Members of Oregonâs congressional delegation are leaning on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a $125,500 penalty levied against companies on the hook for cleaning up contaminated sediment in the Portland Harbor Superfund site. The EPA found the Lower Willamette Groupâa coalition of 12 harbor businesses, plus the city of Portland and the Port of Portlandâhad provided reports of âunacceptable qualityâ about contaminated Willamette River fish. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, all Democrats, have complained to EPA officials (including administrator nominee Gina McCarthy last week). Spokespeople for all three say their bosses have not asked the EPA to revoke or reduce the fineâbut have shown their displeasure. Merkley spokeswoman Courtney Warner Crowell says her boss believes the fine will âcause further disputes that do not advance the goal of cleaning up the river.â Adds Blumenauer spokesman Arran Robertson, âEarlâs not lobbying to have the fine removed. Somebodyâs stirring the pot.â
The Internal Revenue Service says a company owned by Patricia McCaig, Gov. John Kitzhaberâs top adviser on the Columbia River Crossing, has a tax liability of more than $16,000. McCaig was the subject of a recent WW cover story about the $3.4 billion freeway project (âThe Woman Behind the Bridge,â WW, Feb. 27, 2013). Last month, the IRS filed a tax lien against McCaig Communications & Opinion Research, citing a tax liability (which can include unpaid taxes, penalties and interest) from 2005. McCaig tells WW she paid all of her taxes that year, was not aware the IRS thinks her company owes anything, and did not know about the lien. McCaig also faces a pending Oregon Government Ethics Commission investigation: As WW reported, McCaig has advocated with state legislators for the CRC without registering as a lobbyist, as state law requires.
Community-supported radio station KBOO (90.7 FM) revels in controversy on the airwaves, but now itâs got plenty at its Southeast Portland headquarters. Friction over a management push for lower compensation and less job security led workers in March to inform management that a majority of the 14-member staff will seek to join the Communication Workers of America union. KBOO executive director Lynn Fitch says an election is set for May. Fitch says KBOO has been losing money and members for years, and collective management no longer works. âThings have changed,â she says.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales released his much-anticipated proposed budget April 30, with big cuts to police and fire. Read WWâs analysis of other winners and losers here.