BEE readers share their opinions and their stories here each month, in the Letters to the Editor

Roof fireworks

GEORGE BENGTSON - Here are the private fireworks photographed on Sellwood Boulevard on July 4 by Mr. Bengston.Editor,

Thought that you might care to use this photo that I took on 7/4 over on Sellwood Boulevard. I was watching the Oaks Park fireworks when I heard some "amateur" fireworks go off behind me, in the general vicinity of S.E. 9th and Sellwood Blvd.

I turned around to see these guys watching the Oaks Park fireworks from a rooftop, with the backyard fireworks going off behind them.

George Bengtson

Eastmoreland EDITOR'S NOTE: In checking the specs from the fire department, those do not seem to be legal fireworks. Hmm. Nice photo composition by Mr. Bengtson, though.

Shop local – or risk losing what makes neighborhood great


Tom Dwyer Automotive Services is a proud independent business with a 30-year history in Sellwood. Like most other small businesses, we try to be a true neighbor by not just serving our clients but supporting neighborhood schools, organizations, events, and causes. In particular we have a long history of promoting "buying local" to create strong local economies. We think spending money with our neighbors helps our neighbors, provides the local and responsive services we need, and localizes economic power to build vibrant communities that benefit everyone. Our Sellwood neighborhood is a shining example of that "buy local" philosophy in action, but I'm writing because I see a threat to all we've built together here. On the other hand, I also see a solution.

The Sellwood we love is a tree-shaded paradise of homes, businesses, and parks, but the proliferation of high-occupancy apartments means construction, parking, and traffic problems for residents and businesses alike. Neighborhoods need close-by, available businesses and services just as much as trees and parks, but unrestrained building is forcing out many of the local businesses Sellwood depends on. Once these businesses leave it may be impossible to bring them back. Portland is allowing this building boom, at least in part, to create affordable housing in walkable neighborhoods. Unfortunately, it makes little sense to build high-occupancy housing under the assumption that people won't need cars, and then deprive the neighborhood of the products and services they need within walking distance. It defeats the goals of the City's plan, and will turn Sellwood into little more than a "bedroom community" for Portland.

If that's the threat, what's the solution? The most effective long-term fix would change the way the City of Portland handles construction, planning and zoning, but that's too slow to help businesses struggling right now. The biggest thing we can do, something that will help RIGHT NOW, is for Sellwood neighbors to SUPPORT THEIR LOCAL BUSINESSES! Almost any product or service is available within a mile of Sellwood, so explore your LOCAL options, pick one, and go give them a try! The Sellwood-Westmoreland Business Alliance has a list of Sellwood businesses of all types to choose from. They'll appreciate your business and you'll appreciate the convenience and personal service they provide. We'll all finally appreciate them if they're forced to leave!

Tom Dwyer Automotive and the other local businesses of our neighbors, families, and friends want to be here for Sellwood's future, but ALL our local businesses depend on local patronage. That patronage has never been more important than now, as change and growth squeeze us all. We don't have to lose what makes our neighborhood great, but keeping it demands our conscious choice and effort. Take time to treat yourself to one of the hundreds of businesses that makes Sellwood everything we love. We're all here for you today, and with your support, we'll all be here for you tomorrow.

Tom Dwyer


'Thuggish behavior' questioned


In the July issue of THE BEE, I noted two different headlines. The first, "Police, K-9s, FBI, airplane track Woodstock Wells Fargo armed robber" (pg. 5) went on to describe the suspect only as having "a full gray beard". The second headline read "Armed thugs rob Powell Blvd. bar" (pg. 9), and as soon as I saw the word "thugs" being used, I suspected the suspects would be described as being Black, and sure enough, that was the case. Both articles describe crimes committed by armed men, but only one uses an adjective that has recently become used more commonly among White people to apply to young Black men.

In fact, the first article mentions color only in respect to the man's beard, leaving readers to assume, apparently, that lack of description must default to White. If the White robber, who stole money with the aid of a semiautomatic pistol, is only described as being "armed", why are Black robbers, using a knife and handgun, described as "armed thugs"? All are certainly criminals here, but Oregon's shameful history of racism, and its continuing presence in our city and state, dictates that we should be aware of not just explicit but implicit racism. Next time, how about just calling them all "armed robbers"?

Celeste Searles Mazzacano

S.E. Knight Street, Woodstock

Editor, I usually enjoy reading the local paper and seeing what the neighborhood is up to. As usual I was reading THE BEE when I noticed an article titled "Armed Thugs rob Powell Blvd bar" what follows was a description of the robbers, who happened to be black. The use of the word thugs to describe black men is code and totally racist. I have never seen this word used to describe white criminals in Sellwood ever. I know Portland has a large white population but this is not an excuse to not understand how minorities are described and how words matter and have impact. Patrick Beard


EDITOR'S NOTE: For our seventeen years as editor, we have regularly called "thugs" any armed robber, of ANY description, who beat up the person robbed (as in this case, per the article), or who victimized bystanders. Our dictionary defines "thug" as "a cruel or vicious ruffian", so evidently our usage is correct. For seventeen years, this has drawn no comment. That we have now received two this time must be significant. We do not intend to ignore such behavior by any armed robber in our reporting simply as a courtesy to the robber, but are certainly willing to use another noun to describe it, and are open to suggestions of acceptable synonyms….?

Eastmoreland Golf Course Centennial

Editor, I appreciate your [historical] article on the Eastmoreland Golf course, one of my favorite courses. However, the article states that Eastmoreland was Oregon's first golf links available for public use. Perhaps you really meant "Portland's first golf links available for public use." Gearhart Golf Course was established as an 18-hole course in 1913, a few years before Eastmoreland.

Steven Armbrust Eastmoreland via e-mail

Bicyclists and the rules of the road

Editor, I have lived in the Westmoreland neighborhood since 1984. Great neighborhood. I've walked my dogs since I've lived here. Now, unfortunately, it is not as safe to do so because of the bicyclists. Yes, some will stop reading at this point. I WAS an avid cyclist in the day, so I'm not a hater. I AM sick and tired of the vast majority of the cyclists not obeying the same rules of the road as pedestrians and cars.

Just this morning [July 8] I was crossing 17th at a corner. Two cars had stopped for me but the three road racers merely WAVED at me and then said "Thanks" for my patience. In fact, I had the right of way. Another time I was crossing and a car had stopped, but as I stepped out off the curb, a cyclist zipped past me and then flipped me off. Really? The driver of the car and I both shook our heads. I do understand not wanting to stop because many are trying to do their personal best, but come on, cyclists: You are given the same right of way as cars, but that means you need to obey the same road rules as cars. In case you don't know, PEDESTRIANS always have the right of way, not cyclists. When a pedestrian is at a corner, not even in marked intersections, you need to STOP and follow the rules of the road.

One hears about cyclists being in accidents and often permanently changed, or dead. It seems the blame is always placed on the car. If a car must stop behind a semi with the sign, "If you can't see my rear view mirrors, then I can't see you," so must cyclists. It's for safety. Safety seems not to be the goal of the majority of cyclists I see on the road, but instead the creed, "I have just as much right as the cars do." Well, when there is an accident between a vehicle and a cyclist, the big metal machine always wins.

Teach your children well, and follow the RULES of the road [on a bicycle – just] as you have the same privileges on the road as cars.

Phyllis Boyer

S.E. 19th Avenue

Historic District issue


More than seven months after Eastmoreland's nomination for Historic District designation was submitted to Oregon's State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the status of its future remains uncertain. The July 3 deadline arrived and with it, the news that the National Park Service (NPS) was returning the nomination to SHPO because it was incomplete. And now, a lawsuit filed against the state by Tom Brown is preventing SHPO from conducting a count of owners and objections. There are things we know and things we don't know at this point. Daily I am asked where things stand so, because SHPO cannot provide answers, I will.

Most importantly, we know that the majority of Eastmoreland supports the Historic District. We know this because responses to the nomination (in the form of objections and rescissions) are a matter of public record. Since December, opponents have garnered a lot of objections, but it's still a minority of the property owners in the proposed Historic District. Though there's still uncertainty around the process, if we look at the list of owners assembled by SHPO from May 15, 2017, cross-referenced with all submitted objections and rescissions we find…

Total number of Owners: 2,052

Majority (50%+1): 1,027

Objections: 1,022

Rescissions: 66

Net Objections: 956

The net number of objections represents only 46.6% of the owners and therefore falls short of a majority.

There are also things we don't know at this time. We do not know when SHPO will conduct an official tally of owners and objectors. When this happens, it will likely change all the above numbers, but probably not the end result which is that a majority of Eastmoreland residents in the proposed Historic District boundary support the HD.

We also do not know how the lawsuit against the state will be resolved or whether individuals in the minority who oppose the HD will bring additional lawsuits. Up to this point, there was speculation about what the majority wanted. But we know this now, and efforts to thwart the desire of the majority using lawsuits, lobbyists and legislation will only delay closure on this phase of Eastmoreland's pursuit of Historic District designation. Let us all insist on answers from SHPO and a swift resolution so that the

NPS can formally respond and we can move forward as a neighborhood.

Derek Blum


All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.

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