|BOARD MEMBER BERNIE|
- Bernie’s back! Former Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto filed March 19 at the last minute to run in the May election for a spot on the Multnomah Educational Service District board. And you can congratulate him now since he’s unopposed for the unpaid post. Giusto has been refereeing high-school football and basketball since he resigned last summer amid an ethics scandal. He tells Murmurs, “It’s time to get back to public service, which I’ve done my whole life, whether it’s paid or unpaid.”
- Jeff Cogen wants to raise taxes—on tourists. The Multnomah County commissioner will ask his board colleagues to hike the county’s car-rental tax from 12.5 percent to 17 percent, raising an extra $5 million a year for the budget-strapped county. Cogen spokeswoman Karol Collymore says business leaders “aren’t happy” with the plan, but that visitors can afford to pay an extra $3.45 a day to help fill the county’s $45 million budget shortfall. Says Collymore of the $3.45, “It’s a grande latte.”
- Mayor Sam Adams has run into opposition from the normally friendly Bicycle Transportation Alliance. The 5,000-member group is holding an April 5 rally against the plan Adams got City Council to OK for a 12-lane I-5 bridge over the Columbia River.
- Metro tossed the long-discussed Convention Center “Headquarters Hotel” back to Mayor Adams in December because it penciled out as a big-time financial loser. But Adams’ expert panel has found something Metro apparently missed. The panel says the project might work with additional public investment in the neighborhood and greater access to tourist tax dollars. “The Task Force concurs with the project advocates and consultants, based on current market knowledge that the decision to proceed with a 600-room hotel is reasonable,” panel chair Mark Edlen wrote to Adams on March 9.
- Those feel-good compact fluorescent light bulbs you’ve been virtuously installing? Larry Tuttle of the Center for Environmental Equity says 95 percent of them end up in dumps, and he wants Metro to consider prohibiting them that. The bulbs contain mercury, a neurotoxin that easily escapes when the bulbs don’t get recycled as intended. Tuttle this week asked Metro, which regulates waste, to act before an expected local landslide of millions of bulbs expected to burn out in the next three years. Says Tuttle: “I don’t think we can wait for legislative action.” Metro is considering his request.
- A renewed effort to bring a 2012 presidential debate here is in the works. And this time, former U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) is in the mix to make a pitch to the national Commission on Presidential Debates. Similar efforts failed in 2000 and 2004. But local organizer Mark Kirchmeier, a long-ago WW writer, says Smith’s participation this time would help because it shows decision-makers that the bid from otherwise-Democratic Oregon has support from both parties. Smith lost his re-election in November to Democrat Jeff Merkley.
Read more about cyclists’ take on the 12-lane bridge plan and the recommendation by Adams’ headquarters-hotel panel.