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January 25th, 2012 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: Casino Battle Royale and OPE Oil Sands

Where the slogan “just right” always applies.

murmurs_casino_3812IMAGE: Marcin Wichary
Tags: casino
  • The two guys from Lake Oswego who want Oregonians to approve a giant casino in east Multnomah County are back again. Last week, Matt Rossman and Bruce Studer got approval to begin gathering signatures for a constitutional amendment that would allow for private casinos in Oregon (not just one this time), with 25 percent of gross revenues going to the state. A companion statutory measure for the 2012 ballot would greenlight development of the casino on the site of the former Multnomah Kennel Club dog track in Troutdale. Their 2010 casino measure cratered when 68 percent of voters said “no,” despite a casino company bankrolling a $3 million campaign.
  • John D. Harris was arraigned in Lane County Circuit Court last month on a misdemeanor charge for allegedly attempting to secretly videotape a woman who was living in his Eugene home. The indictment against Harris, 67, says he tried to make a “visual recording” of a 55-year-old woman while she was “in a state of nudity and in a place and circumstances where she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.” (A person familiar with the case says Harris allegedly placed the camera her bathroom.) Harris, it turns out, is the president of Bi-Mart, the 72-store discount grocery chain (including two in Portland). The employee-owned Bi-Mart is Oregon’s 11th-largest privately held company, according to Oregon Business magazine. Reached at Bi-Mart headquarters, Harris declined to comment. He has pleaded not guilty; a pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 26.
  • Oilsands Quest Inc., is a publicly traded company formed to explore and develop the tar sands of Saskatchewan and Alberta. It’s a controversial practice because of the environmental impact—oil is squeezed from the earth in an energy- and water-intensive process. Turns out that Oregon’s public employees are part owners in the company. A Jan. 14 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing disclosed that the state’s PERS retirement fund holds about a 1 percent stake in Oilsands Quest. Canada’s tar sands have been in the news recently: Last week, the Obama administration put a hold on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which was to carry crude from Canada to refineries in Texas. Opponents of  the pipeline-—including U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)—cited environmental concerns. Funding tar sands extraction may not mesh with the state’s green image, but State Treasury spokesman James Sinks says the Oregon Investment Council, which decides where PERS funds go, is charged with maximizing returns.
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