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October 7th, 2009 12:00 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

A “Human Being” Column Chip Kelly Would Appreciate.


  • A Multnomah County jury has found Del Monte Fresh Produce liable for unpaid wages to hundreds of employees who worked at the North Portland food-processing plant before a federal immigration raid in 2007. The jury ruled last week in the workers’ class-action lawsuit that Del Monte Fresh should have paid its workers for the minutes it took to put on and take off their protective clothing. But jurors rejected the workers’ claim that the company should have also paid for that protective clothing. Damages have not yet been determined in the suit, which followed WW’s undercover investigation of Del Monte Fresh’s working conditions and pay policies (see “Chop Shop,” WW, May 2, 2007). Del Monte Fresh plans to appeal.

  • Portland City Council will wade into the nationwide immigration debate next week when Commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz introduce a resolution calling on council colleagues to support the federal DREAM Act. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act would allow undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children an avenue for seeking U.S. citizenship. Opponents of the legislation, first introduced in 2001, call it amnesty for lawbreakers (see “Illegal Scholar,” WW, Nov. 15, 2006). Says Fritz, “It’s important for the city to show support for it.”

  • The recent departure from Oregon’s House Healthcare Committee of Rep. Chris Garrett, a rising first-year legislator, looked puzzling. But the Lake Oswego Democrat says he requested the shift (he’ll now serve on House Rules) to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. After the 2009 session, Garrett says, he began dating Lauren Rhoades, a lobbyist for the Oregon Health Care Association, which appears regularly before the Healthcare Committee and last year gave the House Democratic Caucus $10,000. Garrett says he won’t personally take contributions from OHCA and disclosed the relationship to the state Ethics Commission “to be as transparent as I can be.”

  • Does Commissioner Randy Leonard’s City Hall pull extend into Multnomah County? That was the question recently when Leonard worked behind the scenes to install his pick for county sheriff, Portland Police Cmdr. Mike Reese. Leonard acknowledged lobbying outgoing Sheriff Bob Skipper for Reese to take over when Skipper steps down Nov. 5. As first reported Oct. 1 on wweek.com, Skipper and others ultimately resisted Leonard’s pressure as county commissioners made Multnomah County Sheriff’s Lt. Dan Staton the interim sheriff.

  • One thing fashionistas won’t see on the runway of this week’s Portland Fashion Week is pork. Earlier this year, organizers of the sixth annual eco-fashion extravaganza requested a $300,000 federal earmark from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) to support the showcase of local designers at Vigor Industrial shipyards on Swan Island. Blumenauer, however, did not forward the request. No purses out of pigs’ ears this year.

  • Oregon will stay stuck in a club of two with Louisiana, the only other state that allows non-unanimous jury verdicts, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case from Oregon challenging 10-2 and 11-1 verdicts (see “The Odd Couple,” WW, Aug. 12, 2009). The American Bar Association and other critics of Oregon’s system say it silences minorities and leads to less-reliable verdicts. But in one of its first decisions with new Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the high court refused Oct. 5 to take the case.

  • Multnomah County Courthouse officials are taking measures to ensure the 150-200 potential jurors each day aren’t passing on the swine flu when they’re waiting in the jury room. They’ve installed hand sanitizer dispensing machines in the jury rooms to reduce germ transmission, says Barry Jennings, the court’s preparedness coordinator. Trial court administrator Doug Bray says no juror has claimed swine flu yet in an effort to get out of jury duty.
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