Prostitution is flourishing in the Rose City. Some Portlanders blame it on city hall's decision to let the prostitution exclusion zones lapse. They want the zones back and more efforts made to put prostitutes in jail. Other city residents say that rehabilitation, not more police, is the answer. In the meantime, Mayor Tom Potter has announed a new initiative to fight prostitution on 82nd Ave. through enhanced enforcement and prosecution combined with treatment options. How should we deal with prostitution in our city? Do we really understand the problem of prostitution?
On the Road with America's Poor: An Interview with Kath Weston
How far can you get on two tacos, one Dr. Pepper, and a little bit of conversation? What happens when you're broke and you need to get to a new job, an ailing parent, a powwow, college, or a funeral on the other side of the country? And after decades of globalization, what kind of America will you glimpse through the window on your way?
The Democrats are riding a new wave of popularity this year. Are they winning new supporters because they have better policy positions than the Republicans or are they doing a better job of appealing to voters' emotions? Do we make our political choices based on reason or are we persuaded by messages that tap into positive associations in our minds?
More mandatory prison sentences. Fewer building permits. Open primaries. These are just some of the ideas Oregonians must consider as they wade through a dozen state ballot measures on election day. Who's supporting these measures? Who's opposing them? What will they really do? Jo Ann and Dave give you their take on the good, the bad and the really stupid ballot measures appearing on the November 2008 ballot.
There's no doubt of the importance of the election of Barack Obama as America's first black president. But what role did people of color play in making this happen and where do they stand in the wake of the election? Jo Ann and Dave talk with Rudy Lopez, Directory of the Center for Community Change about his organization's work in turning out people of color and other disempowered voters for Obama. He'll also talk about how this new bloc of mobilized citizens can ensure that the new president and the Congress remain true to the promises made before election day. For more information on the Center for Community Change and their upcoming people's conference, visit www.communitychange.org.
Oregon environmentalists can point to many hard-won victories to preserve ecological diversity. But they've been less successful promoting diversity within their own ranks. The result has been a cultural divide that leaves people of color not just outside the mainstream environmental movment but excluded from having a voice in how we meet the huge environmental challenges that face us. The question is "how do we bridge that divide?" Dave Mazza talks with Marcelo Bonta, founder and executive director of the Center for diversity and the Environment, and Tony DeFalco, Coordinator of the Young Environmental Professionals of Color group. Both men have recently been named fellows of the TogetherGreen Conservation Leadership Program, a new conservation intiative of the National Audubon Society with support from Toyota that funds work on community-focused projects contributing to greater environmental health.
The November terrorist attack in Mumbai, India is only the latest eruption in potentially explosive South Asia. What will the new Obama administration do as the conflict in Afghanistan spreads to its nuclear-armed neighbors? Will he undo the damage to nuclear non-proliferation efforts that resulted from the recent U.S.-India nuclear deal - a deal that Obama, Clinton and Biden supported? Dave Mazza talks with Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation about these and other questions regarding this volatile and important aspect of U.S. foreign policy.
As the economic landscape worsens, lawmakers face the daunting task of deciding how to keep Oregon running with a shrinking pool of dollars. The most recent forecast by the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis sees the recession deepening over the next 12 months with unemployment increasing beyond the current 7.3 percent with a commensurate decline in state revenue from personal income taxes. Reduced business activity will also cause a drop in revenue from corporate taxes. The "budget hole" for the coming 2009-2011 period is estimated to be at least $1.2 billion.
The new Congress will be working with a new administration in the White House. Behind the smiles and calls for cooperation, there's already signs of differences between both sides of the congressional aisles and the president elect. Elements of the Obama proposal is already drawing criticism from both parties. Democrats like Representative Barney Frank and Senator John F. Kerry of Massachussetts, as well as Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, have expressed deep skepticism about the effectiveness of the proposed business tax credits for creating new jobs.
Portland has seen 11 gang-related shootings since the Dec. 12 murder of a gang member inside the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. City leaders are calling it a "gang war crisis" and the Portland police want a new coordinated strategy to combat the violence. But the call for action comes when many outreach programs are struggling for funding. Will the city's new effort address the causes or just the symptoms of gang violence? Will the rush to take action create bigger problems like innocent youth getting profiled for gang involvement?
This week, Jo Ann and Dave talk with John Canda, a former gang outreach worker for the city of Portland and Clayborn Collins, executive director of Emmanual Community General Services, about what needs to be done to really solve Portland's gang problem.
The conversation doesn't end when the program does. You can join in additional discussion of the week's issue on our blog at kboo.fm/voicesfromtheedge (click on the "blog" tab). You'll find additional information, important links, comments from other listeners and commentary from Jo Ann and Dave. Have a question for our guests, but can't call in during the program? Post your questions online so we can make them a part of the Voices discussion.
The Portland Police Bureau is keeping a list of people arrested most often downtown. The police say that the list, which has grown from 35 to nearly 400, is part of a coordinated strategy to improve livability in Old Town and surrounding neighborhoods by arresting chronic offenders and holding them in jail where they can receive drug, acohol and other treatments to end their criminal behavior. Defense attorneys say that people are being labeled as chronic offenders based on arrests rather than convictions.
People of color continue to be stopped and searched by the police than other Portlanders. Racial profiling has not abated according to a draft 36-page report released February 18 by Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer. The report, long awaited by the community, outlines Sizer's assessment of the problem as well as steps to eliminate racial profiling by making the police bureau better reflect the community it is supposed to serve. Jo Ann and Dave review the draft plan's strenths and weaknesses.
African Americans in Multnomah County are twice as likely to die from diabetes or stroke than white county residents. Hispanic mothers are two times less likely to have early prenatal care white mothers. Native Americans in the county die from HIV at three times the rate of whites.
Multnomah County, through programs like the Health Equity Intitiative, has made signficant progress in addressing health disparities. But as these figures from the County's March 2008 Report Card on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities show, much work remains to be done. How will the county do this as it struggles with a deepening budget crisis and the economic meltdown worsens the social and environmental factors that influence health equity in our region?
Next week the Portland City Council starts to consider an $85 million proposal by Merritt Paulson to bring major league soccer to Portland. Paulson wants the city to contribute $20-$40 million of urban renewal money - funds intended to combat "urban blight" - to close the deal. The Portland Development Commission's advisory task force has just completed a review that recommends conditional approval. Paulson and his supporters say those dollars will create jobs and enhance the community. Critics not only say that soccer doesn't qualify but that its diverting funds from essential county services.
Central City Concern, with a $33 million annual budget and 23 buildings, is the city's biggest nonprofit landlord in downtown Portland. Some of the nonprofit's tenants, however, say their landlord has let apartment buildings fall into disrepair and disregarded tenants'demands for action or even a chance to speak to Central City Concern's board about the problem.
The play's the thing. Theater offers reflections of reality but can it serve as a specific tool in tackling problems? Jo Ann and Dave talk with members of PassinArt: A Theater Company about their production of "A Sunbeam" by award-winning playwright John Henry. This unique production of a play about a family torn apart by problems includes "talk back" sessions with cast members and professionals from the Avel Gordley Center for Healing.
City Commissioner Randy Leondard wants major league soccer in Portland. Despite a darkening economic picture, the commissioner is pushing hard to close a deal that involves using public dollars to make it happen. But some Portlanders are concerned about the use of urban renewal dollars for upgrading PGE Stadium for soccer and building a new replacement baseball stadium. Dave Mazza discusses the potential risks and pitfalls of the stadium deal as well as other risky "public-private" partnerships looming on the horizon.
Over 440,000 people will be detained by the U.S. government this year. Women, children, the elderly, asylum seekers, torture victims and even long-time permanent residents will be detained for months - in some cases years - awaiting a determination on their status. Many of these people will be detained without a judicial hearing or access to an attorney in a nation that prides itself on the rule of law and due process. Will the Obama adminstration create real immigration reform to ensure the people who come to our shores are treated fairly?
As Oregon's economy continues to decline, lawmakers are faced with a growing budget gap and spiraling prisons costs driven by state mandatory sentencing laws. Some in the legislature say its time to revise state sentencing programs and find more efficient ways to handle convicted offenders. Among the proposals working their way through the legislative process is a bill that would allow judges to review mandatory sentences at mid-point and revise them if deemed appropriate. Dave and Jo Ann talk with Rep. Chip Shields about this proposed bill and other changes lawmakers are considering this session.
May 1, 2009 marks the 123rd anniversary of a rally for the eight-hour day in Chicago's Haymarket Square that ended with a police riot that left over a dozen dead. The political trial and hanging of four anarchists that followed sparked protests around the world and the designation by the Second International of May 1 as International Workers' Day, more commonly known as May Day. But does commemoration of a 19th century incident have relevance for people in the 21st century? Does demonstrating on May Day have meaning for you?
Last week, President Obama reached his first 100 days in office, triggering a media flurry of speculation about how well he's doing. Communities of color - already hurting before the lastest round of troubles - have been measuring up the new president as well. Is President Obama pushing to create justice for all or is he too bogged down in the legacy of his predecessor? What should we be doing to push the president down the path of racial equity?
The current recession is not an equal opportunity crisis. People of color are experiencing job loss, foreclosures and lack of healthcare at alarmingly higher rates than white Americans. These disparities are not a coincidence but rather the result of structural barriers that have been taking a toll on people of color long before the subprime meltdown.
John Kroger wants to be an activist attorney general. Since being sworn in, he’s taken on predatory lenders, challenged the LNG terminal, and headed up the investigation of Mayor Sam Adams. Now he’s asking lawmakers to fund a new civil rights unit so he can sue Oregon companies that break our state’s civil rights laws.
The 9th annual Village Building Convergence starts in Portland on June 5. Coming together under the them "Powered by the People," Portlanders will work on projects ranging from water catchment systems and intersection painting to native plant gardening and cob benches. But with record job and home loss rocking the metropolitan area, is the convergence still relevant? Even in good times, how much community voice does the convergence really create?
But what do the residents of Lents really think? The Lents deal has triggered deep-seated concerns about livability, affordable housing, economic development, historic preservation and how much voice citizens have with City Hall. Dave Mazza talks with Lents residents Kathleen Juergens de Ponce and Nick Christensen, organizers of Friends of Lents Park, about what their neighbors are concerned about and what they really think about Randy Leonard's desire to play ball in Lents. He also talks with Damien Chakwin, chair of the Lents Neighborhood Association and a supporter of the stadium proposal.
June 19th marks the 144th anniversary of the landing of federal troops in Galveston, Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and finally bring slavery to an end throughout the United States. "Juneteenth" has not only become a day to commemorate the end of slavery but to reflect on the African American experience - from progress made to challenges that remain. As Oregonians celebrate the 150th anniversary of their statehood, Juneteenth is an opportunity to look at how we are contributing - or not - to overcoming racism in Oregon.
Portland's high school dropout rate is the highest in the metropolitan area. While the statewide rate declined last year, Portland high school students are dropping out at twice the rate - 8.2 percent - of students in other Oregon communities.
Over 75 percent of Americans want health care reform according to a new Pew Research poll. President Obama remains committed to reforming our health care system this year. But as Congress struggles to craft legislation, the voice of concerned voters is getting drowned out by a vocal minority working from the same play book. Will serious health care reform die on the operating table at the hands of congressional Republicans, conservative pundits, and industry spin doctors?
As recent events in Iran have shown, technology has given ordinary people the power to inform neighbors down the street and strangers halfway around the world about important events regardless of government censorship or corporate media indifference. "Community media" - citizen-operated print, broadcast and digital technologies - is filling the information needs of a growing number of Americans. The Alliance for Community Media's 2009 international conferencerecently took place in Portland, where hundreds of media activists discussed new concepts in community media and challenge old ones.
Seven months into a new administration and the nation still finds itself embroiled in two Asian wars. Many Americans would have difficulty explaining how the Obama administration's conduct of these wars differs from the last administration's. They're certainly not being helped by policymakers and pundits who are working overtime to marginalize arguments for American withdrawal from the region. With the economy now people's foremost concern, how does the peace movement change the national conversation about war and peace?
Last month, President Obama sat down over beers with a Cambridge cop and a Harvard professor to talk about an ugly incident that brought home how deep racial tensions still run in our nation. The president saw the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. by Sgt. James Crowly as a "teachable moment" that could help Americans in their struggle to understand race and its impacts. But can talking about race make a difference?
Portland may be a green city, but some of its school children are breathing air more like the polluted skies of Cleveland. A USA Today study found six of our city's schools in northwest and north/northeast Portland among the worst in the nation for exposing children to airborn toxins. Benzine, a carcinogen found in gasoline, exceeds DEQ safety standards by 26 percent. Frustrated with lack of action by state regulators, parents of children in some of the mot impacted schools are organizing the community.
Black leadership is on the rise - from the White House to corporate giants like Xerox Corp. In progressive Oregon, however, blacks currently hold no elected positions in the city, county or regional governments within the metropolitan area where most of their community resides. These political disparities are more than matched by economic, social, health and education disparities that have left black Oregonians impoverished.
Charles McGee and Johnell Bell, co-founders of the Black Parent Initiative, believe the time has come for this to change.
Volunteers with the campaign to recall Mayor Sam Adams have a little over a month left to collect the 32,183 valid signatures from Portland voters needed to force the Portland mayor to resign or face a special recall election. Campaign organizers have told the press it will be close but support is growing. The campaign - sparked by revelations by Adams that he had lied about his relationship with one of his interns - has brought together strange political bedfellows - from former Adams supporters to extreme conservatives - as well as made Portlanders reflect on how we should judge our elected officials.
Jo Ann and Dave talk with campaign organizer Jasun Wurster about the campaign's chances of success and who has joined the ranks of Portlanders who think the mayor must go. Do you think the mayor's actions warrant his removal? Does focusing on recalling the mayor prevent Portlanders from addressing bigger problems facing our city?
Curtis Edward McCarty was convicted and sentenced to death twice for a 1982 murder in Oklahoma City. After repeated court battles and 21 years in prison - 19 on death row - McCarty was exonerated and released following a 2005 appeals court ruling based on new DNA evidence and findings of a "continued pattern of government misconduct." McCarty was the 124th person in the United States to be exonerated and released since 1973 after spending time on death row.
Jo Ann and Dave talk with McCarty about his experience and his struggle to win his freedom.
As the current economic crisis deepens, more Oregonians are joining the ranks of the poor. With resources stretched to the breaking point, the ability to meet basic human needs is becoming more difficult.
Dave Mazza talks with Rachel Bristol, executive director of the Oregon Food Bank, about poverty in our state and how her organization is working to not only feed the hungry but to advocate for longterm systemic change.
The list of city residents who've become victims at the hands of the Portland police continues to grow, leading Oregonian columnist Anna Griffin to observe the news stories about these incidents "makes the Rose City's finest look like thugs with badges." In the meantime, Chief Rosie Sizer's finding on the death of James Chasse - and her failure to punish the offending officers - suggests police accountability remains little more than a joke in our city.
The Portland Police Bureau agreed to develop a plan for ending racial profiling within their organization. But despite promises from Police Chief Rosie Sizer, little progress seems to have been made. Community oganizations, meanwhile, are turning up the heat on city hall to implement an action plan now. Jo Ann talks with local activist Dave Hardesty about recent developments in the effort to end racial profiling in the police bureau.
The appointment of Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler as state treasurer last Tuesday churned county and state political waters this week. Wheeler, appointed by Governor Kulongoski to fill the vacancy created by State Treasurer Ben Westlund's death, is now better positioned to advance up the ladder of statewide offices. At the county level, meanwhile, his departure has set off a scramble for his and County Commissioner Jeff Cogen's seat - Cogen throwing his hat in the ring to be the county's top executive. What will Wheeler's departure mean for residents of Oregon's most populous county? Jo Ann and Dave look at what's ahead for the candidates and county residents.