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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 3, 2013 10:10 AM. The previous post in this blog was Little Lord Paulson is just a regular guy, cont'd. The next post in this blog is Crazy hoops. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

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"

Dear S....,

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.

Sincerely,
Amanda

Amanda Fritz
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:

Amanda,

"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?

Comments (21)

I think that we are going to regret Mary Nolan losing to Amanda for the next four years.

”When we abuse freedom, we lose freedom”

I believe I heard this first from Paul Harvey.

I used to be proud to live near Portland.
But in the last 10 years or so it has disintegrated into a city that is unsafe. If tourism is supposedly one of Oregon's primary sources of income what the heck are the powers that be thinking?

I think that we are going to regret Mary Nolan losing to Amanda for the next four years.

I don't. Nolan and her husband would have soaked us but good.

I don't believe government should override individual's rights.

Amanda speaks with a forked tongue. She voted for fluoride.
Amanda, the nurse wants to medicate everyone with fluoride
in their drinking water whether they want it or not.
How is that for overriding individual rights?

I would argue the use of fragrances is protected speech.

Well Jack, at least we still agree on Sam, Randy, Ellis and 5 alarm fires.

I bet the citizens of North Plains wish Amanda was as concerned about making their town a fragrance-free zone.

+100, Bill.

I occasionally have to take Tri-Met home (snow events, husband needs the car, etc.) When I do, it means having to take the train and then get off so I can take the bus. During those times, I have been accosted by pan handlers. In one case, the kid stepped directly in front of me and demanded I buy him beer. I said no and stepped around him, but what really would have stopped him from grabbing me as I walked past? Nothing. There's a business in the Central Eastside District and whenever I was there after dark, I always asked for someone to escort me to my car. On one of those occasions, a young homeless girl fell onto the sidewalk right beside my parked car. I did what I could to offer assistance, but she didn't want help.

And then there's Voodoo Donuts on Burnside, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Portland. There are ALWAYS homeless people hanging around it, begging for money and donuts. One night we were there and one homeless man assaulted another.

I see the crowds gathered outside the Union Gospel Mission and other homeless services. So what the heck are they doing to solve the problem?

Portland is a preferred destination for many homeless because they're pretty much left alone by the city. I mean that in a good and a bad way. Meaningful services have been curtailed but there are still a lot of non-profits trying to feed and clothe them. Weather is moderate even in the winter, for the most part. Lots of places to camp if you don't want to sleep in a mission (or if there's no room there) and the police may roust you from your doorway or haven under the bridge, but you can move right back in again and it will be some time before they get around to passing your way again.

Today's public is intimidated by filth, obscene language and in your face behavior as it never was in the past. The only people I've seen call out of control youth or panhandlers successfully on their unacceptable public behavior are the black Grandmas on the bus on North Portland runs. When they scold, the behavior stops. Nobody else dares try.

A couple of days ago, a group of us stood waiting at the streetcar stop across from the Central Library while a homeless kid with a German Shepherd puppy berated his companion/girlfriend/who knows in a loud voice, laden with obscenities, threatening and darting around aggressively enough to clear the entire SW corner of the sidewalk at 10th & Yamhill. It was bad enough that several of us were preparing to cross the street and intervene when the girlfriend walked away and he let her go. The entire area in front of the library as well as the side portions of its two primary entrances are always packed with transients and their carts, the ground littered with their cigarettes and trash as they accost library patrons and pedestrians for money or beer (yep, I was asked, too).

Two things need to happen: We need to take back our public places and make it clear that certain behaviors will not be tolerated by anybody in public places, and secondly, the City needs to make dealing with the problems of and with transients a priority before it goes chasing off after another shiny transit toy or develops a new toilet.

Without the benefit of the original message, how are readers supposed to know that the response is "flipping the bird"? What exactly in the body of Amanda's email is objectionable? Specifically, are you saying that that "street youth" are not covered by constitutional free-speech protections?

Fritz says, "Oregon's Constitution prohibits restrictions on freedom of speech and expression 'in any way whatsoever'. And yet Portland has restrictions on where people may sit or lie, requires permits for demonstrations or parades, requires business licenses of buy or sell and otherwise places restrictions on how citizens may express themselves within the city limits. I am not acquainted with every regulation, chapter and verse, but also believe that overly loud music, public urination or defecation, profanity or assault are also frowned upon in a legal sense.

It is not really true that freedom of speech and expression may not be restricted 'in any way whatsoever.'

I know some who was physically attacked in the Pearl at 10 am last year by some street punk.
I am always hassled downtown. I hate going there.,
Free speech? I don't think so.
Amanda...your opinion on this issue sucks! Try standing up for the people who pay your salary for a change!

Several downtown churches have had to hire private security firms to keep their entryways from becoming overnight shelters, restrooms, and drug shopping centers.

I can't count the number of times I scraped sh*t, and needles, and god only knows what off the front entry of a business I used to own...and that was 15 years ago! Now I can't imagine!
The downtown merchants I know who are left, are getting mighty sick and tired of this "free speech" crap.
The city needs to be cleaned up.
Wake up City Hall!

Have you run into the zoned out guy who walks around with nothing on but a blanket wrapped around himself? He's a frequent rider on the downtown streetcar. I know he isn't wearing anything else because a couple of weeks ago when he reached out to grab someone's arm and ask for money, the blanket fell open and we were all momentarily treated to the full monte. The guy standing next to him, reached over and hastily pulled the blanket closed and - thankfully - blanketman didn't seem to mind. I've been hearing that TriMet has cameras and is recording conversations but the driver apparently doesn't see or hear anything because nothing happened except that the guy got off two stops later while our mouths were still hanging open.

If the street brawl about a block from my office (yay!) between cart owners and street kids involving bats, cut propane lines, and knives won't get Amanda Fritz to comprehend that free speech doesn't protect criminal behavior (assault, harassment, and we're working our way to murder/manslaughter eventually), nothing will. I think it will take somebody getting seriously hurt or killed to change something.

Amanda says "free speech". I say condoned behavior. Last week, when trying to park downtown, I had to search for a parking meter kiosk that didn't have excrement smeared around it's working face.

David, I haven't been downtown In months! so I haven't had to subject myself to finding a parking meter. Your story is awful and I am not surprised. Many of the meters frequently do not work, and finding one in time to avoid getting a ticket from the over zealous Parking Patrol can be a challenge.

Ms. Fritz is engaging in a selective reading of Article I, section 8 in asserting that the Oregon Constitution prevents restrictions on expression "in any way whatsoever." Perhaps that is understandable, because the Oregon Supreme Court has engaged in a similarly selective reading for the past 30 years. Although the first clause of Article I, section 8 broadly promotes freedom of speech, the next clause qualifies that freedom substantially when it provides: "but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right." Implicitly, that clause of the state constitution empowers the legislature (or city government) to regulate abusive speech. In addition, there is nothing unique or progressive about this text in the Oregon Constitution; most state constitutions feature a similar text. If anyone is interested in learning more about the free speech clause of the Oregon Constitution, please read chapters 4 and 5 of my online treatise on the Oregon Constitution, www.asenseoftheoregonconstitution.com.


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