Our readers weigh in on issues ranging from police shootings to immigration, sanctuary cities, Sweet Cakes, and even the Portlandia statue.
In your 2016 year-end review on Dec. 29, your reporters repeated a misstatement by outgoing Mayor Charlie Hales that first appeared in your Nov. 17 issue: He claimed "no African-Americans (were) shot by the police" while he was in office. Though it is true no African-American Portlanders died from police violence, an officer shot DeNorris McClendon, who is not only African-American but has mental health issues, on Sept. 1, 2014.
McClendon was shot in the legs by a shotgun, a highly unusual tactic for the Portland Police — but may be the reason he lived. Ironically, protesters were blocking a freeway entrance just a few miles from where McClendon was shot to protest the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown.
There were 15 officer-involved shootings in Hales' four-year tenure compared to 16 under Sam Adams. Eight died under each mayor. Most of the people were in mental health crisis, despite the DOJ being here to reduce use of force in such cases. One of those killed was a Latino veteran, and at least three of those killed were homeless.
City-provided data show African-Americans are still under undue scrutiny from police, including, but not limited to, use of force (ranging from 22 to 29 percent of cases in recent years), traffic stops (12 to 14 percent), and pedestrian stops (12 to 20 percent). Also on Hales' watch, police started using flash-bangs, tear gas and "kettling" against protesters. We expect better reporting from the Tribune, which cut its teeth reporting on the death of Jose Mejia Poot in 2001.
Should Portland be a sanctuary city? No.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler declaring the city will continue to be a sanctuary to foreign nationals illegally in the country (undocumented immigrants) is promoting a culture of corruption that has historically resulted in the residents of the city being plagued by foreign national crime.
On Nov. 1, 2016, an Oregon Department of Corrections report exposed that Multnomah County was No. 2 in foreign national crime with 210 — 21.8 percent — of the state's 964 criminal undocumented immigrants incarcerated in the DOC prison system.
Here is the DOC numerical breakdown of the 12 types of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants against Multnomah County residents: 35 rapes; 34 sex abuses; 33 assaults; 26 homicides; 24 robberies; 23 drug offenses; 11 sodomies; 10 burglaries; seven driving offenses; three kidnappings; two vehicle thefts; one theft; and one other type or a combination of the preceding crimes.
All 964 criminal undocumented immigrants previously mentioned in the DOC prison system had U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement detainers placed on them.
Important facts: The recidivism rate for DOC prisoners is 24.4 percent. Eventually most of these criminal undocumented immigrants will be released from prison. Some of them will return to Portland even if ICE officials remove them from the country.
So Mayor Wheeler, to be responsible and accountable to the public safety of the residents of Portland, should reject any ideas about declaring Portland a sanctuary city and not fully cooperating with ICE officials, because undocumented immigrants, far too many of them criminals, should be removed from the United States by federal immigration officials.
David Olen Cross
Citizens should vote on sanctuaries
A sanctuary city is a magnet for all types of people with questionable backgrounds. We as citizens should have the right to vote on this issue.
Still no support for discrimination
I just read Bill MacKenzie's op-ed piece "Would liberals now support Sweet Cakes?" (My View, Jan. 5) and have to answer him: No, we would not. It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of one's sex, a statute often extended to discriminating based on one's sexual orientation, as Sweet Cakes did.
The last time I checked, it was not illegal to be opposed to racism, sexism, misogyny, deception, failure to comply with contracts, ignorance and just plain indecency. Donald Trump exemplifies all those things, and the people who refuse to perform at his inauguration are making a clear statement of their opposition to such despicable behavior.
It is a moral, rather than legal, position, one which I hope Mr. MacKenzie would be wise enough to take.
A 'baseless attack'
Columnist Bill MacKenzie displays profound ignorance of Oregon's anti-discrimination laws in his Jan. 5 commentary criticizing liberals for boycotting Trump and his businesses (My View, "Would liberals now support Sweet Cakes?").
Our laws ban discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex and religion. There is no prohibition against discrimination for political reasons. MacKenzie does your readers — and his own reputation — a disservice with his baseless attack.
Sweet Cakes got a raw deal
I want to thank Bill MacKenzie for writing and you folks for printing his comments on liberals supporting Sweet Cakes. I always felt that Sweet Cakes got a raw deal and MacKenzie's article puts the whole thing in better perspective.
I feel the Kleins, owners of Sweet Cakes, had just as much right to their position as the lesbian couple have to get married. Inversely the LGBTQ community has just as much responsibility to be tolerant of the Kleins' religion as we all do of any lifestyle different that our own. If Brad Avakian was simply following guidelines of the law, it's a law that stifles our personal convictions and thereby does not make America great. I did not vote for Brad Avakian for secretary of state.
Emergency prep in our neighborhoods
In her Jan. 3 guest commentary (My View, "Here's a to-do list for new Mayor Wheeler"), Sarah Iannarone calls for community-centered disaster preparedness.
In August 2016, the Arbor Lodge-Kenton neighborhood emergency team, which meets the third Monday of the month at the Kenton Firehouse, had a community meeting. One of the concerns raised was the need for an all-women training session, which can help people know if they have the strength to shut off crucial valves and to help determine where vulnerable people are in the community.
Perhaps Iannarone can make this training happen.
The Arbor Lodge-Kenton team is on the internet and has a list of preparedness resources. Go online to Portlandprepares.org/net.teams for more information on where teams are located.
What's to become of Portlandia?
Recently the city of Portland promptly turned down the request of Lithia Motors that the Portlandia statue be included in its successful Terminal 1 waterfront bid. Specifically, whose decision was this? A city department? Mayor Charlie Hales? The city attorneys? All ever-present decision-makers in matters of "Portlandia?" Were the copyrights held by Raymond Kaskey a consideration? Our citizens, as always, will be the last to know, if at all.
It is an almost certain hunch that these insiders months ago decided that "Portlandia" is to endure another 70 years of isolation on an outside wall of a renovated office building — that is, unless the new Wheeler administration, already burdened with massive decision-making needs, looks at this forlorn figure, determines otherwise and sends her down to Gov. Tom McCall Park and the Portland Waterfront — before the renovation chaos begins.
If nothing is done, then I suggest that the cynical phrase "our icon" be renounced in city literature (particularly by its "art section") in its descriptions of "Portlandia." Our dictionaries indicate an icon to be a deeply cherished symbol for a given population. A ledge position on an office building does not fit such emotions.
Which means that Portland's largest and most expensive art object — a handsome and steely lady indeed — should stand out as a symbol for countless children (especially young girls) rather than as a money-grubbing secret enterprise with its undisclosed copyrights. Sooner or later, some group will "follow the money." Just look at her big sister, the Statue of Liberty — or back to and before Joan of Arc, for that matter, to visualize her future.
Polls and surveys are relatively inexpensive, and can be timely — our citizens must be heard for a brighter future for "Portlandia."
Bruce MacGregor Hall
An open letter to Mayor Wheeler
Mr. Wheeler: With your mandate comes a Herculean job. I believe you can actually do it, and sincerely thank you for taking it on.
Want instant recognition in every neighborhood and district as a mayor who really gets things done? Register this new domain, publicize it widely, and do something about them: PortlandPotHoles.com.
In May 2014, the total cost to remodel the Portland Building was $95 million — for everything. Now the cost is $195 million and counting. That's more than double — without accomplishing everything that's needed. Just watch those numbers grow in the months ahead, because they're not finished yet (can the city run like a business?).
Noting the previous and current costs, this once again proves our city employees don't quite understand how to write and execute a legal not-to-exceed contract. The next quandary is ... will they ever? (Perhaps with your guidance, Mister Mayor, they will.)