Murmurs: Portland Failing to Watchdog Uber, Lyft and Taxis

In other news: A healthcare nonprofit is funding the fight against Measure 97.

Portland Failing to Watchdog Uber and Taxis

The Portland Bureau of Transportation isn't living up to its commitment to monitor taxis and ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, according to an Oct. 12 city audit. That means, for example, that the city has no idea about comparative wait times, whether disabled passengers are getting needed service, or whether drivers are adequately responding to calls from underserved areas of Portland. But that's not the most interesting part of the audit. Owing to confidentiality agreements with Uber and Lyft, portions of the audit are redacted, putting the public in the dark even about how many rides the companies have given. (Uber and Lyft have cases pending in Multnomah County Circuit Court to keep that information secret.) City Commissioner Steve Novick—who oversees the transportation bureau—declined to comment.

Health Nonprofit Is Fighting Measure 97

Among the corporations that have poured $17 million into the No on Measure 97 campaign, one may be surprising. Health insurer Cambia Health Solutions has contributed $500,000, more than any donor but Albertsons, Costco, Kroger and Lithia Motors, all publicly traded, for-profit corporations. As a nonprofit, Portland-based Cambia normally doesn't pay taxes. But Cambia spokesman Jared Ishkanian says Cambia would be liable for Measure 97's tax, which would tax C corporations 2.5 percent on Oregon sales over $25 million. Ishkanian says federal law requires insurers that primarily sell commercial insurance to pay taxes. "Cambia is a taxpaying nonprofit C corporation that would be subject to Measure 97 tax," Ishkanian says.

Ash Street Tenants protest A&G Property Management. (Benjamin Kerensa) Ash Street Tenants protest A&G Property Management. (Benjamin Kerensa)

East Portland Tenants Launch Rent Strike

Four tenants went on a rent strike at the East Portland apartment building where a new landlord hiked rents up to 45 percent. Tenants at the Southeast Ash Street building say the rent strike is less political theater than necessity. "If I had to pay October's rent, I would be shit out of luck," says Cassandra Brown, 23. Brown and two other tenants have also asked the landlord for free rent through November to save money to move, according to Margot Black of Portland Tenants United, which helped residents form a tenants' association. "We are working really hard to accommodate the tenants' transition," says Erlin Taylor of A&G Rental Management, which runs the building and allowed tenants to use security deposits for October rent.

Mike Marshall Leaves Portland City Club

Mike Marshall, executive director of the City Club of Portland, resigned Oct. 11 after less than two years in the job. Marshall previously ran Gov. John Kitzhaber's re-election campaign, but his tenure running City Club, a nonpartisan civic organization best known for its Friday forums, was choppy. Marshall says recent events were unrelated to his decision. "Nothing nefarious," Marshall said in an email. "My partner, Rob, and I are looking to make some quality-of-life changes, and this is the first step in that direction."

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