As part of the trend to behave more like a big city, Portland is now targeting the hundreds of homeless living under the city's bridges. Presently, the city is pursuing an ice-skating rink that representatives routinely compare to NYC's Rockefeller Center, and in January Mayor Katz spent a good deal of time lobbying for a major-league baseball team. And now, the city is making a substantial effort to hide its homeless contingent.
In an announcement two weeks ago, police said that they are slated to conduct sweeps of the corridor underneath I-405, from NW Hoyt to SW Market. To add bite to these sweeps, after an initial warning, officers will issue criminal Trespass II citations (with fines as high as $600) to those sleeping on Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) lands. ODOT insists they did not ask the city to perform such a task.
Given the shortage of shelter space and the decreasing availability of social services, advocates for the homeless point out that these sweeps come at a particularly difficult time. (It is estimated that the number of beds in town is half the homeless population, and that nightly 400-plus men and women are turned away.) Advocates add that these sweeps are part of Mayor Katz's protocol that criminalizes homelessness. Last summer Katz supported a sit-lie ordinance. "It is not a solution," says Jamie Manuel from Crossroads, a homeless advocacy organization. JOSHUA CINELLI
FINALLY. SOME LIBERALS!
While our city council members and the mayor continue to stonewall an antiwar resolution and a petition to speak out against the USA Patriot Act, last week U.S. Congressmen from the Pacific Northwest took a stand against the hawkish Bush Administration. In October, the U.S. Senate and Congress both voted overwhelmingly for a resolution to support military action in Iraq. On Wednesday, Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) did what they could to restore the Pacific Northwest's reputation as peace-mongers and rabble-rousers: They demanded that Congress repeal the resolution.
Their demand came after Secretary of State Colin Powell made a highly circumstantial case to the UN that Iraq is hiding chemical depots. At a press conference, DeFazio decried Powell's indictment as "very tenuous." The lawmakers acknowledged that their dissent was likely to make them very unpopular. PHIL BUSSE