FOR THE SECOND TIME this year, the City of Portland is looking to use state-owned property to help deal with homeless camps.

As first reported by the Mercury, Mayor Charlie Hales' office plans to take control of two parcels of land that abut the Hazelnut Grove encampment near North Greeley and Interstate. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) says it will give the plots away for free.

The city already owns much of the land Hazelnut Grove sits on, but newcomers have flocked to the area in recent months, leading to occasional theft and assaults. Once it acquires the state land, the city will sweep those new campers, and issue a permit to Hazelnut Grove for a maximum 40 people, according to Hales' chief of staff, Josh Alpert.

That would create new legitimacy for Hazelnut Grove, making it the city's third permitted homeless camp. It also leaves questions about what happens to the people who are swept.

"It won't be full of people," Alpert says. "We're creating a system here."

Earlier this year, the city bought a plot of land in Southeast Portland from ODOT, hoping to move the homeless rest area Right 2 Dream Too to the site. DIRK VANDERHART

MULTNOMAH UNIVERSITY, a tiny Christian school in Northeast Portland, has broken its silence about its petition to legally discriminate against transgender students.

The school refused to comment for a story published in the Mercury last week, detailing a decades-old federal exemption Multnomah won that allows it to discriminate against gay and lesbian students—and a new push to have that exemption extended to allow discrimination on the basis of gender identity. But on Friday—as it faced angry reactions and prepared for a small protest outside its gates—the school issued a statement to media acknowledging its request and claiming, in part, that "Multnomah University does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation."

That's not actually true, the school's president later conceded. The school allows gay students, says President G. Craig Williford, but would kick out any gay or lesbian students who got married (since that would suggest they're having sex with their husband or wife, which Multnomah won't tolerate from gay couples).

"Yes, you could call it discriminating on the basis of same-sex marriage," Williford says. DVH

COUNTY COMMISSIONER Jules Bailey wants to be mayor. Now we know one person who'd like to be Jules Bailey.

Eric Zimmerman, chief of staff to Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel, announced December 10 he'll vie for Bailey's seat next year. Zimmerman's a 31-year-old Iraq War veteran, and member of the LGBTQ community, who says his experience with the county's bureaucracy makes him a qualified candidate.

Interestingly, Zimmerman's also a Bailey ally—he's the commissioner's alternate, should Bailey leave office early—and a vocal supporter of Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who's also running for mayor.

"They're both great," says Zimmerman, who says he won't endorse in the mayoral race. DVH