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WIRE FREE

Actually ahead of schedule, Bay Area company MetroFi has unveiled its soon-to-be citywide free internet network in central Portland. Most of downtown and the inner eastside are in the first phase of the WiFi project, which officially went live the morning of Tuesday, December 5.

The company—which has partnered with the city on the project—plans to eventually cover 95% of the city. So far, the connection speed is somewhere between dial-up and DSL. Unfortunately for those in downtown, though, early reports are that the signal has a difficult time getting into buildings and high rises. Whoops! SCOTT MOORE

SMOKE FREE

On Monday, December 4, Governor Ted Kulongoski announced a budget proposal that would raise cigarette taxes by 84.5 cents a pack, putting Oregon in a tie with Washington for the third highest tax on smokes in the US. The extra funds will go toward preventing tobacco use and paying for children's healthcare.

"Cigarette taxes all by themselves are a public health measure to deter smoking, and Governor Kulongoski has taken it one step further in allocating a good portion of that revenue to prevent kids from starting to smoke and helping adults to quit," says Tabithia Engle, Communications Coordinator for the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Oregon.

But what happens when the prevention programs work, and there are less smokers buying the cigarettes that fund the prevention programs?

"Revenue will decline as it prevents smoking, and we want it to," Engle says. Still, she can't forsee a time when cigarette tax money will be too low to fund anti-smoking messages. ERIN LACOUR

NUISANCE FREE

Mayor Tom Potter signed off on declaring 5005 NE Emerson Court a "chronic nuisance" property last Wednesday, November 29, following ongoing neighborhood complaints and pressure from the cops in the northeast precinct ["Mad House," News, Nov 9]. According to Roland Iparraguirre at the city attorney's office, it could now take up to a year for the city to legally force the Howard family, who moved into the house in July, to move out. MATT DAVIS

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