Journalist for Governor? New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is considering a run for Oregon governor, WW reported June 18. That news was met with state and national incredulity, and Kristof wouldn’t say when he’d moved back to his childhood home in Yamhill County. But the county elections clerk tells WW that Kristof has been registered to vote as a Democrat since December 2020. That lends credibility to the idea that Kristof, who also took a leave of absence last month from the paper, has for months been laying the groundwork for a run. On Sunday, he told WW that friends were trying to recruit him. “I have friends trying to convince me that here in Oregon, we need new leadership from outside the broken political system,” he told WW. “I’m honestly interested in what my fellow Oregonians have to say about that.” Kristof could face significant competition in the Democratic primary, since it’s only the second time in more than two decades that the governor’s race won’t include an incumbent or former governor.
Fast Food Workers Report Dangerous Heat Conditions: Portland-area fast food and restaurant workers reported dangerous workplace temperatures during last month’s historic, deadly heat wave, according to complaints filed with Oregon Occupational Safety & Health, obtained by WW through a public records request. Of approximately 40 Portland-area complaints alleging excessive heat, 14 were filed by food service workers, including three employees at McDonald’s and two at Chipotle Mexican Grill. “No air conditioner during this extreme heat and still having all the staff work. It has [gone] up to 125 degrees inside the building, potentially exposing employees to heat stress,” one employee at the McDonald’s in St. Johns reported. An employee at the Applebee’s on Northeast Halsey Street filed a complaint alleging the restaurant reached 108 degrees because the air conditioning broke: “The employer refuses to close and fix the air conditioning,” the employee said. “Employees had to use ice and cool rags to stay cool. This type of weather is not fit for employees to work.” A worker at the Claim Jumper in Tualatin alleged employees had been using the walk-in refrigerator to cool off from indoor temperatures above 90 degrees, but that “the manager locked the door to keep employees from using the only one way that was available for them to cool off.” None of the restaurants responded to requests for comment by press deadlines.
Housing Leader Mulls Run for County Chair: Shannon Singleton, an adviser to Gov. Kate Brown and former executive director of the homeless services nonprofit JOIN, is weighing a run for Multnomah County chair, multiple sources tell WW. That’s notable in part because the county oversees homeless services, and Singleton would bring years of leadership to bear. She served on the executive committees that passed affordable housing bond measures in 2016 and 2018. “I have made no decision,” Singleton tells WW. Current Chair Deborah Kafoury is serving her last of two terms and is among those believed to be weighing a run for governor.
Tree Planters Find Some Funding: The tree-planting group Friends of Trees will get partial funding from the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services for the upcoming planting season. Earlier this month, the group told WW it was stuck in limbo waiting to hear whether it would get interim funding for planting season, which extends through the spring (the contract ends in December). But the group told WW on July 21 it is meeting with BES this week to iron out a deal: “It is our understanding that they intend to fund us at roughly half of the amount we have received previously in the form of stop-gap support to ensure community tree planting continues this fall through spring,” said executive director Yashar Vasef, who adds that “nothing has been signed in ink yet.” BES spokesperson Diane Dulken says the extended contract will apply to tree planting on private property only. The back-and-forth matters because Friends of Trees has focused its tree-planting efforts since 2008 in deep Southeast Portland, where there’s far less tree cover than on the west side of the Willamette River.