Rick Miller Passes on a Political Opening
Gov. Kate Brown this week appointed Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) to the Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Council. County commissions in his district will soon appoint a successor. The big name looming over the seat—up for election next year—was Karl "Rick" Miller, the 7-foot-tall investor whom Brown appointed to the Oregon Investment Council and a panel looking at pension fixes. Miller made a fortune running the Avamere senior living chain (he gave $9 million to Portland State University, where he's the new board chairman, in 2013). Insiders speculated Miller might leverage Devlin's seat to run for governor in 2022. He's passing, reluctantly. "It's the right thing but the wrong time," Miller says. "I've made commitments, and I want to and need to follow through."
Low-Income Utility Ratepayers Getting Less Help
Portland's city utilities have offered less help to low-income customers recently, a new audit says. City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero found the Water Bureau doesn't look at "existing customer data to target assistance where it's most needed"—and last year missed its goal of aiding 10,000 ratepayers by more than 3,000. In fiscal year 2015, the year auditors examined most closely, at least 291 residences had no water for a month after not paying bills—yet water managers couldn't tell auditors whether any of the houses were unoccupied. The bureau says it has made changes to improve outreach.
Pearl Developer Invests in Rental Platform
Mayor Ted Wheeler last month announced a partnership with the startup NoAppFee.com, a website designed to make it cheaper and easier for renters to apply for apartments. The company was founded by Tyrone Poole, who is formerly homeless, and lets renters apply for multiple apartments with a single background check. Now the company has a high-profile Portland investor: Pearl District developer Homer Williams. (He would not disclose the amount of his investment.) "It's going to change the way people rent apartments," says Williams.
Humane Society Director's Dog Draws Disdain
Sharon Harmon's Facebook account of her purchase of a new German wirehaired pointer, Renn, tells of the frustrations of dealing with shelter websites ("breed ID is a lost art," she writes) and the annoyance of the paperwork shelters require ("if we approve your eight-page application, we want to meet all family members"). The tale would be unremarkable except for one big thing—for the past 19 years, Harmon's been the executive director of the Northwest's largest pet shelter, the Oregon Humane Society. This year, OHS is well on its way to finding new homes for 11,000 pets. Ron Murray, an OHS critic, says it's "hypocritical" that Harmon purchased her dog. Harmon disagrees. She says she spent a year unsuccessfully combing shelters. "I don't see anything wrong with what I did," Harmon says. "I'm not displacing a shelter dog."