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WIFI CLOUD GATHERS

Out of an expected 10 bidders for the Unwire Portland project—which will establish a WiFi network covering the city—officials had received only six by the Halloween deadline. Notably, all of the major companies who had been yammering about their prospects—except one—bowed out. Gone from were giants Hewlett-Packard and Qwest Communications, who had been expected to submit bids.

Instead, the Portland Development Commission (PDC) received proposals from mostly smallish companies and one giant—EarthLink. Interestingly, only two of the bidders are based in the metro area. VeriLAN, which has the endorsement of Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple), is a wireless company based in Portland; Winfield Wireless is out of Vancouver, WA. The other four have out-of-state addresses. One of the bidders, US Internet, is based in Minnetonka, MN, making it a neighbor of Opus Construction, the Minneapolis-based firm that won the PDC contract to develop the Burnside Bridgehead project. SM

BOMBS AWAY?

Late last week, warning stickers appeared on a pile of bicycles at the Zoobombers' hub on SW Oak—the group of renegade cyclists who ride down the zoo hill on child-sized bikes every Sunday night. The tickets warned that unless the bikes were removed, they would be confiscated.

If this sounds like a rerun, it is. Two years ago, both local police and federal agents harassed the Zoobombers. The entire group was singled out for surveillance by the FBI in response to a protest sign carried by a Bomber during a Critical Mass demonstration ("Bomb the zoo, not Iraq"). Shortly thereafter, police rolled up to the equipment hub/bike pile across the street from Rocco's Pizza, cut the chain, and confiscated the entire collection. The bikes were later returned with an apology from the city.

Following the failed attempts to curb the group, police have allowed the costumed bikers to bomb the zoo to their hearts' content. But the recent ticketing and threatened confiscation have been setting off alarm bells.

The official story is that the Department of Transportation was only targeting the assorted bike parts that have found their way onto the pile, and that functioning bikes will be left alone. SM

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