TO THE EDITOR—Don't call 911 when there is someone who is emotionally upset ["Curiouser and Curiouser," News, Feb 25]. You are not going to get help from the police, not in this town. You are putting an upset person in an even more dangerous situation. And especially, if you are dealing with a black male, please don't call 911. We all know what happens then. I've heard too many stories of black men with numerous police aiming weapons at them, meanwhile yelling multiple and confusing orders—all the while just itching to pull the trigger. Any excuse. The adrenaline is running high. In their collective white brainwashed minds, "It's a black man!" "He's got a weapon!" "He's a threat." I hope the collective "we" can sustain the push this city needs to deal with this issue. And yes, contrary to what someone said on TV, this is about race.
DEAR PORTLAND MERCURY—I am writing in regard to your recent article "Thinking Outside the Bike Box" [News, Jan 28]. Having read the PSU survey referenced in your article, I must agree that there is no conclusive evidence that the boxes have reduced bike-car conflicts, but that yes, bicyclists and drivers perceive that the boxes contribute a safer environment for both. Unfortunately there is a large discrepancy between the percentage of drivers (55 percent) and those on bikes (81 percent) regarding the perception that the boxes have increased awareness of cyclists. Regardless of this concern, a broad overview of bicycle safety literature titled "The impact of transportation infrastructure on bicycling injuries and crashes" recently published in Environmental Health states that "marked bike lanes and bike routes were found to reduce injury or crash rates by about half compared to unmodified roadways." Although the safety of the boxes is still inconclusive, their secondary capacity to promote bike safety is not. $243,000 for some colorful social marketing seems like a small price to pay for increasing public awareness.
-Ron Mason Gassaway
DEAR MERCURY—I was impressed with the article "Jail, Inc." [Feature, Feb 4] written by Matt Davis. I have done some additional research on the topic of public and privately owned health care for prisoners. Right now Multnomah County has public health care for prisoners, which means that we pay for the doctors and nurses that are on staff in our prisons. If Multnomah County took the offer from Prison Health Services, Inc. (PHS), that would put many hard-working doctors and nurses out of work. The only plus in allowing PHS to come into our county would be they would be able to handle all the lawsuits. So, if PHS is allowed into Multnomah County we will be not only be losing jobs for the sake of saving money but allowing health care in jails to be out of our control. I took these matters to the public as well, and many if not all the people I talked to agree that prisoners should be treated well. Also the public fears that if they lose control of the health care of prisons then what is next? I also fear the same thing. There is a meeting on March 4 in the Hawthorne Multnomah building about this issue. Also, on March 18 they will be holding a meeting to discuss "creating a healthy community." If the citizens of Multnomah County show up to these meetings we will be able to let our voices be heard about how our money is being spent, including money for prisoners.
-Tarrah Pullen, Portland State University Senior
NICE WORK, TARRAH. You win the letters prize this week, and scored yourself two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater and lunch at No Fish! Go Fish!, which have a combined value greater than that of a career in print media. (ZING!)