Murmurs: New/Old Candidate for ATU President

Meet the new union boss, same as the old boss.

  1. A $400 million plan to reduce Interstate 5 congestion in the Rose Quarter has one surprising element: a freeway cover on I-5 at North Vancouver and Williams avenues. The lid—similar to the freeway covering in downtown Seattle—would create at least two developable blocks at the Rose Quarter. Who controls the newly created real estate is up in the air—literally. “We don’t know,” says Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Don Hamilton about the “air rights” above I-5. “It’s a federal highway, so the feds have jurisdiction. When this has happened before, the feds have leased it.”
  1. An old hand might be returning to the battle over TriMet’s future: Ron Heintzman, a bare-knuckled union boss who led the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 when it won a controversial 1994 contract that broadly expanded health coverage for retirees. Heintzman is again running for president, and insiders say he’s the frontrunner in the June 15 vote. During five terms as president, from 1988 to 2002, Heintzman was known for his take-no-prisoners negotiating style (see “The Nasty Battle Inside Local 757,” WW, Nov. 8, 2000). He’d lead ATU in upcoming contract talks with TriMet. Heintzman didn’t respond to WW’s calls by deadline.
  1. Give that white liberal guilt a rest? Turns out Oregon is one of the country’s least racist states, at least when it comes to Googling. The New York Times’ Campaign Stops blog reports that a Harvard doctoral candidate, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, found a correlation between Internet searches for racially charged terms and voting patterns for President Obama in 2008. Stephens-Davidowitz found Obama received fewer votes than expected in states where Internet users most often searched for the N-word. Oregon ranked 44th for how often racist terms were searched. West Virginia was No. 1; Utah had the fewest searches. Turns out racially charged terms are nearly as common in Google searches as “weather,” “migraine” and “Daily Show.”
  1. Where Not To Put Birds: On June 14, the City of Portland will co-host an architects’ and developers’ forum on “bird-friendly building design.” A recent Portland Audubon Society report says as many as 1 billion birds a year die from striking buildings, including untold thousands locally. The Audubon Wildlife Care Center says it treated 590 birds (covering 86 native species) after window strikes from 2009 through 2011. The report proposes changes to local design guidelines for windows, façades, landscaping and lighting to mitigate bird strikes. The city says it’s not likely to make the guidelines code. “The resource guide is not about new regulations,” Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Director Susan Anderson says in a news release. One solution: bird-shaped silhouettes on windows, sure to be a boon to local craftsfolk.