IN THEIR OWN WORDS – Read the opening statements made by Portland Mayor Tom Potter and Commissioner Randy Leonard at their April 16 debate regarding Ballot Measure 26-91 …

These opening statements were transcribed from the public discussion held on April 16 at Parkrose High School regarding Ballot Measure 26-91, which amends the City Charter to change the form of city government.

This meeting was sponsored and produced by East Portland neighborhood associations, Central Northeast neighborhood associations, Southeast Uplift, and Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods.

Mayor Tom Potter’s opening statement
“Before we begin, we had a tragedy today in America, at Virginia Tech, and 32 people lost their lives to a gunman and almost 30 people were injured.  What I would like to do, and I would appreciate it if you would join me, is I’m going to stand, and let’s just bow our heads for a moment, to remember those people and their families, and the suffering and tragedy they are going through today.

(Pause)

“Well David [Ashton, the program moderator], I remember when I was running for Mayor, that we spent a lot of time together. You moderated a lot of the debates that I had, and I’m very, very pleased to be here.  I too want to thank Parkrose School District and Parkrose High School in particular for allowing us to use this space, for this forum.

“I want to thank all of you that are here tonight, and that want to find out more information about these reform measures that have been put on the ballot.  They’re very important; and if you just listen to them, (and to David, as articulate and as nice a voice that he has), it can sound kind of boring.  A lot of folks recognize that, but I’ll tell you this much, is that it’s not boring if you live in the city of Portland.

“How many people live in the city of Portland? Well, most everybody in this room has an invested stake in the outcome of this election ‚Äì and it’s an important election.

“Three years ago when David and I were going around on these debates with my opponent, I talked about the need to make sure that city hall is assessable, that city hall is open, that we increase the communication and give citizens more control over their government.

“These four measures do that, and I believe that this is what Portland needs today. I believe that these four measures are going to help Portland. Not just to become the city it is today, but even a better city. We do a lot of things well in our city, and I want to acknowledge that: That we do many things well.

“But there are many things that we don’t do well, and one of them is how we manage the resources that the taxpayers give us.  Their hard-earned tax dollars, your hard earned tax dollars, and the resources that those tax dollars buy.  That’s an important issue, but that’s not the only issue, yes, this system of government does waste money and it is inefficient. But it is also ineffective, in a sense that it could be doing so much more.

“When I was running for Mayor, I had a question that I would also ask myself.  Are the things that go on here that are good ‚Äì our transportation system, recycling, an initiative on sustainability ‚Äì are those things because of the form of government, or in spite of it?  I came to a conclusion in the last two years that those things that make Portland great are in spite of this form of government, not because of it.

“I’ll tell you what the real secret of success in Portland is, and it’s nothing to do with the subject tonight.  The secret to Portland, I believe, is its people!  I believe the form of government should make sure that the people’s dollars are well spent.  I believe that the form of government should be accessible to everyone in all areas of Portland.

“I don’t know where all you folks live; I assume that you are from various parts of Portland.  But you have a stake in the outcome of this election. You can help determine where Portland goes from here.  You can say, “You know, this system has been around for 94 years, it’s tired, it’s outmoded, it’s inefficient and we need a new system”.  And you can do that by voting yes on all four of these measures.

“You can make our city a better city. You can make sure that your children and your grandchildren will have better access to city government because this [new] charter requires it.  The old charter ‚Äì I should say the current charter ‚Äì does not require that.

So, we have some choices to make tonight, and by the 15th of May it will have been decided.  The ballots go out next week and so you’ll have a chance to vote early, or wait right up until the last day, like a lot of folks do.

“But, I ask you to be an informed voter.  I ask you to know the facts.  The facts about this form of government we have, and the new one that’s being proposed. Look to see what’s different; look to see how it does provide for access for citizens, Look to see how it gives citizens control over their government and their community.

“We have a lot of issues to discuss tonight.  I’m really pleased to be here tonight with Commissioner Randy Leonard.  He is a great guy; I really like him; I have a lot of respect for him, and we’ve agreed that we can even disagree on things.  And you know that that’s healthy in a democracy.  Because you can learn things, you can grow from it. I think that a discussion around this charter is good for our community, because people will learn more about how Portland government works and doesn’t work. You can judge for yourself what you think is important for our community and the future of our community.

“I look forward to this discussion, I look forward to your questions, and after the meeting I’ll be glad to stay around and answer any other questions that you may have not wanted to ask at the public forum and I appreciate being here and thank you for letting me be here.”

Commissioner Randy Leonard’s opening statement

“Thank you Parkrose and Portland, and I appreciate Mayor Potter’s opening remarks this evening about the tragedy in Virginia.  I also appreciate very much his kind words to me, and I want to return them.

“Not only am I glad that Tom Potter is Mayor; I hope he runs again, and if he does, I will be out knocking on doors for Tom Potter to win re-election.  But we do differ on this issue; and as Mayor Potter said, the question really isn’t about who is on the city council, whether it’s the city council that he envisions, or the one that exists now.

“It is the people who are Portland.  And because of that, I really think Portland citizens really deserve better then to have one city council hearing ‚Äì one hearing to discuss the language that you are going to be voting on.

“The actual language that you will be voting on was drafted by Mayor Potter after he received the Charter Commission’s recommendations in a report to him, myself, and the rest of the council members.

“The language that you’ll be voting on is not what the Charter Commission drafted. They drafted a report; Mayor Potter and his legal aides drafted the language with absolutely no input from the city council, the public, or even the Charter Review Commission. The language crafted by the mayor is so sweeping and ill-conceived that it would place the city’s oversight auditors under the authority of the Mayor, rather than the city’s independently-elected auditor, Gary Blackmer.

“Is it really a good idea to have an auditor that is supposed to be independent actually working for the person that they are auditing? I don’t think so.

“Additionally, the changes the Mayor drafted will arguably result in those same auditors losing their current civil service protections, leaving them to serve at the pleasure of the mayor. Giving the Mayor the power to hire and fire those that audit city government’s books is too much power for one person to have.

“Mayor Potter will tell you that that was a mistake.  That the language that allows the auditors to work for the Mayor will be fixed after this election that he hopes you vote ‘yes’ on.  My point, I think, is this:  Had there actually been an adequate public process, had the public been at the table, had the commissioners been at the table, mistakes wouldn’t have been drafted into the charter language you will be voting on. That’s why you have pubic process. Notwithstanding my deep respect for Mayor Potter, he fell short on that mark.

“You also may have heard the Portland business Alliance and the city developers have given thousands of dollars to support the ballot measure that would institute the proposed ‘strong mayor’ form of government. This proposal would have the affect of reducing the number of people the business community would have to influence to advance their interest.

“You will hear that the proposed changes will streamline government and provide efficiencies. But really, all it will streamline is the business communities’ efforts to drive the city’s agenda. After all, it is much more difficult to convince three people that it’s a good idea than it is to convince one person.

“To illustrate, here is an example of an alarming impact of the proposed charter change:  If passed, the new charter will allow the Mayor to sell parkland to anyone, for any price that the Mayor chooses.

“When I asked David Wang, the Chair of the Charter Review Commission, at the one city council hearing we had on this subject, why in the world they would put language in the city charter to give that much authority to the Mayor, he said, ‘Commissioner Leonard, I haven’t seen that provision, I can’t respond.’   Mayor Potter will tell you that three of the council members must declare the property surplus before the land can be sold.  However, the current charter requires that four members of the city council must agree to sell public property, including having to agree to the price and to whom it is sold.  That will change if this charter amendment passes.  So why does Mayor Potter want to change that section at all? How does it serve Portlanders to change the charter to allow one person to decide whom to sell our public lands to — and for how much?  What is the problem that the Mayor is trying to fix?

“At a time when a narrow majority of the Portland city council is the only thing preventing the parks bureau from selling off part of Mt. Tabor Park to private interests, consolidating power into the hands of one person is a dangerous thing for our neighborhoods.

“Another proposed change allows the Mayor to hire a chief administrative officer commonly known as a city manager.  The new council would vote to confirm the chief administrative officer.  Interestingly, however, the Mayor not only appoints the city manager, under his proposed change in government he also gets to vote to confirm his own appointment.

“While he characterizes the proposed changes as a separation of executive and legislative powers, he has seen fit to keep himself as a legislative, quasi-judicial voting member of the city council, with his proposed charter change.  That is, he wants all the executive authority, plus 1/5 of the legislative quasi-judicial authority exercised by the current city council.

“My analogy:  Imagine if you will what the world might be like if President Bush had the executive powers of the president. plus 1/5 of the votes of the House, plus 1/5 votes of the Senate, plus judicial authority.  To quote the City Club, in a report that just came out last week, ‘By spreading authority broadly among commissioners the current form not only offers citizens greater access to city leaders, it insures that this diffuse leadership can serve as a bulwark against an ineffectual or reckless Mayor.’  The City Club concluded by recommending that you vote ‘no’ on this ballet measure.

“Ladies and Gentlemen that is just too much power for any one person to have. We cannot afford to put Portland’s future in the hands of just one person.”

Resources:

  • For arguments in favor of changing Portland’s city government system and structure, see www.reformcityhall.com.
  • For arguments against changing Portland’s city government system and structure, see www.toomuchpower.org.

© 2007 East Portland News Service – All Rights Reserved

See why this group of otherwise “normal” folks is plotting to invade Portland area parades this year. Show up April 28, Saturday morning, and see them “at work” — having fun — along SE 82nd Avenue ‚Ķ

One of the “PEParazzi” instigators, and pep-squad workshop leader, entertainer Marlene Azar, shows how a simple hand puppet can effectively communicate and engage strangers along a parade route.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
This spring and summer, more Portland area neighborhoods and business districts are hosting parades than ever.

With the aim of engaging bystanders in these parades, a Brentwood-Darlington resident, and president of the Foster Area Business Association, Nancy Chapin, says the idea struck her not long ago: Create a neighborhood parade cheer-leading squad.

“Parades build a sense of community because they bring people together,” Chapin tells us.

Chapin enlisted the aid of an individual involved in entertainment for 18 years, Marlene Azar (a/k/a “Eartha the Ecological Clown”).

“Our idea is to create a group of ‘parade cheerleaders’,” Azar tells us. “Our goal is to help make our business district and neighborhood parades more fun.”

Creates a new category: Parade liaison
Azar says individuals and groups march or ride in parades for the fun of it. Spectators line the streets, because they enjoy seeing the parade.

“But, we’re creating a third group of folks ‚Äì I think it’s an entirely new concept ‚Äì people who help connect the viewers with the participants. We’re working with individuals who have joined our group to help them bring out their creative ideas. Each member of our squad has their own special way of connecting with people.”

Chapin interjects, “This is a new concept. It could grow nationwide! But, first, we’re starting with East Portland events.”

Although a professional clown, instructor Marlene Azar says she’s trying to help people become parade liaisons ‚Äì not clowns.

Although Azar communicates her message of “being good to the planet Earth” through clowning, she says, “This isn’t a clown school. We are helping our people create unique ways for them to become liaisons, connecting observers with parade participants.”

Taa Daa! Introducing the PEParazzi, at the 82nd Ave. Parade
Chapin says the group has chosen a new name ‚Äì they’re now officially called the PEParazzi. The novel idea behind this group has even garnered two official sponsors, Pacific Power and ShedRain.

Their first outing will be along the route of the first annual 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade” on Saturday, April 28th that starts at 9:00 a.m.

The Avenue of Roses Parade starts at Eastport Plaza, 4000 SE 82nd Avenue.  The parade will travel north along 82nd Avenue, then west on SE Yamhill, disbanding at SE 78th Avenue.

Got PEP? Join them!
“The parade season is just starting,” says Chapin. “If you love parades, but don’t necessarily want to march in them, come join us!”

Interested in joining the PEParazzi team? Come to the next workshop on Sunday, May 6 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Once again, Azar will be on hand to help participants better develop techniques for creating humorous connections between spectators and participants, as well as teaching costuming and light make-up ideas.

To participate, or for more information, contact Nancy Chapin at (503) 313-1665.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Read this one-on-one interview and learn why you’ll probably see fewer big drug busts in East Portland from the sheriff’s skilled dope-busting deputies. And, see why this news is grim for our friends in Gresham, Fairview, and East County‚

Take a look at the POUNDS of heavy-duty narcotics‚ like crystal meth‚ the deputies in Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigation Unit bring in when they bust big-time dope dealers.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
East Portland News Service has covered many stories in which the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigation Unit (SIU) has taken down top-level drug dealers, and curbed the influx of methamphetamine and cocaine.

So, we wondered why we were being summoned to the Hanson Building ‚Äì the leaky old structure that houses the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO)‚ for a “show & tell” on April 17.

At the event, the SIU sergeant tells reporters how Multnomah County’s impending budget reductions will impact the unit.

After the meeting, Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto invites us into his office where, one-on-one, he frankly speaks of his concerns regarding public safety, as county commissioners decide how much to cut from the sheriff’s budget.

Sheriff Bernie Giusto doesn’t mince words as he outlines the funding situation for his organization.

In his words
We ask Sheriff Giusto, “What’s the real story here?”

“The story is that the county has built a government they can’t pay for,” Giusto begins. “It didn’t happen in the last couple of years‚ this started many years ago.

“With I-Tax revenue, expectations were high. It did provide a financial bridge for two years. But it also did two things: It built expectations we would be able to maintain those levels of service; and, secondly, while this was going on, our costs were increasing. Labor costs were going up.

“With the I-Tax gone, coupled with the increase of labor costs, we’re back in an ‘every-year, budget-cutting mode’.

“To start, it looks like we’ll have to cut 114 jail beds,” says the Sheriff.

SIU deputies put on display some of the confiscated drugs, bagged and ready for sale. From July 2006 through March 2007, deputies have cleaned $8,800,000 worth of dope off the street, including 5.34 lbs of cocaine, 1.32 lbs of heroin and a whopping 7.2 POUNDS of methamphetamine. MCSO photo

Why Special Investigation Unit cuts will hurt
Giusto continues, “And, our Special Investigations Unit will also take some cuts.”

We enquire, “Is the SIU the unit that catches the drug runners, bringing multi-pound loads of crystal meth into the county?”

“More importantly,” Giusto elaborates, “the SIU is the only group, the only law enforcement unit that does these drug missions in East Multnomah County on a daily basis, east of 162nd Ave.”

Drug investigations don’t stay within boundaries, he adds. “When it comes to initiating [county jurisdiction drug] investigations, or cleaning up meth labs, we were the only ones. We’re still the only one doing clean-ups. No one else is equipped to do those meth lab cleanups. If we don’t do them, they don’t get done.”

Deputies say this gear was taken from meth labs they’ve cleaned up. Without funding, future lab clean-ups are in doubt. MCSO photo

Says Wheeler is responsive to concerns
“[Multnomah County] Chair Ted Wheeler has been responsive to our concerns‚ as much as a $15 million overall ‘budget hole’ will allow him to be.”

Instead of holding off making cuts in the future, Giusto said Wheeler is making cuts starting this year. “He’ll be making a cut, county-wide, of $10 million this year and $5 million next year.

“But, on top of the cuts we’ve taken at the Sheriff’s Office — $6 million one year, $8 million another year and another $5 million cut this year ‚Äì these cuts are starting to get very painful. The cumulative effect of these cuts is this: We’ve run out of services that are debatable‚ wondering whether or not they’re important.”

Core services reduced
In other words, the Sheriff’s office will start making cuts to core services, Giusto clarifies for us.

“We are now down to ’emergency response’ levels of funding. This includes investigations, drug investigations, patrol and river patrol.”

Giusto pauses, and adds, “Although, yesterday, the Chair did add back $750,000 for River Patrol.”

Had some funding not been restored, Giusto states frankly, he’d have to make deep internal cuts to keep the River Patrol in operation. “The River Patrol either has to be funded at a reasonable level, or we have to stop providing this service. But, we can’t get ‘out of the business’ because nobody else does it. We have the equipment, trained personnel‚ and a state mandate that we provide this service.”

Redefining services to East County
“What this means for East County is this,” the sheriff continues. “We’re working with Gresham to redefine our services.”

This is difficult, he says, “Because where you find drugs, you find crime. Drugs and crime go together. As you know, we work with East Precinct’s CRU [Crime Reduction Unit]‚ and we’ve reduced crime. But now, violent drug-related crime is popping up on Gresham and East County on a regular basis.

“Major incidents in Gresham of shooting and stabbings, drug killings, are going to increase — now that they’ve reached that 100,000 population mark. This is hugely problematic. When cities grow to this size, they start to experience big-city crime.

“Gresham has a couple of choices. They have to get serious about funding some officers for ‘street crimes’ unit. They only have two FTEs [full time officers] right now. It’s a good start, but it’s ineffectual against mid-level drug dealers.

East Portland: something has to give
We ask, “Let’s talk about your work with East Precinct’s Crime Reduction Unit (CRU) and the Regional Organized Crime Narcotics Agency (ROCN). If there are budget cuts, what can we expect?”

Giusto thinks for a moment and replies, “We’re still working on how to move our personnel around. But, something has to give. We may have to give up drug investigators and release deputies to do general [crime] investigations.

“But, the fact of the matter is, downstream, the things SIU is doing to reduce drug-related activities are more important than anything else. We can’t let drug dealers run wild. That’s a bad idea.”

“We can’t let drug dealers run wild. That’s a bad idea,” says Giusto.

Migrating crime to East County
“The crooks go to the places of least resistance. If Portland keeps pushing hard, they’ll go to Gresham or East County. They don’t quit. They just go somewhere else. And, we really don’t want East Multnomah County to be the place they go.

“If you don’t think East County is ‘growing up’‚ last month, we had our first drive-by shooting in City of Wood Village at 7:30 in the morning. We’re ‘growing up’ in a way that isn’t very good. It’s happening before our eyes. We’ve got to recognize what’s going on.”

What you can do
We ask Sheriff Giusto if there is anything citizens can do to support law enforcement.

“Express your priorities around public safety, law enforcement presence, and jail beds to your County Commissioners,” replies Giusto.

“Secondly, if the County can work with the City of Gresham or other jurisdictions, these governments must ask citizens to help fund an increased law enforce presence.

“Gresham has run out ability to address the problems. They’re doing a good job with [the funding and officers] they have. But when you only have 106 police officers, in a city of 100,000 people‚ this isn’t a good ratio.

“Gresham, and the east end of East Precinct, has become the ‘poverty center’ of the county. This means not only more crime, but also more victimization. It’s tough to ask citizens to help sometimes, but we need to be able to provide service.”

“Anything else?” we ask

“We’re not opening our new jail this year, either. We’re having our third birthday party out there‚ empty,” concludes Giusto.

Editor’s note: the Multnomah County budget is currently in its draft form; it is not finalized until June. Contact your county commissioner to express your views now.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Help ID the jerk who has been busting into NE Portland businesses. Your confidential tip could earn you $1,000 in cash‚

Know who this is? Turn him in and claim your reward!

By David F. Ashton
Before dawn on April 5, at 4:50 a.m., a burglar breaks through the front door of the 102nd Street Market at 4646 NE 102nd Ave.

Surveillance video at the store catches this guy as he enters the store and starts loading his brown-and-black Adidas duffle bag with cigarettes, candy, and money from the store’s till.

Then, on Sunday, April 8, at 2:35 a.m., the same suspect breaks into Subway restaurant at 10643 Northeast Sandy Blvd. During this break-in, the crook can’t defeat the lock on the cash box‚ so, he opted to take the entire box with him.

You can’t see him as well, but here’s the crook in the Subway store.

The suspect on the video looks to be a white male, possibly late 20’s to early 30’s, 5’6″ or shorter, with dark brown or black hair, and bushy dark eyebrows.

His clothing: A light colored sweatshirt with the hood up, underneath a short sleeve dark shirt or jacket, dark pants, and white shoes. The dark colored shirt was pulled over the lower part of his face, and he appeared to be wearing light-colored gloves.

Bust the crook for cold cash
Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to the resolution in this case, or any unsolved felony, and you may remain anonymous.  Call Crime Stoppers at (503) 823-HELP (4357).

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See this story about the Earth Day event that drew in neighbors from the entire district‚

Youthful artists Brandon and Amanda Boothby help create an Earth Day mural at Ventura Park School.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“Come on in,” beams Susan Gerritz, Principal of Ventura Park School, on April 14. “We’re having an Earth Day Education Celebration for the whole community.”

Students from the elementary school invited their neighbors, family, and friends, Gerritz tells us, as she works in the school’s greenhouse.

Many people who came in to celebrate Earth Day at Ventura Park School participated in activities ranging from making “worm boxes” to making artistic hats out of newspaper‚ fun ways to learn about recycling.

What’s important about this event, Gerritz informs us, is that “we’re helping people learn what they can do to take care of our planet, and leave it in good hands with the next generation.”

The idea for this celebration started, Gerritz says, with a METRO grant allowing students to do restoration work in the community‚ primarily removing invasive plant species in the area.

David Douglas High juniors Kaila Murray and Amanda Krekow help visitors play a “Find the Animal” game.

“We have a massive recycling effort here at the school. Every milk carton is recycled. We have a ‘Green Team’ which visits our classrooms and rates how we’re doing with recycling or paper, and turning lights and computers off,” Gerritz goes on.

The Principal adds that this event is actually the culmination of a year-long educational effort. At this event, students demonstrate concepts they’ve learned at school.

Jason McCarty and Kendra Rose learn how to write their name in Japanese from Marcia Watanabe.

“It is important to educate young people, their parents, and the community the ways to reduce, reuse, recycle, and restore in everyday life,” adds Gerritz. “We want to teach children ‘sustainability’‚ how to take care of the earth. We educate children, not only academically but environmentally, here at Ventura Park.”

Krista Hickey, Tiffany Anderson, and Jennifer Theede sell flowers they made, to help support their David Douglas Ecology Club.

No one will nod off for a nap during this adaptation of this classic Shakespeare play! See why you should get tickets right now to see this limited run, “black box” production May 10‚11, 12‚

Juliet (Jacquelle Davis) and Romeo (Tyree Harris) prepare for a scene from the upcoming production of Romeo & Juliet.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
While thousands of people travel to Ashland to see the works of William Shakespeare every summer‚ most regular folks usually consider his plays to be long, and rather boring, shows.

Entering Stage Left: ‘Black Box’ Romeo & Juliet
“This production of Shakespeare is more to-the-point,” says Parkrose High School theater instructor, and director of Thespian Troupe 1783, Ms. Zena.

“We changed the pacing‚ the scenes blend one into another,” she adds. “The action is continuous. And, we’ve created a sound track to go with the production‚ this enhances the dramatic effect of the words.”

Unlike “Arsenic & Old Lace“‚ presented on stage with a professional multi-level set and theatrical lighting‚ this production of Romeo & Juliet is what Zena describes as a “black-box” style of theater.

The first thing audience members will notice is that they are being seated on the stage of the Parkrose Theater. “We’re using alternative spaces in the theater, including the catwalks and stairs, for example,” she explains.

Intimate drama
The action takes place on the stage, in and amongst the audience members, allowing for a more intimate theatrical experience.

“The show will run a little over an hour,” Zena continues. “This version of Romeo & Juliet is abbreviated quite a bit. It makes it more of a one-act style production. We’re still using Shakespeare’s language‚ but instead of saying everything three times, as he’s written‚ we’re saying it once. We’re getting to the point.”

The idea is, Zena tells us, it to make Shakespeare more accessible to the school’s younger audience, and “to introduce our community audience who may not have seen a performance of Shakespeare’s work.”

Adapting Shakespeare’s plays isn’t new to Zena. “I’ve been doing this with Shakespeare for thirteen years. I really like creating these adaptations, because it encourages kids to explore, and get excited about, Shakespeare. Typically, most young people‚ in fact, many actors‚ are ‘afraid’ of Shakespeare. Presenting Shakespeare in this way makes his work fun.”

Limited tickets
Because of this unique seating arrangement, each performance will be limited to 150 audience members. Don’t miss out on “culture-made-fun”‚ call (503) 408-2621 to reserve your tickets today.

Romeo & Juliet

  • May 10, 11, 12
  • Tickets $5 for all patrons
  • 7 p.m. curtain

At the “Black Box Theatre”
Parkrose High School
12003 NE Shaver Street (at NE 122nd Ave.)

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why residents are celebrating as the first, major ROSE Community Development turns ten years old‚

These ten-year Lents Village residents say they’re proud, and happy, to have been among the first residents of the facility.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As hard to believe as it may seem, the affordable senior housing project on outer SE Holgate Blvd. — Lents Village — is already ten years old.

“It is great to get together with the residents who live here, and community members, to celebrate this facility,” comments the executive director of ROSE Community Development, Nick Sauvie.

ROSE board member Rick Soards and executive director Nick Sauvie congratulate the long-term residents at Lents Village Apartments.

Sauvie reminded us that ROSE (Revitalize Outer South East) Community Development Corporation is 15 years old this year. “This was the first large, new development that ROSE did. It has been tremendously successful.”

Further, there has been a lot of progress in the Lents neighborhood in the last 10 years, Sauvie adds. “ROSE has been a significant part of that. There is a huge need for affordable housing for seniors, people with disabilities, and families. ROSE is working to meet that need.”

Portland Fire & Rescue’s Lt. Richard Jones gives residents safety tips and reminds them, “When ever you need us, we’re just minutes away.”

In its 63 units, Sauvie says Lents Village accommodates persons 55+ years old who meet low-income qualifications.

Even after residing there for a decade, Lents Village resident Lynn Simmons says she feels blessed to have been selected to live in the building.

“Blessed to live here”
One of the folks we meet is Lynn Simmons, who moved in on opening day.

“I moved in here in 1997,” Simmons tells the group of celebrants assembled in their Lents Loaves & Fishes dining hall.

“There hasn’t been one day that I have regretted moving into Lents Village,” continues Simmons. “I’m happy here. All of my needs have been fulfilled. The location is good, the facility is clean, and they take good care of the property. I’m thankful to the Good Lord that I heard about Lents Village, and have been able to live here.”

Resources:
Find out more about all of the ROSE programs by going to www.rosecdc.org or by calling (503) 788-8052.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why business people in the southern portion of outer East Portland are penciling May 8 in their calendars‚ and learn more about this organization as our weekly series about East Portland business associations continues …

Bill Dayton, Donna Dionne and Dr. Norbert Huntley pitch “50/50” tickets at the Pizza Baron End-of-Summer Cruise-In to raise money for the association’s activities.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In order to serve businesses and neighborhoods in the southern area of outer East Portland, the Midway Business Association (MBA) was started in 2004.

The service area of MBA is Interstate 205 east to SE 162nd Avenue; and, from SE Harold Street north to Market Street.

“We’re committed to building a strong business association,” said MBA president Donna Dionne. “Working together with the neighborhood associations in our area, Powellhurst-Gilbert and Centennial, we can make a lot of positive changes for an area.”

The political power of these combined associations, Dionne added, can increase city dollars being spent in a specific area. “This translates into better parks, sidewalks, maintained roads, increased property values, and a nicer, more-maintained area to live and work in.”

Guest speakers, such as Multnomah County Judge Thom Ryan, help keep Midway-area business owners and neighbors up to date on important issues.

Volunteering spirit
Although the membership of the association is small, their members volunteer their time and resources to help their local community.

With funds raised at Pizza Baron Cruise-Ins, the association has provided direct aid to their community by–for example–providing refreshments for the Midland Library Dia de los Ninos celebration, as well as purchasing ice cream for the library’s Summer Reading Program; and, helping with the Gilbert Neighborhood Association clean-up, by sponsoring the dumpsters.

Portland Planning Bureau East Portland Liaison, Barry Manning, shows a map that details the Commercial Corridor Study underway.

Signs mark the spot
With a grant from the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations (APNBA), the Midway Business Association has published a directory of all businesses in its area.

And, a later APNBA grant is allowing them to design and install highway signs, welcoming consumers into the area. One sign will be at SE 99th Ave. and Division St.; the other will be at SE 161st Ave. and Division. Each sign will also identify its respective neighborhood.

“The idea is to start branding the area,” Dionne said, “so as a business collective, we can more effectively market to our Midway neighbors.  This will form an identity for the area, and hopefully will encourage neighbors to shop locally and support local businesses first.”

Neighbors invited to participate
“Local businesses create local jobs,” Dionne explained. “A person can live close to and walk to their job. When businesses get involved with their neighbors, we see cleaner and better-maintained properties. This benefits everyone.”

One goal of the MBA is to increase pride in the area, among both neighbors and businesses. “Support those businesses that make a positive impact in that area,” commented Dionne. “Let the businesses know that you appreciate what they are doing.”

Members spotlighted
Wells Fargo Bank – Tammy Williams, Manager
From the beginning, Wells Fargo has been supportive monetarily as well as organizationally, with Tammy volunteering for its events. Ms. Williams has also acted at treasurer for the association’s funds since inception.

Pizza Baron – Bill Dayton, Owner
For more than 30 years, families have enjoyed great pizza and fun at this landmark SE Portland Restaurant. The owner, Bill Dayton, has supported the MBA from the start, provides the meeting place for the association, and is well-known in the community for helping all kinds of civic causes, from sponsoring pizza parties for DHS kids, to helping David Douglas sports teams.

At their Annual Midway Business Association Get-together, community members, dignitaries and business people get to mix and mingle‚ and enjoy great food at Pizza Baron.

Come see for yourself on May 8
Come learn all about this new business group dedicated to helping neighbors and businesses improve the southern end of outer East Portland.

On Tuesday, May 8, Midway Business Association is hosting their Annual Association Get-Together from 11:45 am until 1:00 pm at Pizza Baron, 2604 S.E. 122nd Ave. It’s a mix-and-mingle, drop-in event, featuring a free pizza buffet. You’ll get to meet business people; officials, such as Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams; and neighborhood leaders.

The group also meets on the second Tuesday of most months from 11:45 am until 1 pm at Bill Dayton’s PIZZA BARON Restaurant on SE 122nd Ave., just south of Division Street. Neighbors and interested business people are always welcome. For more information, go to www.midwayba.com.

©2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

It isn’t just sophisticated equipment that rushes emergency help on its way; it’s highly trained people. Meet three of Portland’s finest emergency communicators right here  …

Portland’s “Telecommunicator of the Year”, dispatcher Kate Williams says she “likes helping people”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The term “9-1-1” is often associated with people trained to dispatch rapid emergency response, show poise under pressure, aid with compassion in times of distress, and make critical decisions within seconds.

“Many people do not stop to think about these individuals, until they experience an actual emergency themselves,” says Bureau Of Emergency Communications (BOEC) Public Information Officer Todd DeWeese.  “You may never meet them‚ or even know their names‚ but these professionals make the difference between life and death, in many instances.”

This year, BOEC hosted its Sixteenth Annual Employee Awards Banquet on April 11 at Lakeside Gardens.

“Tonight is all about recognizing the significance of the 9-1-1 Call Center,” DeWeese explains, “and recognizing accomplishments during the past year. We took over 1 Million calls in 2006. We’re answering a lot of calls‚ helping a lot of citizens‚ and we’re doing it with fewer personnel.”

Telecommunicator of the Year
Dispatcher Kate Williams is given BOEC’s highest honor; she’s conferred the title, “Telecommunicator of the Year”.

Williams tells us, “I like helping people. We help police officers, firefighters, and medics do their jobs. This award is quite an honor.”

Senior dispatcher Stephanie Solomon-Lopez is one of the co-workers who nominated Williams for the award, “Although she’s been with us for about four years, she’s very good at what she does. She came in with a positive attitude. It’s easy to get personally ‘beaten down’ by some of the calls we get. She stays positive. Our job is to help people, but she goes above and beyond.”

Dispatcher Kim Bronson also nominated Williams. “Kate has become a good dispatcher. But even more, outside the bureau, she is a volunteer with TIPS. By working with TIPS, she goes above and beyond the call of duty. She’s amazing.”

TIPS volunteers, we learn, go to emergency events at which individuals have just experienced a traumatic situation. They help these individuals deal with the immediate impact of the event. Williams used her vacation time to take the training class, and she volunteers at least 12 hours a month on her time off.

BOEC Public Information Officer, and Call Center supervisor, Todd DeWeese was voted “Supervisor of the year”.

Supervisor of the Year
Dispatcher Katherine Stevenson says she nominated Todd DeWeese as “Supervisor of the Year” because “he cares”.

“Todd really listens to us. He tries to see our point of view. He helps us build our skills by giving us valuable input and feedback. And, he helps make my job fun. Even when we’re going through a difficult time, he helps by lifting our mood and keeping our spirits up. That is very important.”

There is often drama, negativity, and unhappiness surrounding their work, Stevenson continues. “No one calls 9-1-1 because they’re having a wonderful day. It is easy to focus on the negativity. Todd helps us stay in balance, and be a ‘whole’ person.”

Asked about his award, DeWeese tells us, “It is always great to be recognized by your peers, those whom you supervise and by your own bosses. It means a lot to me. I’ve won this award before, and that trophy is still proudly displayed in my home.”

Meet Team Member of the Year, Connie Cohen

Team Member of the Year
The 2006 “Outstanding Team Member of the Year” honors go to Connie Cohen in BOEC’s Information Technology Department.

“No, I don’t take calls. I maintain the computer systems that help dispatchers to their work.”

We asked why the 6-year veteran of BOEC chooses to work with the bureau. “These folks are all my heroes,” Cohen replies. “To do things that help the dispatchers do their jobs well‚ and through them, help our community‚ it is a wonderful thing for me to do. I love my job.”

Employees foot the bill for their annual BOEC banquet — not taxpayers. Here you see some of the bureau’s “most famous” workers dishing up a full-course dinner at Lakeside Gardens on SE Foster Rd.

Do you have the “right stuff”?
We’ve reached the 30-year mark; some of our staff members are retiring,” mentioned DeWeese. “We’re always looking for qualified people who are willing to train to be a dispatcher.”

Interested? Call (503) 823-0911‚ classes start four times a year.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Ever want to see a real magic show, close up? See why Alexander the Magician played to “sold-out” audiences in at the Sellwood Library‚

After eight silver spheres magically appear, seven of them vanish. The last one explodes into a silver streamer.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Tim Alexander, Magician, has been a professional magical entertainer for a decade. He’s won awards for his creative magic. So, what’s he doing at Sellwood Branch Library on March 30?

“I love brining the wonder of magic to people everywhere,” Alexander tells us as he’s setting up his show. “I started learning magic from books. Books can ignite the imagination. Sparking the imagination is what it is all about.”

We asked him why he’s dedicated his professional life to magical entertainment.

“I’ve always had a fascination with magic as entertainment. But the social importance of magic never struck me as acutely as it did after ‘9/11’, Alexander began.

The audience is silent, watching Alexander’s spellbinding magic, coupled with humor, stories and music. Here, glittery, silver balls appear and vanish, within inches from his audience members.

“A family had hired me to perform at a birthday party, shortly after this tragic event. Among the adults, you could feel the pain, anguish and concern from this tragedy. The kids knew it, too.”

He said it was difficult for him to “go on with the show, pretending like nothing had happened. But when the show starts, and the magic happens, the sense of wonder returns. You can see if on their faces.

“I felt like that was a pretty clear sense of purpose for the magician‚ to remind people that there still is joy and wonder in the world.”

Even a simple object, like a white cloth handkerchief, becomes magical through Alexander’s storytelling.

The free tickets for both of his shows are “sold out” well before the doors open. Through slight of hand, silver balls appear, vanish and change into a silver streamer. Alexander turns an ordinary handkerchief into a mouse. It delights the kids.

And, to the amazement of his audience, Anderson’s real, live magic bunny rabbit makes an appearance to close the show.

What magic is happening at your local Multnomah County Branch Library today? Be sure to check our Events & Activities calendar!

You can learn more about Alexander by going to www.parlorofwonders.com.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Ballots are now in the mail: If four City Ballot Measures in the May 15 election pass, the way Portland is run will change dramatically. Read this and become an informed voter‚

While the discussion was framed as a “community discussion”, Portland Mayor Tom Potter and Commissioner Randy Leonard didn’t mince words as they expressed their views of the May ballot measures to change city government.

See it on Cable TV Channel 30!
If you have Cable TV, you can watch, videotape or TiVo this discussion between Mayor Tom Potter and Commissioner Randy Leonard on Channel 30 at these times:

  • Thursday, April 26 at  6:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 29 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 2 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Friday, May 4 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, May 11 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Monday, May 14 at 9:00 a.m.

By V. M. Wells
For East Portland News Service

Efficiency versus concentration of power was the gist of the opposing arguments, when Portland’s Mayor Tom Potter and City Commissioner Randy Leonard debated a proposal to change the form of the City’s government.

The main focus was Ballot Measure 26-91; it amends the City Charter to change the form of government.

The meeting, held at Parkrose High School on April 16, was sponsored by East Portland neighborhood associations, Central Northeast neighborhood associations, Southeast Uplift, and Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods. It was moderated by David F. Ashton.

Mayor Potter’s says voting in favor of Ballot Measure 26-91 will increase efficiency in city government.

Potter, wearing a shirt open at the throat, opened his presentation by calling on the members of the audience to stand in silence and mourn the death of the shooting victims at Virginia Tech University.

Potter pitches change in city government
The proposed change, which would put the management of the city in the hands of a city manager, would “give citizens more control over city government,” Potter declared.

Speaking in the school’s Atrium Commons, Potter said the things that make Portland worth living in currently happen “in spite of the form of city government,” rather than because of it.

The mayor and each of the four other Portland City Council members now oversee the city’s bureaus and departments. Under the new proposal, to be voted on in May, a city manager, called a Chief Administrative Officer, named by the mayor, would have full jurisdiction over the city’s administration.

Commissioner Leonard tells the group that Ballot Measure 26-91 puts too much power in the hands of one person and reduces the democratic nature of city government.

Leonard: Too much power
Leonard, wearing a sport coat and tie, declared that the proposed City Charter would concentrate “too much power in one person.”

Each man praised the other for their hard, conscientious work. Leonard said, “I’m glad Tom Potter is mayor, I’ll vote for him if he runs for re-election.”

But, his opposition to the proposal arises, partly, over a section of the proposal giving the mayor authority over the City Auditor, who, Leonard said, should be independent, as the auditor looks for mistakes and dishonesty.

Leonard also blasted a proposal to change the civil service rules and remove protection from “a whole swath of jobs.” In some cases, he said, civil service protection would be lost by employees “six layers down” the ladder.

Potter: Make tax dollars well spent
Potter summarized his stand by declaring, “The form of city government should make sure tax dollars are well spent. You can make our city better by voting ‘yes’ on the ballot measures.”

Leonard said the Portland City Club has recommended defeat for the proposed change, while developers “have given thousands of dollars” to help the measures pass.

Nearly 100 people attended the debate hosted by neighborhood associations throughout East Portland at Parkrose High School.

Leonard: Don’t give power to one person
“We cannot afford to give so much power to one person,” Leonard declared.

As an example, he said the mayor would, in effect, choose the city’s manager.

Further, he said, the proposed city charter would let the mayor sell city property, including parkland, with the approval of two other council members. “The way it is now,” Leonard explained, “four of five votes are needed to make a sale.”

Questions; and some answers
Written questions for the two guests were delivered to moderator Ashton, who read them aloud.

In answer to the question, “Why would this change in city administration lead to more responsive government?” Potter responded, “The city will have only one boss. Now, we have five.”

Thousands of American cities have city managers, he went on, but Portland is the only remaining city with over 100,000 population that still uses the commission system of government. In this system, each commissioner manages one or more bureaus, as assigned by the mayor.

Although both Potter and Leonard spoke vehemently and vigorously in while making their points, the two did share some lighter moments as well.

Potter: Greater efficiency and accountability
“This change would shift the city from five administrators to one Chief Administrative Officer,” Potter said “Everything would be under one boss, who would be accountable.”

Potter added, “It would prevent much duplication and inefficiency.”

The mayor stated that a study group has found that duplication of effort and services wastes more than $10 million a year.

Leonard: Changes would overburden mayor
Leonard said the proposed charter changes would overburden the mayor who, he said, “works too hard now.”

“With this form of administration, we would have a chain-of-command, not a democracy,” he went on. “It wouldn’t be responsive to the citizens.”

Leonard commented that he and the mayor had similar backgrounds. “Tom chose police, I chose the fire bureau. Both operate with using a strong chain of command.” But, he added, he’d learned a lot from being a city commissioner‚ council members must heed the needs of citizens.

Potter answered that the change would make it easier for citizens to reach council members, who would retain legislative duties.

Leonard: Concerned about citizen access
Leonard said, on the other hand, Portland leads the country in neighborhood activism. That kind of activity, he said, cannot be legislated.

“If citizens don’t like the treatment they receive from the Chief Administrative Officer,” Potter responded, “they would still have the same access to a commissioner that they have now.

“Part of the job of a city is to make itself accessible,” Potter declared. A CAO would “clarify who is responsible.”

Further, Potter added, the CAO would be responsible to the mayor and he to the people. “Voters can defeat the mayor,” he explained.

Disagree about the Tram
To a question asking if this new form of management would have brought the OHSU tram in on-budget, Potter responded that it cost millions of dollars more than forecast because “different council members were in charge of the project at different times. Money would have been saved if only one individual would have been in charge.”

Leonard responded that, if the mayor had voted to stop developers as they “pulled a fast one”, the cost would not have ballooned.

Regarding the city’s budget, Leonard warned that a “cadre” of experts would be needed to sift through every part of the city budget, at a cost of at least $2 million.

Potter responded saying this cost would be more than offset by the greater efficiency of the new form of government.

The mayor said the change in the charter would “put the council members out in the community, instead of behind a desk” and they “would have more authority than they have now.”

After the debate, both Mayor Potter and Commissioner Leonard stayed to talk with citizens. Here, Valerie Curry, Argay; Mary Walker and Marcy Emerson-Peters, Parkrose, speak with the mayor.

Leonard: No checks and balances
But Leonard warned that the proposal has “no checks and balances”. He also said, if access to policymakers truly is desired, the city should be divided into districts, and each council member be elected from a district.

Referring to the civil service reform ballot measure, Leonard stated he believed Potter would not replace employees with handpicked friends “but he won’t be mayor forever.” A future mayor would have the right to replace managers with his handpicked people, he warned “and it has happened in New York, Chicago, and other cities.”

Closing statements reflect sentiments
In closing statements, Leonard said the proposed charter would hand all the administration and most of the executive decisions to the mayor. “That’s too much power for one man.”

In closing, Potter told the audience, “If you want your tax dollars to go further and be more effectively spent, vote for the change. It will make our city better.”

Randy Leonard listens to a citizen’s response to the debate.

Resources:

  • For arguments in favor of changing Portland’s city government system and structure, see www.reformcityhall.com.
  • For arguments against changing Portland’s city government system and structure, see www.toomuchpower.org.

Special thanks to Gail Kiely for photographing this event for East Portland News Service.

© 2007 East Portland News Service – All Rights Reserved

Find out why this internationally-known outer
East Portland firm makes sure each Portland firefighter has a
Multi-Tool‚ and why the firefighters are happy about it‚

 Portland Fire & Rescue firefighter Luis Martinez says his Multi-Tool comes in handy almost every day.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When
seconds count, how do Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters cut
wires, adjust rescue equipment, or make an on-the-spot repair? They
reach for their Leatherman Multi-Tool.

So maybe the Leatherman tool can’t cut victims out
of a crushed car quite like the Jaws of Life, or see in the dark as
does a thermal imager, but firefighters like Luis Martinez say they are
grateful to receive the handy pocket-sized tool‚ as a gift from the
manufacturer.

An awesome gift
“This
is an awesome gift,” Martinez tells us. “I use mine almost every day.
All the firefighters I know carry their Leatherman on their hip; this
is one thing that doesn’t sit in the drawer. Most guys have two‚ one on
their regular uniform, and one in their turnout pocket.”

Not only is it a tool well-designed for
firefighters, Martinez adds, “It’s great that a local company steps up
to help us, by donating them to the bureau.”

 

Portland Fire & Rescue’s Lt. Allen
Oswalt; Battlion Chief 3 Chris Babcock and Leatherman Tool’s Roger
Bjorklund and Juli Warner get together for a photo, at the formal
presentation of the Multi-Tools to the bureau.

Firefighters a good source of product feedback
“With
new recruits coming into the bureau,” says Roger Bjorklund, VP
Marketing Leatherman Tool Group, “we know City budgets are tight,
especially to buy products like this. We wanted to make sure all of our
Portland firefighters were able to carry the Multi-Tool.”

Although firefighters aren’t involved in any formal
product research project, “They’re great at giving product feedback,”
explained Bjorklund. “They use the Multi-Tools so much; they’ve given
us good ideas about how to improve our products. We’ve all benefited
from the relationship.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

© 2005-2019 David F. Ashton East PDX News™. All Rights Reserved.