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The Letters to the Editor are where BEE readers share their information and points of view with other readers

Takes exception to September editorial

Editor,

I have to take objection to your editorial [Sept. BEE] "Gun Violence explodes in East Portland; City Council responsible". I am sorry to say that this is lazy journalism at best and biased misinformation at worst. Most criminologists and law enforcement experts will attest to the fact that violent crime, particularly gun violence, has slowly been on the increase for a few years now while, I will remind your readers, that overall crime in America continues to be at 20-30 year LOWS! With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic and the disastrous social and economic impacts, we have seen a marked spike in violence. This is occurring across the globe, not just here in America or Portland. One poignant and harrowing example: reported and prosecutable cases of domestic violence have jumped 30-60% locally. I would hate to be a woman in Argentina where they have seen an 80% increase in domestic violence.

Again, most experts point to three possible factors contributing to the recent increased gun violence here in America. The two factors most agree on are the inter-related impacts of COVID-19 in our communities: social fracture and economic hardship. Both are known contributing factors to crime in general. Most experts agree on these two. The third factor is the one you highlight: changes to policing practices. However, these changes are not uniform across cities and states, and [it is] too soon to draw any statistically valid conclusions. You only quote data from the Portland Police Association which is the police officer's union and which, as you point out, "has its own point of view." You fail to source statistics from the Portland Police Bureau directly, from the Police Chief, the District Attorney's office, and you seem to malign City Councilors for viewing East Portland as having "little importance to [them]". I believe that to be patently untrue.

I invite THE BEE to take a more forensic look at crime in our city, the immediate causes, the underlying root causes, and to talk to a wide array of officials, entities and organizations so as to provide your readers with a well-informed perspective and understanding of what is happening in our communities AND how each and every one of us can help make Portland a wonderful, safe and healthy place to live, work and play.

While I am writing this as "Joe Citizen" I have listed my affiliations to provide some modicum of evidence that I am involved and vested in these very issues.  

Simon Fulford

Sellwood Resident Executive Director, Parrott Creek Child & Family Services

President, Restorative Justice Coalition of Oregon

Chair, Juvenile Justice Affinity Group of the Oregon Alliance of Children's Programs

President, Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League (SMILE)

EDITOR'S NOTE: With due respect to Mr. Fulford, whom we know personally and consider to be a friend, the statistics are pretty clear. Although the effects of COVID-19 had been with us for months, on virtually the very day the City Council ordered the Gun Violence Reduction Team of the Portland Police Bureau to disband, Portland Police Bureau statistics show the gun violence in East Portland began to explode upward, and gun violence continues at an unprecedentedly high level there since then. As we have reported in news stories, we have heard residents in immigrant and minority communities in East Portland say that they are now scared for their safety. We continue to hold the City Council accountable for its short-sighted decision, and we call for its reversal..

Appreciates article on "DEQ Too", adds facts

Editor, Regarding Elizabeth Ussher Groff's article [September BEE] about DEQ Too, thank you for covering the topic and getting the word out.  You are the only reporter to do so in several years.  Through no fault of your own, there are several inaccuracies in your article, including: DEQ Too was not rolled out "in early 2020" – DEQ rolled it out April 2016; over four years ago [although] a DEQ press release this April made it appear as if DEQ just began offering certificates online. Also, DEQ Too does not have one option with a telematics device and another option without a device – both options use telematics devices – the difference is that one is continuously plugged into one car, and one is used at an auto shop by multiple customers' cars; most DEQ Too participating businesses do not require an appointment to get tested – you happened to talk with two shops that do require appointments; Several DEQ Too participating businesses do not charge any money to motorists for the test; [and,] prior to June 1, DEQ's certificate was $21 and that had to be paid to DEQ even if testing at a private business, and as of June 1, that fee was temporarily raised [by] $4 to $25. Thanks again for covering this topic! The sad reality is that hardly anyone is even aware the program exists – and when they do learn it's been around for going on 5 years now, they ask the auto shop "Why haven't I heard about it before now?" More articles like yours can definitely help. Mike Christopherson DEQ Too Business Alliance

via e-mail

More arguments about 'Historic District'

Editor, For a neighborhood to think it exists in a bubble is not fair to the rest of the City. Between 1980 and 2010, according to the Decennial Census, Eastmoreland shrunk in total population by 2 (.03% contraction) while the larger City added 217,393 (60% growth). In the absence of protectionist rules the neighborhood has remained frozen in amber. This vote should have been citywide because we all must share in the growth of our city. It was recently suggested in a recent Letter to the Editor that those who oppose the historic district are immune to the neighborhood's beauty and history. . . The homes are not rare, just big and owned by wealthy people. Big trees are found everywhere in the Northwest and sadly because on the margins it is slightly more difficult to build infill developments because of historic districts, forests full of big old growth trees will have to be cleared to make room for a growing population. As for the historic element, I am entirely lost as to the reason. . . If you believe that your home is a unique and special place seek designation but respect other peoples private property rights and let them do with their property what they believe the market wants. . . The saddest thing about this fight for historic districts is that I expect it to backfire on the people who believed in preserving rare and important structures from demolition. That is because now historic preservation is a tool used, not for preserving rare structures, but to stop the change that all cities have benefited from. As we try to build the housing that can actually address climate change, historic preservation will now be in the cross hairs, and even modest and precision preservation will be a victim. That will be a sad day and one that can be attributed to the blatant abuse of this tool. Tim DuBois Westmoreland

Editor, I am a recently reelected member of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association board, but the following represents my own opinion: I found the juxtaposition of Thomas Christ's letter with that of Dinah Adkins' in the September BEE very telling. Why? Because Thomas Christ is married to Mary Kyle McCurdy (mentioned by Adkins) of 1000 Friends of Oregon, a formerly well-respected organization that has sold its soul to the development industry.

Redevelopment increases housing prices, unless there are strong regulations in place to mandate affordability. The free market alone will only lead to inflated prices. And new construction 15 years old or newer is exempt from the new "rent control" law recently passed in the Oregon legislature. So anything newly-built anywhere in the state, including Eastmoreland, will do nothing whatsoever to help low-income renters afford housing. It will inevitably be more expensive than whatever it replaced. Eastmoreland's pursuit of Historic District designation has nothing to do with keeping anyone out; it has everything to do with preserving the variety of homes for EVERYone for now and into the future, and resisting the efforts of redevelopers like Renaissance Homes and Everett Custom Homes to replace the smaller houses with the very kind of huge homes that Mr. Christ claims to decry. People from any demographic group deserve the chance to live in Eastmoreland or any other type of neighborhood they prefer. Redevelopment is making neighborhoods like Eastmoreland less diverse, not more, as unique older houses are destroyed to make way for very large, overpriced houses that look very similar to each other, and are seemingly built from a catalog. If Thomas Christ were really concerned with increasing diversity in Eastmoreland and throughout Portland's neighborhoods, he would help the Neighborhood Associations find ways to do it through invitation and inclusion – through working for legislation that would make existing homes more affordable for buyers and renters. Instead, he continues to sit on the sidelines, writing inflammatory letters to newspapers questioning people's motives, passively accusing them of racism, and hoping the free market and his friends in the development industry will magically set aside their profits, and create affordability through the goodness of their hearts. He is either naive, disingenuous, or both. Joe Dudman S.E. Rex Street Editor,

A recent letter to the editor misstated a key fact about Eastmoreland's battle over its proposed historic district. The author stated that "we…by majority vote…supported creation of an Historic District." The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association has never taken a vote to determine whether or not the residents want a historic district.  The closest was a poll which was sent to every household. . .

But the result of a vote or poll is beside the point. Thanks to the bizarre rules of creating a historic district, no vote is required of its residents. As has happened in Eastmoreland, anyone can initiate the nomination process, and unless a majority of homeowners object by filing individual notarized letters, a historic district will be established for perpetuity without anyone's consent. It's no wonder the neighborhood is divided!

Bert Sperling Eastmoreland resident

Calling for knitters and crocheters

Editor,

The Psalm 139 Prayer Shawl Ministry at All Saints Episcopal Church in Woodstock invites knitters and crocheters in the community to join in making hats and/or scarves for those in need. On November 21 we plan to give each of our Hot Meal Thanksgiving Dinner guests a hand knitted or crocheted hat and scarf. This is a good way to use your yarn scraps and help someone less fortunate. There is a greater need for masculine colors than feminine colors.

If you are in need of yarn scraps, or would like more information, please call the church office at 503/777-3829 and leave a message. Someone will get back to you. 

Due to the generosity of the community over the last several years, our project has been very successful. The recipients are extremely grateful. Please help us again this year. Due to COVID-19, there are no longer definite office hours at the church. We are happy to make arrangements to meet you at the church, or deliver the yarn to you. The same arrangement can be made regarding collecting the finished project. Special thanks to all of you knitters and crocheters!

Bev Curtis Psalm 139 Prayer Shawl Ministry

All Saints Episcopal Church

via e-mail

Address provided for "Poetree"

Editor, In the September issue of THE BEE, the story about Douglas Yarrow's street-side maple tree – the "Poetree" – in the Reed neighborhood did not include the exact location of the Poetree. I did not include the address in my article, keeping in mind that it was not long ago that I wrote about the 15-foot-high agave plant on S.E. 28th and Gladstone being in bloom, and its owners having then been swamped with too many BEE readers coming to look at it.

However, since the publication of the "Poetree" article, several people have asked me for the address, so they can see where Yarrow has hung the Langston Hughes poem or other things of interest, which the neighbors sometimes interact with or contribute to.

I subsequently asked Yarrow about including his address, and he has given permission for it to be published. The "Poetree" is on the corner of S.E. 37th and Raymond, at 4935 S.E. 37th Avenue.

Elizabeth Ussher Groff BEE correspondent via e-mail

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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