* OK, so it all depends on Vera: If Her Honor announces this week that she won't seek a fourth term in 2004 (as is widely expected), then Congressman Earl Blumenauer battles City Commissioner Jim Francesconi to succeed her. Lawyer Nick Fish and mayoral chief of staff Sam Adams--who met for coffee last week--are both eyeing Francesconi's seat. But if Blumenauer runs for mayor, Adams may abandon City Hall for a shot at Congress. That decision would provide an opening for County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey, who says she is "seriously considering" running against Fish but won't oppose her buddy Adams.
* Batten down the hatches! Preservative Party candidate and runaway grandma Jada Mae Langloss has been spotted in Seattle, where she is reportedly plotting a long-overdue bloodless coup against Mayor Greg Nickels. Langloss, 64, whose sharp tongue and swift wheelchair have become a familiar sight at Portland's City Hall, has apparently dismissed her campaign manager, Marshall "Uncle" Runkel (who moonlights as an aide to City Commish Erik Sten), and is stepping up her Puget Sound fundraising efforts. Word on the street is that Seattle is simply a stepping stone for Langloss, however. Her ultimate goal is the overthrow of the Alaska state legislature.
* Good news for Albertaites: Reported debt problems brought popular Northeast Alberta Street cafe-bar Chez What? to death's door last week, but scrambling staffers managed to rig a financial stay of execution through at least the end of July. Owners hope to solve the hangout's money problems once and for all come the beginning of August.
* "Destroy the dams! Save the salmon! Enforce the--huh?" Enviros may have to come up with a new rallying cry now that the Bush administration has come up with a clever solution to the Northwest's problem of federal dams violating the Clean Water Act--just change that pesky law! Back in D.C., both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation are telling the White House that the Act should be changed. That way, this thinking goes, federal dams on the Columbia River can't be held responsible for the temperature changes they cause that harm salmon. Phew! Murmurs is glad to see these people are earning their pay.
* For a while, it seemed like small-minded critics had finally gotten the better of Portland's most cosmic columnist, Maggi White, who entertained readers with her brook-of-consciousness observations in the Downtowner and Our Town for a staggering 28 years before capping her pen in 2001. But don't count your chickens! After a well-deserved break, White is coming out of retirement and is back writing her column at www.livingafter50.com. Connoisseurs will be heartened to learn that Maggi has lost none of her je ne sais pas.