November 23, 2013

Letters to the editor: Clearing up initiative's misconceptions

This letter is intended to clarify misconceptions about the citizens’ initiative to Protect Portland’s Parks.

Congress Square is seen in an aerial image this past August.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

1) During the past five years of dealing with the City Council’s study group to develop a plan for Congress Square Park, it became obvious that our parks and other publicly owned urban spaces are inadequately protected from being sold or developed. The citizens initiative and the formation of Protect Portland Parks are attempts to address this lack of protection. Part of our mission is to inform the public about what assets we have and how they can best be used to enhance the quality of life for all Portlanders and visitors.

2) Portland is fortunate to have five parks listed in the National Register of Historic Places: Eastern Promenade (including Fort Allen Park), Western Promenade, Lincoln Park, Deering Oaks and Baxter Boulevard; that distinction does not provide the level of protection that many people assume. Properties with that recognition are protected only from the negative impact of any federal, federally-funded, or federally-licensed project. National register properties can be altered or destroyed with private, local or state funds, subject to any municipal ordinance.

3) The original intent for Congress Square Park when it was created in the early 1980s with $1.5 million from an Urban Development Action Grant was plainly stated in the application:

“The City proposes to acquire the 13,000 sq. ft. site ... The City would retain ownership of the plaza as a City park and would exercise overall supervision and control of the facility.”

Clearly the intent was for the entire Congress Square Park to be a public park. While the city has dropped the ball on effective “supervision and control of the facility” over the past 30 years, that’s not a good reason for the property to be sold.

Rosanne Graef

Protect Portland Parks Steering Committee Portland

Tea party demagogues misuse power of people

Wikipedia encyclopedia tells us “A demagogue or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, prejudices and ignorance of the less-educated citizens in order to gain power and promote political motives.”

Since ultimate power is held by the people, nothing stops the people from giving that power to someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of a large segment of the population.

This fundamental weakness in our democracy has given rise to a self-styled tea party founded by pseudo-patriots who dishonor the memory of the patriots of American Revolution’s Boston Tea Party. They manipulate the freedom of speech these early Americans fought for to advance their political objectives.

By means of a bloodless coup, these extremists seized control of a once proud Republican Party, succeeding in electing their demagogue leaders to Congress. Sen. Ted Cruz, for example. In the process they unseated many compassionate, thoughtful Republican public servants. To the detriment of the party – and the country – these “replacements” are usually incompetent and unfit to hold office.

They are attempting to impose their ideology upon the American people by fair means or foul. They reject the Affordable Health Care Act and refuse to recognize our democratically re-elected president, Barack Obama. By shutting down our government to express their disapproval of both, they have caused irreparable damage to the very citizens they claim to represent.

The media has been corrupted by “professional demagogues” who are not motivated by political ambitions. Their selfish objective is to accumulate personal fortunes by pandering to the same “lowest common denominators” with a distortion of the facts.

(Continued on page 2)

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