The power outage that's had its grip on parts of downtown since Sunday—after an explosion in an underground Portland General Electric vault—will likely still be with us tomorrow, PGE has reported.
The power company has put out a map showing where power's been restored and where it still needs to be turned on. Work was supposed to be finished by tonight. That's not happening.
Why the delay? The Oregonian reports it's because it's taking longer to splice and replace damaged cables underground. Downtown office buildings and government bunkers like City Hall, the Portland Building, and the Multnomah County Courthouse were all closed today.
And not that the city buildings were completely empty. Commissioner Nick Fish says he went to his office all the same, using his cell phone to stay connected, even if it was colder than usual. He says he got a lot done.
"Even though I was lonely," he says, "I just worked out of my office. It was quiet."
Sheriff Dan Staton—elected to apprehend and watch over lawbreakers—became one himself earlier this year.
The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, perpetually in the hot seat for millions in overtime expenditures, overshot its budget last fiscal year by more than half a million dollars, a breach of Oregon law.
That overspending amounts to a sliver of the office's $120 million budget. But it also contravenes the normal process, where agencies in danger of falling short of cash ask the county's board of commissioners for an infusion from the contingency fund—giving the public a window into the expense before it occurs.
But Staton made no plea for the $508,000 outlay beyond his budget, so you never heard about it. Now, the county's in the position of having to explain to the Oregon Secretary of State's Office why it won't happen again.
On Thursday, the board of commissioners will vote on a resolution laying out the budget violation, and the steps Staton is taking to correct it.
"It's less than allowed," County Auditor Steve March said of overspending. "Now we have to go back to the public and say we screwed up."
According to Staton's office, the violation was due to an "unprecedented increase in personnel overtime costs due to suicide watch hour requirements." The sheriff says in documents his corrections officers spent 13,000 more hours watching potentially suicidal prisoners in fiscal 2013 than it budgeted for, causing roughly $1 million in overtime spending. Staton says the office has improved its financial reporting and is conducting monthly reviews.
Under ORS 294.100: "It is unlawful for any public official to expend any moneys in excess of the anounts provided by law, or for any other or different purpose than provided by law." The law says public officials who overspend can be sued for the money by the district attorney—or even taxpayers if the expenditures constitute malfeasance.
Staton's don't. They just continue to show the office's poor budgeting.
The violation, it seems, came to light in a routine external audit by the secretary of state. Oregon law states counties must outline the "measures it considers necessary to correct any deficiencies disclosed in the report."
The Secretary of State's office can then approve the plan or require further action.
It's no secret the sheriff's office has difficulties in crafting its budget. Staton routinely spends more than double the amount he budgets for overtime—a development that led county commissioners to require he make quarterly pleas for overtime money.
A call to the sheriff's office hasn't been returned today.
They were standing with a group of young people outside Union Gospel Mission. He was wearing snowpants and boots, two jackets and a hat. She was without a hat, in a jacket and gloves, and shivering as she asked me for a smoke. Which I didn't have.
Almost as soon as we started talking, a man walked by the group, the rest of them huddling on a blanket in front of a packed Fred Meyer cart, and handed over a package so precious it was immediately torn open to shouts of thank you: thick warm socks. A whole dozen of them.
"It's cold enough to get me to want to break into that place there," the man I spoke with said while pointing to the Sinnott House under forever construction across SW Couch. "We need somewhere we can go and stay there and stay warm."
The woman looked at me and said "This is like New York."
He chimed in again, "We're cuddling together in big groups."
They all looked miserable. And then they started getting their stuff together so they could head in for Union Gospel Mission's regular afternoon snack time at 2 pm.
It's been like this in a lot of places downtown and all throughout Portland over the weekend, thanks to a record cold snap unlike anything we've seen in the past decade. And for all the pain in the streets, there's been a flurry of activity among provider and government agencies in hopes of dulling it. (HIT THE JUMP FOR A LIST OF SHELTER SPACE AVAILABLE TONIGHT.)
"You're never sure that its enough," says Marc Jolin of JOIN, one of the housing and services providers helping coordinate the region's response. "You're never sure you're getting to everybody."
The Portland Housing Bureau, Commissioner Dan Saltzman's office, Multnomah County, and a panoply of providers have now spent days in "severe weather" mode, holding daily conference calls and relying on 211 to transmit information about emergency shelters and warming centers. (For those who don't know, 211 is the number you call in Oregon—24 hours a day—for information about and referrals to social services providers.)
Providers, from Right 2 Dream Too to Transition Projects to JOIN to Portland Rescue Mission have been putting out desperate calls for gear: blankets, sleeping bags, shoes, socks, everything. They were short in supplies after a cold snap around Thanksgiving. But after putting out the word for help, things have been better. And yet, they still need more.
Even the police bureau has taken a more formal role in helping out. All weekend, after midnight, 211 has been working with police dispatchers to get officers out picking up people who call in and want shelter and can't otherwise get there on their own. Until this cold snap, 211 would call social services providers at home to see if they could help someone calling after midnight. All told, the bureau says it's helped 20 people (27 others refused transport).
Here's some good news that won't surprise you. The group angling to land a same-sex marriage initiative on the November 2014 ballot has announced it's got the signatures to do so—with seven months left until they're due.
Oregon United for Marriage began the signature gathering effort a little more than four months ago, and this weekend reported it had reached the required number: 116,284.
The group isn't stopping there. Organizers say they'll shoot for tens of thousands of extra signatures— "enough to withstand anything our opposition can throw at us," Field Director Ryan Brown said in a statement on Saturday.
Actually, Oregon United for Marriage has more than the required amount already, more than 118,000 according to another announcement today.
Signatures aren't due until July 3, and a vote on the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative would occur on November 4.
Portland's tardy, apparently cash-strapped bike share system has "some pretty significant commitments" from potential sponsors, transportation Commissioner Steve Novick tells the Mercury, in what may be the strongest statement on the state of the project to date.
"On the money side, I feel much better about it than I did three months ago," Novick said. "I think we're going to have serious commitments from people who do have the money."
But he wouldn't go into detail on who potential sponsors are—healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente is widely rumored—or when an actual announcement might be made. He also refused to speculate on whether the city might see the necessary sponsorship money up front—an estimated $5.5 million is needed to purchase the system and operate it for five years—or whether it would trickle in over time.
According to internal documents [pdf] first reported on by Willamette Week, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has mulled fronting the start-up costs for the system, then recouping the money over time.
"I'm not gonna get into the details at all," Novick said.
The commissioner acknowledged some concern over news the Canada-based company that would supply bikes and docks for the system is experiencing serious financial hardship. The supplier, PBSC Urban Solutions, works with Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share to start systems throughout the country.
"We do have concerns about the contractor," Novick said, though he noted: "They always deliver bikes. They've never not delivered bikes."
Portland's system was initially promised this past spring, but sponsorship money's been hard to come by. That's a problem shared by other cities who want to join the bike share craze. Seattle is in nearly the same boat as Portland, though it has money in hand to institute a partial network.
While officials have said spring 2014 is the new launch date, even that's looking unlikely. Once money is identified, it takes roughly half a year to implement a system.
"Spring goes into June," Novick said. "We're not giving up on that yet.
"Hopefully within the next six weeks, I'll be able to tell you something."
It's been long rumored, and it was practically official yesterday, when the notice about a press announcement landed in media inboxes yesterday with this peculiar letterhead (which everyone immediately noticed):
And, so, this morning, Governor John Kitzhaber made it all perfectly clear: Yes, he'll be running for a fourth term—a first in Oregon. And yes, he'll be using the nice cushion of cash he's been casually amassing ($239,000) while making up his mind to start burying the hopes of an emerging field of Republican challengers, chiefly State Representative Dennis Richardson (who's raised an unshabby $182,000 of his own.)
What's Kitzhaber looking to get done in what he hopes will be his 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th years atop the state? The Oregonian, at today's press conference at a Southeast Portland school, unsurprisingly reports, given the setting, that education spending and reform will rank high on the list. That was a priority for his current term, too. But it didn't work out like he hoped. The education reformer he hired to ride herd on the subject, Rudy Crew, was reportedly disengaged and eventually checked out for a job in New York.
Health care reform also came up, also unsurprising, given the state's spectacularly flawed enrollment website. Kitzhaber, according to the O, has acknowledged that could be a drag on his campaign—but he also tried to remind reporters that there's a lot more to Oregon's health care innovation efforts (something the national media has long recognized) than just an awful website.
As the O wrote:
Kitzhaber outlined four key goals: Adequately funding education, overseeing the implementation of the state's health care reforms, working to meet Oregon's carbon reduction goals, and boosting middle-class jobs.
Kitzhaber acknowledged that the troubled rollout of Cover Oregon, the state's health care exchange would be used against him in the coming campaign.
"I think we need to remember that the website is not the exchange," Kitzhaber said.
Update 12:30 PM: Richardson has responded with some self-congratulatory cliches, attempting to paint Kitzhaber as anti-business, despite the governor's continued zeal for the Columbia River Crossing highway-and-bridge project and the sweetheart tax breaks he's blessed for two of the state's largest employers, Nike and Intel.
The first one doesn't even really work.
“In baseball, you get three strikes and you’re out. Kitzhaber is asking for a fourth pitch. What we need is a new player to step up to the plate.”
And the second one just made me sigh and roll my eyes.
"We need to unlock Oregon’s potential by putting our natural resources to work, investing in education and mapping out a long-term plan for our state to thrive. Oregon’s prosperity engine is in front of us, and as Governor I plan to turn the key."
I hope the debates are better.
GOOD MORNING, BLOGTOWN! I find I spend my time, waiting on your call. How can I tell you, baby? My back's against the wall. LET'S GO TO PRESS.
American and British spies are now eavesdropping on you while you play World of Warcraft. (Apparently al-Qaida wants our nerds?)
Protestors knock over a statue of Lenin in the Ukraine, vowing that their current president is next! (The police are not pleased.)
Eight major tech companies (including Google and Microsoft) are starting a campaign blitz to ask the government to stop snooping all up in our shit.
The one-year anniversary of the Clackamas Town Center Shooting is in two days.
It's not just us freezing our nippies—the entire country is being bombarded by ICE.
A bloody riot breaks out between Brazilian soccer fans—so can we please just take a moment to appreciate our loud, but nonviolent Timbers Army?
The gay waitress who allegedly made up the story about getting a homophobic note instead of a tip has been FIRED.
Power rock band Heart joins Willie Nelson and the Barenaked Ladies in refusing to play Sea World after seeing the documentary on whale abuse, Blackfish.
Since Oklahoma legislators voted to allow a Ten Commandments monument outside the state capitol, guess who else wants one? THE SATANISTS! (Yay, Satanists!)
Now here's what's going on in your neck of the woods: IT'S COLD, Y'ALL! And you can possibly expect snow and freezing drizzle between this afternoon and the morning. You know what to do... PANIC!!!
And finally... A TALKING BOAT?!?! Now I've seen everything!
You ever take comfort, in all your meandering paranoias, that even if the government wanted to watch what you were up to via your laptop camera, the little green light would let you know something was up? Not true. They're probably watching you right now.
Nelson Mandela just passed away. What better time to examine how profoundly disappointing his decedents—both political and genetic—are for the movement he championed?
The North Korean government is an alabaster monument to humanitarianism, or so they'd have everyone believe after releasing the 85-year-old American veteran they'd been holding prisoner for more than a month.
Despite the widespread, justified grumbling that the banking industry's prolific white-collar criminals aren't ever punished, one government agency actually has a decent track record of putting finance types away—just, you know, not the really malevolent Wall Street types. If you're a bank officer in Orlando with questionable scruples, though, watch out.
But, hey, there are signs the cataclysm wrought by those obscenely rich, scot-free financial titans in New York will ease up in 2014.
Guess who's still regularly using floppy discs.
Women's rights are much-debated but tenuous in Egypt. But good news today for 14 women sentenced last month to 11 years in prison for protesting the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi. They won't have to serve time at all.
Fine, you don't like sports. I don't either, with a few exceptions, and one of those is coming up: The venerable Michigan State Spartans football team taking on the loathed, punch-throwing, proven cheaters at The Ohio State University with the Rose Bowl on the line. It's happening later today, and now you know who to root for.
So how are we to assess much-maligned rapper Drake's recent visit to Portland? He screwed up I-5 and his fans victimized a disabled Washington man. But he also, upon seeing the many destitute Portlanders sleeping in Old Town doorways, quietly donated a "substantial" amount to the Union Gospel Mission. For the record, I'm not mad about Drake.
Ugh. A young newlywed couple in Pennsylvania murdered a complete stranger just for thrills.
A Denver-area baker is told he must bake for gay couples, too. I agree with that sentiment, but I've also learned—and learned well—through the years that forced cakes are not delicious cakes.
Hijacking radioactive material: Almost universally a bad idea (the lone exception being if you are building a time machine).
Cold. Truly cold.
Almost this cold (arguably NSFW, though a vital and useful message).
It's no secret Jim Francesconi can raise a lot of cash. The former city commissioner partly credits the gobs of money he accepted from downtown businesses for his loss in a 2004 mayoral bid. He wasn't beholden to those interest, he says, but it looked bad.
And while Francesconi says he won't make the same mistake in his current push to become Multnomah County Chair, he's once again showing off an impressive ability to amass capital.
Since we first reported Francesconi's first contributions back on Monday, the campaign has revealed a torrent of donations. In just four days, Francesconi's revealed more than $40,000 in donations—more than his chief rival for the position, Deborah Kafoury.
The largest donation: A $5,000 check from Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, which has formally endorsed Francesconi (and which, as Willamette Week's pointed out, is a client of Francesconi, who's an attorney).
Meanwhile, Kafoury's no slouch. She's reported nearly $10,000 in new contributions since Monday, including her own $5,000 donation from the construction outfit that's replacing the Sellwood Bridge.
SNOW! SO MUCH SNOW! (At least in North Portland?) I really hope you didn't decide to brush off your car, if you have one, and then put it on one of our interstate highways. That snow probably doesn't look so charming when you're stuck treading water in vast seas of brake lights.
Please excuse the news judgment that had me putting weather—so visceral! so immediate!—above appropriate genuflection over the death, announced yesterday, of South Africa's Nelson Mandela.
I guess it's also time to think about everybody else who died in 2013, too. Like the 41-year-old visionary who invented Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Taco. (Confidential to the world: The awkward applause over dead people no one's remembered in years is always my favorite part of the Oscars.)
The unemployment rate has dropped to 7 percent, its lowest point in five years. But, of course, that good news comes with several caveats: Many millions of people have given up the hunt for work altogether, the numbers of the "long-term unemployed" haven't much budged, and it's still almost twice as hard to find work if you're African American.
Not only did the president meet his deportation-facing uncle from Kenya, a departure from the original story dished out by the White House, but he also apparently briefly lived with the man.
Barack Obama has a major crush on the new pinko pope (like the rest of the thinking, feeling world), calling him "soulful."
Oh, shit. Out in productive Washington, DC, another government shutdown countdown is underway.
And that's not the only standoff in Congress, apparently. This one's about the farm bill. And if it persists? It could make a basic staple like milk really expensive.
Some badass surfer in Australia had no idea, until after it happened, that a shark spent some idle moments gnawing on his body.
ON THE SUBJECT OF GNAWING AND THE SWEETNESS OF OBLIVION!
With a clarion 5-0 vote, the Citizen Review Committee (CRC) harshly criticized the bureau for a tepid ruling—citing the bureau's policy on professional conduct—that found the accusations against Officer Jason Lobaugh merely "unproven." The CRC's vote amounts a to formal request that Police Chief Mike Reese change that "unproven" finding to "sustained."
The policy they cited reads, in part: "Members, whether on duty or off duty, shall be governed by the reasonable rules of good conduct and behavior, and shall not commit any act tending to bring reproach or discredit upon the Bureau or the City."
Lobaugh's ex-wife, Laurie Grant, complained to the bureau in November 2012 after three tense confrontations with her ex-husband over a six-day span—all of which brought out police officers from the city of North Plains. Lobaugh was off-duty during all three incidents.
"This is not acceptable behavior you would expect from an officer," Grant said at the hearing before breaking down in tears. "My physical and emotional safety has been threatened."
In the first confrontation, on November 3, 2012, Grant says Lobaugh had shown up to pick up their son on a day when he wasn't scheduled to, under their court-approved "parental plan." Grant called the cops after they argued on her front porch and Lobaugh, as even he admits, called her a "head case" and yelled into her house at her husband.
Five days later, cops came out again after Lobaugh tried to pick up their son a day early but was told not to. In that confrontation, Lobaugh admitted, he called Grant's husband a "little bitch." Then, the next day, during a scheduled drop-off of their son at a Fred Meyer, cops showed up to help facilitate, and Lobaugh again, Grant says, went after her husband. Lobaugh admits saying "look who came out to play." Grant says he told her husband, "looks like you and I are going to get know each other."
Jeff Bissonnette, the vice chair of the CRC, summed up what most of the panel was thinking as it weighed the bureau's ruling and whether it reasonably reflected the facts of the case as laid out.
"I'd say showing up on a front porch outside your custody agreement, when you're explicitly told not to, and it's not in doubt, when you call into the house and call someone a derogatory name, which is also not in dispute, and then, also say—undisputed—'look who came out to play,' to me that doesn't just 'tend to.' It does bring discredit and reproach upon the bureau and the city."
How many cell phones? Oh, just 5 billion. The latest Snowden leaks about the National Security Agency reveal another worldwide spying program, this time focused on tracking cell phone locations—giving spies the ability not only to know where phones are, but also to use that information to map relationships and gain other devious insights.
Stolen radioactive material in Mexico—a truck's worth of spent medical cobalt that could have been used for a "dirty" bomb—has been recovered a few dozen miles from where it was jacked. Good news for us, bad news for the thieves. Special cases shielding any would-be handlers the cobalt's radiation had been removed, exposing the thieves (who may not have realized what they were stealing) to certain death.
The new commie-pinko pope, Francis, keeps getting more awesome. Years ago, he once took work as a bouncer at a Buenos Aires nightclub.
How the shit is the federal minimum wage still stuck at $7.25 an hour? Fast food workers, who pretty much have been told to feel lucky they're even getting that much, are planning another wave of protests. They've finally gotten some support from President Barack Obama, who gave a speech yesterday about income inequality saying, he guesses, that a mere (and still paltry) $10.10 would be good.
The Dutch have begun giving jobs to alcoholics that pay in beer.
John Kerry, amid controversy over his breakthrough nuke deal with Iran, is having to kiss up to Israel a bit.
It may not work. A former Israeli security official is rattling sabres—suggesting Israel's so nervous by this new arrangement that it might have to give up on allowing even a tiny sliver of a Palestinian state.
Federal carbon taxes—anathema to conservatives and business lobby outfits—have already been built into the growth forecasts of several major energy companies, suggesting that those companies still see a way to make money in a greener future and won't be as liable to kick shit over climate-control policies.
Or maybe not. One corporate lobby group, ALEC—the people who seed little-watched and easily gerrymandered statehouses with arch-conservative clone bills—wants to start attacking people with the gumption to put up their own solar panels. It's one plank in a major anti-renewable-energy platform.
Somehow despite how awful everything is, all the time, the United States economy saw fit to grow by a robust 3.6 percent during the most recent quarter—far surpassing expectations. And that's without people spending buckets of money on gadgets and other nonsense. Consumer spending is as weak as it's been in years.
George H.W. Bush has the best socks. The socks, striped red and white, with the ex-president's face on them, were sent over by a kind citizen from Ontario, Canada. AREN'T CANADIANS THE NICEST?
IN FACT, PLEASE SAY HELLO TO MY FAR MORE PLEASANT AND ATTRACTIVE CANADIAN DOPPLEGANGER! HE'S TO [sic] POLITE TOO INSIST [sic], SO I WILL!
Their announcement came roughly at the end of a 60-day window that Hales promised prominent Pearl developers who were fighting the city's initial plan for Right 2 Dream Too—moving them beneath a Broadway Bridge off-ramp—and asking for time to craft an alternative.
"We've got a lease in hand, ready to sign," Hales told reporters outside the site during a chilly set of interviews outside the 1925 warehouse building. "We did it within the 60 days."
But Hales and his staff also made clear that time was running short to get that deal together. Further—pointedly acknowledging that Right 2 Dream Too had not yet agreed to make the move—they also said they meant to drive home that urgency by going public at a meeting where neither R2DToo nor their lead sponsor in city hall, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, were invited to attend.
An agreement with the property's owner, Alco Investments of Seattle, would need to be signed by December 16, policy director Josh Alpert says. The reason? Other parties have expressed interest in the warehouse property, which has been on the market off an on in recent years.
"We are urging them to take this deal," said Hales' spokesman, Dana Haynes, when asked by Aaron Mesh of Willamette Week whether Hales' office was resorting to "brinksmanship." Hales later repeated the sentiment.
And if they don't? Right 2 Dream Too would have to stay at its current lot, at NW 4th and Burnside. Neither staffer indicated Hales would allow a move to the Station Place parking lot in the Pearl that Fritz had chosen, in concert with Hales. "They'll stay where they are," Haynes says.
Alpert also confirmed, as I'd reported this afternoon, that two of the developers opposing the Pearl move, Dike Dame and Homer Williams, have expressed an interest in buying the Station Place parking lot, often referred to as Lot 7. But Alpert walked back any notion that proceeds could be used to help with the Hoyt move. Alpert also says he doesn't remember if he first learned of their interest after Fritz and Hales put the lot in play and that there was "no particular plan" to sell it.
Among the biggest sticking points, they said, was the length of the lease. Fritz told me earlier today she had "significant concerns" about a lease that would last just 12 months. Alpert and Haynes said that's where they'd left things in a negotiating session with R2DToo last night. But they said they'd since been told they could have up to 15 months and that Fritz had been informed, if not the rest of R2DToo's board.
"The people who own the land want to sell it," Alpert says. "They know Old Town is developing."
It was unclear if the extension would sweeten the deal for R2DToo's board members, who clearly feel frustrated after getting this close to a deal on a site they overwhelmingly are excited about. I've called Ibrahim Mubarak, R2DToo's spokesman and lead figure, for comment. He's apparently meeting with Fritz. Fritz expressed frustration that she hadn't heard of the meeting.
Earlier this year, Portland's police and fire retirement fund settled a case in which it overpaid nearly more than 900 pensioners.
Now, the fund faces a massive suit claiming that it's also underpaying retirees.
Two former Portland Fire Bureau employees filed a class-action lawsuit in Multnomah Circuit Court yesterday, claiming the city's Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Fund has owed nearly 300 pensioners a pay bump for years, but hasn't paid up.
It's unclear how much money's at issue in the case, but, if successful, the plaintiffs would receive a three percent pay bump retroactive to 2008.
"It's gonna add up," says Greg Hartman, who represents plaintiffs Clark Stephens and Robert Wuerth. "The firefighters are entitled to be paid."
The dispute stretches back to 2009, when a dozen retirees first filed suit against the pension fund. Two things you need to know to understand their claims:
•The pensioners, who all retired prior to 1990, are beneficiaries of a now-defunct benefit plan that dictates they're paid 60 percent of the highest firefighter salary.
•Whereas many fire bureaus require only certain employees to be licensed to drive fire trucks and other vehicles, the Portland Fire Bureau mandates all firefighters become certified "apparatus operators."
So in 2007, when the city signed a contract giving those operators a pay bump, retirees argued their benefits should get the same. Nope, the city said, the raise was a "specialty payment" and so not eligible.
The pensioners sued in 2009, but a judge ruled they hadn't exhausted all their options. They appealed, Hartman said, and that appeal is still pending. In the meantime, the retirees made their case to the state's Office of Administrative Hearings. In 2011, an administrative law judge agreed that the fund should pay up.
But city officials appealed that decision, Hartman said, meaning the dispute now has two cases before the court of appeals.
"There are actually several cases and they all fundamentally focus on the same thing," said Hartman, whose firm also represented retirees seeking to keep years of mistaken overpayments by the pension fund. In a deal reached earlier this year, that group got to keep roughly 40 percent of the unearned money.
Neither fund Director Sam Hutchison nor Interim City Attorney Harry Auerbach have returned calls for comment.
The city's equity office is calling on cops to redouble racial sensitivity efforts, after video emerged of a patrol officer using the word "nigger" while interacting with a group of black men recently.
First posted by the Mercury, the 27-second video shows Officers Michael Hall and Heather Martley attempting to clear out the sidewalk in front of a downtown Portland nightclub.
The precise context of Hall's comments is unclear, but the footage clearly shows him uttering the racial slur as he orders a group to disperse. The men Hall was speaking to—workers at the downtown Nordstrom out to celebrate a birthday—confronted him on his use of the word, and the officer retorts: "But you said it to me."
In light of the Mercury's reporting—followed by the Oregonian a week later— Office of Equity and Human Rights Director Dante James released a statement today calling on the Portland Police bureau to use the incident "as an opportunity for daily training and reminders."
James' statement from the release:
"People will argue that it is a double standard because some Black people use the word.This is not an argument about who gets to use the word. This is an opportunity for PPB to remind its staff that ANY pejorative of this type is unacceptable. This is about professionalism, plain and simple, and this is the conversation that needs to happen.”
But the interaction didn't merely breach professionalism. It also ran afoul of bureau policies, which dictate cops may only use such epithets when quoting from police reports or testifying in court.
James' statement also commended the PPB for undertaking racial sensitivity training for its command staff and sergeants, and said Chief Mike Reese has "responded positively" to James' concerns.
Now the office is waiting to see what steps cops will take, according to OEHR spokesman Jeff Selby.
"It’s a matter of culture change, not so much about this specific incident," Selby says. "It's really about furthering that dialogue of professionalism within the Portland Police Bureau."
Here's the video:
The property in question sits at 320 NW Hoyt. It was on the short list of sites the Mercury previously reported had been turned over to Right 2 Dream Too and city officials by the Pearl consortium led by developers Dike Dame and Homer Williams. It's currently owned by a firm based in Seattle. Besides the warehouse space, the site also has a loading dock. The 1925 site would doubtlessly require improvements like sprinklers and bathrooms.
That a building has surfaced as a realistic alternative to the site Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Mayor Charlie Hales initially proposed for R2DToo—a city-owned parking lot beneath the Broadway Bridge's Lovejoy ramp—could be a sign of a major breakthrough. That parking lot, dubbed Lot 7 and part of the Station Place development, is the subject of a challenge by Dame and Williams, who argue the city would be breaking its own code and abrogating development agreements if it moved R2DToo onto the land.
It's unclear, however, if a final deal is in place and what kind of terms—who will pay for fixes, duration of a lease, etc.—are in play.
"Negotiations took place yesterday," said a source close to the talks, asking for anonymity given the sensitivity of discussions that involve not only R2DToo and Dame and Williams, but also Amanda Fritz and staffers for Hales. "There were still critical conditions that had not been agreed to."
Ibrahim Mubarak, spokesman for R2DToo, did not immediately return a request for comment. Commissioner Amanda Fritz declined to comment during a brief break in this morning's city council meeting. I'll update if I have any more details.
Update 2 PM: Fritz has gone on the record, saying she wasn't aware that a meeting had been planned with mayor's office at the Hoyt site and that she still has "significant concerns" about the terms of what's been discussed. Namely, that a deal for the Hoyt site would be just for one year, including time spent getting it fixed up, work done on the city's dime.
"I was not aware of the meeting," she told me. "I was not aware Right 2 Dream Too had agreed to this site. I have significant concerns about spending investing city money in a building that will only be used for one year."
Separately, sources have confirmed another tricky piece of the negotiations. Williams and Dame have asked to purchase Lot 7 from the city, potentially to give the city money to work on Hoyt. Of course, that also takes away leverage for a deal, since R2DToo has held onto the Pearl site as a fallback—figuring the Pearl group, despite its challenge, would still rather work on a new site than fight out a code battle over the Pearl site.
Interestingly, the lot does not appear in a list of properties for sale by the Portland Development Commission obtained by the Mercury. So any talks would be happening before the public gets a crack at the lot. I've already asked the PDC for its policy on land sales and for its own list of property for sale.
Closing the loop on a promise the Mercury first reported early this summer—issued after her colleagues cut cash for anti-sex-trafficking programs as part of the city's budget—Commissioner Amanda Fritz presided over an emotional parade of advocates, survivors, and children this morning that gave way to a unanimous council vote not only restoring that money but also adding some more.
The 5-0 vote—which takes effect immediately—will divert $250,000 in one-time money from the city's rapidly draining contingency fund for work that not only expands the reach of current programs helping girls and boys escape a life of pimping and abuse, but also to help seed new programs meant to help keep kids out of the life in the first place.
Most of the money will go to social services providers, including Janus Youth Services and the Sexual Assault Resource Center. The rest, $60,000, will go to the police bureau. All told, the decision to pull the money out will leave the city's contingency fund with just $503,000. The fund started the year with $3 million. The council had approved another big hit last month, also for social services, when it voted to spend $1.7 million on homelessness programs at the urging of Commissioner Dan Saltzman.
The money is a certain political victory for Fritz, who spared no one's feelings in the spring when she gave a 15-minute speech during a budget hearing accusing her male colleagues of lacking sensitivity in approving what had been tens of thousands of dollars in cuts. Almost immediately, Fritz began planning another way to get the money back.
But on the eve of the vote—and even after it—she said she didn't see it in those terms. She saw it as a chance to set the table for a better and more comprehensive request next spring when both the city and Multnomah County prepare next year's budgets.
"This is a partnership," she said, ditching her prepared remarks in light of powerful testimony by several advocates and students, including a young girl who's been part of the self-defense Girl's Strength class the council voted to expand, by adding a Boy's Strength program.
"And it's crucially important important that it continues to be a partnership between the city and the county and the providers in the community," she continued.
Although Fritz was very careful to couch her request as a one-time-only deal, it was very clear that the money could definitely work as a permanent springboard. Much of it will go toward hiring counselors an advocates, and training volunteers, whose work will continue.
GOOD MORNING, BLOGTOWN! The common road seems just like a dream. It's a mystery to me. Fills me within when we're together, oh, baby, can't you see? LET'S GO TO PRESS.
A lawsuit has already been filed against the railroad company behind that deadly crash this weekend in the Bronx, and the train engineers union has been kicked out of the investigation, because at least one in their ranks is a big blabbermouth.
Roughly 30 whales are trapped (and four have already died) in shallow waters off Florida's Everglades Park.
President Obama is giving a speech on the economy today, with the focus being fat rich fucks keeping the rest of us down. (My words, not his.)
Today in "not helping, guys": One of Obamacare's staunchest supporters Sen. Harry Reid has granted certain staff members exemption from enrolling in the health plan. In response, Republicans rubbed their hands together gleefully, and chanted, "Ohboyohboyohboy."
Notre Dame files a lawsuit against Obamacare, saying that being forced to supply healthcare (in particular, birth control) to its faculty and students violates their religious belief that God hates women.
Speaking of which, Michigan lawmakers are considering legislation that would prohibit insurance companies from charging women extra if they elect to get an abortion. The "He-Man Women-Haters Club" (AKA insurance companies and Republicans) are against it.
Note to the people who stole a truck in Mexico: There is dangerous radioactive material in the back! (Also, a sandwich.)
Six global banks have been fined $2.3 billion for illegal shenanigans—which comes as a surprise to absolutely no one.
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson admits in court she has used cocaine. A RESTAURANT WORKER THAT DOES DRUGS??? WELL, I NEVER!
In sports, Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri wins the 2013 MLS "Newcomer of the Year" award, while goalie Donovan Ricketts wins "Goalkeeper of the Year." I have yet to win anything... but the day is still young.
Now here's what's going on in your neck of the woods: Sunny and c-c-c-cold all week (with a predicted high of 28 on Saturday)!
And finally, was your father a "dadhole"? ARE YOU A DADHOLE? To find out, see how many things you say, "Uh-huh" to in this funny video!
In opaque North Korean governance, a question: Did mercurial leader Kim Jong-un merely fire his uncle—stripping the man of titles and executing his top aides—or did he imprison him? Just what the hell is going on in North Korea, anyway?
China's still insisting that an air defense zone it dreamed up over the East China Sea last week—probably to try and reclaim a string of disputed islands currently under Japanese control—is valid. Japan says that's insane. VIce President Joe Biden? He's not saying much of substance.
We shouldn't expect Congress to produce X amount of laws every year, right? Quotas seem misplaced where legislation is concerned. Even so, it's hard to hold up the current iteration of the US House of Representatives as anything but a reprehensible farce.
Good: Tweaks to healthcare.gov means the site is able to process more than 50,000 people a day, as promised. Expected, dispiriting caveat: The data it's churning out is riddled with errors.
How do America's 15-year-olds stack up, book-learning-wise, against other developed nations? Poorly! According to the latest results of an international exam, we're well below average in math, below average in science and just a touch above average in reading. We're even getting beat by the UK, and they call math "maths". Shanghai, which I guess gets grouped by itself because of it massive population, is crushing everybody. Maybe partly because their children are forced to stay indoors by choking, billowing smog?
Following a nine-day trial, a judge has ruled the City of Detroit can declare bankruptcy. It's too early to say what an agreement would look like, but it's almost certainly a bum deal for the boor bastards relying on their city pensions. Ouch.
Strapping Doug Firs and thriving filbert orchards aren't the only things that flourish in Oregon. Our great state is also fostering healthy and growing income inequality (like pretty much everywhere else).
Accused Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro did not accidentally kill himself in that most-compromising of positions, as speculated. A report has found he meant to do it. Somehow, that seems a shame.
A Russian ballet dancer will serve six years in prison for orchestrating an acid attack on a director. I've never seen Black Swan, but this is pretty much the same, right?
The Oregonian loves Seattle so much it's disgusting.
Sunny and cold. I can get behind it.
I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Sunday. Great, but IS IT NOT ODD THAT THE WHOS BEGIN DECORATING FOR CHRISTMAS ON CHRISTMAS EVE?!
Portland's largest teacher's union—locked in prolonged and nasty contract negotiations with Portland Public Schools—now says the district has engaged in unfair negotiation tactics for refusing to take up language that would increase teacher pay for larger class sizes.
The Portland Association of Teachers today announced it's filed a formal complaint with the Oregon Employment Relations Board. The union says it's been trying to get PPS to discuss teacher workload since talks began in April, and that the school district has repeatedly refused. But in a final offer submitted in late November—after the district declared an impasse in discussions, a move which could lead to Portland's first-ever teachers strike—officials suggested a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would hold teacher workload steady for the next two years (the school district has been trying to remove a provision that holds teacher workloads to 1998 levels).
"The District is improperly refusing to discuss in bargaining Association proposals which concern employee workload and pay," the complaint says. "At the same time, the District has insisted on including as part of its own final offer submission a proposed MOU which concerns the very topics it refuses to discuss when they are addressed by Association proposals."
The union also contends the school district is required to hand over information on teacher workloads, but hasn't. (Oregon teachers have historically high workloads). It wants the board to find PPS is engaging in illegal bargaining tactics.
The parties are next scheduled to meet with a mediator later this week. If the disagreement persists, the PAT could legally strike later this month, though it would almost-certainly wait until after the holiday break.
Here's the complaint [pdf].
Update, 4:26 pm:PPS says it hasn't received a copy of the complaint. (Though it wouldn't be hard for the district to come across one. Up above, for example.) The district just sent out a statement from Chief Human Resources Officer Sean Murray. Here's part of it:
"Teacher workload is a mandatory subject in bargaining, but class size is not. Oregon school districts decline to bargain class size limitations because class sizes depend on state funding, which school districts do not control. Bargaining these limits in a labor deal, as PAT has proposed, also shuts parents and the community out of these important conversations. We remain focused on reaching a negotiated settlement that helps our schools hire more teachers, hire the best teachers, and add school days for students.”
This time around, Jim Francesconi says he's treading lightly.
When he lost a bid for mayor in 2004, the attorney and former city commissioner says, people were suspicious of the money he raked in from downtown businesses. He told the Mercury he'll go out of his way to avoid that impression in the race for Jeff Cogen's vacated seat atop Multnomah County.
But political races cost money—Francesconi's chief opponent, former county commissioner Deborah Kafoury, has already raised nearly $30,000— and now we have our first look at the candidates fundraising efforts.
It's coming, mostly, from downtown.
Francesconi's announced more than $1,800 in contributions, many from his fellow attorneys. There are also contributions from Oregon politico Tim Nesbitt—who writes a column for the Oregonian and was recently hired to work on one of Francesconi's pet projects, the higher-education-focused Oregon Idea—and Kevin Gail, executive director of the Portland Workforce Alliance.
Francesconi's donations are all $500 or under, so far. Kafoury's snagged contributions of up to $2,500.
The election to fill Cogen's seat isn't until May, but both of the race's most credible candidates have trumpeted support in recent days—Kafoury from local and state politicos, Francesconi from the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters.
GOOD MORNING, BLOGTOWN! Hang the sign upon the door, say, "Don't disturb this groove." Just a way to say that I'm so into you. LET'S GO TO PRESS.
It's Cyber Monday. Snore.
A Bronx passenger train jumped the tracks on Sunday, killing four and injuring dozens. Investigations are underway.
On Saturday, star of the Fast & Furious, Paul Walker, died in a fiery car accident—and some are suspecting (irony alert) that drag racing was involved.
UN investigators apparently have information that implicates Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in war crimes. SHOCK.
Amazon is considering using drones to deliver your packages—BUT I THOUGHT THEY ALREADY DID HAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA! (Do you get it? Minimum wage workers? DRONES?? HAHAHAHAAAAAAA. Goddammit I kill myself.)
Hey, did you fly US Air out of Austin or Phoenix this weekend? Hope you didn't catch tuberculosis!
While there's more work to be done, according to the government, the troubled HealthCare.gov site is well on its way to being somewhat kinda sorta functional.
Hawaii's new same-sex marriage law went into effect at midnight, so let's say "Hoomaikai ana, lelo hoomaikai" to the happy couples! (Impressed?)
Also congrats to actress Maria Bello (who was great in The Cooler among other films) who came out of the closet in a New York Times op-ed.
In sports, Timbers coach Caleb Porter wins the MLS coach of the year award—and deserves it!
Now here's what's going on in your neck of the woods: Rainy and 45 today, but get out your muffs, because we've got a very cold, sunny week ahead!
And finally, this scientist gets a very rude surprise when he cuts open the stomach of a sperm whale. MONDAYS, AMIRITE?
It's Christmastime (in Hollis, Queens) and money's tight. Thankfully, there's an easy option more and more folks are using to shore up precious cash: bilking the United States Navy for millions of dollars! It's easy, apparently, and everyone's doing it.
Orwhy not save cash by helping along your nation's proud tradition of gluttony and violent consumer greed?
Meanwhile, your military is doing its part to bolster our reputation abroad. Even as the US presses Afghanistan to sign an agreement allowing soldiers to stay in the country another decade, we droned a toddler Thursday.
I'm tired—dog tired—of slipping morose updates about healthcare.gov into these things. But this one's different! The Obama Administration is saying it will meet a promised December 1 deadline for ratcheting up the site's capabilities. Which is great, except for all the other problems.
China just sort of imagined a new "defense zone" over the East China Sea a week ago, and has since been tautologically forbidding anyone to fly through without its express permission. No one's paying that much mind, which prompted the country to launch fighter jets Friday to determine just who was making their way through the zone. It was us and the Japanese. Air carriers are being warned to steer clear of the zone, for now.
An 85-year-old Korean War veteran who thought it would probably be a good idea to travel to North Korea—it never is—has been held prisoner for around a month. Now, the North Korean government has released a video of Merrill Newman confessing to sundry misdeeds—war crimes, some, but also bringing a book critical of North Korea into North Korea. Sadly, it appears Merrill's English is slipping in his twilight years, because the Guardian notes the statement was "riddled with stilted English and grammatical errors, such as 'I want not punish me'." Curious.
A former US Marine, accused in a "thrill-kill rampage" in which he stabbed four homeless people, apparently was able to slowly collect small amounts of the cleanser Ajax while in jail. He ate it all Wednesday. He won't face murder charges, after all.
Thai protestors seeking the ouster of the country's prime minister have grown newly violent in recent days.
In airborne mayhem: A police helicopter crashes into a Glasgow pub packed with Glaswegians. Probably there is a joke, here. Also a lot of terror and tragedy. And a small plane goes down in remote Alaska.
Serious question: If Alabama is the pre-eminent college football state in the country, what precisely does that say about college football?
Someone tell my computer it's after 8 am. There is NO REASON why that widget needs to be purple.
This, judging from the reaction, was one of the best things my girlfriend had ever seen. I was amused but sad, too, because probably what you don't see is all the dicks—literal, physical dicks— that sat on screen through this guy's performance. Chatroulette, y'all. It's still a thing. (Potentially NSFW, but dick free.)
The county—after a months-long procedural lapse—has offered a conflicted response to claims one of its juvenile probation officers forcibly groped a colleague's vagina last summer.
While one portion of the document explicitly denies Department of Community Justice staffer Leslie Taylor made lewd comments to a county contractor before running his hand up her dress in July 2012, it also mounts another defense: that she asked for the conduct
"Plaintiff consented to all of the touching at issue in Plaintiff's claims," reads one of the county's six affirmative defenses. As is typical, attorneys are asking a judge to toss the entire case.
Such responses are supposed to be filed within 30 days, but as of Wednesday the court had no record of an answer to the August 23 suit. It turns out an assistant county attorney filed one all the way back in early October— she just attached the wrong case number to the document, and didn't realize her mistake until the Mercury pointed it out.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit—who we're not naming because she's the victim of an alleged sexual assault—works for the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC), which contracts with the county to help juvenile offenders. As the Mercury's reported, she met Taylor through the job early last year. The suit says he immediately "demonstrated inappropriate sexual interest" in comments and touching, and that the woman asked two co-workers to speak with him about his behavior.
Things settled down, but the woman says on July 18, 2012, Taylor groped her as they were returning from visiting a client, saying "I can tell you're clenching your pussy for me."
The woman told her boss the following month, and filed a report with the Portland Police Bureau in October 2012. But she refused cops' wishes that she participate in a "pretext call," in which she'd phone Taylor and elicit a confession. No charges have been filed.
Taylor—who works with troubled juvenile offenders— was put on paid administrative leave from his $64,289-a-year position beginning last November. He was allowed to return in April.
Taylor told cops it is the woman who'd been flirting with him. He says she "grabbed his hand and placed it on her leg," according to a police report, pinning her behavior on office politics.
The lawsuit also says the county was negligent in employing Taylor, claiming he "had for many years engaged in sexually harassing conduct against women who came into contact with him in the workplace." While the county has refused to talk about past complaints against Taylor, the police report backs up the woman's claims.
"I asked Taylor if he is aware of other sexual harassment allegations against him at work and he said he was," officer David Hughes wrote.
Happy Black Friday! And now a reading from the Book of This One Christian-Inflected Advice Column I Just Found on the Internet, Via a Two-Second Google Search: "My 4-year-old son has a one track mind: I Want. Whatever he sees on TV, or on a toy aisle at Walmart, he wants. Like, N.O.W. This behavior is typical of a normal child. They believe the center of the world revolves around them. Our society seems to have digressed to a 4-year-old level, where entitlement and greed trump values such as patience, moderation, and abstinence. Greed and coveting go hand in hand.... What if you can't afford some of the things that your neighbor has. He has a better paying job, a nicer house, a nicer car, bigger TV, cooler garage toys, a pool, do I need to go on? You are still coveting. It is still a sin."
Meanwhile, outside Chicago, the bleary shopping frenzy at a suburban Kohl's was undisturbed, even after police shot a suspected member of shoplifting crew who allegedly tried driving off in a Pontiac Sunfire with a cop's arm stuck in the driver's door.
And how about—so we don't forget about the millions of cash register button-pushers forced to leave their families on a national holiday and its bloated aftermath in exchange for nowhere near enough money to live on— we mention raising the nation's pitiful minimum wage?
Good nuclear news! Iran is letting international inspectors internationally inspect one of its fuel-processing facilities.
Bad nuclear news! Perhaps observing the news on the détente with Iran, North Korea has decided to try restarting its plutonium-producing nuclear reactor.
Afghan civilians, including a toddler, died in a recent NATO airstrike—sowing more angry talk of broken American promises and giving President Hamid Karzai more leverage to delay a pact that would keep US soldiers in the country for several more years.
China has declared war against Japan and the United States. Or something like that? Or not at all? I don't know. It's something about sending jets over the East China Sea, where the Americans and Japanese are about to hold regular joint military exercises.
This time, it was angry workers who set the fire, Bangladeshi authorities learned, after another garment sweatshop supplying Western retailers went ablaze.
The Church of England decides to offer "blessings," but not marriages, for queer couples—maybe qualifying as one of those times when it seems like> a British person is being polite, but that person is actually spitting in your face.
The nominee filibuster is dead. But! Senators can still block, just like always, judicial nominations they don't like—provided those nominations affect the courts in their home state.
RODNEY DANGERFIELD (REST IN PEACE) ALMOST HAD A SITCOM TWO DECADES AGO WITH BRECKIN MEYER AND PUNKY BREWSTER.
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