First Gretzky, then Alanis Morissette, and now, maybe, health care. An initiative promising the same wide-spread health care coverage that Canadians enjoy is on its way to the 2002 ballot. Designed by a grassroots organization, Health Care for All-Oregon (HCA-O), the initiative strives to provide coverage for those who are most vulnerable- children, young people, and the unemployed. In Multnomah County alone, it's estimated there are 30,000 children and young adults without health insurance.
"You'll be covered just being a resident of the state," says Max Wilkins, vice-chair for the HCA-O. "Everybody gets the same benefit package regardless of income, pre-existing conditions, or whether you're working or not."
With funds coming from payroll and income taxes, the program would work similar to Canada's. SHANNA GERMAIN
Soothed by reports that juvenile crime is waning, Kitzhaber is apparently feeling as snug as a suburban bug these days. Reportedly, the two-time governor, who has reigned during the implementation of get-tough-on-crime deals, has decided to trim millions from Oregon Youth Authority's (OYA) budget.
In Portland this means that local gang enforcement organizations are preparing for a substantial blow. "We really haven't worked out how we're going to cope yet," says John Miller, program administrator for the Gang Resource Intervention Team (GRIT), which operates out of the Multnomah County Juvenile Court.
GRIT and other gang task forces rely heavily on funds that funnel through OYA. Last year's contribution was roughly $1.4 million. Without these funds, GRIT worries they will need to cut back programs that track convicted offenders, provide drug and alcohol intervention as well as therapy and counseling services.
The budget cuts come at a time when gang activity has spread further throughout Portland. In the late '80s, gangs asserted themselves in several Northeast neighborhoods. As families have migrated to newly available low-income housing in the eastern edge of Multnomah County and Southeast Portland, gang activity has moved with them, said Miller. ANDRAY ABRAHAMIAN