In June, members of Oregon's Congressional delegation received a letter informing them that the Housing Authority of Portland was unable to accurately report its number of clients. Since then, not a single member of the delegation has been able to persuade Portland Mayor Tom Potter to give them HAP's statistical data so that they could share that information with us, the voters and taxpayers of Multnomah county. Quite unbelievable, yet true.
On June 15, 2001 every member of Oregon's congressional delegation signed a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development requesting $35 million in additional funding for the housing authority. In the letter, they said, "The Housing Authority of Portland is an exemplary public housing authority."
It is now five years later, and the person ultimately responsible for everything that HAP does, Mayor Potter, refuses to give the delegation the statistical data to which they and their constituents are entitled.
It's likely that HUD will soon come knocking at Potter's door. I hope our mayor will be polite and offer them refreshments and any statistical data they request. HUD contributes the lion's share of dollars to public housing in Multnomah County. It would be a shame to put at risk that patronage because Potter was such an "inhospitable" host.
Hats off to writer Helen Silvis and The Skanner for winning the A. Philip Randolph Messenger Award. It's one more reason to read the paper with interest and appreciation for informative, comprehensive stories on issues which matter in our community.
Along with nine members of the Portland's First Unitarian Church, I have just returned from a Unitarian Universalist Service Committee human rights delegation to Guatemala.
Two hundred thousand indigenous people were massacred by military and paramilitary forces during Guatemala's 30-year armed conflict — from 1966 to 1996 — in crimes that the United Nations has judged to be genocide. We met with survivors of the massacres and with courageous human rights workers who are seeking to bring the perpetrators to justice.
While we were in Guatemala, a Spanish court put out an international call for the arrest of eight Guatemalan generals and officials, including former President Rios Montt, who were responsible for many of the massacres. All countries who are members of Interpol are required to assist the Spanish government in bringing these eight men to trial.
We were moved and gratified to read in the Guatemalan papers on Aug. 3 that two members of Oregon's Congressional delegation, U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer, had signed a resolution calling for the U.S. Justice Department to aid in the arrest of these eight officials.
We deeply appreciate the help of these representatives in bringing justice and reconciliation to Guatemala. Their support for the internationalization of human rights benefits not only Guatemala but people all over the world who seek to bring to justice those who commit crimes against humanity.
The Rev. Marilyn Sewell