by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT, One park blocks dweller says downtown needs plenty of residents and activities in its urban core, day and night, to make it a fun, safe place to be.

I love living in downtown Portland. Being right on the park blocks, I enjoy walking all over the city and not having to own a car. The city generally feels very comfortable and safe. That being said, I agree that more needs to be done.

I've noticed an increase in people on the street, and numerous friends who've visited Portland have commented on this. Walking home late at night can feel uncomfortable.

The city needs to continue to build dense urban-core housing and services to keep the city center vibrant. The bus mall is really in need of being shaped up, since it is a black eye in our pleasant city center.

And what about the numerous 'for lease' spaces? Come on! I am continually pestered for money and have seen numerous drug deals in the bus mall area. I hope the TriMet MAX expansion and renovation will improve the area.

Just recently I noticed this posting on the site that lists hotel reviews:

'We went out about 9 PM for dinner my first night there and someone was … asking if I wanted drugs. A few minutes later I overhear talk of someone else looking for drugs. The next day I noticed someone doing crack a couple of blocks away.'

I hate to read these kinds of 'beware of the crime in this part of Portland.'

It's time for the city of Portland, businesses and city center residents to work together to revitalize our precious downtown and make it comfortable and vibrant, 24 hours a day.

Kevin J. Mork


Simple math can lower doctors' fees

As a senior citizen and candidate in the May primary to represent the 1st Congressional District in the U.S. Congress, I campaigned for health care reform.

I have a counterpoint to Dr. William G. Plested's statements that 'they will stop taking new Medicare patients' (Threatened Medicare cuts go deep, Sept. 8).

It's a scare tactic that the former AMA president is using, and it's unethical for any doctor or a nurse or the hospital to deny medical services to any patient in an emergency or nonemergency situation.

Doctors are in acute or short supply due to the restrictions the U.S. medical system places on the number of student admissions each year to American medical colleges or universities. Admissions should be doubled or tripled to meet the needs of the baby boom generation.

Also, there is no ceiling on how much a physician in private practice may charge in the U.S. A typical office visit is about $200 for about 15 to 20 minutes, or $600 an hour if they examine only three patients in an hour.

Many physicians see 20 to 30 or more patients a day. Are these fair fees for Medicare patients? If all Oregon physicians moderate their per-minute rates or hourly rates to $150 an hour, not per patient, to provide reasonable medical services, the loss of $1.3 billion in Oregon Medicare cuts in federal dollars should not have any impact on them.

The time will come when we will have to fly patients to countries like India to outsource our medical treatment, where it costs one-tenth of that of the U.S., with many comparable services and advanced treatment available.

If doctors cannot police themselves, they will price themselves out. The U.S. Senate and Congress should have the brains to examine simple mathematics and the market value economics here.

Shantu Shah

Southwest Portland

TriMet needs to clean up its bus exhaust

Re: 'TriMet adds to its wish list for mall' (Sept. 1): $3 million's already granted. For what? For surveillance cameras and fancy brickwork on the ground? For more riders (more safety, more revenue), make the buses run much cleaner, and those of us who avoid the diesel-polluted bus malls and routes will be much more likely to join in, instead of being repelled. For now, buses are dirty mass transit.

TriMet could use $2.5 million and purchase 500 exhaust traps, put those on 500 buses, cutting 75 percent to 95 percent of the toxic exhaust from those buses, pollution that now hits us in the face.

TriMet is a local business/agency that provides a much-needed service, but it gets away with far too much air pollution. For the engine noise, I can wear earplugs, but for even partial protection from exhaust fumes, I need to wear a silicone mask ($30 to $80) with replaceable filters at $7.50 each. I walk around all sealed up as if in a war zone.

TriMet, show that you're a conscientious citizen - invest some money to make your buses run more cleanly.

Cheryl Scrivens

Southwest Portland

Topic missing in story: peak oil

When looking toward the future of the automobile commute (Which commute is the worst?, Sept. 15), why no mention of 'peak oil'?

Petroleum, from which most transportation fuels are made, is a natural resource, which, once consumption begins, is in depletion and eventually will be gone.

Oil and natural gas were formed within the Earth's crust millions of years ago by a rather unique set of circumstances. Call it 'God's creation,' a wonderful endowment now being rapidly depleted.

As consumers of this natural wealth participate in this consumption, we must be made fully aware of the consequences when 'supply' can no longer keep up with 'demand.'

The two most inefficient uses of petroleum are jet aircraft and personal automobiles. Most efficient are light rail and high-speed passenger rail using electricity from renewable resources.

Peak oil will impact not only transportation, but agriculture as well (for a secure and sustainable food supply).

Martin E. Thompson


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