HASS HARBORS STATEWIDE AMBITIONS: State Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) tells WW he's "very seriously considering" running for the open secretary of state's seat next year. In his nearly two decades in the Legislature, Hass has pursued a goal that eluded generations of Oregon politicians: tax reform. This session, with lots of help, the longtime chairman of the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee oversaw passage of the Student Success Act, a tax on corporate activities that will raise billions for education and broaden the state's tax base. Having accomplished his longtime aim, Hass, 62, tells WW he's ready for a new challenge. He faces competition: Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a Democrat from Terrebonne, is already in the race, while state Rep. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis), state Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland) and Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson are all mulling runs.
PROSPER PORTLAND TO MOVE TO SMALLER OFFICE: Prosper Portland, the city's economic development agency, will move from its Old Town headquarters at 222 NW 5th Ave. The city leased the building in 2000, hoping it would be a tech incubator. Instead, Prosper Portland, then called the Portland Development Commission, moved into the vacant space in 2004 as a stop-gap measure. Now employing just 84 people, about one-third of its former workforce, the agency's board voted last week to move next year to a new space in the NW Natural building at 220 NW 2nd Ave. Prosper Portland spokesman Shawn Uhlman says the move accomplishes three goals: "It's in line with our financial sustainability goals, it allows us to all be on one floor, and enables us to remain in Old Town-Chinatown."
GREG SMITH POLICES THE PRESS: As WW reported earlier this year, state Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner), the longest-serving member of the Oregon House, takes in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from private consulting work for public agencies ("Both Sides Now," May 29, 2019). The Malheur Enterprise, owned and edited by former Oregonian investigative reporter Les Zaitz, has been bird-dogging Smith's potential conflicts of interest, including his work as the contracted economic development officer for Malheur County (he holds similar positions in three counties). This week, the Enterprise reported that Malheur County asked the local sheriff to open a criminal investigation into the Enterprise's repeated attempts to contact Smith and a subordinate by phone and email. In a statement, Zaitz called the request for a criminal investigation into reporting methods an "effort to silence and intimidate the Enterprise." Smith says he considers himself a strong supporter of the press, but adds that the Enterprise's account includes "significant omissions of fact," a claim Zaitz disputes.
CITY CLUB ON THE MOVE: The City Club of Portland announced big changes this week. The 103-year-old civic organization will stop holding its Friday forums at the Sentinel Hotel downtown and will reduce the forums' frequency from weekly to twice a month, with none in July or August. City Club executive director Julia Meier says the changes came not for financial reasons but as a result of extensive research into what would best serve the club's members. Meier says members want more opportunities for networking and deep discussion. Forums will now be held at Ecotrust's buildings in Northwest and Southeast Portland and will continue to include candidate debates and research into ballot measures and other topics of broad public interest. Meier notes the club will build on a report it adopted earlier this year advocating for a change in Portland's commission form of government. In a Sept. 17 presentation, the club will examine whether a city manager form of government would work here. "People are looking to us to keep the form of government issue moving forward," Meier says. "We feel like we have an obligation to do that."