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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New In: The Day's News in Local Fashion, Retail, and Design

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 10:59 AM

—It's nothing new that workwear and beer have their cultural affinities, but clothing line West Daily and Coalition Brewing Co. are about to take the next step in their relationship. They're going back and forth on the recipe for a "designer's beer" and accompanying capsule collection of the line's pieces, hand-dyed with natural indigo. Once launched, the two will split up: the beer will be at New Seasons and Whole Foods, and the clothing will be at MadeHerePDX, but first they're throwing a party on the rooftop of the Indigo Building (430 SW 13th) on Saturday, March 28.

$30 tickets include "two drink tickets to enjoy a Limited Edition 'Tastemaker' Blueberry Berliner Weisse beer, first access to the hand-dyed workwear-inspired clothing collection, cuisine from a top Portland eatery, and interactive engagement from the creators behind West Daily and Coalition Brewing Co, with proceeds supporting Northwest Children’s Outreach." If all goes well, plans are to make it an annual thing.

—Whatever your thought on the Project Runway franchise and what it can or can't do for emerging designers, let it be known that the reality show is currently casting. You can throw your hat in the ring online, and submissions are due Monday, March 16.

—The new, bigger Löyly location in NE should be up and running by March 8, when they'll be opening with a limited number of services and specials. Also mark your calendar for Sunday, March 15's grand opening, with healthy party favors like cleansing tea, body salts, juice samples, and a raffle.

Brady Lange's new S/S '15 lookbook is out, and it's full of swimwear, simple layer-friendly separates, and even a wedding look. I hereby pronounce it the "lookbook of the day."

  • Cully Wright

Monday, March 2, 2015

Welcome to the Era of $15 an Hour, Portland

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 1:29 PM

  • Illustration: Shiela Laufer

As expected, Portland City Council made local history on February 18, voting unanimously to enshrine that nationally famous minimum wage into city policy for all full-time city employees and contract workers.

"Fifteen dollars an hour is being recognized now as the wage floor for all US workers," said Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who wouldn't commit to that amount last year when faced with a political challenger who forced the minimum wage issue. "It's where the climb out of a low-wage reality begins."

The sentiment is more sweeping than the reality. The new policy will affect a little more than a dozen full-time employees, and around 150 janitors, security guards, and parking attendants who contract with the city ["$15...for Some," News, Feb 18]. More than 1,800 non-full-time workers will remain at lower wages.

That's hardly the point, according to city hall staffers. They say the vote was just a start—a good faith, this-is-what-we-can-afford-now sort of statement that will be the first of several changes to come. This being Portland, there's already a new committee in the works to study how to help the hundreds of workers who toil for well under $15 ["Starting at the Bottom," News, Jan 7]. The city's elected leaders say that's a top priority.

"We know there are a lot of workers who won't be affected by this first step," Mayor Charlie Hales told a crowded room at the hearing. "There are more steps we want to take, particularly to deal with our seasonal and part-time workers."

But there was something no one at the meeting, including Hales, bothered to mention: If the mayor is serious about helping out seasonal workers, there's an obvious place to start.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

What the Hell is Going On On the Esplanade?!

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 4:49 PM

  • Wikimedia

Portland police have found two bodies on or near the Eastbank Esplanade since 10:30 am, and it's insane.

The police bureau sent out a release just after 11 am, announcing a man was spotted this morning below a drainpipe just north of the Burnside Bridge. Cops think the man was a 48-year-old who may have been inside the drainpipe—you've got to assume for shelter, though no one's saying that—"prior to being pushed out by rainwater and being discovered this morning. "

An autopsy is scheduled tomorrow.

A rare enough occurrence, but then the cops just announced a second body—this of a woman who was found on the esplanade just south of the Steel Bridge around 3:30 pm. Police aren't sure who she is or how she died.

"There does not appear to be any connection to the earlier death investigation of a 48-year-old male along the banks of the Willamette River," the latest release says.

Update, Friday 9:15 am: Police sent out an updated release last night explaining they believe the woman "suffered a medical event which resulted in her death." There's an autopsy planned today.

Update, Friday 12:45 pm: Cops now say the woman found dead yesterday on the esplanade was only 26, and homeless. The police bureau hasn't released her name, but says she wasn't attacked.

Cops also have confirmed the man discovered near a drainage pipe Thursday morning also was homeless.

Required Reading: Amanda Fritz's Speech on Why Portland Should Have Kept Out of the JTTF

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 10:46 AM

Last weeks hearing on rejoining a federal ant-terrorism task force.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz was perfectly clear last week when explaining her vote against Portland's reunion with a federal anti-terrorism task force, unpersuaded by the promised gains in safety and lamenting an inevitable diminishing of community trust once we send two of our cops over to work with the FBI on a full-time basis.

"We had an opportunity to create more confidence within the community. I don't believe with this action we are doing that," she said during that hearing.

Of course, she was railing against what was already a foregone conclusion. Mayor Charlie Hales, a potential swing vote along with Commissioner Steve Novick, had led off the afternoon's proceedings with a long and earnest explanation of why he'd decided to be the third vote in favor of rejoining the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

And so it was again when the council met yesterday to make things official, signing—without amendments, which the FBI had told the city it wouldn't even consider—a memorandum of understanding essentially serving as Portland's contract with the feds. Hales hadn't changed his mind. And neither had Commissioners Nick Fish or Dan Saltzman.

This time, though, Fritz really let go, reading from prepared remarks that crystallized some of the best arguments against joining the JTTF again.

The word “security” is an easy concept to stand behind because then you can justify just about anything, surveillance, tracking citizens, profiling them, collecting data on them, keeping that data forever as an indictment of criminal intent whether it was, or not and arresting people for no other crime than for being poor or simply peacefully expressing their dissatisfaction with government policies.

We have become a society that uses the same techniques on its citizens that we rail against in other countries. Every single one of us is subject to the power of fear in a mortal world. This includes FBI agents, mothers, fathers, police, corporate CEOs, corporate CEOs' husbands and wives…. You and me and so on.

While it is assumed that all parties to these investigations are operating in the best interests of the citizens of the U.S., there are numerous examples nationally of stings, setups, surveillance, profiling, arrests for civil protest, manipulation and intimidation of and by the media, and arrests for simply researching and disseminating information about public policy, …… that makes this often a messy affair and one where public trust continues to be eroded.

Fritz has since linked to a copy of her speech on her blog, after requests from myself and some other community members. I've copied the whole thing below. (The printed version's slightly different from the one she read aloud, with some minor ad-libs). It's worth a couple of minutes of your morning to read it over.

Continue reading »


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Clackamas County Legislator Says Portland's Looking for a "Hand Out" to Fix Roads

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 2:43 PM

Rep. Julie Parrish

In its pursuit of millions to fix and improve Portland roads, the city's been called many names. Now a state legislator is tacking "beggar" onto the list.

Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn/Tualatin, introduced a bill to the legislature this morning that would prohibit the use of the state's general fund or money earmarked for the Oregon Department of Transportation from being spent on local street projects.

It's highly unlikely the bill will go anywhere, but its passage would torpedo the best hopes of Commissioner Steve Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales, who earlier this year paused a controversial effort to tax Portlanders more for roads in favor of asking the state legislature to kick millions our way.

Parrish says that's not acceptable. Her new bill, House Bill 3153, says " Legislative Assembly may not appropriate, allocate or otherwise authorize the expenditure of moneys from the General Fund, or moneys collected or received by the Department of Transportation, for highway maintenance or sidewalk development projects within the boundaries of an incorporated city."

The bill prompted backlash from Rep. Shemia Fagan, the East Portland Democrat who in 2013 fought for, and won, state funding that paid for new sidewalks along a stretch of 136th Avenue where a 5-year-old girl had recenly been run down. Fagan's latest mission is to find state funds to improve safety along Powell.

"So imagine how disappointed I was to see one of my legislative colleagues propose a new law to specifically outlaw my fight for safety investments on Powell Blvd (i.e. state Hwy 26)," Fagan wrote.

That led to a response from Parrish on Facebook, explaining she's not against local road improvements. She just doesn't want state funds paying for them.

"The fact is, the City of PDX needs to get it together on their crumbling infrastructure, and not come asking the legislature for a hand out for something they should be doing on their own."

A spokesman from the Portland Bureau of Transportation, which for years has been asking for a new source of funding to pay for the city's crumbling streets, hadn't seen the bill and couldn't comment. first noted the exchange between Fagan and Parrish on its Twitter feed.

Since last year, Hales and Novick have tried to convince Portlanders to approve a new funding source, but struggled to land on an option the public deemed acceptable. That led to an awkward bit of juggling, with new proposals being floated and scrapped in short order. Hales and Novick tabled the whole thing in mid-January, after hearing from Democratic leaders in the legislature that help might be on the way in the form of a state transportation funding package.

That's a very, very bad sign for Parrish's effort. Democrats hold healthy majorities in both the house and senate, and dictate which bills are taken up for consideration.

Friday, February 20, 2015

There Goes Another Lane on the Morrison Bridge

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 7:44 PM

  • Adam Wickham

A trial began this week over the millions of dollars Multnomah County lost by buying a defective surface for the Morrison Bridge.

In his opening statements to a jury, attorney Joel Mullins—a private lawyer tapped to represent the county in the case, for a sum of money the county has so far refused to reveal—spoke of the insane, worrisome damage that's befallen that deck just three years after it was installed. It was supposed to last 75 years or longer, he said. It began showing damage in mere months.

One thing Mullins didn't mention to the jury, because perhaps he didn't know: There have been fresh horrors discovered beneath the Morrison's surface.

You'll recall that last month, Multnomah County announced it was shutting down the bridge's north-most lane indefinitely, because it was coming badly apart. There was a hope the severe damage might be confined to just that section of the bridge (and if you've got some time, you can read about how there are all sorts of shady questions surrounding the material used to deck that north lane).

But the north lane's not special. This afternoon, the county had to shut down the Morrison's southmost lane indefinitely because of newly found damage, according to a news release. That's a full third of the bridge now closed because of serious damage to its deck, and there's no sign what problems county engineers will find next.

Meanwhile, the county's dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into keeping the bridge open, according to Mullins.

Anyway, the bridge is more of a mess than we knew, and if that's not enough to keep you off of it, traffic's going to be slower over the Morrison because of the closures.

New In: The Day's News in Local Fashion, Retail, and Design

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 9:59 AM

Hand Eye Supply busted out another one of their charming "field trips," wherein they photograph a person who professionally or habitually engages in an activity appropriate to the intended purpose of the products they carry. It's a simple idea, but a good one, and they have pretty good taste in subjects—like architect and environment designer Michael Kingery, who they followed as he rode his bike around town checking in on his projects and modeling their Le Laboureur work jackets.

ADX has announced an expansion of its resources: The Cube Craft Lab will caterer to those engaged in jewelry making, sewing, and screen printing. To kick it off, there will be a party Sunday, March 1 from 4-6 pm with live demos and beer. The fine print:

Sign up for access to The Cube for $80/month (or $770/year) starting March 1st. This membership gives full access to sewing machines, screen printing, and jewelry + metalsmith studio, in addition to all the regular perks of membership which includes discounts on classes, access to the tool library, flex space, access to the 3D modeling stations, and ability to book out the laser engraver and 3D printers.

—In other jewelry news, Design Museum Portland is holding a contest called "Rapid Jewelry." Entrants are asked to submit designs that highlight the capabilities of 3D printing as applied to jewelry making. Winners will receive up to $3k and have their designs printed and "featured in a nationally-traveling fashion show, exhibition, and retail experience." Entries are due April 3!

The Sunday Emporium is on for this Sunday (Feb 22) at Rejuvenation, and they have new vendors representing with work in textile and upholstery as well as specialty food items. Nest fluffin' time.


Grayling's spring collection of jewelry is out and my, my does it shine:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hales, with "Reluctant" Vote, Swings Portland Back into FBI Anti-Terror Task Force

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 4:44 PM

Chief Larry ODea, left, sits benignly. Across the room, activist Joe Walsh turns his back to the council.
  • denis c. theriault
  • Chief Larry O'Dea, left, sits benignly. Across the room, activist Joe Walsh turns his back to the council.
It was so much easier back in 2001, almost a generation ago, when Mayor Charlie Hales—still just a city commissioner—cast the lone vote in favor of pulling Portland out of an FBI led task force meant to take aim at terrorism. Eventually, after he left the council, other commissioners agreed and pulled the city out in 2005.

But now? He's the mayor. He's the police commissioner. And the world, he says, has changed.

Even after September 11, he says, Portland might have held onto the "parochial" notion that it could escape what he called the "radical evil in the world," another major attack aimed at traditional symbols of American might. He might have held onto that notion, too. Until the Boston Marathon was marred by homemade backpack bombs, he said, and until gunmen in Paris and Copenhagen turned on their own neighbors.

Which was why, this afternoon, Hale reversed what had been a history-making move in 2001. He cast the decisive vote in a 3-2 decision that puts Portland back in the Joint Terrorism Task Force (pdf)—considering but setting aside compellingly argued concerns over profiling and civil liberties from several Muslim groups and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.

Portland had been the only major American city not to work with a JTTF. The decision means two of Portland's 900-plus cops will soon be assigned to our region's task force full-time.

He'd been polling his staff as late as this Monday on what they would do. But even by then—after reading about the shootings in "multicultural," Portland-like Copenhagen over the weekend—he'd mostly made up his mind. He'd been leaning toward getting out. "It was always a close call." He fretted over the loss of those community ties. It was those fresh bullets that persuaded him, he says, 51 percent to 49, to vote to pull the city back in.

"I don't know how many people think Portland is in a bubble, and we're not part of that world. Maybe you could have maintained that notion after 9/11," he said in his office after the vote, invoking the symbolism of an attack on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. "But what's world dominant about the Boston Marathon? Or a Copenhagen delicatessen? Nothing. There's nothing to distinguish those places from a sidewalk in Portland."

The decision almost felt abrupt—it came with no public testimony today, per council practice for votes, after a nearly four-hour hearing two Thursdays ago. (Interestingly, if Hales had kept the council to its usual timing, with the vote coming just a week after the hearing, before Copenhagen, it might have gone the other way.)

Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick stood out as the two swing votes, undecided, with the mayor especially keeping his comments cipher-like up until today's vote. Would both join Commissioner Amanda Fritz, and keep the council out? Or would one or both side with Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Nick Fish? Hales, as mayor and the presiding officer at council meetings, normally votes last. But he cut through the drama by taking the somewhat rare step of voting first.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Portland's $15 Movement Keeps Growing! Now Amanda Fritz Says Some Seasonal Workers Need a Raise

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 4:07 PM


The $15 wage discussion keeps creeping wider and wider.

Just three weeks after Mayor Charlie Hales unveiled a proposal to ensure every full-time city employee makes at least that much (a change that's not as monumental as it sounded at the time), Amanda Fritz has now partially reversed course on her stance toward a $15 minimum.

Fritz, who oversees the parks bureau and so the majority of the city's lowest-paid employees, has said for months she wants to create more full-time positions with benefits more than she wants to increase the minimum wage. But in the midst of a wonky, tangled conversation around upping the pay for city contract workers this afternoon, the commissioner adjusted her stance, announcing she'll make a budget request to bump maintenance workers up to $15.

The proposal came as a surprise to some advocates with 15 Now PDX, the group that's been pressing for a raise to the city's (and state's) minimum wage for months. The group's pressure (along with Jobs With Justice) is a key reason Portland leaders having the discussion. It got momentum from the upstart campaign of Nick Caleb, who ran against Commissioner Dan Saltzman last year on a platform that leaned heavily on the wage issues.

Exactly what Fritz's surprise proposal might cost was immediately unclear. But a mayoral staffer said there'd been indications for weeks Fritz might make such a proposal, and that early forecasts showed the raises are workable.

Meanwhile, costs associated with more immediate changes were laid out for the first time that I've seen (repeated requests to various city staffers last week turned up no answer).

Continue reading »


New Governor! Kate Brown Tells Oregonians She'll Be More Rigorous than John Kitzhaber

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 10:31 AM

  • Screenshot!

Looking composed and assured, your new governor just finished her first official address before the state Legislature, pledging to patch the damaged trust left in the wake of the John Kitzhaber debacle and set strict standards for avoiding conflicts of interest.

"As long as I am governor, I will not seek or accept any outside compensation from any outside source," Gov. Kate Brown told the Legislative Assembly. "The members of my household or members of my staff will not seek or accept any outside compensation from outside sources for any business related to the State of Oregon. That simply will not happen."

That's more than an anodyne promise of lawfulness, of course. It's a judgment on the ethical wobbliness that wound up forcing Kitzhaber out of office. His woes surround consulting money his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, accepted from firms, even while she touted and oversaw those firms' interest in state government.

While most stories about Brown have painted her as a hardened liberal reticent to cut deals with Republicans, she said she'd "seek to reach across party lines to restore the public's trust." Whether that means agreeing with Republicans that some of Kitzhaber's pet policies are best set aside remains to be seen. Brown's also apparently promising "new laws to ensure the timely release of public documents," another reference to Kitzhaber, and his office's refusal to release many of the records requested in the wake of the scandal.

Brown included the standard nod to Kitzhaber's decades of public service, too, saying he "dedicated most of his life to serving the people of Oregon. But now we must restore the public's trust."

The conventional press statements are already rolling in . House Republicans are congratulatory. And Mayor Charlie Hales is bullish on Brown's tenure.

"The challenges ahead of her are significant," Hales said in a statement. "Thanks to her extensive experience – as a Portlander, an activist, a member of the House, a member of the Senate, and Secretary of State – she is uniquely positioned to tackle these challenges."

So much remains to be seen: Who Brown will appoint to replace her as secretary of state, how she'll cotton to the work Kitzhaber began, and how much of this morning's address was authored by Comcast, to name a few.

You can read Brown's full remarks after the jump.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New In: The Day's News in Local Fashion, Retail, and Design

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 10:59 AM

—Now that we are on the verge of recreational pot legalization coming into effect, I wonder if we will be seeing more or fewer models hitting pipes in lookbook photos? For now, (occasional Mercury contributor) Katie Guinn is carrying on the torch, as it were, with her latest spread for the "Funk Yeah: Part 2" tee shirt series starring model Skye Sengelmann.

—Fantastic news from Backtalk: the N Mississippi boutique (which houses one of the best-edited vintage collections in the city, in addition to one of the best-edited selections of small-batch jewelry lines in the city, and one of the city's buzziest design talents, Alexa Stark): Owner Katie Freedle has announced she's opening a second location downtown, on SW 10th between Chrome and Poler, due to open somewhere toward the end of March or early April. The space also boast about 500 sf of space Freedle hopes to fill in with more artists or designers (who don't mind being spied on by customers) a la Stark's arrangement on Mississippi (where she will remain). So, you know, if you know anyone...

—Carla Mink of Mink boutique has released her spring batch of inhouse designs... calling all those addiction to the b/w stripe:

  • Mink

—There were almost as many craft sale pop-ups last summer as there were during the holidays, and I know I'm not the only one who had a hard time juggling that against my rivering/camping/festival-attending schedule. So let it be known early that the Renegade Craft Fair has announced its intentions toward our fair city, at its fairest hour: They will return to Rejuvenation July 25 & 26. A bold move. Schedule your high summer accordingly.

—Speaking of planning ahead, do notch the calendar for a Feb 28 sample sale of Brady Lange apparel (11 am-6 pm at Service, 2319 NE Glisan). His lighthearted, well crafted designs are already pretty dang reasonably priced, IMO, but if you need a nudge to cave in to a pair of jeans covered in cat upholstery, this might prove your breaking point.

—If you have the time, money, and inclination to learn about fiber at one of the state's oldest operating ranches famous for its wool, and alongside experts in natural dye techniques using the high desert plants that populate said ranch, then you should absolutely invest in the just-announced two-day fiber retreat being offered by the WildCraft Studio School and Imperial Stock Ranch in May, because it looks AMAZING.

  • Imperial Stock Ranch

Monday, February 16, 2015

Read the Emails the People Who Made the Morrison Bridge's Awful Deck Want to Keep from a Jury

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 12:53 PM

  • Adam Wickham

The people who sold Multnomah County the new, now-damaged deck plaguing the Morrison Bridge have a few things they'd rather not have to explain in open court.

More than a few things, actually. ZellComp, the North Carolina company that designed and marketed the plastic deck breaking apart on the Morrison today, lays out 53 individual pieces of evidence [pdf] in a recent memo to the court, calling the exhibits "hearsay, and prejudicial, and irrelevant.

The trouble for ZellComp—along with Strongwell, the co-defendant whose staff actually manufactured the decking and began sending e-mails to one another questioning its quality—is that a Multnomah County judge has already ruled the evidence can be shown.

"To be clear: ZellComp has asserted and will assert other objections to some of these exhibits (as well as other exhibits)," the company wrote in the memo, filed last Friday. "Those objections are not waived or withdrawn. For example, ZellComp has objected to many of these documents as hearsay."

At stake in the trial is more than $6 million the county says it's lost on the disastrous bridge project. Officials are currently exploring how to replace the deck.

Here are just a few salient passages the people who sold us a bridge—in both a literal and figurative sense—would rather not be aired (red boxes in some shots are my additions). Need more context? It's here :

Continue reading »

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bike Share's Delayed Again, But PBOT's Director Guarantees a 2016 Launch

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 5:52 PM

PBOT Director Leah Treat
  • PBOT Director Leah Treat

You saw this coming, but now it's official: Portland's not getting a bike share system this year.


Those tidings come straight from Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat, who sat down with the Mercury earlier this afternoon. After two years of delay—Portlanders were initially told they'd be zooming around on public bikes by spring 2013—Treat says we've got a third coming to us.

But she also made a forceful promise, even pounding her hand on the table with each syllable as she did so.

"We will launch in 2016," Treat said. She stopped the table-pounding to add "I don't know what it's going to look like, but we will launch."

How? we asked. She wouldn't say. Has there been some new promise of funding? Treat was silent, except to note that Portland is still sitting on around $1.8 million left over from a 2012 Metro grant. "Even if that’s all we launch with, we’re launching. We have made a commitment and those funds are available for bike share."

Treat's got some experience in such things. She was a deputy director at Chicago's Department of Transportation when the city was getting its Divvy Bike system off the ground. But Divvy's business model isn't the same as what Portland's been attempting: finding lucrative corporate sponsorships that, along with user fees, could sustain a 750-bike system here.

Treat's promise could mean Portland is content to launch a far-smaller system with what funds we have. Or she might pursue a plan where additional public funds subsidize our system. (She didn't indicate or hint that to me. It's merely a possibility, but we've noted before Treat's shown signs she's sympathetic to that model.) Or maybe there's a bunch more federal money up for grabs. It's all unclear, except for the fist pounding and the guaranteeing.

Portland initially promised citizens a bike share launch in 2013, but has had to repeatedly push things back because no one wants to sponsor our system, and the people we planned to buy equipment from went bankrupt. There's been no sign of life in the program for a while now, but change continues. Former Portland outfit Alta Bicycle Share recently moved to New York City after being acquired by real estate honchos out there. It is now known as Motivate, but still has a contract with Portland to bring the city bike share.

Treat wouldn't say whether Motivate will be involved in whatever plans she has for next year. We've already paid the company tens of thousands of dollars, including a cool $40,000 for a report that was only supposed to be turned in once Motivate (then Alta) had "secured" us millions in sponsorships.

The Chairman of the Multnomah County GOP Has a Novel (Dick Joke) Take on Kitzhaber's Travails

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 3:40 PM


Charlie Hales Has Begun Raising Serious Campaign Cash—from a Longtime Political Supporter

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 3:00 PM

It's been 16 years or so—the end of Vera Katz's second term—since Portland's had an incumbent mayor running for re-election. Put that way, it seems like an astounding amount of time.

But that streak appears over.

About a month or so after Mayor Charlie Hales demurred on the subject of re-election, he's just reported a very serious contribution with the state elections office: $5,000 from John Bollier, the president of prominent transportation contracting firm Stacy and Witbeck.


Hales' spokesman, Dana Haynes, reminded me that his boss has yet to announce his next steps but said he'd check again to see if anything had changed. But reading between the lines here, it's hard to see Hales not about ready to leap in.

For one thing, Bollier appears somewhat tight with Hales. In 2012, when Hales was finding creative ways to get around a self-imposed $600 campaign donation cap from individuals and organizations, Bollier was one of the Hales campaign's "deputy prospects"—charged with helping collect checks and raise thousands from other big wheels in town.

And they've also apparently seen fit to talk business together after Hales was elected. In 2013, the Oregonian reported Hales and Bollier meeting about land acquisitions along the new light rail line to Milwaukie. After those meetings, the paper reported Hales had ordered staff to expedite permit applications submitted by Stacy and Witbeck.

Hales has been sending other signals he's not looking to be Portland's third consecutive one-term mayor—like getting cozy with labor leader Tom Chamberlain at his State of the City speech, announcing some $15 minimum wage news that was also applauded by 2012 backer Service Employees International Union.

The mayor did confirm last month that he's been asking for donations. And he's already recorded some small ones in the past few days. But this one's serious. Serious enough that it strains credibility to say he's still just thinking about a chase for a second term.

The John Kitzhaber and Cylvia Hayes Scandal: A Handy Primer

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 1:23 PM

This was originally posted at 10 am yesterday. It's been updated to reflect developments since then that culminated in the announcement this morning that Governor John Kitzhaber will step down next Wednesday.

What changed? Kitzhaber lost any shred of political support left—exhausting sympathy and goodwill among allies after deciding to resign and then backtracking so awkwardly, looking out of sorts in the process. And one by one yesterday, all of the people he needed to stand by, or at least keep quiet while investigations worked their way to completion, spoke up against him.

But that wasn't all. His office, in the midst of that sudden, new pressure, was accused of having tried to destroy thousands of the governor's personal emails the week before. A lot of this scandal, about ethics and influence peddling and trading on access and public prominence, had to do with his fiancée. His handling of the thing was in question—did he allow it or was he blind to it? But this one was all about Kitzhaber. And it was one more blow.

Get the rest of the story down below!

It's felt this way for months, since October, when Willamette Week first poked into disturbing ethical and legal issues about the blurry intersection between the private and public lives of Governor John Kitzhaber and his fiancée, first lady Cylvia Hayes.

Every other week or so, some new, more troublesome development has bubbled up from the state's press corps in what's become a full-throated scandal threatening Kitzhaber's political future. Ostensibly, it's all because of accusations Hayes used her access and position as a public official to influence state policy and further her professional career as a well-paid environmental consultant. But in the wake of the clamor over Hayes' conduct, scrutiny has come crashing over Kitzhaber himself—with questions over whether he knew about Hayes' alleged lapses or even helped them along.

And it all took a turn for the surreal yesterday. Kitzhaber—facing probes by the attorney general's office, state ethics board, and, reportedly, the FBI—had seemingly set the wheels of resignation in motion. Secretary of State Kate Brown, Kitzhaber's would-be successor, had abruptly and mysteriously left the winter meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State, a group she leads as president, in Washington, DC. Rumor and whispers permeated the Capitol.

Until Kitzhaber, that is—according to the Oregonian and the Associated Press—changed his mind. Which is about when his attorney, and then the governor himself, gave statements suggesting he'd weather the storm a little while longer.

But let's say you haven't been keeping up with the unrelenting drip of news. And maybe you're still wondering what the hubbub's all about and how it took shape? Follow along and we'll do our best to help catch you up.

A conflict of interest: It started in October, a few weeks before Election Day. That's when WW's Nigel Jaquiss was first to plow what's become a fertile field of scandal, writing a cover story that accused Hayes of using state personnel and materials—while trading on her title as first lady and status as a public offiical—to run her personal consulting business. It was a story he'd been researching since the summer.

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Gov. John Kitzhaber Resigned (Now With Audio!), But He Still Faces Criminal Investigation

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 12:07 PM

What began as a damaging—but not insurmountable—breach to Gov. John Kitzhaber's full-steam-ahead political career last fall has finally sunk the ship.

Amid accusations of loose ethics and attempts to destroy damning records, Kitzhaber—Oregon's only four-time governor—will resign today, media are reporting.

According to Willamette Week, which began the feeding frenzy around Kitzhaber's office with an October story, the governor announced to his staff this morning he'd be resigning. The Oregonian reports he'll announce that decision to the public this afternoon. Stay tuned.

Update, 12:11 pm: Aaaand it's official. The release is below. It's somber, and angry, and defiant.

US Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, and Mayor Charlie Hales have all released statements replete with fond remembrances of the Kitzhaber who was. But check out how we got to the Kitzhaber who is, with this helpful primer.

Update, 12:34 pm: Want to hear the governor resign? Voila.

Your new governor, come Wednesday, is Secretary of State Kate Brown. She'll serve until an election next year.

Update, 12:54 pm: This resignation is an enormous deal, but it's not so powerful it can ground the criminal investigation into Kitzhaber's conduct to a halt. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum just made as much clear in a statement.

"The governor’s decision to resign will not affect our ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of his and Ms. Hayes’ conduct," Rosenblum says. "Oregonians deserve nothing less than a full and fair investigation of all the facts, as well as the opportunity to reach a resolution that will truly allow our state to move forward.”

Update, 1:18 pm: The statements keep churning out just as fast as Capitol communications staffers can write them.

Treasurer Ted Wheeler, one of several high-powered Democrats to call for the governor's resignation yesterday and a very likely candidate to fill out Kitzhaber's term come a 2016 election, sent out a super-long release that began with a Prefontaine quote.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, who also told the governor to resign yesterday, says: “Governor John Kitzhaber has accomplished much for Oregonians in his 35 years of public service to our state. As a physician, as a legislator, and as our Governor, he has been a distinguished leader. “I support his decision to resign because it is the right decision for Oregonians. Moving forward, I will continue to champion the priorities we have shared in the areas of equity in educational outcomes, quality early childhood education, and rural economic development.

House Majority Leader Val Hoyle, Kotek's second in command, says somethign similar, and State Rep. Mike McLane, the leading Republican in the House, makes sure we all know he takes "no delight" in Kitzhaber's choice. (Well, maybe just a little delight.)

Kitzhaber's statement after the jump.

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Read Some David Carr Today

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 9:14 AM

Listen to Carr punch those fucking keys. Listen to what Carr says.

David Carr, one of the country's best newspaper writers, died last night. He collapsed in the New York Times newsroom; earlier that night, he'd hosted a panel discussion between Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Laura Poitras. He was 58.

Anything I could say about Carr—and I could say a lot—has been better said by others. That Times obit is well worth reading

His plain-spoken style was sometimes blunt, and searingly honest about himself. The effect was both folksy and sophisticated, a voice from a shrewd and well-informed skeptic.

—and so is the one at Poynter. And I can't think of a better time to rewatch Page One: Inside the New York Times, the 2011 doc that basically featured Carr as its star (the video above is a scene from that film). Back when Page One came out, I wrote for the Mercury that an alternate title might be David Carr Is a Badass Motherfucker. I stand by this.

But the best stuff to read and watch is the stuff from Carr himself. Here's his AMA. Here's an NPR interview from a few years ago, in which he talked about how he worked:

I don't want to be sort of a poodle dog when I'm out there and a friendly sort of presence in people's lives, and then come back and do something that's really mean or aggressive.

And if it's going to be a hard story, one of the things I always say is: This is going to be a really serious story, and I'm asking very serious questions. And it behooves you to think it through and really work on answering and defending yourself because this is not a friendly story.

And if they don't engage, I just tell them: Well, you know what? You better put the nut-cup on, because this isn't going to be pleasant for anybody.

Digging through the Times archives for old episodes of "The Sweet Spot," Carr's video series with Times movie critic A.O. Scott, is probably what I'm going to spend a good part of today doing. On his own, Carr was brutally smart and wildly charming; when he teamed up with Scott, the result was a vaguely odd-couple pairing that I remember thinking could have worked anywhere, for anything: co-hosting the Oscars, bickering in a buddy cop movie, or, as it worked out, just shooting the shit about whatever they felt like chatting about. Scott wrote this last night.

The Times tweeted this:

I can't think of any other contemporary writer for whom such a link would feel appropriate on the occasion of his or her death. Usually when someone dies, it makes sense to curate, to cull, to find the best of things. But that's the thing with Carr's writing: I've never been sorry that I read something he wrote, and I've never never felt as if it wasn't a good thing to do, or like I wasn't a smarter and better (and, frequently, happier) person for having read what he wrote or reported. Or for having listened to what he had to say.

So click that link. There are 1,776 David Carr stories from the Times. Jump in anywhere. Read some David Carr today.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

We've Got New Cabs Coming! Don't Plan Your Weekend Around It.

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 5:50 PM

Portland, you've got hundreds of cabs coming to you! But you're still going to have a looooooong while to wait if you're calling at 2 am this weekend.

As we reported yesterday, the city's taxi board just authorized a whopping 242 new cab permits for existing cab companies. If Portland City Council says okay, another 51 permits could be issued to a brand new company, EcoCab.

It's an unprecedented move for a typically cautious Private For-Hire Transportation Board of Review, but it's also probably necessary. There are unquestionable cab shortages during peak times, and taxi companies want to be able to compete when services like Uber re-enter the market in April, as planned.

A day after the vote, though, it looks like there may be just one more cab in circulation this weekend.

Continue reading »


After Top Democrats Demand His Resignation, the End Appears Nigh for Governor John Kitzhaber

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 1:45 PM

The scandal-fed political vise squeezing Governor John Kitzhaber in recent weeks has tightened untenably over the past few hours.

The state's treasurer, Ted Wheeler, and two top Democratic legislative leaders have all asked Kitzhaber to resign—with Senate President Peter Courtney telling reporters in a news conference, according to reports, that Kitzhaber was "struggling" when they met earlier today.

News of their demand follows a damning email sent by Secretary of State Kate Brown this morning in which she shared details about a "bizarre" meeting with the governor yesterday. Brown, who'd take over for the governor, wrote that Kitzhaber had called her back from Washington DC to discuss his pending resignation—only to bewilderingly ask her, once they finally met yesterday, why she'd flown back early.

It seems the end has come for the only Oregon governor elected to four terms.

Adding to the drama, there have been reports on Twitter that top Kitzhaber staffers have resigned. And there's also been a report in the Oregonian that Courtney, while speaking at the press conference in Salem, had received a note that Kitzhaber was looking to talk to Brown again about his "transition."

News that Brown had been summoned back to Oregon yesterday, first reported by an MSNBC reporter covering the winter meetings of the National Association of Secretaries of State, kicked off a flurry of rumor and speculation that Kitzhaber had decided to step down. But Kitzhaber, after those rumors ran rampant, issued a statement saying he'd stay after all.

It's clear now, however, that he's lost the faith of his partners in government—none of them seemingly reassured by his yoyo bounce yesterday with a decision of such consequence.

Kitzhaber managed to win re-election against a weak GOP challenger, Dennis Richardson, even after reports surfaced in October about conflicts of interest involving his first lady, fiancée Cylvia Hayes, and her private consulting work and public role as an unpaid official advisor. Ethical issues and questions of influence-peddling involving Kitzhaber himself have continued to pile up in recent weeks—making the governor the subject of a criminal investigation as well as the target of a probe by the state's ethics watchdog. (Read our primer of the allegations and findings here.)

Update 2:17 PM: Well... this doesn't look good. According to emails obtained by Willamette Week and KXL-FM, Kitzhaber's executive assistant asked state officials to purge thousands of Kitzhaber's private emails from state servers. The request came a day before the AG's office opened its criminal probe—and the request was denied by alert workers in the state's Department of Administrative Service, WW reports. It's a crime to destroy government documents and evidence. Also, private emails, provided they're dealing with state business, are supposed to be treated like public records.

Update 2:39 PM: And the Oregonian just made this particular bit look even worse, reporting that the emails Kitzhaber's office tried to delete were the subject of a public records request recently filed by the daily paper. The O says the governor's office had defended Kitzhaber's increasing use of a state Gmail account for public business and had directed the paper's reporters to DAS when it asked to review the emails. /// END UPDATES

The first reporting on the conflicts involving Hayes came from Willamette Week. But some of the most troubling allegations have since come from Pamplin and Oregonian reporters. Kitzhaber's travails went national after the Oregonian's editorial board called for his ouster earlier this month.

Courtney, according to press reports from Salem, has pointed out that stepping down is solely up to Kitzhaber. Oregon has no provision for impeachment. And recall petitions may not begin gathering signatures until six months after an elected official's most recent inauguration. That would put a start date for such a drive in July, assuming Kitzhaber still doesn't do what he was about to do yesterday. And quit.

Brown would serve as governor through a special election in 2016. Whoever wins that election would then finish the rest of Kitzhaber's term, through 2018.

Update 1:55 PM: Courtney's office sent out a copy of a statement he read at the presser.

“He served in the Oregon House as a Representative. He served in the Oregon State Senate. He was the President of the Oregon State Senate for a record number of years. He was elected and has served as Oregon’s governor for more than 12 years – longer than anyone else. No public servant has given more to Oregon.

“And there is another side. He is a friend. He is a son. He is a brother. He is a father. He is a human being.

“It is all of these things for which I hope he is remembered. I hope all of these things are his legacy. He deserves that. Governor John Albert Kitzhaber, MD. I am sorry.

“I know that together Oregon and her people will get through this.”

Last Chance! Apply for the Mercury's News Reporter Position!

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 1:03 PM


Are you a great reporter looking for a better situation or a place where you can really make a difference? The Mercury is currently accepting applications for a full-time news reporter position—but not for much longer! The deadline is midnight tomorrow, Friday February 13. If you're the person we're looking for, jump on it. If you know the person we're looking for, do them a favor and send this to them. GOOD LUCK!


Good news: the Portland Mercury is hiring! We’re looking to add a full-time news reporter to our award-winning staff—known locally for smart, deep, and accessible journalism. And we want someone with hustle and an unflinching drive to make a meaningful difference in our community.

Qualified applicants must possess the following:

• A substantial body of professional work published within the past three years. We prefer articles, but blog-style posts will be considered.
• Snappy, smart writing chops paired with a passion for long-form storytelling and a dedication to accuracy. Show us your well-cultivated voice.
• A demonstrated ability to devise and execute high-quality story ideas—with little to no handholding—in an extremely competitive news market.
• Experience requesting and digging through public records in pursuit of scoops or must-read context.
• Flexibility. Be able to jump from the courthouse to city hall to a police accountability protest to wherever else you're needed. It’s a busy city.
• An easy, active relationship with social media.
• A thriving cultural life outside of work… and, seriously, a sense of humor.
• We’ll like you even more if you can take a good picture or build an amazing spreadsheet or infographic.

Again, this is a full-time position, with competitive salary and benefits. Night and weekend hours aren’t the norm, but they’re also not unheard of.

Interested applicants should send us a résumé, the best cover letter known to humankind, links/PDFs to at least three pieces, and four story ideas. Email everything to Snail mail won’t be accepted. Sorry!

Deadline for applications: Friday, February 13.

We are an equal opportunity employer.

Kate Brown Just Sent a Damningly Strange Email About Governor Kitzhaber

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 11:45 AM

Yesterday's weirdness over Governor John Kitzhaber's increasingly shaky handling of the ethics scandal swamping his career—he changed his mind about resigning? after calling Secretary of State Kate Brown, his successor, back to Salem?—has spilled over into today.

At 11:19 this morning, Brown sent an email detailing a very strange meeting with Kitzhaber upon her return to Oregon. She says Kitzhaber asked her to come back ASAP from Washington DC—only to then ask her, when they met, why Brown came back early to meet with him.

She called the whole saga "a bizarre and unprecedented situation." It's not reassuring. Read it. (And read our primer the scandal right here.)

Late Tuesday afternoon, I received a call from the Governor while I was in Washington, DC at a Secretaries of State conference. He asked me to come back to Oregon as soon as possible to speak with him in person and alone.

I got on a plane yesterday morning and arrived at 3:40 in the afternoon. I was escorted directly into a meeting with the Governor. It was a brief meeting. He asked me why I came back early from Washington, DC, which I found strange. I asked him what he wanted to talk about. The Governor told me he was not resigning, after which, he began a discussion about transition.

This is clearly a bizarre and unprecedented situation.

I informed the Governor that I am ready, and my staff will be ready, should he resign. Right now I am focused on doing my job for the people of Oregon.

UPDATE, 12:57 pm:

Now Treasurer Ted Wheeler, another leading Democrat, has piled on, and in blunter terms. He's point-blank asking Kitzhaber to resign. ALSO: Senate President Peter Courtney has told reporters in a news conference he'd like the governor gone. House Speaker Tina Kotek feels the same way, according to the Oregonian. This is happening, people. Here's Wheeler's release:

SALEM, OR – State Treasurer Ted Wheeler released the following statement on Governor Kitzhaber:

“It is with deep sadness that I ask Governor John Kitzhaber to resign his position as Governor of Oregon. He has accomplished many great things during his long career, and history will be kinder to him than current events suggest.

“Unfortunately, the current situation has become untenable, and I cannot imagine any scenario by which things improve. Oregon deserves a Governor who is fully focused on the duties of state.

“I hope the Governor will do the right thing for Oregon and its citizens.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Cab Wars Just Got Real: Portland Has Approved the Largest Taxi Deluge in its History

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 5:10 PM

Your cab is arriving now.

After years of sparingly licensing new cabs, the city commission that oversees Portland's taxi industry voted today to flood Portland streets with nearly 250 cabs in the near future. And the Private For-Hire Transportation Board of Review approved, with no controversy, the creation of an entirely new cab company—the Tesla-using Eco-Cab—that could add another 51 new cabs to the urban maelstrom in coming years (if Portland City Council says okay).

All told, the votes could amount to 293 new taxis—a 64 percent increase—in a city that's long trailed its peers in offering a vibrant, useful taxi market.

Here's the breakdown (new permits in left column, total permits after the new additions in the right):


This is a big deal, and it's by far the largest single increase to cabs Portland's ever seen. The last increase in permits, in 2012, put 78 new cabs on the street, most of them in the form of a then-controversial new company: Union Cab. Before today's vote, Portland had 460 cabs in circulation.

Continue reading »

Oregon's Governor? It's Still John Kitzhaber, Says John Kitzhaber

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 3:02 PM

Governor John Kitzhaber's attorney had already told the Oregonian, using fuzzy words like "hope and expect" in the face of today's sudden flurry of resignation rumors, that Kitzhaber wasn't planning on stepping down.

Kitzhaber's reportedly now said so on his own.

And here's the full statement:

“Let me be as clear as I was last week, that I have no intention of resigning as Governor of the state of Oregon. I was elected to do a job for the people of this great state and I intend to continue to do so.”

So why did Secretary of State Kate Brown, the governor's would-be successor, take a sudden trip back to Salem from Washington? We'll point everyone once more to the Statesman Journal, which pointed out that Brown's major project, a bill tying opt-out voter registration to DMV records, is up for discussion Friday.

Not that things are rosy for Kitzhaber. He's not being supported much by legislative leaders, who've remained silent. And the state attorney general's office has opened a criminal investigation into his and his first lady Cylvia Hayes' conduct. The FBI's also investigating, according to Willamette Week.

They've been accused of blurring her professional and public roles—allowing Hayes to profit while shaping state policy and trading on her insider status, as first lady and as an unpaid adviser, in her work as a private consultant. Also of note: A pair of Kitzhaber associates who'd connected Hayes with some of her better-paying contracts eventually got their own jobs in the administration.

Governor Kate Brown? Kitzhaber Resignation Rumors Hit Fever Pitch

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 12:17 PM

All hail Governor Kate Brown?

After MSNBC tweeted this morning that the secretary of state, who would replace Governor John Kitzhaber in the event of a resignation, had suddenly bolted a conference in Washington DC for a trip back to Salem, the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes has just heaped more intrigue onto the drama over whether Kitzhaber might reverse course in the wake of an ethics scandal and criminal probe and resign as soon as today.

Mapes says the Capitol has been beset by "a series of reports" and rumors that Kitzhaber's resignation is imminent—among them that department heads in the state bureaucracy have been called into a meeting with the governor's office this afternoon. He also pointedly mentions that Kitzhaber's office has "made no attempt to tamp down" the rumors and reports.

Kitzhaber's office has since confirmed to media outlets that the governor has canceled an appearance in Tigard this Saturday. A call to the governor's media office hasn't been returned.

Update 12:28 PM: Kitzhaber's lawyer has told the O that he has "every reason to believe the governor will stay in office." But the attorney also used words like "hope" and "expect." So...

Brown's departure for Salem seems like a big deal, especially because her spokesman hasn't told media outlets why she's come back sooner than anticipated. She was attending the National Association of Secretaries of State's annual conference—a group she leads as president. According to the Oregon Constitution, in the event of a resignation, Brown would serve as governor at least through 2016, when a special election would be held to fill the rest of Kitzhaber's term, which lasts through 2018.

Update 1:06 PM Hannah Hoffman of the Statesman Journal is pointing out another potential reason for Brown's sudden arrival while asserting that "rumors that Kitzhaber's resignation is imminent appear to have no firm support at this time."

Brown's bill pushing automatic, opt-out registration for voters, based on Department of Motor Vehicles data, is up for a hearing Friday when she otherwise would be returning from DC. Hoffman also quotes officials refuting talk of a department heads meeting.

Brown's pet bill in the Oregon Legislature, HB 2177, is scheduled for a meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Friday morning. The agenda was not posted until 5:15 p.m. last night, announcing the bill's placement on the budget committee's schedule.

If her plane lands as scheduled this afternoon, she will have all day Thursday to prepare for that hearing.

Meanwhile, rumors have circulated that state agency heads are meeting together in Kitzhaber's office today, but Department of Administrative Services spokesman Matt Shelby said that is false.

DAS Director Michael Jordan has been in his own office all day preparing for a budget hearing this afternoon, Shelby said

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