Merkley Won't Run for President: U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) has ended his exploration of a 2020 presidential bid, saying March 5 he wanted instead to concentrate on seeking re-election to his Senate seat and fixing Congress. "Today, I am announcing that I am not running for president," Merkley said in a video. "I believe that there are Democrats now in the presidential race who are speaking to the importance of tackling the big challenges we face." As WW first reported, Merkley faced an obstacle other Democratic presidential hopefuls did not: He was barred by Oregon law from running for his Senate seat and the presidency on the same ballot. Merkley quietly explored getting the Oregon Legislature to change that law but found lawmakers weren't receptive.
Oregon Settles Forest Lawsuit: The state of Oregon and Lone Rock Timber Management quietly agreed last week to settle Lone Rock's lawsuit against the Oregon Department of State Lands and the Oregon Land Board. In December 2016, the Land Board agreed to sell the 82,500-acre Elliott State Forest northeast of Coos Bay to Lone Rock for $221 million. That decision came after low harvests had led the forest to become a net cost to the Common School Fund rather than producing income. The Land Board, then consisting of Gov. Kate Brown, Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, greenlighted the sale to stanch losses. But in May 2017, under heavy pressure from environmentalists, the Land Board terminated the sale. Lone Rock sued in July 2017, seeking $3.3 million, plus interest and attorney's fees. The Oregon Department of Justice, which represented the state, agreed to pay Lone Rock $750,000 to settle the case, documents show. Lone Rock did not respond to a request for comment.
Bike Parking Requirements Wheel Forward: The Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission approved an expansion of requirements for private developers to provide bike parking. If approved by the City Council, developers in a greater swath of Portland will be required to build 1.5 bike parking spaces per living unit ("Pedal Park," WW, Feb. 27, 2019). Commissioner Jeff Bachrach was the lone dissenter, saying he wished the proposal would deal with existing developments rather than applying only to future buildings. "This will have no impact for many years to come," he said. "I wish this had been presented to us as a larger program that did more for the current environment." Commissioner André Baugh replied: "The future's not that far away." The requirement now awaits approval by the City Council. The vote is expected to take place in the summer. (WW incorrectly reported last week the vote would occur in March. We regret the error.)
Richardson, Paulus Have Died: Oregon mourned the deaths of two secretaries of state this week. Incumbent Dennis Richardson died Feb. 26 from brain cancer. Richardson, 69, was the first Republican to win statewide office in 14 years. Two days later, former Secretary of State Norma Paulus died at age 85. A moderate Republican, Paulus was the first woman to hold statewide office in Oregon and very nearly became its governor, losing to Neil Goldschmidt in 1986. WW has unearthed its archives at wweek.com to take a closer look at her achievements.