Field Notes

Fighting years of gentrification's "destructive" effects

On a simple level, the statement is somewhat astonishing.

“We acknowledge that the Portland Development Commission’s (PDC’s) past work in North and Northeast Portland has contributed to the destructive impact of gentrification and displacement on the African American community.”

The quote doesn’t come from an activist. 

It’s from a letter jointly signed by Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Patrick Quinton, the executive director of the Portland Development Corporation.

Fritz was right: Plan to move homeless camp falls through over costs

Plans to move the Right to Dream 2 homeless camp to a warehouse on Hoyt Street are dead.

As it turns out the costs to renovate the warehouse and make it usable would have topped $335,000 – an amount Dana Haynes, the mayor’s spokesman, termed “far beyond what we had expected.”

Haynes said it was actually worse than that.

A love story for the new year

A love story for the new year
Michael Hutchens.

Everybody should have a Michael Hutchens in their life.

Who is he? A cop? Firefighter? Millionaire benefactor? Surgeon who donates his time? None of the above.

Hutchens is a former correction officer in Eastern Oregon who went on to work as a nurse’s assistant in Coos Bay before he was injured by a patient, forcing his early retirement.

So what makes him so special?

“He keeps me alive,” says Debi Feltner. “Every day he gives me hope, he makes me believe, he makes me smile. He is the greatest gift that anyone could hope for.”

A newsroom visit from Saint Nick

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and wouldn’t you know
We were hard at work on the five o’clock show;
Reporters sent to locations picked with care,
In hopes that a news story soon would be there;

Years from now, Mayor Hales remembers how he saved Portland

Years from now, Mayor Hales remembers how he saved Portland
Mayor Charlie Hales (File photo)

I have to tell you that at the time, I didn’t realize just how simple it would turn out to be.

We were moving into the Christmas season, the holiday season depending upon your beliefs, I guess, and Portland was a bit of a mess. It’s not that we didn’t have a lot of things going for us - Portlandia, Pink Martini, access to great wine - it’s just that there were problems.

At the top of the list - or certainly near it - was the fact that our roads were not in such great shape.

How bad were they? Well, with some 60 miles of unpaved roads it was rare that a week would go by without emergency crews having to respond to a report of a car being swallowed by a pothole. And while they were often rescued, there was more than one bicyclist who was never heard from again.

PDX icon George Azumano dies; son-in-law Sho Dozono remembers him

PDX icon George Azumano dies; son-in-law Sho Dozono remembers him
George Azumano.

“He lived his life without bitterness and did what he could to bring smiles to the faces of the people he met,” says Sho Dozono of his father-in-law, George Azumano.

Azumano died Monday. He was 95-years-old and will be remembered as a Portland icon.

“He was born here, lived his life here and was proud to call Portland home,” Dozono says. “Once, he met a guy on the corner who demanded to know where he was from. He kept trying to tell him he was an American.

“That’s what he told people – he was an American. He was an Oregonian. And he was proud of both.”

Gun control debate still rages a year after shooting

Gun control debate still rages a year after shooting
The sign at the Clackamas Town Center on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Photo by Shannon L. Cheesman,

It was the most horrible of days – two dead and a third seriously wounded as a man walked into Clackamas Town Center with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and fired 16 shots.

The gunman, 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts, saved the last shot for himself.

Tyler killed himself before anyone had a chance to ask him what was going through his mind. When the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office released a detailed report months later, one telling detail was absent – why he did what he did.

One thing was certain – gun control advocates seized the day.

Mandela tried to teach that we all have greatness within us

It was a late spring day in 1994 and New York could not have been more beautiful.

The area around the United Nations was basking under a blue sky; any clouds that might have thought of approaching seemingly chased away by the ebullient spirit filling the area.

It was Election Day for South Africa and scores of South African voters who were living in the United States were there to vote.

As I watched – I was there covering the historic event for The New York Post – it was impossible not to be overwhelmed by what was happening. People of all ages, almost all of them of them Black, almost all of them convinced until that moment that they would never get to vote in their lifetime.

Woman's tragic coincidence offers lessons of compassion

“It’s him. He died.”

It was 3:50 in the afternoon and Caran Johnson had just let the world know that the car accident she had been tweeting about involved her husband, Craig.

It was the end of two hours in which Johnson, a well-known listener of emergency radio in Clark County who tweets out what she hears under the name @scancouver, slowly came to realize that her life was changing.

Johnson, a mother of two who lives in Salmon Creek, has spent a lot of time over the past couple of years letting residents of Clark County know about some of the stuff they probably wish they had never heard about: fires, murders, assaults, robberies.

What happened to Johnson is a reminder to anyone who makes their living off the fact that bad things happen to good people.

A Thanksgiving story: Matt Conwell's mission to help Union Gospel

A Thanksgiving story: Matt Conwell's mission to help Union Gospel

Let me introduce you to Matt Conwell.

I am thankful that he is out there and, I suspect, if you spend even a few minutes on the phone with him, you will feel the same way.

It’s late Thanksgiving night and Conwell, finally home after a long day of holiday celebrating with family and friends, is all to happy to talk about what he is thankful for.

“I am so grateful to be a part of a community that is willing to make a change and not just talk making a change,” he says over the phone.

Conwell is talking about the gaming community and the charity event they just did that brought in tens of thousands of pounds of food for the Union Gospel Mission.

Twenty-five years later, a murder still resonates for lawyer

Twenty-five years later, a murder still resonates for lawyer
Mulugeta Seraw.

Sometimes the most innocent of moments can result in events that leave a profound impact.

It was the night of Nov. 12, 1988 and Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian immigrant studying at Portland State, was being dropped off at his apartment on Southeast 31st Avenue.

He was 28 years old, had a son and would not live much longer.

Remembering an everyday superhero

Remembering an everyday superhero
Robert Libke (Photo from Oregon City Police)

Peter Parker. Tony Stark. Rob Libke.

All regular people by day who turned into superheroes.

Just ask Libke's nephew, Dustin Lies.

“He was the bravest person I knew, the smartest,” he says from his home in Montana, where he is still getting used to the fact that the person who was a father figure to him was gunned down on Sunday.

Auditor: Considering police reform should not be on the back burner

When the City Council meets Wednesday, one issue that will not be on the agenda is reform of the police bureau.

That’s been put on the back burner.

And Lavonne Griffin-Valade, the city’s auditor does not think that’s such a good idea.

FBI document shows how alleged criminal was caught

FBI document shows how alleged criminal was caught
Stephen Bukucs

The affidavit from the FBI agent might as well be the opening scene of a thriller.

It is August 10 of this year, about 10:30 at night. The FBI has four planes in the air above Portland. The planes are equipped with special cameras pointing to the ground.

Two of the planes belong to the bureau and two belong to the Portland Police Department.

Their mission – figure out who has been aiming a laser at planes approaching Portland International Airport.