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Our readers also express themselves on climate change, unreinforced masonry buildings and home schooling.

Regarding the lead front-page story in the Tribune on Feb. 1, I find myself puzzled by why there would be a movement to change the name of a longtime high school like Jefferson High School.

I grew up in Portland and am familiar with the Portland schools. When I was in high school, we memorized all the presidents and brief histories.

Yes, I admit, I had absolutely no idea Thomas Jefferson dealt in the people commodities like decks of cards. Maybe it is just me, but who cares? Maybe he shot some folks, too. Slaughtered an animal or two, for food. How many years ago was this? A couple of hundred?

Aren't most people a little more focused on day-to-day survival? Keeping their jobs, spouses and children safe and sound from what the world can do to them? How about ending homelessness? Making sure people do not go to bed hungry? Especially our children.

It's one thing for students to engage in an exercise such as this, as I, for one, am counting on that generation to prove humanity is evolving. So I hate to see another Portland institution renamed, particularly for an ancient one like Mr. Jefferson.

Where does it stop? I find it disheartening that people have to play the racial card. For doing so tends to open wounds that already may have healed.

Again, debate the merits in school, as teachers and students and leave the parents out of it.

Mark L. Brown

Southeast Portland

Action on climate change cannot wait

In the past years, Oregon has been experiencing some of the early consequences of climate change in the form of a longer, more intense wildfire season and periods of drought in certain parts of the state.

These problems are only predicted to worsen in the future. It's my opinion, as an Oregon resident and environmentalist, that the reluctance of some Oregon Senate Democrats to vote on the Clean Energy Jobs bill, due to uncertainty about its readiness, is misplaced for two reasons.

First, the ideas behind the bill have been around in various forms since 2009, but most recently lawmakers participated with multiple work groups to make the current bill more amenable and transparent to those who would be affected.

In reality, years of revision, and participation from those who will be regulated, has created a bill that is ready to reduce Oregon's emissions while equitably serving Oregonians of many different backgrounds by reinvesting the generated revenues in local communities.

Second, time is an equally important factor because, even if the bill is passed in the upcoming short session, the rulemaking process to enforce its provisions will take an additional three years. If its passage were delayed until 2019 this would likewise push its implementation back to 2022 rather than 2021.

As the effects of climate change become apparent across Oregon in the coming years, delayed action will only worsen the damages felt by the environment and Oregonians alike. It's imperative that Oregonians throughout the state show their elected officials that they cannot, and should not, wait.

Marc Dorsey

North Portland

Demolition of buildings better than demolition of people

Stan Penkin's opinion piece, "Unreinforced masonry: What price safety?" completely ignores a rather important point: In an earthquake, unreinforced masonry buildings collapse, and people die.

The city officials who are calling for a requirement that such buildings be earthquake-proofed are well aware that such retrofits are costly, and have worked to identify ways to give financial incentives and assistance to building owners. But there is a limit to how much taxpayer money will be available for these private retrofits.

Penkin seems to think that if the public won't pay for retrofits, we should leave the buildings alone. I'm sure he doesn't think of it this way, but in reality, that means that we should be willing to let people die in order to avoid putting a financial burden on building owners.

Penkin is concerned that requiring retrofits might lead to the demolition of buildings. That might be so. But the demolition of buildings is far preferable to the demolition of human beings.

The science is clear: We are going to have a major earthquake. In an earthquake, unreinforced masonry buildings kill. We need to do what is necessary to save lives.

Steve Novick

Southwest Portland

Home schooling doesn't fit in a democracy

The Tribune gave top editorial space to the Cato Institute ("Let Parents Choose," Jan. 25). Cato is a propaganda tool of the Koch brothers' anti-democracy network. Founded by Charles Koch — as well as other think tanks like David Koch's Heritage Foundation — Cato reports distort facts for the brothers. David's Americans for Prosperity (AFP) funded the Tea Party and mobilized opposition to health reform, clean energy legislation and financial regulation. The Koch brothers' father, Fred (co-founder of the right-wing John Birch Society), advised prototype Tea Party members, "Join your local PTA and take it over."

All democracy-loving Americans should be against home schooling save for verifiable physical reasons for nonattendance. There should be one budget for public schools with a free liberal education protected from political ideology, including religious indoctrination passed off as "religious freedom."

Democracy is a complicated system of governance. Human and civil rights are not served by a fragmented education. The Declaration of Independence serves a free society ruled by consent of the governed. Informed decision and consent need good public education based on complete freedom of mind.

Our democracy is built upon the interaction of our students — our future voters — in our schools. It builds habits of cooperation. In many places in America, the public school is the center of our local community.

The Kochs subvert the truth for greedy personal reasons to promote their anti-democratic agenda. So why does the Tribune print their Cato propaganda?

John Legry

Southeast Portland

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