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July 23rd, 2014 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: All The News You Can Fit Into An Illegal Cab.

murmurs_4038LYFT - IMAGE: Alfredo Mendez/CC
  • One of Oregon’s most prominent African-American officials has left Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office after just six months on the job, and no one will say why. Nkenge Harmon Johnson is out as Kitzhaber’s communications director, even as the governor is in the midst of a re-election campaign. “We don’t comment on personnel issues,” says Melissa Navas, Kitzhaber’s press secretary. Johnson, who joined the governor’s staff in January, declined to comment.
  • As Portland leaders continue searching for a way to fix crumbling streets and build missing sidewalks, the City Council is scheduled to send a tax measure to voters this week: a $68 million property-tax bond to fund repairs in city parks. A new report by WW’s news partner, KATU-TV, shows city safety needs are at the intersection of those two efforts. The station analyzed Oregon Department of Transportation crash data for the past three years and pinpointed where pedestrians and bicyclists have been injured within a quarter-mile of the city’s most popular parks. The city is preparing this month to release an extensive list of road repairs and safety projects that would be funded by a street fee proposed by Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick.
  • Uber, the San Francisco-based ride-sharing startup that enlists drivers to use their own cars as de facto taxis, is still lobbying Portland officials to change the city’s rules for town cars—seven months after the city’s taxi board said no (“Them’s the Brakes,” WW, July 16, 2014). Now its biggest competitor has joined the fight. As first reported at wweek.com, Lyft, another San Francisco-based startup that offers the same service as Uber, met two weeks ago with staffers from Hales’ and Novick’s offices. While Uber ran smack into resistance from the taxi board and Oregon AFL-CIO (which helped launch Union Cab in 2013), Lyft isn’t waiting for city leaders to challenge the status quo. The company is already recruiting Portland drivers online.
  • In 2012, the Oregon Transformation Project was the bane of liberals for bankrolling Republicans and anti-Portland candidates in Clackamas County (“The King of Clackistan,” WW, Oct. 31, 2012). As wweek.com reported, two major project donors this month gave big money to Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat: $25,000 from Karl “Rick” Miller, founder of Avamere Health Services, and $10,000 from Andrew Miller, CEO of Stimson Lumber. (The two Millers are not related.) It’s a bad sign for Republican nominee for governor Dennis Richardson, who got early donations from Stimson and Rick Miller but is struggling to keep pace with Kitzhaber’s money. The governor has $972,963 on hand. Richardson has $87,527.
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