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Letters: Government, business not the same

Our readers are concerned about a wide ranging number of federal, state and local issues.

As a former business executive and congressional staffer, Bill MacKenzie really should know better than to compare for-profit business with government ("Oregon needs a hiring freeze," My View, Feb. 21).

Government is not a business in any way, shape or form. Most importantly, unlike for-profit business, government has a moral mission to protect and empower its citizens rather than to turn a profit for its shareholders.

Because there are too few consumers of their products, Macy's and the Wall Street Journal have become unprofitable and may have to fire employees. Government shortfalls are the result of an imbalance of revenue to expenditure, but the number and needs of their customers only increase. Republican governors may freeze hiring regardless of those needs due to insufficient belief in the intrinsic value of government and antipathy toward taxes.

Another reader's letter points out that billions of added revenue may be available to Portland by hiring more employees to secure uncollected taxes, a double benefit. Perhaps those concerned with the financial challenges faced by government should focus first on efficiency and maximizing revenue before restraining government from fulfilling its essential responsibilities.

Stephen Shepherd

Northwest Portland

No one entitled to special treatment

Your Feb. 16 article "Driving while brown" and Latinos driving without a driving license piqued my interest in profiling. It's not just Latinos being profiled, but others as well if committing a violation. Profiling is necessary because we have so many colors and it is a means of identification.

Remember, too, those driving without a license also are driving without insurance. These people are an egregious danger on the road to all citizens who obey the laws of driving.

Driving is a privilege and not to be abused by anyone, no matter what their color.

The police are doing their job when they see violations. This 18-year-old knew what she was doing, as did her family, yet they decided to disobey the law and put others in danger.

Brown people are not entitled to special treatment just because they are brown. They must obey the laws of our land and suffer the consequences like other colorful people who obey the law and respect law enforcement. They are not victims of law enforcement; we the citizens are the victims of lawless driving.

Let the police do their job and keep our roads safe.

Geraldine Ballas


Question the need for a filtration plant

Please be very wary of the Portland Water Bureau's latest calls for a water filtration plant (or ultraviolet radiation plant). We have an elegant water system in our Bull Run Watershed that has proven for over 120 years that it is free of the dangerous types of cryptosporidium (i.e. those coming from cattle or human feces).

It is easy to see that now, in 2017, discovering cryptosporidium fragments and dead cryptosporidium does not constitute a real health risk. Especially a health risk commensurate with building an expensive water filtration plant for our federally protected Bull Run Watershed that has no historic cattle or human feces.

The Portland Water Bureau's own website states this at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/article/627808: "What is a cryptosporidium oocyst? Cryptosporidium is a parasite that lives in the intestines of infected animals or humans. An oocyst (oh-sist) refers to the resting stage of a single cryptosporidium organism. The oocyst has a protective shell-like structure that protects the organism from harsh environmental conditions, such as chlorine disinfection. Many types of cryptosporidium exist, but most are not infectious in humans."

The Portland Water Bureau is simply trying again, as they have since 1992, to give themselves a big-time expensive toy to play with.

Get us back to using Bull Run water to avoid the radon exposure and pollutants that are a part of the Columbia South Shore Well Field's water composition.

Brad Yazzolino

Southeast Portland

Idea: Move R2DToo to SmartPark

Why not relocate Right to Dream Too to the top level of a city-owned Smart Park parking lot? Citizens and tourists would not see the site. They could operate as usual. The top level could be secured and one elevator could be dedicated to R2D2 which would go directly to the top level. Social services could be nearby. There would be little, or no, impact to the surrounding businesses and residences. Downtown parking would be minimally impacted.

This seems like a viable solution. Why not give it a try?

Susan Blevins

Downtown Portland

Follow the law on license plates

I read the article on vehicle titles in the Feb. 9 Portland Tribune. I find it interesting DMV requires all kinds of legal paperwork to do business with your driver's license but they don't require the same legal paperwork to do business with vehicle titles. 

I'm sure there are other people besides Crystal Toner who have gone through the same nightmare of getting things squared away on their stolen vehicles or other title frauds.

But there was something else in the article and photo that really got my attention. Toner said she backed her vehicle in so the expired license plate wasn't visible so she wouldn't get towed. 

Where is the license plate for the front of her car? Unless there has been a recent change to the law, Oregon requires vehicles to have a license plate on the front and the back of your vehicle. And if you don't, you receive a ticket. And it doesn't matter how expensive or fancy your vehicle is. It's the law — a license plate in front and a license plate in back. 

Sue Conachan

Oak Grove

Where would we be without immigrants?

As a child of an immigrant, I am disturbed by President Trump's ban on immigrants coming to America from varying countries, including the child from Iran, needing treatment here at OHSU.

My mother was brought to the U.S. in 1936 from Lithuania by her two older brothers, who emigrated here in the earlier part of the 20th century. During World War II, the United States began cracking down on Jewish immigrants. She became a naturalized American citizen.

I have photos of family lost during the Holocaust, including my aunt and uncle with their young family. However, I had an aunt who survived the Holocaust and chose to testify for the Shoah Foundation

As a first-born American (on my mother's side), I learned some valuable lessons about what freedom means: For one, it's both a right and a privilege to vote.

If she were still alive, this election would have been her last.

I know about persecution and genocide from a very personal perspective. President Trump's stand on immigration needs to change. Millions have emigrated here from Europe, Asia and elsewhere since the 1800s. If it weren't for immigrants, where would America be as a country? 

Jacqueline Lerner

Southwest Portland

How do we know rent control won't work?

Whenever the topic of lifting Oregon's rent stabilization ban is raised, landlord groups immediately react, arguing it will not solve Portland's growing housing crises. How do they know? 

Rent stabilization opponents point to San Francisco as an example. They fail to consider that San Francisco's problem is compounded by the fact that the city is seven miles wide by seven miles long. There isn't enough space to build more housing. Add to that a growing tech work force and, of course, there will be high demand for available units. Despite this, San Francisco's renter protections apply to those who already live there. Further, San Francisco's rent stabilization measures don't ban rent increases. They simply stop rents from being raised unreasonably.

San Francisco's just-cause provisions provide protections against landlords who seek to circumvent the law. As a result, families are not displaced after years of helping to pay someone else's mortgage. They don't have to commute 30 miles on public transportation to the job they could walk to before. Their children aren't being pulled from their schools, friends and communities because their landlord suddenly decided a 50 percent rent increase with 90 days' notice was reasonable.

Contrast that to Portland. While some renter protections have been implemented, they simply buy tenants some time. In reality, basic tenant protections are lacking. A tenant who has paid rent on time for years can be presented with a 100 percent rent increase or evicted with no explanation and 90 days notice. 

While this may be current law in Oregon, is it right? Is it working? As more people are forced to experience homelessness, we should ask: Why do some believe that those fortunate enough to own property, whether through their hard work or inherited, have a license to disregard the concerns of those who do not?

Dan Sharpe

Downtown Portland

Oregon's history of discrimination

Thanks for your latest installment on our state's history of discrimination. Reading previous articles, I agreed that discrimination against black Oregonians pre-Civil War seems well-documented to our eyes in 2017. 

Yet historians might argue Oregon would not even have become a state had it not reflected those passions that were then tearing apart the entire country. We were very much a "border" state, people on both sides, pro-Union and secessionists. No "colored" people.

This sounds like the problem with our current driver's licenses. Like undocumented slaves, Hispanics already are here. And so we must compromise like we did pre-Civil War, and which now we learn was in the works when 9/11 hit.

Pearl Harbor and its effect on legal Japanese-American citizens takes it a step further. Perhaps we even err when categorizing all "white" voters. Lincoln's party took Oregon's electoral vote in 1860. The pendulum swung quickly.

Bob Carrico

Northeast Portland

Private investment in public universities

On page A5 of the Feb. 14 Portland Tribune, Ed Ray, president of tax-exempt Oregon State University, with its corporate Board of Trustees, states that Oregon "has to make a damn decision ... to invest in education ..." Ed neglected to mention the building boom at OSU. Even so, he's right, by making corporations pay their fair share in lieu of huge tax breaks and low taxes in relation to their public services/employees received.

Page A9 follows up with the symbiotic article, "What's it like to have no money?" presenting hypothetical real-life choices people are increasingly confronted with — life-altering choices like deciding between a meal on the table or higher education. These simulations were ironically held at PSU, which lacks the necessary funding by Oregon's industries. With each new subsidy to industry, members of the public pick up the tab and quite possibly put up a tent on Portland's streets.

Then there's the Business Tribune insert, where the headline story states "Inside Job." Another apropos, symbolic metaphor on the apparent and transparent, deceptive "realities" of neo-liberal economics.

Last but not least, on Feb. 17, Portland's "O"ther newspaper ran an opinion piece by Greg Hinckley, president of Mentor Graphics, who's in the employ of Warren Buffett. In a united front, toeing-the-line with Ed Ray, he argues that Oregon's lawmakers need to invest in universities on behalf of business. Perfect timing! One thing: I noticed how Mr. Hinckley does not mention that industry should invest more tax dollars into education. Nor does he ask that lawmakers invest in laws that force business to pay a greater share of taxes and re-invest in universities, and Oregon, on behalf of taxpayers.

Sean S. Doyle