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Disability Action Center NW

Blind commission puts people to work

Blind commission puts people to work
Letters to the editor
, Jul 14, 2011

CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT / PORTLAND TRIBUNE
Gary Jackson, who is visually impaired, bags groceries at his Portland Building concession stand. The Oregon Commission for the Blind is given preference to run such concessions, under a longstanding program designed to provide jobs and training to blind people. Public health reformers say the commission is resisting efforts to provide healthy snacks.

I am writing in response to your recent article, “Battle for healthy snacks” (May 26), regarding the Oregon Commission for the Blind.

This story immediately caught my eye because of the man featured in the front-page photo, Gary “Big Jack” Jackson. Big Jack and I attend the same church, and he is one of my favorite people there.

However, I was incredibly disappointed with the text and tone of the article. I would not attempt to speak for Big Jack here, but I will say that he is an educated, intelligent man who once had good health and a successful career. When an illness took his eyesight, he had to make drastic changes in his life.

His training and assistance from the Oregon Commission for the Blind in setting up that business has enabled him to independently get out into the working world each day. In turn, he uses his accessibility there and his incredibly positive spirit to mentor many of the people he meets.

Why would you use his photo and then not share his views about the issues covered in the article?

I put this question to your readers: If you were suddenly struck with the same disability and an article such as this one results in the Oregon Commission for the Blind shutting it’s doors, where will you go to learn how to go out into the world on your own, handle your money, use a computer and phone, etc.?

Karen Crichton

North Portland

People don’t want ‘healthy’ snacks
I know they don’t teach this in college, but the purpose of business is to make a profit — not sell products people don’t want — regardless of what the social engineers would have you believe (“Battle for healthy snacks”, May 26).

I suppose the Legislature will need to pass more laws to prevent people from buying what they want. Oh wait. They have already done that.

Geoff Rode

Southeast Portland

Story didn’t represent blind
I find it very curious that Mr. Law did not interview one single blind person involved in the program (“Battle for healthy snacks,” May 26). Why not, I wonder?

I know a few of the vendors in question. They do offer healthier options in their machines — sometimes by request, and sometimes because of arm-twisting. In many cases, the food expires, unsold, representing both a loss of inventory due to spoilage and a loss in sales because that slot in the machine is taken up by snack items that customers find unappealing.

In other, particularly large sites, it seems to me that spending money on inventory that nobody is going to buy is probably bad for business. I’m neither a vendor, a businessman, nor anyone involved in planning these things, but for some reason Mr. Law decided not to report on any of that. What is the agenda here?

Joseph Carter