Smith Parachutes Into Wyden's Office: Former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith left office last week, term-limited out after eight years. Smith's first choice for new employment—the Portland City Council seat vacated by retiring City Commissioner Dan Saltzman—went instead to Jo Ann Hardesty. That defeat left Smith looking for a job for the first time since 2010. She found one: Smith, who worked for U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) for 21 years prior to running for county commissioner, is back in Wyden's office on temporary assignment. Wyden spokesman Hank Stern says Smith is tackling two projects for the senator: shepherding Oregon students through their applications to U.S. military academies and working to expand a Capitol Hill internship program for underrepresented youth. "Her experience working before in this office on academy nominations and building the summer jobs program at Multnomah County makes her a good fit for these short-term projects," Stern said in a statement.
Rent Hikes Could Be Capped Statewide at 7 Percent: The leadership of the Oregon Legislature is proposing to limit rent increases to 7 percent plus inflation each year in a new tenant protections bill this session. Since WW reported last week that the state Legislature was likely to pass rent-control legislation, the state's leading Democrats have settled on a number. The concept for a bill, which would also end no-cause evictions after the first year of tenancy, has the support of the governor's office, although a spokeswoman cautioned Gov. Kate Brown still needed to see the bill once it is drafted. Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who campaigned on rent control, says 7 percent plus inflation is still too high, calling it "disappointing."
Feds Still Getting Fed in Oregon: Although the media locally and nationally is full of horror stories about employees suffering from President Donald Trump's government shutdown, some clear-eyed analysis by the Oregon Employment Department found the damage is far from universal. "There are about 28,000 federal employees in Oregon, but two-thirds work in agencies that have funding and are not directly affected by the shutdown," wrote the Employment Department's Anna Johnson in a Jan. 8 report. "This includes the U.S. Postal Service, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Labor." Still, nearly 10,000 federal employees in the state aren't getting a paycheck, which is a significant hardship. In the last extended shutdown, in 2013, the Employment Department says about 500 federal employees filed for employment benefits.
Portland state Could Punish Academic Hoaxer: Contrarian professor Peter Boghossian says Portland State University has initiated disciplinary proceedings against him for authoring hoax papers, including one that purported to study dog-on-dog sexual assaults in Portland parks. Boghossian, who teaches philosophy of education at PSU, conspired with two colleagues to submit more than two dozen satirical papers to feminist theory and race-studies journals, in an effort to prove those disciplines are academically fraudulent. The hoax, revealed in October, drew the scrutiny of Portland State administrators—who concluded in December that Boghossian had violated PSU's policies against research misconduct by publishing findings he knew to be false. A public relations team working with Boghossian has already released statements of support from academic "free thinkers," including Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker.