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Pamplin Media Group readers take on the governor's COVID-19 vaccine priorities and other issues.

LETTERS TO THE EDITORSurprise, surprise. Gov. Kate Brown has now decided not to release the specifics (read age) of the people who die of COVID-19-19 in this state. You can't blame her because it is a daily reminder of the callous and ignorant decision she made to vaccinate school employees before seniors.

Up until to today, every day we saw that over 92% of deaths were people over the age of 60; 52% over 80. Only 6% of teachers in this country are over age 55, so very few of them are at risk of dying of it. But never mind the facts. What really matters is what is best for the governor's future and her favorite union.

Her excuse is that this will allow schools to reopen. But weren't schools closed so that kids would not spread it to one another and then take it home to vulnerable relatives?

Online 18% of Oregonians are over age 65. Once we vaccinate them, the real threat of COVID-19 is over. So why aren't we focusing on that number?

Please do not let the governor get away with this. This decision needs to be reversed soon. Or perhaps soon you can start publishing the daily numbers of seniors that are dying directly because of Gov. Brown's decision.

Barry Cain

Lake Oswego

Oregonians voted to reinvigorate our democracy

The City Club of Portland issued its report on campaign finance reform. With 78% of Oregonians voting in favor of Measure 107, the electorate sent a clear message for meaningful campaign finance reform.

Oregonians are highly educated; we want strict limits for individual and committee or party donations, small donor committees that allow for people to express themselves, clear citizen-led enforcement and full disclosure of the true top donors in all political ads, including those funded by independent expenditures.

Therefore, the City Club's report appears rather timid when it calls for "sufficiently large donations." Furthermore, as a (partly) Latinx, I was surprised by the report's assertion that significantly large contributions are needed to ensure effective challenge to incumbent politicians, particularly by members of BIPOC communities.

The report provides no references, and the assertion contradicts numerous studies (Brennan Center at NYU Law School, National Bureau of Economic Research) showing that limits on campaign contributions help challengers (minority members or women) defeat incumbents.

Again, 78% of Oregon voters call for campaign finance reform, along with the implementation of Ranked Choice Voting, Oregon has the unique opportunity to be truly inclusive, paving the way for a reinvigoration of democracy in America.

Nathalie Paravicini

Southeast Portland

CARES funds needed to help struggling businesses

In early November 2020, a conservative political activist and logging company owner sued to block the Oregon Cares Fund, a relief program established to support Black Oregonians, Black-owned businesses and Black-led nonprofits suffering disproportionate harm from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shortly thereafter other Oregon business owners joined the suit, requesting class-action status.

Many Oregonians and Oregon businesses have suffered during the pandemic. But Black Oregonians have been hit hardest and received less aid from existing COVID-19 relief efforts.

Black Oregonians are more than three times as likely as white Oregonians to contract COVID-19. Unequal access to relief for workers and businesses has compounded public health disparities.

Black business owners have had a harder time securing coronavirus relief, and Black-owned businesses have been closing at higher rates than white-owned businesses during the pandemic.

The Oregon Cares Fund seeks to address these disparities through targeted aid to people and businesses that have been harmed the most and received the least help.

The plaintiffs in this case are not without recourse to relief funds. Oregon received over $1.3 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding.

Yes, Oregonians and Oregon small businesses need still more relief dollars to carry us through this unrelenting pandemic. Denying relief to a community clearly identified as most impacted and who is being left behind, does nothing to secure the additional resources that all Oregonians desperately need at this time.

It is time to work together for the common good to secure those additional resources.

Jim Houser

Main Street Alliance of Oregon

Southeast Portland

Did U.S. democracy die on Jan. 20?

Growing up during 1960s and '70s, I remember the "the day the music died" from Don McLean's song and album "American Pie," when our "innocence" was lost with the ongoing war with Vietnam (1955-1975), the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy (November 1963), the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (April 1968) and Robert F. Kennedy (June 1968), brother of President John Kennedy. I met Bobby Kennedy early in college on his college campaign trail.

After their assassinations, a period of tremendous fear and social unrest was experienced throughout the world and the United States.

As Americans, we grieved and mourn these great leaders of our country who believed and practiced the constitution of the United States of America. They put their lives on the line for this country. They may not have had good moral principles but "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23, KJV)

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." (the Pledge of Allegiance)

"We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare …" (the U.S. Constitution)

Will Jan. 20, 2021, be remembered in the archives of history, "The day democracy died" in the United States of America?

Michael Downing

Southeast Portland

Governor, lawmakers play roulette with seniors' lives

"I am using every single tool we have to get our kids back into the classroom this year," said Gov. Kate Brown at a recent press conference.

By her actions, seniors and the elderly in Oregon are being downgraded in priority for COVID-19 vaccines even though 48 other states already are vaccinating seniors older than 65 not in care facilities (including neighboring Washington and California). This puts the elderly who are already at a higher risk for COVID-19 into playing Russian roulette as they will have to wait longer than others at a lesser risk for the vaccine.

Putting the lives of our more vulnerable at greater risk is a cruel and selfish way to satisfy those tired of virtual learning. No lives should be cheapened in getting schools reopened and the vaccinating accomplished.

The governor and a biased and partisan state Legislature are themselves liable for this threat to the elderly. How many will die so they can satisfy their lobbyist cronies and special interests?

David Krogh

Southeast Portland

Vaccine is important step to reopen schools

I am 75 years old and am vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.

I have fought off cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. I am anxious to receive the vaccine. Yet, I strongly support Gov. Kate Brown's decision to give the limited supply of vaccine Oregon has obtained first to schoolteachers before providing it to those over age 65.

We senior citizens have had the chance to live full lives, to obtain education, pursue careers, hold jobs, to form relationships and raise children. The big difference between us and today's schoolchildren is that the schools were always open for us. There was no rampant pandemic that endangered us, our families and our teachers, that forced us out of the classroom, that confined us at home away from our friends and instructors and coaches.

The consistency of our schooling was a major feature in our academic development and social maturation.

Today's students already have missed much of the enjoyment we had of growing up with our schoolmates, the excitement of learning we had in our classes with our teachers and fellow students. Consequently, the level of student achievement has fallen in Oregon and elsewhere. The quality of their education has fallen below what we had.

Inoculation bottlenecks, new fears about whether the vaccines will forestall all virus variants, and the continued failure of so many to comply with simple rules for prevention suggest life will not return to normal for a long time. So, for many students, the damage will continue and the loss will never be fully recovered.

We will all get the vaccine. But reopening the schools quickly is critical to the children's lives, to Oregon's future. Extending the lives of the retired, not so much.

Richard Botteri

Southwest Portland

Health authority's vaccine priorities are biased

I'm opposed to the decision by the Oregon Health Authority's Vaccine Advisory Committee to prioritize BIPOCs for the coronavirus vaccine. I regard it as discrimination against white Oregonians.

There's no scientific evidence that I and my fellow white people are more resistant to COVID-19, nor that its damage to us is somehow mitigated by our whiteness. What's driving the increased impact of this pandemic on BIPOCs has nothing to do with physiology or pathology, it's socioeconomic — the same engine that built slums, placed them in the worst schools, and subjected them to a menacing police presence and an antagonistic system of justice.

Systemic racism isn't addressed by moving BIPOCs to the head of the line. Science suggests the most vulnerable be vaccinated first, and expedience demands that our most crucial members of society be vaccinated alongside the vulnerable or immediately afterward. Being black, or Hispanic … or white, for that matter … doesn't make anyone more vulnerable or essential, not solely on the basis of skin color and racial or ethnic background.

It's hypocritical to support racially or ethnically biased discriminatory treatment as a means to counter systemic racism and ethnic privilege. (It's just as hypocritical as it was for Thomas Jefferson to own a slave mistress.)

Implementing this policy won't open doors and heal communities, it will only effect more bitterness and schism.

Jeff McAllister

Northwest Portland

Our senators must fight to block obstruction

Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden must work with the Democratic caucus to bring back the talking filibuster and take away the rules that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has shown he will use to continue to obstruct from the minority.

The American people want results from the U.S. Senate, not more obstruction. Make Mitch stand up there for 12 hours and defend why he won't let the Senate do things for the American people.

Know that if the Senate does not fulfill this mandate, Sens. Merkley and Wyden may not have our votes next time around. It's time for Democrats to fight just as dirty as Mitch and beat him at his own game.

Lucas Mirabito

Northwest Portland

Letter comparing Democrats to Nazis was absurd

On Jan. 20, the Portland Tribune published online a letter from James Caster that compared Democrats to Nazis, calling the Capitol insurrection their Reichstag Fire.

I find this comparison absurd and disturbing. First, President Donald Trump does bear responsibility for what happened, not only because of the rally, but for his big lie since the election, that it was stolen and that he won by a landslide, and his failure to concede.

The purpose of many of the rioters was to stop the certification of the electoral votes and give the election to Trump, behavior that is in line with fascism.

Democrats are not calling for the censorship of "all their political enemies" as Caster states, and even many Republicans, now that they've seen the true nature of Trumpism, think he should be condemned for his part in what was a failed coup.

Rolf Semprebon

Southeast Portland


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