Letters: Public employee unions continue cycle
A 60% majority in the Oregon Legislature is probably the worst ever for current taxpayers. The problem started just before it convened when the state and most schools gave employees big raises.
For example, Portland schools gave a 3% cost of living raise, a 3.5% seniority raise, a similar increase in health insurance, an even bigger increase in PERS payments. Lawmakers failed to mention these are really increases in compensation and that those big PERS costs benefit the more senior teachers the most.
Despite record revenues, the state faces a "budget shortfall." Blame it on PERS, blame it on increased employee costs, blame it on the weather, but the legislators are on their way to pass the biggest tax increases the state has ever suffered.
They did the same thing in 2017. Some taxes also were raised to cover a shortfall, but now the revenues are coming in much bigger than expected — just not big enough to cover the employee wage increases. They overdid it so the over-budget kicker "kicks," but they want this excess money, too.
Why? An oversimplified answer is so the money is there next time for public union raises and PERS; so these unions will finance the legislators' next election; so they will be there to vote for more taxes to cover the new shortfall and repeat the cycle.
The public unions and PERS employees should be thanking every nongovernment employee in Oregon. Their nongovernment compensation went up 3%, in total, in 2018, and they will be paying for public employees to receive an 11%-plus raise.
Write the names down. If your legislator voted for these massive tax increases, do not make the mistake of voting for him/her next time.
Quakers? Lightning? Maybe a buccaneer?
I read the June 20 article about a new Franklin High mascot with interest and think the new designation is appropriately energetic.
However, the "Quaker" in the picture that accompanies the article looks for all the world to me like a buccaneer. All he needs is an eye patch and a parrot on his shoulder.
More density won''t mean affordability
The current state legislative session is near its end and Speaker of the House Tina Kotek is anxious to get House Bill 2001 approved. This bill would densify single-family zoned areas by mandating that multiplex units (up to fourplexes) be permitted in these areas. The mandate would take effect statewide for cities over 25,000 in population and in all cities in the metro area.
The League of Oregon Cities opposes the bill because it is a mandate that takes away the ability of cities to adjust their zoning based on actual housing needs per location. It would also eliminate citizen involvement per the statewide planning goals. Proponents say it creates needed housing opportunities and will provide affordability.
In reality, this bill does not address affordability. You would think that a heavy influx of new units would reduce costs, yet the rental market is rapidly becoming saturated in Portland and no rental reductions are occurring. Rents are still highly inflated.
In addition, several studies (including ones in Kansas City and Chicago) have indicated that densification actually increases costs and reduces affordability. And logically, if you demolish houses or convert them into multifamily structures, you remove houses from the market. This raises the price of remaining houses and will make them even more unaffordable to first-time buyers.
HB 2001 will benefit builders and investment companies, and, provide more rental units in areas that used to be predominantly houses. However, neighborhood character will change and housing affordability will still be a pipe dream. This situation would also exist if Portland passes its RIP program.
Considering the massive campaign donations key state politicians are receiving, perhaps it is time to consider term limits. Only then can we reasonably expect legislation that will benefit the public and not be heavily slanted towards special interests.
Driver's license bill makes roads safe
My name is Michael Dale and I am the executive director of Northwest Workers' Justice Project. Our organization believes that we must uphold our values of dignity and respect in Oregon. That is why we urge the Oregon Senate to pass the Equal Access to Roads Act (House Bill 2015).
The ability to drive legally is a core everyday need for many Oregon families as people take their kids to school, commute to work and take care of family and neighbors in need.
In Oregon, being unable to produce a driver's license during a traffic stop is increasingly leading immigrants, who otherwise have no criminal records, to be flagged for deportation. Oregonians should not have to live in fear of being deported or worry about their families being torn apart simply because they are taking their kids to school, going to work, or taking care of their family or neighbors.
Oregon lawmakers need to pass the Equal Access to Roads Act (HB 2015) to ensure standard licenses are available to all drivers who meet the requirements to drive and are ensured, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.
D. Michael Dale
Thanks, Portland, for all your potholes
Portland, thank you for letting me know about your pothole problem.
A few weeks ago during the bike portion of a local triathlon I found one of your famous potholes, at 25 mph. This caused my first bicycle incident since I was 6 years old. Two broken ribs, one broken scapula, a bruised lung, some deep scrapes and bruises and two days in the hospital, plus the upcoming bike repair, remind me of how little care you have for your citizens.
You did close the road to traffic, thank you.
Will you take any responsibility for my hospital costs or the week of work I missed? Or the ongoing doctor's visits (more time away for work) or the physical therapy I hope to start in a few weeks?
Thank you for the city workers guarding some crossing lanes, and I think some police officers, too, we appreciate them. But the road should be clear to ride, as you are sanctioning its use.
Have to go now, I have to ice my shoulder and neck and wait for my hospital bills to start rolling in. Thanks again.
Vaping could have bad long-term effects
On a recent visit to Portland, I enjoyed reading "Teen Vaping: Up in smoke," Thursday, June 13.
Regarding the potentially deleterious effects of vaping, I think it is also important for the public (particularly teens) to understand that the constituents of the vaping fluid are not just nicotine but other toxic substances such as propylene glycol to aid in aerosolizing the nicotine to be absorbed by the lungs. The health effects of long-term smoking of these compounds have not yet been established. Thus, just as with smokers decades ago, we are doing an experiment on the human population — particularly our youth — with unknown consequences.
Vaping may be safer than smoking cigarettes but that doesn't automatically imply that it is safe beyond the fact that nicotine is addictive and a dangerous stimulant. I worry for the future of our youth.
League supports driver's license legislation
The Portland Japanese American Citizens League urges the Legislature to support House Bill 2015.
Oregon has a long history of legislatively discriminating against Asians and people of color. In 1859, Oregon wrote into its constitution that no Negro could reside in this state and "no Chinaman could own property in this state." In 1923, the Ku Klux Klan sponsored and passed a bill limiting land and property rights to citizens and those eligible for naturalization. It was a legal way to prevent farmers born in Japan from purchasing and owning land. This was legal but not right.
House Bill 2015 would allow all Oregon residents the ability to drive legally. It would require all drivers to pass a written safety exam and driver's test and therefore have the ability to obtain insurance. This makes our roads safer for everyone. In 2014, Measure 88 took away the ability to legally drive for people who could not prove their legal residency in the state. The unstated purpose of this measure was to make it harder for people to obtain a license much in the same way the Alien Land Law made it harder for the Japanese to purchase property. It is legal but not the way we want to treat our neighbors.
We want a state that is welcoming and supportive of our immigrant neighbors and gives them an equal opportunity to work and go to school. Think about the purpose of denying the people the right to get a legal way to drive. It does not make our community safer. The Portland JACL encourages the legislature to pass this bill. Our legislation should reflect our values as a state.