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June 17th, 2009 12:00 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

News That Needs No Converter Box.

IMAGE: Jarod Opperman

  • More boos for a minor-league baseball stadium in Lents. The Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association wrote to City Council on June 15, to voice “strong opposition” to the proposed stadium in nearby Lents. “Residents were polled months ago on their opinion of having a lovely stadium in the neighborhood, without any mention of costs involved or trade-offs,” wrote association chairwoman Erica Bjerning. “Naturally, the stadium proved a popular idea when it didn’t have strings attached.” The Lents Urban Renewal Advisory Committee is scheduled to vote June 18 on the plan backed by Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Randy Leonard. Commissioner Dan Saltzman, the decisive third vote on the council, has said he will oppose the project if the advisory committee strikes it down.

  • Not so fast on proposals for a 6-cent hike in the gas tax and increases in vehicle registration fees. While the state Senate and House have approved a $960 million transportation package with those pieces, 1000 Friends of Oregon vows to refer the hikes to voters unless the package is amended to include vehicle-emissions reductions and more pedestrian and bike projects. “Our polling shows the gas tax increase has abysmal support among voters,” says Bob Stacey, director of the environmental group. “We are working to satisfy their concerns,” says Geoff Sugerman, spokesman for House Speaker Dave Hunt (D-Gladstone). “It would be unfortunate to see good work rolled back.”

  • The chemical industry has turned a fire extinguisher on the Legislature’s effort to ban a flame retardant used in furniture. The Senate voted 22-8 to ban decabrominated diphenyl ether, which environmentalists say breaks down into dangerous toxins. But a coalition called Citizens for Fire Safety—backed by chemical manufacturers in Louisiana, Connecticut and Israel—hired lobbyists and waged direct-mail campaigns in key districts to hold the bill up in the House. Coalition lobbyist David Barrows says the chemical hasn’t been proven dangerous and is the best fire retardant around. Sen. Mark Hass (D-Raleigh Hills) calls the opposition campaign “total bullshit.”

  • The National Labor Relations Board has ordered the Oregon AFL-CIO to provide back pay and benefits to Mari Anne Gest, a longtime political activist who alleged late last year she was fired without cause from the AFL-CIO’s Salem office. The board also ordered the union to give preferential hiring treatment to Gest if it creates a new post similar to her old one. In January, an AFL-CIO spokeswoman called Gest’s complaint against union boss Tom Chamberlain “unsubstantiated.” The union stands by that, but spokeswoman Elana Guiney now adds: “We’re glad we were able to reach a conclusion where [Gest] can move forward with her career.”

  • Portlander Martha M. Webb found an interesting obituary in the June 10 Oregonian—hers. Alive and well at age 39, despite the three-paragraph item saying she’d died June 1, Webb says she learned from police that the death notice was filed falsely by someone using her daughter’s name. The O ran a correction June 11. The paper’s protocol for obituaries requires the name of the funeral home and the name, address and phone of the person submitting the notice. Webb has her suspicions about who tricked the paper—but would not say whom she suspects.

  • If U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) and ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber decide to run against each other in the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary, DeFazio will carry one advantage: a war chest of $370,000 in his congressional campaign fund. Election law lets DeFazio—who’s speaking June 19 at Portland City Club three weeks after Kitzhaber addressed the same forum—use that money in state races. Murmurs hears DeFazio, usually a reluctant fundraiser, will be holding a fundraiser this weekend at the home of Chandra Brown, an official with Oregon Ironworks—a company that benefited from the work by DeFazio and the Oregon congressional delegations on streetcars.

  • The feds last week announced a reprieve for widows currently fighting deportation because they weren’t U.S. citizens when their spouses died. But it remains unclear whether that new Homeland Security policy will help previous victims like ex-Portlander Rose-Marie Barbeau Quinn, the 70-year-old who owned the Vat and Tonsure restaurant (see “Bill of Fair, WW, July 2, 2008), before her deportation to Canada in October 2005. “They say the details are coming soon, but we don’t know when,” says Quinn’s attorney, Brent Renison. Quinn is in Portland temporarily to tie up loose business ends.
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