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

Murmurs: The Zombie Projects

The hidden $111 million hotel subsidy revealed.

sustainabilitycenter2_3845Oregon Sustainability Center - Courtesy of GBD Architects and SERA Architects
  • Metro has said publicly that a new headquarters hotel at the Oregon Convention Center would get a $10.4 million cash subsidy from the regional government and the City of Portland. But documents show the real subsidy is hidden in the fine print: The developers want another $111 million over 30 years. Under their proposal, the Portland-based Schlesinger Cos. and Mortenson Development of Minneapolis would take the money from increased hotel taxes they say wouldn’t exist without the hotel. The developers and Metro are negotiating a final deal.
  • One of Mayor Sam Adams’ pet projects, the Oregon Sustainability Center, is back on the table—this time with a private tenant. The proposed $62 million building is supposed to be the world’s tallest without a carbon footprint. But it’s been criticized as a waste of money, and lawmakers last year refused to authorize state bonds to help finance it. But WW has obtained a 10-year lease proposal between the city and Portland-based Interface Engineering, dated Sept. 10, that calls for the company to help design the building,  rent about a third of its space, and give it an option to become an owner. The new price tag is about $50 million. Oh, and it has a new name: the Innovation Center.
  • As WW reported earlier, Gov. John Kitzhaber has renominated Portland lawyer Elisa Dozono for the Oregon Lottery Commission. Three current commissioners—including Mary Wheat, a Portland cop—are protesting Dozono’s nomination because her law firm, Miller Nash, represents video lottery retail giant Dotty’s delis. “We believe these ties could possibly be perceived as special influence for Oregon’s most profitable video poker retailer,” Wheat wrote Kitzhaber on Sept. 5. The governor earlier withdrew Dozono’s name after others raised the same concerns. The Oregon Senate is set to vote on Dozono’s nomination Sept. 12. “I’ve talked to other commissioners and hope we’ll have a chance to work together,” Dozono says.
  • Budget-slashing newspaper bosses have cost Oregon another valued journalist: Longtime Albany Democrat-Herald editor Hasso Hering has been forced out as a cost-savings move by the paper’s owners, Lee Enterprises. Hering—editor since 1978 and mentor to many Oregon journalists—was famous for his contrarian editorials (which he signed) and his sharp commentary on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s public affairs show Seven Days. “All I’ve tried to do is comment on the stories I saw in Oregon,” Hering, 68, says, “and give a voice to issues that really mattered.” 
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