From The Editor

After a year of twisting and turning – now turning to the State?
We’ve written for months about the labyrinthine efforts by Mayor Charlie Hales and City Commissioner Steve Novick to impose a “Street Tax” on the citizens of Portland to fix the deteriorating roads in our city. They call it a street fee, since those can be imposed without a public vote, but as we have pointed out in the past, a fee is charged for a service provided, and in this case those paying it would have no reason to necessarily expect ever seeing a repair on their own street, so it’s a tax.

Over the past months, what were presented as definite proposals have been constantly reworked and redefined in response to public objections, and definite deadlines have constantly been moved, and moved again. Hales and Novick were maneuvering to find a plan that would gain the vote of City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who had been undeclared on the matter, since Commissioners Saltzman and Fish said from the outset that they wanted a public vote on it.

When Ms. Fritz finally said very late last year that she would not favor a plan for the Council simply to impose the tax, Hales and Novick changed strategy and announced that the matter would go to the ballot after all.

Only, wickedly, instead of being a yes-no vote on a definite proposal, as the public had called for, the duo said that that ALL their proposals would be on the ballot – and the one getting the most votes would be imposed upon us all.

That’s wicked, because it would eliminate the possibility of a “no” vote! There would have been no “none of the above” on the ballot; and those who boycotted the election would simply be handing the choice of which poison they’d receive to those who did vote.

THE BEE has pointed out previously that instead of any of the income tax or business tax or homeowner tax ideas that have been floated, the fairest way of dealing with this is to raise the gas tax.

Even with the flaws of bicyclists and electric car enthusiasts being exempted from paying to repair the streets they use, a tax on fuel does tax those who use the roads, to pay for their repair – and the heaviest users would presumably be paying more, which would not necessarily happen with any of the other proposals. So, in any such vote, we’d vote for that.  But wait – the plan has changed again!

As the deadline approached to put the matter on the May ballot, Hales and Novick announced they had changed their mind, and – surprise! – finding in some cases that constituents found NONE of the proposals appealing, and also finding that not all solutions were within the power of the City Council to impose, the ballot measure would be back off the table for now, and the city now would now call on the State Legislature to increase the gas tax statewide, thus providing funds to Portland and other cities to maintain the roads.

Of course, there is no guarantee the legislature will do that, even though it makes sense, inasmuch as there has been no gas tax increase in a couple of decades, while inflation has been eating away at the value of a fixed-amount tax – and while gas has gotten more expensive, even after the recent declines – meaning that the fixed-amount gas tax represents a smaller percentage of the money spent on gas than it used to.

But the city still has much to answer for here, and THE BEE believes there are questions that should be answered to the public’s satisfaction before asking for more money to fix Portland’s streets, if that indeed is where the money will go.

First, how come the money budgeted for street repair over these many years was insufficient to repair the streets? It appears to us that these funds have often been diverted to other less urgent but more fashionable projects, and that the total available funds have diminished over the years anyway. The city has yet to really put a priority on repairing our streets.

Second, will passage of whatever tax let the city off the hook, and result in a further reduction in transportation funds to be budgeted from the property tax? If so, we’ll all pay more money – and get no more service. We might even get less, since that has been the pattern over the years.

Third, will any new street repair funding go – 100% – for street repair? The answer to that seems to be “of course not”, since from the outset we have been told that at least part of it would be used to build more infrastructure in some areas, such as affluent Southwest neighborhoods where there are no sidewalks, and in Outer East Portland.

There is no argument from us about whether Outer East Portland needs sidewalks and better streets – heck, we have lots of unpaved streets right here in Inner Southeast, especially in such neighborhoods as Woodstock – but if this new revenue the city has been seeking is specifically to repair our streets, that is entirely where it should go. The city constructs its budget primarily from its property tax receipts, and it should budget specifically for needed infrastructure improvements as a line item in that budget.

Alas, THE BEE is skeptical that the current administration will ever really deliver the street repair that is the key part of this pitch, although we would love to be wrong.

We also are aware that one of the subtexts in this ongoing drama that you may be unaware of is that Mr. Novick believes that Portland residents are “severely undertaxed”, as he once remarked to a BEE correspondent – apparently in the belief that it was obvious! So for him, the threshold in deciding the need for more taxation of any sort is apparently quite low indeed.

Well, we disagree with him. What we actually are, is severely in need of real and ongoing street repair! However this turns out, we hope the city gets busy on THAT.

Letters to the Editor

“Dog abuser seen”


I've never before written a Letter to the Editor, but I love our neighborhood and recently saw something that upset me deeply. I want BEE readers to be made aware.

I live in the vicinity of S.E. 17th and Harney and Sherrett Streets. At approximately 2:30 am December 8, I awoke to a yelping sound. I looked out my window and saw a man in a Carharts jacket kicking two small dogs he had on a leash as they sniffed the ground.  I shouted at him but he kept doing it, yanking on the dog yelling, “Come on girls!” He kicked them again and again, and they yelped every time. These were not “let’s get moving” taps with his feet. These were abusive kicks. 

As it was the middle of the night and this man is clearly violent, I was afraid to do more. I regret that terribly. I was scared, but not nearly as scared as those innocent dogs must have been and undoubtedly still are. 

I have alerted my immediate neighbors, and I am hoping, by writing this letter, other people in the area will be on the lookout. If you see this man, please report him to the authorities. He needs to be stopped.

(Name withheld by request)
via e-mail

Demolition alternative
This is the house at 5910 SE Steele that Suncrest Construction is moving rather than tearing down, as referenced in Ms. Solstrom’s letter.

“Positive infill story”


I have a true story that addresses the current conflict going on in Portland, especially in Southeast Portland, Woodstock and Eastmoreland regarding the demolition of older homes in our neighborhoods in order to build new. This story is an example of a positive resolution.

I am longtime (20 year) realtor in the Woodstock neighborhood, dealing mostly in residential resale and often times selling buildable lots or tear-down houses to builders. I recently sold to a buyer-builder, Suncrest Corporation, a home in Woodstock at 5910 S.E. Steele, with the potential of an additional buildable lot. The house was situated so it wasn't possible to build a second home on the property, due to zoning, without tearing down the lovely older existing home. However, with a little research and ingenuity the builder decided to have the existing home moved a few feet over, and is planning to restore the house to the delight of the former owners. As well, a new home will be built next door, on the newly established lot.

This home had been in the former owner’s family for several generations, and was lovingly referred to as “grandma’s house”. The sellers were concerned that their beloved family home would end up like so many others in the neighborhood...rubble! This particular builder wants to preserve whenever he can, retaining the original character that isn't being duplicated in some of the newer homes being built in the area. How refreshing to see respect for the existing homes and residences by restoring whenever possible.

Many of Southeast Portland’s neighborhood associations are lobbying for a city task force to examine the practice of demolition vs. restoration. There were lots of heated arguments in a recent Richmond neighborhood meeting about this very topic. The Facebook page for the Woodstock Neighborhood Association is full of angry comments from residents that are unhappy with the in-fill building.

It is my hope that residents here will see the potential for win-win for potential “positive growth / in-fill”. This story need not be the only one with such a positive outcome.

Georgia Sohlstrom
(formerly Jacobsen)Broker, John L Scott Real Estate

Warning about visibility at dusk


A week or so before Thanksgiving, my husband and I were driving home from an event. It was dusk – not quite fully dark outside. We were on a neighborhood street, and luckily, there was a bit of light shed by a nearby street light.

A kid on a bicycle rode into an intersection a block ahead of us. He looked to be old enough to be in middle-school. He had on a bike helmet, but was dressed in dark clothing – and he was wearing nothing visibly reflective.

No light on the bike.

Ear buds in the kid’s ears, so he probably could not hear our car coming.

Luckily, I saw movement from the right as he rode into the road.

It's amazing to me that people who are on bikes and on foot assume they will be seen by moving vehicles when it is dark outside, especially when they are in dark clothing themselves...

People don't realize the danger they put themselves in. Perhaps they leave for their final destination when it is still light outside, but are not yet to their final destination by the time it is too dark to be easily seen by moving cars and trucks.

And, I'll bet they are not aware of the speed of a moving vehicle, relative to their own speed.

Please remind people to dress in light colors and reflective clothing when they will be outside near sundown!  And to pay attention. There is no sense in being “dead right”.

We'd have hated to run into the kid because we didn't see him. Perhaps this letter will cause some parents and kids to re-think how cyclists and pedestrians are seen (or not) during that time of the day.

Karen Williams
via e-mail

Thanks from All Saints’


Once again this year, a thank you to each of the knitters and crocheters in the community for the hats and scarves you created for our guests at the November 22 Hot Meals Thanksgiving lunch at All Saints Episcopal Church. Because of your gifts of time and yarn, each of our special guests received a coordinating hat and scarf. Your generosity means a great deal so many.

The Psalm 139 Prayer Shawl Ministry at All Saints Episcopal Church is looking forward to making hats and scarves available to those in need in late 2015. The greatest need is for masculine colors. If you enjoyed being part of our project, please continue to knit or crochet hats and/or scarves and drop them off at the church at S.E. 40th Avenue and Woodstock Boulevard. If you have yarn that you no longer care to use, we are grateful for that as well. Thank you again for your kindness and caring.

Bev Curtis
All Saints Episcopal Church
via e-mail

Coyote warning


I would like to warn anyone with pets in the area of S.E. 49th and Holgate that there is a coyote in the area. It attacked and killed our cat on the morning of Friday 9th January at about 6 am. He was a big cat – over 20 lbs, and was a 100% outdoor cat all of his life, but he stood no chance. Please be very aware of this if you have any cats or small dogs in this area. I would hate for anyone else to have to go through what we are going through.

via e-mail

EDITOR’S NOTE: Coyotes are common in cities nowadays – and not just Portland. Chicago has hundreds of them living in the city itself. They do not like people and tend to avoid them; they would rather catch dinner than scavenge human food. Quite a few of them seem to live near Reed College, and cat kills are reported in Eastmoreland, Sellwood, and Westmoreland among other places. It is a very good idea to keep pets indoors at night.

Letters to the Editor may be submitted via e-mail by clicking HERE.

All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.

Barbara Jean Benoy
Barbara Jean Benoy

Barbara Jean Benoy

Barbara was born in Pasco, Washington, on November 17th, 1948, and grew up on a farm on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where her father worked. Her mother was a homemaker. She was the youngest of four children (three girls and one boy), and she attended grade school, high school, and community college in the Tri Cities area. She moved to Portland after college with a couple of girlfriends from school, living in several places in Southeast Portland – from the Reed College area to as far out as Gresham, and in the Foster-Powell and Richmond neighborhoods as well.

Barb started working at Meier & Frank in downtown Portland in 1972, working in the Data Processing Center, starting as a Keypunch Operator and ending as a Computer Operator. She worked there for 30 years until the central offices were closed in 2002. Then she worked at the Fred Meyer Corporate offices in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Southeast Portland in their Computer Room, until it closed. She next worked in Legacy Health’s Computer area in Northwest Portland, until once again the area was closed and she lost her job. She then retired, but continued to work part time for Express Solutions staffing agency.

She was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in June of 2014, and passed away at age 66 on January 12th, 2015. Both of her parents and one sister previously had died of cancer many years ago. She is survived by her sister Rosie, her husband Franc, and their daughters Theresa and Tina of Pasco, Washington; as well as by her brother Ron and his wife Bonita of Puyallup, Washington. Cremation was performed at Crown Memorial in Milwaukie. A private family Celebration of Life will be held at a later date in Pasco.

Takeshi “Tak” Fujino

Takeshi “Tak” Fujino, age 88, passed peacefully on December 18th, 2014. He was born to the late Suyekichi and Yumi Fujino in Auburn, California. Tak attended Placer Union High School. While he was interned during World War II, he attended Tule Lake High School, but went on to graduate from Jerome High School in Arkansas. After the war, he moved to Spokane Washington; and in 1947, he married Sue Kawasaki. They raised their family in S.E. Portland, where they lived together for 66 years in the same home. In May of 2014, Sue passed away.

Tak and Sue were owners and operators of the Franklin Market Grocery Store for 29 years, and later were owners and operators of Woodstock Wine and Deli which, in December, celebrated its 29th year in business – now owned by their son, Gregg Fujino.

For over 50 years, Tak served the Inner Southeast Portland community as a small business owner. His contribution to the neighborhood will be remembered by the countless customers of Franklin Market and Woodstock Wine and Deli. Tak will be fondly remembered by his loyal patrons (all of whom he knew by name) for his memory, his sense of humor, and his gracious attention to meeting each of their needs. When not working, Tak enjoyed playing golf, bowling, and playing cards.

Tak is survived by his children: Gregg Fujino of Portland; Donna Fujino of Happy Valley; Gary Fujino of Mesa, Arizona; and their spouses, Nyla Thomas, Mark Chase, and Char Fujino. He is also survived by his grandchildren, David, Christine and spouse Jordan, Allison, Brian, Madeline, Jack, great-granddaughter Liahona, and his brother Hiro Fujino of Portland, and his sister, Marie Sugiyama of Rocklin, California, along with many family and friends.

Woodstock Wine and Deli hosted a gathering honoring Tak in January. In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations be considered to the Martha and Mary Ministries, 4303 S.E. Henderson Street, Portland 97206; and/or to Portland Providence Hospital, 4805 N.E. Glisan Street, Portland 97213. Arrangements were by Rose City Funeral Home.

Drew, Long Haired German Shepherd

Comments? News tips?

Click here to e-mail us!

Note to readers: At some point, this, our original Internet website, will be replaced at this web address by our new website, as part of the Community Newspapers group. At that time, you will still be able to access this, our original -- and smartphone-friendly -- website, if you save this address: You'll still have your choice of which one to visit!