September 01, 2002 11:00 pm

The idea that the City of Portland might try and purchase Portland General Electric, one of the last remaining assets that bankrupt Enron still owns, strikes us as odd at best.

PORTLAND MAYOR Vera Katz and City Commissioner Erik Sten announced that the city would entertain spending $500,000 on studying the idea. This is the same Portland city leadership that squandered millions of dollars on a water bureau billing system that eventually had to be dumped.

Over the past several years, these same city officials constantly funneled millions of dollars to prop up Portland's failing school district. And even last year they took over the cost of providing uniform police officers in Portland's public schools even though it meant pulling officers off of city streets.

PORTLAND RESIDENTS should be questioning the logic behind spending any money on such an idea. Portland city officials should be communicating with PGE officials and the bankruptcy court that is overseeing the potential sale of PGE to make sure a prospective buyer has the customers' best interests in mind. And Portland officials could be spearheading a coalition of public and private entities who depend on PGE for providing energy to make sure everyone in the Portland metropolitan area gets a fair shake in the end.

The $500,000 might be better spent in reducing the cost of the failed water department billing system or putting a few more police officers on Portland's streets. Mayor Katz and Commissioner Sten would do better working on projects that will create more jobs and reduce the cost of doing business in Portland.


Another name for summer? Road construction season. And on the Labor Day holiday that means encountering roads under construction when drivers are in a hurry to get home. Consider tying an orange ribbon on your radio antenna today as a reminder to yourself and other drivers of driving safely through work zones.

STATE OFFICIALS recently welcomed a national traveling memorial to the Capitol in Salem that honors road workers killed in the line of duty. The wall includes the names of 10 ODOT employees killed in Oregon work zones between 1962 and 1999.

Admittedly, Oregon drivers have improved their safety record in recent years. One reason is higher fines — you pay double for traffic violations in highway work zones. Another reason is more Oregon State Police patrols in some work zones. In fact, the OSP handed out 3,000 tickets and 1,200 warnings in 2001.

More tickets are coming our way this year and probably this holiday weekend. When you come upon a work zone as a driver, think safety and tie one on — an orange ribbon, that is — this road construction season.