Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy Portland Sets an Example

By Daniel Perin
Occupy Portland, Mayor Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese did not set out to make Portland an example for other cities to follow in handling the broader Occupy Wall Street events.  But that is exactly what they did.

It is now just after 8:00 o’clock Sunday morning and reporting of the events following the announced 12:01 AM Sunday closing of Chapman and Lownsdale parks to the protesters has proven to be nearly a work of art in how the government and its citizens can work together to resolve problems.  In the one physical conflict that occurred injuring a police person, the resolution came from the main body of the Occupy members who interceded and turned the hoodlum over to the police.

Unlike Oakland and Atlanta where heavy-handed police and government officials resorted to violent interaction with the Occupy groups, Portland, at all levels, worked to peacefully end the encampments so the parks could be closed and repaired.  Yes, there are businesses in the downtown blocks in Portland that were beginning to lose business and were urging a stronger police action to end the occupation.  But wiser, calmer heads prevailed leading to a peaceful resolution, at least until now. 

Many have moved out of the parks.  Volunteers within the Occupy members and others who have come downtown to help have begun the cleanup.  Numbers of trucks have hauled away the debris, tents are coming down, muddy walks are being swept and cleared.  At the same time food tables have been set up to feed those still at work.  Many of the homeless people who joined the encampment because they had no other place to be, have been provided with at least temporary housing in shelters and motels.  All in all, this has been an outstanding demonstration of democracy at its best!

I am very proud to be an Oregonian and a native Portlander.  I am proud of the way in which Mayor Adams and Chief Reese have shown restraint, yet decisiveness, as they have moved forward from day to day.  I have not always been a fan of Mayor Adams, but I applaud his obvious wisdom in exercising both his power as Police Commissioner and as supporter of the Occupy Movement.  I realize that it is not over until it is over, but there is every reason to be hopeful that the message will endure and continue to find positive means of expression.  And while Portland did not set out to be an example of the right way to work with protest movements, in fact, we have shown that restraint and peaceful steps can harmoniously resolve the serious issues facing all of us.

Again, it is not over until it is over, but we are way ahead of Oakland, Atlanta and other cities that have shown less enlightened leadership.  Kudos to Adams, Reese and the Occupy General Assembly.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All The News That’s Fit To Print!

By Daniel Perin

For years I have known, as I am sure you have as well, that what makes the headlines in print and other media is whatever is negative, brutal, sensational, or titillating.  What usually does NOT make the headlines is the TRUTH of what is behind the news.

Efforts have been made from time to time to produce a media outlet based on the “Good News.”  It has never worked with the possible exception of The Christian Science Monitor.”   Even they have trouble keeping it positive.  I would guess we all don’t want to waste time reading the bland items about a boy scout helping a senior citizen across the street.  Because of that bent of conscience we look for more sensational items.

Now we are facing one of the most important social events of our time—the Occupy Wall Street protest movement.  Not only are Occupy events happening across our country, there are correspondent events around the world.

How are these events being reported, locally and nationally?  My experience is that once the first shine of interest is past the news media began looking under rocks (or in tents) for someone, anyone, doing something, anything, that was detrimental to the movement.  Every kind of protest will eventually attract the hoodlum element, those persons with pent up rage they had no place to vent, or others who had nothing better to do than raise hell.  Wonderful!  Just what the TV reporter was looking for—a broken window, a blocked street, someone with a used needle (could have been for a legitimate diabetes need, but probably not).  The result is that the six o’clock news, always known for its sensationalism back to the 60s, could lift its ratings by appealing the prurient appetites of its audience.

Unfortunately, as reported above by Sarah Seltzer, what is missed by media is the background story, the principles that are being stated by those engaged in the camp outs, general assemblies, planning and yes, even cooperation with the police and other authorities.  In Portland, Oregon Mayor Sam Adams has made a gallant effort to recognize the validity of the OWS event while at the same time protecting the rights of individuals and businesses not engaged in the event.  He has had a difficult time of it and in all likelihood will have a price to pay.  Fortunately, he has already decided not to run for re-election, so he has somewhat less to lose.

I have watched the media reports—TV and the Oregonian—and it appears that slowly they are picking up more about the uneasiness of the general public and the inconvenience of dealing with those seeking to have their voices heard and RESPONDED TO in a meaningful manner than they are to the OWS voices.  Change is often inconvenient.  Get over it!  Can you honestly not see that our current government is broken, unable to operate and provide the legislation, opportunity and guidance that will generate jobs, financial recovery and physical well being to the citizenry?

The train of American Democracy is slowing and will halt altogether if we do not act to change the regulatory laws governing our financial institutions that have raped the public and then spit on their crumpled bodies by rewarding corporate executives with exorbitant bonuses and perks.  Both political parties are bought and paid for by the K Street lobbyists in Washington, DC.  The Supreme Court has made it possible for incredible sums of money to pour into political campaigns across the country without anyone knowing where that money is coming from.  We no longer have a country with “one person, one vote.”  What we have is corporate ownership of our legislative bodies.

Fortunately, the elections held Tuesday, November 8 demonstrated the outrage of the public over what Republican majorities have tried to do since the 2010 elections.  Ohio voters overturned Republican Governor John Kasich’s anti collective bargaining law.  Other union busting efforts defeated.  Voter suppression tactics defeated.  Birth control as murder defeated.  It looks like there may be hope for change after all.

I am not saying that any of these issues should not be open for debate.  I am only arguing for transparency and getting rid of the conspiratorial efforts of moneyed interests in our political system.  There are legitimate questions about the role of government in the lives of individuals.  Some issues will never be finally settled to the satisfaction of everyone, but we MUST get back to the individual having a voice in the policies and actions of their government.  To me this is mostly what OWS is all about and I, for one, encourage the voices speaking out, acting out, on my behalf.  I support their effort to self-regulate as they present their views.  I support local government allowing for a place for protesters to stand their ground and present their case.