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January 8th, 2014 WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs
 

Murmurs: News With Many Rivers To Cross.

murmurs_kafoury_4010Deborah Kafoury - IMAGE: Multnomah County
  • What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, when he ran for mayor, Jim Francesconi outraised his opponent, Tom Potter, by more than a 4-to-1 margin. In this year’s race for Multnomah County chair, however, former County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury has so far raised twice as much as Francesconi. Kafoury’s $97,000 raised to date includes checks from numerous donors who supported Francesconi in 2004, including businessman Junki Yoshida ($3,000) and developers John Russell ($2,500) and Al Solheim ($1,000). County Chairwoman Marissa Madrigal was appointed to the position after the previous chair, Jeff Cogen, resigned following his admission of an affair with a county employee.
  • Proponents of the proposed Columbia River Crossing will try to exhume the multibillion-dollar project at a pre-session legislative hearing Jan. 14. Oregon has pushed forward with the Interstate 5 Bridge and widening project despite Washington state’s rejection of the CRC last year. The Oregon Legislature’s initial $450 million authorization for the CRC has since expired. Lawmakers would do well to read a new report from Portland economist Joe Cortright before that hearing. The report, available at wweek.com, details the error-filled tolling-revenue projections compiled by CDM Smith, the consulting firm Gov. John Kitzhaber is relying on for the project. “In several cases, including toll roads in California, Texas and Virginia,” says Cortright, who’s consulting for CRC opponent Plaid Pantry, “CDM Smith has prepared estimates that were so wildly optimistic that the projects have been forced into bankruptcy or financial reorganization.”
  • Portland water officials are still mopping up former City Commissioner Randy Leonard’s messes. Commissioner Nick Fish tells WW that as soon as he was given the Water Bureau to oversee, he gave his staff an order: “Sell the goddamned Water House.” It has, at a huge loss. On Jan. 4, the city unloaded that controversial building—a water-efficient demonstration home on Northeast 140th Avenue that cost utility ratepayers roughly $940,000. The buyers, Portland couple Claudio and Kayla Vasquez, agreed to pay $394,500 (down from the city’s original $475,000 asking price). Meanwhile, the city is also ending its copyright-infringement lawsuit over the Portland Loo, which was patented by Leonard. Last year, Portland sued Roseburg company Romtec Inc. for selling a look-alike outdoor toilet. Federal court documents show the lawsuit is being settled. “We’ve agreed to terms,” says Fish staffer Jim Blackwood, “but we don’t have the final agreement.”
 
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