Extremist Group Adopts a Highway in Portland

An anti-government extremist group has adopted a 2-mile stretch of Interstate 205 in Southeast Portland near the Clackamas County line. The Multnomah County branch of the Oregon Three Percenters comprises constitutional fundamentalists who often show up armed at far-right protests. In April, the group adopted a stretch of I-205 between Sunnyside Road and 92nd Avenue, promising to pick up trash and remove weeds at least four times a year. The Oregon Department of Transportation says it does not deny requests to adopt parts of the highway based on political beliefs. "Keeping Oregon clean is one of the least partisan issues you can imagine," says Don Hamilton, a spokesman for ODOT. But the department has received at least one phone call complaining about the sponsorship signs, Hamilton says. The Three Percenters chapter could not be reached for comment.

Candidates Jockey for Smith's Seat

Charles McGee, founder of the nonprofit Black Parent Initiative, is "actively exploring" a run for the Multnomah County Commission seat that will be vacated next year by Loretta Smith due to county term limits. McGee, who previously considered a run for the Portland City Council, says he'll make a final decision by mid-October. One candidate has already announced: Susheela Jayapal, who left her job as general counsel of Adidas America nearly two decades ago and has since served on the board of multiple local nonprofits, including Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette and All Hands Raised.

Tax Ballot Measure Crafted in Strange Conditions

A $670 million tax increase approved by the 2017 Legislature continues to be a hot potato. Three Republican lawmakers referred the tax increase to voters. Last week, a legislative committee produced a draft ballot title that appears friendly to proponents of the new tax—the draft, for example, does not include the word "tax." Meanwhile, records show that four of the six lawmakers who drafted the ballot title recently received $16,500 in contributions from three Medicaid-funded groups who stand to benefit from the tax increase. In total, the six lawmakers have received nearly $300,000 from the Medicaid-funded groups since 2010. The four who recently accepted contributions—state Sens. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) and Jackie Winters (R-Salem) and state Reps. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) and Greg Smith (R-Heppner)—say the money didn't influence them. But state Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) says the contributions raise questions about the lawmakers' impartiality. "It's pay-to-play politics," Parrish says.

Patriot Prayer Promises "Best Behavior"

The traveling right-wing group whose street protests have enraged and frightened Portlanders returns to downtown this weekend, with promises to be good. Joey Gibson, leader of Vancouver, Wash.-based protest group Patriot Prayer, says the Sept. 10 march will be peaceful. "We have and will make mistakes," the group's website says, "but we need to continue to improve and do our best to bring our best behavior." The pledge appears to be part of a new strategy after Gibson's ill-fated trip to Berkeley, Calif., last month, where attacks by antifascist protesters earned them a rebuke by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.