Before-It’s-Deleted Of The Day
Black & Right
February 11, 2014
Economy, Media Bias, Race
As many of us know, Trader Joe’s basically said “To hell with this” and decided not to build a store in a black neighborhood in Portland.
As it turns out, not all black people think alike nor need spokespersons or leaders; the very spokespersons and/or leaders liberal news outlets rush to when it comes to getting an “official” position from the community.
Some people don’t like it at all, especially when it negatively affects those who actually like there and angry fingers are now pointing….
I was one of the early gentrifiers in that neighborhood, and lived about a block from the site. Bought a craftsman bungalow for $170k, fixed it up, sold it for $310k after 9 years. My property taxes never exceeded $1600 per year.
When I first looked at the house I visited with the neighbor, who is African American. I asked him what he thought of gentrification and all the young whites moving into the neighborhood. His response: “I think I may be able to retire yet!” We became friends. He did eventually sell his house, paid off dozens of years ago, for over $500k. That payday, and his fireman’s pension, will make for a very nice retirement.
I’m still on the e-mail list for the neighborhood association. Here’s a letter they sent to the editor of the Oregonian, the linked paper that legitimized PAALF and killed the Trader Joe’s:
“As neighbors living close-in to the proposed Trader Joe’s development at NE Alberta & MLK, we would like to voice our extreme disappointment at both the recent decision by Trader Joe’s, and at the Oregonian’s incomplete, inaccurate and inflammatory coverage of the proposed development. The Oregonian’s repeated failure to report on the significant support this project enjoyed contributed directly to the misguided and ultimately harmful decision by Trader Joe’s to pull out of the promising development. While your coverage gave the impression that there was widespread “furor” over Trader Joe’s, nothing could be further from the truth.
When Andrew Theen’s first article about the PAALF came out in mid-December, we forwarded him a letter of support that had been written and sent to the City, PDC and Majestic and that was signed by over 80 close-in neighbors. These are neighbors of all races who live within three blocks of the development, and would have been most affected by it. Mr. Theen’s response? He said, “I wasn’t privy to the letter…which is dated several weeks ago.” At that time, the letter was less than two weeks old.
Your reporters also ignored several outreach attempts from the existing, diverse Vanport business owners. They refused the business owners’ interview requests and dismissed their right to a voice on this project, which affects them personally and financially. Your reporters failed time and time again to report on the people who had worked so hard to bring this project to fruition, favoring instead an inflammatory, one sided treatment that made for more exciting copy. If they had walked a few blocks and asked around, they would have found quite a different story. We were thrilled with the potential development, would have supported the store enthusiastically and shopped there frequently.
So it was surreal and shocking to read the Oregonian’s repeated mischaracterizations of public opinion. The “neighborhood opposition” that compelled Trader Joe’s to pull out was in fact a very vocal and tiny group, amplified through the loudspeaker of your coverage. With one exception, your articles gave outsized attention to this small group of opponents, leaving the vast majority of support practically voiceless. In almost every article, you repeated the opposition’s argument that the PDC’s deal was a closed door, inside negotiation that ignored “historic” stakeholders. If you had FACT CHECKED that assertion, however, you would have found that the Vanport development community discussions that led to this deal (which included many voices from the African American community) had been conducted for OVER A DECADE and predated the existence of PAALF by over 5 years (PAALF was established in 2009). By that measure, PAALF is actually the “new to the neighborhood” force that is ignoring the will of the community. No matter how many of us tried to set the record straight either online or in person, without media attention, our voices and perspective were ignored or drowned out by louder, more controversial opinions.
When we saw how biased and incomplete the early coverage was, we created our own Facebook page so that our voices could be heard and we could gauge real public sentiment (not just activist groups and competing grocery stores). We found an immediate and overwhelmingly positive response. Your own poll has confirmed the existence of this strong majority of support, and exposed your own failure to cover it. On Wednesday, February 5 at 9:25 pm, the Oregonian’s poll showed that over 80% of respondents were in favor of the development. Only 6% were opposed. It is an unfortunate miscarriage of the public interest that Trader Joe’s and Majestic were not aware of the overwhelming support the project enjoyed in reality — if not in the pages of the Oregonian.
You should be ashamed of your repeated failure to cover this story with accuracy. You should be ashamed of exaggerating a racial divide that, in fact, was more nuanced than you portrayed it. You should be ashamed for your part in driving a promising and exciting development once again out of the reach of this neighborhood – and making our neighborhood and Portland an object of derision in the national press.
This neighborhood has a proud and rich history. It could have used some positive coverage. It could have used the lift TJ’s would have provided. This is more than just a story to those of us who actually live here. It is a real issue that directly affects our lives and in which many of us have invested dearly of our time and energy.
We hope Trader Joe’s will reconsider, and we hope the Oregonian will someday serve this neighborhood’s interest, and the public interest, by getting the story right.”
As long as liberals believe black people still require “leadership” they authorize and/or approve, expect more of the same.http://www.black-and-right.com/2014/02/11/before-its-deleted-of-the-day-2/