- Multnomah County wants to tax your smokes. During this month’s special legislative session, Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Gresham) will introduce a bill at the county’s request that would let any of Oregon’s 36 counties implement their own tobacco taxes. Multnomah County Commish Deb Kafoury says she and her colleagues envision a per-pack tax of 20 cents to 25 cents that would raise $7 million to $9 million annually in Multnomah County. “We are in a crisis,” Kafoury says.
- City Council is taking up the controversial demolition of the Dirty Duck Tavern. The 94-year-old building on Northwest 5th Avenue is a “contributing structure” in the Chinatown National Register Historic District. But the tavern is slated for destruction to make room for the new three- or four-story Blanchet House of Hospitality (See “Helter Shelter,” WW, Nov. 14, 2007). Portland’s Historic Landmarks Commission opposes the demolition, and will take its opposition to council on Feb. 3. “Our concern is that...this sets a dangerous precedent” of destroying historic buildings, says Carrie Richter, vice-chairwoman of the commission.
- Now that those pesky tax measures are history, gubernatorial candidates can start tapping donors in earnest. Chris Dudley, a Republican, leads the pack so far, having raised $205,000 this calendar year. Notable recent donations to the ex-Blazer-turned candidate: $25,000 from Portland investor James Bisenius and $10,000 from real-estate magnate Harold Schnitzer. On the Democratic side, ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber leads this year with $112,000. His notable recent checks: $10,000 from John Carter, chairman of Schnitzer Steel and former business partner of ex-Gov. Neil Goldschmidt; and $1,000 from former Secretary of State Norma Paulus—a GOP stalwart.
- When Mayor Sam Adams announced last month that the City of Portland would eliminate or reduce city fees paid by the Rose Festival, the City Council made the event Portland’s “official” celebration. In 2009, those fees totaled $225,000 to Portland Police and to Parks and Recreation. But Portland’s official “living room”—Pioneer Courthouse Square—is getting caught up in citywide budget cuts. The square, which faces an $80,000 reduction in city aid, gets about $600,000 a year for maintenance and security.
- The Made in Oregon sign might stay dark until at least summer, says Ty Kovatch, chief of staff to Commissioner Randy Leonard. The neon billboard’s owner, Ramsay Signs, has agreed to donate the iconic sign to the City of Portland. But city attorneys are still wrangling over the transfer’s details. Art DeMuro, whose Venerable Development owns the White Stag building on which the sign sits, says parties are meeting Feb. 5 to discuss the sign. “It’s a very complex transaction,” DeMuro says. “Everyone’s on the same page in trying to make it happen as quickly as possible.”
- Reed College senior Gabriel Holt recently ruffled the feathers of local animal rights activists. Holt planned to teach a one-time class called “Chokin’ the Chicken” during Paideia, Reed’s annual offering of not-for-credit courses taught by students and alumni the week before spring semester. Holt, a 22-year-old sustainable-living advocate, intended to kill about seven chickens as part of his class, which he billed as teaching students “how to properly slaughter, clean, and dress a chicken.” Then he started getting angry emails and Facebook messages. And the Portland Animal Defense League demonstrated outside his house to protest what it called Holt’s “murderous lifestyle.” Holt held the class anyway, with refrigerated, store-bought chickens. “Saying that I don’t value the life of animals is absurd,” Holt says. “I was trying to foster in people a greater connection with where their food is coming from. My intention was to raise awareness of where your food comes from and what it takes to get it from the farm to your plate.”