Blumenauer Again Asks Congress to Honor Stabbing Victims

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is renewing his call for congressional Republicans to allow a vote on a resolution honoring three men stabbed May 26 on a Portland MAX train by a white supremacist. That resolution has been stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives for two months ("No Honor," WW, July 18, 2017). In a letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Aug. 14, Blumenauer says the symbolic gesture is newly urgent in the wake of hate attacks last weekend in Charlottesville, Va. "When the U.S. House of Representatives reconvenes, I ask that we, as a body, make clear that we stand in solidarity against white supremacy, hate and intolerance," Blumenauer writes. "Part of this stand should be formally thanking three brave Oregonians."

PPS Board to Investigate Its Acting Superintendent

The Portland Public Schools board is hiring an outside law firm to investigate allegations against the district's interim superintendent, Yousef Awwad, including that he had a personal relationship with a female subordinate, sources tell WW. The investigation arises from a personnel complaint filed against Awwad, as WW first reported. It is not yet clear what the complaint alleges, but it deals with whether Awwad's personal behavior with the subordinate violated district policy. Board Chairwoman Julia Brim-Edwards declined to discuss specifics. "As a board chair, I take complaints filed with the board seriously," she says. Awwad denies any wrongdoing.

Familiar Faces in Line to Replace Sheketoff

The search to replace Chuck Sheketoff, longtime executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy, is nearing conclusion. Sources familiar with the search say candidates include two politicos: former state Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-Portland) and onetime Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick. The OCPP, a left-leaning think tank, provides research on policy issues and serves as a watchdog on legislative matters. Sheketoff, who's worked for the organization since its founding 20 years ago, says he may seek another policy job, or take up metal art. "Pounding on an anvil may be better stress relief than going to the Capitol every day," he says.

Dembrow Email Raises Eyebrows

State Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) gets high marks for transparency for a fundraising email he sent out this week, but he also underlines the need for higher legislative pay and campaign finance reform. In his email, Dembrow asked donors to give him money so he can pay his legislative staffers bonuses. "Given the need to supplement their monthly salary with campaign funds, I need to come to you with this request now," Dembrow wrote. By asking donors to help him pay staffers, Dembrow is allowing them to create a special relationship with the aides who control his schedule and brief him on issues. Dan Meek, campaign finance reform advocate, says Dembrow's actions comply with Oregon's anything-goes campaign laws. "That doesn't mean it's appropriate," Meek says. Dembrow says his ask is aimed at constituents, not lobbyists. "Until we can raise salaries," he says, "I think direct outreach makes sense."