Homeless nonprofit Sisters of the Road appears to have gotten wise to Portland's "pretend to listen, then go ahead and do what you were planning to do anyway" approach to government, and is planning to hold a "truth commission" on the controversial sit/lie ordinance on Thursday August 7, four days before the city of Portland's own planned "community forum" to discuss the law, on August 11, organized by the mayor's Street Access For Everyone (except the poor) committee.
"We lack confidence that the voices of people most affected by this law will be taken seriously during the SAFE public hearing," says Michael Buonocore, Sisters' Associate Director. "Therefore, we will have our own forum where people will be heard."
The aim of the truth commission, which will be held at 5:30pm at Sisters' cafe, 133 NW 6th, is to "provide a space where concerns and experiences related to the sit/lie law will be genuinely listened to and respected."
That's not to say that the SAFE oversight committee and city councilors like Civil Rights Attorney Nick Fish won't nod and smile on the 11th, then rubber stamp the ordinance for renewal regardless. But hey, this is Portland, after all: The city that likes to pretend democracy is pretending to listen. And it's good to see somebody willing to challenge the status quo. Even if their efforts aren't rewarded. Especially a nonprofit following in the nonviolent tradition of Dr.Martin Luther King.
Sisters withdrew from the SAFE committee in May, calling the sit/lie law "morally objectionable." Other homeless advocates, such as Monica Goracke of the Oregon Law Center, and Marc Jolin of JOIN, have maintained their seat at the SAFE table along with the committee's co-chair, Mike Kuykendall of the Portland Business Alliance.