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Pastor stood up for Portlands poor

We were sorry to hear of the untimely loss of the good Rev. Ronald Williams (Former AME Bethel pastor dies after stroke, Feb. 7).

We remember how the Rev. Williams came to us at our third Dignity Village site near the west side of the Morrison Bridge in January 2001. The Northwest Triangle Industrial Neighborhood association had filed a complaint against our existence on that side of the river, and we'd been asked to leave the area.

The good reverend told us that should we choose to make our stand there, not only he but the whole of the Bethel AME Church would stand with us. We had other plans and moved our poor tents across from the condos of the rich at RiverPlace, but we give thanks.

We remember how the Rev. Williams, at our fifth site under the Fremont Bridge, almost single-handedly stopped four all-terrain vehicles full of police who fully intended to run our borders, and we give thanks for that.

We remember how the Rev. Williams organized an evening fast for our benefit. We'll never forget all he did for us.

We remember how the Rev. Williams always stood up for the poor and downtrodden, and we were honored to have known him.

We offer our deepest condolences to the Williams family.

Jack Tafari

Chairman, Dignity Village

Northeast Portland

Neighborhood schools

are backbone of city

I am a Mom, with a capital M. Recently I have become 'Activist Mom' because I am the mom of two students at Edwards Elementary School, one of the few schools on the Portland Public Schools' recommended list for closure.

Edwards is unique, a small school with a year-round program. It's a small building that is fully utilized. We have always had a waiting list of people from out of our registration area who want to come to our school.

This is not a school that is performing poorly or doesn't have support. Parents volunteer hundreds of hours, and as the school budget has declined, we have filled in all the services that have been cut. You name it, we do it.

Neighborhood schools are the backbone of a livable Portland. Without them families will leave the neighborhood, leave the district and leave the state. Property values will plummet, and we'll be left with inner-city neighborhoods where no one wants to live.

I may be 'just a mom,' but I'm important, my kids are important, my neighborhood is important and my school is important.

Melody Sharrer

Southeast Portland

Cutting off mentally ill hurts whole community

I understand that the Oregon Legislature is heartless, but doesn't it have a little common sense (Difficulties, even death, stalk needy, Feb. 4.)?

To deny medicinal drugs, which are very expensive, to schizophrenics and other mentally ill people puts us all at risk because of their psychotic behavior.

M. Martha Henry

Gresham

Business group absent

from antiwar discussion

Why did the Portland Business Alliance deliver a letter to the Portland City Council on Jan. 21, asking the council not 'to take up debate and action' on the antiwar resolution (War vote puts Francesconi on hot seat, Jan. 24)? The article quoted an alliance spokesman saying, 'We thought it was a waste of the council's time, so testifying against it would be a waste of time, too.'

Multnomah County commissioners thought it was worth their time when they passed an equivalent resolution, as have 50 other U.S. cities. It makes sense for local governments whose budgets are already taxed to speak about the proposed economic and human costs of a $200 billion war.

Is it possible that our business leaders, along with some political leaders, are so cynical that they no longer believe in the 'we, the people' foundation of our government?

What gives me hope that we will make a difference is the 700 people who attended the Jan. 5 peace forum, the 25,000 who marched to say no to a war and the hundreds of people who showed up to speak at the city and county hearings. People are voting with their feet, hearts and conscience. Perhaps Portlanders will also vote with their pocketbooks, if the Portland business community believes that this kind of public discussion is a waste of time.

Patricia Rumer

Northeast Portland