Oregon Legislature Weighs Electoral College Reform

A bill that would add Oregon to a national movement to reform the nation's presidential elections had its first hearing March 14 in the state Legislature. House Bill 2927 would award Oregon's Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote under an interstate agreement, which specifies that the bill would only take effect after states with a majority of the Electoral College have passed similar legislation. So far, 10 states and the District of Columbia have passed the bill. The bill is a workaround to the requirement for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to abolish the Electoral College. The Constitution allows states to award their electoral votes in a manner of their choosing. Similar legislation has passed the Oregon House three times; Senate President Peter Courtney blocked Senate passage and says he opposes the idea this year too. Hillary Clinton won 2.9 million more votes than Donald Trump in November, but lost the Electoral College.

Portland School Board Sheds Three Incumbents

As Portland Public Schools welcomes a new superintendent and prepares to ask voters for $790 million on the May 16 ballot, its elected leadership is fleeing. All three incumbent board members up for re-election in May—Chairman Tom Koehler, two-term veteran Pam Knowles and the board's resident bomb-thrower, Steve Buel—chose not to defend their seats. But each seat will feature a contested race. In Zone 4 (North Portland), Rita Moore, a longtime district volunteer, faces Jamila Munson, a former charter school principal; in Zone 5 (central Northeast Portland), economist Scott Bailey faces Virginia La Forte, a parent activist; and in Zone 6, Beaverton teacher Trisha Parks faces the newest entrant, former board member and longtime Nike executive Julia Brim-Edwards, who announced her candidacy March 13. "The many challenges facing Portland Public Schools are not insurmountable," Brim-Edwards said in a statement. "We need bold but also level-headed, consistent and accountable leadership from the board."

Fritz Sets Off All-Gender Restroom Turmoil

The city of Portland's experiment with allowing people of all genders to share two multi-stall restrooms in the city's largest building hit a snag last week. According to emails obtained by WW, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz threatened not to attend City Council meetings, which are being held this month in the Portland Building, because of "unsafe" conditions in the building's all-user restrooms. By March 8, the city restored a women's restroom on the second floor in time for the council meeting, but on March 10 restored an all-user restroom—this time on the first floor, by converting a women's restroom. Fritz later apologized for her criticisms of all-user restrooms and made clear she supports the city's continuing effort to provide restrooms that are open to all genders. "I recognize now that the all-user restrooms on the 2nd floor of the Portland Building may have been a better option than single-gender options available throughout the building," she wrote to colleagues last week.