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January 13th, 2010 12:00 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

A Column That’s Always Dialect-Free.


  • Water Bureau director David Shaff has been busy answering questions from Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman about Commissioner Randy Leonard’s proposal that Water Bureau security guards get police certification. Leonard may re-introduce his idea to City Council as soon as February. Meantime, Saltzman appears skeptical of Shaff’s claims that bureau security guards have documented enough crimes to justify the costly certification, which would empower guards to carry guns. In a highly unusual move, Saltzman submitted a public records request to the bureau on Jan. 8 for documentation of the incidents from 2009. Murmurs asked Shaff if it’s common for a commissioner to file a records request. Shaff’s response? “A commissioner to a bureau director? No.”

  • Beau Breedlove, the former legislative intern whose sexual relationship in 2005 with then-city Commissioner Sam Adams rocked Adams’ first year as mayor (see “Why Adams Confessed,” WW, Jan. 21, 2009), has relocated to Provincetown, Mass. Breedlove, now 22, says he’s looking for a fresh start. But he will keep in touch with friends here through his blog beaubreedlove.wordpress.com.

  • Portland firefighter-turned-chef Tom Hurley won a big victory at arbitration last week. Hurley went out on permanent disability in 1994 after a back injury. Then, in April 2007, the City of Portland fired Hurley—who said he was then working 12- to 14-hour days as a chef-restaurateur—because Hurley ignored an order to return to a newly created light-duty position at the Fire Bureau. But an arbitrator ruled Jan. 8 the firing was “unlawful and unreasonable” and ordered the city to make good on nearly three years of disability payments worth an unspecified amount and reinstate him as a member of the pension and disability fund (see a copy of the arbitrator’s decision here). A city attorney declined to comment.

  • Portland Public Schools’ high-school redesign is beginning to resemble a bad chick flick’s “fear of commitment vs. fear of screwing up” plot line. After 18 months of “process,” including 10 months examining a proposed ban on transfers at the high-school level, School Board members appear to be getting cold feet. At a Jan. 7 work session, board member Bobbie Regan noted that the board hadn’t yet endorsed the idea of balancing enrollment at high schools by ending transfers. That doesn’t mean Regan necessarily opposes the idea. But it does signal PPS is a long way from making a decision. The board won’t vote on any aspect of the redesign until late February or early March, two months later than expected.

  • Two months after Portland Police Officer Christopher Humphreys used a beanbag gun on a 12-year-old girl who was violently resisting arrest, the Police Bureau appears to be sticking with its record for slow investigations. The bureau that took three-plus years to investigate the 2006 death of James Chasse Jr. (in which Humphreys also was involved) still hasn’t interviewed Humphreys in its internal probe of the Nov. 14, 2009, beanbag shooting. The chief’s office says the investigation remains in the Internal Affairs Division.

  • Petitioners this week turned in more than 60,000 signatures for a proposed November 2010 ballot initiative to create medical-marijuana dispensaries in Oregon. Board members of the nonprofit Oregon Free Green say the nonprofit dispensaries they’re proposing will raise millions of dollars for the state while providing patients with a reliable supply of medicine. The deadline to turn in 82,769 valid signatures is July 2.

  • The Journal of the American Medical Association released a study last week that supports the findings of an Oregon Health Science University doc (see “Bitter Pill,” WW, April 2, 2008) who raised questions about the efficacy of antidepressants on mild forms of depression. And a report in the Jan. 5 New York Times showing that placebos are just as effective as actual antidepressants in some instances quotes that OHSU psychiatrist, Dr. Erick H. Turner. He tells the paper that “the study could dampen enthusiasm for antidepressant medications a bit, and that may be a good thing,” adding, “The findings shouldn’t dampen expectations so much that people refuse to even try medication.”
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