My View • Local tolerance for vagrants leaves Rose City visitors uneasy, unhappy
by: Christopher Onstott, A group of street musicians play outside Pioneer Courthouse, technically in a zone off limits to sidewalk sitting. Visitors to Portland complain that the city’s street culture can be aggravating and threatening. Others point proudly to the city’s tolerant makeup.
Regarding Peter Korn’s ‘Would Rudy Giuliani put up with this?’ (Sept. 9), my daughter was visiting Portland from San Diego last July. She has not lived in Portland for more than 12 years, so she eagerly desired a walk in the historic, relaxing and quaint downtown center.
What she/we found was shocking: On two occasions we witnessed men openly urinating in public, needles being passed from person to person, and a feeling of being overrun by filth and garbage. There was not a block that we walked that didn’t have dozens of aggressive, obnoxious and smelly panhandlers demanding money.
As she texted her friends in San Diego, telling them of her sadness at seeing what Portland had become, she made eye contact with a bum who stopped her. She recognized him from San Diego, saying this guy and his friends were people who used to sit on the streets of Ocean Beach (a San Diego beach community) and try and bum money when my daughter and her work associates would go for a lunchtime walk.
She struck up a conversation with the man, asking how long he’d been in Portland and why he and his friends were in this city. He answered by saying that Portland had a great reputation for tolerance and actually helped the vagrants to conduct a wide range of illegal activities. He stated that police could do little, and everyone in the growing homeless community was letting friends from other states know what pushovers the elected officials in the city were.
The man sounded moderately educated when he rattled off a list of handouts and benefits provided by the city that actually promoted homelessness, which were never offered in other cities.
He laughed out loud when my daughter asked him if he wanted to return to San Diego. ‘Why,’ he replied, ‘when Portland invites people here to live off the taxpayers?’ Then, saying something like, ‘Who wants to live in a place that enforces laws? No, Portland is the place to stay, no police, and absolutely stupid politicians!’
He hesitated before concluding with, ‘Hey, can you believe it – they’re actually going to build places for us to live; this is Mecca for the nation’s bums.’
My daughter shook her head when he asked her if that information was worth a buck.
In San Diego a few years ago, city leaders and the business community started a campaign against homelessness that included the following component: Taking a cue from the National Parks that often post signs saying ‘Please don’t feed the bears,’ many businesses in Ocean Beach have posted stickers saying, ‘Please don’t feed our bums!’
That activity – plus elected officials who actually care for their citizens and strict law enforcement – allows a person to walk for miles in the heart of that city and never witness anything close to what we see in a one-block area of Portland.
What Giuliani did speaks for itself. What our elected officials do also speaks volumes. In Portland, bums and addicts rule the streets, and in City Hall, their cabal of associates ‘aid and abet’ in the commission of crimes against Portland.
Jim Speirs is a fourth-generation North Portland resident, former instructor at Portland Community College and, for the past six years, the historical editor for the St. Johns Review.
-Some may wonder what this article has to do with the blog, but personal responsibility is what I’m all about. I lived in Portland for a number of years and now live in Boise, ID and I am not sorry for the move. In Portland wherever you go you are assaulted by scumbags that never truly realized that the party was over and will spend the rest of their pathetic existence polluting taxpayer funded property and urinating/shitting on front lawns. Portland has gotten a nationwide reputation as a place that feels sorry for idiots who hate work and clog streets with their filth.
We aren’t talking about the mentally ill, we are talking about people, most of whom never served in the military and never thought ahead to a better life. I do not make pablum puking left wing excuses for this trash and I could give a damn about their myriad addictions. The bottom line is that there cannot be a Government agency to take care of every need free of charge! We, the working people, made good decisions and others did not, that is what personal responsibility is all about! I don’t give a damn about how their mommies and daddies treated them, I had shitty parents. The difference between me and a bum is that I chose to be responsible instead of blame everyone else for my misfortune.
There are no good solutions to this that doesn’t involve some asshole like Steven Spielberg, Jimmy Carter or George Clooney who’s only richie answer is to pawn it off onto the middle class working public. The middle class is still trying to recover from the banking recession caused by the Wall Streeters, ( Righties ), and still struggles to get to the point when they can retire. I, myself, give to charities that help real people in need such as the mentally ill and have no time for stinking hobo nonsense. Don’t get me wrong, I am no Republican, just a Common Sensican who can see that personal responsibility is no longer important to impart to our children. I, for one, still teach my children my Grandmother’s old refrain of “Sure you can skip school or not go to college, as long as you can support yourself out of my home on a burger flipper’s salary.” Hard lessons for a hard world. Lefty coddling created these problems along with Righty greed. The Left tells you that you can take alllll the time you want to find yourself, and if you don’t want to go to college, than that’s OK. The Right takes advantage of the situation and steals all of everyone elses share of the money while the Left basks in ‘Choices’ that make no common sense. We live in a country where the public school system is one of the worst of any industrialized nation and both Liberals and Conservatives just sit on their hands!
This is a shared thing, and if we are to get back to a semblance of personal accountability, then people need to move towards the middle of the political spectrum and get some sense.