Discover more from The New American Diaspora
I drove by the old duplex in Molalla and it looked pretty much the same—love those carports! I lived in one half of this duplex when I listened to the first Ali/Frazier fight on a Sears Silvertone Stereo Console. I wish I had that piece of furniture today. I remember nothing of the fight except the 14-year-old babysitter smoking grass on the patio.
My parents owned a dark green VW Fastback. (I later drove it in high school.) My sister and I shared a bedroom. I slept on the top bunk. I walked to school every morning.
My family had just returned from missionary service in Brazil. All our Brazilian possessions came packed in a large wooden crate shipped through the Panama Canal. I made a clubhouse out of that crate.
I remember only one kid from Molalla: John McDean. Damn, that's a great name! We might have played soccer together if only anyone played soccer back then. I did! I had grown up in Brazil!
In the other half of the duplex lived a returning soldier and his Vietnamese wife and child. One day he was practicing his golf swing in the front yard and he clobbered the kid with a 7 iron. There was blood everywhere and an ambulance came. They didn't live there for long. We hadn't even invaded Cambodia yet. But it must have taken incredible courage for him to come back to his hometown. Nevertheless, I expect they ate him alive.
I drove around Molalla killing time before a thrift store assisting the mentally ill opened. Trump signs everywhere: windows, roofs, doors, garages, trucks, lawns, public property. He's swallowed the town whole like a hot dog. They're making their way through his digestive track until the inevitable happens. They don't even know it.
My old dentist's office was boarded up and fenced off. Log trucks blew by. They were loaded with pencil dicks. The days of the three-log load are over.
The bowling alley had died. It was now some kind of faith-based service center. Three cannabis shops clustered downtown. They surrounded a tattoo parlor. Bearded men replaced the facade of a dive bar. Why bother?
The rodeo grounds of the Molalla Buckaroo looked tired but there was still wrangling going on there every Fourth of July, except for that one time when rumors of Antifa showing up canceled the show and that time they wouldn't agree to mask up and social distance.
I saw several homeless men riding bicycles and carrying bags of cans. I saw a homeless woman sitting dazed on a park bench.
A half dozen Mexican joint prepped for lunchtime. The Latinos will be running the town in another decade. I wonder if that means any kind of real change?
An elderly homeless man bicycled past me. His dachshund in the rigged-up side car was sniffing the wind. Maybe the man was John McDean, this being Oregon today.
I passed the thrift store. There was still half an hour to go before it opened. There was a line out front waiting to enter. Half appeared homeless. I know the look well by now, Portland, Molalla, Gold Beach, Klamath Falls, Sweet Home, it's pretty much the same.
A week or so later, I read a statement from a Molalla City Councilor quoted in a Molalla newspaper. The statement was posted on social media from the councilor's private account. It read:
As a Molalla City Councilor, I have a duty to uphold the safety and interests of our great community. The following is my view only. I am not speaking for or representing anyone from the City Council, city staff, or any other entity. This is my view/belief only.
We now have a population of homeless/houseless people who have brought with them their addictions, mental illnesses, and other issues such as criminal behavior to fuel the addiction. Molalla cannot handle this. We do not have the resources/services to assist this population.
When the warming center opened, it was with great intentions. It served our community by providing a warm place for all the people of Molalla, primarily serving our local homeless population. Our local homeless population is usually known to Molalla Police Department on a first name basis. I don’t intend that in a derogatory way at all. They have a relationship with them, as do other community members and businesses.
Now that Clackamas County is funding the warming center operation with its financial support of $200,000 per year, our population of homeless/houseless has grown. I have heard of crimes against our youth, property damage (to city businesses and residential properties), drug paraphernalia found by our youth, and other crimes and issues that we cannot handle. This is a huge strain on our law enforcement, public works department, city staff, and the rest of our community.
We need this funding to leave Molalla. I propose that the current operators of the warming center be given the opportunity to provide a warming/cooling center closer to services/resources that support this population, such as Oregon City. I want this population of homeless/houseless to move with the relocation of the warming/cooling center. Placing a center closer to services provides easier access for the desperately needed services and is the only logical choice.
Clackamas County Commissioner Ben West has drafted a Clackamas County resolution supporting a recovery-oriented system of care in responding to the addictions, mental health, and homelessness crises. I am in support of a recovery-oriented system of care over the housing first policy that offers unconditional, permanent housing as quickly as possible to homeless people, and other supportive services afterward. I disagree with the housing first policy. Recovery-oriented system of care must come before housing. This system of care will be located outside of Molalla, likely in or around Oregon City.
It is my opinion/belief that the warming center, which is currently scheduled to open as early as June, has outgrown Molalla, posing a safety risk to our children, elderly and other vulnerable members of our community. We need the Clackamas County money to leave Molalla, along with the current warming center.
Make of that statement what you will. I certainly did. It is a total abdication of governing and humanity. It is clear testament of one elected official's delusional beliefs about homelessness and the homeless people of Molalla themselves, most of whom grew up in the city. Sure, just send them all to Oregon City and Molalla will be fine! Then it won't be our problem! I contrast this attitude with what's happening in Sweet Home, which I have written about in this newsletter. They've got something going on that could be an ad hoc state model for small towns (and large cities) for temporarily dealing with the crisis. I've seen it working with my own two eyes.