PORTLAND TEACHERS are ready to strike. After roughly 10 months of up-and-down negotiations with Portland Public Schools, the district's teachers' union formally voted by a large margin on February 5 to walk out if a contract agreement isn't reached by February 20. Primarily at issue in the talks are workloads the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) says are untenable—particularly in a year when the district has surplus cash. The union has demanded 175 new hires to cut down on large class sizes. The district has pushed instead for 88 new teachers, and says it will consider more during its budgeting process. The two sides also disagree on benefits, hiring practices, standardized testing, and other issues. Mediation was in full swing as of press time on Tuesday, February 11. Meanwhile, teachers and administrators from other districts are watching with interest. "It's the largest district [in Oregon]," says Hanna Vaandering, president of the Oregon Education Association. "It's important we get it right." DIRK VANDERHART

DESPITE THE STRONG recommendation of a citizen panel, Police Chief Mike Reese has refused to reconsider his subordinates' decision not to punish a controversial cop accused of menacing his ex-wife during an off-duty child-custody dispute, according to a letter obtained by the Mercury. And his refusal could trigger a rare city council hearing. Reese's response, delivered last month, followed a unanimous vote in December by the Citizen Review Committee (CRC). The CRC, tasked with hearing appeals in police misconduct cases, ripped into police brass for failing to find Officer Jason Lobaugh in violation of the bureau's professionalism policy. Lobaugh admitted angrily clashing with his ex-wife three times over a six-day span in 2012, calling her new husband, at one point, a "little bitch." DENIS C. THERIAULT