Letter sent 01/09/08 via e-mail
Dear Mr. Mayor:
Congratulations on your recent swearing in.
This evening I had the opportunity to read your ambitious First 100 Days Agenda. I personally support many of the goals but was concerned to not read about any concentrated effort to combat poverty.
First, the emphasis you place on public education is particularly important. As you know, education is the key to a better future for Portland's children. The United Church of Christ has been a long-time advocate of public education.
Portland Public Schools receive no funding from the city of Portland or Multnomah County to assist Project Return, the nationally award winning program to help homeless children succeed in school (Multnomah County, however, does support a failed model of educating children that is so inadequate that it is illegal to use federal dollars to fund such programs).
Likewise, your emphasis on economic development is important. We need to focus our public resources on neighborhoods that were left behind during the 1990s. Portland is more than the Pearl District. The decision to hold your swearing-in at Parkrose High School sent a clear message that you intend to be the mayor of all of Portland.
Your proposed local economic stimulus plan is the only area where you mention the needs of low-income workers. But what we need from your office is bold leadership on this issue that focuses on the goal of poverty reduction.
I would urge you to amend your First 100 Days Agenda to include a section on poverty reduction. You list perhaps two dozen or more specific tasks you hope to undertake to support the arts in Portland. Do the same for the issue of poverty. Name a committee of leaders representing a broad section of Portland to help you develop such a plan. Poverty is a growing problem locally and nationally and it will take both federal and local efforts to address growing human needs.
My offer for Parkrose Community United Church of Christ to host a meeting of religious leaders willing to meet with you to discuss your plans still stands.
Please let me know if I can provide you with any assistance.
The Rev. Chuck Currie