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GOOD MORNING, PORTLAND! We're in for a soggy day and a wet week. Today's high is 47. It isn't Valentine's Day yet, which means you've still got time to submit one to the Mercury's Reader Valentines. Show your love, in 150 characters, for the world to see.


  • Portland City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez issued a mini manifesto on social media last Friday, saying he was recently “accosted” while riding a MAX train. Gonzalez said he was subjected to “deliberate, unwanted physical contact, followed by criticisms of the city’s policies regarding homelessness” and declared he’ll stop using TriMet for a while, following the incident. Exactly what kind of physical contact did the commissioner and mayoral candidate endure…err…suffer? KGW reports a woman “bumped” his shoulder, then bumped his leg and wanted to have a heated conversation about the city’s homeless policies. Keep in mind this is the same man who is prone to hyperbole and said his family’s car was “firebombed” when it was set ablaze (not bombed) by an arsonist outside his home recently. I hope he wasn’t seriously assaulted on the train, but I also hope folks realize that a politician with this thin of skin is probably not well-suited to be mayor. 

  • Speaking of Gonzalez, who currently oversees the city’s fire bureau, the Oregonian reports Portland Fire & Rescue is trying to find a way to shave money from its budget, to close an $11 million funding shortfall, and it wants to cut more than $3 million from an already under-staffed Portland Street Response. PF&R is understaffed and has racked up hefty overtime costs. It’s one of several departments in the city that will likely need to slash its budget. Recently, the city auditor’s office reported programs like Portland Street Response were never given the proper oversight or structure needed for them to succeed. The auditor’s report, combined with the fire chief and commissioner’s response, hints that Gonzalez finds the alternative, non-police mental health crisis response team to be a thorn in the bureau’s side.
  • Police responded to two pedestrian fatalities in the past 24 hours, both in Southeast Portland. Early this morning, at 2:17 am, Portland Police Bureau officers responded to the intersection of SE 82nd Ave and SE Flavel, where a pedestrian was struck and killed by a car. The crash comes after 2023 brought 68 traffic-related deaths in Portland, the most on record in roughly 30 years. It also comes as the Portland Bureau of Transportation is actively trying to improve SE 82nd Ave, which is a deadly, high-crash corridor. The previous evening, police also sent the Major Crash Team out to the 9700 block of SE Foster Road, where a man was hit and killed by a driver who stayed at the scene. That crash led police to close SE Woodstock Blvd Sunday night between 97th and 101st Avenues while a crash investigation took place. 
  • In case you forgot, the Portland Winter Light Festival is in full swing, until Saturday. If you’ve got a case of the winter SADs,or just need some sensory stimulation, walking around and looking at lighted art pieces and performances is free.


• Good morning to the Grammys—a fine award to win, but not super impressive to me (Mercury culture editor Suzette Smith). The Grammys are consistently wrong about up-and-coming stars. And they reward traditional, boilerplate music. In keeping with the award show's tradition of rewarding an artist albums later than it was appropriate to begin doing so, Taylor Swift took home a number of prizes last night, including her fourth album of the year award. That's a new record—respectively, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, and Paul Simon all have three. In keeping with rewarding popular music acts that don't have much longevity... boygenius won for best rock song, rock performance, and alternative album. I'm not throwing shade at boygenius, but they have been public about viewing their supergroup as impermanent. In the night of stunts (check out the full list of winners here), Luke Combs got Tracy Chapman to perform onstage with him, and—even if his cover was mid—it was pretty great:

• One shocking development at the Grammys was footage of Killer Mike (who also won three Grammys) being taken from the arena in handcuffs by several LAPD officers. It is not yet know why he was arrested, but LAPD claimed on social media that he was arrested due to a "physical altercation that occurred at the 700 block of Chick Hearn Court," which is where Arena is located. My god, are we just living with and going to a place called that? My mind is on why these officers would so publicly escort Killer Mike and show him a level of embarrassment I'm not sure other muscians and celebrities would be subjected to—but I also disagree with the practice of even entering a building called Arena.

• It was fun to tease LA over the weekend's wind and rain. Send FEMA because it isn't 75 and sunny etc. etc. I DID IT TOO. But an atmospheric river is currently drenching Southern California and flooding, mud slides, hair frizz (I'm going to stop, I am totally stopping) and has led to declarations of emergency states in several SoCal counties. Mercury reporter Taylor Griggs pointed out this morning that California's stormwater collection system is deeply antiquated— the state has a very inadequate reservoir structure, not to mention an abundance of pavement, which is not exactly the best material for flood prevention.

• It hasn't been a year since Jimmy Finkelstein—son of the co-founder of the Hill, Jerry Finkelstein—launched a news site called the Messenger. Finkelstein's site claimed it would cover the spread of news, entertainment, politics, zeitgeist, weird trends etc., upending the polarized media map with true centrism. What it turned out to be was true regurgitated slop, and when it shuttered less than seven months later, on January 31 it left its employees without warning and without severance. Many of those employees had been wooed from other news sources, had been working their brains out, and have now banded together to sue. The tea is flowing.

• In Bellevue, WA, a man who had been left in charge of his neighbor's estate called the city's bomb squad. He wanted them to check on a piece of a Cold War-era nuclear missile that was part of it. According to the Bellevue police, the missile remnant had no warhead (the nuclear part) nor fuel and was "essentially just a rusted piece of metal." Police left it with the man.

• Over the weekend, San Francisco's Castro Theatre filled its movie house with fans for one last slate of shows before it closes for an 18-month remodel—or that's how long the theater's renovation is expected to take. Another Planet Entertainment, the current leaseholders, intend the update to facilitate live music shows, in addition to the repertory movie screenings and comedy and drag events the theater is already known for. The proposal received pushback from residents. SF Gate reports that future programming at the theater isn't clear, but quoted APE's commitment to "no less than 25% of [LGBTQ+] programming. But… compared to what Castro programming was, that sounds pretty disappointing.

• Here's what NYT Popcast host and critic Jon Caramanica picked for an unheralded artist he would award a Grammy to: K-pop girl group NewJeans. "They simply do not miss," Caramanica said in a NYT pregame article about the awards show.