Letters to the Editor March 2016

To the Editor: 

For over forty years, the SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition has listened, helped, advocated, and educated on issues important to the twenty neighborhoods in SE Portland (plus a bit of NE Portland south of I-84.)

Last month the chair of Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood Association, one of our Coalition’s least privileged communities, and their representative on the SE board, asked for our help on homeless issues at SE 82nd Ave. and the Springwater Trail.

The immediate problems concerned criminal behavior by a small minority camping along the trail.

Neighborhood merchants, residents, bicyclists, and campers all had similar complaints.  City elected officials were not responding to calls, emails, and letters. The level of frustration was high and tempers were getting frayed.

SE Uplift responded by helping them set up a community meeting on the issues. The meeting took place February 4 and was a standing-room only session with neighbors, activists, homeless folk, the press, the police and Springwater Trail users.

Everyone got to speak, including Josh Alpert, the mayor’s chief of staff, who did a good job explaining the mayor’s plan.  The mayor’s office is taking steps to help alleviate the problems in the area. SE Uplift is keeping a keen eye on the problems to see that this actually takes place.

While the meeting was set up, we were surprised to find criticism on social media that we were elitist and did not invite homeless activists and the homeless.

Given the facts, these were surprising complaints.  Social media has its uses, but in this case, the primary complaints were on a site that did not allow us to respond and correct the posts with the facts.

The board was concerned about this and passed a unanimous resolution that:

“Whereas SE Uplift and its Board of Directors already seek to represent everyone within its borders, whereas SE Uplift and its Board of Directors take the challenge of improving representation seriously, and recognize that this is an ongoing project that benefits from periodic affirmation, be it therefore resolved that statements or actions by SE Uplift board members or staff that are contrary to these goals and principles are considered entirely inappropriate.”

Put even more simply, we work for the good of all SE residents: whatever their ethnicity, age, financial circumstances or housing situation – we have no “test” for membership in our organization. Our doors are always open (and we answer our emails)

Robert McCullough

President, SE Uplift

To the Editor:

The recent issue of The Southeast Examiner outlined potential cuts to the Parks Department budget. That story incorrectly described cuts to the city’s elm program.

Readers may have been left with the impression that the city would be cutting $200,000 from support to Save Our Elms in Ladd’s Addition. This is not accurate.

The proposed budget cuts would eliminate critical functions such as the summer Elm Monitor position that provides early detection and testing for Dutch Elm Disease on city streets and parks. The city would stop inoculation programs in city parks including the Park Blocks.

Another discontinued critical function is the removal, at city expense, of infected street trees. Rapid removal of elms, once infected, is critical to slowing the spread of the fungus.

The proposed budget would shift financial responsibility of tree removal from the city to the adjacent homeowner, at a cost of three to five thousand dollars per tree. We are strongly opposed to the proposed cuts to the program, and will testify before city council to restore the funding.

In twenty years, the community has lost 65 mature elms, but planted over 250 new elms, and 400 other tree varieties. While our volunteers have forged an important partnership with the city, Save Our Elms receives no direct financial support from the Parks Bureau budget.

The proposed cuts will frustrate our efforts to quickly identify and remove diseased trees, but will not have an impact on our income. With few exceptions, Save Our Elms has relied on neighbors’ generosity to provide our financial needs.

David Kaplan, Secretary

Save Our Elms

Letters to the Editor March 2016

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