* At his Oct. 10 going-away party, former Police Chief Mark Kroeker was coy about his next destination, saying only that he would be doing something "scary" every day--even scarier, it seems, than Portland politics. Little birds overheard his wife, Diane, telling friends he is signing on to help the United Nations restore order to war-torn Liberia, the African country founded by freed American slaves. There, rebel troops are facing off with soldiers for ex-dictator Charles Taylor, creating what aid groups describe as a humanitarian nightmare.
* WW's own theater critic, Steffen Silvis, has moonlighted his way to international acclaim. Silvis' newest play, Eurydice Rising, was named one of the year's best in the International Playwriting Festival competition, ranking among the top five in a field of more than 1,000 entries submitted from around the world. The play, a reworking of the Orpheus myth set in the Northwest in the 1920s, will be given a staged reading by the Warehouse Theatre in London next month. Silvis last won the competition in 1992, with the play Liberty Oregon. Silvis has served as WW's theater critic since 1997, and the newspaper--specifically, Murmurs--would like to take full credit for his success.
* The Oregon League of Conservation Voters released its legislative environmental scorecard this week, and some local lawmakers came out smelling like toxic sludge. Republican state Sen. John Minnis of Fairview was the only metro-area legislator to get a 0 percent rating for the 2003 session. Among local Democrats, state Sen. Kurt Schrader of Canby was the least green, with a 25 percent rating (down from 73 percent in 2001). For a full report, go to olcv.org.
* Fireworks at MERC: The Metropolitan Exposition-Recreation Commission, which operates the Convention Center, Expo Center and Portland Center for the Performing Arts, may be about to disappear deeper inside Metro. Metro President David Bragdon proposes to eliminate Washington and Clackamas County seats from the commission board and to have General Manager Mark Williams report directly to Metro rather than to his board. The tourism and lodging industry, which provides a healthy chunk of MERC's $43 million budget, is not happy about the proposed changes, crying "no taxation without representation."
* First recent traffic rankings proclaimed Portland's traffic worse than Seattle's, and now this: Our state is stupid. Battered by education cuts and a wicked-high dropout rate, Oregon took a beating in recently released rankings by an independent research firm, Morgan Quitno Press. The 2003 Education State Rankings weighed, among other things, test scores, school spending and dropout rates, and Oregon rated as the nation's 32nd-smartest polity--i.e., the 19th-dumbest, ranking below such unrenowned IQ zones as South Dakota and West Virginia. The biggest genius factory in the Northwest? None other than Montana, which placed fourth overall behind Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut.
* Has former House Speaker Lynn Snodgrass found a career as a motivational orator? According to a sign outside Southeast Portland's Hinson Memorial Baptist church, Snodgrass will be giving a talk on Oct. 25. Her topic: "Women can make a difference."