Legislature Looks Into Acquiring Federal Land
Anti-government militant Ammon Bundy is awaiting trial in Nevada, but an Oregon Democrat is giving oxygen to one of Bundy's favorite ideas: transferring federal lands to state ownership. Oregon House Bill 2365—which would create a task force on federal land transfers—gets a Feb. 16 hearing before the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, chaired by state Rep. Brian Clem (D-Salem). Ironically, the bill arrives at a time when the State Land Board is selling the 82,500-acre Elliott State Forest north of Coos Bay because it is incapable of managing the forest profitably. Clem acknowledges the paradox of contemplating acquiring federal lands while selling the Elliott. But he says the Oregon Board of Forestry, which manages most state forest lands, is more effective than the feds and the Department of State Lands, which manages the Elliott. "The Board of Forestry does a better job—maybe because they are apolitical," Clem says.
Realtors Break City Lobbying Records
Real estate brokers shattered the record for highest quarterly spending on lobbying of Portland City Hall in the last quarter of 2016, newly released disclosure forms show. The Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors spent $150,000 trying unsuccessfully to defeat a new city requirement that homeowners disclose their annual energy use as part of any home sale. The real estate lobby spent the money on a campaign that included polling and direct mail, to rally homeowners to defeat the policy, passed Dec. 14 as one of the final environmental priorities of Mayor Charlie Hales. Ride-hailing giant Uber set the previous lobbying record, spending $50,000 during the second quarter of 2015.
Police Shooting of Portland Teenager Reignites Outcry
Quanice Hayes, 17, was fatally shot by a Portland police officer Feb. 9. Hayes' death during a robbery investigation—police say he carried a fake gun—was the first killing of a black person by Portland police in nearly seven years, and has reignited questions about justice for people of color in this city. "We remember him as a vivacious, outgoing and loving soul who marched at the beat of his own drum," said Venus Hayes, Quanice's mother, at a Feb. 12 vigil.
Gov. Kate Brown Cuts Costs on Chief of Staff
Two things that don't often happen occurred when Nik Blosser replaced Kristen Leonard as Gov. Kate Brown's chief of staff this month: The cost of government went down and a man got paid less than a woman for equal work. Leonard, who stepped down abruptly after WW raised questions about undisclosed potential conflicts of interest, made $180,552 annually. Blosser, a co-founder of the Oregon Business Association and Chinook Book, is making $168,276. Records show Brown requested a 6.6 percent pay premium for Leonard that applied only to her and not to her position. Brown spokesman Chris Pair declined to comment.