Jack Pollock
GONE FISHING?Summer's here... and City Council is gone? In spite of crushing unemployment rates in Portland and the havoc played by citywide budget cuts, City Council has slowed to a languid pace for the summer months. In May, Commissioner Charlie Hales departed from his council post after being criticized for skipping out on one of three council meetings. Now, his permanent absence has jeopardized any action by City Council due to the fact that at least four of five members must be present to pass any resolution. This means that if the mayor (who votes as part of the council) or any of the remaining three members take a vacation, City Council will halt--and, at some point during summer, each member does plan to ditch out for extended vacations.

Earlier this year, The Oregonian reported that Hales ducked out of 31 percent of city council meetings and missed nine weeks of work. A haughty Hales was quoted as saying "being inside in Portland...in August is a sin." Many critics questioned whether the real inequity was paying a hearty salary to vacationing public servants. (The commissioners and Mayor Vera Katz earn annual salaries of $83,158 and $98,738, respectively.)

"The city goes on just fine when a politician is gone," said Erik Sten, who was the only member around long enough after the July 3 council meeting to provide a comment, before splitting for a four-day holiday weekend. "We take a lot of time off," offered Sten, "but the nature of this job is to work a lot of evenings and weekends to stay in touch with people. " He added, "It's up to the voters to judge." JAYMEE CUTI

WHAT'S THE BEEF?Carrying signs that read, "This is a live-in neighborhood, not a drive through," some 40 neighbors continued their protest last Tuesday, against the impending McDonald's on NE MLK Blvd. For the past several months, the fast food chain has been eagerly eyeing a vacant lot. But last year, in response to McDonald's proposed franchise, neighbors formed "The Friends of MLK," staging their first protest in February and successfully keeping plans on the drawing table. New plans are now before city council; residents have until July 12 to comment. ANNA SIMON