Profiling is not a privilege of law enforcement. When I drove a "beater" auto years ago, I was profiled. It was then, and only then, that I got pulled over by the Oregon State Police on a frequent basis. My driving record was spotless, yet I repeatedly got pulled over. I am not a brown person.
At one time, I taught English to Spanish-speaking people at Chemeketa Community College's Mt. Angel campus. In one assignment, I asked my students to complete this sentence: "I want to learn English because ..." The No. 1 reason chosen was "to learn Oregon's driving laws." The students were finding themselves in jail and did not know the reason. So they did not "decide to disobey the law," as Geraldine Ballas writes in her March 2 Tribune letter.
The class wrote personal letters — in English and Spanish — to the Oregon State Police chief inviting a bilingual state trooper to come answer the students' questions about driving laws. The chief wrote back, congratulating the students on their work to learn English, and told the students that state troopers were also learning Spanish.
Most of the time, the class consisted of eight to 10 students. But the night the trooper came, over 40 people attended. Several of them had been in jail for breaking a driving law. For some, there were warrants out for their arrest, and they did not know why.
People were thrilled to learn the laws they had to obey, and how to apply for insurance to clean their records. Some even took the trooper's card because they wanted to become state troopers someday.
Partial fix: Create a state bank
I have been reading in both the Oregonian and the Tribune of concerns for our state's meager funding, and would like to suggest a partial fix: Why not publicize the idea that our state Legislature create a state bank like the one North Dakota created in the 1930s? Besides enabling the state to raise lots of money, it would enable us to disinvest in the five Wall Street banks. North Dakota's state bank also helped protect North Dakota from the major economic downturn in 2008.
All candidates should reveal finances
As a leader in encouraging voter participation, Oregon also controls the rules for being a candidate on the ballot. I suggest the Oregon Legislature require all elected federal, state and local candidates to submit their past five years of financial history, including income sources, at least 60 days prior to the election for their name to appear in the Voter Pamphlet and on the ballot. We deserve to know the agendas of those we elect to lead us and spend our tax dollars.
Legislation for a cleaner Oregon
The Oregon Legislature is considering Senate Bill 557. This bill will set a carefully calculated cap for climate pollution, a price for greenhouse gas emissions, and dedicate a percentage of proceeds to low-income communities, rural areas, and impacted Oregon workers. SB 557 will accelerate our transition to a healthy environment, and a clean energy economy. Oregonians must join Californians, three Canadian provinces, and nine Northeastern states that have pollution pricing systems that work.
Pollution warms our planet and raises sea levels. A warming planet creates severe weather events. Higher temperatures, rising sea levels and severe weather events produce overwhelming challenges for farmers, vintners, fishermen, real estate, tourism, and outdoor recreational activities.
A clean energy economy employs construction workers, engineers, designers, salespeople, factory workers, secretaries, and many more. Over 48,000 Oregonians work in the clean economy, producing solar and wind power, clean transit systems, electric and hybrid vehicles, energy-efficient homes, buildings, and workplaces.
Change begins with individuals. We are stewards of our earth, stewards of flora and fauna, stewards of air and water, and finally stewards for those who come after us. Oregonians must lead the way, the way from pollution to prosperity, by transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy. Senate Bill 557 was introduced in Salem on March 1. This letter is a plea for support and a call to action. Our stewardship will reap immeasurable rewards. Our time is now.