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GOOD MORNING, PORTLAND! It's March 16, and today in history: Portland's own Tonya Harding pleaded guilty to hindering the investigation into the attack on her figure skating rival, Nancy Kerrigan, and was sentenced to three years of probation and a fine of $100,000 on this day in 1994. Meanwhile on this same date in 1989, I was so mad at a college professor for giving me a terrible grade, I snuck into his office, removed an outlet plate, and dumped 100 live crickets into his wall. The chirping sound drove him crazy for months, and I got away with my crime. Justice is only meted out to the few. And now... let's read some NEWS!
IN LOCAL NEWS:
• Here's some good solutions-based journalism from OPB, which delves into Oregon's lack of psychiatric and addiction treatment, and the endless cycle many houseless people find themselves in when trying to obtain help. This story digs into these thorny problems and spotlights two state programs that are working to reverse the trend.
• As another method of fixing the city's homeless situation, Portland City Council voted yesterday in favor of incentivizing developers to convert vacant office buildings into residential apartment complexes by waiving fees and relaxing seismic requirements—a good idea that most everybody loves, but, but, BUT! There is a lot more involved with this style of conversion than one might think... and our Isabella Garcia explains it all for you.
“A lot of people look at this as a silver bullet to create more affordable housing... but it’s hard to hang our hat on this conversion equation, unless there is a tremendous amount of subsidy," developer Sarah Zahn told the Merc. Read more ⬇️🏗️⬇️ https://t.co/CgUF5Bkbjb— Isabella Garcia (@isabellaaliciaa) March 15, 2023
• Some more movement on the homeless front: In the Montavilla neighborhood, a protected safe parking site will open this year that will allow houseless folk to sleep in their vehicles, as well as providing showers, a laundry, kitchen, trash pickup, and outreach. The site will only allow passenger vehicles (not RVs), and reservations are required.
Bill Nye is a wild one 🤣pic.twitter.com/8gH2zIPvDq— Wu Tang is for the Children (@WUTangKids) March 16, 2023
• A community-built skatepark in Lents is in danger of being torn down by the city, who deems the construction "unsafe"—even though Portland Parks and Recreation has refused to invest in safe skateparks. Commissioner Dan Ryan (disappointed sigh) is scheduled to be briefed on the skatepark today.
• As you undoubtedly know, trans rights and gender affirming care are under attack by cruel, opportunistic Republicans across the country, and while it might be a bit safer for trans folks here in Oregon, moves are being made to squash their rights. Check out this great guest essay from former Mercury news reporter Blair Stenvick (now with Basic Rights Oregon) on what we can do to help.
IN NATIONAL/WORLD NEWS:
• The Pentagon has released footage of Russian jets doing close fly-bys and spraying US drones with jet fuel—which to me sounds more like a prank than an act of war? (Of course, I'm also the guy who dumped 100 live crickets into my college professor's wall—see full story at the top of this article—so maybe I'm not the best judge of these things.)
• President Biden is warning the Chinese owners of TikTok to either sell their social media platform, or risk being banned in the US. (I'm not sure if Biden realizes that banning TikTok will inspire a Bastille Day-style revolution among American teens... I know my teen would happily burn down a TikTok-less country.)
The No. 1 way to permanently and irreparably nuke your chances with the Gen Z electorate is to be the party that takes credit for banning TikTok.— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) March 16, 2023
And, remember, they're going to outlive us all.
• Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk (appointed by Trump) says he will be issuing a ruling "as soon as possible" on whether the FDA should reverse their approval of the abortion drug mifepristone and, to the surprise of no one, "appeared sympathetic" to the idiotic pleas of lawyers representing anti-abortion groups.
• Putting all that aside....
Joe Exotic announces 2024 presidential run:— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) March 15, 2023
“Put aside that I am gay, that I am in prison for now, that I used drugs in the past, that I had more then one boyfriend at once and that Carole hates my guts. This all has not a thing to do with me being able to be your voice.” pic.twitter.com/Cfkq0riUUc
• Investigators in Fulton County, Georgia, have reportedly received yet ANOTHER recorded phone conversation in which Trump tried to convince a state official to overturn Biden's 2020 presidential victory in the state. Collect all three!
• And finally... sorry, but "Pi Day" was Tuesday.