Phoenix Officials Visit Portland, Oregon For Advice On Handling Homelessness

Phoenix Officials Visit Portland, Oregon For Advice On Handling Homelessness

By Corinne Murdock |

The city of Phoenix sought advice on handling homelessness from another city plagued by the same problem: Portland, Oregon. 

City officials attended a “homelessness summit” in May. Officials included Gina Montes, deputy city manager; Rachel Milne, director of the Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS); Scott Hall, deputy director of OHS; Titus Mathew, director of the city’s housing department; Sean Connolly, assistant chief of operations for Phoenix Police Department (PPD); Brian Fruendentahl, commander of PPD; Luke Christian, assistant city attorney.

“Given our issues and the continued increase in unsheltered homelessness, the crime and other complex problems, we have been in touch with other communities to see what we can learn (both from their successes and mistakes),” wrote Montes in an invitation email for the event.

Officials from the cities of Mesa and Glendale were invited on the trip, but it appears from records obtained by AZ Free News that a visit to Portland either didn’t sound appealing or beneficial. In a March email exchange, the city of Mesa’s deputy city manager, Natalie Lewis, asked why Montes and the city of Phoenix felt the need to go to Portland as well as Seattle, Washington — another proposed location for a homelessness summit. 

Glendale’s director of community services, Jean Moreno, concurred with Lewis’ remarks.

“Our feedback was the same as Mesa’s — happy to participate but not sure Portland is the right field trip,” wrote Moreno. 

Montes responded that Phoenix could learn much from Portland’s mistakes. She revealed that many of the issues facing Phoenix currently were the same as those Portland faced in the past. Meaning: Portland could be Phoenix’s future, if changes aren’t made.

“The reason we are interested in Portland is honestly because a lot of the same issues are happening here that happened there years ago. They made a lot of mistakes that they are paying for now. I’m concerned that our community trajectory is pointing in a similar direction,” wrote Montes. “I understand if Portland is not of interest to others and promise not to be offended!”

The homeless in Portland have taken over residential neighborhoods and public streets, with residents telling reporters that the crime-riddled mass encampments decimated quality of life.

Lewis turned down the invitation, sharing that she may attend a potential future trip to either San Antonio or Houston, Texas, potentially around the same time as this fall’s ICMA Conference in Austin, Texas. Lewis added that the breakup of the mass homeless encampment known as The Zone would likely impact her city.

“Also, I foresee the work to dismantle/relocate will impact Mesa. I am open to having a regional discussion on this (when Phx is ready) so that we are all working to minimize impact of the shift,” wrote Lewis.

Montes issued the proposal to visit either Portland or Seattle on March 29: two days after the Maricopa County Superior Court ordered the city to clean up The Zone.

Estimates of the homeless population in the Portland area hovers around 5,000, based on Multnomah County data. Phoenix’s homeless population sits around 3,000. 

AZ Free News asked Montes whether city officials would attend similar summits in other cities who’ve mitigated homelessness in recent years such as Austin, Texas. Montes didn’t respond by press time. 

City of Phoenix officials were also joined by officials from the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), Maricopa County, and the city of Avondale. MAG representatives were Continuum of Care officials Amy St. Peter, deputy executive director, and Katy Gentry, regional homelessness program manager. Maricopa County officials were Jacqueline Edwards, human services director, and T.J. Reed, homelessness programs manager. City of Avondale representatives were Cherlene Penilla, assistant city manager; Dale Nannenga, chief of the Office of Public Safety; Memo Espinoza, chief of Avondale Police; Manuel Rios, sergeant of Avondale Police; and Brian Planty, homeless services manager. 

The cost for the trip, for all 16 officials in attendance, likely totaled around $10,000. (Based on averages of flight, hotel, and per diem costs compiled from MAG travel request forms).

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

How Leftists Hide Sex Changes In Abortion Bills

How Leftists Hide Sex Changes In Abortion Bills

By Cathi Herrod |

What does abortion have to do with the transgender movement? Nothing. But leftist activists are trying to convince us that abortion includes so-called “gender-affirming care.” Planned Parenthood and others have been pushing the message over social media and elsewhere in an effort to get people used to the idea. Why? One reason is that Planned Parenthood admits it is the second largest provider of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones in the country. Read their own documentation here. And read these two reports that reveal the lucrative connection between the abortion giant and the transgender movement.

But it is also building their culture of death and destruction. I’m not saying they all see it that way, but pushing for abortion up to birth and the physical and psychological destruction of teens and even pre-teens in the name of “equality” is evil.

Polls show a large percentage of Americans do not support transitioning children with hormones or surgeries. So, leftists are hiding it in ballot measures and writing it into laws. In Ohio (potentially on the 2023 ballot) and Michigan (passed in 2022), the abortion ballot measures are so deceitfully written, it takes an attorney to figure out that both measures would allow abortion up to birth and include sex changes for children without parental consent. Read them here and here.

I will use italics below to indicate the language they use to underhandedly include sex changes, even for minors.

Ohio’s measure uses the term individual to covertly include children, and “reproductive decisions… not limited to … abortion” to covertly include sex-changes. If this was an abortion measure, it would just say that, and it wouldn’t include this kind of language that other states are defining as so-called “gender-affirming care” and courts will look to for direction.

Michigan’s constitutional amendment calls reproductive freedom a right and includes sterilization but is not limited to abortion. It, too, uses the term individual instead of woman or adult to ensure even children can get abortions or sex changes without parental consent.

Ohio’s and Michigan’s measures read a bit like Oregon’s proposed law and Colorado’s recently signed laws. Read here and here to see how the news media are using the Left’s language, and how the definition of reproductive freedom/decisions are being defined to include so-called “gender-affirming care.”

In very progressive states like New York, the abortion industry can get away with spelling it out in plain language, “… rights to an individual based on their ‘pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy.” It includes ethnicity, disability, age, and sex, including sexual orientationgender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy.” The key words here say it all and will be used to set a standard for defining “reproductive healthcare/freedom” or “reproductive decision” throughout the country.

Maryland, same thing. The measure uses “reproductive freedom” instead of abortion, not just to make it sound better to voters, but so they can include sex changes. It calls “reproductive freedom” a fundamental right and says that right includes ending a pregnancy but is not limited to abortion. It goes on to ensure individuals (not just adults) have a right to reproductive liberty. So, although Maryland didn’t write it out as blatantly as New York, the language it did use allows the same thing: abortion to birth and sex changes, even for children.

Also, in states that are moderate or conservative, the abortion industry includes a limitation to abortion, but then takes it all back with near universal exemptions. More on that below.

  • So, when you see “reproductive healthcare/freedom/liberty,” “autonomy,” “reproductive decisions,” or “not limited to…” think sex-change drugs and surgeries. Because that’s how the courts will read it.
  • If the language uses “individual” or “person,” think no age limit; it includes children at any age for both abortion and sex changes.
  • If the abortion language sets a limit at viability or some other gestational age, check the exceptions! These ballot measures include exceptions for the “health of the mother.” Courts have interpreted that phrase to include emotional or mental health, and thereby allow abortions at any stage if the woman simply feels distressed. This has always been understood to mean no limits up to birth if the woman wants it, and the abortionist (self-servingly) signs off.

It’s there, but it takes a skilled attorney to connect the dots. The abortion industry knows most Americans do not support sex-change surgeries in state law, especially for children. And most Americans also do not support abortion up to birth. The industry knows these facts—that is exactly why they use crafty language to hide such extreme policies under vague wording and then redefine that language elsewhere.

One more thing: They will always cloak the measure in the nicest title:

  • “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety”
  • “Equal Protection of Law Amendment”
  • “Right to Reproductive Freedom Amendment”

Cathi Herrod is the president of Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), a nonprofit advocacy organization committed to promoting and defending the foundational principles of life, marriage and family, and religious freedom.