(Editor's note: An open letter to Gov. Kate Brown written May 17.)
Gov. Brown: I am deeply concerned about our Moose Lodge in Warren, St. Helens Lodge 591. Your office has determined we are a "venue." We were looking forward to opening following the guidelines for restaurants and bars, but have been informed we cannot open, even to just our members.
You may not know: The Moose not only provides a place for our members to meet but we also provide charity to our local communities. Waldport and Upper Rogue Moose Lodges have been feeding hundreds of people in their communities for free during the shutdown. Several other lodges have been holding drive-thru food drives. There are too many examples of local giving to list. This is not affecting just the Moose. The Eagles, the Elks and the VFW are just some of the fraternal organizations being restricted in their efforts to serve our communities.
I can understand not opening to public bingo, not allowing members to sit and play cards together and keeping our meetings to a smaller number of people while maintaining social distancing. I cannot understand not allowing us to open to our members.
This comes in response to an email sent by Jennifer Purcell on May 12. If fraternal organizations are considered venues and cannot open until fall or later, we will not survive. I hope you can find a way to reclassify fraternal organizations and allow us to open.
Don't forget crisis continues at southern border
I am deeply troubled about what the Trump administration is doing to immigrant families who have come to America seeking asylum. And even though the media isn't reporting on it much these days, the crisis at the southern border has not gone away.
The Trump administration is now forcing families to remain in Mexico and won't even process asylum claims. This is un-American. We used to welcome immigrants to this country as a sign of our nation's strength. Now Trump uses immigration to turn Americans against immigrants. The one lawmaker I see who has been working tirelessly to give a voice to immigrants harmed by Trump's policies is Sen. Jeff Merkley.
I remember when he went down to the border in 2018 to shine a light on the child prisons. It meant a lot to me that he did that and exposed the humanitarian crisis for what it is.
Lots of politicians just give us lip service and rarely show meaningful action or compassion. Jeff Merkley is one of the few politicians who actually cares what happens to these families. We need more like him.
Voters did right thing by backing Metro measure
On behalf of the volunteers, staff and guests of Operation Nightwatch, I would like to thank the voters of the Metro area for resoundingly approving Measure 26-210 in the recent election.
A majority of our fellow citizens have demonstrated once again that they want government to mount an effective, humane response to this community's crisis of houselessness.
Operation Nightwatch is a nonprofit that has served the houseless population in downtown Portland for almost 40 years and in Southeast Portland for 10 years.
Our mission is to provide hospitality that helps alleviate the social isolation of Portland's most disadvantaged residents.
Measure 26-210 will provide the resources necessary to expand the supportive services that can ensure that many of the people we serve will have a path off the streets and to a better life. The present crisis demands that we mobilize every available resource to create affordable housing and the services needed to ensure that everyone who gains access to housing will have the means to remain housed and off the streets.
Operation Nightwatch Board of Directors member
It's time to look well past color of our skin
Everyone. Hold your hands out in front of you. Examine them closely. Turn them over. Notice the lines in your palms. Turn them back. See the veins running under the skin, the wrinkles over your knuckles.
See the color of the skin. What color are your hands? Maybe they are white-pale, because your ancestors came from some northern clime where the skin requires less protection from the sun. Or maybe, they are ebony-dark because your ancestors needed protection from a hot, penetrating equatorial sun. Maybe the color is somewhere in between, to meet the survival needs of wherever your roots lie.
Be brave. Look a little deeper. What's under those shades of flesh? Think of the line from the 1997 movie, "As Good As It Gets" — "You look at someone long enough, you discover their humanity." That's what's under that skin of many colors, that casing that holds us together and protects us: humanity.
Humanity that says I want a good life for my family. I want to have enough to eat and a safe place to sleep. A humanity that dreams of a better life for my children, an education, a home of my own, a vacation. Humanity that wants a life with purpose, to be included and be recognized. A humanity that says I want to feel safe when I walk to the store, go to the park or drive my car.
What defines your humanity?
Next time you see someone and make a judgment about how they look or the color of their skin, stop for a moment. Step back. Look at your own hands. Peel away all of the notes that you've mentally pinned to another person's clothes about who they are and how they act. Allow yourself to be surprised. Look at the other person closely. Look until you truly see them. Prove yourself wrong. Discover their humanity.
Governments doing little about homelessness
The city of Portland/Metro area has had every opportunity to support the endeavors of Helping Hands and Jordan Schnitzer for the use of Wapato Jail as a facility for homelessness. Did they do anything? No, they did not.
What makes anyone think that passing Metro's latest measure will be another solution to getting the homeless off the streets? It will just be another misappropriation of our taxpayer money going nowhere.
Council should give voters a say on RIP
With opposition growing for the hopelessly convoluted residential infill project and developers pushing for a so-called deeper affordability bonus, the Portland City Council should let voters decide the destiny and density of Portland neighborhoods.
The RIP was pushed by ex-builder lobbyist and ex-mayor Charlie Hales and trumpeted by developers as a way to create "affordable" housing along transportation corridors. The concept has now been perverted into something completely different: picture that great old bungalow next door bulldozed and a blockhouse six-plex plopped down in its place.
Face it, developers do this and then move on. Experts have testified that RIP will have little or no effect on affordability.
While we still have a democracy, let's all urge the City Council to give Portlanders a vote on this issue in November.
If the council won't do this, Portland voters need to ask why.
Open up hotels to region's homeless
It's a classic movie scene: A hungry homeless person peering through the glass at a happy family enjoying a delicious meal in a warm house. This is what it is like, but worse, for the people living on the streets in Portland during the pandemic.
Why do big, fancy hotels with rich owners get fat checks but the poorest people struggling to survive in a sidewalk tent get a big fat zero? It is completely unfair and immoral that the people who need the most help are instead facing sweeps by the government and the possibility of losing the little they own (including precious mementos, identification documents and medicines).
Please, city of Portland and Multnomah County, do the humane, compassionate, creative thing and immediately open empty hotels/motels to all those who need temporary homes during the pandemic. It's a win-win-win because then the hotels/motels make some money, their workers earn a salary and at-risk people live a safer, healthier life. It's a model that is working at the Jupiter Hotel and can work all over the city.
This is what many houseless people want. This will help clean up sidewalks. This will make Portland more livable for everyone, not just for those with all the resources. Everyone deserves a soft bed in a warm house (or hotel/motel.)
High court: Did Brown act constitutionally?
An open letter to the esteemed judges of the Oregon Supreme Court:
Soon you will be reviewing Oregon's Emergency Laws and the Constitutional Amendment enacted by the citizens in 2012.
Until the Baker County Judge's ruling, I did not recall the details of Measure 77, so I went and found the voting pamphlet that included the relevant section.
What precisely did 59% of voters, including myself, vote for in 2012, if not a measure that replaced all preexisting regulations?
Was Measure 77 just a suggestion?
Is it not the law of the land? If not, why not?
Why did Gov. Kate Brown not follow the constitution? Why didn't she engage the Legislature for the required public discussion and approval to extend the catastrophic emergency we are facing?
What's at stake here is our trust in the initiatives process for the state of Oregon and whether we can trust our leaders.
I look forward to your answers on these critical matters when you hear arguments and make your decisions. The next emergency deserves clarity as to whether the constitution of Oregon matters.
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