With predictions of heavy drought and a record fire season this summer, the US Forest Service (USFS) is getting at least one break: Multnomah County has decided not to spare its Forest Project, a program which sends juvenile and adult offenders out into the wild to build trails, clean up the woods, and otherwise work off their debt to society. With a pending $7.8 million budget cut for Multnomah County, it looked as if the Forest Project was on a dead-end path, but last week was spared.
Each year, the county provides USFS with over 35,000 hours of manual labor at a value close to $11 million. Instead of traditional incarceration, sentenced offenders--including, last summer, Tre Arrow for his conviction for trespassing on a Forest Service building--are shipped off to program that is part-summer camp, part-chain gang.
"Its a win-win program," says Linda Turner, public affairs specialist for the USFS, "the county gets an outlet for offenders and we get to tend to projects we could otherwise not afford." ANDRAY ABRAHMIAN
Let Them Eat Bureaucrats
"It's okay to let [immigrants] come in and pick it and process it, but we won't let them eat it," says Moureen Rosera of Oregon Action. There to ask state agencies to remove barriers hindering needy families from obtaining food stamps, Rosera was standing in front of 120 people crammed into a local church last week.
As part of welfare reform in 1996, federal regulations withdrew all food stamp benefits from legal immigrants. Some of these benefits have been restored--mainly to children, the elderly, and the disabled. At present, though, most legal adult immigrants remain ineligible for food stamps. Moreover, even though most immigrant adults are ineligible for direct benefits, when calculating benefits for families, Adult and Family Services (AFS) still adds in the parents' income to their equations. This increases the income-level of the family and, in turn, greatly reduces what benefits a family receives.
Put on the spot at last week's meeting, AFS officials promised to stop calculating in parents' income, but failed to say when. MICHELLE MILNE