Nurse Amanda: Don't use deodorant if you visit City Hall
A reader sends along an e-mail exchange with Nurse Amanda about the street punks who chase nice people out of downtown. She flips the reader the bird on that one -- doesn't want to trample on the punks' rights, of course -- but to us the stuff in her signature line is also worth noting (emphasis added):
From: Commissioner Fritz
Date: March 3, 2013 1:04:41 AM PST
To: 'S....' <........@gmail.com>
Subject: RE: "street youth"
Thank you for your message. Oregon's Constitution prohibits restrictions on freedom of speech and expression "in any way whatsoever". This is a higher standard than other states, which may explain why attempts to restrict the rights of "street youth" have been overturned by Oregon courts. While I recognize their "lifestyle" impacts others, I don't believe government should override individual's rights. I encourage you to call 9-1-1 if you experience threats or other criminal behavior.
Commissioner, City of Portland
The City of Portland is a fragrance free workplace. To help me and others be able to breathe, please avoid using added fragrances when visiting City offices.
To help ensure equal access to City programs, services and activities, the City of Portland will reasonably modify policies/procedures and provide auxiliary aids/services to persons with disabilities. Call 503-823-2036, TTY 503-823-6868 with such requests or visit http://www.portlandonline.com/ADA_Forms
We love the "added" fragrances part. An unwashed human has a fragrance, too, and that's okay. It's her European charm that has endeared the Nurse to so many. Maybe the fragrance thing is part of why she protects the street punks so much. Apparently she's one of the discerning noses that led to this.
We also admire her devotion to the state constitution. It's too bad it didn't stop her from voting for the new head tax.
Meanwhile, on the merits, the reader responds:
"Street youth" who lie on the sidewalks begging for money to use for illicit purposes (mostly drugs) should not be protected under the cloak of freedom of speech. I find that a real stretch. You confirm what I've always thought -- we need to amend the state constitution so that its freedom of speech provisions comport exactly to the federal constitution -- but no more.
Our downtown is struggling. People put a lot of their heart and money into opening businesses there. In addition to having to survive in our economy, they have have to overcome the challenge of operating in an area populated with vagrants and loiterers. Our city government should be doing everything it can to help our downtown thrive, not impede it.
If your solution to this is police action, why not help out by pushing for a real police presence downtown? I walk there often and almost never see officers walking the beat. One way to counter the intimidation caused by these people would be to have police in the area where they congregate at all times.
Amanda, in my 10 years living here, this problem has gotten worse, not better, despite all the money we pour into homeless services. Every visitor I bring downtown notices it.
Surely you don't think the situation downtown is good or normal?