- Nobody slams public employees more than KXL’s Lars Larson. But until this week, Larson says he had “no idea” that Public Employees Retirement System members indirectly own his station and pay his salary. Last year, Alpha Broadcasting bought KXL and five other Portland radio stations using money from Portland’s Endeavour Capital, which got its money from PERS. “If PERS has helped fund keeping conservative talk radio strong and vibrant in Oregon, I’m a happy man, ” Larson says. “I’ll provide returns in ways their other investments have not.”
- The Portland Planning Commission just cost Portland Public Schools about $75,000. Last week, the volunteer board, which advises City Council, decided PPS would have to conduct Type III land-use reviews at seven schools where the school district made grade-level changes, including five middle schools PPS already converted to K-8s. The retroactive decision could be overturned by city commissioners. But Kurt Van Deren, a parent of a fifth grader at the school formed by the merger of Clark Elementary School and Binnsmead Middle School, applauds the decision, which he hopes will bring traffic-safety improvements to his child’s school.
- Clearwire started rolling out its WiMAX service in Portland a year ago, but the road has been bumpy for the Internet service provider. Residents of Northeast Portland’s Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood are fighting installation of a 60-foot cell tower and city officials last week busted a Clearwire sales tent downtown for repeatedly blocking city sidewalks without a permit. Clearwire has now applied for a permit.
- A free dental clinic at the Creston K-8 School in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood is closing after 47 years at the Southeast Portland public school. Administered by the nonprofit Assistance League of Portland, the dental clinic served about 1,200 uninsured low-income children a year at a cost to the league of about $250,000. In part due to budget concerns, the clinic will stop performing teeth cleanings and filling cavities on Feb. 17. Mary Stager, league treasurer, says if another group stepped forward with a credible plan to run the clinic, her group might consider turning it over to them. “It’s sad, but we’re trying to move forward,” Stager says.
- City Commissioner Dan Saltzman on Tuesday announced his candidacy for a fourth term representing Portland. He now faces six challengers who each have until Jan. 29 to gather 1,000 signatures to qualify for $150,000 in public financing. Saltzman has said he will cap individual donations at $500, and will limit overall spending to about $150,000. He spent about $160,000 in his 2006 primary campaign. “I’d use the same approach,” Saltzman says.