Update, 10:37:"The metro area's $3.5 billion tourism industry..."
It's ASTONISHING that a major metro newspaper doesn't even take the time to do the math on such an obviously bogus statistic. For that to be true, the city would have to take in $9,589,041.10 PER DAY in tourism dollars. NINE AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS A DAY. EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.
Original post: Oh, my fucking God. The Oregonian editorial board this morning penned an editorial entitled: "Don't let downtown turn into a panhandlers' paradise." I mean, I say they penned it. It was probably actually written by former reporter and now, head of the Portland Business Alliance, Sandra McDonough. Or passed over cocktails at Morton's from the PBA's city hall lobbyist, Bernie Bottomly, to his sister, Therese—the paper's managing editor. But whatever. The point is, the Oregonian appears to be leading the charge toward fascism in this town. And somebody needs to call them on it. So, let's call them on it.
We've all wandered through legendary cities, like San Francisco, only to find ourselves suddenly running a gantlet.Okay, so there's a typo in your lede. But I've got to say, I'd prefer you all stopped going to San Francisco, or coming to Portland, if you can't bear the sight of a few homeless people. You know where they didn't have homeless people? Berlin. 1944. Jumping...
Parts of these cities ought to be posted: "Welcome, panhandlers and pickpockets." Because they're hospitable only to thieves and thugs looking for prey.
Downtown Portland, we should hasten to point out, is nowhere near this state of deterioration. But a recent visitor to Portland did describe it as "a mecca for beggars and vagrants."Yes. So you're quoting one person. Probably fed to you by the PBA, right? One person who's...who is he, again?
Tom Stevens, a newspaper columnist from Maui,
went home raving about the city's ethnic restaurants, transit system and Powell's City of Books. But as he and his wife boarded the plane, "our first shared impression was: 'I've never been panhandled so often in my life,'" Stevens e-mailed us Monday.It was a downer, Steve? Like your hardcover book sales, you mean? Yeah. A 'downer.' Say, I bet it's a 'downer' to be homeless and get harassed by a bunch of fucking rent-a-cops for sitting on the sidewalk, when if you could only afford to eat at a fucking restaurant, they'd leave you alone. Downer. Sure.
"We weren't in danger, we never felt threatened, we weren't mistreated — it was just a 'downer' to be hit up and accosted so often," he said. "When we were on foot, I started dreading every intersection."
Listening to advocates for the homeless at City Hall last week, you'd never imagine we all have something huge and important to lose by encouraging panhandling on city sidewalks.
Astonishingly, some advocates oppose even mild, tepid rules — poised for City Council approval Thursday — to keep panhandlers from squatting in the way of wheelchairs. The first airing of these new rules last week actually drew a protest march and rally at City Hall.
One advocate for the homeless said the sidewalk regulations were just "a way to cater to the business community" — which is, apparently, a terrible thing.
The point seemingly lost here is that this is not a zero-sum game. The metro area's $3.5 billion tourism industry sustains 28,900 jobs and generates $141 million in tax revenues, which are integral to our community.
True, there will always be some panhandling in Portland, because it's a protected form of free speech under the Oregon Constitution.
But let's not romanticize this situation, folks. And let's not make it worse.
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