Tag Archives: Street Roots

Street Roots endorses local measures

Street Roots weighs in on relevant local and state measures before voters this year. All conclusions were reached by Street Roots staff, volunteers and vendors, with consideration on how the laws will affect people experiencing poverty.

Multnomah County Libraries: 26-143: Create a Multnomah County Library District with permanent rate to fund library services.

This measure seeks to create a taxing district specifically to fund the Multnomah County library system. If approved, the district levy would be a rate of $1.22 per $1,000 of assessed value. Currently the libraries are funded through renewable levies.

Yes! Libraries are one of the last resources for public knowledge, research and cultural enrichment that are universally accessible to the public, regardless of income, stature or resources. But such an asset does not come without the community’s investment.

This measure will also replace the patchwork levy process that exists now. It will dedicate funding for this valuable resource, freeing up other dollars for social services for families experiencing homelessness and poverty.

Portland Public Schools: 26-144: Portland Public School District Bonds to Improve Schools – Portland School District

This measure seeks to issue a bond in the amount of $482 million in order to help pay for three new high schools in the district as well as general improvement and renovation projects as needed. If approved, a levy addition of $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed value would be implemented in the district to pay for the bond.

Yes! Our schools need our help, but let’s face it, the improvement proposal floated in the spring was too much and too haphazard to galvanize real support from the community at large. This proposal brings it more down to size, with public involvement and a more equal distribution of assistance for long-neglected facilities. Education is so critical for the wellbeing of future Portlanders, and we hold a responsibility to getting all students on an level course toward success.

The arts: 26-146: Restore School Arts, Music Education; Fund Arts through Limited Tax: City of Portland

This measure seeks to implement a tax set at a rate of $35 per person living in the city. The tax would apply to any resident over the age of   18 who earns money and is above the federal poverty line.

Yes! Art is everywhere in Portland. It’s at the core of our city’s personality. But in our core institutions, particularly for children and the poor, art is either nonexistent or out of financial and social reach. The benefits of arts training — on math skills, cognitive processing and simply our joie de vie — are well documented.  For $35 per person, we can fund not only public school programs but also programs generating community involvement among people who are social and economically marginalized.

There are caveats, to be sure, and the administration of this new tax has to ensure that it does not become a burden to the very people it is intended to help. Continue reading

A note from a vendor…

Vendor Joey Ponzio is on his way back East to restore his life after experiencing homelessness the past year. This was a note he left Street Roots.

To my friends at Street Roots:

I will miss you all, and I’d like to thank Street Roots for the transformation of my life.

When there was no employment, Street Roots was there for me.  At first, when I started working, I was embarrassed to let people know me, see me selling papers. But then I realized there was nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, I started taking pride in what I was doing and what Street Roots was doing for me.
Street Roots was restoring me, getting me back into the work force. And, with employment at Street Roots, I started feeling good about myself. I was making money and providing for myself again. I was proud of what I was doing and no longer ashamed.

In fact, I met some really good people while working for Street Roots: both customers and fellow employees.  There are too many to start naming.
Street Roots for me was shelter when I had none; employment when there was none; even a friend when there was no one.  I don’t know what I would have done if Street Roots wasn’t here or there!

Thanks to all of Street Roots. I will truly miss you all.

Joey Ponzio

We say no to Constitutional Amendment 79!

Street Roots, The Community Alliance of Tenants, JOIN and the Oregon Opportunity Network are all coming out against Measure 79.

Constitutional Amendment 79: Amends the Constitution: Prohibits real estate transfer taxes, fees, other assessments, except those operative on December 31, 2009.

Summary: Current statutory law prohibits a city, county, district, or other political subdivision or municipal corporation from imposing taxes or fees on the transfer of real estate (with certain exceptions). However, the state legislature has the authority, subject to Governor approval, to impose such taxes and fees or to change current statutory law.

“We do not want a private, national trade organization spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in our state to rewrite our constitution under the fog of false necessity,” says the Street Roots editorial team. “We have a statewide ban on real estate transfer taxes. We have a system that allows for the people of Oregon, our elected officials and due public process to both keep it that way and reserve the right to consider our options for the future. Likewise, real estate transfer fees are not the taxation boogie men they have been made out to be. They can be constructed to provide relief to first-time home buyers, lower-priced homes and long-term homeowners. And they can be directed to support real community needs, right here in Oregon, in ways that benefits all residents.”

Measure 79 isn’t something Oregon wants or needs.

To find out more about No on 79 go here. Also follow on Twitter and FaceBook.

About the groups: Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

The ballots are coming! The ballots are coming! Soon it will all be over but the counting. Until then, stay on the ball with the latest edition of Street Roots, packed with information about the upcoming election, and much, much more. Here’s what’s rolling on the press:

Your call: Mayoral and City Council candidates Charlie Hales, Jefferson Smith, Amanda Fritz and Mary Nolan take a shot at Street Roots’ questions for the future of Portland.

Measuring up: Street Roots weighs in on the important state and local measures up for consideration.

Survivors’ stories: Three women reflect on what it means to escape the grip of domestic violence.

Ninety-nine percent solution: Professor Joseph Stiglitz, author and Nobel Prize winner in economics, is pleased to see that his latest book ‘The Price of Inequality’ is already grabbing the attention of world leaders.

Plus, the second in a series of reports by Dr. Samuel Metz, health care professional and activist, on what Obamacare really means for Oregonians. And the Partnership for Safety and Justice checks in on the ongoing issue of federal policy and local police enforcement mingling over immigration. And of course, we’re packed with powerful poetry from the streets. Pick up your copy first thing Friday morning and your weekend will be off to a great start! Thank you!

Natalie Merchant talks with Street Roots

By Sue Zalokar, Staff Writer

For the tuned in, turned on youths of the 1980s, Natalie Merchant’s lilting quiver was a siren’s song; a soothing intellectual voice for a generation of young Americans.

Her audience has grown up with her, and with her latest tour, they’re bringing their kids along.

At 16 years old, disenchanted with high school bureaucracy, Merchant began college on an advanced placement track.  It was while she was a DJ for her college radio station that she met the other members of what was to become 10,000 Maniacs. Between 1981 and 1993, Merchant’s lyrics and voice were among the most iconic sounds in the new alternative music scene.

Since 1993, Merchant has had a successful solo career, and on Oct. 4 she will be performing with the Oregon Symphony at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Her most recent album, “Leave Your Sleep” (2010), brings to life poetry written about and by children of the Victorian era, and more recently, the hearts of New York City school children. The album, which took more than five years to produce, was a gift for her daughter, but it has become a gift to children of all ages.

Over the phone, Merchant’s voice is as glorious when she speaks as when she sings. She’s explaining why she is late in calling for the interview, and I find myself engaged in an organic conversation with one of the most remarkable voices of the last quarter century.

She starts our conversation by telling me about the one she just left after dropping her daughter off at school.

Natalie Merchant: There has been a case of whooping cough at our school. So I was having a conversation revolving around immunizations and Victorian child death. It’s amazing how many illnesses we just don’t deal with because we immunize.

Sue Zalokar: We have had 650 cases reported in Portland this year — more than twice as many as this time last year. That alone is a good argument for immunizing children.

N.M.: Woodstock (New York) is well known for families that don’t immunize. Actually when I had my child, I lived on the other side of the river from Woodstock. I was told not to take my child across the river until she was a year old because there is so much meningitis and whooping cough.

S.Z.: Did you immunize your daughter?

N.M.: I did because I travel frequently and we lived in Spain quite a bit. My husband is Spanish. We lived on the Southern coast of Spain. It just felt like the responsible thing to do. I did a lot of research. It was the thimerosal that was really frightening, but our pediatrician was able to ensure that there was no thimerosal, or preservatives of that nature, in the vaccines. Continue reading

The kindness of strangers, and the wisdom of a child

It’s been a weird few weeks. Starting with a raccoon and ending with Peter Pan, Ramona and I have been plugged into the karmic wheel from every angle — and it’s been quite a ride.

It all started with a trip to the in-laws’ in Ashland. A fine Sunday night walk before Labor Day, the fading blue moon over the great trees in the pioneer cemetery on East Main Street that turned dark when a raccoon leapt out of the bushes and charged Vera, our dog. Ramona screamed, my husband tried to pull the leash away and succeeded in slipping the dog’s collar off and landing on his own tail in the shrubs while the raccoon jumped, clawing and snapping, on Vera’s back. My father-in-law shouted, the dog cried, and just then, an SUV screeched to the curb. Continue reading

Veterans could soon join ranks of specialty courts

By Robert Britt, Staff Writer

It’s Wednesday morning at the Clark County courthouse in Vancouver, Wash., and Navy veteran Eric Vance stands before the district court judge. Appearing in the middle of the day’s hurried docket, Vance requests that two bench warrants stemming from a DUII charge be quashed in exchange for his application to the county’s veterans treatment court.

Down the hall, retired Army command sergeant major Norm Hayes is finishing his monthly check-in with the veterans court. There is nothing hurried in this courtroom. Along with a dozen or so other veterans, Hayes appears before the judge to talk about how treatment is going. The meetings are going well. He even went on a weekend trip recently. When Hayes is finished, the judge — who greets each of the court’s participants by first name — steps down from behind his bench to present Hayes with a court mug as the room fills with applause. Continue reading

Candidate forum on housing next week!

Facebook event group here.

From Land Ho to Right 2 Dream Too, a look back from one year on

By Leo Rhodes

Checking my e-mails and working on some of my project in the Street Roots office, I was interrupted by an excited vendor. He asked if I had seen an article in The Portland Tribune.

His eyes lit up as he explained that a man wanted to start a tent city, and that I should read the article. I told him I would. The next day the same guy asked if I read the article. “I forgot all about it,” I told him. Then I told him, “I’ll read it tonight after I finish all my work.” This went on a few more times. I kept forgetting to read the article. He finally brought in the article and placed it in front of me and said, “Here read it.” So I read it. Then he said, “See, he wants to start a tent city.” I looked at him and said, “Not really. He just wants to work with the homeless to use his land. He replied, “To start a tent city. You should jump on this before someone else does.” Continue reading

Right 2 Dream Too to sign new lease, threatens suit against city

Staff reports

Oct. 10 will be the one-year anniversary of Right 2 Dream Too, and members of the homeless rest stop are celebrating by signing a second one-year lease with the property owners.

They’re also firming up their expectations of City Hall to suspend its fine process and declare R2DToo’s site at Fourth Avenue and Burnside a legal transitional housing campground area as allowed under state law.

In a letter to the city dated Aug. 31, R2DToo’s attorney, Mark Kramer, says that if the city refuses to suspend monthly fine assessments against the nonprofit, he will seek a judge’s decision to void the regulatory process in this case. The letter was addressed to City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, head of the Bureau of Development Services that overseas the regulatory process, and Commissioner Nick Fish, who heads up the city’s homeless and housing programs. Continue reading

On the streets: A new kind of food cart

Staff reports

Central City Concern, the city’s largest low-income housing and social service organization, has partnered with My Street Grocery, a new mobile grocer, to bring affordable, healthy food directly to Central City Concern’s tenants.

The program launched Sept. 24, with its cart open for business at Northwest Broadway and Couch, near the majority of Central City Concern’s buildings. Continue reading

Lenders bypass foreclosure mediation law

By Jake Thomas, Staff Writer

This spring, when the Oregon Legislature created a mediation program to help homeowners negotiate with lenders and avoid or modify foreclosures, there was hope that the new requirements would prompt lenders to cooperate more with homeowners to preserve their housing. But the high hopes of the Oregon Department of Justice, which oversees the new program, have given way to frustration.

Keith Dubanevich, associate attorney general, anticipated the new program would result in about a thousand modified mortgages a month. The number actually modified: zero.

The reality, Dubanevich said, is that the bill’s language gives the lender “the option to go to mediation or not.”

The law was passed following a landmark $25 billion settlement between 49 state attorneys general and the country’s five largest loan services over charges that these financial institutions routinely foreclosed on homeowners without the proper documentation. The agreement, concluded this past February, included provisions aimed at providing relief to homeowners rattled by the housing collapse. Continue reading

BTA: Beyond the presidential race, your vote can change Oregon

By Rob Sadowsky, Contributing Columnist

First, I’d like to pause and say goodbye to Margaux Mennesson. Margaux has served as The Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s Communications Director for the past four years. She is moving on from BTA and co-authoring the Healthy Street Beat. All of us at BTA and Street Roots wish her the best in her new adventures.

Election time is right around the corner. My parents always said voting was one of the most important things an American does for his or her country. Now we live in times of high-tech polling that only shares the current “opinion” of voters. We can read complicated statistical analyses of possible outcomes before a single vote is cast. Continue reading

The future of the Portland Police Bureau: Community voice Jo Ann Hardesty

By Jo Ann Hardesty, Contributing Columnist

Finally, someone has called it like it is. On Sept. 12, the highest-ranking law enforcement officials, having studied the Portland Auditor’s “Independent” Police Review Board (IPR) for more than a year, has labeled this sham of police oversight a ‘self-defeating accountability system.’

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) gave notice to the city of Portland that they had found widespread patterns and practices of unconstitutional behavior. Continue reading

A realtors view on the national push to end real estate transfer taxes

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

The fact that the National Association of Realtors wants to change the Oregon Constitution doesn’t sit well with Chris Bonner.

And she’s a member.

For more than two decades she’s been a licensed real estate agent and a member of the national organization and its local affiliates, the Oregon Association of Realtors and the Portland Metro Association of Realtors.

And within that network, she says there are members who are either unaware of what the national association is trying to do, or confused as to why its proposition, Measure 79, is even a priority at all.

That National Association of Realtors is the driving force behind the measure that would rewrite the state constitution to prohibit the state or any local government from creating a real estate transfer tax or fee. In fact, the association assessed its members a fee to pay into the campaign.

The real estate transfer tax is a small percentage assessment on the sale of a house, and it is regularly a political football with affordable housing advocates who see it is a new, sustainable funding source for low-income housing.

As it stands now, the Oregon State Legislature has already established a ban on such fees, requiring a vote by representatives in Salem to overturn the law. Washington County is the only county  in the state to have a transfer tax, 0.1 percent, and it would be grandfathered in.

Proponents of the measure say it’s a financial burden in an already stressed market. (They are organized as Protect Oregon Homes.) The campaign says the fee would be a double tax, on top of property taxes, and would put new homes out of reach for many families, and hurt families who are already forced to sell their homes at a loss.

So why is Chris Bonner telling people to vote no?

Chris Bonner: I know it sounds ironic as a Realtor to say that I’m encouraging people to vote no on this, but there are a couple of reasons why. I think it’s bad tax planning policy to make it possible for trade organizations to come in and throw hundreds of thousands, if not a million, dollars into a state to amend its constitution when there’s no public groundswell that is inviting them in. This is purely generated from a national trade organization, the National Association of Realtors, wanting to pre-emptively and proactively put measures on the table that stop municipalities from being able to make that decision if necessary to raise revenue. And the way it is worded is confusing. Continue reading