LETTERS to the Editor
Cleveland High wins state competition
Cleveland won the Oregon State Speech & Debate championship in April! Speech & Debate is one of the biggest competitive high school events in Oregon. Each year, schools across the state compete in district tournaments, and then gather at Western Oregon State University to compete for the state title. After winning the PIL, Cleveland won the 6A (large school) state championship. This makes Cleveland the best Speech & Debate school in the state! Certainly worth noting in THE BEE! Included is a photo of the championship team.
Griffin Gonzales via email
Trolley rails still under streets in Southeast
This image shows street construction, today [April 26], uncovering old trolley car rails and street bricks at S.E. 13th and Nehalem, in front of the new apartment complex.
Chris Norman via e-mail EDITOR'S NOTE: It's easy to forget that the old trolley rails were paved over in Southeast instead of removed; we've printed photos of workers uncovering tracks on Milwaukie Avenue in Brooklyn and in Westmoreland in the past (there are spots in Brooklyn where the rails can be seen on the pavement), and here they are on S.E. 13 th in Sellwood. Thanks to Chris Norman for the photograph!
Under-funding the police costs Portland residents
Editor, Several months ago, an interesting study appeared on City Hall's web site. The study, "Resource Analysis: Portland Police Bureau Staffing Trends 2016—2021", was written by Kathryn McKelvey, Shawn Fleek, and Rachel Lockard. Although it was a useful start, it was incomplete — not an uncommon event at City Hall. It began to explore whether it makes sense to underfund normal police functions, given the impact on Portland residents of crimes of violence and property. Unfortunately, it did not go further and calculate the cost to Portlanders of police underfunding.
A variety of tools and studies offers the ability to more completely estimate the cost to citizens of underfunding police. A quick survey indicates that the cost per person (including children) in Portland is approximately $1,100 a year.
When the five City Commissioners voted for a partial defunding of the police in May 2020, there was little discussion of the impact that their decision might have on citizens. The discussion should have taken place. Data on the cost of crime are presented in many studies — some scholarly and others in policy studies. One interesting example is from the famous Rand Corporation. The Rand Corporation even has a calculator on the web so policy makers can see the impact on crime rates and the cost of violent and property crimes. The accompanying table shows the results, when given Portland's data.
The Rand calculation indicates that the decrease in policing is costing [Portland] citizens $727 million per year. This is a lot of money (and lives). The good news is that the calculator draws on the Los Angeles crime rates, which are still worse than Portland's. Rand estimates that the 146 officer reduction in policing would have cost us 45 murders and — for example — 1,262 car thefts. The "good news" is that we have only experienced 27 more murders in 2021 than the year before. Car thefts, however, are a different matter. Portlanders lost 2,608 more cars last year than the previous year.
Luckily, we can build on the city's earlier "Resource Analysis study" and see exactly how the reduction of 146 officers meant in terms of additional crime in our city. The standard tool is linear regression and the level of significance is 99%. This indicates, that based on historical evidence on the relationship between police staffing and crime, that the decline in police staffing cost Portland residents $722 million dollars last year. This comes out to approximately $1,097 to every man, woman, and child in the city. This is very close to the estimate from the Rand Corporation which was $1,105 per person.
Portland's budget decisions — as demonstrated in the recent "bump" budgetary decisions which broadly allocate additional revenues, Bureau by Bureau, for a variety of lower priority items — generally is not overly concerned with outcomes. The rapid increase in crime in Portland — highly correlated with the declining number of police — has not been addressed as a serious issue when budgets come up for discussion.
What can we do to turn the situation around? Given that our "five mayor, no leader" form of government does not actually focus well on public safety issues, an immediate solution is probably beyond the City Council as now constituted. . . A strong statement from the voters might well refocus some priorities onto the plight of Portland's residents.
Robert McCullough mresearch.com
Editor, The intersection at 6th and Tacoma, where the Sellwood Bridge ends, is extremely frustrating for drivers. The folks at PBOT have explained to me why it is the way it is — having to do with traffic safety, visibility, and bicycle safety and access.
Unfortunately, things are about to get many times worse. There are plans to build a total of 135 new apartment units -- 52 on the north side of Tacoma, and 83 on the south side — in addition to commercial and retail. (And of course, very limited parking will be included, because developers have figured out ways to avoid having to provide it, but that's another problem.)
There are already several apartment and condo buildings within a few blocks, totaling over 200 units.
And there is NO bus service. The number 99, which runs along Tacoma to downtown, only runs at rush hours, 3 times in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. The only other bus, the #70, is seven blocks up on 13th. It's a north/south line, and it only runs once an hour, because every other 30 minutes it runs on 17th.
This is nuts. The city wants to encourage people to use mass transit, but they don't supply it. They want people to get out of their cars, but don't give them a way to do it.
I don't know if TriMet is aware of the developing situation, but regular service along Tacoma is needed.
S.E. 6th Avenue EDITOR'S NOTE: And the situation in the north end of Westmoreland is just as bad if not worse. The day the MAX Orange Line opened, frequent direct service downtown by bus ended permanently there, leaving only one bus going downtown at all — the 19 — and it has to use the Ross Island Bridge, rather than the Transit Bridge, which makes it particularly slow in commuting hours. The planned Harold Street MAX Station never got built, so north Westmoreland is also a "transit desert" these days.
Community cleanup project
Here's a project I wanted to let others in Sellwood know about, called "SOS", which stands for "Save Our Sellwood" — it's a small group of long-time residents of Sellwood trying to clean up, and do projects to make Sellwood a place to be proud of again, with no help from any government agencies. Picking up garbage, landscaping, and miscellaneous beautification projects are things the city should be doing; but if we wait for them, nothing will get done. . . We are currently asking 7-Eleven on Tacoma Street to put a garbage can at their place of business; transients who are not from the neighborhood are dropping their wrappers and garbage in a six-block radius.
Meantime, Perry, a Sellwood native, has decided to "give back" to the neighborhood that he has lived in all his life, and he picks up trash 8-10 hours per day, 7 days per week. He wears a shirt that says "SOS" as he walks around picking up the garbage. If you see him, say thanks!
Progress against cancer
Editor, In 2020, my best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer at 27 years old. Thanks to early detection and exceptional care at OHSU, she will be graduating dental school next to me this June. As an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer and caregiver, preventing cancer is important to me. One way to help end cancer is by improving cancer prevention and early detection—especially for cancers with no available screening tools. That's where a new technology called multi-cancer early detection screening tests could help. These tests have the potential to detect more cancers at earlier stages by screening for multiple cancers at once with a blood test. Currently, several private and academic entities are developing these tests, and published data indicate that some of these screening tools will be able to test for dozens of cancers at the same time, including rare cancers. These tests could help detect cancer sooner and have the potential to save so many lives - only if people have access to them. That's why there's a bipartisan bill in Congress to create a pathway for coverage of these tests in Medicare once they are approved by the FDA and shown to have clinical benefit. I'm urging Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley to cosponsor this important legislation. It could help save so many lives of best friends. Rachel Meek Sellwood
A first grader writes
Here's is a letter from one of my first grade students at Llewellyn Elementary School. She is hoping that you will publish it in your paper. Thank you. Camille Omey, First Grade Teacher, Llewellyn
My name is Stella. I am in first grade. We are learning about Monarch Butterflies. Neighbors, please don't use poison in your yard if you want to help Monarch Butterflies. Please plant milkweed. Please care for butterflies.
I want to report a splendid effort by Corkscrew Wine Bar on Bybee in Westmoreland. They had a dozen or more musicians playing to a packed house on Saturday, April 23rd, and raised $4,600.00 to support Ukraine, including donating a large percentage of their profit for the night. This just shows what warm-hearted, aware people live and work in Sellwood-Westmoreland, and how internationally socially conscious they are — leading by example to help beleaguered people. (Btw, I have no financial connection with Corkscrew, other than being an occasional customer.)
S.E. Harney Street
Less news please
I write in support of what Celene O wrote in the letter in the May issue. I believe it would be kinder and better for our community if THE BEE stopped publishing full names and pictures in most of your crime reporting. Your argument that the photos may help folks recognize the subjects of the stories out in the community is unconvincing. I think the more likely effect of this policy is that the subjects of the stories will be immortalized on your website, harming their chances of future employment. I feel for the two teenagers whose names were published in the May issue who may now never have the chance to outgrow their mistakes. . . Other publications, such as The Oregonian, have stopped publishing names and pictures in minor crime reporting. Julia Troutt via email
EDITOR'S NOTE: No crime is minor for the victim of the crime. In an era in which judges choose to dismiss charges against and/or release even those arrested for violent crimes — sometimes even when on release from a prior similar crime — we will continue to report the news. If another newspaper chooses not to, that is their business. Cruel as you may find them, there still are consequences to be faced for breaking the law and victimizing others. If names and/or photos are made available to us by authorities or victims, they remain news, and we reserve the right granted to us in the Constitution to print them.
Historic District opponent
In a recent letter to the editor, Matthew Timberlake, president of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, says that turning Eastmoreland into an historic district won't "restrict the rights of homeowners to upgrade or remodel their homes" because, he explains, the new restrictions for homes in historic districts apply only to demolitions.
That's not quite right. Yes, most of the new restrictions apply to demolitions only. But, in this context, "demolition" doesn't mean what you probably think. It doesn't mean replacing the whole structure or even most of it. Far from it. The new rules define "demolition" to include any "alteration that results in the removal of 50 percent or more of any street-facing wall" or "[t]he removal of 50 percent or more of the total roof area of a structure." The second story would clearly be a demolition, subject to regulation.
We can still prevent the historic district with objections from half of all property owners, which we might already have. But, just in case, if you live in Eastmoreland and are thinking of remodeling your home someday, or you want to preserve that right, if only to protect your home's resale value (few buyers want a house they can't improve to their liking), you should consider filing an objection. Visit eastmorelandhistoricdistrict.com for help with that.
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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