Murmurs: News That Tells Us How You Really Feel.

  1. It’s not just your imagination: Portlanders are hot under the collar about City Hall. City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade has released the annual survey gauging how well citizens feel the city of Portland is doing. Just 46 percent of Portlanders think the city is doing a good or very good job of providing services—the lowest rating in the 20 years the auditor has asked the question. Only 22 percent of those surveyed feel good about their opportunity to influence government—a finding that comes as the City Council considers creating a street fee to pay for road repairs and maintenance. Mayor Charlie Hales has opposed sending the street fee question to voters. There’s one issue on which voters get their say now: Measure 26-159, the renewal of a $68 million bond for city parks on the Nov. 4 ballot. The survey found 85 percent of Portlanders are happy with city parks.
  1. A billionaire hedge-fund chief is on track to spend more than $50 million to make climate change a major issue in the Nov. 4 election. Turns out the spending by Thomas Steyer and his NextGen Climate Action group could inadvertently revive the dead-for-the-moment Columbia River Crossing, a project environmentalists dislike. Steyer is targeting climate-change deniers across the country and has helped turn the battle for control of the Washington Senate into one of the most expensive ever. The CRC died in 2013 when Republicans who control the Washington Senate smothered it. Democrats in Olympia could restart the CRC, which enviros oppose partly on climate-change grounds because the freeway project would encourage more driving. In Oregon, Steyer’s group has given at least $70,000 to the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, which fought the CRC. “That would be a concern,” OLCV executive director Doug Moore says of the possibility the CRC could be revived, “and something we’d carefully watch.
  1. Political wonk alert! A new Web project at seeks to make campaign finance data more accessible to the public. The nonpartisan Behind the Curtain project goes live Oct. 30, allowing Oregonians to research spending on all state campaigns, from the governor’s race down to local school board contests. The Oregon Elections Division puts all campaign data online through its ORESTAR system. But Behind the Curtain, which grew out of a class at Pacific Northwest College of Art, uses the data to create easy-to-understand visuals of candidates’ funding sources. “We hope that we’ve made it really clear and basic,” says Catherine Nikolovski, executive director of Hack Oregon. The group will host a public launch party Thursday, Oct. 30, from 6:30 to 9 pm at Crowd Compass, 2505 SE 11th Ave., Suite 300.

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