In our first post-election mailbag, readers are concerned about hate in America and bridging the Columbia.

Time to speak out against hate in America

The latest mass shooting in a synagogue in Pittsburgh has left many of us shocked, disgusted and horrified. But in addition to these emotions, I am now feeling a great sense of shame.

I am, for the first time, ashamed to be a citizen of the United States. I am ashamed to live in a country where it is so easy for anyone to acquire a lethal weapon made for the sole purpose of killing people. I am ashamed of the widespread hate speech that is pervasive on social media and everywhere else.

We know that hateful speech leads to hateful actions. And the most shameful thing of all is that this kind of rhetoric is coming directly from the president of the United States. No one is exempt, but he especially targets immigrants and minorities in his efforts to ratchet up fear and hate.

So, what can we do?

First and most important, don't keep silent. If we don't speak out against this, we are complicit. Make it clear to your friends, your family, your elected leaders and everyone else, that this is wrong.

This famous quote sums it up best: "First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I wasn't a socialist. And then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me." – Martin Niemoller, in reference to the Nazi takeover of Germany.

David Pauli, Forest Grove

Why not combine the bridge projects?

Time and money have been wasted discussing this project. If a new Interstate 5 bridge is needed, then it must be built.

But why spend money designing it long before other decisions are made like where it will be and the most cost-saving and fair way to pay for it.

The railroad bridge probably should be replaced also. So why not combine the two and share the cost?

The railroad could then profit by providing express commutes between Vancouver and Portland during rush hour. I imagine people might pay extra for entertainment, exercise or other pleasant or productive ways to spend that time rather than drive.

Then the I-5 bridge could be left there until it can be taken apart and used wisely elsewhere, maybe between Kelley Point Park and Sauvie Island?

Of course, I'd use tolls to pay for the half of the new bridge that the railroad does not pay for. The amount of the toll and the years it will require to pay for it can be put on the ballot.

I believe both Oregon and Washington should have a state bank to finance public projects like this. Then the interest can be recycled to repair or replace other bridges or roads. If North Dakota can remain better off by having a state bank, then why can't we?

Sharon Joy, Portland

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