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Local writers sound off on state school budget needs, homelessness solutions and the many conspiracy theories.

PMG illustrationWhen I see news about the Interstate 5 Rose Quarter freeway expansion project, I shake my head at the lost opportunity here.

The U.S. Senate is considering including a federal program for removal of urban freeways in an infrastructure package. Portland should make sure it has a shovel-ready project that can compete successfully for this funding: turn the I-5 East Bank Freeway into a new waterfront neighborhood, and turn Interstate 84 through Sullivan's Gulch into compact villages around MAX stations, connected by open space, a new bike/ped trail and a new street grid.

Portland could then focus on a citywide freeway lid project, not just in the Rose Quarter, but including for Interstate 405 downtown, and I-5 throughout North Portland, as well as in Southwest Portland.

If TriMet built a new bridge, north of the Broadway, across a new neighborhood atop the Union Pacific Yards, touching down in Northwest Portland, then proceeding to travel on a new series of new freeway lids atop I-405, then light rail could connect up with the mainline headed west towards the tunnel, as well as the eventual line to Southwest Portland, and the line across Tillicum Crossing, allowing for regional express light-rail service that bypasses the slowest part of the route downtown, in lieu of the cost of tunneling a new MAX tunnel.

We need to think holistically in planning for Portland's future, and cannot afford to think in terms of single-project silos any longer.

Full funding for the build-out could also come from a regional cordon and congestion pricing scheme, which would do more to solve congestion on our region's roadways that any other policy or project we could possibly conceive of.

To create jobs, let's build the post-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure that we need.

Garlynn Woodsong

Northeast Portland

Address the needs of all school children

Hats off to state Rep. Ricki Ruiz for his advocacy and call for the Oregon State legislature to pass the Civic Education Act (Senate bill 513) addressing the need for students learn about and empathize with people of different cultures, races, creeds and color and to extend that concern to students around the globe. ("Civics education makes our democracy stronger" in the Portland Tribune, May 12, 2021.)

Let's extend that empathy to students around the globe.

Now with the added burden of the pandemic, millions of students in economically disadvantaged countries do not have access to education. Now, 1.6 billion of the world's children are out of school. Many of these students, often affecting girls and the most vulnerable the most, are at risk of never returning.

In caring for other global cultures, The Global Partnership for Education is gathering global resources to help prevent this. The GPE, with partners like America, are planning for 175 million more children from lower-income countries to be in school during the next five years.

If we pledge of at least $200 million for each of the next five years, American leadership can inspire other donors, and help millions of children reach their potential.

Let's ask our members of Congress and the President to make the dream of education possible for children everywhere.

Janet Brumbaugh

Co-chair of Portland area

West Linn

Did the governor give in to bullies?

Looks like the bullying and intimidation tactics of Timber Unity have scared our governor into accepting the outrageous decimation of thousands of healthy trees along Highway 22 and the road corridors along the Clackamas and McKenzie rivers.

Both The Oregonian and OPB have published in depth articles about ODOT and FEMA's utter disregard for the preservation of lightly fire-singed green trees and the greedy double dipping of the cutting and selling behind that logging.

But I guess her fear of tractors again clogging up Salem from a group that participated in the Jan. 6th insurrection against the United States of America closed her eyes to the out of state carpetbaggers that are absolutely ruining what was left of these marvelous scenic corridors.

It makes me sick.

Rick Rappaport

Northeast Portland

Rental housing assistance is one answer

As we grapple with solving the houseless problem, those trying to address the problem need to focus on funding adequate and sustainable rental housing assistance.

As land and housing costs began to increase faster than wages in the 1970s, the federal government responded with the Section 8 Rental Housing Assistance Program for low-income households. By the late 1970s, the Federal HUD Rental Assistance Program administered by local Housing Authorities provided more than $70 billion (current dollar value) in annual rental assistance to qualified low-income households.

This housing assistance support was dramatically cut to $15 billion in the early 1980s by the Reagan Administration and our national homeless problem began to emerge. Since the early 1980s, the U.S. homeless population has increased by 500%.

Until adequate renal assistance funding levels are restored and sustained, we will continue to see the homeless problem persist and continue.

The only way the homeless problem will be solved is by city, county, metropolitan, state and federal governments establishing a rental assistance program that is adequately and sustainably funded.

While affordable housing projects are welcome, most homeless persons cannot afford rents based on 60% of median income.

Rocky Johnson

Southeast Portland

Don't shortchange the State School Fund

The Oregon Legislature is considering a proposed budget that would leave the Reynolds School District with a large deficit in maintaining current service levels for next school year. This budget, which shortchanges the State School Fund by $300 million, could require us to eliminate teaching positions or cut school days from our district calendar.

As the superintendent of Reynolds School District, I am urging our legislators to reject this reduction to the State School Fund, and provide the necessary $9.6 billion to maintain school operations in Reynolds and across the state.

Believe me, I know there are competing budget priorities that pose an incredible challenge for legislators to navigate. But the success of our students means the success of our state, and we can't turn our backs on our students right now, when they need us the most.

Helping students recover from COVID-19 requires more resources for our schools, not a reduction in the current levels of service.

Please join me in telling legislators: no budget cuts for our kids. Please fund the State School Fund at $9.6 billion.

Danna Diaz


Media must shun the many crackpot theories

The news media has been using the term "conspiracy theories" to identify a number of outlandish, untrue and often convoluted claims such as former President Bill Clinton and his wife are involved in child sex trafficking and COVID vaccines contain microchips with which to track those receiving the vaccines.

I encourage the news media to use alternative labeling for such nonsense because conspiracies actually do occur and there are legitimate theories about them.

Alternatively, there is nothing legitimate about these outlandish and often scurrilous assertions. One good alternative in my view would be "crackpot theories" since these fact and logic-free speculations simply don't hold water. Those who propound such hogwash can be appropriately identified as "crackpot theorists" when spinning these fanciful, if often vicious, tales.

In an era overflowing with misrepresentations, distortions and outright lies, such as Donald Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election, it undermines public dialogue when legitimate news sources provide an air of veridicality to claims with zero truth value.

Suspected conspiracies can be investigated. Cracked pots are simply thrown away.

Please do all of us interested in fact and logic-based discourse a favor and affirmatively label theories that hold no substance as the crackpot theories they, in fact, are.

Hank Robb

West Linn

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