Letters: Don't blame workers for PERS problems
Thank you for publishing Officer Brad King's well-reasoned view on the unfairness of Senate Bill 1049.
A generation ago, poor management of PERS led to a time bomb that went off with the 2008 recession. Public servants have been shouldering this debt ever since.
Public servants from a generation ago received the benefit of that long-since scrapped benefit package. Two reforms later, public employees hired within the past 16 years have been working under the Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan (OPSRP) retirement plan, contributing 6% of their salary toward the defined contribution part of this much-curtailed benefit plan.
Current public employees did not cause nor do they benefit from the plans that have led to the deficit. There is no good reason for singling out public employees and cutting into their compensation plans to pay for the unfunded liability.
Like most Oregonians, I am not comfortable with those making six-figure incomes drawing the largest benefits from the state upon retirement. That is something that can be addressed by capping the maximum income used to determine benefits.
SB 1049's cap is $195,000 per year. Share the burden of the unfunded liability across the state and bring that cap down to $100,000 per year.
Clean up homeless camps, their drugs
As a native Portlander, I have to say I am disgusted with the proliferation of drug-related oddities strewn about like so much confetti on my city's streets.
I was born and raised here until about the age of 10. Then my family moved to Beaverton, where I came of age.
After service in the military during the Vietnam War, I was honorably discharged, which would later open doors for me as I eased into retirement.
With the economy still lingering at the final edges of a national crisis, I found it difficult to obtain even a part-time job. So I chose to volunteer, first doing a stint with the Johnson Creek Watershed Council cleaning up Johnson Creek, which entailed wading into deep water and picking up trash along its banks. I did two stints as a volunteer at this.
Then, just a day or two ago, I'm out walking in my sandals and shorts, enjoying the sunshine, and, oops, a needle gets stuck in my right sandal.
So yeah, I am in favor of the police having the authority to clean out the homeless camps, where they know folks are doing heavy drugs. We need to do this throughout the Portland area, even the tricounty area.
Four years ago, I wrote a letter to the Trib offering a funding plan for homelessness, with follow-ups to ideas for villages and tiny houses. So why not expand cleanups to focus on needles, giving the volunteers a nice incentive to participate?
It makes drug users nervous when folks shine the light of day upon them. And we all know drug use leads to a plethora of crimes ordinary people would not normally commit.
I'll be first in line to volunteer.
Mark L. Brown
Zoning changes, infill won't solve housing woes
Both House Bill 2001 and Portland's residential infill proposal, are built on very shaky foundations. Both think ending single-family zoning will make housing affordable. The House bill would end it statewide in many cities.
Build more housing and prices come down. Why believe that? Seattle has added many thousands of units and there is still an upward swing to prices.
Real estate is a global investment tool. You and I may not have it, but there is a lot of wealth in the world.
It is not just about numbers of units. This is capital looking for a return. So long as Oregon and Portland are seen as having acceptable risks and decent returns, prices stay high. Demolitions will be replaced by unaffordable units. If someone shows up with a better offer, you won't get that apartment or house.
Wring your hands, but without subsidized or nonprofit housing, that's life.
The assumption is that by doing away with single-family zones, allowing duplexes, triplexes and quads on traditional single-family lots, land costs can be split between the units, thereby making housing affordable.
But we are left to rely on the developers, homebuilders and owners to pass that savings on, at each step, finally to a renter or buyer. They could just keep the savings or pocket enough of it so that you get little or no bang for your bill.
Perhaps the price of lots will just go up.
The costs of this bill and proposal? Increased congestion, noise, fewer trees, less sun access and reduced privacy. Those are things that make up a quality of life.
There is strong concern that both of these will displace renters. The House bill takes away your local control.
Both the bill and proposal seem fundamentally flawed. It's time to contact your representatives.