Letters: Be informed about both good, bad news
Upon reading John Schrag's article in the Feb. 8 Tribune regarding your opinion on reporting current events, at first I was disenchanted. Then I stuck with it and was rewarded at the end.
Having grown up in Portland and living in other parts of the state, I certainly wish to maintain a handle on the news. I remember when the Tribune was born and how its focus was on Portland and the immediate surrounding area. You know, the Ward Weaver saga. I was grateful to be informed of this tragedy.
Yet today it seems as though we have not progressed as a society, which troubles me. Is it not reasonable to assume and hope we would evolve into something bordering on intelligence and compassion? From mass shootings to parents torturing 13 children in an upscale area, it doesn't get any better, does it?
Positive and negative stories. Both must be part of the journalistic landscape for your readers. I, for one, would be disappointed not to be informed of how such horrific events can unfold.
So yeah, you've got to fulfill your duty and keep us readers abreast of the shortcomings of mankind, as well as the acts of kindness performed by ordinary citizens on any given day.
I certainly hope others out there agree with this premise.
Mark L. Brown
Cap and invest only a money grab
While the economy is humming for most of the country, a downturn in Oregon's economy may be on the horizon.
The threat comes from the cap and invest legislation being considered in the 2018 short session of the state Legislature.
With no thorough vetting by the public, it is basically a special-interest money grab.
A true cap and trade system would be revenue-neutral, returning the dollars collected in the form of dividends to individual taxpayers who pay the pass-through from industry taxation.
The intent of the cap and invest legislation is to use the dollars collected to further subsidize a special-interest agenda like more specialized infrastructure for the bicyclists who pay no user fees; free charging stations for people with electric cars paid for by home and business ratepayers; and more public transit where the fares cover only about 25 percent of the operating costs and where one bus does as much damage to the roads as 1,200 cars.
The oversight committee proposed in the legislation is a stacked deck of special interests. Equity is absent.
Higher heating costs and rapidly increasing property taxes — up 11 percent for 2017 in Portland — along with increased gas taxes, motor vehicle registration fees and possibly tolls already are driving up the costs of living.
Housing- and automobile-related costs will be even higher with cap and invest taxes added to energy costs. The most recent recession was triggered in part by inflated costs for heating and motor fuels.
Electric utilities in Oregon already are under a mandate to lower their emissions. Any cost hikes through a cap and trade system are unnecessary. Cap and invest rate hikes will only harm consumers.
Nearly 80 percent of the trips in the Portland-metro area are by car; 59 percent of low-income people drive to their place of employment.
Yet, even with a fast-growing population and people voting by driving their cars, the city of Portland has been reducing motor vehicle capacity with road diets and other measures, thereby increasing congestion, fuel consumption and emissions.
Additionally, congestion along with the costs of housing were two of the top three issues in a recent Portland-metro area poll. Government should be using resources to accommodate the popular majority choices of the people, not hammering them with increased taxes for social engineering purposes.
No cap and tax system already implemented has been identified as a major factor for reducing carbon emissions. The truth be told, it is far more of a progressive feel-good way to collect revenue from the masses to support a dictatorial social engineering mind-set.
California residents are moving to Oregon in droves due an extremely high cost of living there, in part inflated by that state's cap and trade system. Since affluent people will be the least impacted by an increasing cost of living, it is almost as if cap and invest is an attempt to eliminate the middle class.
Attempting to push, shove and propel any kind of cap and tax system through the 2018 short session of the Legislature is a total misappropriation of power and leadership.
Any such legislation needs to be fully vetted by the public with appropriate changes and taxpayer safeguards made before it is even considered.
Vetting must include conducting public hearings statewide where everybody who wants to can be heard. Financial costs to the public must be transparently identified. The leadership must be willing to listen and agree to lessen financial impact on the working class and seniors as opposed to dictatorially tinkering with the economy which could possibly trigger downturn or recession.
HB 4145 a step in the right direction
Gun violence is in the news every day. How do we protect our children, our loved ones and communities from senseless, impulsive shootings? HB 4145 addresses three areas our laws currently omit, and if passed, will help protect women and children in Oregon.
HB 4145 would keep guns out of the hands of convicted stalkers. A study shows that nearly nine out of 10 attempted murders of women are forewarned by a stalking incident in the preceding year.
Second, it will prevent abusive dating partners and abusive domestic partners who are under a restraining order from passing a background check, by closing the "boyfriend loophole." Currently, just as many women are killed by boyfriends as by husbands.
Finally, Bill 4145 alerts law enforcement when someone unlawfully attempts to buy a gun and fails the background check. It gives police a chance to interview and investigate proactively, protecting us all from future violence. House Bill 4145, the Domestic Violence Victims Protection bill, is a move in the right direction.
Get rid of professional politicians
Recently I attended Sen. Ron Wyden's town hall at Scappoose High School and heard him proudly tout his record of town halls across the state. Then I listened to him take and appear to answer questions for 90 minutes.
I say "appear" because many questions were given generic political whitewashed answers and a few were just fouled out of bounds.
As a senior senator who has been in office nearly as long as I have been a civilian, and on the budget committee, maybe I just set my standards too high. Where were the facts?
As a past classified documents custodian, I do not appreciate President Trump's use of Twitter or classified information leaking from the White House like a colander, but when talking with constituents he always seems clear and concise when identifying problems and resolutions, even if you do not agree with his politics.
Would direct concise answers be too much to ask from our politicians? This is why I favor repeal of the 17th Amendment. Senators should be selected by the state Legislature, paid as temporary employees, and sent back to their home states after six years. Our founding fathers did not want a government of professional elite politicians.
Do the right thing, Republicans
So, Republicans think they should take it easy and go slow in the 79th Legislature second session.
How about doing the right thing for the people as soon as possible? Democrats appear to want to help all the people, not just their friends.
As a nonaffiliated voter I think there is evidence of bias in one party overall. While the other is searching for a plank to bridge the problems facing us all.
I was brought up in the mistaken belief it is We the People but in reality, it is Us the Corporate.