Schools are closing and the homeless are starving, but corporate mack-daddies and Republican lawmakers are still deeply devoted to the annual kicker, a refund of tax revenues that exceed the Legislature's predictions by more than 2 percent. This year's record payback will total more than a billion dollars, much of it padding the pockets of businesses and individuals who cashed in on the state's booming real-estate market.

Team George Bush is revving up its chain saws and getting ready to clear some Oregon brush. The U.S. Forest Service fell in line with the administration's pro-ax logging policy Friday, proposing a timber sale in the area hit by the 2002 Biscuit fire. Environmentalists say the move amounts to ecological malpractice—but who wants to listen to the pessimists?

Surviving fans of the glorified CBA franchise known as the Portland Trail Blazers found yet another slim reed of hope to cling to, as Klamath Falls window manufacturer Jeld-Wen linked up with ex-Blazer Terry Porter's longshot bid to buy the perpetually troubled team. Jeld-Wen's cash adds heft to Porter's attempt to pry the club out of billionaire Paul Allen's buttery fingers.


Ron Saxton, occasional moderate and wannabe GOP governor, got a double dose of bad ballot news this week. The right-wing Constitution Party and the freewheeling Libertarians both nominated serious candidates to make hard runs from Saxton's right, potentially shaving crucial percentage points off the Portland lawyer's final score.

A Gresham alternative high school temporarily lost its license last week after administrators neglected a little thing called a background check. The nightmare at the Academy of Alternatives started when a teacher's aide—charged with raping and sodomizing a 15-year-old student—was discovered to have a previous criminal record. For, like, murder.

Still scrambling to keep a lid on rising frustration over school closures, Portland Public Schools' credibility took another blow last week. The district's new auditor quit after hovering administrators hindered her from getting access to critical data. Those auditors—always badgering innocent bureaucrats for "the facts."