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TSK, TSK TASK FORCE The vote to reauthorize the Joint Terrorism Task Force had been scheduled for last Wednesday--the final vote of Mayor Vera Katz's tenure. But worried that she wouldn't score enough votes to retain the notorious agreement between federal and local agents, Katz canceled the vote and effectively tossed one of the city's hottest political potatoes into the hands of incoming mayor-elect Tom Potter.

Over the past few years, council members have become increasingly wary of the task force. During last year's reauthorization vote, both Randy Leonard and Erik Sten expressed hesitations that neither the mayor nor the police chief had adequate oversight into the group's activities. There were also concerns that the Task Force may be spying on activists and legitimate political organizations. Even so, both Sten and Leonard approved the task force, but with reservations.

This year, however, Leonard has said he will vote against it. Especially damning to the task force's reputation was their botched investigation in March into Brandon Mayfield, a local attorney who they falsely arrested in connection with a bombing in Madrid. The FBI screwed up the fingerprint identification.

There is no scheduled vote on the task force, but it will likely be in early January, shortly following Potter's inauguration. The newest member of council, Sam Adams, also has expressed reservations about the task force. There are 100 such task forces in U.S. cities; Portland would be the first city to dismantle it. PB

GO HOME, HOME DEPOT! For the past few issues, the Mercury has been harping on the pending development of a five-block site along the east side of the Burnside Bridge. Currently, Portland Development Commission is squirreled away with three very different proposals for the site. Two developers propose big-box stores (a Home Depot or a Lowe's). The third proposal, from Beam Development, offers up an alternative: Locally owned businesses, wind generated power, artist incubators. We think the choice is clear.

On January 26, PDC will again host a public meeting. At this point, their decision will largely be made. But you still have time to voice your opinion. Check out: The site sets up an easy way to lobby against Home Depot; one email is sent to a dozen relevant elected officials and PDC heads. PB


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