PERHAPS NO QUESTION around Portland's twice-delayed bike-share program has been as hotly pursued as who will fund it. In early 2013, local firm Alta Bicycle Share started seeking out some $5.5 million in private sponsorships to buy a system and run it for five years. There have been a lot of rumors, but no firm announcements.
But it appears the city's had a fully fleshed-out funding plan since November 2013.
According to an invoice obtained by the Mercury, Alta billed the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) $40,000 on November 13, after it had submitted a "system finance plan."
The city's contract with Alta states that report had to be submitted "with 100 percent of funds secured to acquire, install, and operate a 75-station, 750-bike system for five years."
But if funding is identified, that's not been the message from PBOT or Alta. In December, Alta Vice President Mia Birk wrote that the company was "continuing to make progress on resolving the outstanding issues of the agreement."
And in a January statement, PBOT said "the city remains focused on closing a deal with our title sponsor, the key milestone we need to be able to launch the Portland bike-share system."
First slated to begin last year, bike share isn't expected to hit the streets until 2015. PBOT hadn't responded to questions about the mixed messages by press time. DIRK VANDERHART
MAYOR CHARLIE HALES' office has laid out its "nutshell" strategy for managing this year's version of NE Alberta's Last Thursday: While city hall keeps up the hunt for an interested nonprofit or neighborhood group to take over the event, it wants to start collecting fees from vendors—"probably" as soon as this summer.
Some of that news spilled out when Commissioner Amanda Fritz asked the mayor about his plans during a public budget workshop last Thursday, April 3. Hales' staff confirmed the rest after a call from the Mercury.
Managing the monthly event has cost the city at least $10,000, sometimes more. Dana Haynes, Hales' spokesman, says the particulars around a fee have yet to be vetted with the city attorney or the city's revenue bureau. But that's just a hiccup on the way to change—and it follows an attempt last year to clamp down on public drunkenness and other concerns.
"He doesn't want this forevermore to be paid for by the taxpayers at large," Haynes says of his boss. DENIS C. THERIAULT
PERSONAL POLITICS could imperil the success of a new Sellwood market before it's even open.
In early April, a YouTube video emerged tying the owner of the Moreland Farmers Pantry to Facebook comments bitterly opposed to gay marriage. The owner, Chauncy Childs, also stated she didn't believe it should be illegal for her to refuse to serve certain people—including gays—though she had no plans to do so. And Childs told the Oregonian she fears gay marriage could lead to bigamy and pedophilia.
Everyone flipped out. Online groups emerged calling for a boycott. Prominent Portland restaurateur Nick Zukin (owner of Mi Mero Mole) caught fire for defending Childs' freedom to have her own beliefs.
Then, on April 5, the man who posted the inciting YouTube video, Sean O'Riordan announced he'd taken it down. The market's owners had reached out to him even before the firestorm, he said, and proved they'd made a donation to a local gay rights organization, the Equity Foundation.
According to O'Riordan, that donation almost didn't happen. John Childs, co-owner of the forthcoming market, had trouble finding a pro-gay group that didn't steer its efforts toward marriage equality, O'Riordan said. DVH
PROTESTORS WHO'D hectored Oregon's largest Asian market since last year have called a stop to the demonstrations after settling a lawsuit in court last month.
For months, the group Portland Solidarity Network held regular protests outside the SE 82nd shopping center, waving signs and circulating flyers in an attempt to shame owner Michael Liu. The group said it was approached by two former employees of the market, who claimed they weren't allowed breaks and were treated harshly, among other things.
As part of its campaign, Portland Solidarity demanded roughly $4,300 in back pay for the two women.
But Liu fought back, filing a defamation suit and threatening to drain the group's resources in a lengthy court fight. The parties reached a settlement in March.
"They signed a lot of [non-disclosure agreements] so I will have to see what they can disclose," said Shane Burley, an organizer with Portland Solidarity, "but the campaign is definitely over." DVH