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1995: on the street | patron saint of the pearl | XPAC: new power generation



EVENTS

Sen. Mark Hatfield defies his party and casts the deciding vote against the balanced-budget amendment, the conservative cause du jour. Hatfield says he would rather resign than vote against his conscience. Dittoheads across the nation heap scorn on Oregon's senior senator, but at home Hatfield's mail runs 7-1 in his favor.

Russia, China, India--now even Portland gets da bomb with the first annual PoH-Hop hip-hop festival at LaLuna. Highlights include Hungry Mob and Cool Nutz.

In wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, the media spotlight focuses on local militia groups. Results are disappointing: Far from fuming about black helicopters, the founder of the self-styled Militia of Washington County turns out to be a mild-mannered computer nerd whose most radical belief is that Waco is a cover-up.

The Lucille Hart dinner, an annual black-tie fund-raiser for queer-friendly causes, is picketed by transsexuals claiming that its namesake, a celebrated Oregon physician and author who was born a woman but lived as a man, was actually transsexual, not lesbian. Protesters demand a name change; organizers agree to call it The Dinner.

A staggering 89 women line up to testify against Northeast Portland gynecologist Dr. Phillip S. Alberts for allegedly molesting them during pelvic exams during his 30 years in practice. They never get the chance: Alberts, 62, suffers a fatal stroke shortly before he can stand trial.

The doors of history clang shut on the Dammasch State Hospital 34 years after the first mental patient crossed its barbed-wire threshold. Neuroleptic drugs have made the 500-bed facility's barred windows and long, echoing halls obsolete. Will head nurse Cathy Miller, who has worked at Dammasch since 1969, miss the institution? "No," she says.

Troy Harding, 19, of Gresham, accidentally shish-kabobs a car antennae up his nose and several inches into his brain while getting into his vehicle.

They may have lousy road manners, but they've got great attorneys. Critical Mass, a ragtag band of bicycle activists who enjoy tying up traffic during rush hour, win a lawsuit against the city after police kick them out of Pioneer Square.

Rock, hip-hop, acid jazz, reggae and hard-driving rhythm and blues hit the local club scene when the first NXNW Music Festival turns up the volume with 250 bands.

It's in the mail: Ballots go out for the nation's first vote-by-mail primary election to weed out contenders for Bob Packwood's empty Senate seat. Proponents say going postal will improve participation--but, gripes opponent Don McIntyre, only by "indolent Beavis-and-Butt-Head types."

2,500 Deadheads throb and chant in the Rose Quarter when Jerry Garcia plays that great gig in the sky. Mourners wave skull-shaped candles and breathe in patchouli-scented air--under a full moon, of course.

Police clean up drug dealing in Old Town, pushing open-air narcotics peddlers into the crowded jostling of the Transit Mall.

WW publishes a cover story on an obscure and barely credible problem known as the millennium bug.

     
ON THE STREET

BY CHRIS LYDGATE
  Only Nixon could go to China. And only City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury, Portland's leading champion of the downtrodden, could close the Recovery Inn.

Squatting on the east end of the Burnside Bridge, with an endless procession of hard-luck stories trudging to and from its doors, the Recovery Inn (formerly known as Baloney Joe's) was the city's largest and most visible homeless shelter. Despite past scandal (see "The Broken Halo"), most Portlanders regarded the Inn as an important if unlovely refuge, where down-and-outers could put a roof over their heads for a week or two while they tried to get back on their feet.

But in May, the Salvation Army sent shock waves through the city with the announcement that the Recovery Inn would close, unless the City Council bailed it out.

Kafoury said no.

The truth was that the shelter had become a shadow of its former self--an overcrowded, urine-soaked, rat-infested hovel, whose 150 occupants slept shoulder-to-shoulder on the floor. Some of them had been living there for up to three years. Others were eligible for Social Security benefits but had never been told about them. Far from helping to break the cycle of homelessness, the Recovery Inn was perpetuating it.

"They're going to have to roll a steamroller over me to get me to put homeless people in there again," Kafoury said.

The crisis had its roots in the early '80s, when Oregon sank into a deep recession. Bag ladies and shopping-cart men became an increasingly familiar sight, sleeping under bridges, begging for quarters on the transit mall, muttering to themselves on park benches. "People thought it was temporary, and that as the economy got better, it would fix itself," says Chuck Currie, executive director of the Goose Hollow Family Shelter. "And now the economy's better, but there are still lots of people on the street."

In fact, a complex array of social forces--including drastic federal housing cuts, deinstitutionalization, drug addiction and the psychic displacement of Vietnam veterans--conspired to put more people on the street than ever before. By 1995, an estimated 3,400 Portlanders were homeless on any given night. And they were no longer primarily single men: 50 percent were women and families.

It was painfully obvious that spending a few nights on a urine-soaked cot was unlikely to untangle these problems. But what was the alternative? Homeless advocates crafted a multi-pronged approach involving smaller shelters tailored for specific populations: the Clark Shelter and Transition Projects Downtown Shelter for homeless men; Jean's Place for women; and the Royal Palm for the chronically mentally ill--each geared toward connecting people with the services they need to escape the cycle. Meanwhile Kafoury and chief aide Erik Sten played hardball with downtown business interests to build a permanent replacement for the Recovery Inn.

The new approach is clearly a step up from the discredited policy of warehousing the homeless, but as a nighttime stroll through almost any part of downtown will demonstrate, it's also clearly just a beginning.



PATRON SAINT OF THE PEARL

BY CARYN B. BROOKS

  William Jamison, a restaurateur who became the most important force in Portland's arts scene, died of AIDS on June 21, 1995. He was 49. The list of Jamison's achievements starts with the restaurant the Ohio native opened in 1974, called Victoria's Nephew, where the holy espresso bean made its Portland debut. Next came the Jamison Thomas gallery, founded in 1985 with Jeffrey Thomas, followed by one of the Pearl District's best-known traditions--First Thursday. In 1987, Jamison formed Art/AIDS to help support people stricken with the disease. "No matter what William did, it always turned to gold," Jamison's mother told WW in 1995. "He could make anything go." Though a housewares shop now occupies the spot where Jamison's gallery once stood, his legacy lives on in the crowded streets of the Pearl District the first Thursday of every month.



NEW POWER GENERATION

BY BOB YOUNG




  Young David Bragdon wanted to hear firsthand from Neil Goldschmidt's gang about Portland's youth movement of the early 1970s. So on June 14, 1994, Bragdon invited Goldschmidt and friends to the Clinton Street Theater for an "Insurgents' Convergence." That night, a new movement was born.

The next year, two of Bragdon's peers, Aaron Corman and Erik Sten, decided to revive Portland's youth-power tradition and created X-PAC, a political action committee for Generation X. It wasn't a PAC in the traditional sense: It didn't contribute money to campaigns. Instead X-PAC met
monthly at the Flying Saucer Cafe in Southeast Portland to discuss issues. The group came in handy when Sten, then 29, ran for City Council in 1996: Corman worked like a madman to turn X-PAC's 400 members into Sten volunteers. After Sten was elected--as were X-PACers Chris Beck and Ryan Deckert in races for the state Legislature--others followed. In 1998, nine X-PACers ran for office. Bragdon won election to the Metro Council; Serena Cruz to the Multnomah County Commission; Deborah Kafoury to the state Legislature.

X-PAC hasn't accomplished anything to rival Goldschmidt's gang--yet. But the group has proved durable. With no real budget or staff, X-PAC maintains a hot Web site (www.x-pac.org), holds monthly meetings and continues to attract new members--although not enough people of color to please Cruz. Sten says Goldschmidt's gang had easy targets--an "evil regime"--to fight. It's not clear what issues might galvanize Gen-Xers. But former Goldschmidt aide Ron Buel says X-PAC has an advantage when it comes to the new information economy: "I've got to say Gen-X is hip to that whole revolution. The best example is Sten's battle against AT&T over Internet access.

"They'd better be," Buel adds, "because they need a strategy."

 

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