Murmurs: City Council May Mull Foie Gras Ban

In other news: Candidates to succeed DeFazio assemble.

CITY COUNCIL MAY MULL FOIE GRAS BAN: City Commissioners Carmen Rubio and Mingus Mapps have expressed interest in bringing a foie gras ban before the Portland City Council sometime in the spring, they tell WW. Foie gras is made of fatty duck or goose liver enlarged by force-feeding the bird, a procedure animal advocates call cruel and inhumane. “As an animal lover, I am always interested in how we can ensure the ethical treatment of animals,” Mapps says. It’s the first time in nearly 13 years the issue has been reheated in this city. Last time around—in 2008, three years after a bill banning foie gras was killed in the Oregon House—animal advocates protested outside a number of high-profile Portland restaurants. (The protests did manage to pressure several restaurants into no longer selling foie gras, while others mocked activists). Sarah Hanneken, legal advocate for the Los Angeles-based group pushing the ban, Animal Equality, calls foie gras a “high-end product that is exceptionally cruel and only available to the elite classes.” Hanneken proposed enforcement by a complaint-based system, similar to the single-use plastics ban. Rubio’s office says she’s “open to the idea,” but that currently “our staff’s bandwidth is consumed by policies that have taken a high degree of priority.” New York state has a foie gras ban in place starting in 2022. California enacted a ban in 2012, but a judge ruled last year that Californians could import foie gras from other states for personal consumption.

CANDIDATES TO SUCCEED DEFAZIO ASSEMBLE: When U.S. Rep Peter DeFazio, the longest-serving congressman in state history, announced his retirement from Oregon’s 4th Congressional District last week, Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle immediately announced her candidacy. Also looking hard at the race: state Sens. Sara Gelser Blouin (D-Corvallis) and James Manning (D-Eugene), both of whom are up for reelection and would have to surrender their seats to run. Gelser Blouin says she’s weighing a number of factors, including family considerations and where she could have the greatest impact. Manning says numerous supporters have encouraged him to seek DeFazio’s seat, which interests him, but he’s also got unfinished business in Salem. “I’m not a person who walks away,” he says, “and there is the old saying about a bird in the hand.” Manning expects to decide within the next week. Also looking at a run in the Democratic primary: Andrew Kalloch, a Harvard Law-educated exec for Airbnb with a background in New York City politics. Kalloch, who relocated from Portland to Eugene last year, says he’ll make his decision over the holidays. “I anticipate being part of it,” he says.

REWARD INCREASES TO $36K IN WOLF POISONING CASE: The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife on Monday upped the reward to $36,000 for information that leads to the arrest of the individuals responsible for poisoning a pack of wolves in Eastern Oregon earlier this year. On Dec. 2, ODFW announced that state troopers in February had discovered two deceased male and three female wolves in Union County. The five wolves made up the entire Catherine Pack, state officials said, and toxicology reports showed the cause of death to be “consistent with poisoning.” Then, between March and July, state troopers discovered three more dead wolves, all believed to be poisoned as well. ODFW says it has “exhausted leads in the case” and needs the public’s help. As WW reported in October, poaching is a uniquely complex crime to prosecute (“Things Will Die,” Oct. 6, 2021). In 2019, the state Legislature passed a pair of bills that increased criminal penalties for poachers, and also carved out funding for a statewide poaching prosecutor. “We are furious and appalled,” says Sristi Kamal of Defenders of Wildlife. “Such a targeted attack against these incredible creatures is unacceptable.”

CRISTOBAL’S PLAYERS DIDN’T GRADUATE: University of Oregon fans are still coming to terms with the sudden departure of head football coach Mario Cristobal, who fled Eugene for his hometown and alma mater, the University of Miami, this week after a second consecutive drubbing at the hands of the University of Utah. But UO economics professor and blogger Bill Harbaugh highlighted a stat that university officials want to talk about even less than the Utah games: the football team’s low graduation rate. Recently released NCAA figures first reported by the San Jose Mercury News show the Ducks tied for 10th in the Pac-12 in percentage of football players who graduate in six years (73%), ahead of only UCLA (71%), which is coached by another former Duck head coach, Chip Kelly. “Cristobal’s ‘student-athletes’ just aren’t graduating,” Harbaugh tweeted.