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Readers' Letters: Atiyeh went beyond duty to help many people

I first met Gov. Vic Atiyeh as a child (Atiyeh’s leadership, spirit earn praise, July 22). As a fifth-grader, I read about the fading gold leaf on the Golden Pioneer statue atop the state Capitol building in Salem. The pioneer, mounted in 1938, standing 24 feet tall and weighing roughly 16,000 pounds, was losing his luster, and the Legislature failed to authorize public funds for maintenance.

I brought pennies to my elementary school to take up a collection for the aging statue, and other students matched those contributions. Within two weeks, the entire school district launched a campaign to collect Pennies for the Pioneer. Over a period of weeks, other districts launched their own campaigns. After several months, the Pennies for the Pioneer campaign raised enough money to restore the gold leaf.

The Legislature held a special ceremony inviting the schoolchildren of Oregon to commemorate the restored statue. This was the first time I shook Gov. Atiyeh’s hand. We had an immediate rapport and became lifelong friends.

Even when I became a Democrat in college, Atiyeh supported my career and offered advice. I saw him once or twice a year, occasionally meeting him at his Portland office. The Pennies for the Pioneer campaign taught me that successful movements often begin with a simple gesture. One person really can make a difference. It is a lesson I never forgot.

I never met my father, but I was honored to have a mentor of such distinction, grace and sophistication. I knew Vic Atiyeh would not live forever, but I really hoped he would. He was a bridge builder whose compassion, spirit and sincerity made him a model leader — and more importantly — model human being.

Chris Vetter

Northeast Portland

Death of Atiyeh will be felt deeply

This is terrible news (Atiyeh’s leadership, spirit earn praise, July 22). I got to know Gov. Vic Atiyeh and his wife, Dolores, when he led a trade mission to Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s.

He was unfailingly kind and plainspoken, and reminded me of my own father.

Gov. Atiyeh displayed the type of political goodwill and compromise for the common good that are in short supply anymore. Personally, the governor was generous with advice and wonderful references after I left broadcasting.

This is a personal loss, and one that will be felt by all

Oregonians.

Mark Sanchez

Former KOIN TV news reporter, 1981-2001

Fairview

Yes, traffic sucks; fix the street signs

One thing that stands out about Portland is that it’s very hard to read street signs and the signs directing people to freeway entrances (Honk if you think traffic sucks, July 15). Not everyone has a talking GPS in his or her car, and those who don’t are looking for visible signs.

I find that poorly visible signs contribute to the backup of traffic as people don’t know where their turnoff is located, and they’re slowing down trying to find it.

Jane Stein

Southeast Portland

Novick changes mind on street fee plan

At a May 29 Portland City Hall meeting discussing the street fee proposal, city Commissioner Steve Novick argued against launching an income tax measure as an alternative funding mechanism to the street fee (Hales, Novick recall campaign continues, web story, July 24).

Novick argued he believed such an income tax would be defeated at the ballot box by an organized campaign of rich people. He also cited the city’s polling data showing sharply less support for an income tax than the street fee proposal.

Now Novick says he has a new poll showing majority support for some form of progressive income tax.

In the meantime, there is no shortage of examples of the city spending significant public dollars without responsible prioritization. Just to mention a few: $2 million recently to move a streetcar track a few feet, and write-offs of hotel loans and other dubious loans to businesses. In one case, the Portland Development Commission buys property from Portland State University for $2 million and proposes to give it back now to PSU for $1.

Then there are the planters and bio-ditches in the inner core of Portland, which used to be level parking strips maintained by city residents but now will require the city to maintain. The latter really smacks of make-work with increased maintenance requirements.

Novick says he is bewildered by the recall, saying it is only a matter of finding the right tax scheme. It is the citizens who should be bewildered by a vacillating, historically irresponsible City Hall including Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales.

Bob Clark

Southeast Portland

Portland’s streets need to be repaired

I think it was a great move (Novick crashes own recall meeting, web story, July 19). Everyone knows our streets are in terrible shape. How do you all propose to fix them? It takes money, and I think the street tax is the way to go.

I was not a fan on how they pushed it, but it is needed desperately. City Commissioner Steve Novick at least is not afraid to come up with difficult solutions.

Kristi Richardson

Southeast Portland

Novick explains street fee process

Letter to Lacey Cone and Mary Saunders (Readers’ Letters, July 24):

Our Needs and Funding Advisory Committee, which has been in place since January and represents a wide spectrum of Portlanders, has weighed in and will continue to weigh in on the residential part of the proposed street fee, and not just its impact on low-income Portlanders. We added special committees on nonresidential and low-income issues because of specific issues with regard to those communities that came up during the hearings.

We still are proposing to raise half the funds from nonresidential payers (so that group will be looking at the right mechanism to raise those funds), and we were always planning to have a low-income discount (questions arose as to how that would practically work), so the fact that we have these two new work groups in no way suggests that we are planning to shift more of the cost to middle-income residential payers. I hope this helps clarify matters.

Steve Novick

Portland city commissioner

Southwest Portland

Wood smoke danger needs to be aired

A hearty thanks to the Portland Tribune for printing the important facts about the hazards of wood smoke, which are equivalent to and even more toxic than tobacco smoke (Woodstoves may be as toxic as cigarettes, Sustainable Life,

July 17).

It is high time the public recognizes that we are “smoking wood smoke” every time we breathe in caustic wood smoke fumes. The smoke from even one small bonfire can send a child to the emergency room. Wood smoke also can cause heart attacks and premature death in people of all ages — just like tobacco smoke.

For more information, see www.burningissues.org, or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Julie Mellum

Minneapolis, Minn.

It takes effort to curb wood burning

Changing outdated wood-burning practices takes many approaches: education, consideration for others, a polite request, maybe more people with poor health due to smoke, better bylaws, compassion for others, better technology, the example of industry and vehicles cleaning up their act, better officials, more people to complain. And, good articles like this one (Woodstoves may be as toxic as cigarettes, Sustainable Life,

July 17).

It will take decades and maybe a few places like Portland to set a better standard.

Vic Steblin

Prince George,

British Columbia