An Open Letter to the Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay:
I write this open letter to you as a longtime Oregon City resident, parent, educator and community leader. Dan, we have maintained a friendly working relationship for many years and share numerous friends, acquaintances and memories. For those reasons and more, it's regrettable that I feel so compelled to deliver this urgent message: you must resign now.
At your best, you have been a dedicated public servant who has donated countless hours at great personal sacrifice to improve the city and community we both love. At your worst though, both your words and deeds have been abusive, tone deaf, and ethically challenged.
As an advocate for an inclusive and anti-racist community, I urge you to educate yourself about racism and reflect upon your own privilege and bias. However, the residents of this community, especially those who are Black and African American, should not have to wait for you to reckon with and atone for the undeniable harm you have caused while occupying the mayor's seat.
Our children are watching and listening. They deserve a better role model in civic leadership. Do the right thing to spare this community additional pain and your fellow commissioners any further drama. You can demonstrate your professed love for the city of Oregon City and inaugurate the long road to healing that we desperately need. Dan, please resign now.
(Larry Didway is the superintendent of Oregon City School District. This letter is his own opinion and does not reflect an official stance of the district.)
Parallels between Dickens's Paris, America today
As America stands divided — people versus government — we begin to draw parallels between 17th century France and the United States today.
The thin curtain hiding the systematic oppression and racism in our country today has been torn. In light of the recent death of an unarmed man named George Floyd, Americans (and people around the world) flood the streets to protest Black Lives Matter. Americans are getting a glimpse of the hate and fear that drives our country today. Much like in the novel "A Tale Of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens, we see how the oppressed are rising and letting their voices ring out and be heard by the powerful and wealthy.
In the novel, we see how Dickens masterfully shines a light on the everyday life and the hardships that the Parisians are enduring just to survive. Dying at the hands of their superiors, working themselves to death just to provide for their families.
We see this theme resurface in today's society as people of color use their voices to demand equality. They, too, are exposing the rigged system meant to launch white people into a hierarchical privilege leaving all "others" to pick up the pieces of broken America. Fear looms over their lives; will they make it home safely tonight, have enough resources to provide for their family, will they be safe in their own homes?
Dickens brings to light the powerful story of a young boy who is killed by the ignorance and carelessness of the marquis. To compensate for the boy's death he throws a gold coin at the father. This story is relevant now as hundreds of people of color are killed every year due to police brutality. But instead of rethinking our engrained systems, the grieving community is promised pocket change.
The novel also holds the story of a young man who is stabbed by a noble when he confronts him about the horrible acts of violence he had committed against his sister. This holds meaning today when we look at whistleblowers of police brutality and systemic racism in our country. The powerful try to silence them or to devalue their statements. For example, the women who released the video of Floyd's murder received death threats from people around the country for sharing the video. And many American's attempted to devalue the life of Mr. Floyd because of his criminal past. No one deserves to die at the hands of those who swore to protect us.
We see how both the storming of the Bastille and the death of George Floyd have sparked a revolution, people are seeing the oppression, the prejudice, the racism that has been hiding in plain sight for hundreds of years and we are fed up. The Bastille was a symbol of power and oppression by the aristocrats and in the novel we see it being burned to the ground much like the police department in Minneapolis a few weeks ago.
I am in no way condoning the acts of violence, merely drawing a comparison between the injustices highlighted in the book and the actions of today.
Growing up, I've often heard that unchecked history has a way of repeating itself. Can we do better?
Appoint Falls to help run Gresham bureaus
Dear Gresham City Councilors and City Attorney:
I am writing to encourage you to re-read the Gresham City Code for clarification regarding the appointment of a city manager.
Councilor Hinton has replied to emails with misinterpretations of the City Code, which must be clarified.
• The city manager position will not be vacant if the council appoints Deputy City Manager Corey Falls to the position upon the retirement of the current city manager.
• There is no requirement to appoint an interim city manager.
• There is no prohibition on an interim city manager being subsequently appointed as city manager, and there is no intent in the charter to "fill the interim position with a senior staff manager in order to allow time for a national search." In fact, the current city manager, Erik Kvarsten, was deputy city manager when he was appointed city manager in 2004.
I urge the Gresham City Council to appoint Corey Falls as interim city manager, or directly to city manager, ASAP. This is the obvious move for continuity in city management, for upholding transparency and democratic principles, and living your values of being a welcoming city where, like the billboard says, "Everyone Counts."
Please demonstrate your commitment to making Gresham a more welcoming, safe and inclusive city, and appoint Corey Falls now!
Both parties failing to address nation's problems
After 19 months of combat in Vietnam I was welcomed home by long-haired college student anti-war protesters who, after graduation, cut their hair, put on suits and became members of the corporate elite. Eight years later, after my discharge, I came home to west Oregon to find I couldn't find employment because I was considered a war-mongering, dope-smoking baby killer.
Being a right-of-center political type I was a registered Republican until the day of the Iraq invasion in 2003, based on lies from Vice President Cheney and the Republican Senate, at which time I re-registered as a Democrat. Three weeks after the election of President Obama in November 2008, DNC Chairperson Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz declared that the progressive liberal socialists had seized control of the Democrat party and, over the next three years, I watched as President Obama and Vice President Biden pursue a socialist agenda before re-registering again to become an Oregon Nonaffiliated Voter in 2011.
During the 2020 Oregon primary election the Oregon Democrats actively sought nonaffiliated voters to register as Democrats to support their candidates, yet many Democrats today are supporting the Black Lives Matters movement and the defacing of historical monuments and destruction of properties.
Why should I, an Oregon NAV and decorated veteran, support a political party who supports the destruction of the very country I fought in defense of? Why can't our two major political parties get better candidates?
We shouldn't expect police to take on unsuited roles
I am writing this letter with the intention of advancing some new ways of thinking about the problems that protesters and civic officials are reviewing and contemplating.
It is my belief that a decrease in the need of self-defense amongst the police will go far to assist those who have taken upon themselves the service and protection of the populace. The "free zones" (free of police interference) that have been established in a few American cities have so far proven very effective in demonstrating an ability of a social group to police themselves.
During the "occupy" movement in Portland, on several occasions, I witnessed what a group of socially minded moral people could accomplish in a short time. It was heartening to see the organization and participation encompassing so many. Unfortunately, it was an experiment before its time and I watched it being dismantled in the presence of many scores of armed police.
Once the concept and idea of "humanity" can be fully embraced in our society, the need for domination, the cry for "law and order" will diminish and our neighborhoods and city streets will take on a brighter hue, I believe.
A critical question now, relative to police action, should be: "Who should respond to a certain event and in what way?" Hopefully police departments will come to understand that there needs to be professionals called in to work in concert with the police and who can mediate incidents that involve mental illness, drug abuse or family crises. In my opinion, too often the police respond irrationally out of their own fear, self-defending.
Let us engage our professionals alongside the police who do have a role to play in societal affairs. Let us cease to expect the police forces to take on roles they are not suited for.
Questions for Portland Police Association and City Council
As I read about and watch the protests across the country over the illegal and prosecutable treatment and death of George Floyd, I have questions for the Portland Police Association and our Portland City Council: what would our city's response be?
How are our police officers trained to detain those accused (but not charged or proven guilty) of property crimes? Are they taught to use such animalistic methods employed by "peace officer" Derek Chauvin?
Would our officers be allowed time to gather evidence and testimony before they are charged? Or would they be detained and charged with the same brutal efficiency that civilians are treated? If our police were equipped with body cams, would we be allowed to see the footage at all?
Is an officer with multiple complaints and disciplinarian actions against his/her record from previous employment hirable by the PPA? Are background checks allowed or such records disqualifying? Would that officer be allowed to continue to patrol our community if more such complaints or disciplinary actions occur?
Where is the public openness in the whole process? Is there a way for the residents of our city to learn about, review and participate in the disciplinary process for public employees?
These questions should be addressed and answered before the contract for the Portland Police Association union is completed and ratified, and before the next tragedy happens on our streets.
Portland-Metro People's Coalition
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