Mr. Novick goes to Hillsboro

I don’t apologize for standing up for my city after Nike hurt our feelings by spurning us for Washington County. But I was impressed and amused by your April 26 editorial, “Life, Culture and Quirkiness Beyond the Tunnel,” which took me to task for my remarks extolling Portland’s hipness over that of our suburban neighbors.

I am quite certain that Washington County’s suburbs are cooler and more creative than many major cities are themselves. And yes, I agree that I now have a neighborly obligation to sample some of WashCo’s culinary and cultural delights. So I hereby solemnly swear that between now and Oct. 15, I will indeed sample a burger at Helvetia; join Hillsboro Tribune Publisher John Schrag for a cappuccino at Insomnia Coffee and see a play at either Bag & Baggage or Broadway Rose. I also hereby confess that since I now live in Multnomah Village, I regularly cross the county line on my way to the Raleigh Hills New Seasons. I also thank you for making me feel like I’ve really arrived as a big-city city councilor. I don’t think you’ve really made it in a job like this until you’ve: 1) gotten involved in a taxicab issue; 2) had a hearing on off-leash dogs; and 3) insulted the suburbs. And now, I’ve done all three. Steve Novick

Portland City Councilor

PERS reform essential to budget troubles

State Rep. Ben Unger’s GATE efforts are all well and good, but eliminating two or three minor duplications and raising taxes will not solve the budget problem. Given the gargantuan Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) crisis, Unger’s efforts are like weeding a garden in the direct path of an approaching tornado.

As state Sen. Bruce Starr makes clear, there is no hope for fiscal sanity or increased funding for vital services like education without major reform of PERS. SB 822, which passed the Oregon Senate, merely increases the problem. SB 754 is a serious proposal and it has the support of the governor and the Oregon School Board Association’s Stand for Children.

In itself, PERS reform is not sufficient to reverse the downward trend in Oregon K-12 education, but PERS reform is necessary to that reversal. You announce (Hillsboro Tribune, April 26 issue) that Hillsboro is laying off 50 school teachers for the 2013-14 school year; if the PERS problem is not addressed, Hillsboro will be forced to lay off even more teachers in the coming years.

Chana Cox

North Plains

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