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Plus, our readers think strong steps needed to aid self-employed people, the media isn't reporting deaths by other illnesses, quarantined people should think about fostering a pet, and more

PMG FILE PHOTO - Lake Oswego Boy Scout Troop 230 unfurls the American Flag during the 2018 Veterans Day service.Just thinking about the coronavirus and all of us being in this together. As with 9/11 we showed solidarity by flying our flags outside our homes.

Why not promote this idea again and choose a date and have all Oregonians fly their flags to show we are supporting one another? We will get through this and we need to stand together. Thank you.

Nancy Holden


Strong steps needed to aid self-employed people

As a self-employed contractor in Portland, I haven't had unemployment coverage since I worked as an employee years ago.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and necessary social limitations now in effect, my clients have all postponed work previously in queue. My adult son, my brother and my work partner, all living in California, are independent contractors.

A 2015 Pew Research Center report found that self-employed Americans and the people working for them together accounted for 30% of the nation's workforce, or 44 million jobs in total in 2014 (likely higher now in 2020).

HR 6201 (Families First Coronavirus Response Act) Division D of the Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization Act of 2020 provides a refundable tax credit to help self-employed people make up for lost income. It would not directly compensate self-employed people (i.e. paid leave) as shelter-in-place becomes even more widespread. It would not directly compensate us if we or our families are hit by the virus or our kids can't go to school.

Clearly, tax credits at the end of the year are not going to put food on the table or pay the rent. Self-employed workers need immediate relief. For many of us, our situations are now dire.

Now more than ever, we need something akin to "unemployment for all." I don't know what form a program like that would take or how cash would be dispersed.

It is crucial that each of us to contact our representatives to advocate for immediate compensation for the newly unemployed self-employed. Please write to your representatives, assert pressure to truly address the economic hardships now faced by this large sector of our community.

Michael Mintz

Southeast Portland

Media isn't reporting deaths by other illnesses

I am one of many local families who is very sure we have had the coronavirus around since at least October of last year. Social media has made it very easy to compare notes, look back at doctor visits, discuss the unexplained "flu" we had — it didn't test always as flu, but it was a strain, we were told.

And the number of us that were told that this was a rough flu season, and the cough sadly hangs on for several weeks. We were given inhalers and antibiotics and allergy pills and special cough syrup. The number of kids that were out sick from class was astounding. There were people whose symptoms were worse as well. We got through it and moved on. This has been among us, and there was no talk of that.

It is irresponsible to not report on the number of ventilators normally used in a flu season and the number of people that recover vs don't. It is irresponsible to not do all of your research and talk about the thousands upon thousands of cases of people who had this and recovered as we do from viruses every flu season. Please give the full story. Interview the doctors' offices. Interview the hospitals. How many people die on a daily basis in a hospital? Yes, I'm sure it's hard to watch that every day.

Please don't make this virus seem like it's harder to watch than others. I'm sure people die of pneumonia every year and it is the same thing. Please do your job as the media and report the full story. Everything that is going on. All diseases, all flu illnesses and deaths, all cancer deaths, all deaths in assisted living for all reasons. This is your responsibility to "flatten the curve," so to speak, on the panic that is ensuing. Do your research please. You can put all of this into perspective.

Kate Henry


Quarantined? Think about fostering a pet

During this COVID-19 crisis, so many of us want to help. The crisis is creating enormous struggles for animal shelters and we can help by fostering pets and encouraging others to do the same.

Staffing shortages, an increase in surrendered animals, a slowdown in adoptions and government shutdowns are all taking their toll. If your employer has asked you to work from home, or you are embracing the request to socially distance, now is a perfect time to foster a shelter animal. You'll dramatically improve their lives, they'll bring joy to yours, and you'll open space at the shelter.

To find a shelter near you to foster today, go to:

And help spread accurate information that the CDC has confirmed a companion animals cannot spread the virus, so it's perfectly safe to cuddle your pets and fosters. Kittens provide entertainment and fun for children and their interaction with humans makes them more likely to be adopted when they return to the shelter. Dogs love to get out on walks a couple times a day, which will ensure fresh air and exercise for you; a win/win. So, please open your heart and your home to just one pet for the next week or month.

Our collective response to this crisis will help save lives. If fostering isn't an option, please consider making a donation to your local shelter, to ensure they can find forever homes for each and every animal surrendered into their shelter.

Andrea Kozil


ODOT, please change merger signs

Road rage frequently crops up in the Portland area when drivers using zipper-merge and drivers using single-line-merge share the freeway.

Recently, a driver appealed to Judge John Hodgman: "Please order Portland to get on board with the zipper-merge."

Oregon's Department of Transportation advocates zipper-merge (use both lanes all the way to the merge point), but uses signage that shows a single-line merge (leave the deprecated lane as soon as possible). Could ODOT replace that with signage that shows zipper-merge?

Douglas Stevens

Northwest Portland

Governor is right on climate executive order

I would like to express my personal gratitude to Gov. Kate Brown for signing a landmark executive order for climate protection!

The executive order is broad, involving nearly 20 state agencies and commissions; and requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions at least 45% below 1990 emissions levels by 2035, and at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

One of the highlights of the governor's executive order is that it directs the Oregon Global Warming Commission, in coordination with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and other agencies, to propose state goals for carbon sequestration and storage by Oregon's agricultural lands, based on best available science.

This is the type of action that goes a long way to restoring public confidence in the ability of public officials to act with boldness and fortitude.

Steven Winkler


Act now to save world's environment

I take a moment to reflect on the journey that this past year has taken our family on — a new baby, another child reaching toddlerhood, challenging nights, many with compromised sleep.

As a new mother, it is always a sharp contrast — the beauty and richness of my family life juxtaposed with the strain, the sheer exhaustion, of keeping it all afloat.

So similar seems the nature of the human game. Humans have done incredible things, created complex systems, beautiful works of art and music [and] are capable of a degree of compassion not seen in other animal forms.

However, humans also have the capacity to perform egregious acts, tapping into the aggressive side that seems to also be a natural part of our existence. Acts of killing, of war, of greed. Perhaps most pressing of all these exploitations is the influence that humans have had on our climate.

Through years of digging, extracting and mining, the fossil fuels that we have burned into the atmosphere have changed and continue to change our weather patterns, taking us into a realm of a frightening unknown.

The climate crisis is daunting and one that is always on my mind. How can we possibly reverse the course of what seems like a train speeding into a brick wall?

What will my children's future look like? What will happen to all the beautiful and innocent nonhuman life and systems that have been in place in a delicate balance for thousands of years? Is this the beginning of the end?

I cannot bring myself to believe that there is nothing to be done. So, I write this to reach out and educate those who may not know the economics behind a policy called carbon fee and dividend.

The basic tenet places a gradually increasing fee on carbon-based products from its source, then distributes that collected money in the form of an equal dividend to every American.

This simple and elegant policy will cause carbon-based products to increase in price to a degree that they are unsustainable to use. This paves the way for cheaper alternatives to be the mainstay of our energy sources. It also protects low- and middle-income families from the rising costs of everyday goods.

While this is certainly not the only thing that should be done to help mitigate the climate crisis, studies have shown that it is the best single policy that makes the biggest dent in our emissions with at least a 40% reduction by 2030.

In this new and crucial decade, I call on those who feel helpless to take action. Write your senators and representatives, your mayors, your city councils, and tell them how much you want to see action taken on the climate.

Significant changes must be made if we want to avoid the beginning of the end of a future for our children.

Meera Ramachandran

Southeast Portland

Housing crisis isn't just a supply problem

Since I have worked on Portland's residential infill project for much of the last four and a half years, I especially appreciated the title of your recent editorial, "Residents must embrace density."

It is the NIMBYism that you point out "is still alive and well" that has dragged that process out for much of that time.

As a co-founder of the Congress For New Urbanism spinoff group, Portland Small Developer Alliance, I don't argue with the fact that we need more supply. I believe we need more choice of housing types, too — not just ADUs. (The alliance seeks to build "missing middle" housing incrementally in our neighborhoods — housing that costs less to build and uses land more efficiently than single-family homes).

Now, I hope you will tell the rest of the story, beyond supply, about why we have seen such a dramatic rise in both lack of affordability and homelessness. I suggest you start by reading the book, "Homewreckers," by Aaron Glantz.

Glantz points out how home ownership has been on the decline nationally since 1986 because of one financial scheme after another at the hands of billionaire money-grabbers and the gutless politicians who have enabled them. He ties the subprime crisis to not only the Bush and Obama administrations, but shows how the perpetrators of the crisis are now at the helm of the U.S. economy in the Trump administration.

I hope you will investigate how this rapaciousness is playing out here locally.

Meanwhile, those of us in the housing movement need to push harder for a Democratic debate focused on housing policy — as we have heard precious little so far.

Mary Vogel


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