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Murmurs: Portland Man Lands in Facebook Papers

In other news: City tries again on emissions tax.

PORTLAND MAN LANDS IN FACEBOOK PAPERS: A Portland tech executive is at the center of the latest public relations nightmare for Facebook. A whistleblower affidavit obtained by The Washington Post last week alleges that Facebook’s vice president of communications Tucker Bounds shrugged off concerns about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. “Some legislators will get pissy,” the affidavit alleges Bounds said. “And then in a few weeks they will move onto something else. Meanwhile, we are printing money in the basement, and we are fine.” Bounds, 42, a University of Oregon alum who lives in Southwest Portland, was a spokesman for former U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and the presidential campaign of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) before founding a political news analysis platform and going to work for Facebook. He could not be reached for comment.

CITY TRIES AGAIN ON EMISSIONS TAX: After a proposal for a new carbon tax and permit fee that would have raised $11.2 million flopped earlier this year, the city’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability launched a new proposal Oct. 26. The new version would raise about $2 million. Both the permit fee and the tax on emissions have been scaled back, and the new proposal exempts public and nonprofit emitters such as Oregon Health & Science University and Providence Health and Services. Instead of taxing carbon emissions generally at the rate of $25 per ton (“Glass Houses,” WW, Jan. 27, 2021), the new plan would levy a tax of $250 per ton on nitrogen and sulfur oxides and particulate matter. It’s a big break for the city’s largest smokestack industries, such as Evraz Steel, which would have paid $2.72 million a year under the earlier proposal but would pay $163,000 under the new plan. A public comment period is open until Nov. 19. The plan is likely to proceed to the Portland City Council after that.

VINTAGE SHOP SUES FURNITURE STORE OVER FIRE: The owner of vintage shop Really Good Stuff has sued neighboring furniture store Lounge Lizard over the three-alarm fire in the Hawthorne District that consumed both of their businesses this month. Really Good Stuff owner Evan Shlaes alleges the Oct. 5 fire started in the ventilator system of Lounge Lizard’s paint booth. “The fire started because the Lounge Lizard vent system was dirty, coated with the residue of flammable materials, was serviced by substandard electrical appliances and wiring, and not properly inspected and maintained,” alleges the lawsuit filed Oct. 22 in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Shlaes, who is seeking $250,000, says the entire contents of his shop were destroyed in the fire, which injured two firefighters and incinerated three other businesses in the 1300 block of Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard: Lounge Lizard, Thai Touch and Riyadh’s Lebanese Restaurant. The owners of Lounge Lizard could not immediately be reached for comment.

POLICE CONTRACT BARGAINING NEARS TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY: Portland’s police union and the City Attorney’s Office are scheduled for their seventh closed-door mediation session Oct. 29 to hash out a collective bargaining agreement. The parties met most recently on Oct. 22, according to the state’s Employment Relations Board, and neither the city nor the Portland Police Association has declared an impasse, which would trigger an arbitration process. The parties are now approaching the two-year anniversary of bargaining, which began in February 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It resumed this January, and then in June—once the mandatory 150-day bargaining window passed—PPA executive director Daryl Turner announced the union had initiated mediation. “Pressure breeds progress and results,” Turner said June 14.

CITY ATTORNEY ADDS NEW LAWYERS: As the city of Portland works to comply with U.S. Department of Justice orders to reform its Police Bureau, the City Attorney’s Office will add two new lawyers Oct. 29 to work on just that. One is Sarah Ames, a onetime City Hall reporter for The Oregonian who went to law school after serving in a variety of communications roles for Gov. Barbara Roberts, Portland Public Schools, and others. She joins the city from the Foster Garvey law firm. She will work alongside Vamshi Reddy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York who has served in a variety of legal roles in Oregon since 2015, most recently as general counsel to RISE Partnership, which provides training and benefits to management-labor trusts for organized labor. Reddy is also one of seven finalists for appointment as U.S. attorney for Oregon.