There is no question neighborhood associations have to work harder and smarter to be more inclusive. Additionally, historically marginalized populations need to have a way to provide input to Portland's city government.
But the current proposal for changing the city code is not about inviting more people to a large table. First and foremost, Portland's city government is not a large table. It is an autocracy of five with no geographical representation or accountability.
So it can arbitrarily decide, now or in the future, who to hear and who to ignore. Or it can decide not to listen to any input at all despite maintaining the appearance of listening to constituents.
Apparently, according to recent news reports, Chloe Eudaly even sees it as a trespass on her autocratic role to be given input from her fellow city councilors.
If Portland had a larger city council with members who had to answer to geographical areas within the city, I would be more open to some of the changes being suggested. But that is not our current governmental structure.
Second, the language being used by Eudaly and key members of her staff makes it clear the real intent of the proposed code change is to silence a large part of the population and to end the city government's requirement to inform local organizations or anyone at all about transportation, development and other plans.
It is this accountability of city government to people at the local level that makes the existence and vitality of the neighborhood associations essential.
Viable candidate Kasich being ignored
As the deadlines for the presidential primaries quickly approach, we may lose the chance for a truly moderate candidate option who is open to dissent and has successful experience in addressing issues that concern Americans most: the looming national debt and budget deficit, the opioid epidemic, and creating job opportunities. That option is former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Hailed as the chief architect of the last federal budget surplus, he balanced the Ohio state budget and was able to create a $3 billion "rainy day" fund. Kasich revitalized the Ohio economy by attracting tech companies. Columbus, Ohio, is now considered the tech hub of the Midwest.
Under Kasich, Ohio expanded Medicaid, cutting those who were uninsured in half. His Medicaid expansion became a frontline combatant of the opioid addiction by treating addiction with medicine instead of punishment. Opioid overdoses in Ohio have decreased by more than 20% since 2017, four times the national average.
With extremists on both sides vying for power, both parties have forgotten about those in the middle, and we need to make our voices heard. It has become clear that it is up to us, everyday Americans, to keep our communities intact.
It's up to us to lift up one another, to listen to one another, and to find that common ground that has kept us united. It's up to us to encourage and to elect someone who can work with Congress and compromise for the benefit of all Americans.
Kasich, we need you.
Portland changing, often for worse
The issue I'm addressing certainly isn't new, however I believe it has increased in severity. Portland's streets are becoming flooded with homeless, trash, drugs and filth.
Sure, with gentrification, parts of the city are "updated" and upgraded, but along with that prices increase. Prices have even begun to rise in the lower income neighborhoods. Prices rise and middle- to lower-class citizens are pushed out and those who can't afford somewhere else to live turn to the streets.
My family has grown here, I have grown here and we've all seen changes, however many of those changes seem to leaving the city worse off. I have family members who struggled with addiction, homelessness and to add to that, mental instability. Streets are no longer safe to walk on, even the "nice" neighborhoods hardy seem safer. I myself rarely feel comfortable walking the city.
A couple weeks ago two grown men mugged a teen at my neighborhood high school. The mugging took place in the parking lot and apparently he wasn't the only one who was mugged.
I can step out of my house, turn the corner, and see homeless camped out on the side of the street, sleeping on the sidewalks, needles on the ground, glass and trash littering the pavement.
So many seem to be coming here from other states and few seem to be leaving, which has just made the issue worse. There appears to be more high-end apartments or studios being built, but not affordable housing where families could call home.
So I'm curious as to what steps are being taken to improve these situations. Portland once was a place that took care of the people, it had more beauty, but that's slipping away. Has Portland changed its moral compass, where the dollar has become more sacred than its people?
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