Homeless move up, too

by: JIM CLARK, A letter writer takes issue with the way a proposed homeless services center, slated for the block where Blanchet House stands, was presented, pointing out that “upward mobility” is what the services are all about.

I take offense to 'Block's fate focuses Old Town tensions' (Dec. 14). The premise that the dispute over a homeless center 'seems to pit social services against upward mobility' is seemingly derogatory and discriminating and is not corrected or openly debunked in the article.

Even though the article states that said social services 'provide homeless people with a place to get off the street, receive government and health services, and help lead them into permanent housing,' apparently these actions are contrary to or in opposition to 'upward mobility,' according to the premise.

So improving the lives of Portland's homeless and helping them get off the streets does not create upward mobility. 'Why?' the reader asks.

Unfortunately, that question is not answered.

The article just describes the issue as social services, with the government assisting our homeless population on one side and Old Town-Chinatown residents, businesses and neighborhood leaders representing upward mobility on the other, without any concluding remarks.

By representing 'upward mobility' as the domain of only residents who are not homeless,'upward mobility' is unduly withheld from Portland's homeless population.

Ironically, in the article directly above this one is a story about how uplifting social services are to people who are homeless through no fault of their own.

Too bad such services run up against such seemingly blatant bias.

B. Moore

Southeast Portland

Takeoff takes traffic controllers, too

'Takeoff takes a village' (Dec. 24) thankfully sheds light on those often forgotten in the shuffle that is air travel. The article did have some touching stories and pertinent details about the inner workings of the airport.

However, one very key portion was missing: the dedicated and skilled air traffic controllers who work at the Portland International Airport control tower and the Portland Terminal Radar Approach Control.

These fine men and women staff the two facilities 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year, keeping all of the travelers in and out of PDX safe.

These unmentioned controllers, with their professional dedication to the flying public, ensured that all of the passengers traveled safely this holiday season without error or incident.

The air traffic controllers at PDX go through an insurmountable amount of daily stress keeping the air traffic in the Portland area safe, separated and expeditiously on course.

Edward DeLisle

Northeast Portland

Fareless Square helps keep cars off roads

Thank you for publishing the excellent letter by M. Wayne Larimer (Dec. 24). Larimer states something obvious, but important.

During his lifetime, he says, he's 'heard about far more crimes being committed by people who fled in automobiles than by people using transit.'

I also agree with Larimer's point that it's important to keep Fareless Square.

The more people who can ride transit easily, the fewer cars on the roads, and the less pollution they put into the air. It's too easy to drive thoughtlessly to the store when transit would be a better option.

I love riding on TriMet, and sold my car 10 years ago so I would not be tempted to drive. Learn to love the weather - it's great out there!

Marian Drake

Northeast Portland

Blunder follows blunder at TriMet

Concerning the TriMet leadership's suggestions to correct Fareless Square problems, I think the problems go much deeper and, in many ways, are much more serious.

One recent blunder is a done deal, while the other is still in the making.

The done deal is the colossal, counterproductive waste of taxpayer dollars for light rail on the transit mall.

Between $200 million and $300 million for a slow, constricted streetcar running on 200-foot-long, signalized blocks from Union Station to Portland State University: pitifully slow, mixing with automobiles and buses without room for additional riders, and actually working against regional and downtown light rail.

The impending serious mistake is the decision by the TriMet leadership to continue running the north-south Interstate line through the new mall and ending in Milwaukie, thus requiring the building of a new bridge (for another $200 million-plus) somewhere south of downtown to cross the Willamette again.

Real leadership would suggest saving this counterproductive expense, instead providing a direct, fast, regional north-south line through the developing downtown east of the Willamette, eventually connecting Vancouver, Wash., with Milwaukie and Oregon City.

This would provide excellent, fast and direct service for the bulk of Portland's population - those living north and east of the Willamette.

How about these two glaring, expensive failures of the transit system's leadership to recognize and realize the tremendous potential of regional light rail to serve adequately and competitively both the expanding region and downtown, both west and east?

Let the expanding streetcar provide local downtown circulation needs, and allow MAX to serve appropriately both the region and downtown with fast, underground service capable of accommodating, with longer trains, the surge of automobile riders attracted by fast, frequent, convenient rail service and the ever more expensive fuels.

But then this would call for true transit system leadership, something we obviously do not have.

Ray J. Polani

co-chairman, Citizens for Better Transit

director, Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates

Southeast Portland

Cascadia's setbacks all minor, temporary

The Portland Tribune published a news article highlighting what was represented as a new audit of nonprofit Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare's Medicaid billings (Cascadia nailed by Medicaid audit, Dec. 28).

The article said, 'The Medicaid audit is the latest in a series of financial blows for Cascadia.'

Although it's true that this past year Cascadia had to weather cash flow problems, the audit is hardly the latest matter. In fact it's old, old news.

The audit was a review of client records and billings from nearly five years ago, and the audit itself was performed more than two and a half years ago. It was part of a comprehensive nationwide Medicaid review process that included many other health care providers in Oregon.

The article also missed the boat in saying that 'Cascadia slashed dozens of positions and halted new client intakes.' With a work force of nearly 1,400 people, we laid off only four people - all in administration and none in clinical services - and we froze some vacant positions. That's it.

Regarding new client intakes, it was with the full cooperation of our funding source that we briefly suspended - and then resumed - intake activity, and then only in one of our five counties of operation, amounting to less than 20 percent of our business.

We did this to buy a little time to make documentation improvements. It worked. A recent records review by our largest funder, Multnomah County, found our records to be in substantial compliance.

It's true that we've had some financial setbacks, and some (but not all) of the improvements Medicaid called for were needed. But our clinical care now is better than ever, and our cash flow situation improves every month.

Oregonians who face mental illnesses and addictions have good reason to believe that hope and opportunity is within their grasp. Cascadia is part of that equation.

Leslie Ford

president and chief executive officer, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare

Northeast Portland

Trail Blazer fan rejects Boozer

A story about Carlos Boozer (After messy move, Boozer turns it on, Jan. 4)? I thought this was a local neighborhood newspaper?

It's high time you gave up your Blazer seats and let a true fan sit there. With the streak of sold-out games recently, your seats will surely be appreciated by someone.

The fans demanded changes to the team, then boycotted Blazer games. Paul Allen listened and made a commitment to those changes. Allen followed through with his commitment, and the fans have returned.

We have the best fans in the country, and it's too bad the Tribune is not on board.

Jeff Bernards

Southeast Portland