Business Lobby Taps Mark Johnson

Oregon's newly formed and largest business lobbying group, Oregon Business Industry, will name its first executive director Oct. 6 Sources tell WW the pick is state Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River). Johnson now has the task of knitting together the remnants of the two groups that merged this year to form OBI: the moderate Oregon Business Association and the more conservative Associated Oregon Industries. A moderate who has often worked with Democrats on education, Johnson is well-placed to do that. But Johnson's departure from the House would also be a gift to Democrats, who outnumber Republicans by 2,200 voters in the four-term incumbent's district. Coupled with the departure of another moderate Republican who holds a seat in a blue district, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend), who's running for governor, Johnson's new job could help give Democrats the super-majority they need to pass new taxes on a party-line vote. Johnson declined to comment. OBI board chairman Sam Tannahill says nobody's been offered the job yet.

Oregon Income Inequality Reaches Record Level

A new report from the Oregon Center for Public Policy finds the gap between the state's rich and poor at its widest ever. The annual incomes of the top 0.1 percent of Oregonians—1,170 households—are at an all-time high, while a typical Oregonian's income has inched just $900 since 1980. Since the Great Recession ended in 2009, the top one-tenth of 1 percent have, on average, gotten a $1.5 million raise. It would take the average Oregonian 45 years to make that much. "Income inequality is one of Oregon's greatest challenges," says OCPP analyst Daniel Hauser.

Saltzman Not Endorsing in Race for His Seat

City Commissioner Dan Saltzman surprised Portland with the announcement last month he wouldn't seek re-election in 2018. The announcement, well in advance of the May primary, means the open seat has a wide array of viable contenders. Now Saltzman is saying he won't try to anoint his successor. "My general idea is not to do an endorsement at all," he says, before leaving the door open—"not to say that might not change." The latest name floated in the race? Mayoral staffer Andrea Valderrama, who considered but did not enter the race to challenge state Sen. Rod Monroe (D-East Portland).

Three Schools Smeared With Racist Graffiti

Three schools in the David Douglas School District in East Portland, found racist graffiti marring their buildings Oct. 2. The school district says video surveillance footage suggests the same two men vandalized all three schools—and they may be the same men who defaced the district's Menlo Park Elementary School last week. David Douglas school board member Ana del Rocio saysshe's horrified. "Whereas last week I felt like it was really tragic act of violence, now we know this is a concerted effort that is targeting children of color," she says. "It's so heinous to target children—it's so heinous that I don't know if we can wait for a political solution. I want to talk community defense."