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June 5th, 2013 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: Who Picks Up the Bill for the Tilapia Dinner?

murmurs_3931IMAGE: Willamette Riverkeeper
  • Companies on the hook for a Superfund cleanup of Portland Harbor are paying millions to study the toxicity of Willamette River fish. But that doesn’t include $920 for new metal signs, designed by the Oregon Health Authority, to warn people about eating fish from the polluted harbor. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials informally asked a coalition of companies, the Lower Willamette Group, to pay for them. “We told [the EPA] we’d be happy to consider this if they put it in writing,” Lower Willamette Group spokeswoman Barbara Smith says. “They haven’t put it in writing.” But the EPA claims it couldn’t do that because the signs are outside its agreement with the companies. So the companies folded their arms while an environmental group, Willamette Riverkeeper, paid for four of the brightly colored signs.
  • Legislative action on guns may not be dead after all. After finding success in Colorado, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund is working to revive Oregon gun-control bills after four measures died in Salem. Lobbyists Jake Weigler and Len Bergstein, hired by Bloomberg’s group, declined to comment. But a key lawmaker, Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), told constituents in a Facebook post last week that there are bipartisan talks about “reasonable gun background check legislation.”
  • Mayor Charlie Hales has labeled some Portland legislators “hypocritical” for saying they want police reform while supporting a bill he says would undermine his efforts to decertify the union for Portland police commanders. Hales claims the measure, HB 2418, would expand union protection for supervisors so broadly even Police Chief Mike Reese would be eligible for it. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Greg Matthews (D-Gresham), passed the House in March and got an OK from the Senate Committee on General Government, chaired by Sen. Chip Shields (D-Portland). “Hyperbole,” Shields says of Hales’ claims. “The city’s credibility is plummeting around here because of it.” Responds Hales: “We’ll have union members disciplining other union members. Let us know how that works out.”
  • Portland’s famously bespectacled ex-mayor now has a line of designer glasses named for him. The Sam Adams are frames created by Portland-based Eyewear Design Alliance. Company president Paul Vu tells WW the frames are made of buffalo horn, which he calls a “sustainable, natural product.” Adams reviewed hundreds of options before settling on the design. Vu predicts the frames will be popular, even at a price between $400 and $1,400 retail. As Vu tells WW, “There’s going to be a lot of people wearing Sam on their face.”
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