On Nov. 7, the Multnomah County Medical Examinerâs Office ruled that the Oct. 14 death of Cougar Burleighâa 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 IDâwas a homicide. As first reported on wweek.com, the ruling marks a significant reversal. The medical examiner initially ruled the circumstances of Burleighâs death from a severe head injury were âundetermined.â 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 Burleighâs family, police located witnesses who said Burleigh had been involved in some sort of âconfrontationâ before he fell. âWe knew it was a homicide from Day One,â says Nancy Shadley, Burleighâs stepmother.
Portlandâs most popular schools are under threat, but some education advocates say thatâs 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 Portlandâs livability and quest for racial inclusion. Proponents of the current system say parentsâ ability to send their children to schools outside their neighborhoods keeps middle-class families in Portland. Those families are crucial to the districtâs 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 thatâs not fair to lower-income and minority students. âWe want the district to design a system where the color of a studentâs skin does not predict success, as it currently does,â the proposal reads.
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 itâs launching its service Nov. 12 in Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton and Tigard. Portland remains the only large West Coast city where Uber doesnât operateâbecause the cityâs taxi board has barred the company (âThemâs the Brakes,â WW, July 16, 2014). Uber operates in Eugene, Salem and Vancouver, Wash., without permission. But Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend says the company has the suburbsâ blessing. âThose mayors reached out to us, asking us to come,â Behrend says. Meanwhile, Airbnb reported spending $23,331 on lobbying City Hall in the third quarter of 2014. Thatâs when the City Council approved rules legitimizing the companyâs operations (âSafety Last,â WW, Nov. 5, 2014). That brings Airbnbâs total lobbying this year to $47,614.