I am appalled by the false history peddled by Portland Health and Human Services Director Kristen Dow in her Aug. 6 op-ed regarding the India Street Public Health Center.

She wrote that the clinic “has never been in danger of fully closing.” This is completely false. In 2016 City Manager Jon Jennings proposed closing the clinic for budgetary reasons. A protest movement arose to stop this tragedy, and forced the city to keep the clinic open.

I was one of the leaders of that movement. I met with Jennings and city councilors, and they insisted the whole facility must close.

It was not just, as Dow wrote, “a need to transfer one of the clinic’s grants and programs.” That was the compromise that the public eventually negotiated with the council after months of protest.

This newspaper agreed that this was misleading and they added a correction to Dow’s column: “There was a proposal to close the clinic in 2016, but it was not approved by the City Council.”

Dow also wrote that the transition of the Positive Healthcare program happened in conjunction with patient representatives. True, but this was not part of the city’s original plan, either: The public had to demand that patients be represented in the transition planning at all.

Dow asserts that the city of Portland truly does value public health. But the budget for public health declined from $3.9 million in 2015 (source: tinyurl.com/yyfphcse) – the year before Jennings became city manager – to just $2 million this year (source: tinyurl.com/y2tmoc7g). You do the math.

Joey Brunelle


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