Letters: Don't embrace arts tax
In response to the Oct. 12 My View titled "Portland, let's embrace the arts tax" by Stanley Penkin: No, I will not embrace the arts tax. Regardless of what it pays for, the idea that a struggling low-income worker and a millionaire should be charged the same $35 in tax is morally wrong.
That proponents of the arts tax not only failed to consider this when drafting it, but, as in Mr. Chair-Treasurer-President-Secretary Penkin's piece, fail to mention it even now, clearly speaks to their lack of empathy or understanding for the sorts of people who have to worry about where their next $35 is coming from. That's a week of food for some people I know, who are doing their darnedest to stay off food stamps.
It isn't surprising that Portland's upper-middle and wealthy classes enjoy the arts tax. They're getting a terrific deal and skipping out on paying their fair share. If a low-income-earner is paying $35, a six-figure type should be paying dramatically more.
This is more about ignorance than greed. A well-off person imagines that $35 is not a lot of money, because it isn't for them, or that paying double if you miss your payment is a fair penalty.
But if you're living paycheck to paycheck, every little bit taken from you is your own Great Depression, the difference between eating and working hungry, between riding the bus or walking six miles home, between paying your rent on time or paying the scary city bureaucrat who says you owe double now because you forgot the arts tax.
Until this tax is progressively applied, with the wealthy paying their fair share, it will remain an embarrassment to this city.
Near-instant karma over Uber
Steve Novick's mea culpa for the (mis)regulation of Uber is welcome, if a little late; his electoral defeat last year a rare example of near-instant karma.
The city of Portland had a quid pro quo with the taxicab industry: Provide unprofitable transportation to the poor, elderly, and disabled — something the city should have been doing rather than a for-profit industry — in exchange for limiting the number of cabs so that all the drivers could make a living.
That arrangement is a thing of the past, as is the 30 percent of personal transportation revenue now departing for San Francisco.
Fortunately, the matter will be moot over time; Uber's burning through venture capital at a rate of $6 billion a year, and eventually will have to cease its predatory pricing.
Uber thumbed its nose at Portland's city government and the city sat still for it.
Brian A. Cobb
Fish has worked for East Portland
In her letter to the editor Oct.12, North Portland resident Emma Prichard makes the case for the needs of East Portland. Good for her. It's an important case to make.
However, we should be clear why a 7-year-old park is so important to Commissioner Nick Fish. In the depths of the Great Recession, when Parks and Recreation was taking 6 percent cuts, Fish fought for parks money that could only be used east of I-205. It was simply the right thing to do.
While Fish's commitment to the east side — especially issues of housing— has never wavered, remember that when economic times were toughest he chose first to do everything he could to help East Portlanders. As Ms. Prichard proves, empathy and commitment do not have a ZIP code.
Give our forests a much-deserved rest
I am a fifth-generation Oregonian and have a deep and abiding love for this state. My family made its living from the forests, but I believe it's time to move on from this kind of natural resource extraction. Old growth forests are rich in biodiversity and are much more resilient than younger forests, but over a century of industrial forest practices has eliminated over 90 percent of the primary forests that once blanketed our state.
Recently, we have been bombarded by messages from some of our lawmakers that we need to up the cut on our public lands to manage wildfires. What worries me is that this familiar cast of characters is taking advantage of this important issue to further their timber agenda.
Where did the idea come from that we could predict where to selectively log forests because we know where the next fire is going to be? Let's face it, this is nothing more than another thinly veiled excuse to put more money in the pockets of the timber industry, under the guise of "job creation" and at the expense of our public lands. If you look at an Oregon atlas, you can see the red cobwebs of logging roads throughout our public lands. The good stuff is gone. Let's keep what little we have left.