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Local writers discuss state highway expansion, gun safety for schools, cleaning up homeless areas and the River Democracy Act

lettersDuring the past three years, I have participated in a number of writing courses offered by the Cascade Campus of Portland Community College.

I am a 74-year-old man and a returning student who was educated in Chicago. Even though I already have a bachelor's degree, the quality of my education here was superb, well worth my time and an experience I can only attribute to my professors' commitment and Mark Matsui's professional guidance.

The Cascade Campus was rewarding, invigorating and deeply educational. I am beginning a new part of my life by developing my autobiography to be shared with my family. I hope they read it. In addition, a national trade publication has recently asked me for an article which I just delivered yesterday.

Having experienced Portland junior college as a student and as a senior citizen, I have developed a bottom-up awareness of what it takes to run a place like this.

It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that we will be losing Mark Matsui. He will be missed.

Tom Corbett

North Portland

State highway plans won't affect climate change

ODOT's proposed solution to use toll revenue to fund highway expansions is a surface-level "solution" to a deeper issue within Oregon's transportation system.

Real, effective solutions to climate change happen on a structural level by investing toll revenue to fund more, simpler and more accessible ways for Oregonians to get around, such as walking, biking or transit.

Greenhouse gas emissions are a harmful contributor to climate change, negatively impacting the environment around us. Transportation makes up 40% of Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions. ODOT's plan for expanding highways to reduce congestion will prove to be ineffective because widening roads only leads to more driving, increasing overall congestion.

We need to incentivize people to get out of their cars and into alternative transportation methods like transit or biking. The most logical way for ODOT to spend their funds would be to invest in non-emission releasing ways of transportation. These modes of transportation would reduce the number of air toxins and encourage more accessibility and mobility. We must prioritize the effective solutions listed above and work towards ensuring a better climate for Oregonians. Utilizing methods that push for productive mobility, such as walking, biking or transit, helps solidify a plan for achieving a brighter, safer, healthier future in Oregon. Riya Saripalli Northwest Portland

'Adults' need to take action on gun safety

How is it that in the year 2021 there were 28 school shootings?

The amount of terror that kids across our nation is egregious. I don't understand what more has to happen for members of Congress to come together, not even for them for the children, the future of our nation.

This is not an argument about the second amendment or a constitutional crisis, it's about infringing on a person's right to "Live, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness." How can we expect students to go to school and learn, when they are afraid that their classmate will pose a life or death threat to their lives?

I find it most ironic as a high school student that a lot of the people, including members of Congress that are "pro-life," only care about lives when it concerns birth, yet 32 students have died and we still can't get the "adults" to come together, unite if you will.

At Aloha High School, on Friday, Dec. 10, we had a shooter threat, at a school that has a student body of 2,000 students, had apparently only 400 in attendance. The fear that a threat caused, the fear that parents had for their kid's lives is disheartening.

That's not even the most sad part, the saddest part is that because the schools administration heard about the threat. If they hadn't the story could have gone a different way and I may not have been here to write this piece.

Anyone can strike at any time and that is what scares me and that's what scares students all across the nation every day.

Taliek Lopez DuBoff

Beaverton

Cleaning up could help homeless situation

While the city of Portland dithers about making a correct step in the direction of cleaning trash, housing the homeless and reducing crime there are many small actions which could be taken in all of these situations.

My suggestion on the trash problem is to not have another city management bureaucracy formed, but rather have an incentive-based system.

Distribute five-gallon plastic bags to anyone and give them $5 cash if they turn them filled with trash at various locations around the city. It's not important what is in the bag, but rather that there is an incentive to fill it with garbage that is easily found on the streets.

More layers of city employees/managers are not the answer, nor will more study (i.e. dithering) help. Action is needed.

Scott Pakel

Multnomah Village

Build Back Better plugs into better future

Electric vehicles are becoming rapidly popular in Oregon. More than 36,000 electric vehicles are registered in Oregon, a number that grows each day.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill which passed last month includes investments in electric vehicle charging stations, making it easier for current and future EV owners to get around. This investment came after a summer where climate impacts were unignorable. Another historic wildfire season and record breaking heat waves in Oregon showed just how urgent moving off of fossil fuels is. Transportation is Oregon's largest source of emissions, and it is imperative that we move from gas-powered vehicles to an 100% electric fleet. The bipartisan infrastructure bill addresses one piece of this transition by investing in EV charging stations.

The next piece required to initiate the transition to electric is the passage of the Build Back Better Bill, which includes consumer tax credits up to $12,500 for people who purchase EVs. Investing in the EV market through consumer tax credits combined with expanding charging infrastructure puts us on the road towards an electric future. Congress should swiftly pass Build Back Better. There is no time to waste.

Jamie Adenium

Clackamas

Nation needs tax credits to thrive

As our families, friends, and businesses continue to work through the enormous impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that all Oregonians continue to have access to all resources that aid in recovery, especially when it comes to our health.

That is why U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, and U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader must use their leadership positions in Washington to ensure that health care subsidies are made permanent in this year's budget reconciliation package. These subsidies — initially created in the Affordable Care Act and expanded in the American Rescue Plan Act earlier this year — have made 51,500 previously uninsured Oregonians newly eligible for tax credit relief. By putting health insurance within reach for so many, these subsidies can not only lead to better health outcomes for our communities, but also help ensure that every individual can receive quality, affordable care when they need it.

With the enhanced subsidies set to expire at the end of next year, Congress must make them permanent in this year's budget package. In doing so, 64,000 Oregonians could gain access to the affordable care they deserve through tax credits next year.

I urge Oregon's leaders on Capitol Hill to take action and ensure that every Oregon family and business has the tools they need to thrive and rebuild.

Chris Schetky

Lake Oswego

River Democracy Act protects our economy

I appreciated Matt Radich's piece extolling Oregon's outdoor recreation economy and our shared responsibility to protect the public lands and waters essential to the long-term health of outdoor recreation.

That is why I, and so many Oregonians from across the state, are hoping to see U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley's River Democracy Act become law. There are 110,994 total miles of rivers in Oregon that provide fresh drinking water, critical wildlife habitat, fishing/hunting grounds, and outdoor recreation opportunities like hiking and rafting.

However, only a small fraction of those waterways are protected from the type of development, like damming and clearcutting, that would alter the natural state and beautify of those rivers and streams and remove that draw in those outdoor recreation tourists. That is where the River Democracy Act would come in. The bill would designate more than 4,000 miles of Oregon waterways as Wild and Scenic thereby protecting the free-flowing nature of rivers and our access to them.

The bill was born out of direct feedback from thousands of Oregonians who nominated stretches of rivers and streams throughout the state that are important to them and their communities. The passage of the bill would be a gigantic win for Oregon businesses of all sizes that fuel the outdoor recreation economy which, as Radich points out, accounts for $5.3 billion in economic impact, and nearly 70,000 jobs.

Passing the River Democracy Act and protecting critical rivers and streams will help ensure the continued growth of this vital economic sector while also helping to retain the amazing natural beauty that makes Oregon a wonderful place to live and a tourist destination for visitors from around the globe.

I hope to see Congress move quickly to advance the River Democracy Act in 2022.

Seth Prickett

Northeast Portland


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