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GOOD MORNING, PORTLAND! It's Wednesday, it's not freezing outside, January is almost over. Wow, 1/12th of 2024 is done! That's really scary to think about. So instead, let's discuss this morning's NEWS.


• CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES! GET YOUR CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES, FOLKS! But for real, this is just a friendly reminder that you can find information about everyone who has declared their candidacy for this year's Portland City Council race right here on the Mercury's website. You might want to take an early look at who's running in your district now so you aren't completely overwhelmed by all the choices comes November. 

• Out of the three Portland commissioners running for mayor this year, Rene Gonzalez has so far raised the most money— by a long shot. According to the Portland Small Donor Elections program database, Gonzalez has received $92,000 in contributions. This is about double what Mingus Mapps, who declared his run for mayor last July, five months ahead of Gonzalez, has received. It's about five times as much as what Carmen Rubio has raked in so far, but she just announced her run a couple weeks ago. 

BUT! The insights don't stop there. Dig a little deeper, and you'll find that Gonzalez is taking in significantly larger donations, with a median contribution of $100. About a third of Gonzalez's contributors are donating between $250 and $1,000, a significantly larger percentage than in Rubio and Mapps' campaigns. people like Rene Gonzalez. Not huge news, but still important to keep in mind. 

• Yikes alert: Republican state lawmaker E. Werner Reschke, who represents the tiny southern Oregon town of Malin, said in an interview earlier this month that, essentially, non-Christians shouldn't be in elected office. Reschke made the comments on a Christian talk show streamed on Facebook, so obviously he didn't face any pushback about it during the interview. Luckily, some other intrepid local reporters were tipped off about it and have made the comments known to the folks who don't regularly tune in to the "Save the Nation" talk show. Reschke probably won't face any real consequences for it, but he certainly deserves to be clowned on by the general public. 

Here's what one non-Christian Oregon lawmaker had to say about it: 

• The city of Portland is joining hands with Multnomah County and the state to begin a 90-day experiment directed at addressing central Portland's fentanyl crisis. All three governments declared a fentanyl emergency yesterday and announced plans to create more addiction treatment programs and clamp down on fentanyl sales. 

While the plan is just directed at Portland's central city, Kotek preemptively defended herself against criticism that, as governor of the entire great state of Oregon, she seems awfully focused on managing just one city. (Is anyone offering that criticism, or is it just me?) 

"The emergency response in Portland will benefit the entire region, state and tribal lands because we know that a large share of fentanyl in Oregon is trafficked through our major city,” Kotek said at yesterday's press conference announcing the plan. 

I guess it's good to see some intergovernmental coordination. No other new thoughts from me here.

• There's some news on the "Bring Major League Baseball to Portland" front: 

• You know I love Oregon Zoo news, so I'm excited to share with you today that seven Oregon Zoo-hatched and raised California condors were successfully released in California last month. The zoo calls this an "important step in the effort to save this critically endangered species from extinction," and says the birds are doing well. And if you happen to be interested in these birds' physical appearance, look no further than this here video:


• There are a lot of important issues to address in the world right now. That's why supporters of former President Donald Trump are plotting to declare a "holy war" against Taylor Swift, the pretty much apolitical pop star who hasn't even endorsed President Biden in his reelection. According to a truly grimace-inducing Rolling Stone article, Trump wants to make sure everyone knows that he's "more popular" than Swift, with more committed fans. Ohhhkay. Is Taylor Swift going to incite an insurrection in response? You and I both know she could if she wanted to.

• Utah just joined the list of states with serious loser governments intent on restricting trans people from living their daily lives. Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a law yesterday requiring people to use bathrooms and locker rooms in public buildings (schools and government facilities) that match their sex assigned at birth, AKA majorly discriminating against transgender people who just need to pee. The rationale for these rules is the ridiculous rumor that trans people pose a risk to their fellow bathroom users, a myth made especially insane when you consider all the predatory behavior Republicans have no problem with. This is not a new observation, but I think it's worth continuing to point out. 

• Confused about the rise of the Stanley cup, the über-viral drinking vessel that's the MUST HAVE item of the season? A lot of people are. If you want to know some of the (surprisingly interesting) backstory, check out this New Yorker water cup deep-dive

Elmo took to Twitter earlier this week to see how folks are doing, and was apparently surprised by the results (people aren't doing so well, Elmo!). He will now serve as the internet's official therapist.