Letters to the editor
Humane solutions needed for panhandling, homeless in libraries
I read with interest the July 27 article, staff editorial and opinion column on the homeless (Article: "City: Ticket drivers who give to panhandlers?" Staff editorial: "Few easy answers in attempt to block area panhandlers." Opinion column: "Tigard Library isn't place for homeless to spend day").
Before all the media and community attention on homelessness, they have always lived in the community as travelers, campers, the alcohol/drug affected, mentally ill or those enduring a series of misfortunes. I give bottles of water, nutrition bars or McDonald's gift cards (not cash) to the homeless whom I encounter as I walk in my Tigard neighborhood. I saw a family huddled at the old Albertson's and referred them to the Good Neighbor Center and the food pantry.
I am appalled at the prospect that such kindness could be ticketed by the police. I understand that panhandling is a form of free speech and cannot be banned outright in a public space. Drivers make a choice to give cash or not.
I am incredulous at the suggestion that the library would ban the homeless. The Tigard Library is a discrimination-free, welcoming community space. The library does not house the homeless nor do the homeless live at the library. On my weekly visits to the library, I see the homeless reading, using the internet or resting in a safe space out of the rain and sun. My experience is that the homeless are fellow patrons that usually just want to be left alone. To suggest that people should be treated differently smacks of prejudice akin to those who want us to produce birth certificates to use a specific bathroom or require civics tests before registering to vote.
We may feel uncomfortable as we encounter those among us who are different in appearance and behavior. A strategy of supported employment, affordable housing, alcohol/drug and mental health services, tolerance and kindness would assist in reducing the number of those less fortunate and on the street instead of punishment, ostracism and ridicule.
I do not believe the urban myth that panhandlers yield $30,000 to $70,000 a year. Maybe enough to survive on. Perhaps we have forgotten how fragile and uncertain life can be. Some of us may be a lost job, a medical tragedy, car accident or a poor decision (without support from friends or family) away from being on the street.
I will continue to share this community with neighbors and panhandlers although it would be helpful to have a pocket-size directory of social services at the ready.
Let's focus ire on 2018 election tricks
While current media coverage and public interest is focused on the investigation into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election, perhaps we should be more concerned about what is being done to manipulate the outcome of the 2018 election by our own government.
States have received orders from Washington, D.C., to turn over all voter registration data from the last election to be compiled into a single database under the control of Vice President Mike Pence. If anyone, foreign or domestic, wanted to manipulate voter eligibility or identity, how much easier would it be if it were consolidated in one place, under the control of one political party?
While many states are refusing, frighteningly, some are actually complying. In addition, states have been ordered to begin purging voter registration rolls of "suspect" names, a practice which has been ruled in the past as a violation of the Voter Rights Protection Act. Thirdly, parties and legislatures in many states are actively working to redraw and manipulate voter district boundaries to disenfranchise many citizens and make election outcomes favor one party or candidate.
We must pressure our state government to refuse to comply with the orders from Washington that would endanger our voting rights and make our voter registration data susceptible to fraudulent manipulation. We must be vigilant about the practices of our local parties and officials. We must urge our national representatives to act against the administration's plans to disrupt the control we have over our voice and our vote.
Karen L Riley
Ultraviolet is right answer for Bull Run water purity
At Portland City Council, plans are being debated for treating water from the Bull Run watershed to prevent potentially human-infective cryptosporidium (crypto) oocysts from entering the Portland water supply.
My research into treating water for crypto as a professor of microbiology at Oregon Health & Science University may provide some insight that decision-makers should take into consideration before making their decision. I believe the following is accurate:
Only two of the 15 known cryptosporidium species (there may be more) can infect humans. These two are species that infect either humans only, or humans and cattle. The other crypto species can infect a variety of other animals, birds and lizards, but not humans. Thus, even though the infective form of this protozoan — the oocyst — may be present in up to an estimated 87 percent of surface waters in this country, most are not capable of causing human infection.
The Bull Run watershed, the prized source of Portland's water, is highly protected, both from humans and from grazing cattle. The only fecal organisms likely to be found in Bull Run water thus come from animals other than humans or cattle and cannot infect humans.
For a human to acquire disease caused by crypto, it is necessary to consume about 100 infective (live) crypto oocysts (from either humans or cattle) in the equivalent of a glass of water, about 8 ounces. The present crypto alert is the result of finding fewer than 100 oocysts (most or all of which were probably not infective for humans), not in a glass of water but in thousands of liters of water over a period of months.
Ultraviolet treatment of drinking water has been shown to be an effective method of killing crypto oocysts.
Water filtration is an effective way of keeping oocysts out of our drinking water. It has the added advantage of removing many organic chemicals and sediment as well. If the drinking water to be treated were from the Willamette River (as at Wilsonville) or from some other source less than pristine — where organic chemicals as well as microorganisms must be dealt with — a filtration system of the type that has been proposed for Bull Run would be entirely in order. However, such a system, which can involve coagulation, sedimentation, ozonation, filtration and then secondary treatment with chlorine, would be neither necessary nor cost effective for treating Bull Run water.
In sum, I suggest that the drinking water treatment method chosen should reflect the quality of the water in question.
The Bull Run watershed is a treasure. It provides water to Portlanders of a quality matched by few other cities. So long as it remains protected from fecal contamination from humans and cattle, I believe, for the reasons expressed above, that its water would be well-protected against cryptosporidium without filtration. Treating this water with ultraviolet light should be a perfectly adequate way of inactivating any protozoa that happen to be present.
Ernest Alan Meyer
(Editor's note: This was written prior to Wednesday's vote by the Portland City Council to seek the full-treatment option.)