- Usually a well-financed incumbent like senior U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) would only face token opposition. But with Dems playing defense after Republican Scott Brown’s upset victory last month in Massachusetts and the unexpected retirement of other D’s such as Indiana’s Evan Bayh this week, Oregon’s GOP appears to have located a name prospect for 2010. He’s Lewis & Clark Law Prof. Jim Huffman, who contributes regular op-eds to The Oregonian. Huffman is being cagey about an announcement but tells WW he will make a “public announcement of any plans in a few weeks.”
- The civil lawsuit set for trial in June over the 2006 death of James Chasse Jr. in police custody should stay in Portland, at least for now. U.S. District Court Judge Garr King ruled Feb. 16 against the city of Portland’s request to move the lawsuit brought by Chasse’s family. The city cited media saturation about the case in its request. King ruled the city had failed to prove it couldn’t find a fair jury. But the judge warned the trial might still move if inflammatory media stories crop up.
- The woman who says John Minnis sexually harassed her has filed notice she will sue the state and Minnis, former director of the state agency that certifies public safety officers. As first reported Feb. 12 on wweek.com, the notice filed by Minnis’ former subordinate alleges an “ongoing pattern of sexual harassment.” Minnis, a Republican former state lawmaker who’s married to ex-House Speaker Karen Minnis (see “My Wife’s Gonna Freakin’ Shoot Me,” WW, Dec. 9, 2009), resigned under pressure in November as head of the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training when the allegations surfaced. Minnis’ attorney, Michael Staropoli, has declined to discuss the case with WW.
- Biting the hand that feeds you: State Sen. Mark Hass (D-Raleigh Hills) raked in $7,500 worth of donations from grocery and drug stores in a single day last fall. But in a refreshing show of independence, Hass turned right around this month in the special legislative session and introduced a bill that would have banned plastic grocery bags, costing his benefactors millions. The bill died last week but Hass says he will likely reintroduce it in the 2011 session.
- So much for Senate Bill 1026, which would have provided the OLCC with an early intervention tool to restrict alcohol at problem liquor establishments (see “The Bar Bill,” WW, Feb. 10, 2010). The bill got to a Senate Business and Transportation Committee hearing last week (WW incorrectly reported the committee in last week’s story) but the measure went no further in this month’s abbreviated legislative session. The committee chairman, Sen. Rick Metsger (D-Welches) tells Murmurs there’s wasn’t enough evidence to support the change, saying “If you can’t identify a problem with examples, it’s hard for the legislators to” OK the measure. The bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Tina Kotek and Sen. Jackie Dingfelder (both D-Portland), say they’ll bring the bill back next year. IMAGE: Thomas Cobb