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October 3rd, 2012 WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs
 

Murmurs: A Columbia River... Tunnel?

Taking the CRC debate underground.

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  • Mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith has released a 1994 settlement agreement that got him off the hook for a misdemeanor assault charge. Smith, then a University of Oregon student, injured a woman during a scuffle with her at a party in late 1993. The agreement notes that the woman required stitches and received treatment in a hospital emergency room. In the settlement, Smith admitted his conduct was “wrongful”; promised to stay out of trouble for six months; perform 20 hours of community service and pay $400 to 500 in medical bills. Smith has said he was only defending himself from the woman, who witnesses say was striking him.
  • Forest Grove-based Stimson Lumber has been pouring money into an independent campaign expenditure group called the Oregon Transformation Project political action committee—$630,000 since last fall. It’s trying to turn Clackamas County into a GOP stronghold and break the Oregon House’s 30-30 deadlock between Democrats and Republicans. Now the Oregon Transformation Project has unleashed some of that money in a mailer attacking Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha) and government-employee pensions. “Jeff Barker says he wants to retire,” the mailer reads, “and if you had a government-funded pension worth more than $100,000 a year to retire on, wouldn’t you?” Barker, who earlier talked about leaving the House, is a former Portland cop who collects $79,104 annually through the city’s Fire and Police Disability and Retirement fund. Oregon Transformation Project’s Bridget Barton claims her group is guessing at Barker’s future pension benefits if he also collects for his legislative years from the Public Employee Retirement System. “They’re just making it up,” Barker says. “They’re just lying.
  • Forget the $160 million and the better part of a decade spent trying to string together plans for the Columbia River Crossing, which includes new Interstate 5 spans between Washington and Oregon. Why not just take the tunnel? Two friends who travel between Vancouver and Portland have produced a new “permit” sticker for a fictional Columbia River Tunnel. “We spend a lot of time in traffic and thought this was a fun way to make people smile as they do a double-take,” says project co-founder Jennifer Rego. CRC planners did briefly consider a tunnel, but Rego says she and her partner, Keith Mages, aren’t proposing one. They say theirs is just a humorous take that celebrates the beauty and splendor of the Columbia and nearby Gorge. The stickers are on sale at columbiarivertunnel.com or at Frock and Local Discoveries on Northeast Alberta Street.
 
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