Murmurs: Where We Take Old News and Make it New Again.

  1. As first reported on wweek.com, multiple sources have told WW that the FBI is investigating Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment; the governor’s office says neither Gov. John Kitzhaber nor Hayes has been contacted about any such investigation. “Clearly, if contacted they will fully cooperate,” Kitzhaber spokeswoman Amy Wojcicki says. Hayes and Kitzhaber face complaints filed against them with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. Hayes is under scrutiny for allegedly using her position as first lady and adviser to the governor to land $85,000 in private consulting contracts (“First Lady Inc.,” WW, Oct. 8, 2014). Hayes and Kitzhaber have lawyered up. Wojcicki says they’ve hired Steve Janik and Jim McDermott of the Ball Janik law firm to represent them before the ethics commission. She also says the commission is scheduled to complete its preliminary review of the complaints by its March 13 meeting.
  1. Rumblings of police reform are making their way from the streets of Portland to the halls of the Oregon Legislature. Protests against police violence jammed Portland streets this winter as young African-American activists call for stricter cop oversight in the wake of the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of  police in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City (“Bring the Noise,” WW, Dec. 10, 2014). Now state Rep. Lew Frederick (D-Portland) has introduced 11 bills in Salem to toughen the rules for local police forces. Among his proposals: requiring body cameras on officers, codifying the right of citizens to film the police, and requiring police shootings to be investigated by an outside district attorney. In a Jan. 12 column in The Skanner newspaper, Frederick says his legislation stems from distrust within the black community. “If that officer could shoot that other guy for no reason that I can make sense of, then he could shoot me this time, no matter what I do,” Frederick writes. “The more that fear penetrates into the community, the less legitimate our policing function seems, and that is a true breakdown, and should concern us all.”
  1. Members of United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 290 have re-elected Fritz “Al” Shropshire as their business agent, the top position in the 4,000-member union. Dissidents said Shropshire’s past convictions on drug charges, and the hiring of his wife to oversee Local 290’s apprenticeship program, were reasons to oust him in favor of challenger Lou Christian (“Steaming Mad,” WW, Dec. 24, 2014). But union membership voted Shropshire to another three-year term by a margin of 670-546.