LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Franklin High "Quakers"
[Concerning the April BEE article] on Franklin High School's choice of "Quakers" as its mascot. The story includes a caption under a statue of Benjamin Franklin that states "Ben said he was a Quaker". Franklin was never a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers). His father was an English Puritan who settled in Calvinist Boston where Franklin grew up. When serving in Paris as an agent for the American Colonies during the Revolutionary War, Franklin did wear rough clothing and allowed the French to assume that he was a Quaker but I don't think he claimed to be one. Moreover, he fathered children out of wedlock, disowned his son, and owned slaves. Thus, Franklin joins Jefferson and Washington as a flawed exemplar for today's students.
Unfortunately, there is a serious shortage of perfect Founding Fathers. As Adams [school] has closed, perhaps we could name a high school after Abigail Adams without causing confusion.
As far as the mascot goes, "Quakers" is inaccurate but traditional. "Puritans" seems to be barred by district policy. Of terms that might actually refer to Franklin, "Agents", and "Diplomats", suggest a team might negotiate the final score instead of winning the game! How about "Printers", "Inventors", "Runaways", or "Electricians"? The last one would give a new meaning to the cheer of "Charge!"
S.E. 30th Avenue
More trains in Sellwood, for a while
Editor,In conjunction with the Oaks Bottom Wetland Restoration project; the Oregon Pacific Railroad is operating work trains between a staging area in the Milwaukie Industrial Park and the worksite.
Over the past two weeks [last week of March, first week of April] several pieces of heavy construction equipment as well as over 2,500 cubic yards of rock used in constructing an access road have been moved by rail.
Each work train consists of two forty-yard side-dump cars and two locomotives. With each round trip moving 80 yards of material it has replaced the equivalent of eight large trucks keeping over 80 trucks off Sellwood Streets so far.
Activities are expected to continue through September.
Oregon Pacific Railroad
Winner announced in Llewellyn Elementary raffle
The Llewellyn "Hamilton Tickets" raffle was a success! Held on Monday, March 19th, [the drawing produced] winner Monica Bastian, who was awarded two "Hamilton" tickets, plus a $250 hotel and a $75 restaurant gift card. Thanks for getting the word out.
Parking shortage may be hurting local merchants
I have been a resident of the Sellwood/Moreland neighborhood for almost 35 years. I have raised my daughter and established roots in this neighborhood. To say that things have changed is an understatement.
I was at a local business on March 31, only to walk out and find a $44 ticket for overtime parking on my windshield. Granted, I was in a 30-minute parking zone, and the task took longer than that. I was in the wrong. But I have noticed that meter maids, who NEVER visited this neighborhood, are out in numbers lately. Why? Because of all the 30 minute parking, particularly in front of the many high-rise apartment buildings that have sprung up over the past few years: Buildings built by companies with NO claims to this old and solid neighborhood.
This neighborhood is dotted with many businesses that used to have adequate parking along the street. Now, overflow traffic from the High Rise apartments with INADEQUATE PARKING are taking up those spots. Are we trying to move the businesses out of this wonderful area?
I have attended many SMILE meetings where architects promised that, "You could be the next Pearl." Dammit, I didn't move here to emulate the Pearl, but to have a small village of homes and businesses mixed equally.
When is all this influx going to stop plaguing this neighborhood and the people who own homes here?
S.E. 19th Avenue
Eastmoreland "Historic District" controversy
Like Derek Blum (Letter to the Editor, April 2018), I got tired long ago of what an ex-ENA president described as "rich people acting badly" during the historic district debate. However, as a political scientist, I don't think I can leave unchallenged Mr. Blum's distorted use of the term "democratic" to describe the historic district process.
Mr. Blum claims that "53.1% of the owners within the proposed HD … support it". He obtains that figure by counting as "support" anyone who has failed to go through the tedious process of obtaining and filing a notarized objection. This is the same sleight of hand that the ENA employed when they decided to ignore the majority who opposed the HD in a poll that the Board commissioned, using the same logic. Approximately 1/3 of homeowners chose not to respond, and these were counted as "not opposing". It isn't "democracy" when non-voting is counted as support while a notarized signature to express opposition.
Blum is in high dudgeon when he accuses the HD opponents of using legislation and lobbying to try to overturn the HD. Yet, the ENA has acknowledged many times that the HD process was put in place as an end around to the democratically determined City of Portland planning process. Is the pot calling the kettle black?
Oregon is unique in the nation in allowing an HD not just to be established, but to include strict building restrictions, without the assent of a majority (and in most cases a super majority) of impacted property owners. Regardless of how we feel about the HD or development in Portland, many of us find this a deeply troubling feature of Oregon law.
[Specifically, about the "multiple voting trusts" aspect of the letter being responded to:]My first take is that it's misleading to use the term "votes" as if there is any semblance of a democratic process. The process requires notarized objections.
My second take is that there are hundreds of property owners in Eastmoreland rich enough to set up a thousand trusts. We don't even know that this cost anything to the person that did it – it could have very well been done on a pro bono basis by a lawyer annoyed about the current process, and certainly there's no shortage of those, either
My third take is that this is what happens when groups manipulate the law in order to override the democratic process by which zoning laws, including historic districts, are put in place. I have been unable to find a single state that allows an HD to override local zoning without some input from an elected city council or a certified election:
Nothing about this process has been "democratic." The HD process was initiated in the first place by the ENA board because their attempts to lobby for an R-7 zoning were mishandled and failed. From the very start, they have said quite openly that the HD process is not about historic preservation, it's about trying to stop infill.
Professor, Reed College
Director, Early Voting Information CenterEditor,
Opponents of the Eastmoreland Historic District have now established a total of 5,000 objection trusts, drowning out all the legitimate support and objection registered by the neighborhood. If allowed, just FOUR households (all objectors) in the neighborhood will control over 70% of the vote, using this highly undemocratic and unethical tactic of creating objection trusts.
The 5 Eastmoreland residents, who each created 1000 trusts associated with their homes with the intent of influencing Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association elections, have, in my personal opinion, behaved in an utterly scurrilous manner. This is tantamount to ballot stuffing.Lila Brightbillvia e-mail
Chess achievements at Winterhaven School
I felt it important to bring to light and celebrate the success of a few Winterhaven School students and its Chess Club at the recent Oregon State Chess Tournament in Seaside, Oregon.
The Winterhaven Chess Club had 13 qualifying participants who attended, with many of them receiving awards. Four students received Plus Score Medals, one received an Honorable Mention – and one student received a third place trophy.
The young man who received the third place trophy, Cody Schupp, a sixth grader, won his award nearly four years to the day after he met one of his chess heroes – Phiona Mutesi, also known as "The Queen of Katwe". At that time, Cody was a young chess player, and Phiona signed her book for him, after talking to Cody about his deep interest in chess. She wrote, "I wish you success in your dreams and never lose hope." And, succeed he did! Congratulations Cody!! This was Cody's first year of playing chess competitively, and with a club.
The Chess Club meets on a weekly basis during the greater portion of the Winterhaven school year, and is run by amazing volunteers and parents who not only donate their time, but also are genuinely invested in the success of each student. Many thanks to the Winterhaven Chess Coaches and Parents who support and encourage their children!
Barefoot protest of Arts Tax
Editor,I wrote this when the arts tax [letters] came out, and I tried to deliver my tax to the Mayor. I went there, barefoot, in a long black dress, with two bags of pennies. They made me put on booties which made it very dangerous for me to walk, because I was slipping all over the floor. The Mayor would not come out, only a minion, and I sang the poem but they refused to take the pennies, insisting I change it into bills and deliver it. That never happened.
The poem is called The Art of Taxation and the Fable of Worth, and is sung to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean". . .
Dear Mayor I've come with my art tax
Though it's not right I should pay
I don't make a dollar in wages
And I don't like the art anyway
CHORUS AFTER EACH VERSE (interactive hand movements go with this):
So give back, give back, give back my taxes to me, to me
And take back the crappy art, I don't even want it for free!
There's an elephant with ripped open torso
They removed it from view – just too weird
Then it showed up again some months later
Turned around so the guts "disappeared"
There's the vertical scrap metal storage
That's infesting the river's east side
There must be someone who likes it
But I can't find them; believe me I've tried
Since nobody likes what you purchase
And this "art" would be better off burned
Stop spending our money on garbage
Taxpayers would like it returned.
Renee Daphne Kimball
SellwoodEDITOR'S NOTE: This regressive tax was passed on the premise that it would go to art in the schools; it was not well understood that only part of it is allocated that way. Quite a bit of it is distributed to various arts organizations. But, our impression is that much of the "public art" decried by Ms. Kimball is part of construction projects, for which the city requires a small percentage of the project's budget go to "public art". At any rate, protest as you will, but it would be wise to pay the tax until it is repealed, since the city has the legal right to pursue you in court or via collectors if you don't. Just make sure you didn't pay it already before you do; the city's dunning letter this year at tax time was sent to everyone, including those who had already paid. So some folks paid it twice by mistake.
NOTE TO READERS
In the February BEE, we reported the extraordinary efforts of Sellwood's Nance family to locate missing Air National Guardsman Marty Nance. On March 30, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office reported, "The body of missing Oregon Air National Guardsman Martin Nance, 49, has been recovered by Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol deputies. Authorities do not suspect foul play in Mr. Nance's disappearance or death."
The recovery was made in the Willamette River, a ways upstream from the Sellwood Bridge. The Medical Examiner, finding no evidence of foul play in the death, has concluded it most likely was an accident or a suicide. Family notifications were completed, and Marty's family requested privacy as they deal with their loss.
As THE BEE previously reported, Mr. Nance was reported missing in early January after failing to show up for duties at his Portland airbase. His rental car and cell phone were located in Sellwood in the vicinity of S.E. Spokane Street on Tuesday, January 9. He had been a dedicated Reservist for 32 years. THE BEE extends its sympathy to the Nance family.
All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.