THE "LETTERS TO THE EDITOR" ARE BELOW THE EDITORIAL

From The Editor

You elect them…but how accountable are they?

In May, we had another election on which there were a number of judges on the ballot – and, more often than not, unopposed. Even when opposed, there was little offered to make the distinction between the candidates.

We ourselves been voting on judges since we first cast a ballot, but in almost every case, we had no idea how they were actually doing on the bench. We supposed that if a judge was performing differently than might be supposed, we’d hear about it in the press. But now, we discover, the press usually doesn’t know much about how they’re doing, either.

When a judicial action is performed in Multnomah County, it turns out, the only way the news media would know for sure which judge performed it would be to be sitting in the courtroom when it happened – and few if any news organizations have the budget to place reporters in every courtroom every day!  So, it does appear that there is a lack of transparency.

This problem has arisen as a result of THE BEE’s routinely tracking crimes and criminals affecting the specific area we serve – Inner Southeast Portland. And, although Southeast is far from being the crime hotspot of Multnomah County, we do have a variety of crimes happening here, some of them quite troubling, all the way up to homicide.

Our source for most of the information on crimes committed, investigated, and arrests made, is news releases from the Portland Police Bureau, as is true for all other media here. When an arrest is made for a notable crime in our area, we report it, often with a mug shot and a list of the charges. We also include the booking information into MCDC – the Multnomah County Detention Center.

But for most media, that’s where the news item stops. Not too long ago, THE BEE started taking it one step further, as a result of our discovery that accused criminals – often charged with major crimes, and who arguably could be a danger to the community if released – were somehow getting out of jail and back onto the streets, where sometimes they were rearrested for new crimes similar to the ones they were originally jailed for.

Of course, if bail was granted at their arraignment, they could have paid it, and gotten out that way. So we looked further.

Specifically, we followed the booking process into jail by obtaining the accused’s subsequent arraignment information. And what he found there surprised us enough that we now include this additional information in every such story we write.

It usually wasn’t paying bail that gave them a pass back to the streets. In fact, after bail is set by a judge, Multnomah County judges sometimes seem to ignore the bail requirement.

What has often been happening is that the accused are being released back into the community by our judges. Sometimes, “on own recognizance” – suggesting that the accused criminal, despite evidence of troubling deeds, can somehow be believed to be trustworthy. In more cases than not, these people are still expected to show up at their trial when released from jail that way – although sometimes they don’t, and then a warrant is issued.

And, as a point of interest, accused criminals arrested on warrants are sometimes among those who are once again released “on own recognizance” until their next trial.

The bottom line is that when you see on TV or read in a newspaper that an accused criminal has been apprehended and booked into MCDC, they may not stay in there even one day before they are back on the street again.

If there is an intended element of community protection in putting an alleged dangerous offender in jail until their trial, that element is all too often not realized. And, if there is any deterrent value in having swift justice follow a crime, that lesson seems to be becoming vague also.

THE BEE suggests that all media in the Portland area follow the booking process through arraignment, and include the outcome of the arraignment, to call more attention to what our elected judges are doing with the discretion they are granted. Certainly, a judge may well be able to offer a rationale for putting somebody who shot somebody with an illegal gun back on the street – for example – but we never get to hear that rationale, or judge the judge on it, ourselves.

However, more than that, THE BEE suggests that the local media reports on each arraignment start to include the name of the judge making the disposition at the arraignment! Because, although the arraignment records are readily available public documents, they DO NOT identify the judge making the adjudication in the case.

To be clear, this editorial is NOT about such releases, and whether they are justified or not – there is usually not enough information made available to know that. This editorial is actually about the lack of transparency about what judges do. If they are to be elected by the public, surely there should be some way for the public to know how they are performing their job.

It seems to us that if the judges were to be publicly identified with their actions at arraignments, voters would have a better idea what kind of justice they are obtaining from the judges they elect.

Would you like to see a little more judicial accountability?


Letters to the Editor

Honors for CHS

Editor,

Cleveland High School was ranked 5th in Oregon on U.S News And World Report’s 2020 “Best High Schools” rankings, released on April 21! Cleveland High School was ranked 489th nationally. Here is where you can read Cleveland’s profile page at the magazine – https://tinyurl.com/y72eztn3


Jennifer Wiandt Owens
International Baccalaureate Coordinator
Cleveland High

 

Thanks for “Lambert Gardens” retrospective

Editor,

Thank you for your article [by Dana Beck, June BEE] on Lambert Gardens. It brought back a great memory when I was a freshman in high school (1956). My friend Joan and our dates went to the Gardens; but when the attendant told us the admission price, we told her that our dates couldn’t afford it, and we turned to leave. She then told us to go in anyway, because not many teens our age came to see the Gardens. What a great experience. It was beautiful. I wish it was still there.

Fran Zimmerman Kamm
S.E. Chestnut Street
Milwaukie

Editor,

Enjoyed “Once the Pride of Portland: Southeast’s Lambert Gardens” [by Dana Beck] in your June issue. I thought readers might enjoy seeing a brief [amateur] film of the Gardens made in 1952 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_P7po-EcUvg


Aaron Andrade
S.E. Schiller Street


Woodstock thanks you for generosity

Editor,

The Friends of the Woodstock Community Center would like to thank everyone in the community who purchased plants to benefit the Community Center. Sales came to $2,117.74. As many of you know, our annual fundraiser, scheduled for May 9, 2020, at the Community Center, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Sandy Profeta, Nancy Hart, Silas Cook and Leslie Congleton, and Sonja Miller stepped up and sold donated plants at a safe distance, from their front and back yards. We’d like to thank them, and our 22 generous plant donors. We couldn't have done it without their enthusiasm and support. Your purchases and donations will help to maintain the Woodstock Community Center in the year to come. We look forward to seeing you again at next year's sale, hopefully in person at the Woodstock Community Center.

Terry Griffiths & Sandy Profeta
via e-mail

 

Things to consider about any COVID-19 vaccine

Editor,

The Physicians at Beeson Wellness Center in Westmoreland think it is important that the public have some more information regarding the most recent development of vaccines for the COVID-19 situation.

It has been suggested that the world will not go back to normal until everyone on the planet is vaccinated, but really, that has no scientific basis whatsoever. Recent studies suggest that roughly 80% of the population which is infected with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) will have no, or only mild, symptoms. When infected with a coronavirus, our body’s immune defense system goes to work producing natural killer cells and antibodies against the coronavirus – and, with no viruses capable of replication after about eight days, at that point we are no longer contagious to those around us. 

What of vaccine safety? In a race to bring a coronavirus vaccine to market at “warp speed”, vaccine manufacturers are being allowed to bypass the normally-required animal trials before trying the vaccine on humans, or human trials. Experts in the scientific community state this is a dangerous shortcut which eliminates important safety measures. 

Dr. Peter Hotez – Co-Director, Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, Baylor College of Medicine – when testifying in front of Congress, stated, “One of the things we are not hearing a lot about is the unique potential safety problem of coronavirus vaccines. This was first found in the early 1960’s with the respiratory syncytial virus vaccines. Some of these kids that got the vaccine actually did worse, and I believe there were two deaths as a consequence of that study.” 

So, we are now developing coronavirus vaccines at “warp speed”; vaccines with a poor track record – and manufacturers are being allowed to bypass animal trials.

What could possibly go wrong?

Daniel E Beeson, DC
Bri Beeson, DC
Charles Goldberg, MD
Shawn Soszka, ND

Thoughts on participating in Woodstock march

Editor,

I originally heard about the Black Lives Matter June 5th march on Woodstock Boulevard on Woodstock social media, but I also heard about it from neighbors and moms from Woodstock Elementary in the days leading up to it. Someone asked me why I wanted my children to go to the march with me. My answer is that my husband and I had already talked with our 3rd and 5th graders about MLK, Black Lives Matter, winning the right to vote, Civil Right Movements, etc. But what is happening is not history. This is the present.

When Ahmaud Arbery was killed, it chilled me and I did talk to my kids about what happened and how racism is still so prevalent and how scary it would be to be Ahmaud just out for a jog. Then when George Floyd was killed, it felt scarier. It was really hard to explain that a police officer knelt on a man’s neck long enough to kill him – all for possibly committing a crime that shouldn’t have been a death sentence. I talked more to my kids about how different it can be for white kids versus many other races – that they are protected from a lot of discrimination just because of who they were born. I think they can’t imagine the discrimination that a person would face just because of the color of their skin.

When I saw that there would be a BLM march in the neighborhood, I felt like we needed to be present to show support for the movement around the world. Having little kids and being in the middle of a pandemic, it felt too crowded downtown to attend the protests there. I was really glad when we showed up for the march to see how many families from the community were present and that everyone was wearing masks. My kids were glad they were able to stand up for the lives of George Floyd and others and say Black Lives Matter.

Due to the pandemic, it’s been hard for our kids since this really is an unprecedented time we’re living in. Their lives have been fully disrupted. They’re isolated in a way no other generation has ever been and to learn that there are things out there even worse than a global pandemic challenges them and their ideas of the world.

As their mom, I want to protect them and hold them close and pretend that none of this is happening. But I NEED to educate them so that they grow up and see their privilege so that they can stop it. The march was a good step towards our education. But there’s more we can all do. Donate money or what you can. Educate our kids and ourselves. I want to thank everyone who organized the Woodstock march and who attended for helping me continue to show my kids that there are people willing to stand up and say what’s right. 

Nicole Craigmiles,
Woodstock resident and
Woodstock Elementary School parent


Reflection from Eastmoreland

Editor,

I walked the entire length of this street [Reed College Place] this morning, reading the name on each sign put on hundreds of trees to remember all those non-whites killed by police in this country. It was a moving experience, reminding me of the WWI poem, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, among the crosses, row on row….” by John McCrae.

We are in different war now and we must work much harder to overcome prejudice and violence. Below is my simple offering:

         Memorial on Reed College Way

Along a street in a very white neighborhood
The trees are weeping.

Punctured with pins and nails

Fastening cardboard signs with names of those

Hundreds, some shade other than white
Who died while living.

Collin Murphy
S.E. Bybee Boulevard
Eastmoreland

A letter from Brooklyn

Editor,

A letter to my fellow white people: June 19th was the 155th year of celebrating “Juneteenth”, the day [the last] enslaved African Americans in Texas learned of their political freedom over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed. . . Juneteenth is a holiday many of us are unaware of, including myself until three years ago, so I encourage you to research the event and its relevance to not only the Black community in America, but to all of us. . . While the previous three weeks have not revealed any new information that Black people in America are still not truly free from police brutality and byproducts of systemic racism, they have provided an illumination of these inequities that white communities have long and comfortably ignored. It is clear that there is much work to be done in the fight for justice and equity for Black people in America, but I do want to acknowledge that Juneteenth is also a way for many Black people to celebrate, share joy, and focus on their own self-care and healing.

June is also Pride month, so I want to take this opportunity to honor the life and contributions of Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transwoman activist who fought boldly and beautifully for the rights of all LGBTQIA+ community members; she was central to the Stonewall Uprising in 1969. She said, “As long as my people don’t have their rights across America, there is no reason for celebration.” This statement has felt so poignant over the previous three weeks, and I want to echo that ALL Black lives matter. This means protecting, uplifting, and amplifying the voices and experiences of both Black women and Black transwomen who are often left on the margins.

As a white woman who recently moved into the Brooklyn neighborhood I want to remind and encourage any white person reading this that our work in dismantling a white supremacist system has just begun. . . I encourage you to begin or continue the work of anti-racism after the spotlight shines away from the protests. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863. The Civil Rights Act was not signed until an entire century later in 1964. We cannot and must not allow another forty-five years to pass by while racial injustice harms the Black community. Systemic racism and inequity must be addressed with urgency and commitment by white people in solidarity with the leadership of Black activists.

Kimberléa Ruffu
via e-mail




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