Scrapyard Bill Passes, But Advocates Are Unimpressed: On the last day of the 2019 legislative session, the Oregon Senate passed a bill that increases supervision of auto dismantlers. In response to a Cully scrapyard fire last year, legislators sought to address regulatory loopholes documented by WW ("Hot Rods," July 4, 2018). But local environmental group Verde says Senate Bill 792 doesn't give the Department of Environment Quality enough regulatory oversight. (In some cases, scrapyards can continue to operate without a permit from DEQ.) "The bill did not close the loophole that initially led to problems around NW Metals and has made it difficult for DEQ to create any accountability," says Oriana Magnera, climate and energy policy coordinator for Verde.
Monday's Tornado Fifth in City History: The tornado that touched down briefly in Portland at 5:30 pm Monday was the second to hit the metro area in nine months, but only the fifth recorded in the city's history. The storm uprooted trees, pulled bricks out of chimneys and ripped shingles off roofs. Wind gusts reached 80 mph. The last tornado to hit Portland was Oct. 28, 2018. Matthew Cullen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Portland, cautions, however, against linking the freakish weather to climate change. He says "looking at the impact of what a changing climate might do [to weather patterns], there is not a strong link with tornadoes."
City Hall Bomb Threat Prompts Brief Evacuation: On July 2, just after noon, Portland police responded to a phoned-in bomb threat made at City Hall downtown. They closed and evacuated the building and asked visitors and staff to avoid the area while they determined the credibility of the threat. Less than an hour later, the bureau issued a statement saying security personnel had searched the building but did not find anything suspicious on the premises. City Hall promptly reopened.
Department of Shameless Self-Promotion: WW took home five first-place awards in the medium-sized paper category as part of the 2018 Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest run by the Society of Professional Journalists. Nigel Jaquiss won two first prizes—in Health & Science Reporting for "Taxing the Sick," an examination of the high cost of insulin, and in Feature News Reporting for "You're Doing It Wrong," on the high level of garbage contamination in Portland's recycling bins and its impact on the recycling industry. Katie Shepherd won in Crime & Justice Reporting for "Justified," her examination of the state's stand-your-ground law. Rachel Monahan won Government & Politics Reporting for "The Walking Ted." Matthew Singer won in Arts & Entertainment for "Roll of a Lifetime," a feature on Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot, Gus Van Sant's biopic about controversial Portland cartoonist John Callahan.