Records Fiasco Sinks Governor's Lawyer: Two weeks after Gov. Kate Brown appointed her general counsel, Misha Isaak, to fill a vacancy on the Oregon Court of Appeals, Brown announced Sept. 17 that Isaak would not take the position after all. Isaak's decision to withdraw came after the state's public records advocate, Ginger McCall, resigned abruptly Sept. 9, accusing Isaak of trying to spare Brown political embarrassment by undercutting McCall's efforts to improve government transparency ("Declaration of Independence," WW, Sept. 11, 2019). Earlier, WW reported how Isaak got his appointment outside the usual vetting process, causing consternation in the legal community. In a statement, Brown pledged greater standardization and transparency in filling future judicial vacancies and said, in response to McCall's charges, she would move to make the advocate's position and the Public Records Advisory Council truly independent. "I think it is safe to say we can do much better," Brown said. "And the people of Oregon deserve to know that we take their trust seriously."
Burnside Skatepark Might Be Protected: The Burnside Skatepark is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, according to a Sept. 9 presentation by Multnomah County. That could offer it an escape hatch from demolition when county officials renovate the Burnside Bridge to ready it in case of earthquake. The skatepark was built under the east end of the bridge without government permission. If the skatepark is added to the register, it would require the county to mitigate negative impacts on the structure. (NextPortland first reported the county's presentation.) But county officials and the skatepark's defenders concede the skate bowl will have to change. Skatepark board member Sage Bolyard has misgivings about the regulations such a listing would place on the park. When asked whether the skatepark would have the money to relocate, Bolyard replied, "What money?"
Lawmakers Blast Mobile Gambling Scheme: As lawmakers met in Salem this week, the Oregon Lottery updated them on its plan to introduce sports betting on mobile devices. Skepticism abounded. State Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) questioned whether the state's projected profits would make sports betting worthwhile. The lottery estimates Oregonians will wager $1.6 billion on mobile devices over the next three years for a net take of just $37 million for the state. Rep. Paul Evans (D-Salem) and others blasted the concept, questioning whether the lottery has the legal authority and technical capacity to operate mobile sports betting. They also worry it will suck problem gamblers even deeper into their addiction. "My confidence in this effort is zero," Evans told lottery spokesman Matt Shelby. "I think it's a bad idea." Shelby says sports betting will go live "in a matter of weeks."
Senate Candidate Would Buttress Carbon Cap: An Oregon Senate candidate could break the state's deadlock on carbon emissions. State Rep. Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale) will run for the Oregon Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Gresham). Monnes Anderson was a key Democrat who backed away from a cap-and-trade bill that failed after Republicans fled the state. Gorsek voted for it in the House. Meanwhile, Monnes Anderson has unfinished business: She tells WW she tried to pass a bill last session banning flavored e-cigarette cartridges but was blocked by health agencies that preferred a tax. (See wweek.com for more.)