Saturday, September 13, 2008

Open Letter & Rebuttal to Mayor's "Prostitution talking points"

Sept 12, 2008

Good Day Mayor Potter and City Council Members and Staff,

Yesterday a few of our members of Montavilla in Action were personally invited to be a part of the Mayor's press conference unveiling his new "proposal" on how the City was now going to address the critical level of organized crime that quickly took over 82nd Avenue since the Prostitution Free Zone was abandoned by the City Council almost 1 year ago (September 30, 2007).

We were asked if we wanted to stand behind the Mayor for the press event, we declined, since we do not fully stand behind this new proposal. We have attached the Mayor's "prostitution talking points" as they were so named and saved on his website. In the doc (attached) we have added our comments / rebuttal to the Mayor's "talking points" because in each and every step of this proposal there are many, many "ifs" and many more questions than answers and concrete solutions.

At the heart of our frustration and anger is that last September 26, 2007 the City Council abandoned the Prostitution Free Zone (PFZ) without doing any research on the effectiveness of it. The PFZ was lumped with the issues surrounding the Drug Free Zone (DFZ). At the time we were told by Mayor Potter & Commissioner Leonard that the City was working on "real solutions" as they dropped the ordinances.

Well since that time, as we are all well aware - organized crime has quickly moved in and made OUR streets and our neighborhoods (Montavilla, Mount Tabor, South Tabor, Park Rose, Madison South - many SE & NE Portland communities) into a dangerous turf war. The crime is so prevalent that johns from all over Oregon and Washington are coming to our neighborhoods and now harassing & compromising the safety of neighborhood women and young girls, since if you are a lone woman actually walking in the radius of 82nd Avenue you are now deemed to be a prostitute. (Please read our neighborhood stories in this attached doc)This has all quickly happened since the PFZ was abandoned.

We urge the Mayor & the City Council to please read our comments on the attached doc. We want answers, we want to know the plan, timing, roll out, funding, etc. We are far too invested in this to repeat the last year all over again. Couple that with next summer and the I-205 Max extension is slated to open in the area and that too will add to the crime that is already pervasive.

Our key comments:
Increased police:
What is the commitment from the City on this increased police presence, is it budgeted and slated for the rest of this year and into the next year and beyond?
How long will it last - even the johns on their chat rooms doubt this increased presence will last will last. Stings and missions are very costly - wouldn't the PFZ help alleviate this cost and help enforce the repeat offender's portion of your proposal?

Prosecuting prostitutes: This part of the plan relies on a lot of "Ifs"...
[It] relies on first obtaining an arrest [taking place during an anti-prostitution] mission.
It targets only repeat offenders – what constitutes "repeat" is it 2 or 5 arrests?
Does the same prostitute need to be arrested at least twice to get her into this plan?
There is currently a long lag time between arrest and court date (6 months appx), what is the number of no shows [allowed] for court dates?

Prosecuting johns: What is required of customers who are convicted of the crime of engaging in prostitution? - Nothing was mentioned in your proposal about "johns".
Consistent minimum sentencing, fees, consistent vehicle impound (if dual title on car so both parties have to get car out of impound) [part of this program?]
Will the johns do work crew [duties], literally clean up 82nd Ave, [and the surrounding neighborhoods]? Where is the prosecution and targeting of the demand - the johns?

Develop treatments: Who are you working with and when will these treatments be available?
When is the Council voting on the funds since it is still "under consideration"?
If the promised $500,000 under consideration is for BOTH treatment AND to create a Service Coordination Team, is that really enough money to make this an effective solution?
Do only "repeat" offenders have access to treatments? As the Mayor states in the "talking points" most of these women are not addicted to drugs. What tools, skills will they be taught to earn a decent living wage to compete with the lure of the money they are currently obtaining?

Community Policing: Mayor you cite that you are helping Neighborhoods with “their own problems” – Mayor Potter how is this blatant increase in crime due to your sunsetting, the PFZ one year ago & allowing it to grow and fester, our “own problem” if that is what you are referring to? As we have previously throughout the summer emailed to you, Mr. Leonard and the rest of City Council that our communities and streets are now the destination for johns, from not only the Portland area but for all of Oregon and the Vancouver, WA areas now as well. This is not OUR problem. [Regarding] Foot patrols – Currently, the working families of Montavilla and Mount Tabor are doing foot patrols SEVEN nights a week out of necessity – due to the level of crime that is affecting our safety & livability. We do not want to still have to patrol seven nights a week in the upcoming months.
This idea of "court watch" is news to us. Who is doing this and how are working families supposed to take a day off of work, arrange for child care, then head downtown to see if the arrested defendant will show up for their [court] appearance. What will this provide as a solution to the compromised safety and livability we are now dealing with?

We urge you to please read our rebuttal attached, it goes into greater details of our extreme concerns about this proposal.

Final thoughts
Lastly, it is disheartening to hear the Mayor sum up his statement that these ideas are a "beginning". What happened over the last year when the Mayor & City Council were supposed to be working on the real solutions in lieu of the PFZ they abandoned?

Prostitution Free Zones do not solve the problem of prostitution. Nor are they suppose to, they do help citizens reclaim their neighborhoods, however, and that in itself is a solution to the problems plaguing many in our city. If making an area safer and more livable isn't the purpose of these ordinances, we don't know what is. If years of experience and statistics aren't showing that this ordinance (particular to the PFZ & not the DFZ) helped to keep this problem in check in areas where they'd otherwise run rampant, we all know too well that this is in fact true, since we as residents are currently in the crossfire of this new turf war because the zone is simply now gone.

March planned for September 20 & presenting of our petition to reinstate the PFZ in addition to all of theses other proposals.

We plan to have our "March on 82nd Avenue to Reclaim our Neighborhood" on Saturday September 20. (For the flyer
We plan on presenting our Petition to Reinstate the Prostitution Free Zone to City Council, to commemorate with the 1 year anniversary (Sept. 30, 2007) of that negligent mistake. We ask that the PFZ be reinstated in addition to all of the city's proposed plans. We also stress once again that the City leaders look to Seattle and see how they took our law and PFZ ordinance and made it effective.

Mayor Potter and City Council we would like to have a working session with you on this issue. We look forward to your response.

Thank you & have a great weekend,
Montavilla In Action

Editors note: As we left the press conference we saw the below item adjacent to the play area at the Montavilla Community Center.


The olmstead family said...

THANK YOU Montavilla In (MInA)for being the well-needed "squeeky wheel" that our neighborhood(s) need.

Do you think this blatant crime would be tolerated for so long in the Pearl or Sellwood? How do neighborhoods thrive and revitalize, by people and groups like "Montavilla In Action",THANK YOU.

Our family has been collecting signatures all summer long and even though we have only gone out just a few times, we have 157 signatures of our fellow neighbors that have eagerly signed it.

We will be at the meeting at Vestal on Monday (even booked a babysitter to allow both of us to attend) and we will be equipped with questions that MInA raised on this blog (thank you again).

We were very disappointed to hear about the recent Montavilla Neighborhood Association meeting and the way it was managed and peoples interactions and this is mainly why we have not been involved with the MTNA, because we have experienced similar interactions with the group in the past. However we will become more active with the MTNA and we hope that there will be a new shift in direction with next month's elections.

Come on fellow neighbors we need to get more active. This is our neighborhood. See you at the March!!!

chad & erica rabinowitz said...

We thank you too, Montavilla In Action. We moved to Montavilla almost two years ago. Last summer was our first summer in the area and we were "annoyed" that we had to drive to other businesses and could not frequent the ones that were in walking distance, i.e. Safeway on 82nd Ave. due to them being dirty and feeling "slightly uneasy" & unsafe coming and going into the businesses. Cut to this summer where we as a family have made a decision not to go to 82nd Avenue at all because of the blatant crime that quickly took over.

We don't want to move, but we see how badly this neighborhod is neglected. We went to the Montavilla Community Center for the first time recently and was disappointed to see the lack of facility improvements & funding that was apparent at the Center.

It shouldn't be this difficult for neighbors to unite and take back their community. Wake up Montavilla - get mad, get active, RECLAIM 82nd AVENUE for all of us.

fed up said...

Ah... love the picture of the dirty, discarded condom. We pick these up all the time. How about we collect all of these out of our front yards, school yards, parks, streets... and dump the weekly pile on Mayor Potter & Mr. Leonard's front yards?

Perhaps if we marked the ground around each condom with duct tape "Ranty Randy" would enforce the crime first and foremost.

true_slicky said...

Its unfortunate that Mr. Leonard views Rose Parade duct tape as a more pressing issue than the daily quality of life we face out here as residents on the Eastside.

It simply doesn't make since with the publicly stated plans to revitalize the area- renaming 82nd the "avenue of Roses", the Milepost 5 project, relocating Chinatown- to just throw their hands up at this problem a year ago, and sit on their hands since.

The Milepost 5 project is Sam Adams' baby, and he has a vested interest in making sure its successful. Instead of wasting our time with the outgoing sitting ducks and ineffective blow hard commissioners, perhaps we should target our efforts on the mayor-elect?

the mcevoys said...

Went to the meeting at Vestal tonight. Learned absolutely nothing new, heard the usual, "sit tight we are working on it". Very sad to hear Jeri Williams say that there are no services for these young girls & women. We thought that was what the City was working on when they lifted the PFZ a year ago.

How sad.
Now this summer my neighbor's 16 yr old daughter has had johns harassing her & one that exposed himself to her. She is very scared. She has lived in this area all of her life and this summer she is now afraid to walk in her own neighborhood. Why PFZ is now gone and the crime is blatant.

No details were given of the plan, timing. We did hear Mike Crebs in 6months time I promise you this will all be gone - so March 15th can't wait.