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Readers offer their views about the climate crisis, jobs, gun violence, bullying and street racing.

An open letter to Portland Mayor and Commissioners:

Where were you on Friday, Sept. 24th at about 12:30 p.m.? The chairs set up for you by young student climate activists in front of City Hall remained empty.

For me to say that this is a disgrace and dereliction of duty is an understatement. Over 2,000 young people from Portland walked out of school, not for fun and games, but because they realize, seemingly more than you care to admit or act upon, that we are in a climate crisis.

This climate chaos is not only somewhere else or at some future time, it is here and it is now. The young people will suffer the most severe consequences of this disaster; many youth expect that they will die from the effects of climate chaos, rather than of old age.

I have been involved in the environmental movement since my college years. Now I am an elder still active and supportive of the young activists who are determined to do their best as they attempt to ensure a livable future.

They need our support. They need to trust and respect our elected officials. Many are less than voting age and feel voiceless and ignored. The fact that you did not show up on Friday for dialogue and discussion with these admirable youth, unfortunately, confirms that belief.

Portland has pledged to act to mitigate the climate crisis and has passed legislation to do so. Now you must show up, act, cooperate and dialogue with our youth. Stand up and be counted.

Alice Shapiro

Southwest Portland

Political leaders must chose action on climate, jobs

If there's one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic taught us, it's that we need to trust the scientists.

This doesn't stop with the medical field. For years, the scientific community has been warning about the perils of climate change. At this moment, this threat must be addressed by Congress through the Build Back Better agenda.

We must use this opportunity to boost clean energy, union jobs, and climate justice. If we fail to act, we risk facing more heat waves, frequent wildfires, and greater pollution. Future generations, even my generation, are already on the chopping block when it comes to inaction.

The American people have shown that they overwhelmingly support this agenda. Support for the Build Back Better agenda has hovered around 70%, and for good reason. If Congress passes this legislation, low-income communities across the nation will see an uptick in good-paying jobs.

This bill also puts the United States on course to achieve 100% clean energy in our electricity grid. This is absolutely crucial in our mission to resolve the problems that plague society. I am grateful that leaders here in Oregon have begun taking steps to lessen the impacts of climate change. Leaders in the state government have already passed House Bill 2021, a piece of legislation that will vastly improve our energy efficiency in the upcoming years.

I also want to thank my Congresswoman, Suzanne Bonamici for her support of federal legislation to deal with our worsening climate change situation.

The United States must step up and do its part to help solve the global climate crisis. If we don't pass the Build Back Better agenda, we risk setting dozens of countries and millions of people backwards. In this moment, we must choose action.

Yusuf Arifin


Are we putting park rangers in danger?

I was looking at the agenda for the Sept. 29 City Council meeting and I noticed that it says, "The pandemic is an emergency that threatens the public health, safety and welfare which requires us to meet remotely by electronic communications."

I also noticed that in response to the wave of armed violence throughout the city, including the almost daily shootings in and around Mt. Scott Park, city commissioners have gone on record as stating that the solution is to deploy unarmed park rangers to serve as "goodwill ambassadors" who will deescalate violent situations. And that those park rangers aren't even issued bulletproof vests.

So I have to wonder. Are we requiring those park rangers to wear masks while doing their community outreach? I mean, we wouldn't want them to get hurt, right?

Brian Belefant

Southeast Portland

Bullying leaves terrible emotional scars

It is with a heavy heart I write this.

I am a graduate of Newberg High School. I found healing from a challenging family situation and hours of laughter there. It was deeply disturbing to learn of the recent and frequent racial and homophobic comments and actions taken by children and on at least one occasion an adult in the school district.

My father was Jewish and was no doubt the only Jew outside of Portland when I was there. I got one awkward and well-intentioned, if ignorant, comment by a friend's mother. But never did I receive hateful or aggressive comments directed to me.

I have been a licensed family therapist for 31 years and have seen the damaging life-long effects of bullying on my clients. In fact, I clearly remember the pain from my own first and second grade being bullied for the clothes I wore.

Racial bullying and homophobia is at a level five times that of regular bullying. The emotional scarring is bad enough but it actually results in an environment in which physical attacks and even murder can and does result. The children and employees need to suffer consequences for their inappropriate behaviors but even more importantly impactful and powerful trainings need to occur for the entire district. I would urgently request that the district call in specialists and consultants to help staff children and yes even board members to be given the opportunity to learn the effects of these types of verbal assaults and ways to prevent them.

Consider Portland State University and a variety of recognized racial and Gay Groups for guidance.

Susan Diamond


Tell DEQ to protect all Oregonians

Good neighbors protect each other. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality recently released new draft rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, the proposed rules do not do enough to protect vulnerable communities, especially those "downwind" communities that will continue to bear the burden of pollution if we don't start making real change. DEQ must alter the draft rules to ensure communities of color, rural communities and low-income Oregonians are not disproportionately affected by industrial pollution. In particular, an effective program must require emissions data collection, including equity mapping, tracking, and enforcement. Without these data we will not know whether the rules work.

We cannot depend on climate pollution emitters to value public health over their bottom lines — we need DEQ to protect our health and environment. Help Oregon solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

Use your voice to let DEQ know all Oregonians deserve effective climate pollution reduction rules, not weak regulations we will regret in the future.

Felice Kelly

Southeast Portland

Sustainable future is our only way forward

I am writing in strong support of the Build Back Better bill now before Congress. We are hearing that the $3.5 trillion cost is too much. Yet much of the cost of long overdue updates for our future will finally be shared by the millionaires and billionaires who benefitted from the deep tax cuts they got from the previous administration.

They have routinely paid much lower tax rates than the rates working people have deducted from our paychecks.

Build Back Better is a timely investment in the sustainable future that we all want and need. The clean energy and infrastructure components will immediately address the climate crisis of fires and floods across the country.

The "human capital" component will bring down the outrageous health care expenses that we all face. For these reasons along with many others, polls show that this bill now has the support of a majority of Americans.

Our elected officials must urgently respond with their support for this way forward to a better, sustainable future for all of us.

Patrick Story

Southeast Portland

Student finds a better housing solution

Leave it to a Portland high school senior to craft a solution to multi-faceted problems city leaders have proved utterly incapable of redressing ("Garbage In, Houses Out," Sept. 23).

I hope Mayor Wheeler, his staff and city council take note of this young man's ingenuity in addressing homelessness and industrial waste. It is a shining example of true innovation, creativity, and budget consciousness, tailored to urgent needs in our community.

If I were Sam Adams, the city's director of "strategic innovations," I'd be spiffing up my resume.

Sincere congratulations to the young Mr. Abrams. There are clearly big things ahead in his future.

Kristine A. Munholland

North Portland

Wyden should help eliminate fossil fuel subsidies

Oregon's U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden has shown an admirable history supporting and introducing legislation that tackles the devastating effects of climate change wrecking havoc on Oregon and this country.

It is imperative he continue showing such strength of character and resolve in his position as chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and vote to end subsidies to fossil fuel companies via the budget reconciliation bill. Sen. Wyden would only need to follow the precedent set in his own Clean Energy for America Act, introduced earlier this year, which eliminated preferential tax subsidies for fossil fuel exploration and drilling costs. We Oregonians stand behind Wyden's courage then as we do now and implore him to seek the same measures in budget reconciliation, as do scores of local and national associations that came out in favor of the Clean Energy for America Act.

Earlier this summer, Oregon boldly committed to 100% clean energy by 2040, a timeline critical for avoiding the worst potential impacts of climate change. By ending fossil fuel subsidies Sen. Wyden could help Oregon achieve this goal and, in part, help secure a more stable future for our country.

Kyle Chipman

Southeast Portland

Police must stop street racing

Letting cars race in the streets is like letting 2-year-olds run into the traffic. Let's find a responsible way to stop them before they get hurt, and/ or hurt others.

Surely the police have video cameras with motion detectors that can clock their speed by how fast they pass a building, and can be put on pause to get their license plate number. Then take their car away, until they pay the stiff fine for reckless driving.

The police can stop speeders, without chasing them down, or putting them in jail. They could even hire someone else to impound the offending vehicle after it's parked. But please do something when problems occur.

Sharon Joy

Northwest Portland

Thin evidence on gun violence increase

The Multnomah County District Attorney says that gun violence is increasing and is "disproportionately" affecting people of color. His statistics show this.

But he goes on to assert that the disproportionality is due to "systemic racism" without evidence. He wants us to believe that the color of a person's skin makes him or her into a violent shooter, ruling out the possibility that upbringing and social or cultural norms are not responsible.

"Disproportionate outcomes" is being used more and more to improperly imply "causality." In the case of shootings it could even be an excuse because "that is what gangs do."

Richard Leonetti

Southwest Portland

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