State Faces Lawsuits From Former Lottery Officials
The fallout from Gov. Kate Brown's termination of Oregon Lottery director Jack Roberts in April 2016 continues. Late last month, Roland Iparraguirre, who served as Roberts' top deputy, filed a tort claim notice against the state. Iparraguirre resigned from the lottery last year and reached a settlement with the state in August 2016. But he now says the state violated the terms of that settlement by releasing to The Oregonian documents that placed him in a false light. "The State's callous and reckless approach has resulted in serious damage to Mr. Iparraguirre's reputation," says the April 21 tort claim notice. Meanwhile, another former top lottery official, Trinh Tran, filed a lawsuit against the state April 17. Tran, who worked in procurement, and assisted Iparraguirre with the $225 million replacement of the lottery's 12,000 video terminals, says senior lottery officials violated his civil rights and retaliated against him unfairly. In a lawsuit pending in Marion County Circuit Court, he is seeking $2.75 million in damages. The Oregon Department of Justice, which defends the state in court, doesn't comment on pending litigation.
Climate-Change Tax Touted as $200 Million Boon
A proposed Portland tax on big businesses to fight climate change would raise $50 million a year for projects such as solar roofs and community food gardens in low-income neighborhoods, according to the group's promotional literature obtained by WW. Last week, the paper broke the story that City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly had teamed up with environmental and social justice advocates to craft a 1 percent gross receipts tax on Portland revenues of businesses with more than $1 billion in annual sales nationally if they do at least $500,000 of business in the city. Backers offered limited details last week, saying the tax would raise at least $10 million a year. But they circulated a flier that says the tax would raise even more—and with incentives could leverage $200 million a year for projects to reduce greenhouse gases. It also says the tax would apply chiefly to retailers ("McDonald's, Starbucks, Walmart") and has 68 percent voter support. Backers say revenue estimates are preliminary. "Nothing is confirmed," says Jo Ann Hardesty, director of the NAACP of Portland and a spokeswoman for the initiative. The proposal could go to the City Council or Portland voters as soon as May 2018.
Foster Care Operator Faces to Federal Charges
Mary Holden Ayala, who for years ran one of Oregon's oldest and largest foster care agencies, Give Us This Day, is due to appear in U.S. District Court in Portland on May 30 to face federal embezzlement charges. Two years ago, WW reported Holden had allegedly neglected children in her care, failed to pay employees, and diverted much of the $1.5 million the state paid her agency annually to her own personal use. The Oregon Department of Justice shut down Give Us This Day in 2015, and Gov. Kate Brown subsequently fired officials at the Oregon Department of Human Services who for years had turned a blind eye to Holden's tactics. On May 9, after a lengthy investigation, U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams unsealed an indictment charging Holden with embezzling at least $800,000 and failing to file tax returns, among other charges.