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This is where BEE readers provide feedback on the newspaper or offer new information, each month

Photographer and author Jim Wygant included this picture with his letter.

Dutch elm disease claims more trees in Eastmoreland

Editor, Four huge elms had to be removed from S.E. Rex between 32nd and Reed College Place. They were the only trees left on that side of the street. A couple others were removed in past years. The trees were on adjacent properties on the same side of Rex. It took several days to accomplish, and [as I write] the remains have not yet been removed. Here is a photo I took of the massive stumps now awaiting removal. All the trees were either dead, or had Dutch elm disease. The trees were among the tallest in the neighborhood. Jim Wygant www.jimwygant.com

via e-mail

Santa is heard from

Editor,

The below is a Letter to the Editor from Santa Claus. It was accidentally sent to our e-mail address, so I am forwarding it to you. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!

Cris Breshears

Administrative Assistant 

All Saints Episcopal, Woodstock Dear Children of Southeast Portland,

Thank you all for writing to me this year. As you all know, it's been a very different and sometimes difficult year for us all. Work, school, playtime, everything has changed so much, and you ALL have managed to meet the challenges of this year with grace and resolve to do your best. Please know that I see you trying your best! I had been so worried that, with the pandemic, the Post Office wouldn't be able to get your Christmas Wish Lists to me, and was very grateful to All Saints Episcopal Church for their willingness to host a special North Pole Letterbox. Everything worked perfectly and I received so many letters.

I want to especially thank the following children for their messages of encouragement and hope during these uncertain times: Alden (the Fireman); Angus; Audry; Briggs; Chase; Coby; Elliot; Jack; Jane; Jonah; Leo; Leona; Levi; Liddy; Logan; Lucas; Lucius; Makenna; Margaret; Marlow; Matt; May; Murphy; Olivia; Penny; Scarlett; Stella; Trevor; Watson; and all of you who wished to remain anonymous.

The sleigh was packed full, but the reindeer still managed to fly from rooftop to rooftop. Hopefully you were happy with what I was able to bring this holiday. I can tell by your beautiful hearts that you already know that the spirit of Christmas is so much more than the gifts under the tree. You, yourselves, bring a loving light to this world, and that is the greatest gift. Keep shining!

Your letters helped to brighten these dark days, and I know we are all looking forward to brighter days ahead. Happy New Year to each and every one of you.

With love,

Santa Claus

About TriMet rider security ideas

Editor, To address the recent BEE editorial [January, 2021] on the Tri-Met attempt to take ideas from the public and "address the security issues that riders are facing". In a nutshell, it's not enough. Tri-Met apparently cares more about the anti-police crowd than the safety and security issues that are actually taking place on their transportation components. And in fact these daily issues are affecting ridership and Tri-Met will once again ask for taxpayer money to bolster their failures. As decidedly unpopular as police are with certain city council members and some of the public, uniformed police are the ONLY answer to reducing crime and illegal activity on bus and rail transportation. Their presence alone is enough. It's called deterrence. Quite frankly I loved using Tri-Met when I could, last year. Now you couldn't pay me to use their trains. The last time I rode the train from Bybee to downtown it looked like the bar scene from Star Wars. Criminals selling drugs. People smoking cigarettes and joints, as well as these same people not wearing masks as required by law. Their trains are Petri dishes for COVID. Who will address these issues if not the police? Certainly not a Tri-Met employee who faces assault (or worse) from these same riders. William J Wolfe

via e-mail

To readers: Update from TriMet

Readers, TriMet contacted our parent company in late December about THE BEE's recent editorial regarding the future of the Transit Police. We understand that TriMet now says that they have not made any decision to remove Transit Police from their buses and trains. This is, from my own point of view, good news. To explain why I wrote the editorial: I did previously receive a "rider survey" from TriMet earlier in 2020 which intimated they intended to phase out Transit Police and were seeking input from riders and employees on how to replace their presence. As a rider with a Hop FastPass of my own, I filled out that survey offering my own view that the Transit Police are essential to rider safety and should NOT be phased out. They now say I misinterpreted the survey, and any mention of a reduction of the Transit Police was not intended to be understood as elimination – and that they now expect to continue use of Transit Police. What THE BEE presented in the recent editorial was – in the form of a direct quote of the entire TriMet press release – a follow-up to that survey sent to riders, telling how they were going to handle security in the future on buses and trains; and surprisingly, given this intention, the security measures cited did not mention Transit Police in the solution. Perhaps our comments in THE BEE were helpful. As a response to the editorial, we have received the following statement and "bullet points" from Roberta Altstadt, Manager of Media Relations and Communications for TriMet: "We will retain Transit Police officers on the system, as they play a vital role in preventing crimes against riders and employees, while also responding if a serious incident does occur. Having officers dedicated to transit allows them to become familiar with TriMet staff, how the system works and the needs of our riders. Officers are able to provide riders and employees assistance in addition to security. However, TriMet recognizes not all situations that happen on our transit system and in the communities we serve require a police response. That is why we want to pilot alternative approaches to public safety on transit, such as the mobile response crisis programs and other unarmed alternatives."

· TriMet did cut six Transit Police positions earlier this year, and TriMet is redirecting money to such things as crisis intervention and having more TriMet personnel (but not necessarily police) on the system. TriMet had 70 officer positions at the peak, not all of which were filled.

· TriMet still believes Transit Police are very important, but believes that not everything needs a police response. Thats why having other TriMet personnel on the system will be helpful.

· Portland Police are pulling out of the Transit Police program, but TriMet is working with the other jurisdictions to increase the number of Transit Police officers they provide. TriMet pays for the officers, so its not a budget hit for the other jurisdictions.

· Fare inspectors are not Transit Police, and are not affected by any of this.

· Even though the Portland Police are pulling out, they will still respond to calls on buses and trains within Portland's city limits.

Eric Norberg

Editor

Things to celebrate about 2020

Editor, My gratitude list for all the good things going on during these surreal times could circle the globe. On that list is THE BEE. I like this paper. I live in Westmoreland's Union Manor on 23rd Avenue, and I have a $5M view of the neighborhood and West Hills from my windows on the 5th floor. Your paper is giving me the opportunity to thank everyone who put out decorations and lights for the Holidays. I can even see the TALL [Christmas] Tree in Sellwood! Oh what a joy it has been. Bless each and every one of you. Happy New Year. And, yes, it CAN be, depending on how we handle each situation that comes along. Right?  Right.

Carolyn Hill

via e-mail

That "Little Libraries" map last month

Editor, I was real pleased to see that you gave my ["Little Libraries"] map such a nice, big spot on your letters page [January BEE]. I hope a lot of folks will take advantage of the opportunity to clip 'n' save. But naturally I'd like them to have more than this one chance to grab it. . . I wonder if you could put a brief note in the Letters section that tells people they can download a printable copy of the map for free from this Dropbox link – tinyurl.com/yauppzvd

Kenneth Huey

via e-mail

Disturbed by THE BEE

Editor, I was disappointed to see one-sided reporting from THE BEE in your January issue. Your front page story subjectively labeled the [potential] move of an award winning educational program (from wealthy neighborhoods to a less affluent area less than 10 minutes away) as "not good", and no one from the recipient neighborhood was interviewed. Your editor called for the reinstatement of racist transit police without context or mention of the city-wide community survey which shows that Portlanders support the removal of officers from transit. I ask you to please be thoughtful about the platform you have with THE BEE. Representation is important, and you have the power to raise up marginalized voices with your newspaper. I hope you will consider rising to this challenge in your reporting. . . Thank you. Julia Troutt Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood

Appreciated Dana Beck article

Editor,

Dana Beck's story, "Southeast History: The VERY early days of Fire Station 20" [January BEE], was a finely written piece. The detail about life in Sellwood, specifically as it applied to firefighters through the decades, was extremely enlightening. As we read it, we felt like we were there; it was like a time machine transporting us to early Sellwood. Dana is to be commended for his fine work. Lyn Nance-Sasser and Stephen Sasser via e-mail

Bias in a story…?

Editor, I enjoy reading THE BEE and find it to be a great local newspaper. I did want to point out something that looks to be a bit of (likely unintended) bias. An article in the January edition titled "Too many choices at intersection results in a split decision" uses the descriptor "blonde teenage" driver. While being young might be an important part of the story given the driver was likely inexperienced, thus maybe more likely to be confused. But blonde? How is that important to this story? We can all keep learning and checking our biases. They sneak in so easily! I certainly do my share of them and appreciate it when someone lets me know. Hopefully you appreciate it as much as I do. Thanks again for the news!

Carole Miller

via e-mail EDITOR'S NOTE: The question is, when should we leave out a real detail? The correspondent who covered that story did not want to say anything that would identify the driver, and in fact we only mentioned her sex and age-range once. She actually was blonde. However, that detail was not essential to the story; and since at least one reader took offense to it, we removed it from the online version.

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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