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Readers' Letters: Common sense, goals lead to solutions

Your “values poll” analysis of Oregonians disappoints me (How liberal is Portland?, March 4).

Only at the far end of your story do you report shared values among urban and rural Oregonians: The tax system needs to be made simpler, good public education is the foundation of any democracy, and air and water quality need protection across all boundaries. There also is a high agreement on climate change. These are pretty basic agreements, I’d say.

Most Oregonians simply want government to be rational and effective (as opposed to partisan). Your polling simply shows natural effects of where one lives:

• Level of government: In a crowded, traffic-jammed, hectic city, of course one tends to elect government to resolve our common concentrated troubles. Quite naturally, the self-reliance necessary to live in less populated areas would make one tend to want to solve problems locally, between groups, rather than through government. These are almost self-evident differences in living conditions.

• Similarly, public infrastructure projects are major problem-solvers in the city, and not so much in less populated areas.

• And I argue that any differences on civil rights issues are a result of greater interaction among diverse groups in the city vis-a-vis elsewhere.

It’s not a surprise that crowding in the cities makes common solutions more urgent. But remember that, in Oregon, we were exceptional when we addressed the threat to agriculture from urban sprawl and agreed on land-use planning to manage it together.

I call on the Tribune to rise to the real Oregon standard of solving problems. Oregon is indeed a place where common sense is more important than a label.

JoAnn C. Scott

Tigard

People seek out those who are like-minded

Consider my wife and myself as part of that “great sorting” mentioned in the article (How liberal is Portland?, March 4).

After six years of spending as much time in the Pacific Northwest as possible, we finally moved from the most “liberal” neighborhood in Houston, Texas, to Portland’s near-suburbs south of Oregon Health & Science University last year. Our new neighbors are significantly more progressive than their Gulf Coast equivalents on virtually all issues of substance.

The analysis of the rest of Oregon looks pretty spot-on as well: Eastern Oregon and West Texas have some significant common sensibilities, and (at least from my perspective) are both best viewed from the window of a commercial jet bound for better places.

Mark Martin

Portland

History plays big role in place’s personality

The takeaway from the piece is probably Kari Chisholm’s observation about being cautious about accepting self-labeling at face value (How liberal is Portland?, March 4).

The demographic divide between Portland and the rest of the state reflects not only urban/rural divides but also historical differences in Oregon’s immigration patterns. There are many reasons why Oregon was, at its inception, the most conservative of the West Coast states, the state with the greatest sympathy for the South and slavery. It is that historical demographic that has been responsible for Oregon’s lagging behind its neighbors in education, a more generalized liberalizing force.

Arguably, the greatest boost to liberalization in Oregon’s history came with the Vanport shipyards of World War II, which went a long way toward diversifying our population (though still lily white). Second place — or first, if you’re so inclined — would be the hippie invasion of the late 1960s and early ‘70s, which radically altered the national perception of Oregon and the possibilities available here.

The explosion of Oregon’s food, wine, beer, crafts, design and music industries can be directly tied to the counterculture influx, and thanks to them, Portland became a Mecca for young people and, ultimately, it’s youth who are liberalizing the town (with nods to Tom McCall and Wayne Morse).

Johan Mathiesen

Southeast Portland

Costs passed along; there’s no free lunch

Rent is rising because property taxes are up anywhere from 12 to 16 percent in Multnomah County (Portlanders grumble about cost of living, March 6). When you vote to increase funding for libraries, schools, etc., you are not going to get a free lunch. Landlords do pass costs along; this is not greed.

Teresa McGuire

Southwest Portland

Simple truth is living is not very affordable

All I know is, whatever the experts say and however rosy a picture they make out of their words, I can’t afford to live anywhere but beneath an overpass unless I work full-time and pull in at least a dollar or two above minimum wage (Portlanders grumble about cost of living, March 6).

Even then, I’ll end up in an overpriced and poorly maintained studio and, along with utilities, communication, transportation and groceries, my total living expense will amount to around three-quarters of my net income. Unless I feel like braving the hazards of Rockwood, in which case my total living expense will be down to two-thirds my net income.

Corwin McAllister

Southwest Portland

Land-use facts were presented, ignored

Had Mr. Crawford paid attention to the facts instead of focusing so much attention on developing sarcastic rhetoric to heap on 1000 Friends, he might have read the opinion of the state Court of Appeals and learned what the “reserves” issue means for Oregon farmland protection (1000 Friends’ land-use agenda is flawed, guest column, March 6).

In its review of the “pseudo factors” used by the Washington County Board of Commissioners, the court noted that the state Land Conservation and Development Commission, Metro and the county attempted to condition the suitability of the land on availability of irrigation, thereby downgrading the value of the land in question. The county also lumped in the foothill land of Helvetia with the prime soil parcels to further downgrade its value for farming. It is precisely because the Class I & II soils of the parcels in question did not need irrigation for profitable farming that it was considered “high-value farmland” under the Oregon statutes.

These facts were repeatedly presented to the county, Metro and LCDC but were ignored.

John C. Platt

Hillsboro

Tech firms exact big cost from residents

The Beaverton-Aloha-Hillsboro area is underdeveloped, and the continuing push to expand suburban-style development beyond current urban boundaries continues to threaten prime agricultural land and natural resources. It’s not sustainable (Legislature should

OK land-use bargain, editorial, Feb 27).

Metro, the county and partner cities are at fault along with back-room deal-makers. These gargantuan high-tech campuses are actually very low density, lack mixed-use residential, and are littered with parking. They lack adequate connectivity with public transportation. Most high-tech is costing the residents of our state, stealing energy and water, and not paying their taxes. Why else do these companies avoid the Bay Area?

Pat Russell

Milwaukie

Developers don’t care about the long-term

Corporate welfare ... yes, jobs will be created in the opening, but in the long term, will the hotel developers/owners still have living-wage jobs for the employees working there? Probably not (Job creation is real goal of headquarters hotel, guest column, Feb. 27).

Don’t risk limited tax dollars for business speculators to rape the system and run like Civil War carpetbaggers.

Paul C. Paz

Beaverton

‘Talking buses’ are big waste of money

Another huge waste of my hard-earned tax dollars: TriMet just has to spend money on useless things such as light rail to Milwaukie and now talking buses (TriMet gives ‘talking buses’ another try, web story, March 2).

Most of the newer buses already talk. That isn’t going to wake up some moron who can’t put their phone down for more than a minute. Most people have their phones glued to their ears because they are afraid they might miss something. How does TriMet think these people are going to care about walking in front of a bus?

Janet Fischer

Northeast Portland

Light-rail component needed to go forward

What is even more amazing about this representative’s statements is her complete ignorance of the facts that Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon and the feds all have to approve any project, and none of those parties will do so without a light-rail component. Rapid bus transit just doesn’t pencil out, and with the current rail system in place, rail proponents won’t let it happen (Press reset on Columbia River Crossing, Feb. 20).

It is disappointing, to say the least, that Washington state Rep. Liz Pike is unable to learn from the 10-year history of this project. But then again, long-term understanding and vision don’t equate to getting re-elected.

And foes of light rail don’t seem to realize that someday these light-rail alignments can easily be turned into exclusive bus ways and make them actually work efficiently and economically.

Allan McDonald

Vancouver, Wash.