We moved to Portland in 2018, excited to live in a progressive city. The debate about moving the homeless to a shelter away from downtown Portland was just beginning, and I followed it closely. What I’ve observed over three years has been disappointing. I’ve watched the City Council and city manager only pretend to give consideration to the smart option of small shelters scattered throughout the city.

At first I believed them, but their insincerity soon became obvious.

Space limits me to just two, among many, instances of bad faith. Within the first year, I engaged a city staffer who resolutely failed, in a timely manner and despite repeated appeals, to make available to council members documentation on problems associated with large shelters. She finally did so, just one hour prior to the meeting in which the issue was to be debated.

Once it became clear that city government had only one goal – sending Portland’s homeless to a megashelter in an industrial zone on the fringes of town – the coalition for a more humane and effective solution decided to put the issue on the November ballot. The City Council then tried to thwart this exercise in democracy by rushing their proposal forward to make it official 45 days prior to Nov. 2, thereby rendering it, according to current law, unaffected by the results of the referendum. The people and democratic process be damned, I suppose.

Ballot option C? Be wary – it’s just another bit of council trickery.

Portland citizens (including the homeless) deserve better leadership than this.

Robert M. Schaible

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