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May 16th, 2012 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: Foodie Fisticuffs—The Lawsuit

A pig fight in court, and a watchdog ascends.

  • What began two years ago as a passion-fueled street brawl involving two foodies and a foreign pig has moved to an only slightly more civilized venue: the county courthouse. WW first reported the porcine fisticuffs following the May 17, 2010, visit of Cochon 555, a touring competition of chefs and winemakers co-founded by Brady Lowe. In a lawsuit filed April 14, Lowe demands compensation for the battery he allegedly suffered at the hands of chef Eric Bechard, co-owner of Thistle restaurant in McMinnville. Witnesses told police and WW that Bechard was incensed that the competition included meat from an Iowa pig instead of one from Oregon. Portland police arrested both men—after administering pepper spray and Taser jolts—after a fight outside Magic Garden in Chinatown. Lowe’s attorney, Sonia Montalbano, declined to comment. Bechard did not return a message left at his restaurant.
  • Good news for utility customers: Jason Eisdorfer, the longtime attorney for the Citizens’ Utility Board, a rate-payer advocacy group, has been named the top staffer at the Oregon Public Utility Commission. Eisdorfer, who most recently worked for the Bonneville Power Administration, will oversee a staff of 77 who evaluate the rate requests filed by PacifiCorp, Portland General Electric, NW Natural and other utilities. Eisdorfer was traveling and couldn’t be reached. “It’s a good sign,” says Bob Jenks, Eisdorfer’s former boss at the watchdog group. “Having somebody with a consumer advocate’s background in that job should give ratepayers confidence.”
  • Former Portland State University Vice Provost Mike Burton pleaded guilty to official misconduct in Multnomah County Court on May 14. As WW first reported, a 2011 audit turned up fraudulent travel expenses, leading to Burton’s resignation and a criminal investigation. But Burton’s plea revealed an easily overlooked warning. As wweek.com also reported, PSU didn’t want a criminal investigation of Burton, who had offered to reimburse the university. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office and Oregon Department of Justice say they’re concerned about PSU’s reluctance to pursue a criminal case—and about the adequacy of the university’s new spending controls. “We remain concerned about issues that came to light during the course of this investigation and whether adequate controls and procedures exist,” says a joint letter from Gary Meabe of the DA’s office and the DOJ’s Andrew Campbell.
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