What does $2.5 billion plus interest sound like? Like a chuckle from Robert Stoll, a Portland lawyer whose firm may be reaching the end of its 17-year lawsuit on behalf of Exxon Valdez plaintiffs. The firm's fee out of that $2.5 billion will probably be "significant" following a federal appeals court ruling last week setting damages for those victims of the 1989 Alaskan oil spill.

On the other end of the earning spectrum: if you're a minimum-wage worker in Oregon, the new year brings an extra 30 cents an hour. But don't go spending it all in one place. That annual economic adjustment in the state takes the wage to $7.80 an hour ($16,000 a year for a full-time minimum-wage worker).

The sinner whose act caused God to pull Southeast Oak Street near 16th Avenue out from under a passing sewer truck Tuesday is on the loose. In the meantime, paranoid drivers worried about random calamities have proof that massive sinkholes happen, even when Jesus is the reason for the season.


Der Scheißdreck! A typo while booking his flight online sent a 21-year-old German tourist 8,000 miles out of his way—routed through Portland to the mining town of Sidney, Mont., instead of his intended destination, Sydney, Australia. The Bavarian Blunderer deplaned in frigid Montana, sporting shorts and a T-shirt and looking for his Aussie ladyfriend.

Portland firefighters sullied their heroic image recently by filing a bogus grievance that runs counter to city voters' wishes. The grievance protests delaying until 2007 the swearing-in of 11 new firefighters. Why's that a problem? Because Portlanders voted overwhelmingly last November to put all new fire and police hires starting in 2007 into the state retirement system instead of the city's deficit-riddled system.

A new appraisal confirms what critics of the Portland Development Commission already told us. The PDC's earlier valuation of land at Southwest 3rd Avenue and Oak Street that it intended to give to developer Trammell Crow was ridiculously low. To their credit, PDC chair Mark Rosenbaum and director Bruce Warner say the agency's approach regarding the property was flawed and won't be repeated.