Letters: Two-party system is too rigid for unaffiliated
In George Washington's farewell address, he warned of the dangers of political parties and their dangers of partisanship even when current political parties were being formed by founding fathers John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. But even with Washington's warning, America pursued establishing the majority two party system we have today.
As an Oregon non-affiliated voter, it is basically impossible to run for political office with the requirement to collect a minimum of 1% of verified voters per district in the specified time allowed. Non-affiliated voters cannot vote during an Oregon primary election because they are closed, leaving them to only vote during the general elections, which only have approved party candidates. Was this what our founding fathers fought the revolution for?
I was a registered Democrat during the 2008 election and remember vividly when the DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, announced that with the election of Obama/Biden the Progressive Liberal Socialist's had taken control of the Democratic Party. As a right-of-center moderate I watched the party pursue a leftist agenda for the two years they had a majority (2009-11). Now, once again, they have achieved a majority, and in addition to the pandemic they are pursuing a "woke" radical agenda, will this bring our nation together? Will banning select social media vendors and rescinding the 2nd Amendment restore our unity?
Portland Is ill, but not dying
A recent column published in Forbes has caused quite a stir. The editorial, by Oregon economist Bill Conerly, asks whether Portland is experiencing the death of a city. For months, the Oregonian, Willamette Week, and the Mercury have run articles reporting on business closures, vandalism, and rising violence. Yet, when Cascade Policy Institute's chairman comments on these same things, the local media change their tune to "it's all good, nothing to see here."
Sure, it's true much of Portland's recent malaise was brought on by a worldwide pandemic. But it's also revealed so much of our town's failures to live up to its motto as the "City That Works." We have a city council that views business as a parasite to be managed with new and higher taxes and ever-increasing regulations. We have city policies more focused on avenging past wrongs than in preparing for a future where businesses can prosper and people can flourish. Rather than serving the voters, more and more politicians behave as if we serve them. As if it's our job to make them look good.
Portland isn't dying, but it's got a disease. We've got to treat the symptoms, shake the illness, and bring our city back to its status as one of the world's most livable cities.
Eric Fruits, Ph.D., Vice President of Research, Cascade Policy Institute
Oregon Cares Fund a necessary lifeline
I am writing today to discuss the impact Oregon Cares had for my small business with their grant.
After being shut down for two months from the pandemic, I had to let go of my employees and was running my business by myself while my wife taught our five children via distance learning.
I thought I was going to lose my business but the grant from the Oregon Cares Fund has allowed me to breathe again. For this, I am grateful to leaders in Oregon for their commitment to the Black community and recognition that race-specific funds are necessary to achieve equity while distributing COVID-19 financial relief.
As the Jan. 4 New York Times article about the Oregon Cares Fund states, the fund is necessary, fair and legal because the impact of COVID-19 and the financial relief offered by the federal government was not distributed equally.
I applaud efforts to bolster equity and I applaud leaders from the Black community in Oregon who recognized the need for the fund; the Latino community that has come out in force supporting the Oregon Cares Fund; and legislators who understood the need and helped make it happen.
Reopening schools will be expensive
Enough already with the wailing and gnashing of teeth. We do not need any more letters or news articles wanting to open the schools.
Here's the reality: To meet distancing guidelines most classroom will be limited to about eight students. Locally, 53% of teachers, staff and/or their family members fall into the high-risk category. Among substitute teachers it's about 80%.
Then there's those pesky 13th and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. You know, the ones banning involuntary servitude.
If 20% to 30% of teachers quit because they want to live, where are their replacements coming from?
Currently classes run 22 to 33 pupils. Usually 25 to 27. Many school buildings are running at or above 100% occupancy. Running two shifts double or triple costs.
Then you have buses and cafeterias on top of those costs.
Back East, they are trying to figure out how to run three shifts. If you look at the numbers above you can see that is what we would have to do. At three or four times our current budget costs.
Realistically at current vaccination rates it will probably be September before we can reopen schools to in-person learning. And unfortunately, children will probably need two or three years of summer school to catch up.
So please, do not give any more ink to reality deniers who want cake and ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Unless they have a realistic plan to increase school funding three- or four-fold.
Vaccinate people older than 65 and we're all safe
Surprise, 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 today, every day we saw that over 92% of deaths were people over the age of 60. And 52% over 80. Only 6% of teachers in this country are over 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 each other and then take it home to vulnerable relatives?
Online 18% of Oregonians are over 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?
(Editor's note: The Oregon Health Authority resume releasing detailed information on COVID-19 deaths since this letter was written.)
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 (editor's note: Black, indigenous, and people of color) 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.
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