Mildred Gale, a resident in outer Southeast Portland, explains: "[The city] didn't dig storm drains out here, but they're making us pay." Many streets in outer Southeast do not have curbs or are unpaved. As such, most outlying homes and streets do not have access to city storm drains. Even so, Gale's sewer bill is about $81 a month, she says; $23.65 of that is for storm drainage.
She and other residents, calling themselves the Portland Tea Party, plan to withhold storm water charges from their sewer bills, paying these instead to a bank account. This is a legal form of protest; they plan to pay the difference in their bills into the account until the city responds to their complaints.
"About two years ago, [the city] said they would look into it and reduce [runoff charges] by about 35 percent," says Gale. But nothing has changed. She adds, "Every time we bring it up they claim that computer problems won't allow them to access the information, or make other excuses."
"They say, 'if we reduce your bill, we'll have to add it to other people's bills,'" continues Gale. Protesters feel that lower-income households in the area who don't use the services are subsidizing water runoff for higher-income Portlanders in the downtown, Mt. Tabor, and West Hills neighborhoods. ANNA BOND
SCHOOL'S DEATH SENTENCEAfter helping 636 women over the past decade transition from prison into the daily demands of life on the outside, the Women in Community Service (WICS) program held its final graduation last Sunday. Offering mentors and teaching basic skills--from anger management to how-to-shop--the program helped convicted female felons recalibrate their lives.
In spite of documented price-savings to the state--the program cost $3000 for each participant and reduced recidivism rates, as opposed to a $22,000 price tag to incarcerate one woman for a year--WICS was one of the latest victims for state budget cuts.
Even though a cloud of doom hung over Sunday's graduation ceremony, a spokesperson for WICS, Stephanie Gaidosh said that the mood was "celebratory." PHIL BUSSE