It doesn't matter where this clinic moves to, there will always be a mob to raise hell about it and that is probably why many did not attend, they are sick and tired of the mob mentality.
By Steve Beaven
More than 60 people crowded into the boardroom at the David Douglas School District offices Tuesday night and vowed to push a clinic that treats sex offenders out of their Southeast Portland neighborhood.
“If we don’t all make an effort to band together on this issue, nothing will happen,” said Chris Piekarski, who lives six blocks from the clinic and helped lead the meeting. “We cannot let it blow over.”
The Whole Systems Counseling & Consultation clinic moved into its new office at Southeast 126th Avenue and Stark Street in early March after angry Sellwood residents forced it out of their neighborhood late last year. The clinic has contracts with Multnomah and Clackamas counties to treat sex offenders.
Tuesday night’s forum had been planned as a panel discussion featuring Johneen Manno, the owner of the clinic, and officials from Multnomah County and the City of Portland.
But Manno, who previously said she would be out of town and participate by phone, cancelled, Piekarski said. A clinic representative who initially had been scheduled to attend wasn’t there either.
Nor were representatives from Multnomah County, including communications director David Austin and Patrick Schreiner of the Department of Community Justice. City officials who had been expected to attend cancelled as well.
It was unclear why the panelists didn’t appear. Neither Manno nor Austin could be reached for comment late Tuesday.
“It’s disheartening,” Piekarski said after the meeting. “We had sincerely hoped these people would be here.”
Still, the meeting lasted for two hours and featured representatives from the David Douglas School District. It included a discussion of the clinic’s past and repeated requests for community action.
Neighbors were encouraged to picket the clinic, write to county and city officials, contact Manno or complain to the owner of Plaza 125, the office park where the clinic is now located.
Organizers handed out a long list of contact information for officials from the school district, the city, county, neighborhood leaders and the landlord.
Opponents of the clinic also announced the creation of a group called Neighbors of Upper Southeast Portland (Facebook) to provide information on the issue and a way for residents to communicate.
Neighbors were encouraged to travel to Salem on May 6 for a public hearing on legislation proposed by Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson that would give counties the authority to govern where such clinics can be located.
Vega Pederson recently met with Manno and said she was “very disappointed” that Manno didn’t participate.
For now, Piekarski said, he wants neighbors to communicate with each other and public officials. And he still hopes for a community meeting with Manno.
“But at the same time,” he added, “we can’t defer action until we achieve that meeting.”