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Readers' Letters: Voters, don't put water decisions in wrong hands

Your story “Drowning in water district confusion? Read voters guide” (Sources Say, April 3) is apt for the appalling mess Ballot Measure 26-156 is.

The promoters, some of the city’s biggest polluters and water users, have concocted an ill-considered, confusing plan to do two things: gut the city’s environmental programs by putting them into the hands of those who want to kill them; and transfer costs of water, sewer and storm water programs from big corporate water users onto individual households.

The measure clearly disenfranchises many voters in east Portland who do not live in the Portland School District; will actually result in increasing water and sewer rates, not reduce them; and will eliminate the city’s “green” programs, such as tree planting, protecting the city’s watershed for human health and ecosystem health, and eliminate restoration efforts on the Willamette, Johnson Creek and other urban streams, and areas like Forest Park and the 160-acre Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge — the city’s first official refuge.

When in doubt, smart voters, which Measure 26-156 has generated plenty of, it’s best to vote “no” and work for sensible solutions with those we have elected to represent us, the Portland City Council. The councilors are far more answerable and their actions far more transparent to the public than to a “shadow” new utility consisting of people supported by polluters and their lobbyists that Measure 26-156 would create.

Vote “no” on Measure 26-156 to keep Bull Run, the city’s environment, your health, and decisions on utility rates where they belong, within the city.

Mike Houck

Director, Urban Greenspaces Institute

Northwest Portland

Measure makes city responsive to citizens

The Citizens Utility Board is too little, too late, and now we learn that CUB is groveling for donations from the same beleaguered ratepayers who already have been drained by the Portland Water Bureau’s outrageous spending (Portland water and sewer customers get new consumer advocate, web story, March 25).

The May 20 vote to relieve the bureau of its iron grip (Ballot Measure 26-156) may not reduce rates, and it may stumble initially. However, this transition is an essential step toward making city government responsive to the citizens who fund and support it.

The Water Bureau, the Portland Development Commission, and several other city entities have evolved into oligarchies run by free-spending risk takers, utterly unconcerned with the financial plight of Portland’s residents. The convention hotel is another painful example — three local governments breaking state laws so they can jam a massive public bond funding scheme down peoples’ throats without the benefit of any public approval.

The city needs to be jolted into performing responsible governance

Lee Hill

Southwest Portland

Land use is complex; columnist simplistic

Jason Miner’s guest column (Fighting Sprawl, March 18) is at best naíve on at least three counts: First, his viewpoint is single-issued, concerned solely with his own self-interest. Second, he does not demonstrate an understanding of the process involved in this particular instance of land-use planning. Third, either he has not read the state Court of Appeals ruling or else he is misrepresenting its findings.

First, Miner’s statements assume that everybody who disagrees with him operates from an evil motive. He says that those with the loudest voices have something to gain. Well, the loudest voices have been “Save Helvetia” and 1000 Friends of Oregon. He states that those who disagree are for “completely dismantling land-use planning ...” So in his eyes, if you don’t agree with him and his cause, then your goal must be to destroy the land.

Second, Miner’s comment does not reflect an understanding of the extent and breadth of the process that went into the recent land-use plan in the first place. Over a period of years, the Washington County Board of Commissioners heard from professional land-use planners, attorneys and the testimony of a diversity of citizens. The plan ultimately was approved by three boards of county commissioners, by Metro, and by the Land Conservation and Development Commission.

But Miner says “Quite simply Washington County overreached in the land reserve process.” Really? Where is the “overreach”? Considering this process, it is impossible to give credence to such an accusation.

Third, did Miner read the ruling of the Court of Appeals? It clearly states the LCDC made multiple errors in the approval process. Not the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

Readers of this paper deserve to have a balanced point of view on this complex, many-faceted subject.

Roger G. Smith

Cornelius

Old Town great spot for doing business

I read with interest your article (Mayor: Old Town needs some TLC, March 18) about planned investments in Old Town/Chinatown. As president of the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), I welcome the investment in this vibrant, diverse neighborhood — and to businesses that may be considering this location, I encourage you to join us.

NWEA chose to relocate in Old Town/Chinatown from Lake Oswego and has 380 of our 600 employees in our headquarters at the building at Northwest Second Avenue and Everett Street (the “blue column” building, former headquarters of the Port of Portland). We moved into the neighborhood in 2010, having renovated the space to earn a Gold LEED certification, and we frequently host education and community events consistent with our not-for-profit status and our mission of partnering to help all kids learn.

The neighborhood’s amenities, including access to public transit, and its unique character attracted us to relocate here. So it is our hope, as plans develop for the new funds, that this character is respected and maintained, and that those most vulnerable in our society continue to feel that Old Town/Chinatown is their home, too. Through our partnerships with more than 6,800 school districts around the country, NWEA has learned the importance of serving all stakeholders, and that includes our neighbors as well.

We take pride in being a Portland-based business and look forward to partnering with the city as it redirects much-needed resources to this community.

Matt Chapman

President and CEO, NWEA

Northwest Portland

Coal exports benefit few in short-term

As a Portland business owner, I oppose coal export terminals in the Columbia River Gorge and encourage other businesses to do the same.

These projects would make Oregon the largest coal exporter in North America, endangering our health, recreation, environment, agriculture and more. Studies show coal would be extremely costly for Oregon without a corresponding return on investment.

Our sustainable Northwest economy benefits all of us, but coal exports would sacrifice this long-term strength of the many for the short-term gain of a very few rail, energy and financial companies. Demand for coal is dropping around the world, and these companies will not stay to clean up their damage when the money spigot stops flowing.

Coal export terminals would be a crushing blow to the environmental and business values of our region, but our voices matter. I urge all Northwest people and businesses to speak out on this critical issue, and I ask Gov. John Kitzhaber to deny these coal export terminal permits.

Oregon businesses are leading the way toward a clean and green future, but coal is a step backward from that vision. It’s an expensive, dangerous step we can, and should, avoid.

Tom Dwyer

Tom Dwyer Automotive Services

Southeast Portland

Don’t complain if you’re not involved

What the proponents of the measure (Ballot Measure 34-210, opposing high-capacity transit lines in the city of Tigard) that just passed March 11 have said over and over is that they hate Metro and they hate government making decisions for them (Tigard to voters: What were you thinking?, March 25).

I spoke with one of the sponsors of the measure and informed him of the many meetings that have been occurring in Tigard and all over the region. He had never been to one!

People need to get involved and get informed. Attend meetings. If you don’t attend these meetings and let the decision-makers know your opinion, the people you elect will make decisions without input from you.

Highway 99 is a state highway and so is Southwest Hall Boulevard. The decisions for making some kind of rapid transit will be made without Tigard’s input due to the measure that passed. It will be built, and it’s too bad that the citizens decided to let others make the decision for them.

Sydney Webb

Former Tigard city councilor, 2002-10