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October 23rd, 2013 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: Pssst. Exxon Also Wants Our Water. Pass It On.

murmurs_3951CO-CONSPIRATOR? - Image courtesy of Warner Brothers
  • The initiative campaign to wrest control of Portland’s water and sewer bureaus away from City Hall is now living under the shadow of Big Chocolate. The Oregon Elections Division has received a complaint that signature gatherers are falsely claiming the petition would stop Nestlé Corp. from taking over the city’s water supply. The measure would create an independent, publicly elected commission to oversee Portland’s sewer and water systems. In a Oct. 20 complaint, Portland resident Brighton West says he was approached on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and asked to sign a petition to stop Nestlé from privatizing Portland’s water supply. “The petition gatherer told us his boss told them to talk about Nestlé,” West wrote. “However, it seems like Nestlé has nothing to do with this petition.” (West is deputy director of Friends of Trees, which has a contract with the city’s Bureau of Environmental Services.) The Swiss-based corporation, which sells Deer Park and Poland Spring bottled water, has for years sought to place a bottling plant in the Columbia River Gorge, sparking protests. A state elections official told West she would send Portlanders for Water Reform a warning. “We just found out about it,” says Kent Craford, co-petitioner for the campaign, “and we’re looking into it.”
  • Portland State University has fired a company from its three-year, no-bid $1.5 million contract after WW reported on the firm’s failure to pay its taxes. Diversified Abilities employs disabled Oregonians and had been working under the contract to clean PSU dorms. The company has federal and state tax liens of $365,000 (“Janitorial Mess,” WW, June 26, 2013) and has struggled to pay its unemployment insurance. On Oct. 14, PSU  replaced Diversified Abilities with Portland Habilitation Center, a larger competitor. “Diversified Abilities was not able to meet performance goals outlined in the residence hall contract,” says PSU spokesman Scott Gallagher. Diversified Abilities still has a smaller contract to clean other campus buildings. The company did not respond to a call seeking comment.
  • Fans of the late “Working” Kirk Reeves have started a Facebook campaign to name the new TriMet transit bridge after the street musician. Reeves was a fixture at the eastbound on-ramp to the Hawthorne Bridge, wearing a white tuxedo and Mickey Mouse ears, serenading passersby with his trumpet. TriMet is asking the public to help name its new Portland-Milwaukie light-rail bridge. Plagued by health problems, Reeves fatally shot himself in 2012. Naming the bridge after him would also bring attention to the city’s high suicide rate and problems dealing with mental-health issues. TriMet says it has received more than 2,500 ideas for naming the bridge. The Facebook page to name the bridge after Reeves has climbed to more than 700 likes.
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