BLACK WOMEN NOW LEAD FIRE AND POLICE BUREAUS: Portland carries a reputation as the whitest city in America—but it is led by black women in a way matched by no other major U.S. city. On June 13, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty appointed Sara Boone as chief of Portland Fire & Rescue. Boone is the first black woman to lead the fire bureau, and joins the city's first black woman police chief, Danielle Outlaw. An examination of department directories of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. shows Portland is the only one of those cities with a black woman leading the police and fire departments. "African American women have always been qualified to fill these roles in our communities," Hardesty tells WW. "It's wonderful they are finally being recognized as the leaders they have always been."
SPORTS-BETTING CONTRACT IS A JACKPOT: The Oregon Lottery Commission this week released details of what it will pay SBTech, the Isle of Man-based contractor it recently hired to build a platform for mobile sports betting. SBTech will receive 19 percent of gross gaming revenue, which is the money left after paying winners. That percentage is about twice what a staff memo in April said the agency would pay. Lottery spokesman Matt Shelby says the difference is that the earlier number was based on net rather than gross revenue. Total projected payment to SBTech over three years: $26.8 million. The lottery still won't release details of two competing bids, but Shelby says all three contractors had "relatively similar cost." "What pushed SBTech over the top," he adds, "was their emphasis on player experience and ability to compete with black-market operators."
GREG SMITH'S PROJECTS REACH KEY VOTES: On June 20, the Oregon Transportation Commission is scheduled to decide whether to fund two $25 million rail projects—one in Nyssa in Malheur County and one in the Mid-Willamette Valley. As WW previously reported ("Both Sides Now," May 29, 2019), state Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) was on the legislative committees that created and approved funding for both projects, and also got paid as a private consultant to manage them. Independent financial reviews have raised serious questions about both Smith projects, but Gov. Kate Brown's spokeswoman, Kate Kondayen, says the governor, who appoints OTC members, will not intercede in the commission's decision. "The governor expects all boards, commissions and agencies to do their due diligence on any project," Kondayen says, "and use their expertise to make recommendations that benefit the state and her people, and that's the case here."
SCHOOL DISTRICT SAYS MORE HOUSING IMPROVES OUTCOMES: Portland Public Schools sees a high-profile housing bill as a solution for racially imbalanced schools. Officials with the district are lobbying for House Bill 2001, which would allow duplexes, triplexes and quads in single-family neighborhoods in Portland. "There is ample research to show that student outcomes improve when schools are more balanced by race/ethnicity and income," wrote PPS lobbyist Courtney Westling in June 11 testimony. "Any measures that support desegregation of housing will work hand in hand with the Student Success Act"—the tax increase for schools—"that the Legislature recently approved."