities have found innovative and inexpensive ways to deal with this problem: Parking empty police cars near problem areas (occasionally being occupied by a living, breathing and expensive real cop may help), cameras that take the picture of speeders or even the roundabouts that some intersections here in Portland have.
One thing that won't help, however, is wasting a lot of money on bulletin boards threatening people with a citation in which nobody believes.
Shuttles are cheaper, safer and smarter
My suggestion for TriMet regarding the transit mall renovation and the Fareless Square issue: Abandon the plan to extend the light-rail line from Union Station to Portland State University and instead implement frequently running shuttle buses that travel the same route (Panel urges review of TriMet free zone, April 21). These could be made fareless while eliminating fareless service from regular buses.
The cost would be much lower and you would eliminate potential problems with the 'serpentine' rail design, as well as confusion over who has or hasn't paid fare. The extra savings could partly be used to hire security guards who regularly ride the shuttle, protecting riders' safety and preventing obnoxious behavior.