Neighbors and staff members from Portland Parks & Recreation have worked long and hard planning for Clatsop Butte Park. The nagging question is, “Will it ever be built?”

Vice chair of the Pleasant Valley Neighborhood Association Paul Grosjean, and on Clatsop Butte Park Citizen’s Committee since its inception, says he’s concerned when – or if – the park will be built.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One outer East Portland resident, Paul Grosjean, knows as much about the plans to turn 40 acres of vacant, unimproved land into Clatsop Butte Park as does anyone.

“I was selected to be on Clatsop Butte Park Citizen’s Committee at the very beginning,” said Grosjean at the unveiling of the park’s Master Plan at the Pleasant Valley Grange on November 1.

‘Can’t enjoy a Master Plan’
Grosjean said he is “thrilled” with the park’s plan concept. “The plan has reached wide consensus among all the participants for being a very responsible plan,” he continued. “It’s a plan that respects the land, and the watershed. It provides a lot of activities for people of all ages to enjoy.”

Located on the very eastern edge of SE Portland, Grosjean told us that has been a parks-deficient area for long time. When it’s built, he said, the park will provide for a wide range of needs.

“And it is important that I stress when we get the park built,” Grosjean firmly stated. “The next critical part of this process is to get the funding. I’ve always said, ‘No one can play in, or enjoy, a Master Plan’. We want the city to get a good ‘return on their investment’ in the master plan, and also for us to get a great park.”

Doug Brenner, East Portland Services Manager, and David Yamashita, senior planner with Portland Parks & Recreation take comments at the Clatsop Butte Park Master Plan Open House.

Called ‘Truly a great park site’
“We started out with about 15 or 20 acres,” David Yamashita, senior planner with Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) said about the park space. “Just after we started the process, the City of Portland picked up another 20 acres of natural resource area. It’s one of those rare sites where you have the opportunity to have both a developed park and a natural resource area, all in one park.”

When it’s developed, Yamashita added, residents will have the same kind of recreational opportunities found in other City parks. “It is truly a great site because of the views and the amenities we’re planning: A soccer field, a playground, an off-leash area for dogs, a place for small community events, and lots of benches. It will also have off-street parking.”

John Bliss, resident of Pleasant Valley, and Karen Hubbard, a homeowner in Hawthorne Ridge, discussed the development plans for this park.

Residents dream of ‘their own’ park
“I’ve been paying close attention to this project,” said John Bliss, a Pleasant Valley resident and property owner. “For many years, I’ve been working with the jurisdictions to plan the entire valley. This park is as important as making good plans for placing schools, streets, and housing projects. I want to make sure we preserve open spaces for future generations.”

Karen Hubbard, a homeowner in Hawthorne Ridge, added, “The space has sat open for a long time. This is a great opportunity to put in our own park  that really matches the needs of the community with the needs of the homeowners here. It’s been a long, but good, [planning] process. We’ve kept an eye on it, so we didn’t get a ‘cookie-cutter’ park that won’t serve us well.”

Construction timetable uncertain
However, it looks as if it may be some time before Clatsop Butte Park looks like something other than a large, unimproved plot of land.

The Master Plan may go before the Portland City Council for their acknowledgment or approval in November or December, said PP&R’s East Portland Services Manager, Doug Brenner.

“Then, probably, it will take a bond measure passing, for the park to get developed. PP&R may be going out for a bond measure in 2010, depending on the economy,” Brenner predicted.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

If you didn’t see this fun new show – here’s what you missed …

One of the 19 acts in the “Bronco Cabaret” was Me & My Shadow, performed by Grant Weston and Chris Davis.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In Parkrose, Bronco Cabaret! this week provided a musical voyage through time with songs from musicals – old and new – blended loosely together into the story of couples and families going through time, as narrated by Ciera Willis.

The students from Parkrose High School’s theater and music departments joined forces for three shows, October 23 thru 25.

“This is a new kind of show for us,” said the school’s theater department instructor, Ms. Zena, of the production. “This revue features songs from the past century of theatrical musicals and the pop music world, woven together by an endless tale of love.”

Including the live Parkrose High Band and technical crew, 75 students have been involved in the production of this stage-filling show. And if you are reading this before the evening of October 25th, it’s not too late to enjoy it for yourself!

See Saturday night’s show
Till showtime, tickets remain available at the door for the Saturday night, October 25th, show: $8 adults –  $5 for seniors 65+ and for students 18 and under.

The curtain goes up at 7:00 p.m. Saturday evening at the Parkrose High School Theatre, 12003 NE Shaver Street, just west of NE 122nd Avenue.

Scenes from Bronco Cabaret!

Kerina Blanchard shows she’s got Fascinating Rhythm.

Actors show couples – and families – in love through the decades, as part of the show.

Taylor Grady performs I Cain’t Say No from the show, OKLAHOMA.

Jackson Singleton tells [not in shown order] Paris Mayhew, Ciera Willis, Nicole Horsley, Brianna Lewis and Taylor Grady why there’s Trouble! (right here in River City) from the show THE MUSIC MAN.

Matchmaker is performed by Judy Dan, Brianna Lewis, and Amanda Coalwell.

Paris Mayhew and Grant Weston sing A Whole New World.

The show includes comedy, including the Monty Python sketch, Bring Out Your Dead!

Moving forward to the music of the 1990s, Jessica Davison sings Don’t Know Why.

After the ensemble sings Seasons of Love, from the Broadway show RENT, the cast takes its bows.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Read this before you vote! Find out what we learned at this East Portland Chamber of Commerce ‘Candidate’s Forum’ last week, featuring Amanda Fritz and Charles Lewis …

The Portland City Council candidates Amanda Fritz and Charles Lewis ready themselves for the early-morning forum at CherryWood Village.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Before the coffee in the candidates’ cups could cool, Ken Turner, the Government Affairs chair of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, began the organization’s last Candidate’s Forum of the season promptly at 8:00 a.m.

After asking the candidates to introduce themselves, first Turner and then audience members quizzed the candidates about Freightliner’s move, and other relevant topics.

Here’s your final look at the candidates for this important City of Portland position – in their own words.

Portland City Council candidate Amanda Fritz.

Introducing Amanda Fritz
“I was born and raised in England, in case anyone is wondering about the accent. I came to the United States when I was 21, right after college. We decided to move to Portland in 1986, as we thought this would be the place to live and raise a family – sure enough, it is.

“I am running for Portland City Council, to provide all basic services in all 95 neighborhoods and 35 business districts by spending taxpayer’s money wisely.

“The city Council has a $3 billion budget to spend.  I feel we can do a better job of prioritizing our existing budget to provide services in every part of the city.”

Says dirt roads not a sign of good ‘urban renewal’
“Recently the Oregonian asked us both to pick a place that exemplifies our interest in the city,” Fritz continued.

“I chose to come to Gateway, to SE Pine Street. We stood on this unpaved street, and I asked. ‘Is this truly a Regional Center? Is this a good example of an Urban Renewal District? Is this promoting the kind of housing and businesses that will support the existing businesses and existing residences here in Gateway?’

“We need to have more progress in parts of the city that have not had their fair share in the past.

“I live in Southwest Portland, in an area that was annexed in 1979. It shares many of the same problems – no parks; no sidewalks. It took 13 years to get a park in my neighborhood. East Portland is parks-deficient also. We need to put our attention and effort on the parts of town that is not had that service in the past.

“I served on the planning commission for seven years, in an advisory capacity to the City Council on issues of economic development, transportation, and crime prevention. I’ve been providing citizen involvement for schools, parks and neighborhoods.

“I’ve participated at the grassroots level for the last 17 years. I look forward to putting this experience to work for you.”

Portland City Council candidate Charles Lewis.

Introducing Charles Lewis
“I am the executive director of Ethos Music Center.  It’s a nonprofit that I started about 10 years ago. I was a graduate student at Harvard University, and I was concerned about the tremendous budget cuts that destroyed the kindergarten through eighth grade music programs in our schools.

“Instead of cashing on my degree, I flew back home to Portland, slept on a friend’s couch for about a year and a half, and started up this nonprofit on my credit card. Ten years later, we have a staff of 78. We brought music education back to 2,200 kids, and started up 120 after-school programs, and we’re expanding in the rural parts of Oregon as well. Our budget is about $1 million a year. We’re filling a very critical need for kids in our community.

“My interest in running for Portland City Council is that I think we need some of that same innovative, creative drive on our Council. We’re going to be experiencing some very difficult economic times, and we need someone who has a track record of finding creative and innovative solutions to problems, and bringing them to the Portland City Council.

“Before I started up Ethos, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Congo, I was a student at the University of Portland, and I studied business and political science. I am married, 36 years old; I’ll be 37 the day after the election. We have a brand-new baby girl, 3½ months old.”

First campaign stop: filling potholes
Lewis continued, “I started off my campaign about a year and a half ago, in my neighborhood (Cully), by filling potholes on the dirt road that we live on. The city will not touch your dirt road or the potholes on your dirt road. They’re good about filling in some of the potholes on paved roads, but not for people who live on unpaved roads.

“Transportation and infrastructure investment are things that are very important to me. I am a former small business owner. My wife and I ran Portland Duck Tours, a business that gave tours on land and water.

“I’ll be focused on creating more jobs in Portland.  It’s something I’ve done with Ethos Music. I’ll focus on helping out our schools and our kids, and helping neighborhoods throughout the City of Portland.”

Questions and Answers

Q “How do we improve the business climate in Portland – especially in light of the loss of Freightliner Trucks?” Turner asked

A: Lewis
“It may be too late to keep them from moving. I think we need to think more in terms of small businesses. For me, it’s about having a broad, even base. It’s not about investing in one single corporation. This one comes down to this: The corporation will act in their own self-interest, and that of their stockholders.

“But if you invest in small businesses, people who live here, and work here, and have kids in schools here – those families are going to stay and offer more real benefits. Over 80% of the jobs in Portland are created in small businesses.

“I’ve been promoting more access to capital through a revolving loan program with the City of Portland. It’s something I’ve tried to get for several years; it’s always oversubscribed and under-funded. We need capital for small businesses. Small businesses have a very small default rate – the Small Business Association operates [a lending program like this that has] had has a default rate of .17%; hardly any of these loans are defaulted.  It’s a very secure investment in the future of Portland.”

Portland City Council candidate Amanda Fritz.

A Fritz
Smaller businesses depend on large businesses for getting orders for goods and providing services to them.

“Our economy depends on large businesses, as well as many small businesses, in Portland.

“If you go to my website, you’ll see a specific plan for how both large and small businesses can grow – and what we can do to attract and retain companies that will help keep Portland’s economy vibrant.

“Mayor-Elect Sam Adams, who endorsed me yesterday, sent out an e-mail asking how we can support the Freightliner workers that are losing their jobs.  These are family-wage jobs that are gone. Those are people who buy from our businesses and put their money back into the Portland economy.

“One of the things we need do is have city commissioners who take note of what the existing programs are, to make sure that they work and that they’re utilized. This means getting information out about job retraining. We also need to provide the well-educated workforce that businesses need to thrive.

“We need commissioners who can work in collaboration with those who know the issues even better than Charles or I. Personally, I’m tired of politicians telling us what will work better for you. I will listen to you, and take your recommendations on what will work better.”

Q “What method should be used by the Portland business community to bring business-related issues to the attention of the City Council?

A: Fritz
“I will continue coming to Gateway, Midway, Parkrose, and to all the places you are. When I am elected, I can be quiet – and listen to what you had to say, so you can tell me what you need. I think this has been lacking in Portland city government for quite a while. I see this happening in the neighborhood system, too.

“Once every four years, the politicians come around and want to hear your opinion; then you don’t see them for 3½ years. That will not be me. I will be back – even at 7:30 in the morning. I want you to know that I have not accepted another single invitation to speak at 7:30 a.m., other than to this group.”

Portland City Council candidate Charles Lewis.

A: Lewis
“It’s by voting. I’m an East Portland resident; I live at about 60th and Prescott Street.  East Portland residents have one city commissioner who lives past 42nd Avenue who’s representing their issues and understands what we’re going through.

“If it’s more investment in infrastructure, roads that need to be paved, or sidewalks needed for kids to get to school – it’s something that I would work with.  Or the Prostitution-Free Zones on 82nd Avenue, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who understands, from East Portland? We need more representation for East County.

“In addition, I believe that we need more representation for people who have created jobs in Portland; people who have run a small business and who have managed a budget. These are unique qualities that I bring to this office, and to the Portland City Council in general.”

Q “Portland City Commissioner and Mayor-elect Sam Adams made note that 24% of Portland families live below the federal poverty level. What role should the Portland City Council take, to create jobs for East Portland residents – and will this include public works?”

A: Lewis
“I come from a low-income family myself. I was one of six kids raised by a single mom who worked two jobs as a waitress, in order to make ends meet. I was able to work my way through college as a construction surveyor in Alaska, and earn a full-ride scholarship to Harvard University.

“Instead of cashing in on my degree, I came back to Portland to give back to my community. Portland’s low-income population is very important to me.  Job creation, and supporting small businesses – the ones that create the most jobs here in Portland – is most critical, and is in the forefront of my agenda. There are a ton of things that we can do.

“In terms of capital and public works projects, yes, we need to focus on public works projects, to keep jobs going, especially during a recession. Historically, it’s a way that we can get out of recessions. It improves businesses, and helps improve the infrastructure around Portland.”

A: Fritz
“Public works are one of the ways we got into to this recession. The City Council has a $3 billion budget to spend.  We can spend it more wisely by providing well-paying jobs for Portlanders.

“I want to look at the whole issue of contracts, and how the city spends that money. Currently, a section of the city code says contracts can run 25% over-budget before the City Council reviews them again. My [personal] budget doesn’t run 25% over budget before I start asking questions! Look at how the Tram went from $9 Million to $15 Million to $57 Million! If I’d have been on the City Council [then], I’d have been asking hard questions about the project.”

Q “According to reports of the Portland Department of Transportation, the City’s transportation infrastructure is in dire need – and will require millions of dollars to bring the system up to spec at a cost of $9 million a year. If you are in charge of PDOT, what steps would you take to fund this transportation problem?

A: Fritz
“By prioritizing the work needed to improve public safety on streets and sidewalks.

“My first son was born 22 years ago, and we wanted him to go to college. So, we started sacking money away. We didn’t have much money at the time, but we started saving money every month, so now at this point we have three kids in college – all graduates of Portland public schools. We’re still challenged by paying three college education fees. But we can do it without taking out humongous loans.

“The city needs to do the same thing with a $400 million backlog of transportation funding. We have a plan. We’re not going to be able to pay for this all at once.

“You know the City’s ‘surplus’? It’s not a surplus. It is money that could have – and should have – been used to pave streets, to provide sidewalks to school so kids can walk there. What I will do if I’m elected is to have a plan for how we’re going to do that. We shouldn’t even think about having citizens taxed for more money, before we have a plan to use the money that we do have more wisely.”

A: Lewis
“One of the things we need to stop doing is repaving roads that don’t need to be repaved. This year, walking the streets of Portland and knocking on doors, I see roads are being torn up and repaved. It doesn’t make sense. It’s based on an archaic model, with a focus on the main streets, regardless of whether not they need work. I’d like to bring some common sense to the process. In addition, we need to be more efficient with our resources.”

Lewis then gave an example of how he’s worked with the city to get a 20-spot bicycle corral built in front of his music training company. “It’s taken the city two years to create it. The amount of staff time than it took to engineer this bike rack was just ridiculous. We need to be more efficient. Frankly we need more investment in infrastructure.

“We have a lot of money dedicated to roads from the franchise fee.  It was diverted under Mayor Katz’s administration. Just recently, the city Council voted to put that funding back toward the roads. I think it’s a good first step, but we need to focus on the basic infrastructure.”

Q Chamber member, Richard Kiely of Home Run Graphics asked: “Every political go-around we hear politicians telling us they’ll spend money wisely.  Then they go back downtown and do what they want. Is there could be something that you can do to make sure that we get what we need from you?”

A: Lewis
“With me, as somebody who’s run a small business in a nonprofit – unlike a lot of politicians have had no experience managing a business – I had to live within a budget.

“For me, the proof is in the pudding. I spent money wisely, always looking at the bottom line. Otherwise you just go out of business. I’m not like most politicians, and I live in East Portland, like many of you. [When you think of] my priorities, I kicked off my campaign by filling in potholes on our dirt road.  I feel that East Portlanders are left out of the process. I’ll bring more representation to Portland city Council.”

A: Fritz
“It would be an interesting discussion, would it not, whether Randy Leonard has brought services to outer East Portland – he’s a resident of Pleasant Valley.

“You don’t have to live in a particular area care about that area.

“I agree; look what I’ve done. When I left consulting with the Planning Commission, spent the past year working on Parks issues. I was in a meeting in Southwest Portland; a Parks Bureau person presented information. I went to an East Portland Parks meeting the following week and the same information was not presented – they presented different information.

Portland City Council candidate Amanda Fritz.

“What I did to fix that was to form the Citywide Parks team with East Portlanders Alicia Reece and Linda Robertson; she’s now the Chair of that group. Now, once a month, Parks people get the same information at the same time. Sure enough, we’re now getting a lot more attention on the Parks-deficient areas in East Portland, and across the city as well.

“We need to bring people together and accept that Portland’s problems are everyone’s problems. Portland’s benefits should be everyone’s benefits.  People really do care, all over Portland, about fairness and equity and getting those services back to the neighborhoods that need them so badly.”

Q “: if the population doubles in the next 30 years, and the population keeps moving to Southeast Portland, how are you people going to work on our freeways to help smooth out the transportation problems? And what will you do to help prepare us for having twice the population that we already have?” asked chamber member Charles Powell, with Coaching At Its Best.

A: Fritz
“I served on the Portland Planning Commission for seven years. We were looking at this question. The Portland Plan is supposed to address that issue, as well as others, and to look at individual neighborhoods, and what is required to help make them livable.

“Half of the building permits in Portland are east of 82nd Avenue. We need to look at the specifics to see what’s been provided. The opportunity of the Portland Plan is it is supposed to adopt specific implementations and funding.  Is crucial that both business community members and neighbors get involved in that process.

“You need someone on the City Council who understands how the nice-sounding policies about ’20-minute Walkable Neighborhoods’ may – or may not – be implemented where you live or work. Regarding freeways, we need to make sure that people have commercial areas in their neighborhoods, so they don’t have to get on the freeways to go shopping.”

A: Lewis
“In terms of freeways, this is one difference between myself and Amanda. “In regard to the Columbia River Crossing, I support the $4 billion in investment from federal and state and local funds. Amanda says she would’ve voted against it. I’ve lived in North and Northeast Portland for 18 years. I understand the bottleneck there.

“I do think that we should invest in more light rail, TriMet service, and reduce the amount of vehicle miles driven. But I more than we do have a bottleneck, and it is going to get worse, and we need to have that investment.

Portland City Council candidate Charles Lewis.

“You’ll remember that the Mt. Hood Freeway project; there was a lot of opposition to it. So we get a federal allocation of funds for the project and ended up deciding that we didn’t want the freeway and we directed it toward mass transit. With this project, I think we can come up with a state or local funds for it and skip the federal money.

“If we end up building more light rail, I’d be very happy with it, as well.”

Q Moderator Turner asked, “How are you going to convince the other members of the Portland City Council to use the Utility Licensing Fee – or at least 20% of it – for transportation, as originally intended?”

A: Lewis
“[A passing vote on City Council] takes three out of five. They voted to move in that direction. They understand that we have a tremendous backlog, $420 million backlog of road repair, and transportation. Our roads in Portland need serious help. The Council is realizing that we need to have some investment. They’ve diverted the transportation funds intended for projects like the Tram, and projects that don’t benefit the majority of people.

“I’ll take it to the streets if that’s what it comes to. One of the things I’ve found about politicians as they seem to wave in the wind, and go where the population’s interest is focused. I’ll rally the troops to make sure that Council knows it’s important to us. We’ll talk about some of the basic infrastructure that we need in Portland.”

A: Fritz
“I participated in City Council processes for over a decade.  I’ve watched like in the budgeting process, how they’ve come up with their budget and put it out for citizens to make comment on it.

“A somewhat effective way to get the Council’s attention is to have a lot of folks show up and agitate. But that’s not a good process. We need to return to the ‘Neighborhood Needs’ process.  This is where the neighborhoods are asked about their priorities, in terms of transportation improvements and other issues.

“This way, when you got the citizen input into what the transportation needs are, it’s going to be easier for me as a City Commissioner to insist that the Council follow its previous promises. Having followed the City Council decisions over the last 17 years, time and again, promises have been broken. But, as a nurse and a mom, I know that promises are important; we need to do what we say we’re going to do.”

Find out more about the East Portland Chamber of Commerce
To learn more about this engaged group of business people, check their new web site by CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Find out how a routine traffic stop went from ‘zero to crazy’ in a moment – and why cops shut down SE Division Street, and called out the SERT team to capture this wanted, gun-toting man …

From SE 82nd Avenue of Roses east to 92nd Avenue, police shut down SE Division Street as they searched for a man, wanted for murder, who ran from a traffic stop.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It was just another fall afternoon at the 76 Market owned operated by James Arokiadoss, at the edge of the Lents Neighborhood.

“But everything went from ‘zero to crazy’ in a minute,” Arokiadoss told us, as he described the events that started unfolding about 4:00 p.m. on October 23.

76 Market owner James Arokiadoss tells what he witnessed during a “routine police stop” at his business.

Says potential customer looked harmless
“It seemed like the driver of a red van saw there was a cop on his tail,” Arokiadoss reported. It’s like he pulled into our gas station. But when our attendant went by to ask him what he needed, the driver kept looking around and told the attendant he ‘wasn’t sure’. He just sat there. When I saw him, he looked like a harmless fellow.”

Arokiadoss said it had looked to him like other routine traffic stops, in which a driver and a police car pull off SE Division Street and into his gas station on southwest corner of 92nd Avenue.

“It seemed like everything was normal at first,” Arokiadoss continued. “But when they looked at his driver’s license and insurance, the officer asked him to wait a moment. Another police car pulled up.”

After police checked the identification of the man driving this red van – the driver took off on foot, leaving the van and a female passenger behind.

Traffic stop goes sideways
Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Officer Cathe Kent confirms the story: “Officers contacted the driver and female passenger, and obtained identification for the driver. The identity of the driver was being checked through our mobile data system and [we found] a half-million-dollar bail warrant for Attempt Murder, posted by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.”

Kent said that the officer alerted the second officer to the driver’s “wanted” status – then suddenly, the man, whom she identified as 28-year-old Olen Billy Butler, bailed out of the vehicle and headed westbound – on foot – on Division Street.

Although he was surprised to see the fleeing man drop his shoes and a gun, Arokiadoss picked up the gun and held it for police.

Sees man drop his shoes – and a gun
Arokiadoss continued his story: “The woman riding in the car didn’t move; the driver, a black man, dropped his gun, and his shoes, on our driveway on Division Street. I picked up the gun, because we didn’t want anyone to have anything to do with the gun. We locked it up and called the cops and gave the gun to them.”

Officers, one on foot and one in a patrol, took off after Butler, who was running shoeless west on SE Division Street, and followed him to the area in the 2400 block of SE 90th Avenue. Cover officers arrived, and a perimeter was secured around a residence in which officers believed Butler took refuge. The Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) was activated, and SE Division Street was shut down from SE 82nd Avenue of Roses east to 92nd Avenue.

For over four hours – throughout the height of rush hour – SE Division St. remained closed, as police hunted for the running suspect, who for reasons understood only by himself, discarded his shoes as he fled.

SERT squad’s communication efforts rebuffed
“During the course of the investigation,” Kent informed us, “It was determined that Butler was inside with a female, and that she was an acquaintance, not a hostage.”

For several hours, SERT officers tried to communicate with Butler, via phone and loud-hail, and received no response. “SERT deployed a chemical agent – tear gas – into the residence. Immediately, Butler and the female exited the home, and were taken into custody at 8:26 p.m,” Kent reported.

Police say this man, 28-year-old Olen Billy Butler, was about to be picked up on a $500,000 bail warrant for Attempt Murder.

There were no injuries reported by Butler or the female. It is unknown at this time if any weapons were inside the home, Kent stated, adding, “At this time, I do not know if the female is being charged with a crime. The Attempt Murder charge, listed on the warrant, is a Gresham PD case.”

Later in the evening, things were back to normal at Arokiadoss’ gas station business.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Songs from musicals – old and new – will be blended together, when students from Parkrose High School’s theater and music departments join forces for three great shows next week …

Parkrose High students Jason Newman, Tamara Dan, Hadassah Jeremiah, Amariah Moran, and Taylor Grady work on their routine for the song “You’re the One That I Want” from the show “GREASE” in their upcoming production of “Bronco Cabaret!”

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Starting off the season with a new type of production, “Bronco Cabaret!” will take the stage at the Parkrose High School Theater October 23, 24 and 25.

“This revue features songs from the past century of theatrical musicals & the pop music world, woven together by an endless tale of love,” says the school’s theater department instructor, Ms. Zena, as we watch the performers work on their musical numbers.

Some 75 students, including the live band and technical crew, will put on this tuneful show, we learn.

“People of all ages will recognize and enjoy the songs,” chimes in Lesley Bossert, Parkrose High’s choral director. “From I Cain’t Say No, from Oklahoma and Trouble from The Music Man – to 2005 Broadway musical nominated for six Tony Awards show, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’s standout number, Pandemonium – to pop music standards such as Elton John’s Your Song and 9 to 5, this show is loaded with fun, evocative music.”

VIP packages still available
Treat yourself to a real evening out by ordering a VIP Ticket Package!

It includes café-table seating, special show program & cast photo, a rose to give to cast member of your choice, intermission in the VIP Lounge, a complimentary snack, a Cabaret Cosmo (non-alcoholic beverage), and an opportunity to meet & greet with cast members. Call (503) 408-2718 and arrange now for VIP treatment!

Or, attend any one of the three performances for only $8 adults –  $5 for seniors 65+ & students 18 and under. You can order online at www.seatyourself.biz/parkrose, or at the door.

The curtain goes up each night – October 23, 24 and 25 – at 7:00 p.m. at the Parkrose High School Theatre; 12003 NE Shaver Street, just west of NE 122nd Avenue.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Here’s our “feel-good story of the year”! See why we enjoyed meeting the gal who so well represented the Pacific Northwest’s Boys & Girls Clubs at the national competition in Washington DC …

The Pacific Northwest “Youth of the Year”, Ashley Turner, tells about her life – thus far.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Growing up, Ashley Turner’s life wasn’t easy. She drifted into a street gang.

But, instead of becoming a tragic statistic, she turned her life around with the help of caring folks the Meyer Memorial Boys & Girls Club in Westmoreland.

We sat at a table outside of the club festooned with a giant “Welcome Home Ashley” banner; a red carpet led up to the front doors. The guest of honor was being welcomed “home” a few weeks ago after returning from a national scholarship competition back east.

“I came from poor circumstances as a child,” Turner began her story.

“To escape this, I became a gang member at the age of 11,” the perky 19-year-old said. “I really had a lot of ups and downs. Then, I found the Boys & Girls Club. Although it took a ninety-minute bus ride to get here, I came here every single day – that’s how devoted I was to this place. They really made me feel like I belonged.”

Club provides life-changing experiences
The positive influence of the club helped Turner turn her life around, she explained. Over the years, she became an enthusiastic supporter; and this year, she was encouraged to enter the “Youth of the Year” competition.

On the strength of her public speech and personal interviews, Turner won the Portland-area title. She went on to prevail at the statewide contest.

“From there, I went on to represent Oregon in the Pacific Region Youth of the Year competition, against eleven others from Japan, Alaska, Hawaii, and all over the Pacific Northwest. I won this competition as well.”

Although she didn’t mention it, we learned that by earning this title, she was also awarded $10,000 scholarship from the Readers’ Digest Foundation.

This large banner above the Meyer Memorial Boys & Girls Club was one of many welcoming Ashley Turner, after she represented the Pacific Region at the Youth of the Year competition in Washington DC.

Competes at our nation’s capitol
Although she wasn’t chosen for national honors, Turner beamed a genuine smile when she said visiting Washington DC was a great experience. “I’m so proud to be the face and voice of the past, present, and future members of our Boys & Girls Clubs.”

One highlight of the trip, Turner related, was meeting President Bush in the White House. “We met in the Oval Office – it’s a cream color, with thick yellow carpeting. The President was really funny and made a lot of jokes. But he also talked about the importance of leadership. He said the prayers of the people are with us. He was an amazing gentleman.”

Additionally, Turner spoke to members of Congress at a Congressional breakfast, and threw out the opening pitch at a Washington Nationals baseball game.

Shares her life’s mission
“I’ve decided that this is what I want to do with the rest of my life,” Turner stated resolutely.

“So many of our kids need somebody they can talk to,” she explained. “They need to feel like they belong, and feel useful. Most of all, they really need positive influences in their lives. This is the most important thing that I can do as an individual.”

When a young person feels like they “don’t belong”, they tend to give up and lose hope, Turner made clear. “It becomes easy to fall into gangs, drugs and alcohol abuse. You feel like you have no reason for being, no reason to live. When things get so bad at home and school that the only ones you can really get along with are gang members, you need someplace to go. The Boys & Girls Clubs are that place.”

Flanked by two of her young supporters, Fiona and Sophia Marziello, Ashley Turner is welcomed back to Westmoreland’s Meyer Boys & Girls Club.

Gives back to her community
Even though Turner is today a student at Portland Community College, she also takes time to be a part-time staff member at the Boys & Girls Club.

“It is important for me to give back to my community. I want to give back to kids that are going through the same circumstances that I was.

“Look: I know what it was like. When you walk us through these double red doors, see staff members smiling at you, giving you a hug if you’re feeling down, helping you do homework so you can succeed, or even picking up a basketball and playing a little one-on-one, and actually taking time to care about you – it’s the best feeling in the world. It really is.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Learn how the new ‘Lents/Powellhurst-Gilbert RideAbout’ service improves the quality of life for those who can’t drive …

With the help of East Portland Chamber of Commerce members Richard Kiely of Home Run Graphics, Rich Sorem of Stewart & Tunno Insurance Agency Inc., and Ed Bejarana of Znith Exhibits, RideAbout patron Willie Hall cuts the ribbon to dedicate the service.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
There’s a new way for older folks and the disabled to get around in outer East Portland. It’s called the “Lents/Powellhurst-Gilbert RideAbout”.

“We surveyed the community and found that there is a need for shuttles to take people who can’t drive out for shopping or medical appointments, and other areas,” explained James Uyeda, development manager at Ride Connection. “These individuals can’t always get a ride with friends or relatives; we fill in gaps to help them get where they want to go.”

Standing next to one of the new Lents/Powellhurst-Gilbert RideAbout busses, Ride Connection’s James Uyeda says the new service provides more benefits than simply getting a lift.

Ride Connection, Uyeda told us, provides transportation options, resources, and services for older adults and people with disabilities in the Tri-County area. “We work with 30 community service partners, including Metropolitan Family Services. We’re here at Eastport Plaza to kick off the new mid-Multnomah County services with one of three of our shuttles.”

Service beyond TriMet
Although TriMet gives rides to individuals who qualify for ADA para-transit services, Uyeda said anyone who’s 60 years of age or older, or anyone with a temporary or permanent disability, can call the new ride service center and get the transportation they need.

Beyond getting a ride, we asked if the service provides other benefits.

“This new services gives people the ability to come and go as they please,” replied Uyeda. “It gives them a sense of independence. Recent studies have shown that having access to reliable transportation for older adults helps them be able to remain in their homes. It gives them the ability to go out and feel part of the community.”

Metropolitan Family Services’ Krista Larson says the service helps “make connections” in addition to providing transit.

Service adds richness to lives
At the September 25 ribbon-cutting ceremony, Krista Larson, representing Metropolitan Family Services, told those attending, “Our mission is to strengthen families and individuals, while connecting them in the community. But equally important, is the connections which the service makes.

“The first person who got off the bus today, when it rolled up, was an old friend of mine. That kind of connection shows us how important the service is. We see it as a win-win situation; it provides richness to all of our lives.”

Opening this ride service will provide 30,000 rides next year. “This is the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in providing for the community’s needs,” Larson added. “We look forward to serving members in this community.”

Mark Morley, also with Metropolitan Family Services, says the service offers both bus, and private car transportation.

Volunteers facilitate many rides
At the event, Mark Morley, a program coordinator with Metropolitan Family Services, told us that the service they provide is twofold.

“First, we have three buses that will operate in outer East Portland,” described Morley. “And, there’s also a component in which individuals take others to destinations in their private vehicles.”

Last year, Morley added, volunteers provided over half of the hours logged, either driving service-owned vehicles or their own individual vehicles. “Volunteers are a critical part of the service.”

Looking on is Betty Vasser; she’s both a client and a volunteer with Metropolitan Family Services Ride Connection.

Looking forward to new ‘school bus’ ride
“I’m so thrilled!” exclaimed Betty Vasser who is both a client and a volunteer with Metropolitan Family Services Ride Connection.

“It’s really a great thing for older folks. In addition to shopping and medical appointments, when I go back to school, in the middle of October, I’ll be riding on Ride Connection.”

There is no charge for the RideAbout circulator shuttle, but donations are an important part of the transportation program, and are encouraged.  Drivers are happy to help with assistance through the door and carrying of shopping bags, at their own discretion.

To request a trip on the Lents/Powellhurst-Gilbert RideAbout, or with the greater Mid-Multnomah County U-Ride, customers can call the Ride Connection Service Center at 503-226-0700 to speak with a Travel Navigator.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Who helped ROSE Community Development provide more good housing to SE Portland residents this year? Find out – and learn what our newest Portland City Commissioner, Nick Fish, had to say about Portland housing at this event …

Amie Diffenauer and Sherrena Torrence welcome guests to the ROSE Community Development Corporation Annual Breakfast.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Benefactors of ROSE Community Development Corporation celebrated their 16 years of “Revitalizing Outer South East” at their annual meeting at OMSI on September 25.

The event’s master of ceremonies, Steve Truesdale, sets the stage for the event.

The event’s master of ceremonies, Steve Truesdale, put the mission of the organization well, telling the group of about 200 guests, “ROSE is dedicated to providing good places for families to live. Each home, each project improves the surrounding community as a whole.”

“These are tough times for everybody,” said ROSE Executive Director Nick Sauvie. “But they’re particularly tough for many the people who live in our neighborhoods – including many seniors, people with disabilities, and people who’ve lost their jobs recently. These are people who need ROSE the most, and we’re here to serve them.”

ROSE executive director, Nick Sauvie, reminds the assembled guests of their organization’s humble beginnings.

Sauvie reminded guests that, “Beginning with the acquisition of a single house, ROSE has used housing improvement as a strategy to jump-start community revitalization. To date, ROSE has produced an inventory of over 300 rental and homeownership units.”

The keynote speaker at the event, Portland City Commissioner, and the City’s future Housing Commissioner, Nick Fish, says housing for the most vulnerable citizens is his top priority.

Commissioner Fish commends ROSE
“I’m so pleased to join you today, to support Rose CDC,” began the morning’s keynote speaker, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. “At Portland City Hall, we think very highly of ROSE, and consider you to be a critical partner and our role of housing priorities.”

Fish began by telling how, when arriving at his first major fire scene as Portland’s Fire Commissioner, he was humbled when the fire chief recommended that he turn his fire helmet around. “Circumstances like this help one keep a sense of perspective,” he quipped.

“ROSE has gone beyond bricks and mortar revitalization,” Fish continued. “You understand you must be community developers; your projects include child care, community safety, and educational programs. These are all programs that ROSE pioneered which substantially increase the vitality of neighborhoods and the quality of life for the neighbors.”

Commissioner Fish says he’ll make a “blueprint” that addresses housing issues in Portland.

Fish outlines City housing priorities
As the Rose City’s new Housing Commissioner, Fish decried the fact that 31% of the budget of Housing and Community Development consists of one-time only, general-fund money. “This fund totals almost $12 million, and invests in the very heart of what we care about: Rent assistance, affordable housing, preservation, and emergency shelter programs. Having these programs funded with one-time-only money, especially in a time of economic downturn and uncertainty, puts these programs at risk.

“I ask everyone in this room [to help me] make the case to my colleagues that we should not balance the [City’s 2008-2009] budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Fish said that Mayor-elect Sam Adams asked him to develop a “blueprint” for housing. “I’ll be working on that plan, and presenting it to him in November. We’ll be looking at some of the existing policies of our city, and the reaffirming them. This includes the 10-year-plan to end homelessness.”

Invokes the political spirit of Gretchen Kafoury
As the City’s new Housing Commissioner, Fish he intends to “provoke a very rich discussion with the City Council and the community, to set a new direction for housing policies. Since the days of [Commissioner] Gretchen Kafoury, we’ve had strong political leadership on housing that has kept us in the forefront of national efforts to end homelessness and build affordable housing.

“As I stand before you today, I make this commitment: I will provide the same vigorous leadership that Gretchen did. I will make affordable housing my priority in the city.”

Fish pitches his “11 x 13 Campaign” to shore up housing programs,

Appeals for support on three projects
Noting that federal subsidies will expire on eleven properties between now and 2013, Fish proclaimed an initiative he called the “11 x 13 Campaign” to shore up housing programs on a long term basis.

Next, regarding the City’s “Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness”, Fish said “We are very close to finalizing agreements for the Resource Access Center, in Old Town/Chinatown, which is scheduled to open in 2010. This project is a critical cornerstone to our commitment to ending homelessness.”

Finally, he asked for support for the “Bridges to Housing” program. “We do a great job with single adults, in terms of our 10 year plan. But we need to do better dealing with families in crisis. I will continue to support this innovative regional effort to house and support homeless families.”

Taking control of local issues
No one in the room can solve the problems on Wall Street, noted Fish, adding, “At times like this, though, it is most important to look to our own backyards and take care of the issues we can control. By working together, we can help end homelessness, help make sure people have a decent place to live, and help families at risk.”

ROSE Partners honored

ROSE executive director, Nick Sauvie watches as Robert Mosier of William Wilson Architects accepts the Business Partner award presented by Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish and event MC Steve Truesdale.

Leading off the Rose Community Awards was their Business Partner Award, presented to William Wilson Architects, accepted by Robert Mosier, the project architect for ROSE’s Leander Court.

“We’re here because we believe in what ROSE Community development is her community,” Mosier told the group. “We believe that providing affordable housing and services helps make the entire community stronger.”

Executive program officer Libby Lescalleet, accepts the ROSE Community Partner Award presented to Wattles Boys & Girls Club by Commissioner Fish.

Community Partner Award went to Wattles Boys & Girls Club; accepted by executive program officer Libby Lescalleet.

“Six years ago, we brought supporters from Lents and Darlington-Brentwood neighborhoods together under a ‘Weed & Seed’ program,” Lescalleet said. “One of the programs is ongoing: ‘Shop with a Cop’ – it has spawned many other programs to help us build community.”

Troy Wilkerson of EXIT Realty is presented with the Outstanding Community Leader award by Nick Fish.

Their Outstanding Community Leader Award was presented to Troy Wilkerson with EXIT Realty for being a leader in the Lents Homeownership Initiative and for helping educate SE Portland residents about homeownership opportunities. “It’s a wonderful experience helping families move into homes. The smiles on their faces are priceless.

ROSE Volunteer of the Year award is given to Leander Court resident, Paula Hernandez by Housing Commissioner Nick Fish.

Leander Court resident Paula Hernandez was named ROSE Volunteer of the Year. Through an interpreter, she said, “On behalf of my family and myself, I thank you. To everybody and Rose, and all of you, I encourage you to keep helping Rose CDC.  Thank you.”

Kat Hand, tells why she appreciates ROSE helping her – and her family – move into a home.

ROSE homeowner tells of her ‘dream come true’
“As a mother of four daughters, until seven years ago I never dreamed that I’d be able to own my own home,” testified Kat hand. “My childcare provider mentioned to ROSE and the Shared Appreciation Loan Program.”

“Having the stability of homeownership is given by children something they’ve never had before. My family and I have become a part of the community. I’ve worked with my neighbors to help increase the livability of my neighborhood.”

Metro commissioner Robert Liberty says he’s attending because “I care a lot about our housing choices across the region.  ROSE is playing a solid role in community development; it’s very heartening to see, especially in such uncertain times.”

Contributing to a more stable community
Concluding the meeting, Truesdale asked guests to contribute to organization.

Paul Ellison with Bank of the West, looked up as he was filling out his donation envelope and said, “Having worked in Southeast Portland for 20 of my 30 years in banking, I see the need here every day. ROSE does an excellent job of helping people get in the homeownership, making for a more stable community, reduced crime and increased livability.”

After the meeting, ROSE executive director, Nick Sauvie and Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish congratulate ROSE Community Award winners Robert Mosier, Libby Lescalleet, Troy Wilkerson and Paula Hernandez.

For more information about ROSE Community Development Corporation – and the great programs they sponsor or host – or to donate to their causes – call 503-788-8052 or check their web site by CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Part I: Learn what a prostitution-fighting expert told neighbors at the “Take Back 82nd Avenue” Town Hall meeting. And, find out why the evening’s second keynote speaker, a reformed prostitute, was visibly angry about a leaflet handed out at the meeting …

Justin Cutler, Montavilla Neighborhood Association vice chair welcomes neighbors to the second “Take Back 82nd Avenue” Town Hall meeting, held at the Portland Community College SE Center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Neighbors continued their discussion about reducing prostitution along 82nd Avenue of Roses at another “Take Back 82nd Avenue” Town Hall meeting, this time held at Portland Community College SE Center, on October 7.

Speaking to about 150 citizens gathered in the college’s atrium, Montavilla Neighborhood Association Vice Chair Justin Cutler started by thanking neighbors, organization leaders, and officials, for coming to the meeting.

A two-part meeting
Cutler told the assemblage that the evening would consist of two parts: two keynote speakers, followed by breakout group discussions.

Before introducing the first speaker, Cutler quoted a passage from author Jon Winthrop, “I call upon you all to enter into community in the midst of our present peril.” He added, “I ask of you to transcend any differences that arise and look to the future hope of what 82nd Avenue could become. It is in the spirit of unity that we offer two presenters tonight.”

Anti-prostitution crusader introduced
Cutler said the first speaker, Dr. Melissa Farley, has practiced as a clinical psychologist for 40 years, consults with government, and advocates for prostituted and trafficked women.

“Dr. Farley has articulated the harms of prostitution, pornography, and trafficking, as an expert witness in forensic evaluations,” Cutler’s introduction continued. “She has been categorized as a legal expert on the affects of sexual violence against women and children, post traumatic stress disorder, dissociation, prostitution, and trafficking. She spends her time at working with the San Francisco-based nonprofit organization ‘Prostitution Research & Education’.” To see Farley’s web site, CLICK HERE.

Clinical psychologist and advocate for prostituted and trafficked women, Dr. Melissa Farley, says she decries all forms of prostitution.

Says prostitution puts all women and children at risk
“The response of the commitment to fight prostitution along 82nd Avenue is encouraging to me,” Farley began. “It is painful and frightening to know that, once there is a culture of prostitution in the community, any female is a target of pimps and johns. The most vulnerable are the poor. But once johns and pimps get a foothold in the area, all women and children are at risk.

“The safety to the women and children who are not prostituting are put at risk by those women who are pimped out or are working at dance clubs.”

Rape higher where sex-for-money is legal
Farley said studies show that municipalities that have legalized prostitution have become more dangerous places for women.

“Nevada though it could provide prostitution and increase public safety,” she said. “But Nevada’s women are raped at twice the rate in New York and three times the rate of Los Angeles. The reason, according to the Rape Crisis Center is that men think they can get it away [with rape in Nevada] because prostitution is legal.”

In the United Kingdom, Farley continued, where “strip clubs” have been legalized during the last four years; the number of rapes has doubled

In Amsterdam, officials closed a number of legal prostitution zones. “Legal prostitution did not reduce crime as they hoped it could. Crime has increased; women are no safer.”

Decries all forms of prostitution
Street sex for sale along 82nd Avenue is merely the “tip of the iceberg”, Farley stated. “Internet sites like CraigsList.com, and Eros.com and other ‘social networking sites’ are used by pimps to sell women for sex.”

Holding up a copy of a full-color magazine, EROTIC, Farley added, “Here in Portland, you have the premiere magazine copy of its kind. Pimps are advertising nationwide for women to ‘come work in Portland’.”

A good deal of trafficking in the sex trade, she declared, takes place at “gentlemen’s clubs” – “Plainly put, strip clubs. And, there is a greater number of strip clubs in Portland than other cities. At strip clubs johns get drunk, and sexually exploit and harass women. Prostitution takes place in back rooms – or VIP rooms as they’re called – not in neighborhoods. ‘Lap dances’ are part of the range of sexual gratification offered for sale.”

Strip club “circuits”, Farley went on, are controlled by pimps, crime families, and Mexican and Russian gangs linked to prostitution.

Dr. Farley holds up a Portland-based magazine she says promotes prostitution “off the avenue”.

Sex industry flourishes in silence, complicity
She asserted that prostitution prospers only when there is the silence of a community. “The community becomes ‘corrupt guardians’. The sex industry, the size to which it has grown in Portland, can only exist because of the complicity of businessmen, restaurant owners, politicians, and some police officials. Organized criminals who own and zone strip clubs are able to buy off zoning decision s from politicians.”

Farley said a Portland police officer told her, “Look around, you can get anything you want. Porn, lingerie modeling, nude dancing – sex is just a step further away.”

The expert said that pimps present themselves as business people who engage attorneys to check with City Hall to find out how and where they could zone clubs. “Which politicians’ campaigns are financed by strip club dollars? Think about this question.

If one looked, Farley postulated, they’d find the same “dummy corporations” that bill john’s credit cards also contribute to politicians and political campaigns. “I’d certainly look for connections here.”

Four approaches
Farley said there are four approaches to dealing with prostitution:

  • Criminalized – Everyone involved in prostitution is arrested. “How well is that working here?”
  • Legalized – It is zoned, taxed, or tolerated. “Women are at higher risk of rape where this is the case.”
  • Decriminalized – Remove all laws regarding the sex trade; including to those that apply to pimps and traffickers. “This approach doesn’t work for anyone’s benefit other than the pimps.”
  • Abolished – “This is a human rights proposition that works to eliminate prostitution. It considers prostitution to be a harmful problem; and works to stop it, not ‘put a band aid’ on it. Prostitutes are decriminalized; johns and pimps are treated as felons. It is a felony in Sweden to buy and sell sex.”

Advocates for services
“There must be services to help all prostituted persons to get out,” Farley advocated. “The top 2% of prostitutes have options. The bottom 98 % does not have options – they want out, and want the support of the community to get out.”

As the economy worsens and recession deepens, prostitution will get worse, Farley warned.

“Shall we permit pimps and traffickers money to hide the sexual harassment, rape and battering of women and children?” Farley asked rhetorically. “Shall they be treated as a lower class, to service men?”

Answering her questions, she concluded, “No. No one should be sold for sex. It’s time to end the commercial sexual abuse of women and children. Please set an example for the rest of us.”

Cutler and Farley welcome self-proclaimed prostitution survivor Jeri Sundvail-Williams to the Town Hall podium.

Ex-prostitute steamed about leaflet
Cutler next introduced Jeri Sundvail-Williams, saying “She is a survivor of prostitution and has been a community activist in Portland for the last 14 years. She is currently the program manager for the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement’s Diversity and Civic Leadership projects.”

Williams wasn’t smiling as she took the podium; she appeared to be angry.

“As a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder survivor – even after 20 years, this yellow sheet, [carrying a message that] supports pimps, triggers me to this day.” Williams said, referring to a half-sheet of yellow paper distributed the meeting entitled “‘Reducing the Demand Side’ Harms Women” allegedly distributed by “The 82nd Cares Coalition”. (Excerpts follow at the end of this article.)

“It really pisses me off that I could be so upset by misinformation [the leaflet] spreads,” Williams said. “It says that prostitution is a business; that it’s OK. Well, that’s a nice philosophy. But, I’m shaking as I speak; it feels like the abuse all over again. To think that they [who brought the flyer] can sit in audience and giggle about this. I had a speech prepared, but I’ll just tell you my story instead.”

Sundvail-Williams says the leaflet distributed triggers her anger at having been prostituted.

Williams’ story
“I am a self proclaimed prostitution survivor,” related Williams. “I just lived through it; I walked 82nd Avenue. I sold my body for money. I was ‘jumped into’ the Crips gang by ten guys.

“I did drugs eventually. I didn’t do drugs as a habit, but because I couldn’t deal with my life. I was beaten and cavity-checked by my pimp each day. I had two kids at the time who were ‘taken care of’ by my pimp’s girlfriend when I was working.

“There is nothing glamorous about it. There’s nothing glamorous about having sex with weird, filthy, disgusting men. There’s nothing glamorous about having a john steal your money, stab you in the neck, and leave you for dead. But, by the grace of God, I’m alive today.”

Escapes ‘the life’
Williams told how, when she escaped to a women’s shelter, she had difficulty “functioning as a a human being”.

“The only job I could get was in a motel. I thought to myself, ‘I used to lie on the beds, now I’m making beds’. I got my education on the streets – even though I taught at Portland State. I became an organizer for social causes.”

Sundvail-Williams says violence shouldn’t allowed in any community.

Calls for investment in people
Looking over the audience, Williams continued, “I love the neighbors here, but I still hate this street. I hate it.”

Referring to the yellow leaflet, Williams said, “This is what I lived. You cannot challenge me on this. You can’t challenge the knife what went into my neck that night. You cannot challenge that women are being forced to work on the street tonight. People and children who get trafficked are having violence done to them. No one should allow violence in their community.

“My goal is to make investment in people. We have a responsibility as neighbors to care about each other and make sure we’re safe. Elect people who will do a better job for us.”

’82nd Cares Coalition’ flyer text

“Some Portlanders are concerned about prostitution on our streets and are pushing for the strategy of ‘reducing the demand side’ of prostitution. It means that, instead of going after people engaging in prostitution to make ends meet, criminal justice system would be instructed to pursue Johns (clients) who purchase sexual services from them.

“The appeal of this approach is obvious: many people understand that women who trade sex for money do so under dire economic and personal circumstances, and feel it would be unfair to punish them for their predicament. On the other hand to people feel any sympathy toward johns: in fact, some may find it deeply satisfying emotionally to punish them severely.

“However, we must seriously consider the full implications of such policy if we are truly concerned about the women who would have to compete for declining demand for their services.  We believe, that while the approach to “reduce the demand side” is far preferable to punishing the women for their poverty and lack of options, it is nonetheless harmful to the safety and health of the women who work on our streets.”

The flyer presents these arguments:

  • Due to a smaller pool of customers, it would force prostitutes to perform more acts for less money.
  • It would reduce their bargaining power that is forcing them to engage in less safe practices simply to stay competitive.
  • It would force prostitution into less safe areas; no would be around to help them when they call for help.
  • Finally, it would drive out those men who are relatively rational and sensitive to risks, while the reckless and/or impulsive types would remain.

“In short reducing the demand side is harmful to women because it diminishes their bargaining power, forcing them to do more for less money, with more dangerous Johns, in a less safe environment. We cannot criminalize our way out of the current situation — we must address the social and economic concerned with solutions that achieve social and economic justice. We can begin by finding affordable housing, child care, treatment programs on-demand (instead of many months waiting list), and education and job training programs, instead of more jail beds and police cars.”

Next: The Community Responds
Read Part 2 of this report and learn how the City’s “new” anti-prostitution measures will work, according assistant district attorneys – plus, the citizen responses from the breakout groups.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

You can’t affect the plans of politicians in Washington DC – but you can decide who will take Lisa Naito’s Position #3 on the Board of Multnomah County Commissioners. Get to know the candidates better before you vote …

To get the meeting going, the Gateway Area Business Association’s “Rubber Chicken Award” is presented to Javier Gutierrez; manager of Midland Regional Library – the new home of the organization’s monthly meetings by the group’s president, Alan Sanchez.

Story by Watford Reed; photos by David F. Ashton
With the closure of JJ North’s Buffet, the site of their monthly meetings for years, the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) has moved to Midland Regional Library for its October meeting.

The central topic of this month’s meeting was the race for Multnomah County Commissioner, Position #3, now held by Lisa Naito.

About 50 business people and neighbors came to hear the Candidate’s Forum presenting Mike Delman and Judy Shiprack

“This race is important,” observed moderator David F. Ashton, “Because the successful candidate will have a direct voice in administrating a $1.2 Billion dollar budget – derived from your tax dollars. And, with this responsibility, him or her will be paid $82,000 per year, plus benefits, for their services.”

With that, Ashton invited Mike Delman and Judy Shiprack to the front of the room, and asked each to say why they were running for the office.

Note: Rather than characterize the candidates’ responses, we present truncated full-text quotes so you may get to know them — in their own words.

Multnomah County Commissioner, Position #3 candidate Mike Delman.

Introducing Mike Delman
“Our county government is struggling to pay its bills, deliver services, and connect with the private sector and citizens,” Delman began. “The policies and programs undertaken by the county make a difference in all of our lives. I am running for Multnomah County Commissioner because my heart and soul is in this County, and I have the experience to make a difference.”

Delman outlined his service in the public sector as chief of staff to former Commissioner Gary Hansen, the executive assistant to the Multnomah County Sheriff, work with the Multnomah County Department of Aging and Disability services. He currently serves as the public affairs director for Portland Habilitation Center, a non-profit that trains and employs the disabled.

“I have seen first-hand how the county operates, and how it can run efficiently and effectively.”

Multnomah County Commissioner, Position #3 candidate Judy Shiprack.

Introducing Judy Shiprack
“I’m the candidate with real experience,” challenged Shiprack, as she outlined her vocational background as a teacher, deputy district attorney, and member of the Oregon State House of Representatives for three terms.

“I’ve been in charge of housing development for over 200 families and low income people. I have real experience, and have obtained real results. I understand problem-solving,” Shiprack said.

As a state representative, Shiprack said, “I created real programs; this is different from being a staff person. This is having a vote, and being in charge of advocating for programs that need to get support in order to pass.”

If elected to the County Commission, she said her priority is “investing in children; being smart about public safety, and getting our fair share of the taxes which we pay to Salem returned, to take care of services here in our community.”

Questions and Answers

Four questions were put to the two candidates; each had the opportunity to respond.

Q Many feel the board of Multnomah County Commissioners still carries the stigma of being back-room dealing, back-biting politicians; especially because some of these meetings appear to have broken “open-meeting” laws and these illegal meeting activities were never prosecuted. What will you do to make sure that the business of the County is conducted in the sunshine of openness and transparency?

A: Shiprack
“Was that a two-minute question?” Shiprack quipped. “The public meetings law is there for an important reason.  They’re important to me as a voter and a taxpayer. They will be important to me as a member of the Board of County commissioners.”

Shiprack paused giving her answer to make the aside that, in a six-candidate primary, she garnered 37% of the votes.

“The voters respect the fact that I am open; that I have conducted my businesses with high ethical standard, and I have been responsive to voters.  That is my record of achievement. I stand on that record. The conduct of public business in the full light of public scrutiny is very important to me. I will be an advocate for the continuation of that practice. And of course, as an officer of the court, they’ll be responsible and continue to be responsible to make sure that the light shines in our process.

Candidate Mike Delman.

A: Delman
“I’ve talked about independent verification for contracts and financial projects since I entered this race. I believe in further transparency. I will strongly work to enforce the existing statues to prevent decisions from being made behind closed doors; not before a public body.”

Turning to Shiprack, Delman added, “During this campaign, I have yet to hear my opponent comment on the actions of two of the [Multnomah County] commissioners considered responsible for allegedly breaking those public meeting laws.”

Q Politicians tell us of their lofty ideals. Instead, tell us the most important issues — ones that are actually under the control of the county — on which you’ll focus your efforts.

A: Delman
“I’ll focus my efforts on reopening a health clinic in the southeast quadrant of Multnomah County. There was a clinic at SE 33rd and Powell until three years ago. I’ve put forward a tangible plan inviting the Portland Adventist or Province Medical Center to partner with the county to open a health clinic to serve up to 2,500 people who are underserved. The incentive for them will be the reduction of uninsured clients coming in for emergency care.  Emergency care costs a lot more than primary care.

“I will examine the $57 million in [the County’s] general fund that goes to contracts. Auditors say as many as 58 contracts were turned in without any approval. I look to separate monitoring and evaluation from administering the contracts.

“I’ll look at getting the County out of its motor pool and vehicle maintenance business. The City of Portland has outsourced this for two years, and saved money.

“I will join [Multnomah County Commissioner] Jeff Cogan’s effort to get a voice with the Portland Development Commission to wisely use Urban Renewal dollars and tax increment financing dollars to promote family wage jobs all over District 3 – more than in the Gateway and Lents area alone.

“And, I would also work to open Wapato Jail through a partnership with the State of Oregon, and local government partners. I think it’s likely that one of the ballot measures [providing for mandatory sentences for property crimes] will pass, and that will give us the opening to open those first 150 beds which are the most expensive to the economy of scale.”

Candidate Judy Shiprack.

A: Shiprack
“I want to go back and say to invest in children; instead of moving public safety expenditures into what I like to call the shallow end of the pool. I know that investing in kids fights crime. We have two programs right now, Early Childhood Head Start and a targeted Visiting Nurse program. These are both evidence-based programs. They’ve been scientifically shown to prevent criminal behavior both in juveniles and in future adults. That’ll be one of my priorities – investing in kids.

“‘Smart public safety’ means that we need to invest more in addiction treatment. Over 80% of the people who are booked into the Multnomah County jails are alcohol or drug affected. We know that addiction treatment works. We know that when we release people from our jails back into our community, and they haven’t had any drug addiction treatment, they’re going to come back [into jail], because their property crimes are driven by their addiction. I want to have programs that divert mentally ill people from expensive jail beds.

“Right now, we know that 13% of the people who are incarcerated have a serious mental illness. Police are not equipped to diagnose mental illness, nor are emergency room treatment or booking room personnel. I will support a triage center so we can divert mentally ill people from our jails.

“I’m also going to support getting fair tax treatment — which means going to Salem — to go in for local option taxes.”

Q On your list of priorities, where falls “protecting citizens by incarcerating criminals, fully funding other Sheriff’s Office programs and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office” – and  why?

A: Shiprack
“I totally agree with [Multnomah County] Chair Wheeler that he did a wonderful job of establishing priorities for the county in light of an $18 million shortfall. Multnomah County, unlike the federal government, doesn’t print its own money. And we’re glad we don’t. What Chair Wheeler did with his budget process was that he drew a protective circle around services that Multnomah County provides to the most vulnerable of our services. By doing that, he defined what I was talking about as the ‘shallow end of the pool’.

“I was a deputy district attorney, and I understand how important is to fund programs in the attorney office.  In particular, child support enforcement programs in the district attorney’s office, get very little attention. But as we know, child support, and taking care of children, is one of the ways we invest in children and prevent crime in the future.

“Until the sheriff’s office has made real inroads on the recommendations that were made in the post-factors study, to limit the abuse of overtime – to limit the abusive behavior and abusive standards that were going on with the supervision of people in our jails – we should look with a very skeptical eye at increasing funding. We should ask the sheriff’s office to live within its means.”

A: Delman
“The county has cut budgets for eight straight years. I had three main priorities to maximize use of funding. Those are: Public safety, health care and the School Programs.

“After trying to protect funding for those three areas, I believe we have to look at a new paradigm rather than ‘thinning down the soup’. I am pleased that I have earned the support of Sheriff Bob Skipper, Senior Deputy Norm Frank, and the Multnomah County corrections officers Association for my stance on public safety.

“My opponent and I differ on the use of a Wapato Jail.  I have supported [Multnomah County District Attorney] Mike Shrunk’s plan for the use of ‘hard’ beds and treatment beds. I don’t believe treatment is a panacea for everything. Frankly, our economy is not bottomed out. We need to have ‘hard beds’ for those who are found guilty and need to be detained – as well as treatment beds.  I think we can open Wapato, but it still needs to be looked at with higher jail beds as well as treatment jail beds.

Q What do you see as the main difference between you and your opponent in this race — and why should we care?

A: Delman
“I have the best experience needed to make a difference on the Board of County commissioners. I’ve assisted in balancing eight county budgets during the 1990s. I have strong relations in the private sector, public sector and in the nonprofit sectors needed to open up our decision-making process.

“You should care because the county has a $1.2 billion budget. No one respects ‘other people’s money’ more than I do. I will be the watchdog to make sure that your tax dollars are put to their highest and best use.

“There’s a clear difference between my opponent and I, when it comes to fiscal responsibility. One, I would never put myself, my family, and my organization, at risk in a speculative project that could lose a lot of money.  This is especially if I was not confident of success. If I did, I would spend the rest of my life trying to make up and repay those tax dollars. I wouldn’t go to the newspaper editorial boards and tell them that this makes me a better candidate.

“The difference between my opponent and I is the $1.8 million loss which she has said, ‘is a good use of public funds’ to subsidize 60 units of housing that sold for $140,000-$469,000 in 2001.

“I’d rather spend a $1.8 million on 57 jail beds, five deputy D.A.’s, two health clinics to serve up to 5000 who are uninsured, or 21 School Programs.

“There is a clear choice here.  If you want the status quo, support my opponent.  If you want someone can make a difference, I welcome your support.”

A Shiprack
“I think we just heard part of the reason why I am the better candidate. And, why I will be a better County Commissioner than my opponent: I actually understand how these programs work.

“First, it is a totally appropriate role for the Portland Development Commission, as well as the nonprofit community, to be innovative and be creative. And, had we not participated in building affordable housing in Old Town/Chinatown, there would not be a Pacific Towers development that brought 157 units of rental housing; there would not be a 24-hour presence in the area.

“And, I also want to say that the $1.8 million feels like ‘It’s a wonderful life’.  The $1.8 million is in the building, the property that is not sold because of a difficult location, and because of a difficult market.  We will see that realized.

“But I think that what we’re hearing is really misconstruction. But that doesn’t surprise me, because we’ve already heard that my opponent confuses aggression and passion. I want to assure you that I don’t confuse either aggression with passion, nor do I confuse assertiveness with aggression.

“I’m going to protect the very important role of government, and especially in hard times, and especially with leaders such as yourselves, to be innovative, to be creative, to be bold and courageous, and to go places, that really, the private sector cannot go on its own.  That is truly the role of government. It is more of the role of government in difficult times that it is an ordinary times. And we are in difficult times. I appreciate your support.”

Candidates pitch for your vote

Candidate Mike Delman.

Mike Delman
“I’m running to make a difference. I think there is a clear choice in this race.  I’m not here in Gateway after the fact, simply as a candidate. I’ve been coming to this organization for 18 months; I’ve been going to six business associations and 14 neighborhood associations; I’ve gone to every festival, Parade and Farmer’s market. I’ve been coming here, not as candidate, but to start a relationship with you.

“My mentor, and my former boss, Gary Hanson, allocated staff throughout his eight years in office to participate in meetings, to bring legislation forward from groups such as yours. If I’m lucky enough to be elected to represent you. I’ll do the same thing.  I know the difference between right choices and wrong choices when using your tax money for the highest and best use.  I hope I can earn your support.”

Candidate Judy Shiprack.

Judy Shiprack
“First, thank you all of you for caring enough about your local government to be here today. It’s been engaging for me to be at the doorsteps of so many voters, and to have won the approval of so many voters.

“I want to say that in the primary, I had over twice as many votes as my opponent; I think that is going to carry through again. I want to remind you once again, that I have been in the arena. I’m not standing back and throwing stones at other people’s work. I have done the hard work myself. I stand ready to do more of that hard work; and heavy lifting.

“The first ‘hate crimes’ bill was drafted at my desk and passed by a single vote in the House of Representatives with my advocacy. The Oregon Housing Trust Fund was not an easy sell. The Oregon Lenders Housing Tax Credit was not an easy sell. These programs required advocacy, and innovation.

“In terms of Multnomah County’s future, it is the future of our children; it is a future of our communities; it is the future of our lives that is the quality of our allies in this community.  I’m very proud of have the support of District 3; I look forward to being back here with you on many occasions.

Meet the GABA Members
GABA meets the second Tuesday of each month – to network, and to learn from community and business leaders. Find out more by visiting their website at www.gabanet.com.

David F. Ashton transcribed candidates’ responses featured in this report.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

The FBI is asking for help finding a man they suspect of being a serial bank robber. See what we found out about the October 8th crime wave …

One of the triple robberies of October 8 was here – at the Fred Meyer Employee Credit Union, across the street from Midland Regional Library.

The crime wave actually started two days earlier, on October 6th, when officials say a man attempted to rob this Key Bank branch in the Gateway Shopping Center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
We may never know if the recent wave of bank stick-ups is related in any way to the faltering economy. We do know that four financial institutions – three banks, and two credit unions – were almost robbed or actually held up. And, three of the incidents occurred within one hour on October 8.

We listened to the jumble of calls coming over the police radios, and asked Portland Police Bureau (PPB) spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz if he could help us untangle the stories. “These are bank robbery investigations, conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Schmautz explained. He added that while the police assists the FBI during these events, these are federal crimes, and he is not permitted to comment on them.

Another of the October 8th robberies took place at this Fred Meyer Employee Federal Credit Union office near Midland Library.

Credit union suspects corralled, but not arrested
We listened, as PPB officers tracked a stash of cash – containing a hidden transmitter – taken from the Fred Meyer Employee Federal Credit Union on SE Morrison Street, just north of the Midland Regional Library.

Officers followed the moving money to an apartment complex about a block south, on SE 122nd Avenue, abutting the library’s parking lot. As police moved in, the avenue was shut down between SE Stark and Mill Streets for nearly two hours.

The day after the incident, Midland Regional Library’s manager, Javier Gutierrez, told us, “Police officers told us to lock our doors and not let anyone in or out.” He said that police officers swarmed around the apartment buildings to the south of the library’s parking lot.

Witnesses say police shut down SE 122nd Avenue while they encouraged the surrender of two robbery suspects in an apartment in this small compex, just south of the library.

From what we learned after the incident, from people who say they witnessed it, the police focused their attention – and weapons – on one particular apartment for just under an hour, before one man surrendered. Shortly thereafter, another suspect exited the dwelling.

Both suspects were detained while cops searched the apartment for evidence. As of October 10, according to FBI spokesperson Beth Anne Steele, no one was arrested in the Fred Meyer Employee Federal Credit Union robbery.

An accused bank robber in custody
Another robbery on that afternoon took place at the US Bank branch on 12203 NE Glisan St. about 4:25 p.m.

Officials from the FBI say this man, Jheraun Alexander Dunlap, was taken into custody in connection with the robbery at the US Bank branch on NE Glisan St.

The FBI’s Steele told us 25-year-old Jheraun Alexander Dunlap was arrested in connection with this case, but gave no other details of the alleged crime.

FBI searches for “Mullet Man”
Typically, the FBI is tight-lipped about bank robbery investigations. However, their spokesperson, Beth Anne Steele, asked for help identifying and locating a man responsible for two bank robberies and three attempted bank robberies in the Portland-Vancouver metro area this week.

The man, nicknamed “Mullet Man” by the FBI because of his appearance, attempted his first robbery in Portland on Monday October 6 at the Key Bank located at 1205 NE 102nd Avenue. The same day, officials say he actually succeeded in robbing a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Tualatin.

Have you seen “Mullet Man”? If so, contact the FBI immediately!

“Mullet Man” is also wanted in connection with attempted or successful robberies of Bank of America branches in Vancouver and Portland, and the IBEW Federal Credit Union in the Mall 205 area.

In several of the robberies or attempts, including the Key Bank in Portland and the Bank of America in Vancouver, he wore what looks (on surveillance video) like a long-haired wig. Witnesses describe him as a white man in his mid-40’s with a slender build (about 160 pounds), and is about 5’9″ tall. On several occasions, he wore a blue Nike baseball cap as well.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI in Portland at (503) 224-4181 twenty-four hours a day, or the FBI in Vancouver at (360) 695-5661 during normal business hours.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

One by one, we sadly bid farewell to East Portland markets. In addition to a photo of the cutest kid enjoying an ear of corn, see why – and when – this market will reopen in November …

Will Clem and enjoys a freshly steamed ear of corn on the closing day of the Moreland Farmers Market.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
There was a good-sized crowd of shoppers at the Moreland Farmer’s Market on September 24 – the last day of its regular season. Rain-filled clouds moved overhead, and reminded shoppers that they are Oregonians, as a shower sent them scurrying undercover.

That didn’t stop market volunteers from dispensing cups of fresh-pressed apple cider and hot, steaming ears of corn-on-the-cob.

Looks back on a ‘great year’
It wasn’t long until we spotted the market’s manager, Laura Wendel, helping customers.

“Our market is year was great, just great,” Wendel said with a smile. “Our attendance increased from about 1,200 to about 1,500 customers in each market day; we saw as many as 1,800 on some Wednesdays.”

It looked as if all vendor stalls were full. “We’ve had pretty much the same 30 fantastic vendors, week to week,” Wendel reported. “The best thing about our market this year is the amazing variety and quality of the product. That’s what keeps bringing customers back.”

Moreland Farmers Market manager Laura Wendel says she’s pleased by the increased number of shoppers and vendors this season.

Volunteers credited for success
Wendel commented that she was pleased at how well the community has accepted and supported the market.

“And, we have a great team of volunteers, without whom we cannot do this. And, we really appreciate that Wilhelm’s Funeral Home continues to let us use their parking lot – it’s a wonderful location.”

During their “off season”, she said, the volunteers work on plans for the next year’s markets and write grant proposals.  “We look forward to being back in the mid May, for another 20-week season.”

Inner Southeast Portland residents scramble for greens, as farmers lay out their vegetables for almost the last time this season. But wait! They’ll open again on November 25 …

One-day-only November market
The market will hold a pre-Thanksgiving market on November 25, announced Wendel. “Note that this is a TUESDAY, not a Wednesday. It will be open from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., right here in this same spot. We’re hoping to find a big tent or some type of cover for the event.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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