Murmurs: Thomas Lauderdale and Storm Large Pan City Charter Reform

In other news: Protesters chase Ted Wheeler out of Kells.

lauderdale Thomas Lauderdale

LAUDERDALE AND LARGE PAN CHARTER REFORM: Thomas Lauderdale, leader of the band Pink Martini, and singer Storm Large are lining up against the city charter reform proposal that will appear on Portland’s November ballot. Lauderdale hosted a Sept. 19 cocktail fundraiser at his home for the “no”campaign. Tickets cost $100 apiece and included a special appearance by Large. Both musicians have been longtime social justice activists, so their opposition to the ballot measure—which has the endorsement of a number of nonprofits and coalitions—is a meaningful win for the campaign against charter reform. The “no” campaign hopes to defeat the measure at the ballot box and then rally behind an alternative proposal crafted by City Commissioner Mingus Mapps next spring. Opponents raised $14,500 at Lauderdale’s event. The bandleader tells WW the proposal headed for the ballot is too complicated and, although it expands the City Council to 12 members plus a mayor, does not guarantee better candidates will run for office. “Inclusivity is a very correct, total, great goal,” Lauderdale says, “but not at the expense of functionality.”

OLD TOWN PATROLS RETURN: The city plans to reinstate the Central Precinct Entertainment Detail, a seven-officer Portland Police Bureau unit, to patrol Old Town on weekend nights, Mayor Ted Wheeler announced Tuesday. The unit was created in 2012 to address violence and debauchery flowing out of downtown clubs but was disbanded amid budget cuts last year. It returns Sept. 22 thanks to a reshuffling within the precinct that will replace sworn officers with unarmed public safety support specialists during calmer, midday hours, Central Precinct Capt. Jim Crooker tells WW. Not everyone is happy about the reborn unit, however. Reporters attending the mayor’s Tuesday press conference at Kells Irish Pub downtown were locked in for half an hour following his remarks as protesters chanted “Fuck you, Ted Wheeler!” outside. Eventually, three squad cars pulled up, allowing Wheeler and his entourage to escape through a back door.

ENVIROS BLAST HIGHWAY APPOINTMENT: Gov. Kate Brown announced Aug. 31 that she’d nominated 114 people to state boards and commissions. One of those picks is receiving significant blowback: Brown’s selection of outgoing state Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) to serve on the Oregon Transportation Commission. Eleven environmental groups—including 1000 Friends of Oregon, the Street Trust and Oregon Walks—penned a Sept. 13 letter to Brown objecting to Beyer’s nomination. The letter expresses concern that Beyer, a moderate Democrat who’s endorsed unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson for governor, will rubber-stamp big highway projects. Beyer says he finds the environmentalists’ position “frustrating” because he either wrote or shepherded through the Senate most of the major environmental bills of the past 12 years. Beyer says he hopes Brown will stick with his appointment because feels he has a lot to add at the OTC, including making sure the $5.3 billion appropriated by a transportation bill he helped write is spent properly. “I have a lot of ownership in seeing that what we passed in 2017 will get done,” Beyer says. Brown spokeswoman Liz Merah says the governor is sticking with Beyer, who “has been a leader in transportation, environment and energy policy conversations his entire career.”

TOOTIE SMITH DEFENDS PALTRY HOMELESS SPENDING: Earlier this month, Metro officials rebuked Clackamas County for its comparatively modest spending of proceeds from the first year of a regional homeless tax. The tax brought in a combined $209 million for the three counties in the metro area to spend on relieving homelessness. Clackamas County had spent only 6.6% of its available first-year funds, while Multnomah County spent 38% and Washington County spent 24%. Clackamas County Chair Tootie Smith responded in a public statement to Metro on Sept. 9: “Our county chose the fiscally prudent path of only spending money that we actually had.” Smith also noted that the county had committed 28% of its funds to contracts by the end of June, even if those funds weren’t yet spent. Meanwhile, the price tag of a new Clackamas County courthouse to replace the county’s aging one in Oregon City continues to rise, from an initially expected cost of $189 million to new estimates adjusted for inflation of $313 million. The county is using both state funds and funds from a private investment firm to finance the courthouse, and county officials say future repayments to the private firm Fengate PCL Progress Partners will require substantial cuts to the county’s budget. County spokeswoman Kimberly Webb says county officials are “thoroughly reviewing our budget for places where we can reduce our expenses in order to ensure we have a safe place for our residents to seek justice.”

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