Last Tuesday afternoon, 30 citizens lined the perimeter of Congressman Earl Blumenauer's building, urging him to vote against President Bush's campaign for Fast Track legislation. The protest was calm, but police presence was typically overbearing: A dozen motorcycle units and two equestrian units kept tabs on the small group of citizens.
Unfazed, the protesters voiced opposition to Fast Track legislation, which would aid the quick approval of FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas), and essentially become an extension of the North American Free Trade Agreement. By re-implementing Fast Track legislation, Bush could submit deals like FTAA to Congress for approval. Congress would, in turn, be powerless to modify or amend them, and could merely vote yes or no within 60 days.
The protesters at Tuesday's rally fear such power would mean increased exploitation of the resources and freedoms of smaller countries. "Congressman Blumenauer has voted for free trade legislation in the past, yet his constituents are overwhelmingly opposed to free trade that puts corporate profits before workers and environment," said Ryan Hunter, Trade Organizer for the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs. KARRIN ELLERTSON
IS PORTLAND PARKING GROWING UP?
Portland has been a safehaven from the mass expansion, horrible traffic, and the parking nightmares of cities like San Francisco and Seattle. But could the parking-hell-hiatus be over?
Due to the construction of the new PGE Stadium, and general congestion in the NW Portland neighborhood, Transportation Commissioner Charlie Hales is proposing a new method of parking control. The solar-powered pay stations will accept credit cards and reside in one central area, as opposed to lining the streets like meters.
Unfortunately for drivers, the stations won't allow parkers to use left-over time from a previous parker, and may alert attendants when time has run out--so the city will know, the driver won't, and the driver can say a quick goodbye to another $20. The plan will take five years and cost the city 5.3 million dollars, money they'll collect if the new road fee passes at the ballot next May. KATIE SHIMER