METRO MULLS PAYROLL TAX: Metro is exploring a payroll tax to fund the regional government's proposed 2020 transportation measure. Metro officials estimate they may need $350 million to $450 million a year to finance bonds. "All the revenue sources Metro can legally raise are under examination," says Andy Shaw, Metro's government affairs director, though he adds no decisions have been made. Metro President Lynn Peterson updated the Portland Business Alliance last week on ways Metro could raise the money, including a payroll tax. PBA opposed such a tax when Portland State University proposed one in 2016. "No assumption should be made that we're taking a position one way or another right now," says alliance spokeswoman Amy Lewin. "We have been supportive of the process to explore transportation investment."
PUBLIC WINS IN RECORDS LAWSUIT: A Multnomah County circuit judge ruled this week in favor of lawyer Alan Kessler in his lawsuit against the city of Portland. Kessler sued the city in September for overcharging him for public records. During the November trial, officials from city bureaus testified that highly paid employees were often assigned to handle simple public records requests. The court ruled Nov. 18 that the city's method of calculating fees for a "routine email and document search" was not reasonable. The judge warned the city against charging hefty fees for such simple searches. The City Attorney's Office says it's still digesting the decision. "We are currently reviewing it, but have not yet made any decision regarding the city's future steps," chief deputy city attorney Karen Moynahan says. "All Portlanders should be thrilled," Kessler says. "The decision should make our city's business far more accessible to the press and public."
HARDESTY POWERS UP: It's common for elected officials to endorse candidates in other races, but City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, elected with a strong mandate last year, is taking that process to new levels. Hardesty has formed an initiative called Rise Together, with advisers who include Katrina Holland of the Community Alliance of Tenants, the Rev. LeRoy Haynes of Allen Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and former House Majority Leader Mary Nolan (D-Portland). Hardesty will use Rise Together to help her issue endorsements and direct campaign contributions. "We need candidates ready to rise to the challenges of improving our democracy through access, supporting policies that reverse the impacts of climate change, solving the housing crisis with bold and creative ideas, and more," Hardesty said in a statement.
NEW ODOT DIRECTOR PLEDGES TO PROCEED WITH ROAD PROJECTS: A day after Govs. Kate Brown and Jay Inslee pledged to restart efforts to build a new I-5 bridge between their states, incoming Oregon Department of Transportation director Kristopher Strickler said he would pursue "our promise to deliver on House Bill 2017" as one of his top priorities. That package includes a controversial $500 million expansion of I-5 through the Rose Quarter. The project has been delayed as state transportation officials weigh whether to pursue a more thorough assessment of its environmental effects. A decision is expected as soon as next month.
GIVE!GUIDE PRESENTS: WW's Give!Guide goes to Holocene this Friday to host a free, all-ages show featuring Bocha and KayelaJ. Even more exciting than a free hip-hop show? G!G is partnering with CymaSpace to make it accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing, with sign-language interpreters, automated captioning, and projected audio-visuals! So far, G!G has raised $707,754 from 3,036 donors. Visit giveguide.org for more info.