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August 27th, 2014 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: Still Learning From “Marge Vs. The Monorail.”

murmurs-oregonzoo_4043SPEKE’S GAZELLE - IMAGE: Oregon Zoo
  • Botched anesthesia at the Oregon Zoo contributed to the death of Sumatran orangutan Kutai in January—and triggered an investigation and the firing of zoo director Kim Smith (“12 Mammals That Matter to the Oregon Zoo,” WW, May 28, 2014). New documents released by the zoo this week reveal that the same kind of malfunctioning anesthesia-bag valve that harmed Kutai had already proved fatal to another animal last year. Interim zoo director Teri Dresler confirms to WW that the valve failed to work during a May 2013 veterinary procedure on a 3-year-old Speke’s gazelle named Abe. “We changed it after Abe’s death, then we changed it after Kutai’s death,” Dresler says. “When you look at the thousands of successful procedures we have here, it’s not even close to a pattern.” Zoo records show the 2009 demise of another gazelle, Rosi, was suspicious in a different way: “This 2.5-year-old female Speke’s gazelle was found dead on exhibit,” the pathology report says, “with a giraffe standing over the carcass and a large hoof print on the side of the thorax.”
  • The East Portland neighborhood of Lents is losing one of its few success stories from 15 years of urban renewal. The Portland Development Commission has poured more than $96 million into Lents since 1998, with little revitalization (“Razed & Confused,” WW, Jan. 22, 2014). The PDC did recruit insurance agency Assurety NW in 2007 to relocate its corporate headquarters from Gresham to an office-and-retail development at Southeast 89th Avenue and Foster Road. The urban renewal agency gave Assurety $1.8 million in loans and grants; the commercial insurer brought Lents more than 50 jobs. But Assurety NW was acquired this month by Tacoma, Wash.-based Propel Insurance, which will move Assurety’s employees to a downtown Portland office. PDC spokesman Shawn Uhlman says Assurety NW is repaying its loan, and the company is in talks with a new tenant.
  • Gov. John Kitzhaber is remaking the board of SAIF Corp., the troubled, state-owned workers’ compensation insurer (“House of Cards,” WW, July 2, 2014). Kitzhaber is taking advantage of three vacancies on the five-member board to nominate Maurice Rahming, co-owner of Portland’s O’Neill Electric; Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries; and Jenny Ulum, director of public affairs at PeaceHealth in Eugene. “I’m confident this board of directors will guide SAIF Corporation to even greater contributions to Oregon, its employers and its workforce,” Kitzhaber said in a statement. If the nominees are confirmed by the Oregon Senate next month, Stone and Ulum in particular will bring a valuable perspective to SAIF: Both worked on a hard-fought but unsuccessful campaign funded by Liberty Mutual Insurance in 2004 to break SAIF’s quasi-monopoly in workers’ comp.“I learned a lot,” Ulum says of the campaign. “It was not a long engagement, but it was educational and enlightening.”
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