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"Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss'd to me

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door."

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Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax

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Half of the US Is Broke

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The myth of the Christian country

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“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937

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A Just Peace

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SIP contract online

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Middle East friendship chart

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Corporations enriching shareholders

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- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry

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Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks

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"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  

 

RAD'S

WEBSITE PICKS: 


 

  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:

Realclearpolitics

  • Jim Hightower:   

Jimhightower.com

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column

Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 


Hard Times in Oregon: 

Hardtimes

The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


  

      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   

 

 

    

    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People

http://www.npr.org


 Homelessness

    Connecting the dots between homelessness & hunger in Oregon and Washington County: 

Homelessness:  

•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.

Hunger:

•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

     In Washington County, Oregon's "economic engine," the divide between the affluent and the working poor continues.  We have a 19,000 unit gap in affordable low income rental housing.  County political and business leaders are indifferent to this crisis...   


A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  

 

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison

 

"Philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways. The point is, however, to change it. 

- Karl Marx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAD Lines

There are 42 housing units for every 100 low income families in Oregon

Housing Needs in Oregon 

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#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace

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"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941

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Obamacare is working in Oregon!

Oregon's uninsurance rate cut more than half following federal health reforms

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Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel

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Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 

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Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!

"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  

Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   

     Why do Intel employees who are house hunting in Hillsboro, Aloha or Beaverton refer to an area within a 5 mile radius of Intel plants as "the dead zone?"  

      Do they know something we don't?  QuestionIntel.com  We couldn't trust banks "too big to fail," so why should we trust Intel?

Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw

 

BLOGS:

From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now
democracynow.org

The Daily Kos

dailykos.com

Blue Oregon

blueoregon.com

 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 

 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001


    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 

americanobserver

    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   

GarrisonKeillor

 

     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 


"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

 

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

 

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

 

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  

 

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?'

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?" 

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921)

 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11


"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”  

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."

- Abraham Lincoln

 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..."

- Edmund Burke 

 

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”

- Jonathan Swift

 

" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."

- Garrison Keillor


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Tuesday
Dec222015

NIKE - IS OREGON A "COMPANY" STATE?  

 

NIKE – Just do it…?  

     TrackTown Oregon aka Eugene, Nike's company town, may have bitten off more than it can chew or digest. 

     Eugene was awarded the 2021 outdoor track and field championships usually a monopoly of cities like Beijing or Paris.  But with Oregon boosters such as then Oregon Secretary of State, now Governor Kate Brown and Oregon’s premier sports apparel company, Nike – Eugene got the nod. 

     This may be a case of “be careful what you wish for” since the awarding body, The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) is in the middle of a doping and bribery investigation.  The Oregon connected wheelers and dealers have been linked to Nike, of course.  Predictably, Nike isn’t talking.    

     So stay tuned – Eugene and Oregon could be put on the map in the worst possible light of day.  Where “Uncle Phil” is involved there is smoke and if so there may be fire.

International attention focuses on Eugene… 

      A parallel saga is immerging with the Nike connection to OHSU and it’s Knight Cancer Research initiative.  OHSU successfully matched the $100 million dollar challenge grant from Phil and Penny Knight as early funding money for the Knight Center. 

     This required $200 million from Oregon taxpayers and more from local philanthropy.  As with Lola what “Uncle Phil” wants he gets. 

     While the goal of the Knight Center, to be located in the South Waterfront development district below Pill Hill on the Willamette River, is early detection – this latest crap shoot at the "war on cancer" may not pan out in the long run.  You can’t just declare war on the big C.  

How will OHSU spend $1 billion? - Video | ...

     One could question the premise of the goal.  We know that cancer is related to environmental and economic factors.  In the Portland air shed it is documented that such diseases cluster around areas subjected to industrial pollution where communities of color reside. 

     Why not invest in more primary care for low-income families who live in such areas – as NE and North Portland along the 1-5 north corridor?  Most experts agree that primary care is the most important kind of care just as early education is. But that have the "sizzle" factor.   . 

     And if one knows anything about Phil Knight and Nike – there’s a huge corporate ego involved in a state that has few home grown big box corporations.  Intel doesn’t count because it’s a California based company albeit Oregon’s largest employer. 

     There is also an economic development "play" here which former state economist now chair of PSU's econ department, Tom Potiowsky noted - such a research center "helps the reputation of your city [and state] which has always taken second fiddle to its neighbor to the north.  

     Knight Center will add immeasurably to Oregon's medical industrial complex but like many other centers there is no guarantee a silver bullet aimed at cancer will be discovered. That takes the synergy of expertise, collaboration and good luck...

     The Nike connection to TrackTown and to cancer research as with the elusive goal of a national football championship for Qauck U may turn out to be a bust not a boom no matter how many “mercenary” scientists are lured to PDX or QB’s from the Big Sky are recruited!       

     "One never knows, do one!" - Fats Waller 

Thursday
Dec172015

THE POLITICS OF PARANOIA…  

Adolescent narcissism on display:    

     As a citizen activist I’m committed to making the political process work for the average person.  However, there are times when I worry the mood du jour  - rampant paranoia on the Left or the Right – makes it impossible for us to engage in civil discourse and more importantly come to common sense solutions. 

The Particular: 

     As a member of a group which has been working for over 2 years to craft a Good Neighbor Agreement with Intel, Oregon’s largest employer, we’ve worked hard to establish a protocol to protect the public of Washington County from health harming emissions from Intel’s high tech fabs in our county. 

     On Wednesday night we met for the final meeting to set the stage for the lawyers on both sides to finalize the GNA which includes a health risk assessment, HRA, which adopts the highest standard available based on a model used in California.  Our third party consultant has worked with Intel engineers to produce this rubric. 

     Four of five of us, as public citizens, support the GNA and the HRA modeling as the most robust vehicle for holding Intel accountable for the next 5 years with the possibility of revision and renewal over this time.  One of our colleagues announced he’s opposed to the GNA which came as no surprise.     

     He packed the meeting Wednesday night with folks who had never attended any of our monthly meetings for the past year.  More to the point, he came into this process with an anti-Intel bias so he never addressed the issue with an open mind.  Science didn’t guide him but paranoia ran amok as it did with those who spoke. 

     Since the GNA is not subject to a vote but is up to the lawyers on both sides to negotiate the final agreement – the opposition of one will not decide the course.  But what is disappointing and disturbing is that a resort to passion not evidence was the determiner of what folks had to say. 

The General: 

     This condition of political paranoia is rampant in this election year on all fronts – 7 years of the GOP trying to make President Obama a “failed” president, a Tea party revolt in the GOP and The Donald ramping up flamboyant rhetoric to make his case for the GOP nomination. 

     Paranoia on the Right is matched by paranoia on the Left.  Every morning when I open my e-mail I am deluged by inflammatory e-mail from the Democratic Party, Left wing interest groups and media heavyweights like Salon.com, Nation.com or Slate.com who pander to the worst angels of the Left just as Fox News does on the Right. 

     I also see this in the Black Lives Matter movement on college campuses.  When an idiot uses social media to spew racist hate, it’s taken as a personal threat not just as deaf and dumb speech – in the age of The Donald.  Back in the ‘60s the bigots lynched Black people.  Now we put hate speech in the same box.  

     Don’t get me wrong – when hate speech becomes “actionable” the perps should get the full force of the law!  But whatever happened to the adage of “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me?”  Yes, there are bullies out there.  Most of them are cowards hiding behind social media anonymity.  (see Comments)

     I also find it ironic that the call on college campuses is for “diversity.”  My god that goes back to the ‘60s.  I thought we were way past the benighted era of white privilege. Turn on the tube – even Southern football teams are fully de-segregated more so than our neighborhoods or places of worship.

Agency or Victim?  

     I wonder “if” the problem here is a new form of racism or the sense of virtual empowerment of a generation unlike those of us who navigated the ‘60s by earning our stripes the hard way in the Civil Rights, Anti-War, Environmental or Feminist Movements?  Today social media is the false god of those on the Left or Right demanding change.   

     People want their rights NOW – better yet in a nanno second like in a TV drama.   Well in the Arab Spring we saw a movement by the young of the Middle East that for one brief shining moment raised hopes.  But it was built on the quick sand of social media not the hard job of organizing a community. 

     We are so addicted to our I-phones and I-pads that we react before we think and we rant instead of talk to each other face to face.      

     In the age of social media everything is reduced to an inflamed sound bite intended to reinforce preconceived ideas rather than to lead to civil discourse.  And of course with ISIS out there – we are subjected to global paranoia on a 24/7 basis.  It’s like humankind has lost its capacity for logical evidenced based thought. 

     But of course detractors will say they have the corner on truth.  In the discussion on Intel emissions there was no evidence of this but merely as the 'Car Guys' Tom and Ray would say “comments minus the thought process.”  We live in a world where everyone has his or her own truth and there is no middle ground.  

     "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  

Wednesday
Dec162015

OREGON CORPORATE SCROOGES AT WORK  

THE COLOR OF $$$

     At last week's Oregon Leadership Summit, really an intended pro-business PR snow job, the local CEOs of Intel and Columbia Sportswear trashed the idea of raising corporate taxes to solve Oregon's funding problems. Intel's main guru said this -

     "You can't create a healthy (business) environment by taking a higher percentage of a constant value for the state" according to Intel chairman Andy Bryant.  

     What does this doublespeak "constant value" mean?  It's incoherent.  Intel is a $9 billion plus profit making global empire which pays NO state income tax!  It's an example of why corporate types like pols need "handlers" - they can't think or write clearly...  

     The "corporates" are scared because the "suck up to business" John Kitzhaber no longer runs the show in the Puzzle Palace...   Many in and outside the capitol given the time of the year have "tax and spend" sugar plum fairies bubbling in their heads!    

     It's enough to make these corporate Scrooges say "bah humbug..."   It's time for the ghosts of Christmas past to pay a visit to these sharks...       

Saturday
Dec122015

REAGAN TO OBAMA - EDUCATION REFORM, RHETORIC VS. REALITY

No Child Left Behind Is Dead, So What Happens to Standardized Testing?

     On Thursday morning, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law ending the unpopular George W. Bush–era legislation No Child Left Behind Act that since 2002 had been the gold standard of education reform.  But as the federal government eases itself out of K-12 education reform, high stakes testing still remains though scaled backed significantly.

     But this latest iteration of school reform doesn't address the major reason why there is an education achievement gap in the richest nation in the world - the economic class/racial divide in America. 

     As long as the middle class is increasingly marginalized by income inequality - there will be no change in education results in American schools.  Children from affluent families with parents who are college grads will do better in school than those who hail from the wrong side of the tracks - be they white, Latino, African American or Asian. 

      Educational success is deeply rooted in what family you are born into - kids born into families of the working poor or those who live below the poverty line will never succeed in school because their families are navigating the terrain of an economic system that privileges the well-off and discriminates against children from families struggling with low wage jobs, poverty or homelessness.

     How can one expect a child (1 in 4 in Oregon) to succeed in school when their family life is in turmoil - they come to school hungry and their parents struggle to find a safe place to live or a decent paying job?

    Education reform is simply an act of denial which is founded on the false premise that if one goes to a good school with good teachers, then one will graduate on time and move up the economic ladder.  There is no evidence to support this assumption but that doesn't stop the likes of the Gates or the Zukermans from embracing this illusion. To do otherwise would put into focus their own position of "white" privilege. 

Lessons in education, from overseas

     Finland is considered by some a model of success but if one reads the article, this rosy scenario is clouded but what is clear is that poverty diminishes success in schools no matter where one lives...    

      The mythology of education reform has cycled through Amerian society from its beginning but the major thrust was born out of John Dewey's many books on the subject in the 1940s, then Admiral Hyman Rickover's advocacy in the Cold War era and culminating in the Reagan era with the famous study - A Nation At Risk.  The flaw in each was the failure to connect education success or failure with class.  

     Now we have moved to a new cycle where education reform is pushed backed to the states which at this time don't have the resources to fund major education reform, if it was even plausible.  Until we get at the root problem of income inequality politicians, education bureaucrats and the corporate elite will fixate on this latest reform model - which amounts to blaming the poor for school failure. 

     In Oregon our educational funding gap is near $2 billion...   Show me the money!  Governor Brown seems ready to deal...*

     In the current presidential cycle, with Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders diving into the same well of discontent to swell their ranks of supporters it would be a god send for them to talk about education.  But neither has addressed this issue in any serious way - instead they stick with their well-rehearsed stump speeches - making America great again (Trump) or the economic divide (Sanders).   

     Both appeal to angry voters but neither offers answers on how to help kids succeed in school.  The answer is quite simple - in the 1950s after the Greatest Generation returned from WW II - we poured billions of dollars of federal tax dollars and accumulated debt into turning the US into the most robust middle class society in the world.  That was followed by the most rapid economic growth in US history. 

      But since the Reagan years with the help of Oregon's Bob Packwood we reshaped the tax code to privilege the rich and corporate America while at the same time disinvesting in the public sector - schools, housing, highways and infra-structure.  President Obama's calls for reinvesting in American have fallen on deaf ears his entire presidency.  Nobody in Congress wants to bite the hands of the corporate elite that feeds them!  

Following the Money on Tax Inversions

     Hedrick Smith of Reclaim the American Dream says it's time to connect the dots between corporate campaign finance contributions and corporate tax inversions.

     As so off into the wilderness the power elite go inventing "reforms upon reforms" which avoid the central problem - until we return to the pre-Reagan tax system and rid ourselves of trickle down economics - in another 20 years we'll be asking the same question - this time why did the Every Student Succeeds Act fail?  Until the top 10% and corporate America are taken off the dole, nothing will change!  

     "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild 

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      PS:  To increase general fund revenue there are several alternatives - return to pre-1980s progrerssive tax brackets, reinstate the univeral tax on corporate world wide income, adopt a state sales tax or create a consumption tax whcih taxes the added value of products.  It's not for a lack of options, the failure here is political will in the governor's office and within the Oregon legislature. 

 

Thursday
Dec102015

HOMELESSNESS IN OREGON - FIGHTING TO END IT...  

     EDITOR’S NOTE:  The Pamplin Papers did an insert this week titled “A Helping Hand” focusing on homelessness and the people who offer help.  I was interviewed and profiled for this special edition insert. 

     It’s a great supplement which covers all the Metro area plus.  I’m posting my interview on my blog to make some minor corrections which didn’t get into the final edition due to the tyranny of publishing time.  

     Here's the corrected online version of A-helping-hand-2015

by The Times
Homelessness. Everyone agrees that it’s one of the most heart-wrenching crises of our era, but what to do about it?
==================================================================

By Nancy Townsley, Forest Grove News-Times      

     Citizen activist Russ Dondero came by his advocacy for the homeless honestly.  

     He contends we don’t have just a homeless problem, we have an endemic low income housing shortage problem in the Metro area and in the “other” Oregon.  

     When the Forest Grove resident and former college professor was growing up in Douglas County in the 1950s, conversations around the dinner table often turned to the plight of those struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

     Back then his father, Charles Dondero, was director of the Housing Authority in that southern Oregon county, setting the stage for Russ's 25-year campaign to end homelessness in Washington County.

     “I grew up in a house where the housing issue for low-income people was a daily part of the conversation,” Dondero, now 73, said last month. “The work I've done is a legacy I owe to my dad.”

     Since Dondero retired from his career as a political science professor at Pacific University in 2007 and gave up a gig as an adjunct instructor at Portland State University in 2009, he has traveled to Salem as many as three times a week to talk with state legislators about the growing problem of homelessness and the lack of affordable housing. 

     He tells anyone who will listen — including Gov. Kate Brown — that on any given night in Washington County 5,400 people, including youths and families, live without shelter.

     In legislative hearings in Salem, Dondero testifies that a scarcity of affordable housing is driving up the number of homeless people — and the situation hasn't improved since the Great Recession abated.  "Until homelessness became a national crisis in the eyes of key legislators, people largely ignored it,” he said.

     This fall Dondero told his colleagues on the Washington County Homeless Plan Advisory Committee, HPAC, that across the metro area there's a 40,270-unit shortage of low-income housing units; that $14.88 per hour is the average wage at which someone can afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment; that 6,400 K-12 students are homeless each year; and that “too many Oregonians are a medical emergency or job loss away from being homeless.”

     He points out that for the most vulnerable populations — the working poor, military veterans, the disabled, farm workers, the elderly, victims of domestic abuse, the mentally ill, addicts and former felons — the housing supply “doesn't match the need, and never will unless we change plans.”

     In 1991, when Dondero took a sabbatical from Pacific to focus on the housing crisis among migrant farm workers in western Washington County, he and others pushed for the creation of a state Housing Trust Fund to provide rental assistance for low-income residents and to prevent homelessness.  

     To this day, “that program along with other state programs has helped build thousands of affordable housing dwellings across the state to keep the working poor from descending into homelessness,” Dondero said.

     But along with a drop in federal housing assistance that began in the 1980s — when the Reagan Administration “basically decommissioned public housing,” Dondero says — came an affordable housing crisis that today shows a shortage of 14-19,000 units in Washington County alone.  

     Gentrification has made things worse in North Portland, where the African American population and the working poor have been pushed out to make way for higher-income renters coveted by developers.

     “That's happening throughout the region — it's already happening in Hillsboro, and it will affect Forest Grove,” predicts Dondero, who gets fired up about the issue of upper-end housing moving in at the expense of affordable housing.

     When a development proposal for “all luxury apartments” at the former Times Litho site in downtown Forest Grove reaches the city council he said, “I'm going to be in there to ask the question - why not include affordable rental housing in the mix?” 

     Dondero would like to see a multi-pronged approach to providing affordable housing in Washington County that includes

  •   dedicating a portion of the Real Estate Transfer Tax to the effort;

  •   ending regulatory barriers that discourage for-profit developers from entering the market;

  •   passing a public tax levy or county bond to support affordable housing; and

  •   establishing low-income housing set-aside policy that integrates lower-income renters and owners in new developments.

     “Housing advocates should be willing to sit down with private developers to craft affordable housing priorities,” Dondero says.

     Although the Ten Year Plan in Washington County has made “significant inroads in address the homeless and housing crisis,” the double-whammy of the Great Recession and what he calls “the changing face of homelessness” has effectively stalled its progress.

      “The classic stereotype of a homeless guy on the street near the railroad station is a one dimensional image of the homeless,” says Dondero. “We have whole families in crisis. The more likely profile of homelessness is a woman with children — suddenly she can't pay the rent and they're evicted.”

     The face of homelessness, Dondero insists, is “really the face of people who've been put at risk because of the economics of a housing market that is not geared toward the working poor.”

     Federal vouchers for vets and others — which authorize the payment of rental housing assistance to private landlords — are going unused because “there's no incentive to rent to people on the fringes,” Dondero says. And, veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are going to add to the ranks of the housing insecure in Washington County."  

     Landlords who refuse to rent to people with vouchers is also against Oregon law. Legal Aid or the Oregon Law Project should sue on behalf of such vulnerable people.  

     The bottomline is we need more affordable housing for low income Oregonians.  Emergency shelters are a necessary but not sufficient band aid, a triage not long term solution.    

     Dondero acknowledges that the effort to end homelessness “will never be done.” But even as his wife, Ann, gets ready to retire next year after 37 years as the children's librarian at the Forest Grove Public Library and the couple spends more time with their five-year-old granddaughter in Portland, he'll keep on beating the drum for the cause.  

     His reasons are deeply personal.   

     “Both of my sons been on the edge of homelessness in the past,” said Dondero. “If it hadn't been for Ann and me and our resources, they would have been out on the street.”

     Despite being an unabashed “left-wing liberal of the Bernie Sander’s ilk,” Dondero describes himself as a collaborator who's able to work with Republicans as well as Democrats that focuses on getting the job done, being practical not ideological.

      He's hopeful that in 2016 the Oregon Legislature will entertain major bills aimed at conquering housing instability across the region. When it does, Dondero will be in Salem to work with others to drum up the “yes” votes.  

     “I want the message of economic injustice to be heard,” he said. “This is a moment in time when I think something positive can happen.”

 

A safe place for Beaverton/Tigard area high school students experiencing homelessness  



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