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December 14th, 2011 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: Our Oregon Ballot Bombs, the Kitz Fund and Coveting thy Neighbor’s Car

Riding that Occupy wave.

  • The union-backed advocacy group Our Oregon quietly dropped 13 potential ballot measures with the Oregon Secretary of State’s elections division last week. The measures have names such as “Millionaires Should Pay Their Fair Share,” “Large Corporations Should Pay Their Fair Share,” and “Fund Schools, Not the 1%.” Sound familiar? Unions have been backers of the Occupy movement from the start and continue to exploit its message. The proposed Our Oregon measures—they still need to qualify for the ballot—could revive the class warfare that marked the battle around the passage of 2010 income and business tax hikes. What’s different here: Our Oregon is going on the offense instead of playing defense against anti-tax measures, as they have for most of the past decade. “The Occupy movement has brought to the forefront issues we’ve talked about for a long time,” says Our Oregon spokesman Scott Moore.
  • Getaround, a San Francisco-based car-sharing startup, will get about two-thirds of a $1.7 million federal transportation grant to bring its service to Portland. Getaround works like Zipcar, except you don’t rent a car from the company’s fleet—you rent from your neighbors, whose cars are retrofitted with smartphone-enabled door locks and GPS tracking units. Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesman Dan Anderson says Getaround approached the city last winter about applying for a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to expand the car-sharing service, already running in the Bay Area. The 2011 Legislature passed a bill that makes car-sharing legal in Oregon. Anderson says the rest of the grant will go to the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium at Portland State University to study the service. The service starts February, but one silver Honda Civic, parked at Southeast 33rd Avenue, is already listed on getaround.com.
  • In the No Hard Feelings Dept.: Nike chairman and co-founder Phil Knight raged when Gov. John Kitzhaber and his higher ed board fired University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere last month. Knight called the board’s decision to boot the wave-making UO chief—and Kitzhaber’s decision to go along—“an embrace of mediocrity.” (The firing may be proof that UO is not a Nike subsidiary after all.) Well, when it comes to embracing, it’s now time for hugs all around. As first reported on wweek.com, Nike gave Kitzhaber $10,000 on Dec. 9, just over two weeks after Lariviere’s firing. It’s the single biggest contribution to the governor since he took office in January.
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