Murmurs: Dan Ryan Spars With Arts Council

In other news: Charter commissioner Candace Avalos will run for City Council.

DAN RYAN SPARS WITH ARTS COUNCIL: City Commissioner Dan Ryan announced in July that the city would stop funding next year for the Regional Arts and Culture Council, the nonprofit that has contracted with the city for almost 30 years to fund murals and sculptures and distribute hundreds of small grants to up-and-coming artists. The breakup follows a year of concerns expressed by city leaders about RACC’s financial accountability and effectiveness. After the July announcement, RACC hired a public relations firm to help it fight back, and the council’s leaders have issued a series of public rebukes criticizing Ryan’s decision. That battle is now intensifying: In a Sept. 21 email, Ryan threatened to withhold the city’s next quarterly payment to RACC if it doesn’t provide contact information for all grant recipients that receive city dollars. To date, the council hasn’t provided that list. “If RACC refuses to provide the data that the city has been seeking since April,” his office says, “Commissioner Ryan has received the full support of City Council to withhold payment of $1.3 million.” RACC did not respond to a request for comment.

CHARTER COMMISSIONER CANDACE AVALOS WILL RUN FOR CITY COUNCIL: Five more Portlanders this week joined races for the 12 City Council seats up for grabs next year. The most notable is Candace Avalos, 34, who served on the 20-member Charter Commission that put together the ballot measure that voters approved last fall to overhaul the city’s form of government. Avalos, who serves as executive director of the climate justice nonprofit Verde, is the third member of the Charter Commission to declare a run for City Council after shaping the new government structure. (The first two were Robin Ye and Debbie Kitchin.) Others who recently announced intentions to run include Deian Salazar, a young East Portland advocate; Sarah Silkie, an engineer with the city’s Water Bureau; Jamie Dunphy, a former policy director at the city; and Brooklyn Sherman, a bus driver for Portland Public Schools.

POLICE LOOK FOR LIAISON TO SCHOOLS: A job posting has gone up that might interest police officers who were booted out of Portland Public Schools back in 2020: a position as school liaison officer. You might be feeling some bewilderment, but it’s not the same thing as a school resource officer. As WW reported last week, cops known as SROs, who once roamed school halls, have been replaced by an expanded detail of unarmed campus safety associates (“Safety in Numbers,” Sept. 20). By contrast, an SLO ensures that schools know what is happening in the community and vice versa, and connects students and families to police resources when necessary. He or she is also part of the threat-assessment team (along with counselors and other school staff) to evaluate the severity of threats to a school. Two SLOs will ensure that an officer is available around the clock to deal with school-related issues. The Portland Police Bureau already has one SLO and is now adding a second at the request of the school district, says bureau spokesman Sgt. Kevin Allen. “We both recognize the value of a close working relationship,” Allen says. The cost will be shared by the Police Bureau, PPS and other school districts within Portland city limits, such as Parkrose and David Douglas.

THREE PORTLAND TARGETS ARE CLOSING: Target will close three of its Portland locations next month, including the downtown store in the Galleria Building on Southwest Morrison Street. The company made the announcement Tuesday morning, citing crime and safety concerns. “We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance,” the corporation wrote in a statement. The two other stores are located on Southeast Powell Boulevard and in the Hollywood District. The closures are a black eye for Mayor Ted Wheeler’s anti-shoplifting initiative—and will drain some dollars from the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund, the cache of tax dollars earmarked for projects that reduce carbon emissions and benefit low-income communities of color. PCEF, as it’s known, is funded by a 1% surcharge on retailers with annual revenue of $1 billion or more in the U.S. and $500,000 or more within Portland. Target’s move comes six months after Walmart closed its only two stores within Portland city limits. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer didn’t give a reason for those closures.

MAN SUES POPEYES OVER PORTLAND PICKLE INCIDENT: The Popeyes chicken sandwich is a deep-fried phenomenon that kicked off a national fast food war in 2019. Shane Vassell says his sandwich nearly killed him—because Popeyes forgot to hold the pickles. Vassell, 30, sued Popeyes in U.S. District Court on Sept. 25, alleging he was hospitalized after an allergic reaction to the pickles on his chicken sandwich. The Connecticut-based long-haul trucker says he visited the southernmost of two Popeyes locations on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on June 23—and requested multiple times at the drive-thru that Popeyes hold the pickles. “I told them so many times,” he tells WW, “and they didn’t care. I almost died.” Vassell says an employee told him they thought he’d asked for extra pickles. He’s seeking $9,992.45 for hospital bills as well as pain and distress. Restaurant Brands International, which owns Popeyes, did not respond to a request for comment.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW’s journalism through our Give!Guide Fundraising page.