THE GROUP trying to place Portland's sewer and water services into the hands of a new elected board has been snubbing invitations to discuss the issue. 

Portlanders for Water Reform, in the midst of gathering signatures for a measure it hopes to land on the May 2014 ballot, announced last week it wouldn't participate in a City Club of Portland study of their proposal. The group's chief members—industrial ratepayer ally Kent Craford and water activist Floy Jones—say they're suspicious of the study, and the group that will carry it out, which they say is overstocked with "city hall insiders."

The group similarly spurned a July invitation by the Portland Utility Review Board to discuss the proposal. Craford tells the Mercury that board—an independent group that reviews water and sewer rates—is "a city hall-appointed circus of hacks." DIRK VANDERHART


MAYOR CHARLIE HALES trumpeted a political coup last week. His office had persuaded Jackie Dingfelder—among the Oregon Legislature's strongest voices on environmental issues—to leave the Senate and join his staff as a policy director. "She has great strengths in environmental and land use issues," Hales told the Mercury.

But that move, ironically, could complicate another of Hales' policy goals: sidewalk management. The leading candidate to replace Dingfelder is Michael Dembrow—one of two state representatives this year to vote against the Portland Business Alliance's sit-lie bill, HB 2963. That bill eventually died amid tepid support in the Senate.

Hales, as the Mercury first reported, wants to revive a version of that bill. Dembrow, in a letter to advocates, said he voted no because he was "concerned about potential discrimination against the homeless." Multnomah County Board of Commissioners will decide whether Dembrow or someone else gets the nod. DENIS C. THERIAULT