Nonprofits to Wheeler: Stop making sense

In Portland, nothing gets shouted down faster than common sense. 

On Wednesday a study came out that says 70 percent of the pedestrian fatalities in the city last year – and those fatalities were at a record high – were homeless people. No one was surprised. A lot of the homeless people are mentally ill, on drugs, or both. They don't look both ways before crossing. And they insist on living right next to where cars are going 40, 50, or 80 miles an hour. Some of the people driving those cars are also mentally ill, on drugs, or both.

Anyway, when the study hit the media, the mayor, Dud Wheeler, took a break from his elaborate grooming routine to get up and say that he's issuing an emergency edict that all homeless campers must be removed from the freeways and busier streets.

Now, I thought it was already illegal to camp on the freeway and streets anywhere in the city. There's a Ninth Circuit case that's being interpreted as saying you can't enforce a law like that. But whatever the judges said in that case, surely you can regulate the locations of the tents. For example, surely you can say they can't be in the middle of the street. And so there doesn't need to be any emergency declared. Just start enforcing the existing laws in the places where it will most likely save lives.

When I heard Wheeler's big announcement, I thought, maybe he's finally waking up to the fact that his political career is over, and he will forever be remembered as the worst mayor we ever had. Maybe he's going back to his trust fund world in a blaze of glory, thought I.

But today, and I can't believe my eyes, the homeless industrial complex – the bloated network of nonprofits whose overhead gobbles up millions of dollars in public money that could be used to help people – are outraged that the mayor suggest such a thing. How dare he!

Oh, and the bike children are against it, too. They must enjoy pedaling through the needles and the feces.

A coalition of progressive advocates sent a stinging letter to Mayor Ted Wheeler this afternoon ahead of his planned announcement to ban camping along heavily trafficked roads. The letter rebukes the ban and advocates instead that the city slow down drivers.

“[We] strongly object to the emergency declaration to sweep encampments and further displace unhoused community members from alongside our most dangerous roads,” the letter reads. “The presence of unhoused people does not make our streets unsafe; rather poor roadway design, ongoing neglect and deferred maintenance, recklessness in the form of speeding, operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol and other dangerous behavior are all well-documented reasons why there is this alarming uptick in deaths.”

Yes, kids, it's a cruel world out there.

The funniest part is that city commissioner Jo Ann "With a Bullhorn" Hardesty, had to jump up and tell us all that she wasn't consulted.

I'm sure she wasn't. I wonder where she'll wind up when she's looking for work 330 days from now. Probably signing "stinging letters."

Anyway, for those of you keeping score at home, the nonprofits giving Wheeler a hard time about this "include Oregon Walks, Central City Concern, The Street Trust, Urban League of Portland and Northwest Pilot Project." I've given money to a couple of those in the past. Can't say I'd do it again. The nonprofits of Portland have definitely become part of the problem.


  1. Well it is the city of Portland after all. Any sensible idea, or at least what was thought of sensible 15 years ago, is no longer allowed. We must continue on down the path, no matter the consequences. Think of it is a sociological experiment.


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