Homeless Conversation Money Finds New Home
Earlier this year, the Office of Neighborhood Involvement was criticized for its plan to spend $350,000 to hold a series of community meetings on homelessness ("Talk It Out," WW, Jan. 11, 2017). But in fact, $62,000 of that money went to a very different cause. It was spent on a $171,500 severance package for bureau director Amalia Alarcón de Morris, who was pushed out by City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly when Eudaly took over the bureau. The bulk of the disputed money—$230,000—won't go to community meetings but will pay the salaries of two staffers tasked with persuading neighborhood associations to help homeless and poor people find housing. "We determined that this money would be better spent by hiring people who will help the city deal with the ongoing housing and homeless issues we are seeing across Portland," ONI interim director David Austin says.
Portland's Resistance and Mayor in Talks
Portland's most prominent protest group had its first meeting with Mayor Ted Wheeler on June 27. Both sides expressed optimism the city will consider three criminal justice reforms: improving sanctuary-city protections for undocumented immigrants, ending racial disparities in police enforcement, and limiting confrontations between Portland police and protesters. "I think they listened and are responsive," says Portland's Resistance co-founder Greg McKelvey. The mayor's office agreed the meeting went well. "It's highly possible that there's some overlap in our agendas," says Wheeler spokesman Michael Cox.
Soda Tax Won't Pop Its Top Till 2018
What promised to be the biggest-dollar tax measure on a quiet November ballot will now move to 2018. That's the decision made last week by the group pushing a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax in Multnomah County on sweetened drinks, including sodas, teas and energy drinks. Proponents, backed by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, spent $8 million to pass a similar measure in San Francisco last year. The drink industry spent $22 million trying to defeat the tax. "With the craziness of the legislative session and the lack of a state budget, we are looking to 2018," says Christina Bodamer, a lobbyist for the American Heart Association's Oregon chapter. She's not sure whether the coalition will shoot for the May or November ballot. "We are keeping all options open," she says.
President Trump Visited Portland After All
Over the holiday weekend, President Donald Trump revved up his rumble with "fake news" by tweeting a video of himself wrestling with a foe labeled "CNN." That video originated from Trump's appearance at WWE WrestleMania 23—with a lead-up that included a February 2007 stop at Portland's Rose Garden. WW covered that event, which included the man who is now president telling Vince McMahon, "I'm taller than you, I'm better looking than you—and I will kick your ass!" We found the full report in our archives; read it at wweek.com.