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Readers' Letters: Anti-coal shipping arguments derailed by facts

Concerned citizens throughout the Northwest have heard mixed messages about coal exports since the proposals were first announced. Some fringe groups have used scare tactics and misinformation in an attempt to derail the projects.

I encourage you to evaluate each of these projects and decide for yourself based on the facts.

Let’s take a look at what we know is true. First, Asia will not stop burning coal any time soon. If Powder River Basin (from Wyoming and Montana) coal is not shipped to Asia from the Northwest, it will be shipped from Louisiana and Texas.

Second, new technologies in the transportation of coal have virtually eliminated coal dust from trains and barges.

Third, tax contributions would help fund our schools and other public services. Lastly, our region is facing very high unemployment. These projects would create thousands of much needed family wage jobs in our communities.

Don’t be fooled by scare tactics. The facts paint a clear picture of what coal export projects will mean for the Northwest: Good jobs and strong communities.

Jodi Guetzloe Parker

Executive secretary/treasurer

Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council

Southeast Portland

What green economy? We need jobs now

Coal exports that are proposed in our communities are not just about jobs or the economy, it’s really about the people who live there.

The reality is that our rural areas are struggling. Green jobs are great, and they are necessary as they promote the cleaner future, but we need reliable jobs now. County budgets such as Columbia County, have huge budget gaps because the loss of federal timber payments that have ended. Schools and public buildings in these areas are falling apart.

We need real sources of revenue to ensure the future of these communities. We can’t wait for the Green Economy to arrive, because by then it will be too late. Tax revenue from proposals like the Port Westward Project can save them.

Russ Garnett

Business manager

Roofers Union Local 49

Southeast Portland

Bakery owners back city sick leave plan

As owners of Grand Central Bakery, we enthusiastically support the proposed Portland citywide rule to offer earned sick time to employees.

We have provided paid sick days to our employees going on 20 years in Portland and longer still in Seattle.

Detractors of the proposed rule point to the expense; we focus on its advantages — high morale, healthy employees and customers, low employee turnover and creating a culture of trust.

In the end, we believe it’s the right thing to do. We encourage our friends in the culinary community to join us in the effort to improve benefits for food service employees.

Piper and Ben Davis

Northwest Portland

Wyden’s bill benefits local radio stations

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden has seen the future of Internet radio and doesn’t like what he sees. Because of this, Sen. Wyden will soon be introducing a timely bill in the U.S. Senate, the “Internet Radio Fairness Act.”

We applaud the senator for his leadership. If enacted, the act will correct the flaws in the existing process by ensuring that the government body charged with rate setting has the information it needs. It would level the playing field by adopting a fee standard that is more likely to result in reasonable license fees, and it would promote competitive market deals where those deals are possible.

The growth of Internet radio and its promise for consumers, artists and media companies has been stunted for too long by a government rate-setting process that has yielded crushing music royalty fees — fees far in excess of those that would exist in any reasonably competitive market.

The fees have sucked the lifeblood out of a long list of companies that have tried to create new businesses on the Internet, including Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL, to name just a few.

Closer to home, the company I work for, Salem Communications, recently made the decision to close down 10 music webcasts in its New Media Division.

The sole reason for these losses, and the decision to close these webcasts, was the prohibitively high cost of music royalties. The existing rate-setting system has killed webcasters, innovation and, frankly, the chance for artists and record companies to have their recordings heard and to grow their businesses.

It’s time to fix the problem, and the IRFA goes a long way toward correcting the system.

Dennis Hayes

General manager

KPDQ FM

Southeast Portland

Turning in gun should be easier

I’m a private citizen. I wanted to turn in a gun to the Portland police. My intent was to get the gun off the streets and ensure it never returned there. I called the main number and explained the matter. I was then transferred to an officer who was supposed to help.

I inquired about a gun buy-back program. He said, “Yes, we have a buy-back about once a year, but I’m not certain of the date.” He then asked what type of gun I wished to turn in. When I told him, he said, “That has some value. I would sell it to a gun dealer if I were you.”

I explained to the officer my intention was to get the gun off the streets, not simply transfer ownership. The only solution he had to offer was to disassemble the gun and report it as abandoned property.

Given recent mass shootings in Clackamas Town Center, Aurora (Colo.) and Newtown (Conn.), one would think the city of Portland and Portland police would be eager to accept guns given up voluntarily. This isn’t the case apparently.

Is this the best the Portland police can do? Is this the best the city of Portland can do?

If Portland is serious about getting guns off the streets, they must do better than this. A private law-abiding citizen can’t even turn in a gun.

I believe a process should be put into place to accommodate citizens that choose to turn in a gun. I just wanted to “give” it to the police. I was asking nothing. The Portland Police Bureau didn’t help.

Charles Sandner

Hillsboro

How should we respond to shootings?

Two questions I would have the sheriffs and politicians answer regarding the gun insanity now taking place in the U.S.A:

1. If my 6- or 7-year-old son or daughter was in the first grade and slaughtered by a maniac with a military type weapon, what would I want to do with these military-type weapons in our society?

2. Same as the above, only changed to my grandson and granddaughters.

I am a confirmed squirrel hunter and now an ex-member of the NRA.

Daniel Maher

Southeast Portland

Gun-free or armed teachers? You choose

The solution to guns in school and school safety is simple — simply divide the school in two areas. One area will be designated gun-free and the other will have armed teachers.

If a school shooter attacks the school, the parents will have a choice where their children shelter.

Common sense tells me where my child is going.

Dan Thompson

Brightwood