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July 9th, 2014 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: News More Riveting Than The World Cup.

murmurs_4036IMAGE: Shinya Suzuki
  • Alta Bike Share, the Portland company that briefly conquered the national bike-share market, may soon be acquired by a private equity firm. Alta and its vice president, Mia Birk, went to New York City last summer to launch Citi Bike, the nation’s largest bike-share system (“Bikelash,” WW, June 12, 2013). Now, according to online publication Capital New York, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has arranged for the investment firm REQX Ventures to buy 51 percent of Alta to shore up Alta’s finances. A report obtained by Capital New York says Citi Bike’s results in its first 18 months were $5.6 million worse than budgeted. Meanwhile, Portland transportation officials have distanced themselves from a plan to loan Alta money to launch a bike-share system here this year. Birk did not respond to a request for comment.
  • Hahrahcio Branch, the 26-year-old killed last weekend in what police describe as a gang-related shooting, is the second member of the notorious Branch family to be gunned down outside a Portland strip club. Authorities say Branch was related to Anthony “Lil Smurf” Branch, who was killed in 1997 outside a strip club in Northeast Portland. The family could not be reached for comment. Hahrahcio Branch was killed early July 5 outside of Soobie’s Bar & Grill, which has operated as a juice bar after losing its liquor license last October. Soobie’s opened in the fall of 2000. Since then, records show, police have been called to the club 116 times, including 21 times for alleged assaults. Following six citations, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission revoked the club’s liquor license, citing “serious and persistent problems.” Club owner Brett Dye did not return a call seeking comment.
  • John Plotkin, the ex-CEO of SAIF Corp., the state-owned workers’ compensation insurer, filed a lawsuit in Marion County Circuit Court on July 8, alleging that SAIF’s board violated Oregon’s public meetings law when members communicated with each other in private about Plotkin’s May 9 termination. Plotkin’s lawsuit notes that he plans to expand his lawsuit to seek compensation for what he says was wrongful termination after just three months on the job (“House of Cards,” WW, July 2, 2014). The Oregon Department of Justice, which represents SAIF, does not comment on pending litigation. “Litigation is a regrettable step forced by the board’s precipitous action,” Plotkin tells WW. “One way to short-circuit this process would be to return me to my position to continue the work I started at SAIF.” 
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