Negotiate a way out of city's destructive protests
We wish to comment on the ongoing, non-relenting battles in Portland.
We are very troubled about the destruction of my adopted city, watching the war that is going on night after night. In our view, it is a war now that the extreme right and left factions co-opted the peaceful and well justified demonstrations for racial equality and police reform.
In our view, the only way to stop this is through the type of negotiations that are practiced in war time. An outside person or organization which is accepted by all sides needs to step in. A ceasefire is declared and agreed upon and negotiations conducted to hammer out an agreement to go forward with peaceful changes that will satisfy the changes needed for true equality.
Those who are intent on violence on all sides to be dealt with according to applicable laws and not just a slap on the hand.
It is time to start building a new Portland. A city which is truly welcoming and honoring all races, religions and lifestyles.
Andre and Sharon Szolnoki
Stop the 'socialism' scare tactics
What do Norway, China, Ireland, Venezuela and Russia have in common?
By American definitions, they're all socialist. And we all know that socialism equals bad, right? But to borrow from Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
Hopefully most recognize how incredibly different these countries are — in their markets, governance, national values, residents' daily lives. These countries are no more identical than the democratic republic United States is to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (although some days…). Rather, it appears that individual words referencing entire economic and political systems may necessitate more nuance and context than fits in a tweet.
We're currently hearing dire warnings of Joe Biden's "far left socialism." But Biden — love, hate, or vaguely tolerate — isn't far left. He's not even really 'left' at all. Nor is he socialist by nearly any definition.
But phrases like these are a strangely effective fear tactic that manage to write off entire philosophies, platforms and parties in one fell swoop. But that's no Demosthenean feat of rhetorical strength. It's the equivalent of sticking one's fingers in one's ears, "nanananananaaaah, I can't hear you" — a childish maneuver avoiding any critical reckoning with complex ideas or the problems crushing us. And it is gleefully gobbled up by those more eager to "own the libs" than explore what, precisely, is being proposed, or interrogate why their leaders haven't offered any meaningful policy alternatives.
Or, as a staunch anti-Communist and far smarter human than myself once stated, while exhorting the pursuit of racial and economic equality:
"There are those in every land who would label as 'communist' every threat to their privilege. (But) reform is not communism. And the denial of freedom, in whatever name, only strengthens the (totalitarian) communism it claims to oppose."
Residential infill is wrong answer for city
The COVID-19 crisis and Portland riots have likely changed the trajectory of Portland's future development. Can we expect the explosive population growth in coming decades that was projected just a year ago? Probably not. Will businesses decide to pay for expensive office space when many of their employees can work from home? Many will not. Likewise, many people will not need to live in town as they telecommute for all or part of their work schedule.
The city has been on a development frenzy, building high rises and demolishing historic homes. Portland's traditional planning approach as a "city of neighborhoods," once a national model, now encourages infill by allowing an almost "anything goes" approach. This is fine for vacant lots, industrial areas or blighted land, but it will be a disaster for neighborhood livability and affordability.
Portland's Residential Infill Project, or RIP, gives developers too much influence and has created strange bedfellows: profit-driven developers are benefiting from the greenwashing provided by environmentalists trying to preserve the urban growth boundary. Most recently, neighborhood infill is also seen as a way to right the historic wrongs of racially motivated housing discrimination. Unfortunately, RIP will achieve neither of these worthwhile goals.
But it's not too late. The COVID crisis gives us a chance to hit the pause button and reconcile laudable goals. How has the once-in-a-century pandemic changed economic patterns? Will Portland need all those new apartments and infill? Will it really improve affordability? Can't we use targeted tax incentives and subsidies to underwrite fair and livable housing without sacrificing our other values?
We can protect neighborhood character and livability, improve housing fairness and conserve greenspaces. The Portland City Council needs to listen to all of its residents, not just the most powerful or loudest. RIP is not right.
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