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October 30th, 2013 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: Portland Loses an Urban-Planning Leader.

murmurs_3952TOULAN - Image courtesy of PSU
  • Nohad Toulan—a leading figure in Portland’s urban planning and Islamic worlds—died Oct. 28 with his wife, Dirce Angelina Moroni Toulan, in a traffic accident in Uruguay. Toulan, 81, was the retired director of Portland State University’s College of Urban and Public Affairs, which includes the School of Urban Studies and Planning that bears his name. He taught city planning at PSU for 30 years and helped draft Portland’s celebrated urban growth boundary. Toulan’s planning efforts extended outside the region: In 1984, he left Portland for two years to draft a comprehensive regional plan for the Islamic holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Dirce Toulan, herself an architect and planner, was 79. “It is very hard to imagine the American Muslim and Arab communities and Portland without Dr. Nohad and Dirce Toulan,” says Wajdi Said, director of Portland’s Muslim Educational Trust. “Both were and will continue to be the pride of the Muslim community in Oregon.”
  • The battle to end City Hall control of the Portland Water Bureau is now a divided front. A coalition of environmental activists affiliated with Occupy Mount Tabor filed a ballot initiative Oct. 28 to create a “people’s water trust.” The trust would tighten rules on how city water officials spend ratepayers’ money, and require a public vote before adding new chemicals to the city’s drinking water, including fluoride. Left-wing water activists and big businesses had both supported an initiative campaign to shift authority over Portland’s water and sewer utilities from the City Council to an independent, elected water district board. Enviros have now changed course. “The water district would essentially go backward,” says Green Party activist Seth Woolley. Kent Craford, leading the business effort, dismisses Woolley’s proposal. “He probably wrote this in his mom’s basement between rounds of Dungeons & Dragons,” Craford says.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon wants to tighten rules on how police departments use information gleaned from automatic license plate readers. The devices—used on 16 Portland Police Bureau cars and by other large law enforcement agencies in Oregon—randomly photograph license plates and store the images (as well as the dates, times and locations of the vehicles) in a searchable database. Police say the images help them find stolen cars and potential suspects. But the ACLU says police keep the images for up to four years—far longer than necessary. The group is drafting a bill for the 2014 legislative session that would require police to delete the images after 24 hours. “We want guidelines so our government is not collecting and retaining innocent people’s data,” ACLU lobbyist Becky Straus says. Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson declined to comment on the proposed legislation but says a 24-hour retention limit would render the plate readers “virtually useless as an investigative tool.”
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