Fire Bureau Stops Responding to Fireworks: Portland firefighters have suspended the War on Fireworks. This July 4, Portland Fire & Rescue did not respond to complaints of illegal fireworks by confiscating them and issuing fines. That's a major policy shift from as recently as four years ago, when the fire bureau created a dedicated hotline for fireworks complaints and sent nine patrol teams of police officers and firefighters to crack down, at a cost of $110,523. It didn't work. "We weren't having an impact," says bureau spokesman Lt. Rich Chatman. "Imagine if half the residents of Portland, all at the same time, decided to jaywalk." Chatman says the fireworks program, "Operation Lower the Boom," mostly resulted in citizen anger by setting an expectation firefighters couldn't meet. The fire bureau started scaling back the program in 2016, and emergency dispatchers encouraged Portlanders not to call this year with reports of fireworks in their neighborhoods. Chatman says the fire bureau will now go "back to the drawing board" to try to figure out a new approach to Portland's noisiest night.
Rubio, Iannarone Enter City Hall Race: Carmen Rubio, longtime executive director of the nonprofit Latino Network, could become the first Latina to win a seat on the Portland City Council in 2020. She entered the race for retiring City Commissioner Amanda Fritz's seat July 8 as the presumptive front-runner with 70 endorsements. Also, 2016 mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone will return to run again against now-incumbent Ted Wheeler in 2020. She launched her campaign with a fusillade accusing Wheeler of "cloak[ing] your campaign in the rhetoric of progressivism" but failing to govern that way. "Amidst the rise of right-wing populism, you ceded our sanctuary city to armed gangs powered by hate and bigotry," Iannarone wrote in a July 9 open letter to the mayor. "In the middle of a housing state of emergency, Portland police continue to sweep the homeless from our streets."
Blumenauer Proposes Climate Emergency: U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) joined with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on July 9 to introduce a congressional resolution that would declare the climate crisis a national emergency. Blumenauer says the inspiration for the resolution came to him in February, when President Trump declared a national emergency at the border—an action he considered grossly misplaced. "Congress needs to understand [climate change] is an emergency and act like it," Blumenauer says. If passed and signed by the president—an unlikely outcome—the resolution would not compel Congress to take action, but advocates say it could hold the federal government accountable. "This isn't just a scientific, environmental, or climate crisis," Ocasio-Cortez says, "it's a crisis of political inaction."
Larry Hurwitz Arrested in California: One of the most notorious murderers in Portland history turned up in California last month—with 4 pounds of cocaine and $230,000 cash. Larry Hurwitz was arrested in a June 27 traffic stop in Huntington Beach, the Portland Tribune first reported. Hurwitz pleaded no contest in 2000 to the murder of Tim Moreau, who had worked for Hurwitz at the Starry Night, a downtown Portland nightclub. Moreau disappeared in 1990, after meeting with Hurwitz about the discovery of 180 counterfeit tickets to a John Lee Hooker concert. For a decade, WW reporter Jim Redden pursued Moreau's disappearance—even after Hurwitz filed a $5 million libel suit against the paper. Hurwitz was released from prison in 2010 and had been working in the Portland-area events business.