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Our Christmas mailbag includes thoughts on public transit and the Oregon International Air Show.

Planners should think beyond reflex

While I'm not particularly surprised by Rachel Dawson's recent reflection on Metro's transit plans and use of taxpayer dollars, I am nonetheless disturbed by her particular line of thought.

Ms. Dawson argues that voters ought to turn out to deny funding for Metro because their only interest is in "pet projects" that residents don't want. What they want is more roads and widening of already-congested freeways in the Portland area.

Refer to Rachel Dawson's commentary, published Dec. 11, 2019, about the gap between regional transit planning and what residents say they want.

There's no surprise in the fact that when surveyed individually, tri-county residents respond preferentially in favor of those things that perpetuate old American habits. That is to say, the individual freedom to hop in a car (usually, by one's lonesome self) and commute to work. Similar to other constituent groups, single-car commuters are likely to hold the belief that commuting alone in the privacy of a car is a constitutional, God-given right.

As long as I can remember — going back to my childhood in 1950's Southern California — this was one of the promises of the Great American Dream. I experienced, personally, what that "dream" perpetuated: skies so choked with smog that high school swim practices (SoCal had mostly outdoor pools) were routinely canceled for "health reasons."

Given individual choice and the individual investment in mortgage-sized car payments, of course, people will choose to drive that car. Yet, with the exception of the rural Montanas and back-road South Dakotas and the like, Americans live predominately today in urban communities. More to the point: We live in community. And that means making communal decisions that promote communal goals, which may indeed conflict with individual wants.

In the case of Portland, and Oregon as a whole, that may mean enduring the pain of clogged freeways and frustrating commutes until people are prodded into changing their habits. Metro, thank you for thinking bigger than the Rachel Dawsons of the world.

Timothy Rake, Forest Grove

Hillsboro has outgrown the air show

The Oregon International Air Show is not returning to Hillsboro next year (and possibly the following year) because the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels will not perform at Hillsboro because the required safety areas do not meet the standards they must meet.

The growth of Hillsboro in and around the airport are factors in this decision.

Of course, this should raise the question how prudent is it to continue having a major air show at the Hillsboro Airport, putting at risk major manufacturing sites and residences. Memory should remind us of an air show-related crash several years ago in a residential area between the airport and Intel.

Citizens should question how much oversight the city of Hillsboro provides for the air show. It appears the air show management is independent of the city and the Port of Portland, which leaves open the question of who is representing the citizens of Hillsboro?

As your article said, when Swede Ralston started the Hillsboro air show in 1947, he wanted to showcase the fledgling airport. The airport has since taken flight beyond what he probably dreamed and is an integral part of the local economy. The air show is now just another entertainment venue, which alters the risk-reward calculations significantly.

Michael R. Gallagher, Hillsboro


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