Portland Voters' Support Is Soft for Light Rail to Tualatin
With Portland's latest light-rail line running to Milwaukie, local officials are already eyeing the next destination: a proposed MAX line between Portland and Tualatin. But they'll need skeptical voters to approve a $1.2 billion construction bond to fund the project. The Portland Bureau of Transportation spent $49,500 on four polls in May to assess whether voters would pay between $100 and $190 a year in new property taxes to support the Portland-Tualatin light-rail line. The polls gauged whether voters were more or less likely to support the project if it also included funding for extras such as bike safety and affordable housing. But the polls found that responses to all four concepts were almost the same—only between 45 percent and 48 percent of voters said they liked the ideas. "It's encouraging to see that level of support for something that I think hasn't really been on the radar for most people," says City Commissioner Steve Novick. "On their face, the results don't give us clear-cut direction as to 'this is what the package should be,' but it certainly gives us food for thought."
Effort to Recall Salem's Most Powerful Lawmaker Fails
The effort to recall Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) has failed. Earlier this year, Matt Geiger, a former GOP House candidate from Woodburn, launched a recall campaign against Courtney, who first won election in 1980 and is the Legislature's longest-serving member. Geiger claims he fell just short of the 4,800 signatures required to put the recall on the ballot. "We were close," Geiger says. Courtney, who will celebrate his 73rd birthday Saturday, says he'll continue to work hard: "It's the only way I know how to serve." Read more.
Oregonian Staffers Sickened by Morale Booster
The Oregonian has begun rebuilding its staff—it welcomed three new reporters in the past couple of weeks—and newsroom morale after years of buyouts. But one feel-good initiative, a May 31 cake-and-coffee gathering to recognize outstanding staff performance, went awry. The Multnomah County Health Department is now investigating a potential norovirus outbreak after at least 14 people came down with stomach pain and severe diarrhea after the event. The county sent samples of the cake to a laboratory for testing, according to health department spokeswoman Julie Sullivan-Springhetti. "One person did test positive to norovirus,"Sullivan-Springhetti says, referring to the stomach-flu-like ailment sometimes called "cruise-ship disease." As The Oregonian has reported, norovirus and other food-borne disorders are increasingly common. "It was definitely unfortunate," Oregonian Editor Mark Katches says in an email. "But it won't stop us from doing these types of celebrations in the future." Read more.