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Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Oregonian notes Portland's smorgasbord of diversity (not!)

By Sean Cruz

The Oregonian’s January 18 story on Portland’s lack of diversity drew a smorgasbord of comments from mostly irate, mostly white folks, here:

Some attacked the content of Betsy Hammond’s story; even more lambasted The Oregonian for placing the information on the front page, or for printing it at all.

Some felt personally insulted by the data; for others, racial and ethnic insults rolled off the tongue with unsurprising ease.

I was moved to make the following comment:

Posted by seancruz on 01/18/09 at 11:22AM

I want to thank The Oregonian and Betsy Hammond for bringing this issue forward.

The appallingly ignorant comments posted by so many "readers" demonstrate that it is difficult to argue successfully with those who believe that history is irrelevant to the present, who have probably never read a history book, and who are offended by facts.

The one area that the article missed is the demographics of Native Americans; that is, the remnants of the non-white people that the white settlers didn't slaughter as completely as they would have liked.

As an openly Mexican-American former candidate for public office, I recognize the bias in the comments. I've heard them my entire life.

Regardless of one's qualifications, a racial or ethnic minority candidate can never win a vote from these people, and that is a fact of life.

Less than ten years ago, Oregon voters overwhelmingly voted to remove the last of the racial exclusionary language from the Oregon constitution, but 300,000 voted to keep the references in, providing a quick count of the number of actual racists living in the state.

The demographics are real, and they do make a difference in our everyday lives.

See this earlier posting for more information on the subject:

White tide--not blue--sweeps the Oregon House! The Senate is next!

The Oregonian article noted that Oregon public policy is controlled from a white point of view at every level: city, county, state, and in special districts like Metro.

This is a simple statement of fact, an absolute fact, across the state.

Measure 37 offered a clear picture of how race affects public policy. Its proponents intentionally wanted to turn the clock back to a time when only white people could buy property in Oregon, but not so far back as to include Native Oregonians.

Every Measure 37 hearing was packed with white people. No diversity at all was present. I wrote about this issue previously here:

Measure 37 and the case for affirmative action

As President Barack Obama takes office, The Nation becomes achingly aware that our national capitol was built with Black slave labor, a really inconvenient truth.

Some want to believe that the United States had a virgin birth, Oregon an Immaculate Conception. They become angry when the facts of history are raised, when the issues that mattered then are placed in the historical context of now, and some of them commented on The Oregonian’s story in that spirit.

Race and the history of race is a fundamental issue in every nation, in every community, in every population everywhere in the world. It is fundamental to the human condition.

The Oregonian did well to bring the issue forward, and to put it where it belongs, on the front page of Oregon’s largest news organization, above the fold.

Sean Cruz writes:

Blogolitical Sean, political commentary here:

Aaron’s Law, regarding child abduction prevention and resolution here:

Jim Pepper House, dedicated to the legacy of the late, great Jim Pepper here:

Portland’s #1 Predatory Towing Horror Story, regarding predatory patrol towing practices here:

Chicano Hero Cesar Chavez, dedicated to the Mexican-American giant, here.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Want to end predatory patrol towing in Oregon? The Attorney General's office is open for business!

Portland, Oregon—Prior to the passage of Senate Bill 116 and Senate Bill 431 in 2007, Oregon’s predatory patrol towing industry was largely unregulated, even though the practice had been banned entirely in some other states. Oregon’s Attorney General had no statutory authority to even receive complaints from the public, much less act on them, and the hands of local law enforcement agencies were similarly tied.

Many Oregon motorists learned these facts the hard way, after having had their vehicle tow-jacked and finding that the police and other authorities could do little to help.

Adding to victims’ frustration was the awareness that these private-property patrol towing incidents were costing taxpayers a great deal of public money in their demand on police resources.

Passage of these two senate bills marks the beginning of the end for patrol towing in Oregon.

The rest is up to you, to the general public, and the tools you need are right here:

1. File your towing complaints with the Attorney General’s Office here:

The Attorney General now has the statutory authority to promulgate and enforce regulations regarding involuntary towing, including the price thereof. Many predatory patrol towing practices are now subject to civil sanctions, including prosecution under Unfair Trade Practices statutes.

2. Contact your state representative and state senator here:

Ask them to consider ending patrol towing in Oregon in the 2009 legislative session.

The predatory patrol towing practices of certain Oregon towers (notoriously, Sergeant's and Retriever Towing) were dealt with in broad strokes by the 2007 legislature.

Senate Bills 116 and 431 were passed unanimously by both the House and Senate, indicating the strong public sentiment for towing reforms.

The business model these predators employ is the basis for most of the towing abuses, but it is important to note that the property owners are complicit, by authorizing towers to delegate decision-making to drivers working on commission.

As State Senator Avel Gordly's Chief of Staff, I led the workgroup that drafted her Senate Bill 431.

It is important to note that 100% of the complaints that Senator Gordly's office received were related to patrol towing, and not to other towing activities, and that all of these incidents drew in police resources, resulting in public expense.

Towed or not, all Oregon citizens have a stake in this issue. Your taxes pay for this extra burden on police time and resources.

Senator Gordly strongly supports legislation that would mirror California's ban on predatory patrol towing, requiring the property owner to be present at the time of the tow and sign the invoice.

That action would end the majority of towing abuses in a stroke.

Contact your legislator(s) and request that action be taken. You would be surprised at how many will be happy you called.

--Sean Cruz


On predators towing vehicles displaying disability placards:

The commission-based compensation system towing predators use is the root of the evil, the sole motivating force behind Retriever and Sergeants drivers towing vehicles belonging to persons with disabilities, often stranding people in wheelchairs.

They do this far, far too frequently…every chance they get, actually….

Most of these tows would have never taken place without property owners agreeing to defer on-the-spot decision-making to drivers working on commission.

Patrol towing companies in Oregon provide their “services” to the property owners for free in exchange for the right to tow at their drivers’ discretion.

Both property owners and patrol towers take it for granted that towing disagreements would involve police and other public resources at taxpayer expense.

The 2009 Oregon legislature needs to address the particular issue of vehicles displaying disability placards, providing an alternative to towing the vehicle away, and a policy of returning towed vehicles to their owners.

Adopting California’s standard, requiring property owners to be present at the time of the tow and sign the invoice, would go far in eliminating these issues.


Sean Cruz writes:

Blogolitical Sean, political commentary here:

Aaron’s Law
, regarding child abduction prevention and resolution here:

Jim Pepper House
, dedicated to the legacy of the late, great Jim Pepper here:

Portland’s #1 Predatory Towing Horror Story
, regarding predatory patrol towing practices here:

Chicano Hero Cesar Chavez, dedicated to the Mexican-American giant.