OPB's decision not to air Dec 2nd City Club

By Karin Power of Milwaukie, Oregon. Karin is a Milwaukie City Councilor and Representative-elect for House District 41.

My wife and I are proud OPB Sustaining Members. And in a time when we need freedom of press and the voices of our communities of color to be heard now, more than ever, I am deeply disappointed that OPB has made the rare decision to not air Portland City Club's December 2nd forum on mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

I listen to OPB because it challenges me to reach beyond my own existence and to hear the stories and lived experiences of others. It's actually my alarm in the morning - that's how much I enjoy starting my day by hearing what's going on in the world. OPB has made a point as of late to air differing perspectives, particularly around the election. I think these stories are valuable and unique to public broadcasting. After all, there are no "driveway moments" if all you hear on the radio are people you already agree with.

The December 2nd forum featured a former Nevada elected assemblywoman, the executive director of our state's ACLU, a director at an organization that critiques inequities in public safety and criminal laws, and was moderated by the executive director of an organization focused on equity, justice, and fairness in the application of our criminal justice system. These individuals are qualified, knowledgeable, and deeply passionate about the constituencies they serve and systems they seek to improve.

The criminal justice system in the United States is rightly a controversial and heated subject because its impacts to families and communities are simultaneously broad and deep. When we as a state spend more per year on an inmate in prison than a student in school, shouldn't these be issues that matter to all of us as taxpayers? Some 22 years after Oregonians enacted Measure 11, it is entirely appropriate for a conversation to occur in order to probe and reflect on the measure's practical effects.

So my question to OPB is this. What more do communities of color and advocates have do, or to accomplish professionally, in order to be accepted as credible? For their voices to be heard clearly? Surely, if OPB felt that this City Club forum presented too singular a viewpoint, it is in the perfect position to invite other public safety advocates and stakeholders to engage in a deeper discussion on the issues. If the panelists' professional experiences and research data prompt us to reconsider our ideas on incarceration and justice, then these are exactly the kind of stories that need to be shared. We cannot grow and improve if we are never uncomfortable. And I don't donate to OPB so that I can wake up in the morning content that all's right with the world.

I urge you to immediately reconsider.


Karin Power, Representative-elect, Oregon House District 41

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