Murmurs: Senator Introduces Anti-Moonlighting Bill

In other news: Tire pile owner blames arsonist for rubber fire.

SENATOR INTRODUCES ANTI-MOONLIGHTING BILL: In the wake of Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s abrupt resignation earlier this month after WW revealed her $10,000-a-month consulting contract with an affiliate of the troubled cannabis company La Mota, state Sen. Mark Meek (D-Gladstone) introduced a bill May 31 that would remove similar temptation in the future. Senate Bill 1103 would make it illegal for any statewide elected official to work as a contractor, employee or controlling owner of an outside business while in office. The bill comes late in a session in which absent Senate Republicans make it likely that legislation still in the upper chamber will die due to a lack of quorum. But Meek says he felt strongly that he needed to make a point: “Top elected leaders should be 100% focused on working for the people—not outside special interests. Oregonians across the state deserve a government that is transparent, ethical, and responsive to their needs. SB 1103 delivers on that promise.”

TIRE PILE OWNER BLAMES ARSONIST FOR RUBBER FIRE: Chandos Mahon, the recycled-tire magnate whose three-story heap of shredded rubber has burst into flames three times in less than a week, says the blaze was caused by arson. The pile, at an old grain elevator just north of the Steel Bridge on the Willamette River, originally ignited May 25. “We experienced an unfortunate incident at our rubber export facility where a fire was deliberately started,” Mahon said in an email. Hot spots that survived Portland Fire & Rescue’s hoses likely reignited Monday and again Tuesday, which isn’t unusual for piles of perfect fuel like shredded tires, says fire bureau spokesman Rick Graves. But the bureau isn’t ready to call it arson just yet. The matter is under investigation, Graves says. Pressed for evidence that someone struck a match to the pile, Mahon didn’t reply to an email. Mahon owns the grain terminal with Beau Blixseth, son of Tim Blixseth, one of Oregon’s most notorious timber barons and founder of the Yellowstone Club, a private ski area in Montana (“Rubber Room,” WW, July 27, 2022). The two partners ship shredded tires by ship to Asia, where, ironically, they are burned as fuel.

OVERNIGHT HOTLINE FAILS TO USE ONE-TIME DOLLARS: The city of Portland’s 311 program helps route non-emergency calls made by Portlanders to various city services that aren’t related to police or fire. In recent years, the City Council has aimed to offload a higher number of non-emergency calls to the program to lessen the burden on 911 call-takers. Last year, the city allocated $521,000 in one-time dollars to staff an overnight shift at 311 for two years. But to date, the program hasn’t staffed the shift and has spent none of those dollars. In budget documents, the program cited “hiring difficulties,” a common problem, and offered a more startling excuse: “the need to manage public expectations regarding a service that may be discontinued after one year.” Office of Management & Finance spokeswoman Carrie Belding says the city doesn’t want to set “an expectation that [Portlanders] would reach a live-answer staff person overnight, and then discontinue overnight service and transfer many callers back to [the non-emergency] line.”

UFCW SEEDS HOLVEY RECALL: Most recall efforts in Oregon politics fail, in part because they often lack funding and organization. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 lacks neither. Oregon’s largest private sector union, with more than 30,000 members, UFCW can mobilize large numbers of people and write big checks. It announced in late May it would attempt to recall state Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene), one of the state’s longest-serving lawmakers and strongest labor voices. The union is angry at Holvey, a former carpenters’ union official who chairs the House Business and Labor Committee, for allowing UFCW’s top priority this session to die in committee: House Bill 3183 would have facilitated unionization in the cannabis industry. UFCW has now committed $100,000 to fund signature gathering for Holvey’s recall. Holvey says UFCW is wasting it’s resources: “It’s quite surprising that UFCW Local 555 would take such retaliatory action over a bill that failed, especially a bill that most people with knowledge of labor law would agree is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act and federal law.”

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