LETTERS to the Editor
Westmoreland business bedeviled by burglaries
Moreland Vision Source has been in business in Westmoreland for over 50 years. Dr. Scott Wojciechowski bought the practice in 1994, and has enjoyed building a successful practice that has served over three generations of families in the area. The Vision Center is located next to Ace Hardware in the modest strip mall at 6539 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue. Recently the practice has been the target of repeated break-ins, which began in March and have created substantial financial loss and disruption to the business. Thieves have repeatedly smashed windows, broken locks, and absconded with thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise.
"I was shocked the first time we were broken into," says Dr. Scott, "But after the fourth break-in, we are all just kind of numb. It's hard to understand who would want to go to so much trouble for sunglasses and frames. Mostly, I worry about my employees and the effect this has on them."
Owners Dr. Scott Wojciechowski and Dr. Daryn Derstine and have been providing eyecare for decades. Currently the practice sees approximately 280 to 300 patients per month, ranging in age from children to Veterans. . . With revenue loss now totaling over $50,000, and repair costs nearing $15,000, the practice is still determined to carry on, restore the damage, and upgrade security. "Demand for eyecare is evident, and we want to continue to be here and continue to help as many people as we can", says Dr. Derstine. "Although substantial investment has been made to upgrade our security measures, what really keeps us going is the kindness our community has shown," Dr. Scott adds; "We just want to thank everyone who reached out to us."
Kristine GottschMoreland Vision Sourcevia e-mail
Hazards of dining in parking spaces
Editor,My name is David and my profession is occupational health and safety. I recently read the [June BEE] article about the woman distracted-driving in Westmoreland who had hit a curbside seating structure. Fortunately no one was injured, and the story seemed to stress the driver could've been seriously injured. The missing link in this story is that if families were seated there, and someone were to either be distracted-driving or had a health condition occur such as a diabetic episode, and lose control of the vehicle while people are seated, there would likely be multiple fatalities. . .It seems the only reasonable solution is not to seat pedestrians in the street, unless there's a physical barrier that prevents an F350 from running through it. . .I'm not sure how permitting got approved for seating people in the street with roughly 12 inches of clearance from moving vehicles. . . I think it should be reconsidered.We should act before a serious accident occurs. This story was sent to me by a friend, simply because, as we were walking from the Bible Club to Kay's last weekend, I asked him to please never sit in the curbside seats, and explained my concern. Then, one week later, he sent me this story and said, "You were right."David Dibbsvia e-mailEditor,I am curious about the structures along Bybee and Milwaukie Avenue for restaurant eating. Are they temporary? Are they built to some kind of commercial approval? Are they taking up a valuable parking? Finally, after seeing the photo accompanying THE BEE's article about the smashed one at Tolman and Milwaukie, are they really safe? Some of them look like shipping crates, and others seem to obscure the facade of their neighbors. I will be glad to see them go.Linda SchwartzMilwaukieEDITOR'S NOTE: These were authorized by the Portland Bureau of Transportation all over the city with the support of the Portland City Council, to keep restaurants in business during the pandemic. Their current authorization is due to expire on October 31, but it could be extended if the city wishes to do it. They are considered safe as long as nobody runs into them with a vehicle!
Why the hate?
Editor,Last weekend [June 5-6] while visiting QFC on Milwaukie, I noticed woman in the parking lot lying face down at the base of cement steps, her forehead resting against the rise. It was a chilly, wet June day, many people wrapped up in sweaters, but this woman was lying on cold cement wearing a pair of shorts and a sleeveless top. I was concerned as to whether she was alive, so I stood over her calling out, trying to get a response. I was standing close enough that I would have been able to smell alcohol but did not. Nor did she look to be a drug abuser. I sadly concluded this woman was simply suffering from mental illness and was unable to care for herself, perhaps homeless. A male in a pickup stopped before exiting the driveway and yelled out to me "give her a couple kicks for me." I wonder, is this man proud of himself? What happened to him as a child that he turned out to be so callous? Does he have children if his own? If so, I worry for them. I understand how easy it is to look past someone who's living on the street, to show indifference as there are so many, but it would never occur to me to behave in a hateful and violent manner toward anyone, especially toward someone who's incapable of harming me. Why this hatefulness toward someone so harmless?Kathlene KelleyS.E. 14th Avenue
More about 'friendly judges'
Your [editorial] was pretty good. You pointed out the limited resources of the newspaper, and the reality that judges run for election and re-election unopposed. You pointed out that the judges are not known and that the only time that we see their name is during the election season. All of this is true. And I think that it is the root and foundational base of the problem. . .Your editorial was interesting reading, [but] it does not give me hope that our society will move forward and become safer. It currently is moving quickly towards anarchy and violence and danger. I wonder if the judges who make these decisions have to live in neighborhoods that will become battle zones. Probably not.Phil Harden
,I was pleased to see some readers also took issue with your use of the term, "friendly judges". This phrase used in THE BEE stuck in my craw from the first time I read it. Your response to the letters did nothing to alleviate that. Characterizing an action a judge takes as friendly or unfriendly, without having the facts, which you admit you do not have, is not objective journalism. "Neither we nor any other media in Portland are able to tell you that." Objective journalism states facts of an action. Subjective journalism assumes a person's reason for taking action. The former is neutral, evenhanded journalism allowing readers to understand as much as possible, even if there are limited facts. The latter is tabloid journalism. Both can be hard hitting, but both are not ethical equals. . .
Without knowing the reason these people are released, we don't know how our public servants are falling down on the job. Is it because they can't follow our own laws? Or they don't regard our laws the same way we do? I thought court records are made public. If this is not the case, then you can add this fact to the stories and explain how you attempted to petition for them. What were your roadblocks? All related facts. If you wish to "prod some local judge into piercing this veil of anonymity" so that more can be understood, you're much more likely to get this when your platform is unbiased, objective journalism; when your reporting doesn't characterize judges' actions. You'll also get more respect for THE BEE's news reporting if you stick with the facts.Jim Whyte IIvia e-mailEditor,My family and I have wondered about the topic of "friendly judges" for a year now. It is astonishing to see the hard work of citizens and police be quickly undone in court and to see the crimes repeat. This topic is a commonly-expressed frustration in news comment sections, yet receives no attention from the local media. Thank you for attempting to shed some light on the topic. We will be very interested to see if anyone takes you up on your offer of an interview.Joe Diemervia e-mailEditor,Editor:I was disappointed in your response, in the last issue of THE BEE, to letters from readers who wondered why you described as "friendly" judges who have granted bail to people charged with a crime. . .Apparently, you've never heard of the presumption of innocence – the foundation of our system of justice. In this country, the accused is presumed innocent. And many defendants are actually innocent. Police and prosecutors don't always get it right; sometimes they cite the wrong person, and sometimes they over-charge. That's why juries regularly return not-guilty verdicts, and why we don't imprison people unless and until they're convicted. You and the Queen of Hearts might prefer a "sentence first, verdict afterwards" system, but we're not in Alice's Wonderland, thank goodness.For these reasons, the Oregon Constitution guarantees the right to bail for all offences "except murder and treason," and the Criminal Code strictly limits the circumstances under which a defendant can be denied release pending trial. The judges you complain about aren't being "friendly" – they're just following the law.Tom ChristEastmorelandEDITOR'S NOTE: Actually we are not particularly concerned with the granting of bail, but with the frequent "release on own recognizance" of those who are charged with major felonies, including illegal gun ownership and use by those previously imprisoned. Bail is normally set high enough for potentially-dangerous offenders to provide some assurance they will actually show up at trial. But releasing someone charged with attempted murder "on own recognizance" hardly compels their later court appearance, and also leaves the community at considerable risk of repeat offenses in the meantime.Editor,
A friend who lives in Sellwood mentioned the article you wrote about "friendly judges" and shared the paper with me. It was good to . . . read that (as usual) terrific article.Carolyn Tomei
Former State Representative HD 41via e-mail
Editor,I read the discussion in the most recent edition of THE BEE regarding "friendly judges." I wanted to suggest the "OREGON JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT – Online Records Search" as a resource in case you do not already use it. Searching for "Spencer, Gary Allen" returned many results, and for the incident in March indicated that the judge hearing the proceeding was Judith H. Matarazzo. It also indicated that Judge Matarazzo concurrently entered a procedural matter of extradition with the charge of "fugitive from justice." Perhaps there is context to be gained from this. The site for the online records search is: webportal.courts.oregon.gov/portal/
John KeaneS.E. Henry StreetEDITOR'S NOTE: This is the most helpful information we've encountered in trying to track what happens in Multnomah County Courtrooms. We appreciate the tip, and will look into this, in following such stories.
Open Letter to the Sellwood-Westmoreland Community
Editor,As I am sure many know, sadly on the night of June 5th there was a fatal shooting in our community. First and foremost, we want to offer our condolences to the family and loved ones of the victim. We also want to offer our support to those who witnessed the shooting, and those who live in the vicinity who have been affected by such a traumatic event. SMILE volunteers have been active in providing guidance and resources to those who have been impacted and we continue to be here for anyone as needed. SMILE has also been liaising with the police and other city departments to better understand this incident and what role(s) we can all play in the process of healing and accountability.
We want to reiterate to the community that SMILE is here as a resource to you. Our mission is to be a representative voice for the entire community and to inspire collective actions that make Sellwood-Moreland a safe, nurturing, and wonderful place to live, work and play. We are dedicated to bringing the community together and we are committed now more than ever to being inclusive, representative, and equitable. SMILE is made stronger through your involvement, be that by attending a community event, joining one of our many volunteer groups, or inspiring and instigating your own local initiative.
If anything positive can come out of such a sad event, it should be that we continue to come together, stronger, more supportive of each other, and dedicated to our local community. To find out more, please go to www.sellwood.org and please get in touch.
What's happening in Woodstock?
Editor,Thank you for your paper and contribution to the Southeast Community. I live near the Mt. Scott Community Center, and both of my children attend Woodstock Elementary's Mandarin Immersion Program. Thank you for the article in the most recent edition of THE BEE. None of us in the community want the program at Woodstock touched, so I truly appreciate the coverage.
I am writing today to ask what is happening to the main drag in Woodstock, especially around 46th to 50th Streets. On the South side of the street, I have heard that the Joinery has been sold and a multi-story apartment block will be built. There are also other empty lots on the South side of the street.
On the North side of the street in the same area, the old church on 48th has just been demolished. The bank building on 47th is also up for sale. Is there any way to figure out what is happening? Where would developers apply for zoning? Is there a Woodstock Town Council?
I moved to Portland about three years ago from overseas (China), and am just wondering what is happening to the little community that I moved to.
via e-mailEDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks for your comments. Actually THE BEE has had recent articles about all these developments; the Joinery property was being sold to a developer for a large apartment development, but there no construction (or demolition) has taken place yet. The Chinese Presbyterian Church at 47th sold its property for development, and an apartment house will be built there. U.S. Bank has consolidated somewhat in Southeast, and over a year ago closed its Brooklyn branch, and then recently closed its Woodstock branch, with both properties being sold for development – but the U.S. Bank at Bybee and Milwaukie in Westmoreland remains open, and there is still a U.S. Bank drive-up teller machine just east of Safeway. In addition to BEE reports, you can keep up with what is happening in Woodstock via the Woodstock Neighborhood Association, a community volunteer organization run by neighbors. Learn more online at: www.woodstockpdx.org
'Anarchist' destruction and vandalism
Editor,Let's talk about the destruction of property, graffiti, and general demise of our once pristine neighborhood. . . These criminals . . . latch onto peaceful protests and promulgate chaos. They burn property, attack police and citizens, and generally are to blame for the destruction of Downtown Portland. They are cowards who hide behind black masks and are pack animals that thrive on destroying property. They are no different than the Klan who hide behind white hoods, and the Nazi Brown Shirts. . .They use the same tactics as the Nazis, Klan, and other groups that attempt to intimidate any those oppose them. Even BLM despises them. They are cowards.William J WolfeWestmoreland
Woodstock Plant Sale another big success
Thanks [to Southeast Portland] for a banner plant sale! Despite COVID-19, the 2021 Woodstock Neighborhood Plant Sale was an amazing success. Sales totaled over $5,500. These funds will go to support the continued operation of the Woodstock Community Center.
Kudos and extra special thanks go to Woodstock resident Sandy Profeta who not only hosted the sale, managed the inventory, and orchestrated individual appointments for donors and customers, but also handled social media outreach.We are grateful to the 55 Woodstock residents and others in nearby neighborhoods, such as Westmoreland and Sellwood, who donated plants for our 2021 sale, and others who pitched in to label, price, transport, and care for donated plants.And heartfelt thanks as well to everyone who purchased these plants. Our success really depended on the entire community.Terry Griffiths, forFriends of the Woodstock Community Center
Local student excels in college
Editor,I'm not sure if you publish local students who have earned Dean's list in college, but I thought it might be a little good news to share, as well as encouragement for other Cleveland High grads. Plus, we are pretty proud of him, especially given the challenges of hybrid learning. The news: My son, John Pender, was placed on the Dean's List at Tufts University for the Spring term this year, for "maintaining an honor average during the past academic term".
Thanks for the article about the Woodstock plant sale. The person in the photo is me, not Robin Hewitt. She was there when THE BEE interviewed me, and there was a photo of the two of us, but this wasn't it. You might be happy to know that a number of folks are reading the article, as I am hearing from them. Silver lining, right?Sandy Profetavia e-mailEDITOR'S NOTE: Our apologies for the error. We corrected this before THE BEE's two monthly news websites went public, however, so the caption was correct on those.
All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.