After months of heated debate and with the firm support of the mayor, Portland immigrant rights organization VOZ has opened the city's first day-laborer hiring site. On opening day this Monday, June 16, Spanish-speaking workers began arriving at the chain-link fence surrounding a parking lot on the corner of NE Davis and MLK. VOZ outfitted the parking lot with a trailer office, Honey Buckets, and benches—it hopes to provide a safe and humane place where day laborers can meet up with employers.
The site was delayed due to vocal opposition to the whole project. Neighboring business owners were some of the critics—complaining that day laborers were responsible for "human feces and syringes" found along MLK.
Monday morning no syringes or feces were in sight, but also no employers. By 11 am, only two laborers had been hired. "It's kind of a spectacle right now," said VOZ organizer Justin Shear. "A lot of the people that hire on the street might not want to hire in front of five news channels." SM
The Waverly Landing Condominiums border a gorgeous stretch of the Willamette River near Sellwood, a small stand of spruce trees, and soon, residents fear, a sewage pump station. The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) is building sewage pump stations around the city to control river pollutants into the Willamette.
This week city surveyors placed wooden sticks and pink flags 16 feet from the condos, marking the edge of a proposed half-acre sewage pump. While BES and project engineers say there will be no sewage odor from the project, the condo owners don't buy it. The group of neighbors is also worried about the noise of the pump and, of course, a potential drop in their property values.
Mostly, though, the condo owners are irate about what they perceive as their exclusion from the public meetings planning the station. BES could not figure out how to deliver meeting notices to the gated condo complex, and messages left with the property management firm apparently did not get through to the actual residents—so the Waverly Landing Condo owners say they found out about the public discussions after they had already occurred.
One owner complained to the city council last week. "It may be as little as 50 feet from my bedroom window and I got no notice of a meeting."
BES Communications Director Linc Mann was sympathetic, but stressed the pump won't have a disastrous impact on the condos. "It's a process, and the city is sensitive to the concerns of neighbors. But there comes a point when you have to pursue your construction and just make it as unobtrusive as you can," he said. SM
The queer community had plenty to celebrate at last weekend's Pride Festival. On Friday, June 13, David Crowe of Concerned Oregonians—one of the groups pushing to repeal the state's new domestic partnership and anti-discrimination laws—waved the white flag.
Noting that the Oregon Supreme Court had yet to rule on the attorney general's certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 145 (a repeal of the anti-discrimination law), which was submitted more than seven weeks ago, Crowe conceded that his group and other initiative supporters wouldn't have enough time to collect 82,769 valid signatures by the July 3 deadline. (Two initiative petitions about domestic partnerships are also awaiting circulation approval.)
"Insufficient time remains now to create, print, distribute petitions, and collect over 100,000 signatures by July 3," Crowe wrote in an email to supporters. Crowe claimed the judicial body is slow to act on "culturally important moral and constitutional issues, as well as matters of conscience, preferring instead to expedite decisions for those whose objectives are monetary and secular." AJR
This week the Port of Portland wrapped up seven years of field investigations into the Willamette River's Superfund-sized environmental problems. The Port coordinated the $60 million project studying the river's sediment, which snagged 1,800 samples of river mud and 2,000 samples of fish and invertebrates. The team used some creative strategies to get all the data, like dropping a giant metal camera onto the river floor to photograph mud, and asking for the help of the local bass fishermen's club when the scientists routinely failed to catch any fish.
The results show that the 10 miles of river around Portland flow with over 200 chemicals from 150 years of industry and agricultural waste. The main contaminant is PCBs, an industrial toxin that was banned in the 1970s.
The next step of the rehabilitation process promises to be as overwhelming in its details as the first: Before cleanup actually begins—it could be two years out—hundreds of stakeholders, including private companies like Chevron, a slew of government offices, and several Native American tribes, will review the plans. SM
David Colton, a counselor at Madison High School who was involuntarily transferred earlier this month, has filed a tort claim against Portland Public Schools for defamation and invasion of privacy.
School administrator David Hamilton allegedly brought together students—who had been protesting Colton's transfer—and said: "I can't tell you what Mr. Colton has done, but you need to know that there are things you don't know about Mr. Colton's actions. There are things that only the four administrators know."
Colton's attorney Michael Schumann writes: "Mr. Hamilton's remarks implied that Mr. Colton had committed some heinous act or some serious breach of his professional responsibilities. These remarks were untrue, defamatory, highly offensive, not of a legitimate concern to the public, and a breach of Mr. Colton's rights to confidentiality of his personnel information."
According to the claim, Colton was a fierce student advocate who had fought against changes being made at Madison over recent years, including the impact of an initiative sponsored by the Gates Foundation to split the school up into separate small schools. MD