The folks who run City Hall aren't doing very well in the public relations department recently.
KGW News has been doing a good job of holding city officials accountable for failing to live up to their promise to add shelter beds for the homeless following a citywide ban on homeless camps. Here's how a January 3 KGW story starts out.
SALEM, Ore. — More than two weeks after the city of Salem enacted a ban on public camping and two days after their self-imposed deadline, by which they promised to open 140 shelter beds, officials confirmed they’ve come up woefully short.
As of Friday, January 3, they’ve opened zero new beds.
Salem’s Community & Media Relations Specialist Kathy Ursprung wrote via email Friday, “In Salem, there are 330 shelter beds available nightly. When the temperature drops to 32 or below, our warming center network of churches has the ability to open another 256 beds, dependent upon volunteer availability.”
That was the case prior to the ban’s enactment.
Wow. Zero additional shelter beds, when 140 were promised, after two weeks of bureaucratic ineptitude. This sure doesn't make the City of Salem look either compassionate or competent.
Then, in yesterday's Sunday Statesman Journal, there was a letter to the editor that properly criticized the atrocious decision by city staff and the City Council to temporarily house the Salem Public Library in a building owned by the Salem Alliance Church, which denies LGBTQ rights.
As an Episcopal Priest, I found Scott Rick's editorial fascinating and I totally agree with the writer's comments ("Salem taxpayer money shouldn't go to organization that denies basic human rights," Dec. 29, page 6C).
I cannot believe the Salem Library would enter into a financial arrangement with a church that bans so many accepted positions in today's society and Oregon law. A church that does not give full status and accommodation to women and members of the LGBTQ community should not be receiving a portion of taxpayer money.
Of all organizations, I am astounded that the Salem Public Library would censure adult and mature reading material under the "guise" of placing it in "storage." This rental arrangement has made for "strange bedfellows" and my regret is that it violates the First Amendment to our U.S. Constitution.
I will not support the Salem Public Library until it is once again fully in step with the Constitution and state and national laws.
Rev. Fred Heard