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

Murmurs: Somthing Rotten in Tomatogate

Have you been snared in an illegal speed trap?

murmurs.smith.tomaters_3825SMITH - WW Photo Illustration
  • Former State Sen. Charlie Ringo (D-Beaverton) filed a class-action lawsuit April 3 in Multnomah County against the City of Portland, alleging the city has been improperly enforcing a temporary 35-mph speed limit for more than two years on McLoughlin Boulevard, also known as Highway 99E, on either side of the Ross Island Bridge. The Oregon Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction, rescinded the temporary limit in July 2009, Ringo says. But since then, the lawsuit alleges, city traffic officers have unfairly cited hundreds of drivers with $250 speeding tickets. (The stretch has long been considered something of a speed trap.) In a March 9 letter to Ringo, Senior Deputy City Attorney Dave Woboril says similar arguments in the past “haven’t gained any traction with the courts.”
  • Mayoral contenders Jefferson Smith and Charlie Hales threw tomatoes at opponent Eileen Brady at last week’s Candidates Gone Wild event by making snide asides about a “$4 tomato”—an elitism reference to New Seasons Market, the grocery at the center of Brady’s résumé. Does New Seasons actually sell a $4 tomato? WW visited New Seasons’ Arbor Lodge store on North Interstate Avenue, where an average tomato costs about $1.40. Heirloom tomatoes usually go for less than $2.50. Smith’s and Hales’ gibes at Brady seem rotten.
  • A dozen Ross Island Sand & Gravel Co. drivers say their employer is improperly shaving money from their paychecks. In a lawsuit, the drivers say the concrete company—owned by the R.B. Pamplin Corp. and run by Chairman and CEO Bob Pamplin—is deducting $67.02 from their pay every two weeks for health insurance-—after Ross Island Sand & Gravel allegedly discontinued benefits in April 2011. It’s not the first time the company has deposited health-care deductions into its own coffers, says the drivers’ attorney, Elizabeth Oberlin. “These guys have been putting up with this for years.” The company didn’t respond to WW’s calls for comment.
  • The oft-wounded plan to build a 500- to 600-room hotel adjacent to the Oregon Convention Center rises again this week. The Metro Council plans to vote Thursday, April 26, to seek new proposals for the project, which last flatlined in 2009 over concerns about tens of millions of dollars in subsidies. Metro, which owns the convention center, persuaded Mayor Sam Adams (long a supporter) and Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen (a skeptic) to agree to reviving the project. Metro’s staff report notes “public investment will be necessary” but doesn’t say how much. The winning proposal will be selected in July and the hotel is supposed to open summer 2015.
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