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Letters to the Editor: July 14, 2017

Get real on homelessness

I am responding to Carolyn Sauers’ July 7 letter about the homeless.

I appreciate the fact that she realizes some of them, like the mentally ill, really need help. But then she basically says go into rehab and get an education and a job.

Really? Rehab and education beyond high school cost money. With rents swelling to more than $1,000 a month, and the cost of living with everything expanding, how are they supposed to do any of these things?

Get a simple job and pay $1,300 a month for rent? Most of these people don’t have degrees. I think a big solution for this problem is more affordable housing and rentals. Ever since Measure 5 passed in 1990, the housing values automatically went way up to make up for the loss of property taxes.

Lower the cost of housing and rentals, and the homelessness will go way down.

Stephanie Stevens

McMinnville

 

Church not to blame

Contrary to your headline, the welcome mat is still out at First Baptist Church to everyone in McMinnville, including the homeless.

What Publisher Jeb Bladine called “political correctness” in his June 30 column, we call treating everyone with respect. Saying the problem of homelessness is “fallout from political correctness” trivializes the situation and ignores the direct causal effects of actions by the McMinnville Downtown Association and the city.

Many of the people “encamped” on the parking strips by the churches have, until recently, been hidden from view because they’ve been camped away in the woods, by the creeks and rivers and in the gullies around town. Recent evictions from these spots by police have meant they had no place to go except for the churches, where they knew they would be safe.

Although many congregated during the day in our courtyards, there were never more than five or six at night on the parking strip by First Baptist (and none in the parking lot).

Contributing to the difficulties has been the fact that the Farmers Market has been moved into the heart of the area where the churches have been doing their ministries. This has meant that the good people of McMinnville have had to confront the ugly underbelly of this “good” city.

I’m sorry if this has stripped away the façade of our “quality of life,” but the fact is that homelessness is a reality and it’s not going away unless we all start getting creative about addressing the issues.

Michael Burr

McMinnville

 

Don’t blame social workers

The Oregonian editorial reprinted in the July 7 News-Register was interesting.

The Oregon Legislature, as do other legislatures in other states, requires social workers to stay in hotels with the children if they cannot be placed. In Washington, social workers are offered the alternative to take children home with them if they don’t want to stay in sleazy motels in shooting gallery neighborhoods.

Imagine a drug-addicted adolescent boy with a criminal history staying with a 5-year-old girl in the social worker’s home.

Is anyone besides me wondering who watches out for the welfare of the social worker’s children? The Legislature is good at pointing fingers, but look at how it solves the problem. It points fingers and finds fault with the system it created.

Social workers work 40 to 50 hours per week. Are they paid overtime? Are they paid a professional wage? Are they treated like professionals? They have master’s degrees. Did you know that foster parents in Oregon are paid the second to the lowest in the nation?

It’s the Legislature that failed Oregon, not the social workers or the Department of Human Services. Remember that at election time.

Sheila Hunter

McMinnville

 

Some just bums

News-Register Publisher Jeb Bladine, please let me thank and congratulate you for your June 30 column on homelessness.

Thank you for stepping up and addressing a problem that has gotten completely out of hand and is damaging what we all used to love about our town.

Compassion is a wonderful thing, and bless the people who truly care about others. However, compassion should not take precedence over common sense. The vagrants and vandals and beggars who litter our lovely little town do not appear to me to be destitute families who have been booted to the gutter by selfish landlords.

They are today’s versions of hobos and hippies who wander the entire country knowing they can prey on the generosity and naiveté of well-meaning but uninformed people. I am told the entire state of Oregon is known nationwide as being a soft touch for the career moochers who hitchhike or even drive here from other states.

Certainly, we should help the helpless, but we would have more to help with when we quit tolerating the chronic takers who contribute nothing to the community while draining resources better given to children and oldsters.

If we were to create a work program that would expect the itinerants to give back to the community, you might be amazed at how few people felt the need to participate. Then they would move on to another soft-touch community.

I encourage you to continue speaking up and speaking out and make our downtown area something my wife, my visitors and I could enjoy again.

Allen L. Six

McMinnville

 

A toilet too much?

After a promising start to lending a hand to the homeless who concentrate downtown, those with the power to do so are presenting the back of that hand by taking away the portable toilets, allegedly because of vandalism.

One way or another, we have to cope with the homeless who, in a county of 100,000 people, amount to about 1,000 people — of whom 300 or so live in McMinnville. That’s about 1 percent of our population.

Like all animals, we all have to urinate several times a day and defecate about once, no matter where we live — on the streets or at home, where 99 percent of us live within a few feet of a toilet. Providing sanitation services for the unfortunate 1 percent of us who are homeless is an obvious essential civic function that must be provided by the city.

Every month, the city collects about $50 from each of 10,000 or so city dwellings — or about $500,000 a month. Spending 1 percent of that for a few dozen portable toilets scattered around town could substantially reduce the number of times the wretched among us have to relieve themselves where we don’t want them to.

A 1 percent surcharge on our sewer bills would amount to 50 cents a month per family, a negligible charge to add an extra increment to local civilization.

Anthony Bell

McMinnville

 

Proposal flouts democracy

District 23 State Rep. Mike Nearman is pushing Initiative Petition 5, a voter suppression proposal that would appear on the 2018 ballot if enough signatures are gathered.

The petition is in direct contradiction to participatory democracy. The more people who vote, the better for all of us. Nearman is working against that. Nearman’s proposal would kick everyone off voter registration rolls and require that we produce a birth certificate, passport or other proof of citizenship to re-register to vote.
This is in spite of the fact that we prove citizenship when we obtain an Oregon driver’s license and are registered to vote in the process.

Nearman’s proposal is a waste of time and energy. He is pushing a solution in search of a problem that does not exist. This demonstrates a lack of representation for voters in District 23, including portions of Yamhill County, and is detrimental to all of us by suppressing votes via a needless procedure.

Ricardo Small

Albany

 

No soup for you

On a visit to a park, the first thing the ranger tells you is not to leave any food out. It attracts bears.

No food. No Bears.

McMinnville has gained the reputation as a great place for the homeless to come, and more are arriving. Some are homeless through no fault of their own, and I feel sorry for these folks. Others have no respect for our values or property. They are gradually eroding the fabric of our historic downtown district.

The people who run the soup kitchens have kind hearts and great intentions. But it is time for tough love. We need to shut them down.

As the rangers say, “no food, no bears.”

Don Bowie

McMinnville

 

Park is filthy

I recently invited my daughter and great-grandchildren to come to Discovery Park. I took my grandsons there every week a few years back.

The park was always very well-kept, very green and a pleasant place for kids to play. However, when we arrived yesterday, the grass was brown and very dirty. The flowerbeds were all overgrown. What happened to the nice clean park of a few years back?

I was very disappointed to see such a mess. There was also a sign posted in front that says dogs are not allowed. Apparently some people cannot read. Many dogs were there. Some were urinating on the splash pad where children play.

Sandi Till

McMinnville

 

It’s a bypass to nowhere

I agree with Merilyn Reeve’s assessment that the Trojan horse of a bypass in Dundee ought to be scrapped.

As Merilyn points out, congestion will continue. All the “bypass to nowhere” will do is move the congestion down the road, but it will not alleviate the congestion on Highway 18.

Oregon Department of Transportation representatives came to the community center in the mid 1980s to tell us that Highway 18 was one of the most traveled highways in Oregon. So what has changed since then?

The population has grown from 2.7 million in 1985 to the present day of more than 4 million. There are also two casinos, one on Highway 18 and the other in Lincoln City.

The late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” His saying works in this situation. Think local.

We need to think of how we the citizens can make our local area friendly and work on bridges, roads and the like to make our communities more livable as was done recently on the Springtown Road lane improvements.

If a word to the wise is sufficient, dump the bypass to nowhere.

Mike Sullivan

McMinnville

 

Homeless solutions

To solve the homelessness issue, it will take one person to direct and form a line of command, be responsible to issue all decisions, control everything from financial to anything else that may come up.

The person will issue statements to the public and news outlets after passing through legal channels. No information of any kind is to be made public by any other source.

Secondly, we need to compile all information that has been collected on all homeless people interviewed and any new information along with the interviewer’s comments. Information should include the person’s friends, relatives, appearance, tattoos, distinguishing marks, criminal history, background checks, pets, hometown and even the basics, such as a library card and store card.

Urine tests should be encouraged to show people’s intent to comply with staying in a homeless shelter. The residents should be able to do their own security, general cleaning and rule enforcement and not put the burden on the police until something gets out of hand. McMinnville is so worried about Third Street and the tourist trade that it has turned a blind eye to the principles of loving thy neighbors, even if they happen to be homeless.

Many people living on the street have mental health issues and cannot help themselves without community intervention. Are we willing to just stand by and watch them suffer? Or are we willing to help these people reclaim a role in society instead of lumping them in with the druggies, alcoholics, outright bums and panhandlers?

James Galbreath

McMinnville 

 

Don’t point fingers

My church, First Baptist Church on the corner of First and Cowls, did not create the homeless problem, as some comments in this paper suggest.

We saw a need a few years ago, and tried to do something about it. It is in our mission statement to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and welcome the stranger.
We offer a simple breakfast two mornings a week. We offer clothes, hygiene supplies, free showers and give out bus passes and laundry cards, which are limited because of funds. We installed lockers in our parking lot that help a few people who have no place to store their belongings.

We put up a portable toilet in the parking lot two years ago because there were so many complaints downtown of homeless people using alleys, streets and bushes to relieve themselves. We have brought this problem of no public bathrooms to city officials, and they agreed there is a problem and offered to pay for maintenance of the potty for one year. That maintenance expired June 30, and we offered to give them the toilet if they would put it on city property. They declined. That is when we had it removed.

Our community needs to come together and start solving some of these crucial problems rather than blaming each other. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we should find out what has worked in other cities and go forward. The problem is not going to just go away.

Gloria LaFata

McMinnville 

 

Comments

Jeb Bladine

Sorry if the June 23 (not June 30) column left a wrong impression that the idea of "homelessness" equates to "political correctness."

The intended message was that "homelessness" should refer primarily to people who are financially distressed and cannot afford basic shelter. The "fallout from political correctness" happens when we group all street people under the "homeless" label -- including aggressive panhandlers, drug addicts, vagrants, drifters and serial harassers.

Many homeless people need a hand up; some others among them need a ticket out of town, or access to programs that can help their mental and/or substance abuse conditions.

Don Dix

In today's world, 'political correctness' is used to avoid laying out the basic truth of many situations. PC has cheapened dialogue so effectively that the preferred message is lost or blurred. It has evolved that people are more concerned with 'feelings' than what's at stake.

It's noble that compassion is present in most, but sometimes one must whittle away the fodder and point specific fingers. If that results in a particular 'butt hurt', then it's assured the message was received. In some cases, that may be the most sensible approach.

Cabogirl

Allen Six, You nailed it!

Lulu

Anthony Bell, you still don't get it: They trashed the portable/disabled accessible toilet provided for them. Why? Who knows what motivates people to deliberately wreck everything they can? Too much time on their hands? How would you like to stumble upon a two-liter uncapped bottle filled with piss? Or fast-food detritus dropped on the ground because it requires too much effort to dispose of in trash bins? Enough.
My vote goes to the ticket out of town.

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