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June 18th, 2014 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: The Moment Of Silence For Kutai Is Over.

murmurs_4033STANFORD - IMAGE: Leah Nash
  • There has been a troubling silence from the elected officials who run Metro about problems concerning the highest-profile enterprise they oversee, the Oregon Zoo. WW first reported six cotton-top tamarins that died at the zoo last month probably expired from stress-related shock after traveling for at least 50 hours in a van from Harvard Medical School. Documents released by Metro also show zoo officials questioned why the veterinary staff made the monkeys nests using plastic picnic coolers with air holes cut in them. Metro recently fired the zoo director and chief veterinarian (“12 Mammals That Matter to the Oregon Zoo,” WW,  May 28, 2014). WW has asked Metro President Tom Hughes and Councilors Shirley Craddick, Carlotta Collette, Craig Dirksen, Kathryn Harrington, Sam Chase and Bob Stacey to comment about the zoo’s troubles. The response so far? Silence from all but Hughes, who says he supports zoo workers. “No one,” Hughes says, “feels worse about the loss of an animal at the zoo than our staff who dedicate their lives to caring for them.”
  • The grip that the Unger siblings have on Democratic politics in the state continues to tighten. On June 11, Our Oregon, the powerful, union-backed advocacy group that specializes in ballot measures named one-term state Rep. Ben Unger (D-Hillsboro) as its new executive director. Unger isn’t seeking re-election. Meanwhile, his sister, Melissa Unger, will take over as political director of Service Employees International Union Local 503, the state’s biggest public employees union. She’s been a key player in the union’s get-out-the-vote efforts. She replaces Arthur Towers, who’s going to work for the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association. Ben Unger attributes growing up on a farm to the sibilings’ success. “Sitting on tractors for much of our lives,” he says, “gave us time to plan.”
  • One petition drive to legalize marijuana seems to be succeeding, while troubles for another continue. New Approach Oregon’s nationally backed initiative reported June 16 that it’s gathered enough signatures to make the November ballot. Meanwhile, Paul Stanford’s Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp has gathered just half the signatures it needs. As wweek.com first reported, its workers went on strike last week after claiming the campaign twice failed to pay them on time. They also joined forces with the Industrial Workers of the World to demand higher wages, the right to fire their bosses and free pot. Stanford says his employees were paid—just two business days late. The state Bureau of Labor and Industries in 2011 and 2012 ordered Stanford to pay employees who said they didn’t get paychecks.
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