Our Veterans Deserve Respect and Compassion

The Vietnam War was a long and divisive conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against the government in South Vietnam. America, South Vietnam’s principal alley was involved in the war from 1955 until 1973.

American opposition to the war grew from small groups of pacifists to a national movement. The anti-war movement resulted in outward in an outpouring of hate toward the returning veterans. I vividly recall being spit on and being called a baby killer by protesters in an airport, as I was returning home from the war.

Many veterans returned from Vietnam with physical and/or mental illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Every veteran dealt with the war in their own way. I put all my energy into my studies at university and put my Vietnam War experiences in the dark recesses of my mind.

Many Vietnam veterans, never recovered from the war. Some withdrew from society and lived on the streets. Others succumbed to drug or alcohol addiction. The real tole of the war far exceeded the 58,200 names on the Vietnam War Memorial.

Veterans today, receive a much different response from the public. “Thank you for your service” is the catch phrase most people say to the men and women in the military. Although the words, thank you for your service bring joy to my heart, I think only a veteran can fully appreciate the sacrifices our men and women in the military make every day to keep our country free.

I have lived and traveled extensively overseas. America has its problems, but the freedoms many people take for granted are because of the sacrifices made by the men and women in our military. The next time you see someone in the military or a veteran, think about the freedoms you have and then say, “thank you for your service.” That person may be a newly commissioned officer or a weary old Vietnam veteran, living on the streets.

Our military and our veterans deserve our respect and our compassion.  Our city of Portland should support viable programs that will help our veteran’s safety and comfort.

Jack

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Stop The Zenith Oil Terminal Operation

The Zenith Oil Terminal is located on Front Avenue in Northwest Portland. The facility, located a few hundred feet from the Willamette River is importing thick, viscous crude oil or bitumen from tar sand operations in Alberta, Canada.

Bitumen must be diluted by chemicals, such as benzene, toluene or hydrogen sulfide before it can be pump it into oil tank cars and transported by rail. The oil is shipped over 1,000 miles from tar sand operations in Canada to the Zenith Oil Terminal in Portland .

The heavy oil is then pumped from railroad oil tank cars into large oil storage tanks at the Zenith Oil Terminal. The oil terminal can store up to 1.5 million barrels of thick, viscous crude oil. The heavy oil is finally pumped into oil tankers on the Willamette River and shipped to refineries around the world.

The environmental risks for the Zenith Oil Terminal include:

  1. Transporting bitumen by rail from Canada to Portland crosses majestic mountains, pristine rivers and bountiful farmlands. A railroad accident could cause the oil tank cars to overturn, creating a devastating oil spill.
  2. The Zenith Oil Terminal is located on an earthquake liquification zone. The soil in a liquification zone can temporarily lose strength during an earthquake, which could cause the large oil storage tanks to rupture, spilling millions of gallons of bitumen into the Willamette River.
  3. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality have recently cited the Zenith Oil Terminal for insufficient oil tank inspections and poor preparation for potential oil spills.

In 2016, the City of Portland passed a “No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure” ban. The Zenith Oil Terminal is using Arc Logistics’ 2014 permit to expand operations, claiming they are not building new infrastructure.

In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before operations at the Zenith Oil Terminal will result in an environmental catastrophe. I oppose the Zenith Oil Terminal operation.

                                            Jack

 

 

 

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Portland Restaurateurs Struggling

The Eater Portland[1] reported on the recent closures of several popular restaurants, bars and cafes in Portland. The recent restaurant obituaries included:

  • Mama San Soul Shack – Asian-Soul Food restaurant, closed on September 20th.
  • Tapalaya – Cajun/Creole restaurant, closed on September 30th:
  • Henry’s Tavern – Restaurant and bar, which has been open for 15 years, closed on October 1st.
  • Yen Ha – Portland’s oldest Vietnamese restaurant, which will close in October 21st.

Why the recent closures of established and popular restaurants? To get the answer to this question, I went to David Louie, Vice President of Huber’s, Portland’s oldest restaurant and bar.

David was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to explain to me the challenges that face a restaurateur in Portland. Although the restaurant business is highly competitive, David was quick to point out that operating a small business has become increasingly challenging in Portland.

Recent violent street demonstrations have caused many people to avoid downtown Portland. David recalled that after one demonstration, the entire downtown area looked like a ghost town. He added, that city government continues to increase the cost of doing business in Portland.

Small business owners provide valuable jobs, services and tax revenue that are essential to our city. Portland City Council’s policies are causing businesses to close or leave Portland for more business-friendly cities. I support listening and collaborating with Portland businesses to make our city a better and affordable place to live.

[1] https://pdx.eater.com/2019/1/15/18183911/2019-portland-restaurant-closures

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Low Income Housing Solutions

One of the greatest challenges to successfully transition the homeless off the streets is finding affordable housing with access to transportation to their place of employment.

The average rent for a 766 sq. ft. apartment in Portland is $1,544 per month[1]. However, the rents vary greatly depending on the apartment type. The apartment rent distributions in our city are as follows:

  • $ 701 to $1,000 per month       8%
  • $1,001 to $1,500 per month   47%
  • $1,501 to $2,000 per month   31%
  • > $2,000 per month                14%

The estimated take home pay for people working minimum wage workers in Oregon is approximately $1,500 per month. Low wages and high rents present an almost insurmountable financial barrier to the homeless.

Transition Projects is responding to Oregon’s housing crisis by providing an innovative concept for low-income housing. The low-income single adult housing (LISAH) concept employs a modular system of prefabricated units, which will reduce capital and operating costs and promote a sense of community among the residents.

A LISAH project will soon provide seventy-two low-income and formerly homeless individuals a home in the Kenton neighborhood of North Portland. The innovative project, designed by Holst Architecture will consist of four buildings around a central outdoor space. Equally important, the Kenton location is situated close to the MAX light rail, bus lines and commercial shopping areas.

Transition Projects has been working to help people in Portland move from the streets in into safe housing and jobs since 1969. George Devendorf, Executive Director of Transition Projects was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to help me understand Portland’s homeless crisis.

Project Transition is consistently rated as one of Oregon’s best nonprofit organizations. In my opinion, Project Transition is doing exceptional work addressing the homeless crisis in Portland. I will be an advocate for Project Transition, if I am fortunate enough to gain the support of the Portland voters in the 2020 election.

 

[1] https://www.rentcafe.com/average-rent-market-trends/us/or/portland/

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Is Portland Committed To Addressing Climate Change?

In June 2017, Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commissioners voted unanimously to commit to use 100% of the community’s electricity from renewable energy by 2035 and generate zero carbon emissions by 2050. Portland’s plan also included commitments for energy efficiency, community-based renewable energy, job training, transit expansion and electric buses.

Today, over 90 cities have committed to clean energy goals[1]. Six cities in Alaska, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas and Vermont now generate 100% of their electricity from renewable energy? How is Portland doing? The answer is disappointing at best.

In April 2019, Portland’s transit agency, TriMet introduced the first all-electric bus, which will soon be joined by four more electric buses. However, this news was followed by the TriMet transit board approving a contract to purchase 31 diesel buses! The transit board further approved a plan to buy as many as 159 diesel buses in the future!

Is Portland’s city government really committed to clean, green energy or is this just political rhetoric? In my opinion, our city’s renewable energy commitment should be measured, and the results published annually. The Portland City Council should then address the results and what will be done to keep the plan on track.  Stop the political rhetoric, Portland deserves clean green energy!

 

[1] Sierra Club – www.sierraclub.com

Kurt, Small Business Owner

Kurt runs a building design business in Portland. His company has been creating residential and multifamily designs for over 35 years. Kurt also owns rental property in Portland.

Kurt took time from his busy schedule to share his frustrations about the Portland City Council. He finds doing business increasingly difficult due to the current city government. He is also frustrated that the City Council implies that all landlords are the enemy.

Kurt told me about a recent experience he had with one problematic tenant. The tenant fell several months behind in his rent and then began fighting with his roommate. As the fighting escalated the neighbors began to call the police out to the apartment.

The fighting resulted in holes being knocked in the walls and extensive damage to the apartment. Kurt was required to give the problematic tenant 90 days’ notice and pay for him to move to another apartment. Kurt never received payment for the back rent and had to make expensive repairs to the apartment.

Although the Portland City Council has implemented rent control, the average apartment rent over the previous six months has increased by 3.6%[1]. Why? The City Council has added fees for apartment owners and property taxes increase every year. Kurt has not increased the rents in his apartments for several years. However, he intends to increase the rents this year due to the costs the city has now levied on all landlords.

Although the rent control policies passed by the City Council were well intended, the results are actually causing rents to increase. The City Council’s policies are also causing businesses to leave Portland and move to more business-friendly cities. I support listening and collaborating with Portland businesses to make our city a better and affordable place to live.

Jack

 

[1] Rent Jungle www.rentjungle.com

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Speed Safety Cameras Can Reduce Road Fatalities

In June 2015, the Portland City Council passed a resolution adopting Vision Zero, a plan to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on our city streets. Vision Zero laid out the following strategies to make this commitment a reality:

  1. Protect Pedestrians
  2. Reduce Speeds City Wide
  3. Design Streets to Protect Human Lives
  4. Create a Culture of Shared Responsibility

In my opinion, the Portland Department of Transportation (PDOT) has made progress at installing new or upgraded traffic signals on high crash network streets. However, Portland’s Vision Zero report shows that in 2018, 16 pedestrians and 9 motorcyclists died on Portland streets and highways. Although more pedestrians died in 2017 (20), pedestrian fatalities have trended up over the last five years. Motorcycle fatalities have been steadily trending up over the same period.

Why are traffic fatalities increasing? In my opinion, because drivers are traveling at excessive speeds. Why isn’t the Vision Zero strategy of reducing speeds city wide working? The two key objectives of this strategy were to 1.) set safe speed limits and 2.) enforce the speed limit.

The speed limits have been reduced in select areas of the city. However, simply posting new signs won’t result in drivers following the speed limits or  safer driving. The Portland police are significantly understaffed and are unable to effectively enforce speed limits across the entire city.

Photo enforcement of speed limits has proven to dramatically reduce the number of drivers from traveling at excessive speeds in many major cities in the United States, Canada and Europe.

I support installing speed safety cameras and dual red-light running/speed safety cameras at multiple locations across Portland. In my opinion, these cameras will dramatically reduce needless traffic fatalities.

Jack

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