Rose Quarter Project Hits Another Jam: Critics of the proposed $450 million expansion of Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter are convinced state transportation officials will now prepare a full-blown environmental impact study for the project. They drew that conclusion after an Aug. 7 meeting with senior Oregon Department of Transportation staff at the downtown Radisson Hotel. Such a process would mark a major shift and give critics more time and leverage to shape the project to their liking. (Those critics now include Metro, Portland Public Schools, Albina Vision and Portland city commissioners.) Incoming Oregon Transportation Commission chairman Bob Van Brocklin says no final decision has been made. "As we have told many of our Portland-area transportation partners, the OTC and ODOT need to coordinate with the governor and selected legislators on the question of what kind of environmental review to pursue," Van Brocklin said in a statement. "Those conversations will occur in September and then we will be in a position to discuss the project further."
Grayson Owes the IRS: According to a federal tax lien filed by the Internal Revenue Service on Aug. 19, Portland real estate developer Barclay Grayson, 49, has failed to pay $467,000 in income taxes. Nearly 20 years ago, Grayson was swept up in the largest union pension fund fraud in history, orchestrated by his late father, Jeff Grayson of Capital Consultants. The younger Grayson pleaded guilty to mail fraud and served 14 months in federal prison. Since then, Grayson rebuilt his career and, as The Oregonian recently reported, earned a $4 million bonus in 2017 from his employer, BPM Real Estate Group, and bought a $3.65 million home last year. Through a spokesman, Grayson says he's in the process of reducing what he owes the IRS. "I will continue to make those payments and expect to have this bill paid off in the next several months," Grayson said.
Embattled Coffee Chain Closes Another Shop: Ristretto Roasters has closed the second of its four coffee shops in Portland. The coffee chain became engulfed in controversy earlier this year after author Nancy Rommelmann, the founder's wife and onetime manager of the businesses, started a vlog called #MeNeither, which criticizes women in the #MeToo movement. Shortly after a backlash erupted in January, Ristretto closed its location in Northwest Portland. Rommelmann, a onetime contributor to WW, has now left Portland for New York City. The Ristretto location on Northeast Couch Street posted notice recently advising customers to visit the chain's other two cafes. "We are off to new adventures," the sign reads. Ristretto did not respond to a request for comment.
Electric Car Celebration Doesn't Add Up: Gov. Kate Brown issued a puzzling statement last week, celebrating the state's passing the halfway mark in meeting a goal she set in a 2017 executive order calling for 50,000 electric vehicles on Oregon roads by 2020. But when WW and other news media, including The Oregonian and the Portland Business Journal, ran the numbers, it became clear buyers lacked the spark needed to meet Brown's goal. If Oregonians continue to buy electric vehicles at the current pace, they will have purchased only 34,298 EVs by the end of next year—far short of Brown's 50,000-vehicle target. As WW reported recently, a troubled state EV incentive program is part of the problem ("Electric Slide," July 11, 2019). Brown spokeswoman Kate Kondayen insists, however, that EV buyers are picking up momentum. "We are gaining more EVs every month," she says, "and all progress towards improving on our climate goals is positive."