The Mid-county Memo is your newspaper. We want to hear from you. Discuss an important issue, respond to a request for comment or address a concern you want to call to the attention of the community. Letters to the editor are edited for space, style, grammar and issues of clarity. Please include your full name and identify the neighborhood in which you reside. We prefer e-mailed letters to the editor sent to Darlene Vinson at Please put “Letter to the editor” in the subject line. You may also mail your letter to 3510 N.E. 134th Ave., Portland, OR 97230. Deadline for the October issue is Friday, Sept. 15.

Little League president shares frustrations
To the Editor: 
This has been extremely hard on us, and I am usually (no, always) the one who speaks to the news, writers, lawyers—you name it.

We knew we would get flak from some people, but a majority have been supportive. We do have the ones that literally attack us for being greedy. That is the hardest part because we have been taking steps to make sure that the money will go into a trust for Parkrose youth sports programs.

We want Parkrose to be a place kids are excited to be a part of.

Our plan (with the architect) is to build a stadium field, minor field and T-ball field [at Helensview School, 8670 N.E. Sumner St]. The stadium and minor field will have portable mounds so softball can use [them] as well.

At the field is an undercover basketball court. We have had someone from the carpentry college out there, and they have agreed to help make that court into a hitting and pitching barn. That will be huge for this level and [teams will be able to] practice during the raining weather.

Being a part of Parkrose for 17 years and Little League for 12, it has become depressing knowing that we have to outsource our youth to other programs. By the time [kids are] in high school, we will lose to those programs. This [plan] gives us the means to help push youth programs, even at the grade-school levels.

This is what gets us excited: knowing we aren’t taking away but finding a way to encompass all.

There is a bigger and longer plan that we are working on.

Melissa Fritz
Parkside Little League president

Criticize behavior rather than call people names
To the Editor:
Congratulations to the new school board members and to those who were re-elected to another term. I admire you all for taking time away from your families, jobs and other volunteering you are part of to ensure that the children of David Douglas School District receive the best education possible.

The issues facing the board now, as described in the Mid-county Memo of July and August, are crucial. Understandably, thoughts and opinions are strong and heartfelt on all sides. To feel marginalized and unimportant hits us all at the core of being human. Everyone wants to be respected and not shut down, no matter what side you’re on in the discussion.

This comes to the word “diversity.” The term is used often and held up as an attitude of goodness and fairness to all people, and rightly so. A dictionary definition describes diversity as “a quality, state, fact, or instance of being diverse; difference; variety; the condition of being different, an instance of point of difference.” Very good.

Now, the obvious indications of diversity are physical: race, ethnicity, age, gender, etc. But those traits are not mentioned specifically in the definition, so there is more to it. May I suggest that another very important feature of diversity should be diversity of thought. Everyone has a right to thoughts and opinions, expressed or not. If I don’t agree with you, I have the right to speak and give my opinion without being ostracized and called one of the negative names of choice, such as “racist,” “bigot,” “xenophobe,” etc. I have a right to speak and not be called a “hater” if I don’t agree with you. When those words are used, the conversation is stopped, which is the desired result. People who resort to those words are not wanting a true dialogue of opinions. They just want to show how “politically correct” they are and that they have the upper hand—they are the “better” person or “morally superior” and you are a “bad” person.

It is troublesome that this is exactly what happened to Bryce Anderson at the school board meeting of the last few months. He was stating a fact of a news item and his opinion on the Inclusive District Resolution. Because certain people did not like what he said and assumed he meant something nefarious, it was then deemed by those people that he should be “censured” or even forced to leave the board. It is sad that some feel the need to use heavy-handed actions as a response to him by having protestors, encouraged by community organizers, and probably not just part of this district as Frieda Christopher said, to shut down the meeting. People who feel that they have not been heard have every right to express that. But those intolerant actions do not help their cause. Freedom means a civil discourse is hopefully achieved within the bounds of rules of the meeting. As other important issues are brought up this year, may I encourage all involved to not resort to nor be cowed by intimidation, and don’t let the “hammer of intolerance” stop you from using your freedoms of thought and speech.

Becky Cowley
Hazelwood resident

Superintendent lauds community organizers for free bus passes for east Portland school districts
In 2009, Portland City Council began funding part of the cost for all Portland Public Schools high school youth to receive free TriMet Bus Passes. For many years, David Douglas and Parkrose school districts have been advocating for the same assistance. For our part, Parkrose School District has advocated since 2009 for the city to distribute all city-funded benefits to all three Portland school districts when the benefits were specifically given to school districts, because all of us are 100 percent in the city of Portland. Now, after years of youth organizing and advocacy, Portland City Council unanimously passed an amendment on YouthPass that requires the city funding to be distributed to all three Portland school districts, including Portland Public Schools, Parkrose, and David Douglas.

This win is the result of more than six years of youth organizing and leadership, following the legacy of Sisters in Action for Power, and the commitments of Multnomah Youth Commission and Organizing People/Activating Leaders’ (OPAL’s) youth leadership group, Youth Environmental Justice Alliance (YEJA). Since YEJA officially launched YouthPass to the Future campaign in 2015, students from Franklin, Madison, David Douglas, and Parkrose high schools have been working together to fight for free youth transit and youth’s rights. YEJA leaders designed and collected over 2,500 student surveys, highlighting the transportation experiences of students particularly living in East Portland. YEJA produced a 10-page report featuring youth stories, statistics, and recommendations for YouthPass. Throughout the last two years, YEJA and Multnomah Youth Commission have met with numerous city, county and school district officials and testified about the importance of youth transit as a lifeline for young people. The victory for this campaign proves the power of youth organizing and the importance of young people’s leadership in our communities. We are so proud!

Parkrose School District will receive $72,000 and will in turn purchase Tri Met bus passes and send them to Parkrose High School for distribution. The high school point person for this project is Drake Shelton, assistant principal. Criteria for application and distribution of the passes will be developed, after which students can apply for bus passes. They will be good for the entire year. Data about the effectiveness of this program will be collected by the school district and shared with the city to ensure the program continues for many years to come.

Thank you city of Portland and thank you OPAL for your leadership.

Karen F. Gray
Superintendent, Parkrose School District

Freeways were progress
To the Editor: 

This little note is regarding “City within a city founded to fight new freeway” (MCM July 2017) by Pat Macaodha.

On page 15, she says “Freeway development was a major statewide focus in the mid-1950s; many neighborhoods were considered collateral damage during this eager rush toward what was considered progress.” Well gee-golly, Pat, IT WAS PROGRESS. Everyone that drives a car in Portland today has issues with the lack of proper infrastructure—there hasn’t been significant freeway or major road construction since how many decades ago? Please don’t tell me you share city hall and their lackey planners’ vision of a “urban, utopian paradise” of people housed together like sardines while commuting by mass transit or riding a bicycle. That “vision” is reality in China and Russia; only the political elites there drive cars. Last I checked, this is still America and the car still rules.

In case you were curious, I’m not a Republican, but I am very pro-car as the preferred form of transportation, be it gasoline, electric, cooking oil from a restaurant or two hamsters on steroids running a treadmill. It wouldn’t be so ugly trying to get around in this 2017 city if we had a former mayor with the guts to stand up against the “dreamers” and build some new major roads!

Thanks for reading.

Marvin Thiessen
Sumner resident

Parking/biking not a zero-sum game
To the Editor:

Says Google: “In game theory and economic theory, a zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which each participant’s gain or loss of utility is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the utility of the other participants.”

Portland, like other communities, plays this game in dividing up biking and parking opportunities outside the borders of moving traffic, almost always and appropriately giving the better safety at the curb to parked cars. Along Halsey eastbound between Northeast 102nd and 112th avenues, the city proudly plans to move striping to give the safer space along the curb to eastbound cyclists. Some businesses on this side of Halsey then lose all customer parking. Where parking is allowed, it is now very close to traffic and with no protective striping. A rare and nimble driver will wisely escape via the passenger door, much preferring the risk of colliding with a rare bicycle.

This stretch of Halsey need not be promoted as a bike path. Cyclists should instead be directed safely through Gateway Transit Center, crossing 102nd Avenue at Northeast Pacific Street. There, they avoid the dangerous I-205/ Halsey bridge and via the Transit Center and 205 bike path will enjoy T-HOP [Tillamook-Holladay-Oregon-Pacific bikeway] linkages for Rocky Butte neighborhoods and westward, under the Halsey bridge.

Let’s stop playing all zero-sum games with roadside space. Let best safety at the curb be taken on a first-come basis. Paint one bold line at the traffic edge, and no other lines. Embolden the line to not be crossed by moving traffic, with periodic rumble strips painted green. For a best level of empathy, imagine that the curb-seeking “cyclist” is a short-distance commuter in a motorized wheel chair.

We see many examples of harm where “extra” lines are applied. All of Northeast 122nd between Halsey and Foster is made ugly by mean corralling of bikes in a narrow lane far from the curb, whether or not parking is allowed. The alternative of letting bikes have the curb on Southwest Broadway near Portland State University is despised by those who park. Yielding to bikes not present is painful. Yielding to very rare bikes on Halsey would be unbearable. Where one might rebel against the harm, what happens? Where I ride always at the curb, defying lines, might I be arrested? Would a defiant parker at the curb be ticketed? We can talk this through and avoid a crummy and expensive experiment. Any associated money in an experiment should be diverted to complete T-HOP and to improve safety for cyclists on Northeast Pacific Street passing Fred Meyer, right now.

Phillip Norman
Hazelwood resident