OREGON'S COVID-19 VACCINATIONS BEGIN: In the first week since the vaccine arrived in Oregon, 4,475 health care workers have received a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved for emergency use, Oregon Health Authority officials announced Dec. 21. Health care workers, as well as staff and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, are to receive priority for the vaccine, which is expected not to reach the general public till at least the spring. Oregon received 35,100 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week and, after a reduction by the federal government, expects to receive 25,350 doses this week. Shipments of COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna, which the FDA approved last week, are also expected soon, though none has yet arrived.
LEGISLATIVE VACANCY LOOMS: The Senate District 24 seat held by State Sen. Shemia Fagan (D-East Portland) will become vacant in January when Fagan steps into her new role as Oregon secretary of state. In normal times, Fagan might have resigned to begin her transition early—but she stayed in office through December to ensure she wouldn't miss the Dec. 21 special legislative session, which focused on relief for renters and landlords. Kayse Jama, executive director of Unite Oregon, who ran against Fagan in 2018, is seeking the appointment and would become the first Muslim in the Oregon Senate if successful. Jama received more than 64% of District 24 precinct committee persons' votes over other hopefuls Adrienne Enghouse and Candy Emmons on Dec. 15. Multnomah and Clackamas County commissioners will cast their votes to fill the seat Jan. 6.
CALIFORNIANS TWEAK TO-GO BOOZE BILL: After months of debate whether to legalize the sale of cocktails to go, a bill shepherded through the Dec. 21 session by state Rep. Rob Nosse (D-Portland) was augmented by two unexpected sources. The California Wine Institute requested that single servings of vino be included—an ask Oregon growers had not made—and Senate Minority Leader Fred Girod (R-Stayton) pressed Democratic leaders resistant to the idea to make it happen. Nosse, whose inner Southeast Portland district contains a vast number of struggling restaurants and bars, says he's thrilled Girod got wine included, which he hadn't been able to do. "My bill wasn't anybody's top priority for the special session," Nosse says, "but when you see institutions like Pok Pok [which is in his district] go out of business, you know the industry's in trouble." The Oregon Liquor Control Commission met Dec. 22 to adopt rules allowing the drinks to flow.
RUBIO PICKS STAFF, CONGRATULATES SUCCESSOR: City Commissioner-elect Carmen Rubio won the election to succeed Commissioner Amanda Fritz back in May but waited until this week to name her staff ahead of taking office in January. Rubio tapped Adriana Miranda, executive director of CAUSA of Oregon, the statewide immigrant rights group, to lead her staff. She'll also bring Ricardo Lujan-Valerio with her from Latino Network, which Rubio has led for 11 years as policy adviser, and keep Fritz staffer Cynthia Castro on board. Meanwhile, Latino Network named Tony DeFalco, executive director of Verde, a social justice nonprofit based in Cully, to succeed Rubio. "I could not be happier to welcome Tony to the Latino Network familia," Rubio said in a statement. "Tony and Verde have been longtime partners of ours, and I am confident that he will continue our work to advocate on behalf of Latinx youth, families and communities across the state. Latino Network is in good hands."
LAST CHANCE TO GIVE: It's no secret Portland's nonprofits have been rocked this year. That's why WW's Give!Guide is raising $5 million for 174 nonprofits in eight categories before midnight Dec. 31. The goal is within reach: As of press deadline, we've raised $3.5 million. Find what matters most to you at giveguide.org and donate what you can.