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WW’s 10 Most Read Stories of 2018

The most read stories on show a year of comeuppances, closures and clobberings.

1. In 2011, Portland Police Investigated a Sexual Assault Complaint Against Billionaire Mark Cuban. He Wasn't Charged. Here's What Happened. (March 7)

The story: WW uncovered a Portland Police Bureau report from May 2011 that leveled a serious allegation against Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. A woman told police that early one morning in an Old Town nightclub called the Barrel Room, Cuban jammed his hand down her pants and penetrated her vagina with his finger. "I filed the report because what he did was wrong," the woman told WW. "I stand behind that report 1,000 percent."
Portland police investigated the complaint, including interviewing Cuban at length but could not corroborate the woman's story. No charges were filed. Cuban's attorney, Stephen Houze, denied his client did anything wrong.

Since then: WW's story followed a Feb. 20 Sports Illustrated investigation into the internal culture at the Mavericks' organization. An independent investigation by the NBA's law firm concluded in September. It found that Mavericks senior management—although not Cuban—tolerated incidents of domestic violence and harassment. Cuban cleaned house and agreed to contribute $10 million to women's groups. NIGEL JAQUISS.

2. Did a Rave Review Really Shut Down Portland Burger Bar Stanich's? (Nov. 28)

The story: In January, Stanich's, the classic Fremont burger bar, closed for a two-week "deep cleaning." By November, it still hadn't reopened. A national critic took responsibility. Kevin Alexander, a writer for the website Thrillist, traced the closure to his naming its cheeseburger the best in the country in 2017.
Alexander's mea culpa left out some context. Court records showed Stanich was arrested in 2014 for strangling his then-wife, who was battling stage 4 breast cancer. Over the next three years, Stanich repeatedly violated his probation. He denied legal problems contributed to the restaurant's closure, but the documents painted an image of a business struggling with more than just increased traffic.

Since then: WW's article captured national attention from The New Yorker, Jezebel and other outlets. Thrillist added an editor's note to Alexander's article. The restaurant remains closed. MATTHEW SINGER.

3. Oregon Grew More Cannabis Than Customers Can Smoke. Now Shops and Farmers Are Left With Mountains of Unwanted Bud. (April 19)

The story: Oregon's cannabis really grew like a weed in 2017, as a mild, lengthy summer led to a record-breaking harvest. In early 2018, the state had 1.1 million pounds of unsold flower in its tracking system. That oversupply meant wholesale prices dropped by about 50 percent—straining farms that already operate under thin profit margins and face a heavy tax burden.

Since then: Oregon did it again. Another record-breaking harvest in 2018 suggests more price drops are coming in the new year. Oregon now has 1.3 million pounds of unsold flower, and economist Beau Whitney says prices will continue to drop as long as competition in the market remains strong. KATIE SHEPHERD.

4. Portland Police Declare a Riot After Right-Wing Marchers Beat Antifascists With Flag Poles. (June 30)

The story: A far-right protest devolved into an unexpectedly violent riot June 30. Right-wing agitators beat antifascists with flag poles. Antifa struck back with bear spray. One man landed in the hospital with a cracked skull and a brain hemorrhage.

Since then: The extreme violence June 30 inspired a heightened police response to an Aug. 4 rally—an event that also drew the largest far-right crowd Portland has seen in recent years. Although the right-wing demonstrators and counterprotesters did not brawl much, Portland police used an unprecedented quantity of riot-control agents, including "flash-bang" grenades, on the left-wing crowd. KATIE SHEPHERD.

5. Recycling Is Religion in Portland. But It's in Crisis Because You're Doing It Wrong. (June 6)

The story: Portland's high recycling rates have long given us bragging rights. But changes in Chinese polices governing the importation of U.S. recycling were bad news for Oregon.

In 2016, China bought 60 of the world's scrap materials—metal, paper and plastics. But in 2017, it abruptly turned off the spigot, saying the shipments it received were too dirty, contaminated with wet garbage, non-recyclable materials and other stuff that was never supposed to be placed in blue recycling bins. The city of Portland and Metro, which had pieced together a solid waste system envied around the country, scrambled to find alternative markets.

Since then: Recycling markets have continued to struggle to find new outlets. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has continued to issue emergency dumping permits, allowing recycling companies across the state to dump material that previously got reused. Since the Chinese changed their policies in 2017, about 28 million pounds of Oregon materials collected for recycling has instead been thrown away—about 2 percent of the recyclables collected. NIGEL JAQUISS.

6. Nike Founder Phil Knight Writes a Million-Dollar Check to Republican Candidate for Oregon Governor Knute Buehler. (Sept. 6)

The story: Nike co-founder Phil Knight is Oregon's richest man, with a fortune Bloomberg estimates at $27 billion. At 80, Knight, a Republican, may not get many more chances to help elect a governor. In the 2018 cycle, he went all-in for state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend). Knight gave Buehler $500,000 in the primary, then a million-dollar check Sept. 6.

Since then: Knight kept giving—he gave Buehler $2.5 million directly, by far the largest support an individual donor has ever provided to an Oregon candidate. It wasn't enough. Buehler would raise a total of $19.4 million for his race, nearly doubling the previous Oregon record, but still lost to Democratic incumbent Kate Brown.

Brown, who actually raised even more than Buehler (a shade over $20 million) now says she will seek an amendment to the Oregon constitutional so campaign contributions can be limited. "While our elections institutions are among the best in the nation, we have more work to do to ensure that every voice is heard," Brown said in a Nov. 28 speech in which she presented her priorities for next year. "In 2019, I will work towards campaign finance reform." NIGEL JAQUISS.

7. The Third-Oldest McDonald's in America Will Be Demolished in Portland Next Month. (Jan. 26)

The story: In a moment that proved Portlanders will get their hackles up over the closure of anything if it's old enough, critics mobilized after a January announcement that the third-oldest McDonald's in the U.S., at Southeast 91st Avenue and Powell Boulevard, would be demolished to make way for a fancier one. Although it hadn't been a functioning restaurant in almost 40 years—it was preserved on the lot as a monument to the franchise's classic '60s architecture—supporters launched a bid to save the building, calling for the boycott of all McDonald's if this one was knocked down.

Since then: The building was demolished in April as planned. MATTHEW SINGER.

8. Portland Streets Descend Into Bedlam, Again, as Proud Boys and Antifascists Maul Each Other. (Oct. 13)

The story: After a Fox News panel declared Portland had descended into "mob rule," right-wing group Patriot Prayer organized an impromptu march "for law and order" that quickly broke down into a brawl. Video showed Patriot Prayer supporters and antifascist protesters beating one another. (In one video, Tusitala "Tiny" Toese appears to kick a counter protester who was lying on the ground. Another right-wing brawler walks up and stomps on the man's head.) Police broke up the violence by firing pepper balls to drive the two groups apart.

Since then: The tumult led Mayor Ted Wheeler to announce an emergency ordinance the following Monday, which proposed giving the police commissioner the power to authorize Portland police to limit the location, duration and timing of protests planned by groups with a history of violence. The ordinance died at the City Council, after Wheeler failed to rally the three "yes" votes he needed. KATIE SHEPHERD.

9. A Portland Woman Comes Forward With an Account of Being Attacked by Two Prominent Men. (Feb. 7)

The story: When Charles McGee, then the founder and CEO of the Black Parent Initiative, officially entered the race for Multnomah County Commission in late 2017, he triggered his own demise—by prompting Erica Naito-Campbell to come forward with a horrifying allegation.

Naito-Campbell had met McGee in 2010, when they both participated in a nine-month program for young leaders run by the Portland Business Alliance. She told WW that in May 2012, McGee and another man who'd also been in the program, banker Aubre Dickson, sexually assaulted her at McGee's house. "I said 'no' over and over, so many times," Naito-Campbell told WW.

Since then: McGee dropped out of the county race. His employer, the BPI, fired him. Dickson, who had been the chairman of the state's affordable housing agency, resigned that position. He also lost his job at Key Bank. The Portland Police Bureau opened an investigation into Naito-Campbell's allegations, which led to both men being indicted in May. They face trial on charges of sexual assault in March. NIGEL JAQUISS.

10. Sasquatch Music Festival Is Ceasing Operation. (June 28)

The story: The Sasquatch Music Festival—the Pacific Northwest's answer to Coachella—announced it would be ceasing operation after 16 years. The festival, held annually at the Gorge Amphitheater in central Washington, brought in headliners such as Nine Inch Nails, Outkast and Flaming Lips, along with smaller acts from around the region, including many Portland bands. But Sasquatch had been struggling in recent years, with dwindling ticket sales and a lack of identity: A youth-oriented lineup in 2017, featuring headliners Twenty-One Pilots, was roundly panned, prompting the festival to book older acts such as the National and Modest Mouse for what would turn out to be its final year.

Since then: Sasquatch is still canceled. MATTHEW SINGER.