Readers’ Letters

I read the edition about the snow-ice storm with interest (Storm wins; now the accusations fly, Jan. 5).

Memo to the Beaverton physician and downtown jeweler David Margulis, who both complained about light rail being shut down: This was an unprecedented storm. Sorry, but Mother Nature is bigger than us all.

Was Margulis concerned about the traveling public or his bottom line? You've got to wonder.

This is the first time the whole MAX system has been down. The buses ran every day; OK, they may have been late, but they ran.

I say congratulations to the TriMet employees who turned out to not only drive buses, but had to first get to the garages to get the buses out.

Bob Banister

North Portland

Letter writer sought-response; here's one

Since Glenn Yeager asked for an explanation in his letter (Where's the racism in the case of the toy gorilla?, Insight, Jan. 2), perhaps these three points will do:

First, he must not remember the documented history of LAPD officers using the term 'gorillas' when referring to black people over their radios. The gesture of Portland police officers parking their car outside a black music club with a toy gorilla was a passive-aggressive display of these particular officers' contempt. Fortunately, few Portland police officers have this problem, but the few who do wear the same uniform as the many who don't.

Second, Yeager can't speak for black people, or anyone else. It may help him to actually ask a victim of racism how he or she feels about being prejudged daily over his or her race. To paraphrase Malcolm X, racism is a knife in the back of Black America. If the knife is wiggled out just a few inches, it's still there. Even if it's removed completely, it still leaves a scar!

Third, we were taught that you don't move past a problem until it's solved. It may be a distasteful subject to Yeager, and he can turn his back on it to avoid his personal discomfort, but that won't make it go away. After all, racial prejudice affects white people, too.

Skip Elliott Bowman

Jo Ann Bowman

Northeast Portland

Marijuana isn't-problem; laws are

If marijuana were the Blazers' biggest problem, they wouldn't be successful professional athletes (Marijuana: The Blazers' toughest foe, Dec. 5). More likely, their biggest problem is stupid drug laws.

Alan Hartley

Northeast Portland

We can find money-for needed services

When I moved from Monona, Wis., to Portland, I was shocked to learn that this state does not have a sales tax Ñ one of only five that does not. No wonder your once estimable school system has plummeted to the bottom of the barrel. How can you stand that, not to mention your children and grandchildren?

So Oregon's voters don't like taxes. Who does? But wonder of wonders, our ultraright-wing Congress recently approved a bill that included a 'means test,' formerly anathema to legislators. Henceforth, affluent Americans will pay more for Social Security than we ordinary folk.

Maybe Oregon can recapture its reputation as a pacesetter by applying this principle on the state level. Just for fun, call it a conspicuous consumption program. A $50 pair of shoes would sell as usual, but a $200 pair would merit a CCP add-on fee. Mansions, the most luxurious sets of golf clubs, Lear jets and yachts, for instance, would all be CCP'd.

The idea might go over better now than it did in the early 1990s, when we had a national luxury tax. Modern computers could handle the analysis, comparisons and record-keeping necessary to set up such a program, and the returns could set Oregon's school system zooming to the top again.

But if Oregon's voters have a soft spot in their hearts for the obscenely wealthy, how about bumping up the hotel room tax? Madison, about half the size of Portland, charges a hotel room tax of 13.5 percent. New York City charges a 13.65 percent room tax plus a $2 occupancy tax per room per night. That way mostly tourists and other out-of-staters would bear the burden rather than local taxpayers.

Please don't tell me to go back to Wisconsin if I don't like it here. I do like it here. And I'm staying. I now have one vote's worth of responsibility for what happens in this state, so you'll be hearing from me.

Helen Kreigh

Southeast Portland

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