Letters: Bus would be cheaper than new streetcar
The Portland Streetcar proposal to spend $5 million each for two new streetcars makes no sense when a bus on the same street could do the same job for only $500,000.
Even worse is the thought of spending $80 million to add 2.4 miles of new track at a cost of $33 million per mile. An urban four-lane freeway costs about $10 million per mile to build and would carry 80,000 people per day with a tiny per-person operating cost. Compare this to, at most, only 2,500 additional streetcar riders costing $2.44 but contributing just 34 cents per ride to the fare box for $80 million.
Costs need to be considered. The object is not to see if the streetcar can outspend TriMet but to move people efficiently. People like the silver tracks because they know where the streetcar goes, but maybe painting a big blue line down the middle of the street to show where the bus goes could be just as effective at a fraction of the cost.
Courts rejected efforts to cut PERS costs
I was amazed and alarmed at the lack of understanding of PERS by the lawyer and the CEO of Cascade Policy Institute ("TriMet shows pension reform possible," March 22).
The authors either haven't been paying attention over the years to PERS and what's happened to it or just don't want to deal with the facts. They make PERS sound like a monolithic entity. It's not. It's really three plans, the original PERS now known as Tier 1. There's also a Tier 2, that was created with less benefits, and a Tier 3, otherwise known as OPSRP.
The Tier 1 recipients are what has cost PERS so much, and most recipients are now retired and continue to draw benefits. Tier 2 was put in place to correct some of the problems, but fell short. Tier 3 is what new hires get these days and it's partly a defined-contribution plan. A lawyer should know that there have been at least two attempts to cut benefits for Tier 1, both shot down by the Oregon Supreme Court.
Understand petition before signing
In a March 22 letter, Richard F. LaMountain wrote in support of ballot measure IP 22. I disagree with pretty much every opinion in the letter, but applaud that the writer suggested printing a copy of the petition. That way a voter can avoid problems with how the petition has sometimes been misrepresented.
Portland's Street Roots newspaper reported that people have been misled by signature-gatherers into thinking that the petition supports Oregon's "sanctuary law." ("Signature gatherers lying to Oregon voters about anti-sanctuary initiative, complaints say," February 16). A PSU student sent a written complaint to the Secretary of State's Office about canvassers working for Ballot Access LLC. The article described cases of people asking to have their signatures removed when they realized they had been scammed. The student said that 16 PSU students signed the petition after being told it was "to protect Oregon's sanctuary state status."
"Sanctuary law" does not accurately describe the 2015 law that IP 22 seeks to overturn. Search for "ORS 181A.820" and note crucial "exceptions." Oregon law enforcement officers can and do arrest people "charged by the United States with a criminal violation of federal immigration laws ... subject to arrest for the crime pursuant to a warrant of arrest issued by a federal magistrate."
Legalese yes, but it authorizes Oregon police to cooperate with federal agents. ORS 181A.820 does not mention "sanctuary." It delineates responsibilities of federal agents and Oregon police.
Readers might reason that sponsors of the ballot measure should not be blamed for the actions of a signature-gathering contractor — except that Lee Vasche, treasurer at Oregonians for Immigration Reform, owns Ballot Access LLC. Also there is a history: In 2016, two state representatives now sponsoring IP 22 sponsored a similar ballot measure that was slapped down. The Department of Justice found language, used to gather initial signatures, was misleading. DOJ ruled that a person signing the petition would not necessarily understand they were agreeing to repeal the law and make Oregon taxpayers pay for federal enforcement duties.
Some of this is "on" signers who did not read the petition (taking the word of a canvasser). Please stay informed.