Bladine: Is this McMinnville, or smaller Portland

Last week, three high-interest stories were combined under a single headline: “Drabkin sworn in, quickly faced with tough issues.”

Story #1 portrayed the warm reception for Remy Drabkin as she officially became McMinnville’s first woman mayor. Some readers may have been distracted from Story #2, which began in paragraph six but deserves its own headline.

So, here is a full reprint, without comment (for now):

“More than 300 residents signed a petition to address issues of theft, vandalism, violence and vulgarity brought forward by residents Mike and Kim Morris. Seven other community members submitted written testimony to council and many spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“Kim Morris addressed the council, saying the group of signers are not heartless and want to help the homeless community, but are fed up with the continued crimes on McMinnville streets.

“‘We want (McMinnville) to be livable, we want it to be safe. It’s not,’ Morris said. ‘If we don’t handle it now, then in five years we’re going to be Portland.’


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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“Morris said citizens’ tax dollars should be going to projects they want, not given away to people that pay no taxes.

“‘They’re just taking. They’re taking handouts, they’re not giving anything back, except for fear and criminal activity.’

“Eight people — many of them business owners — addressed council about their frustrations, citing crimes such as burglary, property and electricity theft, property damage and vandalism.

“‘I’ve had so many cut fence lines I’ve stopped counting,’ Dylan Kiger said.

“Others described disturbing behavior, verbal and physical altercations, threats and being spit on by homeless residents.

“Director of Downtown McMinnville Association Dave Rucklos said public safety is the number one concern for the group. He described an altercation that day with a man yelling curses and throwing trash cans into the street as children passed by.

“‘I’m not a townie; I’ve lived outside of L.A., New York City, Seattle, all over. I have never encountered that kind of behavior on the streets of any of those cities,’ Rucklos said.

“Several speakers recognized efforts of the McMinnville Police Department and acknowledged its staffing shortages while calling for a task force of city, business, public safety, social services and community leaders to combat the issue.

“The council didn’t address the issues brought forth because it was during public comment, and Police Chief Matt Scales didn’t comment on the testimony during the department head update portion of the meeting.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.


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