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Readers offer their views on the issues of the day, including Portland's form of government and the proposed soda tax

It has not been a salutory experience watching the House of Representatives and the Senate fashion a Frankenstein of a bill to repeal/replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Despite only 17 percent of Americans approving of the GOP efforts, the Republicans insist that their ideology of free market choice permits them to strip health care from 22 million people — largely children, disabled and elderly — and use those funds for huge tax breaks. By several measures, we are last among wealthy nations in the performance of our health system. Apparently some think we can endure even higher maternal and infant mortality rates and lower efficiency.

Susan M. Schwartz

Portland

Soda tax would hit some harder than others

Proponents of a tax on sweetened beverages in Multnomah County apparently realize now how unpopular this idea is because they are delaying their efforts to collect signatures for a ballot initiative later this year.

Rather than postpone this effort, their time would be better spent finding other ways to fund their pet projects than to single out one group of products for a sales tax that will unfairly hit small business owners and people who work hard to make ends meet.

While the proposed tax may not seem like much, it adds up, particularly for small grocery stores and restaurants that must pay this tax up front.

Melissa Harkless

Southeast Portland

Beverage tax would be bad for restaurants

As a restaurant owner in Portland, I was relieved to hear that supporters of a beverage tax won't be collecting signatures for a ballot initiative this fall. This tax would be very bad for my business and for my customers.

People only have so much money to spend when they go out to eat or buy groceries, and this tax would increase my costs when I am already paying other taxes and fees to operate my business. I hope the people pushing this tax realize the harm this tax will cause and how unpopular it is.

Jaime Soltero Jr.

North Portland

Coordinate criteria with other states

Regarding the article "Governor supports anti-racial profiling bill": According to The Stanford Open Policing project, Oregon collects less information on police/citizen interaction than any other state. Currently, Oregon only records the race of the citizen (even though the biological concept of race is muddled).

The purpose of the Stanford project is to be able to evaluate the degree to which violations of the 14th Amendment are perpetrated by police and to provide data that informs establishment of more enlightened policies. To make the data nationally comparable, Oregon should coordinate the criteria recorded with other states.

Tom Shillock

Northeast Portland

Consider adopting the People's Budget

Since I began paying attention to politics beginning on Dec. 7, 1941, I realize that since our budget has been prioritizing the military, corporate profits and Wall Street, our nation has been having problems with Main Street. Also the status of our country has suffered because of these problems. This began around the time of the Reagan presidency. It seems that a change is in order to prioritize the problems of the people, not the corporate world.

While members of the Republican majority are competing to see who can make the deepest cuts, there is a budget proposal before Congress that would boost the economy for all of us while cutting the number of people in poverty in half. It's the People's Budget, proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The People's Budget invests in safe and productive infrastructure, education, affordable housing, health care and nutrition, child care and working family tax credits. It calls for increasing the minimum wage.

These investments will create 3.6 million jobs, and set us on a path to cut poverty in half in 10 years. The People's Budget invests $2 trillion in infrastructure spending, expanding rural broadband, universal pre-K and free college tuition at state and community colleges.

Every year without fail, our elected representatives give over half of the discretionary budget to the Pentagon, leaving less than half to be divided up to fund education, health care, environmental spending, infrastructure and everything else.

Howard Shapiro

Portland

Portland's archaic form of governance

Mayor Ted Wheeler's recent reassignment of the Bureau of Emergency Communications from Amanda Fritz is a reminder of the inefficient and wasteful commission form of governance currently in effect for the city of Portland. Large cities in the United States got rid of this form of government decades ago due to corruption problems and inefficiencies. Why is Portland so reluctant to get rid of this dinosaur?

Other cities have a city manager who oversees city department directors and answers to the city council while the council spends its time on policy matters and budgets. But Portland commissioners run city bureaus (departments) as assigned by the mayor.

Trouble is, politicians often don't have the knowledge or ability to run a bureau. Similarly, by focusing on their bureau(s), they tend to lose sight of big-picture issues and the city as a whole. And between bureau competition for funding and political appointees instead of trained managers, misdirection has caused considerable problems for the city, especially in recent years (examples include lack of street maintenance funding, piecemeal planning, street congestion and safety issues).

Wheeler knows all this. That's why he didn't officially assign bureaus until after the budget was adopted. And that's also why he removed two bureaus from under Fritz's control. But beyond reassignments of bureaus, there isn't a whole lot he can do to improve the situation as long as the current archaic system is in place. Maybe it's finally time to change the system. 

David Krogh

Southeast Portland

Stripping health care is criminal

It is evil and wrong to give massive tax breaks to the top 10 percent while stripping health care from 22 million Americans. Regardless of whether you're a religious person or not, most religions talk about treating others how you want to be treated, taking care of the poor, and chastise the powerful and rich.

It is criminal to give a big tax break to those who don't need it and already have so much and to take available and affordable health care and the protections that have been hard fought and won away from so many.

James Tyree II

Portland

Say no to Senate health care bill

Health insurance is more than a policy; it's peace of mind. It's knowing your family will be cared for and not having to worry about going broke when you get sick. That's why I strongly oppose the Senate health care bill. The more I learn about it, the less I like.

Robbing health care from millions of Americans to give yet another tax cut to the rich and powerful is just plain cruel. Our health care system needs to be improved — we all agree on that. But this bill would do exactly the opposite — for no other reason than greed. I urge Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden to vote no on the Senate health care bill and to fight for expanded Medicare for all.

Judith Lienhard

Portland

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