Governor's Asset Sale Panel Is All Democrats
Gov. Kate Brown last week named the seven-member panel that will consider selling a variety of public assets—including several state agencies—to raise up to $5 billion to reduce the state pension deficit. Records show all seven people Brown appointed are registered Democrats. Should the group fail to reach Brown's $5 billion target, the lack of political bipartisanship on the panel could prove a rich target. "As if appointing a task force to address one of Oregon's biggest problems wasn't underwhelming enough already," says Preston Mann, a spokesman for the House Republicans, "the fact that the group is exclusively made up of Democrats will do nothing to inspire confidence among Oregonians that the [Public Employee Retirement System] disaster will be adequately addressed." Brown's spokesman Chris Pair declined to comment.
Popular Vote Won't Get Popular Vote
Legislation that would award Oregon electoral votes in presidential elections to the winner of the national popular vote has passed the Oregon House for the fourth time in five years. This year, Senate President Peter Courtney, who has blocked the legislation in years past, has proposed a compromise: send the issue to the voters. But supporters of the measure would prefer to scrap the idea rather than see a ballot referral. "National Popular Vote is absolutely not supportive of a referral of the bill that just passed the House," says Justin Martin, a lobbyist for the effort. "Ten other states and D.C. have passed this bill without referring it to the voters, just like the founders intended."
Sex Assault Suspect Returns
Daniel Armando Gonzalez is back in Oregon. The former Legacy Emanuel custodian fled to California after being charged in February with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl. He was captured there by U.S. marshals last month, extradited to Oregon and arraigned on June 2. He is charged with attempted sexual abuse in the first degree and private indecency related to the girl, and 34 counts of invasion of privacy for allegedly pointing a hidden camera up women's skirts and dresses at Legacy. Gonzalez was released on bail pending trial.
WW Recognized for Investigative Reporting
Breaking news from the Department of Shameless Self-Promotion: A Willamette Week report exposing high levels of lead in the drinking water of dozens of Portland public schools has been recognized by the Bruce Baer Awards, which honor the top investigative reporting in Oregon. The stories selected for special recognition were written last spring by WW reporter Rachel Monahan and former staffer Beth Slovic (now at the Portland Tribune). They detailed how Portland Public Schools compiled a database showing dangerously high levels of lead in water from drinking fountains and faucets in schools across the city—then tried to hide those results from teachers and parents. This year's first prize went to The Oregonian's Rob Davis for his series on lead in National Guard armories.