1. On Nov. 7, the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that the Oct. 14 death of Cougar Burleigh—a 38-year-old Olympia, Wash., man who was found at about 3:30 am Oct. 12 on the west side of the Burnside Bridge without his pants, cellphone and ID—was a homicide. As first reported on wweek.com, the ruling marks a significant reversal. The medical examiner initially ruled the circumstances of Burleigh’s death from a severe head injury were “undetermined.” Portland police said they suspected Burleigh, who was intoxicated after a night of barhopping, had accidentally fallen to his death, so they initially declined to open a criminal investigation. But under pressure from Burleigh’s family, police located witnesses who said Burleigh had been involved in some sort of “confrontation” before he fell. “We knew it was a homicide from Day One,” says Nancy Shadley, Burleigh’s stepmother.
  1. Portland’s most popular schools are under threat, but some education advocates say that’s a good thing. On Nov. 10, the Portland School Board heard a proposal to curb neighborhood-to-neighborhood student transfers and to limit preferential placement of siblings when admitting students to coveted magnet programs such as Da Vinci Arts Middle School. Both policies currently favor white and upper-income families. The proposed changes have huge implications for Portland’s livability and quest for racial inclusion. Proponents of the current system say parents’ ability to send their children to schools outside their neighborhoods keeps middle-class families in Portland. Those families are crucial to the district’s financial strength. But critics say neighborhood transfers weaken neighborhood schools. Sibling placement contributes to the disproportionate number of white and upper-income students at schools like Da Vinci, and critics of the current system say that’s not fair to lower-income and minority students. “We want the district to design a system where the color of a student’s skin does not predict success, as it currently does,” the proposal reads.
  1. The ride-sharing startup Uber keeps driving closer to Portland. The San Francisco company, which enlists drivers to use their own cars as de facto taxis, says it’s launching its service Nov. 12 in Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton and Tigard. Portland remains the only large West Coast city where Uber doesn’t operate—because the city’s taxi board has barred the company (“Them’s the Brakes,” WW, July 16, 2014). Uber operates in Eugene, Salem and Vancouver, Wash., without permission. But Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend says the company has the suburbs’ blessing. “Those mayors reached out to us, asking us to come,” Behrend says. Meanwhile, Airbnb reported spending $23,331 on lobbying City Hall in the third quarter of 2014. That’s when the City Council approved rules legitimizing the company’s operations (“Safety Last,” WW, Nov. 5, 2014). That brings Airbnb’s total lobbying this year to $47,614.