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Letters: Federal shutdown; Milwaukie streets/projects; end of Damascus?

Right now, Oregonians expect their Congress to work together to pass a budget, create certainty in the markets for investors and get folks back to working good, family-wage jobs. What they do not expect from us is to pound our chests over lost political causes, risk shutting down the economy and end vital services and investments they depend on.

Instead of coming to the table and working with willing Democrats like me to find middle ground on our nation’s budget problems, House Republicans chose to cater to their reckless Tea Party ideologues and shut down the U.S. government. This is exactly the opposite of what American families and businesses need.

The Tea Party cannot begin to justify this terrible mess that they have made. They argue against policy riders then attach amendments to dismantle the health care law in a continuing resolution. They argue that the health care law must be delayed to provide certainty to the American people then pass a bill that creates more uncertainty for a longer period of time. They argue that Congress must tackle our deficits then pass a bill that adds to them.

I will continue to work with my more thoughtful and reasonable Democratic and Republican friends on putting forward a substantive long-term deficit reduction and immediate jobs package that encourages economic investment in the U.S., strengthens our entitlement programs for the next generation and ends the can kicking that we are all sick of.

Lastly, I firmly believe that if members of Congress fail to perform their most basic duty in passing a budget, then they do not deserve to be paid. It is in that vein that I will be donating the congressional salary I collect during the shutdown to a local Oregon charity to be named later. It’s time for Congress to get its act together.

U.S. Congressman

Kurt Schrader

(D-Clackamas County)

This is no way to run a country

Across Oregon and throughout America, there are people out of work. There are kids who want to go to college but can’t afford it. There are bridges literally in danger of falling down and schools with leaking roofs and out-of-date textbooks.

We have big challenges that we should be coming together to try to solve. Instead, the Tea Party has shut down the government and made many of our problems worse.

Here’s the situation: The House and Senate laid out different budgets six months ago, assuming different levels of spending and investment. For the last six months, Republicans in the Senate have repeatedly filibustered every attempt to negotiate an agreed-upon budget.

More recently, to avoid a shutdown, the Senate simply agreed to the House level. Unfortunately and incredibly, House Republicans refuse to accept their own budget unless we accept their ransom demand of gutting or delaying the Affordable Care Act.

It has been widely reported that a majority of the House would vote to pass the bill passed by the Senate and re-open the government, but Speaker Boehner refuses to let the House vote. It’s incredibly irresponsible.

This is an attempt to undermine our usual democratic process by hostage-taking. House Republicans, responding to a small group of Tea Party zealots, are willing to damage the economy, make veterans wait for benefits, and deny kids access to Head Start and to medical trials just to pursue their obsession with blocking millions of Americans from getting affordable health insurance.

But it’s not going to work. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. It was upheld by the Supreme Court. It was ratified by the public when they re-elected President Obama.

If we give in and let a small group undermine our laws under threat of harm to hard-working Americans, this political blackmail will become the new normal.

We have all sorts of processes for negotiating over policy differences. Threatening grave economic harm unless you get your way isn’t one of them. It’s time to meet our obligations, re-open the government, and pay the bills. Our country deserves better than this.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley

(D-Oregon)

Make your voice heard

Milwaukie often engages in planning projects — from our transportation system to the parks in the South Downtown. I expect that a lot of folks then wonder why none of it ever gets built.

It’s pretty simple, really. It’s a financial issue. Because of Oregon law, the city’s income is very limited and is largely controlled by property tax values which in recent times have been going down. On the other hand, our expenses, like everyone else’s, continue to rise and there never (in my lifetime) has been a margin for large infrastructure investments.

We get the few projects we need built with grant money and that often includes something as simple and basic as sidewalks. Furthermore, grants always come with strings attached which cause the projects to cost more than they could otherwise.

We have school kids walking and riding their bikes to school on busy streets with no sidewalks or bike lanes.

We have one of the sweetest potential parks in the whole region at our riverfront. We have a library that is too small for the number of people it serves and we have “parks” in neighborhoods that amount to nothing more than vacant lots. It is within our power to fix all of that.

We, the citizens of Milwaukie can choose to spend our hard-earned money on the kinds of things that make our lives better, richer and more complete. The city is considering asking the citizens of Milwaukie to vote for a bond measure to help refinance our light rail debt and save the city around $700,000. We, the citizens, could choose to increase that amount and pay for very specific projects that we want to see completed in the near future.

Make your voices heard.

Mark Gamba

Milwaukie

Damascus neighbors

All of us in Damascus love our country life and location. That is why we chose to live here.

When threatened by the unrestrained development in neighboring Happy Valley, we voted to become a city with the knowledge of an additional added city tax. One by one, by overwhelming margins, we insured the safety and protection of all residents and our properties, through charter amendments. No other city in the state of Oregon has more safeguards.

Granted, we had to endure a spendthrift council (before they quit or lost re-election) and the hiring of non-vetted employees (complete with a golden parachute awarded on their last meeting). But now with open meetings (not secret), our concerns are being heard.

It would be a travesty to our children and future residents to throw away our city. We have a voice and a vote with the city of Damascus. Has Metro ever listened to anyone??

Please join our family in voting NO on Measure 3-433.

Clarice Moss

Damascus

The street name game

While out tricking or treating this Halloween, take a look at the street name you are wandering. Most of Milwaukie’s avenues (north-south) are numbered. Most of our streets (east-west) are named for the original homesteader, a catchy neighborhood theme, or a president of the United States. The question is how many presidents are missing, why are they missing and why does the shortest-termed president get one?

Here are some hints. Because of when the map was plotted, only the first 11 presidents are eligible, starting from the south heading north the Streets are Madison, Adams, Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, Jackson and Harrison.

The answer has nothing to do with political philosophy. It has nothing to do with length of tenure. It has nothing to do with greatness. Give up?

The only reason is the original plot of Milwaukie was a grid, starting from the river and heading east with 352 lot squares with an alley in the middle, but only 35 at the time of recording were filled. Washington Street was the center of town leading to a public square. Then Adams, the second president, was the next street to the south, the next street to the north was Jefferson, the third president. The streets alternated back and forth, the odd-number president to the north, the even-number president to the south with one exception.

As Milwaukie developed, it grew mainly to the north of Washington and not south. That is why we are missing most of the even-numbered presidents and Madison Street is found only in Island Station. So who is missing?

Polk is the exception. Harrison is the last named street to the north, so Polk was the last street at the south end of town.

Greg Hemer

Milwaukie

We welcome submissions from readers on local issues for our Opinion page. Please send your thoughts by noon Friday to Raymond Rendleman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Keep Letter to the Editor submissions under 400 words; longer submissions will be considered for Community Soapboxes. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar, libel and appropriate taste. Letters must be accompanied by a full name, a telephone number and street address for verification purposes. Readers are also invited to call 503-546-0742 with story ideas and comments.




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