I wrote that as a headline because as far as I'm aware, this is news. Former city hall beat reporter Jim Mayer has moved back to the mothership and spent the last few days chronicling tensions between downtown shoppers and tourists and the homeless there. The piece is measured in tone, and quotes people on the street who are surprisingly accepting of the issues thrown up by the demise of the sit/lie ordinance. The only time the Portland Business Alliance is quoted is in reference to a survey of how many downtown workers there are—a refreshing change from the historic "quote the PBA" approach to this subject. Perhaps this is coincidence after yesterday's prescription for the O to push its beat writers to express their opinions more, but it's also great to read Mayer's personal take on the reporting he's been doing. Mayer, it turns out, was homeless for two years in the early seventies:
I was homeless by choice. My wife ran away with a Scientologist. I dropped out of college and hit the road. I played music on the street, mainly to grub money for cigarettes and coffee, my two addictions in those days.
"It's been very frustrating for us. The ordinance gave us a low-level effective tool to mitigate the behavior," Central Precinct Cmdr. Mike Reese says. "Now, it's like driving a thumbtack with a sledgehammer."
For those otherwise interested in homelessness there's a new exhibition called Where I Slept tonight at the AIA Portland, near Pizza Schmizza in the Pearl. Read more about it at Portland Architecture. Basically, it's pictures of where people slept, taken by homeless people. Talk about the power of reporting on subjective experience:
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