Letters: Think about big picture at Franklin High
What the news media and the parents of the students do not communicate to the public ("Franklin special-ed space faulted as inadequate," Jan. 2 edition), is the amount of support and activities the students do daily, weekly and monthly at Franklin High School. They are in charge of a schoolwide coffee cart; they make decorations and sell them to FHS staff and friends within the building; throw parties and celebrations for every occasion; help deliver and sort mail in the main office; help with cleaning the cafeteria (SPED teachers named it "Work Experience").
Work Experience is teaching them valuable experience and knowledge on jobs and how it is important for people to have certain jobs within the team. I also want to mention they also get pulled out of the SPED rooms and put into regular classes with general-ed students.
Don't take this as a defense to the problem or issue the parents are bringing up to the district and to news media, but it is not as bad as it is being made out to be. FHS is a family — current students, past students and friends of FHS are always welcome.
Please feel free to reach out to me, as I am a very active member of the day-to-day goings-on at Franklin, part of the alumni assocociation and a PPS staff member.
Again this is not a defense, but I just want you and everyone else interested in this topic to take a step back and think of the much larger picture.
Allow two ADUs
Portland is in a "housing state of emergency," and needs are especially critical for low- and middle-income residents. The city's Residential Infill Project would allow more smaller and less expensive units to be built in existing neighborhoods, where services are available.
Neighbors are concerned about demolitions of older houses. This project reduces the size of new houses that can be built on single-family lots, decreasing the incentive to demolish, while increasing housing opportunities.
It allows, in most cases, one extra ADU beyond the single one allowed now. ADUs have been allowed since 1997, and in 20 years about 1.5 percent of homeowners have taken advantage of that program. Participation may well be higher If two are allowed (one inside the house, one in the back yard), but it's still unlikely that the resulting additional housing will be noticed from the street, just like today's hidden ADUs. Incentives for greater affordability, as well as disabled access, are included in the proposal.
Allowing two ADUs will add to the number of smaller, less expensive homes, in places including those with good transit, shopping and services. This plan can give homeowners, like my wife and me, a new source of income that will allow them to stay in their homes, while providing much-needed housing options for many Portlanders.
I urge readers to write to your Portland city commissioners, asking them to expedite this project and adopt it by summer, to move forward on meeting our housing needs.
A case for a carbon fee
Regarding Paris Achen's "'Cap and invest' bill takes shape" (Dec. 20): As an environmentally conscious Oregonian, I'm in favor of exploring any measure that addresses climate change, but research indicates that a carbon fee would be more efficient and effective than a cap-and-invest policy.
Furthermore, given concerns about the negative impact of federal tax reform on working- and middle-class Oregon families, the most prudent step that the state could take would be to implement a revenue-neutral carbon-fee-and-dividend program.
Under such a model, carbon dioxide emissions would incur a per-ton fee that gradually increased over time — incentivizing the use and development of clean energy technology, while allowing businesses time to adjust.
Both cap-and-invest and carbon-fee systems are expected to result in the passing on of increased energy costs to consumers. But a carbon-fee-and-dividend plan would rebate net collected fees equally to households in order to offset higher costs of essentials such as home heating and transportation.
Such a system would be financially progressive, because the equally divided rebates would be a greater percentage of working-class families' income than upper-class families' — and because wealthier households have larger carbon footprints on average.
Because a fee-and-dividend system is revenue-neutral, it could be championed by conservatives and progressives alike. While it seems logical to invest carbon revenue directly into clean technologies, the inefficiency and potentially regressive nature of cap-and-invest systems make them far less desirable than a carbon fee.
Legislators need only look as far as British Columbia for an excellent model: According to a five-year review, the province's revenue-neutral carbon tax has resulted in a drop in per capita fossil-fuel consumption of nearly 20 percent, even as its economic growth has kept pace with the rest of the country. Our state could benefit greatly from a similar win-win proposition with bipartisan appeal.