Letters to the Editor
- Gresham Outlook - Opinion
Smith's education funding record is cause for concern
A letter to Rep. Smith: I read a letter in the Saturday, Oct. 7, Outlook extolling your presence in our communities and your demonstrations of attention.
But on the education of our children, including funding, you have an abysmal record. This issue has sharply divided politicians in our Legislature. It is a tangled web, which can be confusing.
Why has your campaign literature in the '04 election and last spring stated your support for education, while your efforts and voting record show the opposite?
You repeatedly and consistently joined others' leadership, resulting in the schools in House District 52. You sided consistently with those attempting to clip the wings of our schools in this process, although there was sufficient funding available.
It boiled down to whether to distribute it through concessions and tax breaks to privileged wealth and large business interests (including out of state) or to apportion a fair and decent slice for schools whose teachers are working valiantly, often against great odds, to improve the lives and increase the capabilities of our children, our grandchildren and our nieces and nephews. No wonder organizations supporting education consistently rate you very low. As you may know, the non-partisan group Stand for Children rates you at 0, while rating Sen. Metsger at 100.
Rep. Smith, you owe us an explanation. What are your true core values? Were they the ones we see in the results of your education record? Why were you unable to cite one piece of legislation for education that you had sponsored, in answer to a question in the recent debate at the Boring Grange? Why didn't you mention House Bill 3460 that you sponsored for Speaker Minnis and that contained what supporters of education called 'cut and cap'? 3460 dying in committee doesn't change that it reappeared as 2450 and barely passed the House, then passed the Senate with the Minnis plan stripped out, after which you helped it pass the House.
We want to know if you can be counted on to come through for the innocent children in our charge whose futures are our responsibility. We want to know if we can trust you. If not, we have an excellent alternative to consider.
Vote no on library levy to avoid unjustified rate hike
The Nov. 7 ballot calls the library levy a 'renewal' of $.89 per $1,000 of assessed property value. It's actually a levy rate hike from the current rate of $.755 per $1,000. This is the third rate hike disguised as a 'renewal' since 1996 when the rate was $.4034. This measure hikes levy taxes from about $28.2 million now to an estimated average of $35.3 million per year, a 25-percent increase.
The levy funds just over half of operations. The rest comes mostly from the county general fund, based primarily on property taxes. Multnomah County Library (MCL) operations revenues have soared from $21.8 million in 1995 to $49.7 million budgeted in 2006. An additional $60 million in library construction bonds since 1994 are also funded by property taxes. (source: Tax Supervising and Conservation Commission)
The higher rate would cost a $250,000 assessed value homeowner $222 for the levy alone in 2007. The library taxes, including the general fund amount and the bond payments, are much higher and typically increase with rising property values.
A rate hike is not justified. Multnomah County Library is already the wealthiest library system statewide, with double the local revenues per person than Salem or Hillsboro in 2004.
Furthermore, the current levy doesn't expire until July 2008. This measure unnecessarily boosts the levy rate prematurely, in 2007. A no vote now should not interrupt library services. There is ample time and money for a future election with a more reasonable proposal.
Another reason to vote no is that the county library allows minors as young as 13 to view pornography on library computers. Violent, abusive porn can be accessed by the public (including sex offenders). Technology to block pornography is successfully used in libraries nationwide.
My 10-year-old daughter was exposed to pornography that a man was viewing while she was standing next to me at the Gresham library.
Since then, I've heard dozens of library Internet porn horror stories. KPTV news reported on Jan. 26, 2002, that middle school students on a field trip to the Midland branch witnessed a man looking at child pornography and graphic rape scenes. Recently, two Barlow High students witnessed a man 'googling' library porn and complained to the staff, who did nothing. Porno outlets can't permit minors to enter, much less sell to them.
The Children's Internet Protection Act requires libraries to filter Internet pornography to qualify for federal funding. In 2001, Multnomah County Commissioners authorized county resources to overturn the act in federal court. Library board member and State Rep. candidate Rob Brading (District 49) voted for the Multnomah County Library to join the lawsuit. I met Brading on Sept. 30. He stated he supports the Internet policy.
Due to the lawsuit, the act was struck down but was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. In 2004, the county library ignored the act and forfeited $104,000 in federal funds.
Vote no on library porno and unjustified stealth rate hikes.