Updated February 26, 2013 Published February 26, 2013
City officials were flushed with pride last November over news that the Portland Loo open-air public restroom they sold to Victoria, B.C., had been voted âCanadaâs Best Toiletâ in a national poll. But documents obtained in a lawsuit against the city show analysts for the Portland Water Bureau used city email to drum up a social-media campaign soliciting votes in the contest. âConsider strategy to get 5-10 people or groups to nominate Portland Loo in this contest,â wrote one Water Bureau employee in a May 2012 email. âWill you three be able to tell us how many folks actually nominated the Loo?? Many thanks.â The plaintiffsâwhose lawsuit over the Water Bureauâs use of utility funds turned up the emailsâarenât grateful. âWe are disappointed that Portland water ratepayersâ hard-earned dollars were spent on staff time to artificially impact a contest,â says John DiLorenzo Jr., the ratepayersâ lawyer. Water Bureau director David Shaff says the employee was doing her job. âThe idea was to market the Loo,â Shaff says. âThat would be one way to do it.â
State Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) is taking some heat for her comments during the Feb. 22 Oregon House debate over a tuition-equity bill to allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition. Parrish bucked her caucus with a âyesâ vote on the bill, which passed 39-17. But she also used the occasion to distribute copies of a flier from a constituent to the 59 other House members highlighting the sexual assault of the constituentâs daughter by a scary-looking Latino man. Many thought Parrishâs timing was inappropriate and distasteful, given that the tuition debate focused on Latino immigrants. Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson (D-Portland) took offense, accusing Parrish of âscare tacticsâ and being âincredibly hypocritical.â Parrish says no constituent had ever asked her to distribute such a flier beforeâand that sheâd do it again, even if it conflicted with her position. âI donât have to agree with everyone to represent them well,â Parrish says.
A pollster who worked on last fallâs failed pot legalization initiative says the measureâs primary backer, Paul Stanford, still owes him moneyâbut the money and Stanford have gone up in smoke. Mike Riley, owner of Portlandâs Riley Research Associates, tells WW he did polling last summer for Stanford, chief proponent of Measure 80, who owns a chain of medical-marijuana clinics. Riley says Stanford never paid him his $2,500 fee. âHe thought the poll would show a lot more support for the measure than it did,â Riley tells WW. âHeâs become invisible since the poll.â Measure 80 failed with 45 percent of the vote. Stanfordâwho personally paid much of the $400,000 spent to get the initiative on the ballotâdidnât return WWâs phone calls.