By Nancy Varekamp | CNews Editor
Last month CNews published a letter drafted by the Concordia Neighborhood Association (CNA) board for membership review, comment and action. It’s available at Concordiapdx.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/draft-letter.pdf.
Concordians responded with written comments via email and then verbal ones at the CNA general meeting. Opinions were mixed, and they were constructive.
Many liked the letter, some offered improvements and rewording. Some disagreed with the letter’s intent, others with some of its wording and others with the suggestions for how to make changes to the Portland Police Bureau.
“Blaming and divisive and likely to add to digging in of heels,” was one Concordian’s description of the draft letter.
“It takes courage to speak out. Thanks,” remarked one attendee at the Oct. 7 virtual meeting.
Another believed the letter’s call to end the use of tear gas didn’t go far enough, that the environmental aspects be raised. That would include information about the chemicals draining into the Willamette River.
“This stuff doesn’t disappear,” that participant explained. “These things have adverse, long-term impacts, and we’re going to live with them.”
Many weighed in on the word “defund.”
“Defund or dissolve allows too much interpretation,” noted one Concordian who suggested the term “demilitarize.” “That suits our interest more.”
One point of consensus was that many of the calls to which police respond –mental health and homelessness issues – could be better handled by non-police representatives.
One meeting participant explained that Portland should have a “public safety” organization rather than a “police department,” complete with non-lawenforcement officers – “someone they will call who really can help them instead of just make matters worse.”
Regardless of the final wording of any letter from Concordians to city leaders, one thing is clear, according to one attendee.
That Concordian called for a letter that doesn’t hamstring the city council with specifics. Instead, it should “Tell them what we want the outcome to be.”
Letter is online
Since the Oct. 7 general meeting, members of the Concordia Neighborhood Association (CNA) Board of Directors redrafted the letter to reflect the input received.
That final version of the letter was posted to Facebook.com/groups/ConcordiaPDX in midOctober. And Concordians were offered the opportunity to sign it by sending permission to use their names to the CNA chair.
The CNA board did not endorse the letter, since it does not represent the unanimous opinion of all who live and work in Concordia. Rather, the board served in the role of facilitator to help those Concordians who wanted to voice their opinions and suggestions in a unified manner.
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters.