In "DEQ announces air pollution controls for oil recyclers," June 15, DEQ representative Jeff Bachman is quoted as saying that air pollution monitoring in smokestacks is not feasible.
This wildly misrepresents the situation. Continuous Emissions Monitors (CEMs) have been used in smokestacks for years, and many continuous monitoring technologies are commonly used in industrial sites and in nearby communities. Even consumer-grade devices can monitor the chemicals under discussion (total VOCs) for a mere $200. A small handful of these set up on residents' porches would give locals a reasonable approximation of the situation, in real time. All of these have been successfully done in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, San Francisco's Bay Area, and elsewhere.
Bachman's dismissive attitude to the problem is concerning. By overstating the technical challenge, he delegitimizes the community's rightful concern about having access to information about what we breathe. At a time when Gov. Kate Brown and Mayor Ted Wheeler are setting meaningful agendas for cleaning up our air, this can't-do attitude demonstrates the DEQ's rudderless passivity that has put our health at risk in the first place.
Now is the time to get serious about cleaning up the air. It is not the time to check our ambition at the door.
Dr. Dawn Nafus
'Cuts only' a failed approach
Last November, Oregon voters rejected Measure 97, which would have placed a 2-percent excise tax on corporate sales over $25 million to help fund Oregon's basic services. The corporate opponents of this measure warned that if Measure 97 was passed the result would be increased layoffs, higher energy rates, and a negative impact on the state's economy.
Imagine my surprise hearing that Nike will lay off 1,400 workers — with an untold number in Oregon — and that PGE is seeking a rate increase. These actions have taken place despite Measure 97's defeat. Everything that corporations warned would occur if the measure passed is occurring despite its failure. It's almost as if negligible corporate marginal tax rates have no impact on private-sector jobs or rate increases.
Meanwhile, the legislative session is drawing to a close with a "cuts only" approach to Oregon's underfunded state services. Increased revenue is never an option "on the table" by powerful corporate interests. Consider the economic impact of a "cuts only" approach: public-sector layoffs will occur, each one representing fewer consumers of products and services. This removal of economic activity places further strain on the state's safety net. And would out-of-state companies relocate to a state that can't fund basic services? Of course not.
Kansas demonstrates how a "cuts only" approach is a failed approach. Kansas passed a series of tax cuts, allowing businesses to virtually pay no taxes, hoping to stimulate the state's economy. But after a series of slashed budgets resulting in four-day school weeks and other negative results, Kansas lawmakers have revoked these tax cuts and restored revenue to a level that will fund basic services.
A "cuts only" approach is a failed approach. Investment in schools, health care, and basic services are desperately needed. The only way to accomplish this is if corporations pay their fair share.
Use Wapato Jail for homeless services
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and other leaders dealing with the problems of homelessness do not need further proof to open Wapato as a homeless service center after the MAX killings and the theft of one of the victim's possessions by mentally disabled and homeless individuals.
We as a society have done our part in spending $90 million in building and maintaining this well-designed, 15-year-old, vacant facility that can temporarily house, medically serve, and job train over 1,000 people in three separated dormitories and an expansive yard. Central City Concern can attend to the mental and physical needs of those wanting help in this minimum security facility. The well-qualified nonprofit has been fulfilling its mission of providing affordable housing and services for decades.
CCC's humanitarian approach in relieving the inhumane, unsafe and unsanitary encampments in our public domain should be greatly expanded. Professional supervision in a proper facility will help prevent unlawful violent acts by physically strong but mentally weak individuals who prey upon the vulnerable. However, this can only work if the "party vagrants" who do not want help are given "move out" assistance by law enforcement.
Multnomah County and the city of Portland both have $25 million in public money for homeless services. The public has voted to approve $282 million for permanent housing. Multnomah County should use Wapato as a $90 million asset, not sell it as a $10 million liability, by providing a temporary safe and sanitary environment to evaluate each desperate individual for assistance. The overwhelming homeless crisis requires a bolder, cost-saving strategy immediately for a healthier community.
(Perkins is a former member of the Portland Housing and Community Development Commission.)