Murmurs: Dispensary Owner Says Fred Meyer Refused To Accept Her Electric Bill Payment

In other news: North Portland businesses fed up with street racing.

North Portland's industrial waterfront. (Brian Burk)

Dispensary Owner Says Fred Meyer Refused To Accept Her Electric Bill Payment: A cannabis dispensary owner in Southwest Portland tells WW that employees at two different Fred Meyer locations, Burlingame and Tigard, refused to process money to pay the electric bill for her marijuana grow. Sally Bishop owns Green Goddess Remedies and says she's used the stores' bill-assistance service to pay her bills for the past six months. But she says an employee told her last week he couldn't accept the money because she worked in the cannabis industry, which is still federally illegal. "I felt badly for the kid at the [desk], because he recognized me and he's helped me before. He says, 'If I process this payment, I could get fired,'" Bishop says. Portland General Electric sent Bishop an email recommending she pay it through a service offered at Walmart. But Walmart requires a bank account, and cannabis businesses have very limited access to banking services. To Bishop, it's simple: "It's none of their beeswax." A spokesperson for Fred Meyer tells WW in an email: "At this time, our policy does not allow us to knowingly sell money services products to marijuana-related businesses. However, this policy does not impact check cashing, including the cashing of payroll checks." The company did not answer follow-up questions about the history of the policy, or if it was handed down by Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer.

North Portland Businesses Fed Up With Street Racing: A coalition of businesses in North Portland sent a letter to Mayor Ted Wheeler and city commissioners on April 2 asking that the city crack down on increased street racing along a network of roads in industrial North Portland. The businesses wrote that the racers, usually groups of 10 to 20 cars careening down the streets, are interfering with blue-collar workers heading home from their shifts. Dan Legree, who owns a glass studio on North Ramsey Street, says the racers "have no scruples," and usually take to the streets on weekends. "We've had our windows shot out, bullets through our front windows, trash in our parking lot. They come into the parking lot and defecate behind bushes. It's like, c'mon." The mayor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kelly Butte Park Residents Again Get the Boot: City Commissioner Dan Ryan, who oversees the Portland Housing Bureau, has reversed himself and told the owner of a manufactured home park that he can proceed with redevelopment of his property—in effect kicking out two dozen residents of the East Portland park. In February, WW reported on the peril facing residents of Kelly Butte Park ("Move Your Home," Feb. 17, 2021). Ryan revoked the redevelopment permits for property owner Adam Hoesly, but now tells residents those permits are valid because of COVID-19 protections that kept Hoesly's city paperwork from expiring. "The painful irony is that he got COVID protections that the residents didn't get," says tenant organizer Margot Black. Residents are preparing to leave in October. "The commissioner expressed his displeasure at the idea of displacing the residents to redevelop the site," Ryan's spokesman Mark Bond says. "He appealed to Mr. Hoesly's humanity and asked him to find an amicable solution that doesn't displace the residents."

Elementary Schools Report COVID Cases: Since spring break, at least five Portland public elementary schools—as well as a Head Start program and a Jefferson High School athletics program—have each had one case of COVID-19. The elementary schools are Boise-Eliot/Humboldt, Bridlemile, Hayhurst, Markham and Lent. Parents were contacted between April 4 and 11. That each school or program has only seen one case so far means there is no evidence COVID-19 is spreading at schools since spring break, when hybrid instruction began for elementary schools, says Portland Public Schools spokeswoman Karen Werstein. When students have had direct contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, the whole cohort reverts to staying home and resumes virtual class meetings. For everyone else, in-person instruction continues at these schools.

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