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September 26th, 2012 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: Media Throwdown in Washington County

When realtors fib and foodies slice the truth.

  • It’s election season, so you can expect campaigns to be making stuff up. But the Measure 79 campaign is the worst in a long time. The measure would amend the state constitution to ban real-estate transfer taxes, something state law already does. But the campaign tells voters they must stop this “new tax,” and its website allows you to calculate the tax (which, again, does not exist) on your house. The National Association of Realtors and Oregon Association of Realtors—spending a collective $3 million on the measure—are behind the misleading ads.
  • People walking past the entrances of the city’s newest food festival, Feast Portland, in Pioneer Courthouse Square and Director Park last weekend were told the event was for charity. Turns out the festival’s owners—who charged $650 for a weekend pass—are running a for-profit company and are not registered as a charity with the Oregon Department of Justice, which would require financial disclosure. Co-organizer Carrie Welch told WW Feast Portland plans to split all net proceeds between Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Share Our Strength. Feast was subsidized with $95,000 from Travel Portland and Travel Oregon, which are funded with lodging taxes. Welch says Feast 2013 will be registered as a nonprofit.
  • During her successful primary race in May, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum pocketed one-third of her $699,000 in campaign contributions from medical marijuana supporters, including $4,200 from the High Hopes Farm near Jacksonville. Last week, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency raided and shut down the High Hopes Farm—heightening tensions over medical pot between the feds and Rosenblum, the state’s top law enforcement officer (and wife of WW Publisher Richard Meeker). WW asked Rosenblum’s office if she was giving the contributions back. The answer: no. “At this point, the owner has not been convicted,” says Cynara Lilly, Rosenblum’s campaign spokeswoman, “and Ellen does not want to rush to any judgment.”
  • Two of the state’s biggest media powers are going to war in Washington County. The Pamplin Group last month announced its new paper in Hillsboro, where The Oregonian recently took over operations of The Argus. Now The O is looking at striking back with a new paper of its own in Forest Grove, population 22,000, where Pamplin owns the Forest Grove News-Times. “This isn’t about serving the community,” says News-Times Publisher John Schrag, a former WW news editor. “This is payback publishing. I don’t think it will fly in this town.” Oregonian publisher N. Christian Anderson III, known for his tart sense of humor, told WW in an email there’s nothing official to report yet. “If and when we have anything to announce about a new product for Forest Grove or Gresham or Astoria,” Anderson wrote, “I’ll let you know.”
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