- Move over, Baltimore: Portland has its own Tommy Carcetti. City Commissioner Nick Fish will make his film debut on HBO next month in American Winter, a documentary on Portland families struggling on the edge of poverty. “The most endangered species in America is the middle-class family,” Fish says in the film, interviewed in Bud Clark Commons homeless-service center in Old Town. “Once upon a time, America had policies which promoted a strong middle class.” American Winter follows economically fraught families who called the hotline of 211info, a local nonprofit providing help and information on social services. The 90-minute documentary from the makers of Taxicab Confessions premieres at the Portland International Film Festival on Feb. 17 and on HBO on March 18. (Read WW’s review here.)
- Oregon gets a lousy grade for the way the state handles its elections. A new report from the Pew Center on the States looks at 17 indicators of well-run elections and rates Oregon 37th. One area in particular note: “data completeness,” which should be a strong point in the vote-by-mail system, drew low marks. Tony Green, Secretary of State Kate Brown’s spokesman, notes Pew raised Oregon’s marks from 2008 and 2010 but acknowledges the state needs to improve campaign-finance transparency and increase the percentage of eligible voters who are registered. “Oregon has more to do,” Green says. “No question about it.”
- The verdict is still out on the Oregon State Bar’s ethics trial held last fall against prominent securities lawyers Barnes Ellis and Lois Rosenbaum, even though the deadline for a decision seems to have passed (“Crossing the Bar,” WW,
Nov. 21, 2012). Normally, the three-member trial panel’s verdict is due
28 days after the trial ends, but a dispute raised by the
defendants—who face conflict-of-interest charges—about the
official transcript meant the trial record wasn’t made final until Feb.
8. “Our 28-day clock for the trial panel to file their opinion is now
officially ticking,” says bar spokeswoman Kateri Walsh.
- While Salem politicians fast-track the Columbia River Crossing for approval, Vancouver foes haven’t given up the fight to stop the city from spending any money on the project’s plans to extend a MAX line over the river. An initiative petition to do just that fell 32 signatures short because of invalid entries, including duplicates, identified in a review by Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey. Seventy-five plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Kimsey on Feb. 11, challenging a state law requiring him to invalidate signatures that were duplicated. “Six hundred and eight Vancouver voters who are qualified, active, registered voters have had their perfectly valid signature rejected,” says Washington initiative king Tim Eyman, who is working with the Vancouver CRC opponents. “We’re asking the judge, ‘Do you agree?’” The suit was filed in Cowlitz County Superior Court to avoid judges with potential conflicts of interest.