Too busy to remember what the holidays are all about? Well, thank Lars Larson for this Christmas CliffsNotes reminder: The radio rabble-rouser plans Dec. 19 to erect a 10-foot wooden cross emblazoned with "Jesus Is the Reason for the Season" in Pioneer Courthouse Square. (He ruled out a manger—maybe hay's too messy.) City officials say Larson has a permit and is within his free-speech rights. But Larson is incensed that they call the square's 75-foot Douglas fir an "annual'' tree instead of a Christmas tree. Larson likens his cross to a public-service campaign, in this case to spread holiday spirit. Can't you feel the festiveness?
Check out the table arrangements for last Monday's annual Citizens Crime Commission luncheon. Seated with beleaguered commission chairman Jim Jeddeloh was Andy Wiederhorn, recently released from federal prison after serving time for filing a false tax return and paying an illegal gratuity to a pension-plan official. Jeddeloh, under investigation for violating a restraining order filed by his wife, was heard to quip while looking at all the uniformed officers in the crowd, "This year, I'm nervous.''
City Hall buzz has Commissioner Sam Adams and Nancy Hamilton, Mayor Tom Potter's chief of staff, getting into one hell of a cussing match recently. The reason for the profanity? Adams wanted to take the lead in negotiations over the latest cost overrun for the OHSU aerial tram. Hamilton was pissed off because she wanted the mayor's office in charge. The sweet irony? When Adams was former Mayor Vera Katz's chief of staff, he also earned a rep for having "control'' issues.
It's official: Commissioner Erik Sten will run again, and seek public financing for his re-election bid. Sten has successfully pushed for publicly financed campaigns that will require qualifying council candidates to collect 1,000 $5 donations. That contrasts with opponent Ginny Burdick, who's been collecting support from critics of tax money for campaigns. One other election Murmur: Aisling Coghlan, former chief of staff to Commissioner Dan Saltzman, will be Saltzman's campaign manager next year for his own tough re-election try next year (see Q&A, page 11).
ay goodbye to Joe's Place, the institution at 1801 NE Alberta St., which will have a last big bash on New Year's Eve before closing for good Jan. 3 ("Say It Ain't So, Joe," WW, June 15, 2005). Joe's red, white and blue peace sign has been an Alberta icon since now-73-year-old Joe Benjamin bought the place in 1972. The last black hangout on the redone strip hosts a cast of regulars full of stories about black history in the neighborhood and city. Word is the bar's buyers are white and just awaiting OLCC approval to close their purchase.
Keeping score on WW's Give! Guide (wweek.com/giveguide)? By press time, there were 212 donations totaling $15,000-plus to the nonprofits profiled in the guide. And you have until Dec. 31 to keep on giving. All donors get a discount coupon at American Apparel; a cup of joe at Stumptown; a tin of Powell's After Reading Mints; a booklet of Music Millennium New Year's coupons; and, while they last, a copy of WW's Finder magazine. Give $250 or more and Publisher Richard Meeker will personally deliver a pound of coffee, a six-pack of beer, and a bottle of fine wine from E&R Wine Shop. Make the biggest gift and get dinner for two with Meeker and WW's editor, Mark Zusman, at your favorite restaurant. All donors have an equal shot at the deluxe edition of the Johnny Cash box set (a $300-plus value from Music Millennium) and chef's dinners for two at clarklewis.
McMenamins, the Portland-based brewery and pub chain famous for restoring historic buildings, may actually be suppressing history in Bend. A new Bend eatery chose the name "The O'Kane Grill" when it opened this fall in a building constructed in 1916 by Hugh O'Kane, a founding father of Bend's historic business district. But McMenamins threatened a lawsuit, citing a violation of its trademarked "O'Kane" cigar room ensconced within the Old St. Francis School, its year-old Bend campus of pubs, a hotel and a theater. The Grill's owners relented and renamed their place the "Bend City Grill." Bend city planner Pat Kliewer, who oversees the preservation of historic properties, says, "It really is a shame," noting that the grill's location is much more closely associated with Hugh O'Kane than McMenamins.
News outta Salem is that Gov. Ted Kulongoski has hired himself a new communications director. Lonn Hoklin has resigned, effective Dec. 19, from a similar position as spokesman for the House Democratic Caucus to go work for Kulongoski. Early word from D's who worked with Hoklin is that it's a good appointment for the guv as he enters a re-election year because Hoklin has such strong ties to the Democratic caucus.
The local branch of Louis and Company, a cabinet distributor, faces a nasty federal lawsuit from an ex-employee. Donta Lawrence, a 38-year-old African-American man who worked at the company from 2000 to 2004, filed a race discrimination and wrongful-discharge complaint in early November. Lawrence claims in his lawsuit seeking "what the jury finds to be appropriate" that he was continually subjected to racist treatment ranging from being called "boy," "black ass" and "jungle bunny" to being asked questions about the color of Band-Aids for black people. Messages left seeking comment from the company were not returned.
Here's one more from the court files: Rodney Englert, an Oregon-based forensic consultant known for his expertise on the witness stand, is asking for $3 million in a personal injury and defamation complaint filed Nov. 3 in Multnomah County Circuit Court against six other nationally known blood-and-guts experts. His gripe? Englert says they called him a "forensic whore," a " liar for hire" and, get this, "the bin Laden of bloodstains." The six out-of-state defendants did not return emails requesting comment.
Criminal-defense lawyer Griff Healy has resigned from the local pool of Yamhill County public defenders after WW pointed out a past of sordid sex-abuse charges against him ("Bad Blood," WW, Nov. 16, 2005). The McMinnville News-Register (www.newsregister.com) reports that Healy cited pressure caused by WW's story for his decision to step down. Healy, once one of Oregon's top death-penalty lawyers, pleaded guilty years ago to two misdemeanors in connection with the accusations. He was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and suspended 60 days by the Oregon State Bar.