aaron renier

It's No Seattle, But...

Will the World Trade Organization's meeting in Hong Kong do what the war in Iraq hasn't for nearly two years—unite progressive Portland activists under a common cause for a mass demonstration? If the number and diversity of the groups already signed on for Saturday's (December 10) march downtown is any indication, it's certainly possible.

Dozens of groups—including the Oregon AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, Jobs with Justice, and other labor and environmental organizations—have been organizing the march, which begins Saturday at noon on the corner of SW Salmon and 1st. At press time, organizers were finalizing agreements with the city—securing the permits and negotiating with police over the parade route.

Jobs with Justice Director Margaret Butler predicted that more than 1,000 people will join the march—which will stop at the federal building and at one of developer Melvin Mark's buildings to protest his use of non-union janitors. SCOTT MOORE

EBO on Deck

City Commissioner Sam Adams may finally be moving ahead with a plan that will add an Equal Benefits Ordinance (EBO) into the city charter—requiring businesses that contract with the city to provide the same benefits to employees' domestic partners as they do spouses.

Last week, Adams' office posted the ordinance on the commissioner's blog, www.commissionersam.com, for public input. The first couple of comments were from individuals griping that the EBO was just one more obstacle for small businesses. Adams' representative Jesse Beason, however, said that once businesses get more information (like the fact that it will only apply at first to larger contractors), they'll stop freaking out.

"Generally, when we talk about what we're trying to do, they calm down," he told the Mercury. "There shouldn't be any big hoops for small businesses, and large businesses have the capacity to absorb something like this."

Beason expects the EBO to go before the council by the end of January, and he's confident that it already has enough votes to pass. If approved, it will go into effect by the end of next year. SM