Opponents of a proposed publicly subsidized hotel at the Oregon Convention Center were planning to force a vote on the question in the November 2014 election. Project opponentsâdowntown hoteliers who object to the $80 million subsidy underpinning the dealâwanted to challenge the way Multnomah County would handle lodging taxes in the deal. But county counsel Jenny Madkour last week determined that part of the deal isnât subject to a public vote. Metro, the regional government, is leading plans for the $200 million Hyatt hotel project. Representatives from hotel opponents didnât respond to WWâs calls to say if they would challenge the county counselâs decision. âThereâs an opportunity for appeal,â County Chairwoman Marissa Madrigal tells WW. âWeâll do whatever the court compels us to do.â
Salvador Ibarra, a witness in a massive immigration fraud case, remains in a federal detention lockup in Tacoma, awaiting deportation to Mexico. But one of Ibarraâs attorneys, Alison Hall Sundby, says sheâs more optimistic now that U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshallâs office has twice communicated an interest in helping keep Ibarra in the United States since WW wrote about him last week (âBetween ICE and a Hard Place,â WW, Dec. 25, 2013). âThey are initiating efforts on their end to continue working with him as a witness and helping to secure his release from Tacoma,â Hall Sundby says. âThey are interested in ensuring heâs available.â Ibarra can provide evidence of fraud that was the subject of a recent cover story (âGreed Card,â WW, Nov. 27, 2013) about two southern Oregon ânotariosâ who allegedly bilked scores of undocumented residents out of as much as $1 million with phony promises of help with immigration paperwork. Marshallâs office, which has not brought charges in the case, didnât respond to questions.
Progressive radio host Carl Wolfson is coming back to the airwaves this month. Nonprofit startup XRAY.FMâwhich aims to return talk-show personalities Wolfson and Thom Hartmann to Portland radio alongside local indie-rock showsâin 14 days collected $44,000 on fundraising website Kickstarter. Thatâs more than it needs to begin broadcasting in January as KXRY 90.1 FM. The pledge drive is organized by former state representative and Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith, who is returning to public life with his own XRAY.FM talk show (âAir Apparent,â WW, Oct. 9, 2013). Smith is looking for further donations to buy âa station larger than a breadbox.â If XRAY.FM raises enough money, Smith says, the station will seek a studio with a restroom.