Readers' Letters
by: Christopher Onstott The early hours around sunrise are when drug dealing and use reach their peak in the section of Old Town known as Crack Alley.

I'm a former drug dealer. Drug-free zones don't deter crime, but they can send people away for longer, giving them time to reflect (Overwhelmed by crack, Old Town asks for help, Feb. 10). Once they're 'away,' a system should be in place to offer education/job skills.

When you sentence someone to a place as punishment and all they do is play cards, socialize and exercise for a set amount of years, do you think a lesson was taught? They get out with the same disadvantages (they perceive), plus a felony record.

I went to prison three times for a total of six years. I earned Iowa's habitual offender status and received a 15-year sentence for four ounces of marijuana. I went to treatment each time I went to prison - it was never by choice, but just a means of seeing the parole board. I got into meth between my second and third time in prison and it took me six months into my last sentence before I could talk about it without wanting to do it. I entered treatment with anticipation of future meth use in the back of my mind and something happened along the way: I listened to the counselors with an open mind. I've been clean and sober since the day I was sentenced in January 2006.

My theory on crime reduction lies in catching offenders more often vs. the traditional, tougher sentences once they are caught. I do believe in progressively tougher sentences with each conviction. I'm afraid that such a liberal state will never stand for more police and prisons, and so we deal with a heroin epidemic and Crack Alley and all the crime and panhandling the drug usage perpetuates. I never would have quit if it weren't for prison.

Jason Breedlove

Southwest Portland

Safe streets boost Pearl economy

Great story (Overwhelmed by crack, Old Town asks for help, Feb. 10). I have lived in Old Town for several years and, as an urban person, the drug dealing and panhandling has never fazed me very much. It's deteriorated.

What I wanted to say, though, is this does affect all of Portland since all of this is happening near the Chinese Garden and on the way to Powell's bookstore.

When it gets warm, the tourists and other people who spend money will be back. I have seen ordinary people's reactions, and they're scared and annoyed. Portland's economy really can't afford for people to stay away from downtown and the Pearl.

Melissa Sillitoe

Northwest Portland

Old Town loiterers getting bolder

As someone who walks through this area on a weekly basis, I have also noticed a certain boldness by the many loiterers of this area (Overwhelmed by crack, Old Town asks for help, Feb. 10).

I recall one incident this past summer where I clearly heard and saw one man say to another in a loud voice, 'I will smoke your (expletive) right here. I don't care if people are around.' I believe his smoking reference had nothing to do with a lighter and pipe. It was a disturbing scene.

I have no idea what remedy will work for Old Town. If I were a resident or business owner, I would be very upset with the city. Clearly something needs to be done about this blight.

Kudos to (Peter Korn) for a well-written expose.

Geoff Rode

Southeast Portland

Racial profiling isn't the issue

This has been a problem for so many years, it is embarrassing (Overwhelmed by crack, Old Town asks for help, Feb. 10).

I believe they should reinstate the Drug Free Zone. It did make the area better for a while, which is why so many new businesses moved in.

As for racial profiling - really? If the dealers are mostly one race, then it makes sense that the arrests would be of said race. There is no profiling there. It is just fact. All the people using that as an excuse are obviously missing the bigger picture and should work within the community to ensure the next generation does not find themselves on the corner selling or buying crack.

You hear it all the time: All these people spending all this time blaming everyone else and not stepping up to help the community that obviously needs help in raising its children. These people are dealing drugs because it is easier than getting a job; where do we think that behavior was learned?

Katrina Whittle

Southeast Portland

Traffic camera pays for extra cop

The community of Old Town has noticed that, since the police have left, the drug trade increased and is more defiant (Overwhelmed by crack, Old Town asks for help, Feb. 10). Do ya' think?

Interlink this story with high-traffic areas that do not have the traffic photo radar and this is what I can suggest: Take money from the water/sewer fund (forget the bike paths) and install the right amount of traffic cameras at the most violated intersections around the community and then there would be enough money to pay for the cameras and the two-man police needed in Old Town. Shopkeepers, customers and residents should not have to worry about their safety.

I ask you, if you were getting mugged or raped, would you care about the effect of the racial status of your attacker?

Lynn Landers


Lottery will evade real action

Who would expect 'the public interest' to come up when involving the Oregon Lottery or the Oregon Liquor Control Commission ('Lottery Row' gets new state attention, Feb. 3)?

Both of these agencies have a long history of inaction. Bar fights, over serving, repeat DUII, underage customers and other violations bring very little from the OLCC.

The lottery is a product of the state's addiction to the money from gamblers and they have only thrown words at this problem because a light is shining on them right now. The lottery knows that if it can begin a two- or three-year process, the light will be moved away soon, partially because of the politically connected landlords.

For those addicted to gambling, the bet is that in two years this 'casino row' will still be there. Crooks, politically connected landlords and profits over all else go together every time.

Dennis Lively


Lottery tries to fly under radar

Be honest: They got caught ('Lottery Row' gets new state attention, Feb. 3).

(It) will be a lengthy process - probably just long enough that they hope we will forget it. If they didn't know about it, then obviously the lottery commissioners are not physically auditing their operations.

Thanks, Trib, for shining a light on another state agency attempting to fly under the radar.

Jim Werner

Southeast Portland

Lottery bonds raise moral issues

I raised an eyebrow when it was said the Oregon Lottery was worried about its reputation with 'lottery row' in Jantzen Beach ('Lottery Row' gets new state attention, Feb. 3).

The lottery has some bigger moral issues I believe should be addressed with this matter that has scarred the reputation of the lottery, along with the Oregon government. I am speaking of the fact that now Oregon is $1.1 billion in (outstanding lottery) debt. The state is borrowing on future revenue that it does not have by issuing bonds. Worse is that (State Treasurer) Ted Wheeler proposed refinancing this debt so it would allow the state to borrow $282 million more, at a cost of $1 million for refinancing the existing debt.

What? How and when would this stop or be paid back?

The state is like a heroin addict now, addicted to gambling, but with no intention to stop or do anything but get more and more. This is not what our government is there to do, and I feel something is morally wrong with this.

This should be stopped right away. The state should only get what comes in with revenue - at least that is cleaner than the borrowing with the future anticipation of revenue.

Edward D. Groene II