- Just as Mayor Charlie Hales moves to bust the Portland police commanders union, a bill to expand the rights of police brass to unionize is working its way through the Legislature. House Bill 2418 expands the right to union protection to more public employees, including police chiefs and assistant chiefs. According to Halesâ officeâwhich has been lobbying against the billâeven Police Chief Mike Reese would be eligible to join a union under the measure, sponsored by Rep. Greg Matthews (D-Gresham). The bill has passed the House and is up for a hearing in the Senate. Meanwhile, a measure making it easier to fire cops who use unlawful force is dead. Senate Bill 747âsought by Portland attorneys Greg and Jason Kafoury and sponsored by Sen. Chip Shields (D-Portland)âwould have prevented Portland police officers who have been disciplined or fired for using unlawful force from appealing to the state arbitration board. Jason Kafoury says theyâll bring the bill back in 2014. âWeâll tinker with it and build up a larger coalition of groups behind it,â he says.
- Turns out the Dalai Lama wasnât the only world religious leader in Portland last weekend. David Miscavige, head of the Church of Scientology, dropped by the May 11 opening ceremonies of an âIdeal Org,â an opulent church headquarters and recruiting center at 360 SW Oak St. The event included a white-robed choir singing the âBattle of Portlandâ anthem. You ask, the Battle of Portland? It involved two months of Scientology marches through city streets in 1985âwith appearances by church glitterati John Travolta and Chick Coreaâprotesting a Multnomah County jury finding the church guilty of defrauding a defector named Julie Christofferson Titchbourne. The jury awarded Titchbourne $39 million in damages. Scientologists from across the country turned the verdict into a referendum on religious freedom, a judge tossed out the verdict and the two sides later settled for an undisclosed amount.
- In the ongoing fiasco known as the Portland arts tax, the nonprofit that pushed the $35-per-person tax to fund arts education may actually feel some financial pain as a result. The city faces two legal challenges to the tax approved by voters in November. If the courts reject the tax, Mayor Charlie Hales says, the city will guarantee $2 million of the $3 million payment thatâs supposed to go to the cityâs six public school districts next fall. As first reported at wweek.com, Hales has decided thatâif the city has to cover the schoolsâ costsâheâll take $1 million out of the hide of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, the publicly funded nonprofit that pushed for the tax. Jack Bogdanskiâthe Lewis & Clark Law School professor and ex-blogger who first sued the city over the taxâsays the Oregon Tax Court will hear preliminary motions on his case next week.