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August 21st, 2013 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: All the News That Fits in a Bootleg Loo.

murmurs_3942THE ORIGINAL LOO - IMAGE: Anna Jaye Goellner
  • Gay-marriage opponents are already behind in the spending race to repeal Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage. The group seeking to overturn the ban, Oregon United for Marriage, launched a drive to collect petition signatures July 26 (“The Queer Frontier,” WW, Aug. 14, 2013). Protect Marriage Oregon, which led the fight for 2004’s Measure 36 establishing the gay-marriage ban in the state constitution, would lead the campaign against the repeal measure, slated for 2014. But the group has only $5,338 in cash on hand—with debts of $15,000. Protect Marriage Oregon spokeswoman Teresa Harke tells WW it’s difficult to raise money when the measure isn’t on the ballot yet. Meanwhile, Oregon United for Marriage has spent $284,000 on the petition drive and early campaign work, with more money rolling in. “We don’t have millionaires in Washington, D.C., who are going to donate several million dollars like we expect on the other side,” Harke says. “They will out-raise us.”
  • Don’t mess with the Portland Loo. The city of Portland has sued a Roseburg company for selling an outdoor restroom that looks exactly like Portland’s patented public toilet. WW first reported in May that city officials are struggling to sell the loo to other cities for $90,000 a pop (“Money Bucket,” WW, May 15, 2013). But Romtec Inc. is  undercutting Portland with its “Sidewalk Restroom,” which is similar in design. It, too, is made of steel and has angled slats at the top and bottom so police can see inside. Oh, and this: It sells for only $38,500. The city’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court on Aug. 19, alleges copyright infringement. “After the success of the Portland Loo, Romtec now seeks to usurp the urban market with its Sidewalk Restroom, which is an obvious knock-off of the Portland Loo,” the suit says. The city also wants a judge to order all the Sidewalk Restrooms that Romtec has in stock seized and destroyed.
  • The inmate work crews forced to clean up city sidewalks after Mayor Charlie Hales’ sweep of the homeless have balked at picking up hypodermic needles left behind by drug addicts. Documents obtained by WW through a public records request show the mayor’s office exchanged emails last week with Kate Wood, the city risk manager, seeking someone to pick up the needles, called sharps. Wood replied that the city’s janitorial contractor, PHC Northwest, would collect the sharps—but wouldn’t handle the required biowaste disposal. Hales’ office expressed frustration. “If we can find the right contract to piggyback,” Hales policy director Noah Siegel wrote Wood, “it does seem possible for PHC to pick up as long as we throw it away. Good lord.”
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