Oregon voters desperate for any alternative to the desultory cast of major-party candidates for governor received a glimmer of hope outta central Oregon. State Sen. Ben Westlund, a live wire who represents much of Deschutes County, has left the Republican Party to make an independent run for guv.

Yelps of "Academic censorship!" got the feds to restore $93,000 for an Oregon State University logging study. The money had been yanked after some profs and feds tried to bury the study's findings that logging hurts, rather than helps, trees recovering from forest fires.

Supporters of public finance for city elections look like they'll laugh last and best. Their opponents' signature-gathering effort to put a repeal of so-called "voter-owned elections" on the May ballot appears to have fallen short despite spending about $350,000. Read more at


Kids in Portland Public Schools awaiting an actual plan from the grown-ups responsible for their education can keep waiting. City Hall and the School Board have long known a harmonic convergence of expiring schools taxes was coming, but now don't even have a Plan C other than an education "summit" this week. Shhhh—if we're all quiet, we can hear middle-class parents responding by frantically dialing up private schools.

Attack of the placenta snatchers? The Oregonian reports the ghoulish news that Portland's Cascadia Placenta Registry collected hundreds of pregnancy afterbirths between 1996 and 2003, without first getting the mothers' consent. The data repository, created and financed by malpractice insurers, used the placentas to prepare reports for potential lawsuits involving problem deliveries.

A small Portland bike company, Mountain Cycle Inc., is caught in the spokes of California-based Specialized Bicycle Components. Specialized says Mountain Cycles' "Stumptown" bike sounds too much like its "Stumpjumper" line of mountain bikes, even though the Stumptown name has been associated with Portland since the 1840s.

What's louder than a TriMet bus? The growing sound of downtown businesses and others in full freakout over the redesign of the transit mall.