Dressed in black-and-white striped convict outfits, roughly a dozen Multnomah County janitors protested on the library steps last week. They were concerned that their jobs may be cut, and inmates hired in their place.
With Multnomah County pulling up $20 million short on its budget, the County is looking for creative ways to save money; Dan Oldham of Multnomah County Sheriff Department claims that using jail inmates to sweep and empty trash cans would save $1 million annually.
"It's a decision that the County has to make: which ax to gorge," says Oldham. He also points out that the inmates will wear coveralls, not the black-and-white striped suits. IAN THOMAS
Since December, a band of homeless people have squatted on a small patch of ODOT property under the Broadway Bridge. Dubbing their turf "Dignity Village," they have been there long enough to consider the desolate grass as their home; yet last week, City Hall gave Dignity Village their eviction notice.
The latest demand from City Hall calls for the homeless to leave no later than July 1. As the number of squatters has swelled from 15 to approximately 80, the city has become concerned about sanitation and safety. Twice in the past several weeks, police have been contacted by members of Dignity Village about shoving matches.
"They can't be referees," pointed out Bob Durston, Chief of Staff for City Councilman Erik Sten. "No one has the legal right to stay," he added, pointing out that the police don't want to decide who stays and who goes.
A few weeks ago, Sten's office, which oversees the Bureau of Housing, received a written complaint that Dignity Village was violating zoning laws. By law, they are required to enforce the complaint.
Responding with tempered alarm and a good deal of gumption to find a new site, Camp Dignity has begun to shop for a new location. Reportedly, Portland Development Commission is entertaining a proposal to establish a makeshift camp on riverfront city property.
On Sunday, June 3, Dignity Village will host a "teach-in" from 1:30 pm-4:30 pm at the First Unitarian Church at SW Salmon and 12th. PHIL BUSSE