Murmurs: Pulitzer Prize Winner Joins Business Group

In other news: Former Portland police chief faces familiar challenges in Philly.

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER JOINS BUSINESS GROUP: Erik Lukens, a highly decorated former journalist, joined Oregon Business and Industry as its new communications director last month. Lukens won a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for editorials on the Public Employees Retirement System and served as the editorial page editor for The Oregonian before becoming the editor in chief of the Bend Bulletin. After the Bulletin declared bankruptcy, Lukens briefly left journalism for a job in the tech industry. He now returns to public life as the voice for the state’s largest business lobbying group. “Anyone who has worked in or around public policy in Oregon for the last several years knows that Erik is an effective communicator,” says Angela Wilhelms, president and CEO of OBI, “even when it comes to talking about complex—or even unpopular—ideas.” Lukens adds: “OBI does vital work in Oregon, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

HEARD DOESN’T JOIN HERD OF CANDIDATES: As Republican candidates continue to enter the race for Oregon governor, one possible contender is choosing to sit it out. State Sen. Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg), who serves as Oregon GOP chair, says he’s all but ruled out a run for governor. “I’m not currently considering it,” Heard told WW on Feb. 8. There’s a story behind that decision: When he ran for chair of the party last year, Heard promised not to run for governor, at least not without the approval of party members, which he recently sought but did not receive. “I put the question up to the body,” he said. “The party decided I should stay.” Heard, who visited occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 and got thrown off the Senate floor this year for not wearing a mask, represents the right wing of the Republican Party. His decision to stay out means the radical right vote may be more divided in the primary.

WORKERS SUE MCMENAMINS OVER DATA BREACH: McMenamins employees filed a class action lawsuit late last month in the U.S. District Court of Washington after the brewpub chain told workers in December it had suffered a data breach that may have compromised their names, addresses, bank account and Social Security numbers, and health histories. In the several weeks after the announcement, the potential magnitude of the breach expanded, affecting up to 20,000 former and current employees. Plaintiffs are represented by two law firms, one in Washington, D.C., and the other based in Seattle. The lawsuit, first reported by Oregon Business, alleges the company took too long to alert employees of the breach, failed to protect worker information, and provided insufficient identity fraud protections after the breach. “The ramifications of McMenamins’ failure to keep its employees’ private information secure are long lasting and severe,” the lawsuit reads. “Once private information is stolen, fraudulent use of that information and damage to victims may continue for years.” McMenamins declined to comment.

OUTLAW DRAWS FIRE IN CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE: This month’s edition of Philadelphia magazine examines the tenure of Philly’s police chief, Danielle Outlaw, as the first Black woman atop the cop shop faces criticism for her handling of protests and a spike in gun homicides. Sound familiar? Outlaw was Portland police chief for just over two years, seeking greater authority to separate dueling protests groups and cracking down on leftist demonstrators before decamping to Philadelphia in 2019. The magazine profile closes with the glowing performance evaluation Mayor Ted Wheeler gave Outlaw just months before she left Portland, granting her the highest marks she could receive. But Wheeler also warned: “This position is inherently political, not in a partisan manner, but in the sense that it is under public scrutiny and maintaining public trust is done in a political environment. You have good instincts and judgment already, but learning more about political history and relationships in Portland is important to being successful in the position in the long term.”