Letters: Tall buildings would create 'canyon'
Regarding building heights near the river: It is more than just views. The original step-down zoning plan was very smart planning, to avoid walling off the river in a dark canyon.
The lower heights were designed to leave some sunshine and light to enjoy on the walkways and park areas along the west side of the river. We tore down buildings and a highway to create these parks and built housing with restricted heights — look north of the Hawthorne Bridge — to preserve this oasis of park land.
It would be a travesty to put the river back in a dark canyon now.
Moreover, unless the intention is to totally prohibit cars, more housing will make a serious traffic congestion problem impossibly worse. Look what has happened around OHSU: Cars, streetcars and buses hardly move.
Building more housing near the river, beyond what is now allowed to be built, will ensure that neither cars nor buses will be able to move. And for pedestrians and bikes, there already is so much fast bike traffic along the river that walking is no longer safe on a nice day.
Portland should not change the step-down zoning plan into a new River Canyon Plan.
Modern buildings boost graduate rate
Your article on graduation rates omits one factor that supports this improvement.
The Portland students who registered the largest year-over-year increase in graduation rates — the class of 2017 at Roosevelt High School — were members of the first class in the city to complete their studies in a modernized high school.
While the Rough Riders' achievement gain cannot be attributed solely to their new building, the upward trend in graduation rates is exactly what many Portland voters hoped to see when they supported school bond measures in 2012 and 2017.
Modern schools offer spaces for new instructional programs, like the construction management and engineering tracks now offered at Roosevelt. Modern facilities plus engaged students equals more diplomas.
The achievement trend in Portland is promising. Portland voters' continued investment in modernized schools will keep it going.
Smart Meters a dumb idea
Beginning in 2018 and continuing into 2019, Pacific Power plans to replace about 600,000 analog electric meters in its service areas with smart meters.
Residences and businesses are in for a rude awakening. Smart meters are notoriously unreliable. There are no more meter readers. Electricity usage is transmitted wirelessly to Pacific Power.
Many customers will notice unwarranted increases in their electric bills after smart meters are installed.
Smart meters are highly subject to cyber hacking, and power outages could be the result. There is increasing evidence that some people have experienced health problems after smart meters were installed due to the radiation generated by wireless two-way communication. And it is likely many meter readers will lose their jobs as their services will no longer be needed. Residents and businesses must be able to "opt out" of being forced to switch to smart meters for all the above reasons.
Utility Consumer Action Network, former board of directors member
Reciprocity weakens Oregon's gun laws
Rep. Kurt Schrader's explanation for his vote on concealed carry reciprocity was not adequate. You can't call it "bipartisan" when he was only one of six Democrats to vote for it. He has undermined Oregon's gun safety laws with his vote to allow other states' laws to supercede them.
Many states have very weak regulations on giving out concealed carry permits. There is a reason why Oregon passed more stringent regulations, and he has destroyed them.
I am a responsible gun owner who has no respect for the NRA, which has morphed from an organization focused on education and safety into a lobbying arm of the gun industry whose only purpose is to distribute as many guns as possible in this country. I don't want NRA shills representing us in Congress.
Health care: This is deeply wrong
At 60 years of age, working two jobs with OK insurance, I come to find out I've had a crown fail and I'm going to lose a molar, a pretty major tooth by all standards. After years of proper dental care, apparently it happens.
My options are live with this new hole in my mouth that makes consuming food miserable or get a single tooth implant at a cost of $4,500 — which is more than I could hope to afford.
Over the years, the cost of implants actually has gone up as the manufacturing of these devices is controlled by three companies and the price is fixed, which bridges on collusion.
There is something wrong when you have worked your entire life but are told by your insurance company that this molar bridges on a cosmetic device and they refuse to even pay for part of this necessary implant. I never thought I'd get to the point in my life where I would have to accept losing a major tooth and be forced to just live with it. Something is wrong with this system.
Why aren't these refineries shut down?
It's comforting to know that DEQ, the Portland fire marshal and the Bureau of Development Services are using our taxes to engage in a regulatory mask with two North Portland oil recovery firms.
DEQ took 17 years to begin to pretend to act on citizen complaints? Fines imposed on these firms are just a cost of doing business. Despite the firms' recidivism, criminal indictments have not been forthcoming, much less prison time for management or owners.
Why can't government bureaucracies including the EPA shut down the refiners? Isn't the litany of violations and health risks from PCBs, arsenic, chromium, barium, mercury and lead "among 16 other toxic substances in a 200,000-gallon tank" at one of the sites enough?
A likely endowment of this government intransigence will be two new Superfund sites. Owners will have pocketed profits and socialized the costs as usual. Any cleanup would take years. By then all "responsible" actors in government and the firms will be gone.
In all fairness, DEQ does what Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon legislators want it to do, as it has done under preceding governors and legislators. Brown scapegoated Bullseye Glass and the previous director of DEQ precisely because owners of private capital finance political campaigns; ordinary citizens do not. In America the health of the latter has usually been sold by politicians to the former at a steep discount in the name of business friendliness.
Whither policy? First, the principle of "no free lunch" requires every business to include social costs (aka "economic externalities") on its balance sheet and taxed. That will give us a better understanding of their social economic value. Second, the precautionary principle requires that any business or industry in which expected economic externalities exceed income ought not to exist. Otherwise their economic value is negative; we are subsidizing them.