A year ago, Money Magazine ranked Portland as the number one place to live in the country--a blue-ribbon distinction largely based on a perceived plump job market. But last week, Portland grabbed another dubious number one ranking when unemployment in the city reached eight percent, the highest in the nation.
How has Portland bottomed out so far, so fast? What relief is in sight for the working poor? It is doubtful that Mayor Vera Katz will answer those questions on Friday at the State of the City address.
"There's a recession and her solution is sweeping it out of sight," explains Rachel Stein, a local activist. Stein points to City Council's decision to relocate Dignity Village, a low-key squatter camp, to a remote location near the airport.
On Friday at noon, Mayor Katz will present the State of the City at the ritzy Multnomah Athletic Club. A protest is planned at 1849 SW Salmon. Participants are asked to bring a broom to symbolize Katz's efforts to sweep the city's problems under the rug. PHIL BUSSE
Bonnie & Clyde
For ten years, Lon and Bonnie Mabon, the head of the Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA), the group that has sponsored anti-gay ballot measures, have evaded a $30,000 debt with surprisingly few repercussions.
The debt started in 1992, when an OCA member assaulted Catherine Stauffer--a photojournalist documenting the OCA--by throwing her against a church wall. A judge awarded her $30,000.
But for almost a decade, the Mabons have refused to pay. For a while, the Mabons claimed that the OCA didn't have the money. Then, a year ago, they simply quit showing up to court. Last Thursday, the Multnomah County Court set a $100,000 bail for their arrest. Due to a technical error in court documents, the Mabons' contempt of court has been delayed until February 20.
Despite their evasiveness, Brett Foster, Stauffer's attorney, remains confident that the Mabons eventually will be brought to justice. "I think a lot of people are understanding that this is the beginning of the end for the OCA," said Foster. "It's very difficult to convince people to vote for ballot initiatives when you're in jail." KATIA DUNN