I read the editorial favoring a gas tax for road repairs, and I flatly disagree (Gas tax can go a long way in street repairs, Oct. 1 Tribune). 

A gas tax is a 20th-century fix to a 21st-century problem.

Today, things have changed. Transportation is fueled by gasoline, diesel, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, LPG, hydrogen fuel-cells, electrics and human-powered bicycles. All of these vehicles use the roads, and all of them should pay for road repair, pure and simple. To fund Portland’s road repair based on a gasoline tax only is shortsighted, unfair and misses a number of funding opportunities.

For automobiles these days, rich people are driving $75,000 Teslas, and others are driving Nissan Leafs or BMW electrics. These vehicles use the roads, and owners should pay like anybody else. Portland is spending big bucks for bicycle lanes, painting bike boxes and more. Bicycle riders need to pay their fair share, too.

These are my ideas:

1) Cars and trucks — a mileage fee must be enacted. It is a pay as you go methodology and affects everybody driving. Drive less, pay less. Pure and simple. Drive less, use the road less, damage the road less, pay less. Nobody gets off for free.

2) Bicycles — An annual bike registration fee must be enacted. This way, fees are collected to fund the various bike-friendly construction projects.

3) Studded snow tires — a fee is charged for each studded tire sold in Portland. Studded tires damage our roads, and users of studded tires must pay for the damage they cause. Hopefully this encourages people to switch to less damaging studless snow tires. 

From my view, everybody who uses the roads in Portland needs to be fairly assessed; nothing more is acceptable. Nobody gets off for free by biking, using alternative fuels. Everybody is causing costs/damage to the roads; everybody must pay. 

Rod Richards

Southeast Portland

Transportation trapped in


The coverage of transportation funding in Oregon (I-5 bridge, Sept 24) omitted the most important names in Salem’s failure to pass a funding bill: ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell. On behalf of these clients, the Western States Petroleum Association was able to freeze transportation funding statewide by tying it to a peripheral issue, the Clean Fuel Standard.

In order to protect oil company market share and profit margins for petroleum, Republicans in the Legislature carried forth WSPA’s unprecedented gambit that tied transportation funding to the repeal of an existing statute. Regrettably, a brand-new governor, Kate Brown, accepted these terms and fell into a negotiation trap that was bound to fail. This unfortunate episode is hopefully a lesson learned by an inexperienced governor who is likely once again to face off against Big Oil.

Jim Edelson

Northeast Portland

Take action through the courts

Once again, America is faced with the unenviable task of digesting the facts of a tragic gun killing (Umpqua Community College, Roseburg shooting). It seems that, even though our president refuses to accept such actions “as the new norm” for our nation, he believes that lawmakers will not act. Americans are now called upon to act. I believe this only can be accomplished through the courts.

I recommend that the NAACP, ACLU and other social justice/human rights organizations bring lawsuits against every state and the national Congress, mandating them to uphold the Constitution — “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare ...” — to institute gun laws that help safeguard the American people.

Ernest E. Hartzog

Retired assistant superintendent, Portland Public Schools

WWII veteran

Northwest Portland

Disappointed in Obama’s response

My name is Ed Baker, and I am a resident in Portland. I also am a candidate in the 2016 presidential election (not a member of any political party). I was very disappointed by how our current president responded to the recent shooting at Umpqua Community College.

Our president should have acknowledged the event and given his condolences to the family members and loved ones of those who died or were wounded. He should have stated that the suspect was diseased. That should have been the end of it.

I am a believer in our Constitution, rights and freedom. I will never punish the good people of America who have done no wrong. I am a supporter of our Second Amendment and will defend the rights of Americans.

Ed Baker

Southeast Portland

Opera abandons year-round supporters

While informative, the Tribune’s recent article “Opera Has a New Rhythm,” Sept, 22, tells only half the story about the Portland Opera’s new “festival” season. The other half should come from Portland opera-goers, many of whom feel abandoned by this development. 

Yes, it is important for the opera to remain fiscally stable, but in resorting to a festival season, the company condemns former subscribers and donors to 10 months without staged opera in a city known for its dedication to the arts. And, yes, thanks to the unstinting efforts of General Director Christopher Mattaliano, the Portland Opera has weathered the recent financial downturn that, in part, caused the closure of a limited number of companies nationwide, the majority of which have come back stronger as the economy gathers momentum. Would that the Portland Opera could come back stronger, too. Unfortunately, this does not seem the case.

Just one example (among many): casting for the 2016 festival season. The opera does not appear to be hiring, in Mattaliano’s words, “better talent” such as opera stars Angela Meade and Ruth Ann Swenson, who have appeared in past Junes — the heart of the opera’s new festival season — at the Astoria Music Festival.

Rather, the opera will rely, in the main, on the talents of less established singers in its resident artists program. Great for these young artists, who deserve our encouragement, but not so great for those of us in Portland who love and have, until this unhappy juncture, supported the opera year-round.

Stewart Buettner

Southeast Portland

Why not smaller homes?

The Street of Dreams article featured in Business Tribune Oct. 6 tells us that next year’s homes will have a different feel than the small-footprint houses of this year’s show.

“The homes will be at least 4,500 square feet, though most will likely be close to 6,500 square feet,” says Gordon Foot of Stafford Land Company.

What was wrong with the small footprint homes? Have concerns about the environment come to an end? Where does Oregon’s “green” reputation fit into the McMansion “dream”? Or is green just the color of money?

Susan Bexton

Southwest Portland

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