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January 2015 -- Vol. 109, No. 5

Memories of THE BEE's first 100 years!
In 2006, THE BEE celebrated its centennial of serving Southeast Portland!  A special four-page retrospective of Inner Southeast Portland's century, written by Eileen Fitzsimons, and drawn from the pages of THE BEE over the previous 100 years, appeared in our September, 2006, issue.
Click here to read this special retrospective!


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serial bank robber, Narong Duangchathom
One Portland Police car remained at the Fred Meyer Foster Road store, as an officer took a police report in the armed robbery at the Chase Bank branch inside the store. Eight other police units, joined by some from Clackamas County, were out combing the nearby streets looking for the robber. Inset is the MCDC booking photo of the man they found: 27-year-old Narong Duangchathom. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

82ndAvenue serial bank robber caught

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE 

For reasons yet to be revealed, a young Asian male developed the habit of robbing banks along S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses over the past year.

The first occasion was a little more than a year ago, on November 20, 2013, at the Chase Bank inside the Johnson Creek Fred Meyer store. The suspect, described as an Asian male, threatened to shoot the bank teller, and escaped with an undisclosed amount of money.

The suspect again took up armed robbery along the 82nd a few weeks ago, on November 28, this time robbing the US Bank at Eastport Plaza in a similar manner.

He struck again the next day down the street in Happy Valley, at the US Bank at 82nd and S.E. Causey Avenue.

Then, on Thursday, December 4th, the armed suspect strolled into the north entrance of the Fred Meyer store on 82nd and S.E. Foster Road at about 12:30 pm, walked into the Chase Bank branch there, brandished a handgun, and walked out into a downpour with an undisclosed amount of cash. 

East Precinct police officers converged on the location, then took off throughout the neighborhood searching for the suspect. Detectives from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office joined in the hunt.

Forensic evidence recovered from the first of the robberies had tentatively identified the suspect as 27-year-old Narong Duangchathom, of Portland. But he was not easy to find, as it turned out.

Other agencies were looking for Duangchathom as well, including the US Marshal Fugitive Task Force – which was investigating him for multiple counts of Identity Theft – and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force was searching for him too.

The arrest was made by members of the US Marshal Fugitive Task Force, who located Duangchathom soon after the holdup, and took him into custody at the Wal-Mart on S.E. 82nd Avenue near Otty Road.

Evidence related to the latest bank robbery was recovered from Duangchathom when he was arrested at 2:20 pm. Detectives from the Clackamas County Sheriff and Portland Police Bureau responded, and took over the investigation from the marshals.

Duangchathom was booked into the Clackamas County Jail at 6:50 pm the same evening for his outstanding ID Theft warrants, as well as his bank robbery warrant, which carries federal penalties.



Street Tax, Robert McCullough, Eastmoreland, Southeast Uplift
Robert McCullough, President of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association and Board Chair at the Southeast Uplift coalition, ponders how the proposed progressive “Street Tax” hits small business people hardest. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

LatestPortland “Street Tax” scheme shown flawed

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Eastmoreland’s Robert McCullough is riled up about the proposed Portland “Street Tax” – so much so, he’s taking on City Hall.

But McCullough, President of the Eastmoreland neighborhood association – and also Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition Board Chair – isn’t going it alone.

“The Southeast Uplift Board voted that citizens of Portland should have the opportunity to vote whether or not on this new city income tax and business tax be enacted,” McCullough said in an exclusive interview with THE BEE, prior to his appearance before the City Council on December 3.

During the interview, McCullough made it clear the views he expresses are his own, and not necessarily those of others at Southeast Uplift.

Regarding the further taxing of businesses, McCullough pointed out several flaws in the proposal the Portland City Council seems poised to enact.

“Show me the facts!” McCullough says has become his mantra.

For example, McCullough pointed out that, according to the Portland Business License database, the city has NO major transportation firms.

“We discovered that the Union Pacific Railroad is not classified as transportation; it is classified under Business Management,” McCullough gave as an example. “Why isn’t TriMet listed as a business? They are a significant employer in the city. I’m not saying there is a conspiracy in this, it’s just that no one has apparently ever checked many firms’ business classifications.”

Approximately 40% of the fuel used in the city is diesel; and about 20% of the vehicles are heavy trucks, asserted McCullough. “The majority of street wear causing the need for repairs come from the use by heavy trucks and heavy vehicles, like busses. Yet, in the city tax proposal, only 0.9% of the Street Tax revenue will be coming from the transportation sector.”

Small businesses, and especially home-based businesses, is another issue worth addressing, McCullough said.

“Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick talks a lot about this tax being ‘progressive’. He has dropped off the poorest people, given a discount to the richest people.

“The tax does favor the very poor,” conceded McCullough. “But as you move into middle income people, especially those who own businesses and provide jobs for others – they will be hit harder than anyone else. And, then the tax rate drops off as you move into highly-paid professionals, because it is a small proportion of their income. This tax really hits hard people in the middle income range.”

After McCullough testified before the Portland City Council on December 3, he talked again with THE BEE about the session.

“I had a very good reception, and was permitted twenty minutes with them. Much of it was a nose-to-those debate with Commissioner Novick – primarily concerning the errors we believe are in the Street Tax proposal.

“I do not believe that Mr. Novick understands the calculations!” McCullough went on. “This does not mean that he's not a smart guy – it means he is a lawyer, not an economist.”

These errors came from his investigation of the City of Portland Business License database. “For example, I looked up The Oregonian in the database. It turns out that company is listed as ‘Agent – Sports and Personalities’!

“The problem is a simple one: No one has ever used this database for any purpose other than collecting revenue – taxes – and record-keeping operations,” McCullough remarked. “Now, they're trying to use this database for analytical purposes, and they are running into numerous errors.”

He paused and asked rhetorically, “How can we NOT have a single large transportation company or agency in the city?  We all know about TriMet – they don’t have a business license; they didn't get counted!”

There was some discussion about double-taxation of those who operate home businesses, McCullough said. “The taxes will be highest on individuals who operate small businesses.

“If you are fortunate enough to own a small business, and can manage to take home $50,000 a year from it, this tax is designed to confiscate as much of your money as possible.”

As he ended his testimony, “I left with a plea, that [the city] actually turn over the work papers they promised us, a month ago,” McCullough said.

In his home office, McCullough was working on a document, which was still up on his computer monitor.

“I am responding right now to the response to our request for documents. That response states that some of this information is ‘secret’.  So we now have a situation where, according to their studies, the ‘missing’ large transportation companies – or transportation agencies – are not only absent, they are classified as secret!

McCullough added that, as Eric Norberg pointed out in a recent THE BEE editorial, that the City could collect an equal amount to that sought by these complex taxing schemes by instituting a 9% gas tax.

In many ways, he said, this “Street Tax” plan is “Art Tax II”. “It is complicated, expensive, difficult to administer, and they're estimating between 70% to 80% participation. [If compliance is no better than the Arts Tax], there will be millions of dollars that they'll have to track down from people who don't pay.”

At THE BEE’s press deadline McCullough said the requested documents had not yet been provided to him. “If this information is not forthcoming, we will file in court, demanding those work papers under Oregon's Open Document Law.”

However, the Portland City Council is expected to vote on the “Portland Street Fund” ordinance on December 17. As it has been from the beginning, it appears the swing vote will be that of City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.



hit and run, Ariel Neuman
An ambulance prepares to rush the severely injured hit-and-run victim on S.E. Steele Street to a hospital. Inset is the MCDC booking photo of the alleged responsible hit-and-run driver, 27-year-old Ariel Neuman, who lives nearby. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

ReedNeighborhood driver faces hit-and-run charges

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

After an evening out, Ariel Neuman almost made it safely back to her Reed neighborhood apartment at 1:12 am in the early morning of Sunday, November 23.

However, police assert that the 27-year-old Neuman’s silver Volkswagen Beetle struck a Southeast Portland pedestrian, 21-year-old Jordan Jackson, near S.E. 30th Avenue on Steele Street.

Jackson was transported to a Portland hospital for treatment to what initially were believed to be life-threatening injuries. His condition was later upgraded, and he is expected to survive.

While the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Traffic Division's Major Crash Team began their investigation, a witness told officers that they saw the Beetle drive off westbound on S.E. Steele.

A witness led police to an apartment complex just east of the Reedwood Friends Church complex on Steele Street, where a silver Volkswagen Beetle was parked in the lot,” said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson. “The vehicle had extensive front-end damage.”

After an investigation, and establishing who owned the damaged car, officers took Neuman into custody without incident, Simpson said.

Neuman was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 8 am that morning on charges of Assault in the Third Degree, Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit and Run/Felony), Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII), and Reckless Driving.

Jail records show that, later that day, Neuman was “Released on her own recognizance”, and a date will be set for her to appear in court to answer the charges.



Sellwood Bridge, Mike Pullen
Multnomah County’s Mike Pullen stood and pointed to where the old east approach was being demolished, to make way for the new east-end approach for motorists. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Sellwood Bridge
This was one of a number of drivers who looked confused as they approached the barriers closing off the Sellwood Bridge, during its three-day closure, even though the closure had been announced, and the flashing signboard they’d just driven by had confirmed it. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Announced Sellwood Bridge closure still surprised drivers

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Even with all the advance publicity, and the flashing electronic warning signs posted along S.E. Tacoma Street, some drivers nonetheless looked stunned to find the Sellwood Bridge closed to traffic as they approached the blockade on November 19th through 21th.

“This three-day Sellwood Bridge closure is to shift traffic onto our now-finished east approach,” said Multnomah County project spokesman Mike Pullen, during our latest tour of the worksite.

“Workers removed about 200 feet of the old Sellwood Bridge concrete railing on the south side,” Pullen pointed out. “And, there is quite a height differential between the new and the old Sellwood Bridge east approach.”

During the tour, we saw a welder fastening steel plates over wooden beams to be covered with asphalt to smooth out the transition for drivers.

“It is a rather sharp curve,” Pullen observed. “The speed limit on the bridge will be reduced from 25 mph to 20 mph for safety, until the new bridge opens in 2016.”

After the three-day closure, the bridge reopened slightly ahead of schedule in the early evening of Friday, November 21.

Sellwood Bridge opening delayed
The project’s managers have pushed back the tentative opening of the replacement Sellwood Bridge to January 2016, confirmed Pullen. The bridge had been expected to open in the fall of 2015, but Multnomah County – the bridge’s owner – had not set an official opening date.



Ardenwald, clutter fire, document destruction in fireplace
PF&R Battalion Chiefs declare the house fire in Ardenwald to be extinguished. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Fireplace document destruction leads to Ardenwald house fire

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Perhaps shredding personal documents might have been a better option for destroying them, an Ardenwald homeowner learned in the afternoon of Sunday, November 23. 

At 4:02 pm on that day, Portland Fire & Rescue was dispatched to a home at 3045 S.E. Sherrett Street. Woodstock Station 25’s Truck and Engine companies were on-scene within minutes, and reported seeing flames from the front room of the residence.

It didn’t take long for firefighters to extinguish the blaze, but they said they were hampered by “clutter” in the house.

“The resident said she was burning papers in the fireplace and ‘it got out of hand’,” a PF&R lieutenant told THE BEE at the scene.

“Burning paper products in a fireplace caused embers to ignite nearby combustibles,” later confirmed PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons.

“Damage to the home was confined to part of the room of origin,” Simmons added. “Excessive clutter was noted in the report.”

The Bureau’s Fire Investigator assessed damages at $25,000. “There were no injuries associated with this fire,” Simmons said.



Feast for Southeast, Thanksgiving, community dinner
Diners, from all walks of life, gather for a Thanksgiving Day dinner. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

FifthAnnual “Feast” celebrated in Southeast

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Scores of volunteers pitched in on Thanksgiving Day, as did dozens more on the evening before, to bring about the fifth annual community dinner – the “Feast for Southeast” – at the Mt. Scott Community Center.

“Feast for Southeast” is more than the name of the event. It is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring people to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors, explained Project Manager Maria Holmes about the event.

Greeters moved guests inside quickly – giving each person a dinner ticket, and helping each queue up in the hallway, next to the gymnasium, waiting his or her turn to be served.

Holmes said a core group of about ten volunteers start “thinking about Thanksgiving Day in July. I know, we’re little bit crazy – but in a good way!

“We absolutely love having our community come together to share a meal,” Holmes told THE BEE.  “I feel that, in our society, we don’t have very many opportunities to do that. Coming together, over a meal, on Thanksgiving Day, is the reason so many people are drawn to help out with this project.”

She said that the community dinner is not a “soup kitchen” set up for the homeless and those people who are down on their luck.

“No, absolutely not,” Holmes emphasized. “We have people from all walks of life; business owners, families with children, the elderly, that don't want to spend Thanksgiving day by themselves – students who can't go home for Thanksgiving – everybody.  Everyone comes here to connect with one another, over a meal.”

There was no shortage of volunteers. “We had 1,100 people inquire online about being a volunteer this year,” reported Holems. “About 200 people will be working today's event, from beginning to end.”

In charge of cooking the meal again this year was Chef Joshua Daley, of Southwest Portland’s Wine and Growl restaurant. “We are estimating, based on growth from last year, that we will be serving close to 900 meals today.”

Daily prepared a substantial shopping list for his meal, which included:

  • Turkey – 350 pounds
  • Ham – 200 pounds
  • Bread – 500 pounds for stuffing – not including celery, carrots, onions, and herbs
  • Turkey gravy – 20 gallons

Daley said his kitchen doesn’t have “cooking power” for a meal of this size, so he enlisted the aid of a friend, the executive chef at downtown Portland’s famed Brasserie Montmarte – which is where they “cooked all night, and into the morning” preparing the enormous dinner.

As guests enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, complete with side dishes and desserts, volunteers from the music community serenaded the diners.

However, there is a “giving” element to the event, too, Holmes pointed out. As part of it, starting in the second year, they organized a “new stocking” collection drive called “Socks for Southeast”, which, the following year, was renamed “Project Warmth”.

“We collect new and unused socks, hats, scarves, and gloves that are distributed to members of our community who want and need them, at our dinner,” Holmes explained. “And adding to it, new this year is ‘Project Bookworm’. Brand-new and ‘gently used’ books were donated by Alder Creek Middle School students in Milwaukie, and other organizations. The idea is to give books to people of all ages.”

As part of  Thanksgiving Day this year, volunteers borrowed furniture from the Community Warehouse and set up a big “living room” in the Mt. Scott Community Center gymnasium, with sofas, chairs, and tables. “Here, we hope to continue our concept of building community,” Holmes said. “After our guests have finished their meals, they can come here and play table games, or sit and read books, and have a nice day, just like you would at home.”

 “I’m so happy to have a place to come, eat a wonderful hot meal, and be with other people today,” said guest Mildred Schmidt. “This event is truly a gift of love.”



Duke Street, T bone crash, rollover
Firefighters evaluate the condition of the victim trapped in this overturned Toyota, before pulling him out of the crashed vehicle, which had been struck by a red-light-runner on S.E. Duke. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Southeast driver walks away from T-bone roll-over crash

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

The sound of a crash in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, minutes before 10 pm on Monday evening, December 1, brought out neighbors curious to see what had happened.

In the intersection of S.E Duke Street and 72nd Avenue, a Toyota 4Runner had been broadsided, had rolled over, and remained upended in the street. And, an Outback Legacy SUV in the street had severe front end damage.

The crew of Portland Fire & Rescue Truck 7 came prepared to extricate the driver of the upturned vehicle, who was originally thought to have been pinned inside the car. However, the firefighters were able to slide the victim out the driver’s side window without having to use the Holmatro Rescue power tool from their rig.

Police officers at the scene said a preliminary investigation indicated the driver of the Outback Legacy, heading northbound on S.E. 72nd Avenue, hadn’t heeded a red traffic signal, and struck the Toyota 4Runner, which had been westbound with a green light on S.E. Duke Street.

Surprisingly, the driver of the overturnedToyota was relatively uninjured; he was evaluated at the scene by paramedics, and released without transport to a local hospital.

“It appears as if no arrests were made in this case,” said Portland Police spokesman Information Officer Sgt. Greg Stewart. “But a citation may have been issued.”



Lit evergreen, Christmas Tree, Woodstock
Look east from the Berkeley Park tennis courts after dark this time of year, and you’ll see the Schenk family’s Christmas tree they share with the Woodstock neighborhood. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Woodstock family continues “tree” tradition

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

It might not be as tall as the tree the SMILE neighborhood association annually decorates on the bluff overlooking Oaks Bottom, and it certainly isn’t as visible, but the 50-foot tree the Schenks lit up for the Holidays again this year at their Woodstock home, on December 4, delights their neighbors.

Although it’s their seventh year of decorating the big tree in their yard on S.E. Evergreen Street, a block east of Berkeley Park, this is the second year they’ve hosted a “tree lighting party” as part of it.

The neighborhood party aspect got started last year, homeowner Ryan Schenk told THE BEE, when – unbeknownst to him – his son created flier and invited neighbors to come by for a Christmas Tree lighting.

“This year, our neighbors, the Eichentopfs, who own Otto's Sausage Kitchen & Meat Market, brought and grilled sausages for everyone,” Schenk smiled.

Thinking back, Schenk said that when they moved in the house seven years ago, their huge tree in the front yard looked like the perfect Christmas Tree – so he used a 50’ extension ladder to climb up and string lights.

“After the fourth year, my neighbors said that seeing me, high up on that ladder, really made them nervous,” Schenk conceded. “Now we rent a high lift.”

The tree is decked out with eight strings of LED lights – 800 of them in all. And, several years ago, he added an extra electrical circuit for it, so they don’t risk popping off a circuit breaker when they use kitchen appliances in their house.

“It’s fun for our family,” Schenk said. “And, the neighbors love it so much I've been doing it ever since.”





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