Murmurs: All The News That Gives A Hoot.

  1. State lawmakers are considering ways to let people expunge past marijuana convictions from their criminal records. WW first reported in February that Rep. Lew Frederick (D-Portland) had introduced a bill to do so, but that measure is dead for this session. Now, the idea is being revived by the House-Senate committee reviewing the potential effects of Measure 91, the voter-approved initiative that will make pot legal in Oregon later this year. Co-chairwoman Rep. Ann Lininger (D-Lake Oswego) wants to add the provision to an omnibus pot bill. She says people could erase convictions for growing, selling or possessing weed, as long as the crimes occurred at least three years ago and didn’t involve a violent crime. “We need to figure out a way,” Lininger says, “to deal with this piece of collateral damage from the war on drugs.”
  1. A story in last week’s paper (“Making the Law Pay,” WW, May 20, 2015) underreported how much the Markowitz Herbold law firm will collect in billings from the state of Oregon this year. The story said the state “will likely pay” the Portland firm more than $4 million. In fact, the state has already paid the firm $4.7 million in fiscal 2015, which ends June 30. Oregon Department of Justice spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson says the firm has done exemplary work, including protecting Oregon’s national tobacco settlement money, worth $75 million a year. “Other states have lost their annual settlement money,” Edmunson says. “But Oregon has not.”
  1. The seven members of the Portland Public Schools board are volunteers, but PPS rules allow them to get some expenses covered by taxpayers. Records released to WW show the school district in 2013 and 2014 paid $2,693 to cover cellphone bills and home Internet service for Matt Morton, $358 in cellphone bills for Greg Belisle, and a flat $1,000 stipend to Ruth Adkins. All three chose not to seek re-election this year. Bobbie Regan, who lost her re-election bid May 19 to Amy Kohnstamm, also collected a $1,000 stipend. Not all board members take advantage. Steve Buel expensed just one item, a $23 meal at the City Club of Portland in 2014. And Tom Koehler? Zilch.
  1. Barred owls have been on the attack recently, dive-bombing joggers in Salem and a man near the Vista Bridge in Southwest Portland. The latest Strix varia victim might be State Treasurer and potential Portland mayoral candidate Ted Wheeler. Wheeler tells WW he was on a half-marathon training run near his West Hills home recently when a large bird “whacked me in the head.” Ever cautious, Wheeler declined to speculate on the species. “It was dark,” he says. “No harm, no foul.”

WWeek 2015

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