You must be doing something right when the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce calls you “divisive” (Commentary, May 21) for wanting to provide all workers with paid sick leave and for wanting to reduce the property tax burden on homeowners.

Unfortunately, this kind of out-of-touch response from the Chamber has become all too common. They refused to support rebuilding our four elementary schools. They openly opposed raising the city’s minimum wage. They campaigned vigorously to sell Congress Square Park. They lobbied against all meaningful changes to protect tenants from rising rents. And, most recently, they have fallen silent on supporting a $10 million bond to build more affordable housing and expanding our city’s pre-K program.

Well, how about finally joining in some productive dialogue about issues the residents of this city see as vital to our city’s economic health?

Portland’s homeowners pay 56 percent of the property tax bill, while the business community pays just 44 percent (a difference of $22 million). Shifting some of that burden is not just more fair, it is better for the economy of Portland.

And 19,000 workers in Portland have no access to a single day of paid sick leave to care for themselves, their kids or their parents. Forcing Portland workers to choose between going to work sick versus being able to pay the rent is not a choice anyone should have to face. Nor should customers have to worry that the food they are served at one of our great restaurants might be served by someone who had to come to work sick.

Portland is a great city that wants the best for its workers, that wants to protect public health and that is concerned about squeezing out the middle class. I wish the Chamber understood this reality, instead of using ad hominem attacks to try to obstruct progress.


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