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July 24th, 2013 WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs
 

Murmurs: People On The Streets…Under Pressure.

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  • A proposed state rule to run strict background checks on addictions counselors could disqualify as many as 600 workers and volunteers who help keep people sober. The Oregon Health Authority is crafting the new rules so peer addictions counselors—most of whom are former addicts with rap sheets—can be paid through Gov. John Kitzhaber’s new health-care experiment, coordinated care organizations. Nonprofits flocked to a public hearing on the rule July 22 in Portland to testify against it. “It’s not a very smart idea,” says Eric Martin, policy and legislative liaison for the Addiction Counselor Certification Board of Oregon. “A peer mentor is someone with the same life experience that can help you.” Health authority spokeswoman Rebeka Gipson-King says the state is considering the nonprofits’ complaints and will make its decision by Aug. 2.
  • Layoffs aren’t the only thing reducing staff at The Oregonian. At least a half-dozen Oregonian staffers offered jobs at the newly formed Oregonian Media Group have instead asked for severance packages. Among those leaving on their own terms: City Hall reporter Beth Slovic—who resigned June 18, two days before the layoffs, to spend more time with her newborn daughter—and PolitiFact reporter Janie Har, who is going to California. “Happily, that has allowed us to rehire some of the staffers originally told they would be losing their jobs,” says Editor Peter Bhatia. The musical chairs leave Brad Schmidt alone in The O’s first-floor City Hall office—a spot government staffers hope (according to Schmidt’s own reporting) to revert to its earlier function as a coffee window.
  • Mayor Charlie Hales has big plans for City Hall refreshments. As first reported here, the mayor met with staffers in the city’s facilities department this month to discuss adding food carts, coffee carts and tables to the City Hall plaza and lobby—essentially turning the ground floor of the 118-year-old building into a cart pod. “It should make sense for people downtown to drop by City Hall to grab a cup of coffee or a snack or lunch,” Hales says. But that means chucking out the homeless camp that had taken up residence on the Southwest 4th Avenue sidewalk. Portland police evicted the campers early July 23, while Multnomah County jail inmates removed cardboard boxes left behind, and a city contractor pressure-washed the sidewalk.
  • Disgraced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is mounting a political comeback with the help of an unlikely source: Bus Project executive director Caitlin Baggott. Spitzer is running for comptroller in New York City, and the TV campaign ad he released this week includes Baggott gazing in admiration. It’s stock footage from a 2010 ad made for Gov. John Kitzhaber two years ago. “Who knew! I shoulda asked for royalties,” Baggott says in an email—and says Spitzer’s campaign has agreed to remove her image.
 
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