ELECTION COMPLAINTS REJECTED: The city elections officer Jan. 17 rejected complaints alleging Mayor Ted Wheeler and candidates Jack Kerfoot and Ozzie González violated campaign finance limits approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2018. The group Honest Elections, which put the limits on the ballot, asked city elections officer Deborah Scroggin to penalize the three candidates for accepting individual contributions in excess of the measure's $500 limit. In a letter to Honest Elections' Ron Buel (a former editor at WW), Scroggin wrote: "The Auditor's Office intends to uphold the will and intent of the voters in implementing campaign finance restrictions. However, we will not be enforcing, investigating or acting on complaints regarding provisions of the charter that are currently being litigated and have been held unconstitutional." The Portland campaign limits conflict with the state constitution's freedom of speech provision, a matter currently before the Oregon Supreme Court.
STATE SAYS NO TO JORDAN COVE EXTENSION: The Oregon Department of State Lands denied an extension for a key permit Jan. 21 for the proposed Jordan Cove natural gas pipeline and export terminal. The $10 billion project, which would include a 229-mile pipeline from Southern Oregon to Coos Bay, has been on the drawing board for more than a decade. Trade unions want it, but environmentalists and some landowners oppose it. Pembina, the Canadian energy company behind Jordan Cove, applied for a fill-removal permit in December 2017 to allow river and wetlands crossings and dredging in Coos Bay. The agency's response follows the Department of Environmental Quality's denial of a related permit last year. (Under the Trump administration, federal regulators greenlighted the project, leaving state officials as the pipeline's sole roadblock.) DSL will make a final decision by Jan. 31.
SNOWPACK LEVELS SEE BIG INCREASE: Oregon snowpack levels were abnormally low earlier this month, raising fears of another tinder-dry summer and wildfires. But after recent heavy snowfall throughout the state, water supply levels have improved. According to Jan. 21 data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the snow water equivalent in the Willamette Basin is currently 94 percent of normal—a welcome increase from the start of January, when snowpack levels were just 25 percent of normal. That's good news as spring approaches, but NRCS hydrologist Scott Oviatt says much of the state is still in drought-range conditions. "Rainfall and snowfall levels since Oct. 1 are still lagging behind normal," Oviatt says. "Most areas are still at about two-thirds of normal across the state."
THAT SINKING FEELING: Residents of mobile home parks rarely rise up as one to sue their landlord. But the homeowners at River Bend Mobile Resort in Oregon's rural Douglas County say they had a dramatic reason to do exactly that: Their homes are sinking into the earth. The $3.5 million lawsuit, filed Jan. 20 in Douglas County Circuit Court, alleges the park was built atop a landfill consisting mainly of sawdust. The landfill was not properly sealed, residents say, which has led to "settling, sinking and cracking" of the ground on which the homes sit. All of the 49 plaintiffs' homes have been damaged or are suffering ongoing damage because of the unstable conditions, the lawsuit says. The residents seek $2.5 million in economic damages, and $1 million for the "aggravation, frustration and annoyance" they say they've experienced. The owners of the park did not respond to requests for comment.