Neighbors are speculating that a leaky school swimming pool may have been the cause of the 20-foot-deep sinkhole that opened up at the junction of SE 16th and Oak on Tuesday, December 26. The sinkhole swallowed a city maintenance truck and caused minor injuries to city workers.
According to Buckman neighborhood activist Mary Ann Schwab, for years neighbors had been asking the city where water from Buckman Elementary School's leaky pool—about 100 yards away from last week's hole—was going. The pool, which had to close in April 2005 after losing too much water, re-opened in July this year, following $400,000's worth of renovation. But Schwab says, "Anyone taking physics 101 knows leaking water has to go somewhere. When the pool was leaking last year, we just didn't know where, but it seems we can now answer that question." MATT DAVIS
GREENING THE BUDGET
During last October's city budget retreat, the commissioners agreed to come forward with a list of "initiatives" that would detail budget requests in specific areas. Last week, Dan Saltzman was the first city commissioner to unveil his list—looking for $1.5 million to make Portland even greener by aiding and attracting eco-friendly businesses.
The biggest chunk of Saltzman's request is $750,000 for biodiesel development, putting money into the local biofuels market. That number includes $150,000 in grants to help up to 30 service stations install biodiesel pumps, plus $450,000 to help biofuel companies. The money would piggyback on Commissioner Randy Leonard's biodiesel mandate, which will create an instant market for the renewable fuel.
So far, Saltzman is the only commissioner to have turned in a detailed budget initiative request, perhaps because he was the only one who didn't leave town during Christmas week. SCOTT MOORE
It's official: The number of US soldiers killed in Iraq hit the 3,000 mark last week (on December 31, to be exact), and Portland anti-war activists have scheduled a die-in protest this Saturday, January 6.
"We'll meet in Pioneer Courthouse Square at noon," says organizer Marianne Barisonek. "We'll hand out postcards for people to send to their senators and congressional representatives asking to vote against further funding for the war." AMY JENNIGES
M47 BACKERS SUE
Last Wednesday, December 27, supporters of Measure 47 filed a suit against Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and state Attorney General Hardy Myers, calling for the state to enforce the embattled campaign finance law. In November, Oregon voters passed M47, which sets up a system of limits on campaign contributions and requires strict disclosure funding. But voters rejected M47's companion measure, M46, which would have amended the constitution to allow for such rules. In November, Bradbury announced that he wouldn't be enforcing any of M47—even the elements that aren't unconstitutional.
M47 author Dan Meek called Bradbury's reasoning "circular," arguing that at least six provisions of M47 are enforceable without any change in the constitution. SM