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November 30th, 2005 WW Editorial Staff | Letters to the Editor
 

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

11/30/2005

     
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TAKE OFF THE BEER GOGGLES

After working alongside Richard Beer in numerous capacities over the last 12 years, how disappointed we were to find you chose him as WW's Rogue of the Week [Nov. 2, 2005].

Beer, through his vision and work for the Oregon Film and Video Foundation and the Hollywood Theatre, provides an incredible amount of support for local filmmakers. We have firsthand experience of Richard's nurturing guidance while making our last documentary film. His support included editorial reviews, fiscal sponsorship, marketing, grant writing, and providing us with an affordable venue for premiere and fundraiser screenings.

The OFVF's Project Youth Doc (also under Beer's direction) puts cameras into the hands of local teenagers looking to learn videomaking and add their valuable voices to our community's media. He works with local senior citizens' support organizations, bringing topical films of interest to this underserved audience as well.

Daily, Beer works to restore a historical architectural cornerstone of our city, the Hollywood Theatre. As Artistic Director at the Theatre, Beer programs some of the bravest, most intelligent filmmaking available worldwide. The fact that Beer's work provides so many things to our community through a nonprofit organization only makes his efforts more impressive.

Dawn Smallman and Greg Snider
Southeast 50th Avenue

GO ROGUE YOURSELF, WW

We were dismayed to learn that Richard Beer had been chosen to be WW's Rogue of the Week [Nov. 2, 2005]. Over the last year and a half our film project has been sponsored by the Oregon Film and Video Foundation. In all that time, Richard Beer has been unfailingly professional, supportive and kind. Through the OFVF, Richard is a tremendous asset to the Portland film community.

However, even if we had never met Richard, we would have looked askance at an article as poorly presented as that week's Rogue offering. Your readers were guided to a conclusion but offered nothing but hearsay and innuendo to support it. Why was Ms. Donaldson fired? What reason was given for banning her from Hollywood events? Were these "four former workers" who sang Donaldson's praises her co-workers at the Hollywood, or elsewhere? We learned presumably endearing traits of Ms. Donaldson (She revels in historic buildings! She took a nonprofit job for the love of her community! She digs Patti Smith!), but you obviously didn't go out of your way to find out who Richard Beer really is. You don't appear to have even spoken with recent festival organizers, filmmakers with sponsored projects, or current employees of the theatre and foundation.

Suggestion for next week's Rogue: Leah Sottile and her editor.

Stephani Skalak and Tara Johnson-Medinger
Sour Apple Productions, Inc.
Northeast Alberta Street

Leah Sottile responds: WW has no issues with either the Oregon Film and Video Foundation or the Hollywood Theatre (in fact, WW's Longbaugh Festival has worked for three years with the theater). The Rogue dealt specifically with Beer and Shannon Donaldson, a former theater employee. I called Beer and emailed him to ask about the ban on Donaldson, etc., but he did not respond. The four former theater employees who would speak with us about Donaldson confirmed what happened to her and said that she had been a valuable asset at the theater.

A LOT OF GREEN

After reading the story about the proposed Willamette River Greenway expansion ["Never-Green?," WW, Nov. 2, 2005], I came out a bit confused given the printed numbers. Admittedly, I don't know much about construction or construction costs, being a computer geek by nature, but I know that $34 million is a lot of money. The so-called "financial black hole" Oregon Health & Science University aerial tram now costs $45 million, according to the article, and that's a huge construction undertaking, including an addition to the OHSU patient-care building, the backbone of the tram itself down to the waterfront, and the station at the terminus.

From a layman's perspective, that seems like a lot of construction and design work, and $45 million—even at three times the original estimate—seems reflective of that kind of undertaking. Why, then, is a proposal of a little over a mile of sod, trees, and concrete paths predicted to be 75 percent of the tripled cost of "the world's most expensive flying bus"? Can transforming 6,300 feet of waterfront redevelopment into a more natural state really cost nearly as much as the two-year renovation of the St. Johns Bridge?

Ground hasn't even been broken yet and the project already sounds like it needs an oversight committee! Perhaps someone more experienced with such projects could explain the cost breakdown to me, but $34 million just seems like an exorbitant sum to build the expansion, especially with the PDC contributing $11.5 million of taxpayer money.

Andrew Self
Southeast Stark Street

Nigel Jaquiss responds: Many of the same questions have arisen at recent meetings of the North Macadam Urban Renewal Advisory Committee. The numbers in my story are correct. The proposed $34 million greenway will include significant habitat restoration to land that has been in industrial use for decades, as well as landscaping and paving.

SALT AND PAPER

I read with sad dismay Jim Dixon's response to the allegations of conflict of interest in his restaurant reviews while peddling wares to other dining establishments [Mailbox, WW, Nov. 2, 2005]. Is this the new Halliburton-Cheney, Bush-Texaco American mantra? There is no conflict of interest so long as I say there isn't? Come on, Jim, while I can appreciate that your involvement with restaurateurs gives you a unique perspective on the business, it is a hard entree to swallow for your reading public that your reviews aren't at least a bit tainted by your side business.

I was also appalled to see that Mr. Dixon included in his résumé the fact that he is a technical writer for the City of Portland. I'm not sure if he was trying to add irrelevant credibility to this ethical question, but I think the effect is that he tarnishes the reputation of his co-workers. How do you suppose it plays out to the reader when people are accusing Mr. Dixon of not knowing the difference between collusion and co-option, and his response is, "It's OK, I'm with the City."

I'm not saying that Mr. Dixon isn't entitled to have a sideline business selling salt or that he can't write restaurant reviews, I'm just saying, and it should be common sense, that he can't do both. Not with the expectation of having full impartial credibility.

What pains me the most is that Willamette Week, with its wonderful exposés on other Portland rogues, doesn't hold a higher standard for its own writing staff. I would at least expect the Nose to be sniffing around his own office. But then, maybe that would be a conflict of interest.

Morgan Tracy
Southeast Mall Street

PASS THE BETA-BLOCKERS

Did anyone else notice that beleaguered restaurant reviewer Jim Dixon's response to two critical letters in the Nov. 2 issue was more than twice as long as the original complaints?

Wow! Relax, Jim. Bring down that blood pressure. Maybe you should try laying off the salt.

Pat Malach
Hillsboro

MONOPOLY MONEY

I'm puzzled by WW's refusal to accept that opposition to the City Council's campaign finance plan is based on a belief that there are better uses for $1 million of city money each year than subsidizing political campaigns ["Sten vs. the Heavyweights," WW, Nov. 2, 2005]. It really is that simple.

I'm also scratching my head over WW's inclusion of Qwest among opponents who enjoy "government-granted monopolies over Portlanders." That hasn't been the case for almost a decade. In fact, we compete against at least 30 providers in Portland, including the City itself.

Judy Peppler
Qwest President for Oregon
Southwest Oak Street

Nigel Jaquiss responds: With all due respect to Ms. Peppler, she's being modest about her employer's might. Qwest originally gained its customers through a government-granted monopoly. Although today more than 100 companies compete with Qwest in Oregon, it still serves about two-thirds of all telephone customers in the state, including about 97 percent of residential customers, according to Phil Nyegaard, administrator of the Oregon Public Utility Commission's Telecommunications Division.

REMINDER: Want to tell us what you really think? Go to www.wweek.com/story.php?story=6963 and take WW's super-duper readers probe! You could win a prize!

 
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