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April 2nd, 2014 5:01 pm WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: Our News Is Better Because LaMarcus Is Back.

murmurs_4022NOVICK - IMAGE: Felicity Mackay / Portland Bureau of Transportation
  • Would you be willing to pay a new $12-a-month city “street maintenance” fee? That’s the question being put to voters in a Portland Bureau of Transportation poll. City Commissioner Steve Novick wants to raise money for the bureau, and the new fee ($144 a year) on Portland’s roughly 250,000 households would bring in $36 million annually. The poll—first reported by BikePortland.org and obtained by wweek.com—also tests an $8-a-home option. One question not asked: What if the City Council passes the new fee without a public vote? Circumventing voters is one option being looked at by Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales. “There’s a process to go through,” says Novick chief of staff Chris Warner, “before council makes that decision.” That bugs Jason Williams of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon, which regularly challenges tax increases. “It just seems like whenever the politicians have a dumb idea or a dangerous idea,” Williams says, “that’s when they don’t ask the voters.”
  • The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office is failing to offer preferences to disabled veterans in hirings and promotions, as required by law, and may have to pay for it. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries issued a preliminary opinion April 1 ordering the sheriff to pay Sgt. Rod Edwards $25,000 in damages. Edwards, who served in the Navy for four years in the 1980s, claimed the sheriff’s office failed to credit him with a preference for his disability when a lieutenant’s position came open in 2012. BOLI ruled an agency isn’t required to promote an unqualified applicant but must clearly show how it gives special consideration to veterans. Instead, BOLI wrote, the sheriff’s office policy was “confusing and inconsistent.” Edwards has followed the BOLI opinion with a $1 million federal lawsuit against the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Dan Staton—himself a veteran—declined to comment.
  • Opponents of the proposed $200 million Hyatt Hotel at the Oregon Convention Center have missed the window to plan a measure on the May ballot and are now pleading their case in the Oregon Court of Appeals. But anyone who thinks the new hotel’s foes, led by downtown hotelier Gordon Sondland, will fade quietly away, should consider the situation in Tacoma. The News Tribune reports a Sondland-led group there has tied up another hotelier for nearly five years with lawsuits and appeals. The Tacoma City Council will vote this week on a settlement that gives Sondland’s group two parcels of waterfront real estate for about one-third of their $4 million appraised value. Paige Richardson, a spokeswoman for the Coalition for Fair Budget Priorities, which objects to the $80 million in taxpayer funding earmarked for the hotel, says, “We’re going to continue to fight for a public vote on this large public subsidy.”
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