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September 24th, 2003 WW Editorialstaff | Rogue of the Week
 

Leslie Center

ROGUE OF THE WEEK

     
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In the two years since the twin towers fell, legions of opportunists have invoked the digits 9 and 11 to rally support for their own questionable agendas--from pushing tax cuts for the rich to peddling commemorative oven mitts. We thought we'd seen it all, until a letter from Leslie Centner made its way to the Rogue Desk.

Centner, a real-estate agent and 12-year resident of Northwest Portland, is an active opponent of the city's proposed parking-garage plan for her notoriously jammed neighborhood. If accepted, the controversial project would land six four-story parking structures in the residential zones of seven consecutive streets.

In a letter recently sent to local media outlets, Centner makes a connection between the memory of those falling towers and the prospect of the rising garages 3,000 miles away. The link comes in the form of Bill and Lorraine Aylward, who, Centner explains, lived above a NYC fire station 23 blocks away from the World Trade Center when the events of 9/11 unfolded. They now live in a $450,000 house on Northwest Irving Street, directly across the street from one of the proposed garages.

In her letter--dated Sept. 11, 2003--Centner urges journalists to consider sharing the story of this frazzled family who "relocated to Portland...in the hope of finding a bit of peace" only to be "discouraged by Portland City Council's myopic vision concerning planning" and the prospect of "headlights shining into their master bedroom."

"In the aftermath of 9/11 and other fallacies in this world, Bill and Lorraine hoped Portland would be real...or at least believe in the image they portray," wrote Centner, who included an account of attacks from Bill Aylward's perspective.

Well, unless the bin Laden family lands the construction contract for the garages, it's hard to see the link between them and the towers as being anything but exploitative.

Centner, however, told WW she simply was trying to put a "face" behind her cause.

"I am the last person to try to exploit 9/11, and I would be angry if it was used in that way," says Centner, who, it turns out, is Bill Aylward's sister. "If it's being taken in that way, then I withdraw it."

 
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